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Old 08-22-05, 07:20 PM   #1
moxfyre
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Clipless pedals & accidents

I've been using SPD pedals + casual bike shoes for a couple months on my commute + errands. I like them a lot, but started to wonder about safety. I imagine it would be extremely dangerous to get hit by a car while using clipless, as I'd remain attached to the bike. Anyone have any statistics/anecdotes about this?

Are multi-release SPD cleats any safer? I don't really know what's different about them, only that they're a bit easier to release...
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Old 08-22-05, 07:37 PM   #2
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Any accident severe enough to injure you will almost certainly yank your feet out of the pedals. Pedals aren't as strong as you think.

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Old 08-22-05, 07:46 PM   #3
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When cyclists are in accidents, their feet come out of their shoes. You can usually find the shoes still clipped in to the pedals.
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Old 08-22-05, 07:48 PM   #4
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The biggest safety issue with clipless is whether you remember how to disengage your feet when you stop. Once you have this beginner's problem licked, you are probably fine. (For the record, I still use old-fashioned toeclips. I do think it is much safer, as well as more efficient, to be strapped, clipped (or "cliplessed") than not. The only reason I have avoided converting to clipless is that I am feel too klutzy to have some bikes with toeclips and others with differently-releasing clipless systems, and I do sometimes ride the mountain bike or my commuter in street shoes.
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Old 08-22-05, 07:50 PM   #5
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With SPD's even if you take a tumble on your own, you'll click out of your pedals as you're hitting pavement........
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Old 08-22-05, 08:27 PM   #6
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SPDs are loose enough that you will self remove, even if you don't want to sometimes when hammering; I can only assume this would be echoed in crashes as well.
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Old 08-22-05, 09:29 PM   #7
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My left shoe came unclipped, but my right was still clipped in. I remember people saying "can you take your right foot off the pedal?"
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Old 08-23-05, 06:21 AM   #8
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Clipless pedals, LOOK, SPD, Speedplay, Time, etc, are a helluva a lot safer to use then the old toe clips and straps. The inpact in an accident, WILL cause the pedals to disengage. The only time my SPD pedals didn't, I skidded to a stop on my right shin. There was no true "impact" in that accident. Every other time was simply a fall without clipping out. I have fallen with clips and straps, and your feet don't come out.
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Old 08-23-05, 07:17 AM   #9
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My Speedplay's are the bomb. I rode for 15 years with the old school leather racing shoes and straps. When the first LOOK's came out I jumped on the trendwagon and cycling completly changed for me. Those were some nasty beasts...it was tough as nails to unclip, but the new found stroke made it all worth while. These new Speedplays are incredible...easy to clip in, always easy to get out and plenty of float for my 40 year old knees. I've never been stuck in the clips in a spill.
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Old 08-23-05, 07:29 AM   #10
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Even in 2mph crashes I don't think I've ever been still attached to the bike, Look or SPD.
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Old 08-23-05, 07:38 AM   #11
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I think clipless add an extra element of danger however you cut this down dramatically by unclippling BEFORE reaching every red light from one foot. If you're riding in the city and see many peds and red lights, it might be a good idea to ride with one foot unclipped until you can get a good straightway.

I think the biggest danger with clipless peddals is not crashing but the biomechanical problems (knee, ankle) problems that can result if they are installed incorrectly.
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Old 08-23-05, 08:14 AM   #12
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Multi-release are nice and that is what I use mountain biking. They let your shoe unclip at more angles and are nice to use while learning to use clips. I've also used Ritchey cleats, they work with Shimano pedals and are kind of between standard cleats and multi-release cleats.

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Old 08-23-05, 08:23 AM   #13
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To this day I don't know what broke my leg, just above the right ankle, it was either due to the fact the foot did not come out of the clipless pedals OR it was from me dragging it behind me when I went down. This was 7 years ago. I was using the ONE direction Release Cleats at that time.

I hit some WET leaves going on a slight downhill on my MTB. Took me 7 years to get back on the dayum thing, but it is worth it! I am using CLIPLESS peds again!
I use the Shimano 324's with the Multi Release Cleats. They come out great.

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Old 08-23-05, 09:22 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phillydcbiker
My left shoe came unclipped, but my right was still clipped in. I remember people saying "can you take your right foot off the pedal?"
Did you see yourself laying there from above to confirm that?
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Old 08-23-05, 09:36 AM   #15
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I use SPDs on my road bike for recreation, but very loose clips and straps for my commute bike which I ride in heavy traffic.

I really can get out faster that way, and literally leap off of the bicycle to the right side, out of the roadway. I don't think I could do that with SPDs that quickly.
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Old 08-23-05, 09:48 AM   #16
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It's worth noting that most SPD clipless should have adjustable tension. If you're pulling out of the pedal when cranking, it's probably too loose. If you're worried that you won't snap out in a serious collision, it's probably too tight. I started riding clipless about a year ago, and at first kept them pretty loose as I was just worried about falling over at traffic lights. Now I keep them a fair bit tighter, but probably a lot looser than, say, a serious racer would.
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Old 08-23-05, 09:49 AM   #17
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I think you should only use one clipping system as you dont want to think about the direction you have to move your feet to release. Toe clips it is up & back, for SPDs it is twist sideways. Never try and release before a red light, only do it when you stop and want to take your foot off the pedal. Otherwise you may accidentally reclip in.
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Old 08-23-05, 09:52 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phillydcbiker
My left shoe came unclipped, but my right was still clipped in. I remember people saying "can you take your right foot off the pedal?"
One foot is always dominant and will be better able to clip in and out.
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Old 08-23-05, 09:58 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DieselDan
Clipless pedals, LOOK, SPD, Speedplay, Time, etc, are a helluva a lot safer to use then the old toe clips and straps. The inpact in an accident, WILL cause the pedals to disengage. The only time my SPD pedals didn't, I skidded to a stop on my right shin. There was no true "impact" in that accident. Every other time was simply a fall without clipping out. I have fallen with clips and straps, and your feet don't come out.
I would argue that for anything but casual, slow riding, clipless is better/safer than even plain, vanilla no strap/no clip pedals (MTB being an exception that I am not knowledgeable enough about to comment on). Clipless take the brainwork of "keeping the ball of your foot on the pedal" There is little chance of slipping off the pedal and you can drive hard, without missing.

Downhill skiers have been using essentially the same system for over four decades and it works great for them. Imagine...ties a 5 foot lever to your foot and then expose your leg to horizontal and vertical forces against that lever while preventing any ankle movement. You better be sure that the binding works!
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Old 08-23-05, 10:04 AM   #20
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On the occasions I've crashed, the pedals (Shimano SPD-R) had released before I knew about it.

I feel safer in general with clipless, though there are infrequent awkward moments getting clipped in again. For example, push off from stationary onto a roundabout. Every so often my foot misses, or the pedal is upside down, just when I really need to go go go!

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Old 08-23-05, 10:10 AM   #21
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I never understand why people say they worry about being able to "un clip" from clipless pedals. You have to move your foot off a "regular" pedal to place it on the ground (you can't push through a pedal to get to the ground) so you must have learned how to do that, don't you think you can do the same thing but learn to lead with your heal? I have clipless pedals on all my bikes including my MBT bike, there are times when I've needed to put a foot down in an instant and did. Once your body memorizes the movement, you just do it.
Now clipping into pedals, that can be a trick to learn (some cleat/pedal combinations are harder than others), the cleat is on the bottom of your shoe so you can't see it and you place your shoe over the pedal so you can't see that either. But once you get the hang of it, you find it easy.
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Old 08-23-05, 11:13 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Fixer
Did you see yourself laying there from above to confirm that?
No, but I did rotate my foot out to unclip.
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Old 08-23-05, 11:28 AM   #23
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Thanks for all the reassurances guys! I'm pretty comfortable on clipless pedals in general at this point, just wanted to make sure that I'm not putting myself in any greater danger in an accident situation. I'm glad to hear that they tend to release if you get hit hard.
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Old 08-23-05, 11:34 AM   #24
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In the unlikely event that a) the pedals don't release; and b) you suffer a slightly greater injury as a result, you're really talking about 12 stitches instead of 10 or 11. I can certainly see some ligament/soft tissue damage from the pedal not releasing, but, in keeping with your accident scenario, you will have other things to worry about before you get to that.
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Old 08-23-05, 11:42 AM   #25
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I am an avid rider who just recently (April) made the switch to clipless. I have eggbeater pedals on two of my bikes now. After hundreds of hours i have learned a few things so far:

1. They are awesome for climbing. I can use gears on my mountain bike that i never could have dreamed of while climbing hills.

2. I have NEVER, not even ONCE fallen because i forgot to unclip. I simply have never forgot, and i have ridden thousands of miles with them. I have crashed however. As recently as yesterday.

Each time i have crashed, I have NOT come unclipped. I simply fell over and laid there like a moron, with my feet still in the clips. The three times i have crashed have resulted from twice being on very rutted hard mud roads where i was going slow and couldn't unclip in time, i fell over.

Once i was on my road bike and unclipped one foot and fell over the other way. I used to think that sounded retarted when i read others doing it but it is VERY easy to do. You have to be on the bike to see why.

3. I am not convinced that clipless pedals are SAFER. In fact i am very afraid of the first time I have a high speed crash. I like the idea of coming free from my bike and rolling or whatever else. I have done that many times on platforms and usually found it pretty fun. I have crashed on platforms at speeds near 25 mph and bounced right up and laughed. I somehow don't think that will be the case with clipless.

I hope I survive my first high speed clipless crash. If i get hurt bad or worse, i will never wear them again. (one way or the other.)
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