I went to a bike store near the place I was holidaying today. When I vacation in that city, I like to go to the store because they always have a bin full of old stuff they're trying to get rid of at outrageously low price.
So I was rummaging in the aforementioned bin when I discovered a very odd pedal: it looked like a solid metal plate shaped like a shoe sole, with the pedal axle attached underneath. On the front of the plate, there was a regular plastic cage, and the back had another "cage" to prevent the foot from slipping out. Through the metal plate, about where the axle was attached, a small lever was poking out: when the lever was depressed, the pedal could revolve around the axle freely, but when it wasn't, the pedal couldn't turn without considerably more resistance. The whole thing was quite heavy and strange-looking. The purpose of the pedal is that it's a clipless pedal replacement, for those who prefer riding with regular shoes but don't want to loose the ability to pedal in circle, and apparently, the way it works is this: if the foot isn't in the device, the pedal holds its position and doesn't flop. As soon as you slip your foot in, the lever is depressed and the axle is freed up, allowing you to pedal normally.
As soon as I saw the thing, I immediately started to rummage for the other pedal. I couldn't find it, so I asked the sales guys: he said they didn't have the other pedal anymore, that they got the pair a long time ago as a demo product from the guy who had invented them and had created a company to market them. He said the guy never came back, so he assumed the company failed. He also added that he had tried the contraptions on one of the shop's bike and wasn't particularly impressed by them.
Perhaps the company that made these pedals is still kicking: would anybody know of these pedals? are they still made? They really do look outlandish, but I'd love to try these things, as I think they could actually work rather well on recumbents.
late 80s Paramount MTB with Xtracycle, late 80s Paramount MTB converted to single speed, Bianchi Nuovo Record converted to fixie, custom Tom Board lugged steel racer, 1950s Claude Butler, 1950s Dawes, custom chopper built on 50s cruiser by me
If any of you ever get the chance, go to the annual Interbike trade show. You wanna talk about unbelieveable bike inventions...man-o-man. I wish I had video of all the cockamamie crap I've seen over the years. And that pedal even sounds familiar for some reason.
Quidkly buy the pedal and place it on your bike work bench as a conversation piece when friends come over. Also, you can make up any story you want about the device and people will think you are "oh so smart." This could be a lot of fun.