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Old 08-04-10, 07:58 PM   #1
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please explain toe clips to a newb

one of the first things a cyclist friend told me to do when i got my diamondback was to upgrade the cheap plastic pedals to metal ones with toe clips. since my bike is a hybrid that is primarily a downtown "get around" bike and occasional local greenway cruiser, i didn't think much of it.

but as i explore and peruse this forum, i see more and more people concerned with toe clips on their bikes. can someone explain the whole thing to me?
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Old 08-04-10, 09:05 PM   #2
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Go to the SSFG forum for fanatical devotion to the clips and straps. Riding Fixed gear (where the pedals can never stop turning) being attached to the pedals is quite useful. Clips and straps also let you pull and push at the same time, so you use more muscles in your legs and can ride faster.

But for get around town on a multispeed bike there is no need.
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Old 08-04-10, 10:22 PM   #3
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The toe clips have a certain panache that apeals to some. For others we've found that we get better results from using what is called "clipless" pedals of some form. The name is a bit of a misnomer though. On clipless pedals you definetly clip in. While these pedals do not have the cage and strap that secures your toe into the pedal they do use special bicycling shoes that have recessed cleats on the sole that snap into a little spring loaded claw or wire bails on the pedals to lock your foot to the pedal so you can do all the same things like lifting up on the up stroke. Most of all for a lot of us it ensures that our feet lock into the pedals in the exact same position each time so there's no fumbling around for the "sweet spot" like on regular platform pedals. To get out of pedals with toe clips you pull your foot back. To unsnap from "clipless" pedals you pull your ankle outwards and let your foot turn at an angle. The angle prys the clamp apart and your shoe snaps out of the clamp. If set to the lighter side of the adjustment for clicking out it's not hard to do at all. A couple of rides on a quiet route with a lot of clicking in and out and you'll get the hang of it in no time at all.

I really like using clipless Shimano SPD compatible pedals on most of my road bikes.
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Old 08-04-10, 10:30 PM   #4
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Downtown get-around bike, I'd probably not go with foot retention. If you ride in the wet, you might wanna get some metal pedals with good teeth or pins, cuz those plastic pedals get REALLY slippery. If you're a fairweather rider, no reason to upgrade 'til the plastic pedals stop working well.

Some plastic pedals accept clips and straps, which may open another option for you, if you wanna try foot retention out.
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Old 08-04-10, 10:39 PM   #5
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Toe clips are a compromise. They provide better foot retention and power transfer than simple platform pedals, but you don't have to think about unclipping when you stop. With plain platforms, your foot can slide off the pedal and often at the worst possible time (when you're applying high force), especially in the wet. With clipless, people tend to forget, at least once in a while, that they are clipped in and fall over with the bike. Clips don't have either problem. Also, clips are cheaper than a clipless pedal system; no cleats or special shoes are required.

The problems they do have are that when you are first starting out, clips tend to flip the pedal over the wrong way and you have to learn to flip it over with your toe as you start. And while they do help hold your foot to the pedal and provide power transfer for more of the stroke, they are not as good as a clipless pedal system for that.

Most of my bikes have clips, no straps. I've been riding that way for years and am pretty content with it.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 08-04-10, 10:40 PM   #6
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Toe-clips can be challenging to get out of in some emergencies and they don't have a safety tension release like clipless. From what it sounds like you'd be fine with a regular pedal that has a good set of pins.
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Old 08-04-10, 11:08 PM   #7
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They are brainless to get out of if you don't use straps.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 08-04-10, 11:12 PM   #8
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Most pedals, even with loose straps, easy in, easy out. It takes a shoe with a thicker, somewhat squishy sole (like a running shoe) to get clips tight enough to be difficult to remove most ordinary shoes, IME.

Run old school leather cycling shoes with slotted cleats in a real road or track pedal with clips and straps, then you're locked in 'til you reach down and loosen those straps, though.
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Old 08-05-10, 06:45 AM   #9
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You can get half clips also-sorta like clips without the straps. Most half clips now are cheap looking black plastic. Some call them mountain clips
Like doohickie said- you can use clips without the straps-they work just fine.
You can usually mount clips to any cheap pedal(use a drill).
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Old 08-05-10, 06:46 AM   #10
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Sometimes all you have to do is remove a reflector to reveal molded holes.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 08-05-10, 08:54 AM   #11
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I have these on four bikes. Obvously I like them.

http://bicycling.about.com/od/equipm...ower_grips.htm
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Old 08-05-10, 10:53 AM   #12
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The need to have to flip the clip or power strap pedals over to get my foot into them is the primary reason why I go with the clipless pedals. Also for the same reason it's the both sides the same sort for me. No thinking at all. Just jam the foot down and if it doesn't snap in right away a little wiggle and it's in.

I know that the toe clip and strap users say you get used to it pretty quickly but for me it was just one thing too many. Also when I did use toe clips for a short while I didn't like the feel of the extra pressure on my toe and instep. Clipless avoids that... or rather it spreads the extra load around more evenly because the whole shoe upper becomes the toe clip when snapped into the pedal.
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Old 08-05-10, 11:14 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by the_don View Post
Clips and straps also let you pull and push at the same time, so you use more muscles in your legs and can ride faster.
You can sprint faster, but in a steady cruise, you will simply run out of breath because your heart and lungs can't sustain that level of exertion.
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Old 08-05-10, 11:20 AM   #14
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I rode a track bike with a fixed wheel for years. I had toe clips, shoe plates (cleats) fitted and straps (pulled up tight). I never really had a problem with these, but then i was pretty keen.... If you fell off at a slow speed you lay on the floor trying to unstrap, if you came off at speed you lay on the floor in your socks and had to unstrap your shoes from the pedals. (I was young, then!) I now use clipless and enjoy not having my feet restricted by the straps. but really, if you are starting out just try what you fancy. we all give advice based on our, long earned, experience. Just read these threads and try whatever you fancy - that's what we all did....
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Old 08-05-10, 11:52 AM   #15
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My friend and I put toe clips on our bikes when we were 14 years old. This was in 1975. We looked at each other and said we'd never go back. I have ridden with some sort of foot retention ever since.
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Old 08-05-10, 12:02 PM   #16
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well, after starting this thread, i happened upon a similar one in the Hybrid section. in that thread i found these
http://www.amazon.com/HALF-TOE-CLIPS...bxgy_sg_text_b

i figure i can give these a go, and if i don't like them, i wont be out any serious money
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Old 08-05-10, 12:12 PM   #17
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Ah, yes. Those were mentioned by phoebeisis.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, you'd see a lot of college campus MTBs with their stock toe clips stripped of straps. The half clip was aimed at those riders. They allow you to pedal around with the clip down, but not dragging on the pavement as much.

They'll help keep your foot in the proper position on the pedal and keep your foot from sliding forward in the wet, but don't give you the pulling back and up benefit while pedaling that more secure systems do.
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Old 08-05-10, 12:14 PM   #18
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Some observations that apply to several of the posts above.

Toe Clips vs. "clipless": I rode toe clips for many years (decades actually) and even though I was in the bike industry through 1996 and still do repairs and generally keep my "hands in the grease" I did not have clipless pedals till last year. I would never want to go back. I use a touring/mtn type shoe and two sided Crank Bros Candy pedals and love the ability to clip in and out easily and the lack of pain and circulation restriction that I had with toe straps. From the beginning I did not notice any problem getting out of the clipless, even when I remembered late. That is opposed to the first time I rode in toe clips with cleats and forgot to loosen the straps at a stop sign on my first ride. Pride hurt more than body of course. Walking in cleated shoes was always a pain. Besides that I no longer have to worry about toe clips bolts loosening, straps breaking, or buckles not working properly.

Safety: There is no question in my mind that being clipped in offers a lot of safety advantages. I can much more easily accelerate out of harms way, keep my feet on the pedals during wet weather and on bumpy roads and can easily float/jump over obstacles and potholes. It's also next to impossible to catch them pedaling through a turn.

Efficiency: I've seen only 2 or 3 studies on this. I remember one showed greater oxygen consumption with toe clips, but I did not put much stock in that as it appeared they did not use cyclists for the test. Others tested cyclists and triathletes and showed less muscle exertion at the same output with clipless pedals. As one naturally lifts the foot that is not on the downstroke when pedaling it makes sense that one would be more efficient with straps or clipless.

Spinning/form: Being strapped/clipped in makes spinning and "pedaling in circles" much easier in my experience. In turn that allows for better blood circulation to supply energy and carry away waste and less wasted energy in the form of physical deflection of the bike and side to side tracking.
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Old 08-05-10, 01:16 PM   #19
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I agree that modern clipless systems are better than old fashioned toe clips and straps, but the disadvantage is the need for specialized shoes.

My approach to mitigate that is to wear sandals that use SPD cleats and pedals that are plain on one side and SPD on the other. It's an almost perfect compromise. When I have my sandals or cycling shoes on, I get to use my cleats. When I don't, I'm pedaling on the tops of my plain pedals with no retention.

I'm thinking of seeing if I can attach PowerGrips to these pedals. I can't attach toe clips, because they would scrape on the ground when I'm using cleats. But there ought to be no harm in rubbing PowerGrips on the ground.
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Old 08-05-10, 01:30 PM   #20
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grippy pin studded platform pedals will work with any sensible shoes you have on, and be practical .

Toeclip will place your foot on the same spot on the pedal as the front of your shoe will hit the clip [toe clips come in sizes]

They also hold the strap open, further aiding the shoe, to consistently be placed , ball of the foot over the pedal axle.

but every time you put a foot down , you have to flip the pedal over and stuff your shoe in the strap opening,
in the first couple pedal strokes or hear the highest point of the toe clip drag on the pavement.
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Old 08-05-10, 01:52 PM   #21
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but every time you put a foot down , you have to flip the pedal over and stuff your shoe in the strap opening, in the first couple pedal strokes or hear the highest point of the toe clip drag on the pavement.
I do my group rides on a fixed gear bike with toeclips, straps and slotted cleats. Despite this, I generally find myself to be among the first people secured into the pedals after e.g. a stop light changes. Plenty of people miss clipping in right away with clipless pedals and have to fumble with it a couple times before they're secured. The big advantage clipless has is in releasing the pedal -- you don't have to reach down to loosen the strap.
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Old 08-05-10, 01:53 PM   #22
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[QUOTE=noglider;11238427]IMy approach to mitigate that is to wear sandals that use SPD cleats and pedals that are plain on one side and SPD on the other. It's an almost perfect compromise. When I have my sandals or cycling shoes on, I get to use my cleats. When I don't, I'm pedaling on the tops of my plain pedals with no retention.

QUOTE]

Agreed - I would probably do that if I did not have an errand bike for casual use. Otherwise my clipless compatible shoes do very well for walking. The expense certainly is a factor. I chose to get very good shoes and have to have a wide width but they were worth it. They are Lake MX90's and happen to be on closeout right now from Lake at $69.00.
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Old 08-05-10, 02:09 PM   #23
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I've long been someone who doesn't tighten the toe straps, and so I dont have to loosen them when I stop.
bike shoes with cleat slots hold the shoe in fine.

before the influx of clipless pedals , Cyclocross racers did the toe clip flip and foot stuff trick several times a lap, and
then after a flying leap onto the saddle at a full gallop, Pros really get good at that , or say bye-bye to the field leaving you behind.
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Old 08-05-10, 02:23 PM   #24
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I'm thinking of seeing if I can attach PowerGrips to these pedals. I can't attach toe clips, because they would scrape on the ground when I'm using cleats. But there ought to be no harm in rubbing PowerGrips on the ground.
No harm in Powergrips rubbing on the ground. Lots of potential harm to yourself if the loop 'grabs' something static I would think. You'd be off the bike in a flash.
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Old 08-05-10, 07:01 PM   #25
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I don't expect to ride over any hooks fixed in the road, pointing towards my tail. I can't recall ever riding over any.
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