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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 06-21-06, 07:31 PM   #1
fender1
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I don't want to start a fight:Clipless or Toe Clips?

Hi,

I have been commuting for about a year+ now (1800 miles total ) and have noticed that other than the folks in town who ride SS, I am the only person using toe clips and straps. Most everyone I see, commuters & roadies (not counting recreational folks) are clipless. I ride a 1977 Trek w/ about 35lbs of gear.(Please don't tell me to store my stuff at work, I can't) When the weather is bad I ride a Cannodale 50/50 internal hub w/ the same amount of gear. The ride is 34 miles round trip and there are some hills, city streets, stop lights and bikepaths in my route. Anyone gone from clips to clipless or the other way around? I am looking for feedback because if I went clipless, between pedals for both bikes and shoes, I am looking at about $300 (i think)

Would there be an appreciable improvement in efficency, speed etc? Or am I just buying new toys? I have seen platform pedals one one side and clipless on the other vs. plain clipless. Your opinions and experiences would be helpful.

Also as I know this may spark a debate amongst some (i.e. internal geard hub vs. derailer / disc vs. drum brakes) I am really looking for practcal advice and not just opnion. In addition, my riding is 99% commuting. Thanks for you help!
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Old 06-21-06, 07:40 PM   #2
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I see my spd pedals as a safety feature that I simply would not ride without... the fact that it is the most efficient way to go is a pretty nice bonus!

I prefer the shimano pedals that have the clipless on one side, and a normal pedal on the other side... the shaft is twice the size of the other shimano pedals, and that is important to me because I am a big rider who went through more than my fair share of the other pedals.... plus, if you are ever in a really hairy situation you can flip the pedals and continue to pedal without being attached to the bike!

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Old 06-21-06, 07:47 PM   #3
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I switched to clipless (spd) a couple of years ago and I'll never go back. I even put on my cleated shoes for one-block beer runs. It's an amazing sensation, really connects you to your bike an an odddly intimate way and changes the way you think about riding. Profiting from upstrokes is a good thing! as is always knowing where your feet will be. Highly recommended.

I ride 2sided shimano mtb pedals on my roadie and beater mtb, w/ shimano shoes. I guess it cost about $200 all told to set em up. best money I ever spent on bikes, aside from the bikes themselves.
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Old 06-21-06, 07:53 PM   #4
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I have found clipless to be far safer than the straps and clips I used to have. Getting out of them is easier for me and the connection to the pedal feels better when I am in. I also like not having the pressure of the clip and strap on top of my foot.

It is worth a try in my opinion. I started with basic Shimano SPDs and they were great to learn on. I also really like the crank bros. pedals. You can save a little on the pedal, but don't skimp too much on the shoe. No pedal will be comfortable with bad shoes, and they can always be used with an upgraded pedal if you like clipless.
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Old 06-21-06, 08:06 PM   #5
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I have spd on my roadie and its ok I suppose. I am not sure it's worth the outlay of $$$$ but I have been spending a lot of dough on gearing up lately so everything is starting to seem expensive.
COmpared to my SS with flat pedals I like it better and with your long commute I think it would eventually pay for itself (not literally!) in the long haul. It's a very different feeling plus it is much more efficient.
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Old 06-21-06, 08:25 PM   #6
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I use SPDs on both bikes. I have Shimano mtb 545s (Double sided SPD) and 324s (SPD/Platform). I'm too much of a **** to get my feet into clips and straps. They're efficient and w/ the right shoes, comfortable. And if they're not set too tight, they're easy to get out of in panic situations.
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Old 06-21-06, 08:28 PM   #7
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I have never tried clipless, but do enjoy straps.

From a physics standpoint, the only real difference would be weight... and spinning weight matters a little more.

I doubt that toe clips need be super tight in order to be efficient. Clipping in is probably easier with clipless though, walking around off the bike, not so pleasant.
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Old 06-21-06, 08:34 PM   #8
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I use toe clips with teva shoes. Works for me cause I have no money I have ridden clipless bikes before I have never fallen over due to being cliped in. I have fallen over more with my feet getting caught in the toe clip setup
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Old 06-21-06, 08:39 PM   #9
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There's no reason two pair of pedals and one pair of shoes for the types of biking you describe should cost you $300. I went with Performance Campus pedals (SPD on one side, Platform on the other for days when i leave the cleats home) and a pair of Shimano mountain bike shoes which are just comfortable enough to wear all day if I have to. Total cost was about $100. Throw in a second set of pedals and it would have been $140-$150.

You simply DON'T need $100 pedals or $100 shoes for the riding you describe.
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Old 06-21-06, 08:43 PM   #10
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I had clip-less pedals on my old road frame, but for commuting I much prefer toe clips & straps. I can wear tennis shoes or whatever and still strap in. I grew up on toe clips, clip-less did not really hit the scene until I was in college, so I never have had an issue with being tied to the pedals.
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Old 06-21-06, 08:57 PM   #11
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I prefer clipless. Thing is that your power output when your feet are well bound or clipped in is smoother, with less "pulsing".....and this really helps when winds are against you.

I say just get some $60 eggbeater C pedals from performance, and get some decent sneaker type spd shoes from the LBS.
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Old 06-21-06, 09:05 PM   #12
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Haven't tried clipless.

Clips and (loose) straps: uncomfortable in sneakers after a while; fine with slightly firmer shoes; superb with winter boots.
With bulkier shoes/boots there is no movement of the shoe on the up-pedal, but no problem getting the foot free either. I think clips/straps are probably better in this situation - you can wear whatever footwear you like, and if it is bulky and solid there is *no* extraneous movement. Makes hills much easier; makes spinning fast much easier.
On the other hand, light and non-bulky footwear dosen't fill the clip as much, I think you would have to really tighten the straps to get as firm a connection and I am loath to do this. I have occasionally had my feet fall out of the clips on really bumpy sections.

Good luch with your decision.

Ask a bike shop if you can trial clipless.
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Old 06-21-06, 09:14 PM   #13
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I have clipless on my roadie and love it, but I'd never switch out the toe clips I have on my commuter (except for powergrips.). I might be standing 6 hours out of any given school day, depending on what's on my schedule, and I need to be comfortable. I could bring a change of shoes, but it doesn't make sense. It doesn't take me any longer to get in or out of clips, and lightness is not a concern - the bike is plenty light since there are no shifters or brakes, and there aren't any hills on my commute.
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Old 06-21-06, 09:28 PM   #14
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For a 17 mile ride, you will be a lot more comfortable with purpose designed cycling shoes, regardless of whether you go for clips or latch-in. Therefore the extra cost of latch-in, would be two sets of pedals. I just switched from double sided SPD pedals to A520 to avoid pain from the small pressure area on hot days. Spinning is definitely easier with SPD.
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Old 06-22-06, 02:22 AM   #15
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Since you already use clips and straps this may not appeal to you but Powergrips work very well for any lurkers out there who are looking for an inexpensive way to get connected to the pedal. Or needs to wear regular shoes for one reason or another. I can't compare them to other systems but I can tell you they work. Pedal power is definitely better - I was able to move to higher gearing on all the hills around my house after adding them. Getting in and out of the Powergrips is also a breeze.

It's not a totally free lunch though. If you switch from light sneakers to heavy boots - you will need to adjust the powergrips to fit the new width of the shoe. If you ride with narrower shoes than the Powergrips are set to accept, you can have your foot slide far enough forward that it becomes difficult to remove.

For anyone looking to add clipless to folding bikes or to multiple bikes, MKS makes a removable clipless pedal. From the pedal prices others throw around it's probably not any cheaper to get the MKS EZ cube and the appropriate number of adapters to allow you to move the pedals to different bikes. I have two folding bikes so removing the pedals with a quick release is a necessity. Since I want to know what all the clipless rage is about, I just got some cubes yesterday. Perhaps in a month or so, I'll have some useful first-hand information about them.
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Old 06-22-06, 04:46 AM   #16
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Would you play hockey without hockey skates? Use the equipment that makes cycling more efficient and safer. SPD is perfect for commuting. Sandals, winter cycling shoes, .....Go for it.
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Old 06-22-06, 05:02 AM   #17
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I just switched to clipless this month - after ten years of toe clips. Without a doubt, it's the best feature I've ever invested in. Feels a LOT more powerful and increased my avg mph substantially.
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Old 06-22-06, 05:11 AM   #18
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Not an experienced biker by any stretch, but just invested in clipless eggbeaters and casual shimano mountain shoes, both on sale at Performance. Total bill = $115.
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Old 06-22-06, 05:22 AM   #19
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Clips and straps are death traps!!

My former commuter bike had SPDs. They were ok. My present commuter came with Eggbeaters. Wow!! I love them. I like them so much I ditched the Look pedals that had been on my road bike for quite a while and replaced them with Quattro pedals (Eggbeater style pedal for road bikes).
Eggbeaters are SPD compatible (two hole) so they'll fit almost any mountain bike style shoe.

Give 'em a look.
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Old 06-22-06, 06:35 AM   #20
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As a certified retro-grouch, I remain skeptical of clipless systems. Physics doesn't show me how "greater efficiency" is achieved. I use a loose strap with a fitted and adjusted toe clip, and my shoes are old Adidas touring shoes that are moulded with a vestigial slot in the sole. I get out instantly (been removing my feet from toe clips for 30+ years) with the straps just loose enough to prevent foot constriction. I can push my foot forward at the top of the stroke, pull my foot back at the bottom of the stroke, and unload the rising pedal on the upstroke. Getting in the pedal is always a minor task, but I've seen other riders bungle clip-ins, too.

Perhaps someone can clarify how and why clipless systems deliver better efficiency, and show data.

If you like clips, stick with them as long as you have suitable shoes. That's what I think will be my transition point.

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Old 06-22-06, 09:45 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Road Fan
Perhaps someone can clarify how and why clipless systems deliver better efficiency, and show data.

Ken Freeman
Wow -- a real name.

You may be right in the general sense about efficiency, but there are other factors.

First, when people switch to clipless, they usually also go to bike shoes for the first time. I switched to clipless in stages, first going to bike shoes (with straps), and then about 3 months later going to clipless. I felt that I got an immediate boost just from going to the stiffer (MTB) shoes. More power goes into the pedal rather than into bending your toe joint. As a side benefit, the shoes protected the bottoms of my feet better as well.

Secondly, at least when I used straps, I had to have one strap just loose enough to slip out of in an emergency. Then, whenever I started up again, I had to reach down and tighten the strap. And then do it again a mile or 2 later. Maybe I had the straps wrong ... dunno ... but if I was operating this way, its likely others were/are too. This means there's a constant play in the system that prevents a full efficient stroke. It was also a darn nuisance, constantly interrupting my train of thought to tighten or untighten the strap. The strap might have been as efficient as clipless, if I didn't have the real world concern of needing my feet free. This may be why some racers still use straps (double straps I believe) -- they only have to worry about getting off at the end of the race.

The clipless makes it safe*, easy and practical to be connected directly to your machine.
* Once you learn how
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Old 06-22-06, 09:55 AM   #22
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Just a thought about the two bike situation -- once you have the pedals loosened, its only about a 3 minute job to change pedals. So you'd only need one set of pedals/shoes to start. By watching the sales, you can get some kind of pedal/shoe combination for under a $100 -- a low enough entry cost to help you decide if its worth more of an investment.
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Old 06-22-06, 02:08 PM   #23
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I use clips&straps. Mainly because I cant afford clipless, and I wouldnt want to carry around another pair of shoes at school.
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Old 06-22-06, 02:27 PM   #24
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+1 for the shimano A520. $55 on ebay. i prefer spd since you can still walk in the cycling shoes.
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Old 06-22-06, 03:17 PM   #25
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My commute is about transportation -- I don't get dressed up in special gear for a car ride and I refuse to wear anything special on my commuter bike. I had SPDs on my commuter but I switched back to toe clips and haven't had one complaint.
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