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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 07-07-06, 01:59 PM   #1
bragi
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Are clipless pedals all that?

I don't have a car at all, so most of my riding is done in traffic, with lots of stops, especially downtown at "rush" hour. I've been using regular old platform pedals, because I don't have to worry about my feet at all of those intersections; I can just start pedaling. Plus, I can wear whatever shoes I want. Lately, though, I've been toying with the idea of clipless. Only three things hold me back:

1. I suspect that the performance improvement of clipless pedals is vastly exaggerated (though I don't really know, never having used them before).

2. They might be a real pain if you have to stop/start every few blocks.

3. I'm secretly afraid I'll fall over trying to unclip, and get laughed at by a fat guy in a minivan eating a burrito.

Any thoughts?
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Old 07-07-06, 02:17 PM   #2
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I like 'em.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bragi
1. I suspect that the performance improvement of clipless pedals is vastly exaggerated (though I don't really know, never having used them before).
I have two-sided pedals to solve the "need special shoes" problem. When I'm clipped in I feel a better connection to the drivetrain, and detect a slight increase in performance, which increases with RPMs. This increase is significant enough to make me prefer to ride clipped.

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Originally Posted by bragi
2. They might be a real pain if you have to stop/start every few blocks.
Eh -- you get used to it. If I'm going to have to stop every block, I'll leave one foot unclipped maybe. Usually clipping in and out happens automatically. (It takes time and practice for it to become reflexive though.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by bragi
3. I'm secretly afraid I'll fall over trying to unclip, and get laughed at by a fat guy in a minivan eating a burrito.
Oh, yeah. That'll happen.

But it won't be the fat guy in the minivan, it'll be the nice-looking young lady/gentleman on the nice-looking bike you just rolled to a stop next to. S/he will look down at you and ask if you're okay; there will be pity in her/his voice.
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Old 07-07-06, 02:33 PM   #3
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If you learn to pedal smoothly (up and down) you can get a real increase in comfort - especially going up hills. Also, for rough terrain, they are wonderful in my opinion, keeps the feet on the pedals.
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Old 07-07-06, 02:41 PM   #4
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I rode clipless for years when my commute was 7 miles or more each way, with very little stops and starts. My commute now is within walking distance of work, shopping etc. I just started using platform pedals and would never go back to clipless on my "city" type bike.

I too enjoy wearing whatever shoe/sandal I'm wearing when I hop on my bike, and when pulling my youngest in the trailer around town clipless wouldn't be worth the extra effort.
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Old 07-07-06, 02:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bragi
I don't have a car at all, so most of my riding is done in traffic, with lots of stops, especially downtown at "rush" hour. I've been using regular old platform pedals, because I don't have to worry about my feet at all of those intersections; I can just start pedaling. Plus, I can wear whatever shoes I want. Lately, though, I've been toying with the idea of clipless. Only three things hold me back:

1. I suspect that the performance improvement of clipless pedals is vastly exaggerated (though I don't really know, never having used them before).
Your suspicions is false. It's almost impossible to have a proper backstroke with platform pedals. You're ignoring half you leg, so it shouldn't be surprising.

Quote:
2. They might be a real pain if you have to stop/start every few blocks.
SPD-style pedals with the loosest spring setting possible are not a pain at all for the rigors of commuting. The recessed cleat also makes walking a breeze.

Quote:
3. I'm secretly afraid I'll fall over trying to unclip, and get laughed at by a fat guy in a minivan eating a burrito.

Any thoughts?
That's your problem, namely that it's all in your head. Clipless pedals are normal, platforms are weird. Honestly, does it make sense to only half-use one's legs? Do what my better half does, get a set of pedals that have SPD-style clips on one side and platforms on the other, along with a decent pair of shoes that have the cleat recessed and you're good to go. You can slowly get over the fear of falling by first practicing clipping in and out while leaning against a wall at home (or have someone holding you up), then while riding on soft grass in case you fall, and finally when you feel confident on a stretch of road with few cars and few intersections. Before you know it you'll be wondering why you were so afraid in the first place!
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Old 07-07-06, 02:47 PM   #6
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Seems like this is the 4th or 5th thread in the last 2 weeks about clipless pedals. Not to be dogmatic about it, but, yes, clipless pedals are all that and a peice of pie. If you are not using them you are making a horrible mistake. To address your points:

1. The performance is much better. You can deliver power to the drivetrain throughout the rotation of the cranks. Climbing and starts are much easier when standing using clipless for the same reasons.
2. They are much easier to get in and out of than toe clips and are not a pain at all.
3. Your fear of the horizontal trackstand is reasonable, especially when you start out clipless. It becomes second nature quickly, though.
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Old 07-07-06, 03:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbojeff
3. Your fear of the horizontal trackstand is reasonable, especially when you start out clipless. It becomes second nature quickly, though.
Plus, if you fall, think of the stories you'll have to tell. Without clipless: "I rode to work today and didn't fall over." Yawn! With clipless: " I fell in front of this absolutely stunning redhead..." Much better story
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Old 07-07-06, 03:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbojeff
If you are not using them you are making a horrible mistake.
They're nice, but far from necessary. First decide what type of riding you do. For distance and performance, go clipless. For utility, flexibility, and comfort -- use platforms. Stop and start downtown traffic will never maximize your efficiency with any type of pedal but platforms will maximize your utility on and off the bike.
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Old 07-07-06, 03:17 PM   #9
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They are pretty great and once you get used to them it is hard to go back. There is a nice performance boost (esp in the hills), but there is also a bonus in the feel of being connected to the bike that is bigger. I feel much more confident standing up and really pedaling hard. They are not entirely different than toe clips that are pulled tight, but they are much safer & more comfortable IMO. You can pick up nice combo pedal/shoe deals on the web for $100. I would look for SPD, Eggbeaters or Time.
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Old 07-07-06, 03:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barba
They are pretty great and once you get used to them it is hard to go back. There is a nice performance boost (esp in the hills), but there is also a bonus in the feel of being connected to the bike that is bigger. I feel much more confident standing up and really pedaling hard. They are not entirely different than toe clips that are pulled tight, but they are much safer & more comfortable IMO. You can pick up nice combo pedal/shoe deals on the web for $100. I would look for SPD, Eggbeaters or Time.
Wellgo too, BTW, which are essentially an SPD clone. It's the type used by Performance's "Campus" pedal (one side SPD-style, one side platform).
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Old 07-07-06, 03:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyccommute
Plus, if you fall, think of the stories you'll have to tell. Without clipless: "I rode to work today and didn't fall over." Yawn! With clipless: " I fell in front of this absolutely stunning redhead..." Much better story
+1 The stories are half the reason I commute! Them, and the stunning redheads.
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Old 07-07-06, 04:54 PM   #12
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All that and a bag of chips.
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Old 07-07-06, 05:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bragi
1. I suspect that the performance improvement of clipless pedals is vastly exaggerated (though I don't really know, never having used them before).
2. They might be a real pain if you have to stop/start every few blocks.
3. I'm secretly afraid I'll fall over trying to unclip, and get laughed at by a fat guy in a minivan eating a burrito.
I went clipless (Time ATAC) for the summer a few years ago. Then decided that clips/straps were better and switched back for about a year. Then tried the ATACs again and have stuck with them ever since.

#1 - I don't see any major performance improvement over clips with tight straps. Maybe a little boost, but not much. However, over longer distances the toe clips hurt my toes. Clipless doesn't hurt my toes.

#2 - This was irritating at first but I don't really notice it now.

#3 - I only fell once. I was pulling my son on a tag-along and when I was slowing down to stop, he managed to stop us suddenly and I went over. I DID have many close calls in the first couple hundred miles though.

Put your bike in a training stand and practice cipping in & out over and over and over and over....until you're sick of it. Then go find a nice soft grassy area and ride your bike in circles while clipping in & out over and over and over..... Finally, go for a real ride and develop the habit of clipping out sooner than you think you would need to. I don't clip out when I want to put my foot down, I clip out a couple pedal strokes BEFORE I want to put my foot down.

Just my 2 cents.

Tom
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Old 07-07-06, 06:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTcommuter
They're nice, but far from necessary. First decide what type of riding you do. For distance and performance, go clipless. For utility, flexibility, and comfort -- use platforms. Stop and start downtown traffic will never maximize your efficiency with any type of pedal but platforms will maximize your utility on and off the bike.
My $0.02: I find clipless are perfect for stop-and-go riding [actually, ALL riding]. Sprinting from light to light requires all the power I can generate, and clipless help me get it to the wheel.
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Old 07-07-06, 06:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bragi
I don't have a car at all, so most of my riding is done in traffic, with lots of stops, especially downtown at "rush" hour. I've been using regular old platform pedals, because I don't have to worry about my feet at all of those intersections; I can just start pedaling. Plus, I can wear whatever shoes I want. Lately, though, I've been toying with the idea of clipless. Only three things hold me back:

1. I suspect that the performance improvement of clipless pedals is vastly exaggerated (though I don't really know, never having used them before).

2. They might be a real pain if you have to stop/start every few blocks.

3. I'm secretly afraid I'll fall over trying to unclip, and get laughed at by a fat guy in a minivan eating a burrito.

Any thoughts?


I really just depends...if you are just riding no more than a couple of miles, and you are real laid back about it (i.e. not in a hurry at all), then platforms are just fine. On the other hand, if you are interested in speed, efficiency, distance, or, at least, riding at a moderate to fast pace, then clipless is the only way to go. Clipping and unclipping become instinct after a short time of riding clipless....and you'll immediately notice the boost in your acceleration and climbing power. Yeah, you'll fall once or twice in the beginning.
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Old 07-07-06, 06:53 PM   #16
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There seems to be an overwhelming consensus that clipless pedals really ARE all that. (though I should probably point out that people did manage to ride fast on platform pedals for decades before the invention of clipless...) I kind of like the idea of half & half pedals; it gives me a security blanket if I need one. I think it's worth it to give 'em a try; thanks, all.
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Old 07-07-06, 07:08 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bragi
I kind of like the idea of half & half pedals.
My first forray into clipless was with half and half pedals with similar reasoning. I have used the platform half probably twice in the last 4 years.

To repeat, and with all due respect to Eggplant_Jeff, they are all that and a peice of pie. Panniers are all that and a bag of chips.
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Old 07-07-06, 07:21 PM   #18
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I just started using clipless about one week ago and I really like them despite the learning curve. Yes...I fell over the first time I rode to the store and forgot about them until too late ...helpless feeling but I learned my lesson to unclip before I stop. Same at stop signs and other road situations where you might need to put a foot down. I feel much more secure in applying power to get thru an intersection or when my feet are wet without worring about a foot slipping off the pedal. I have not graduated to the "automatic" level yet when it is time to unclip but I am getting better with each ride. I think with more time, it will become second nature and I will seldome need to think about it.
My recommendation....spend some time riding without traffic around and practice the unclipping and stopping/starting without fear of falling or getting run over. I think you will like them.
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Old 07-07-06, 07:34 PM   #19
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I like platforms. I commute and I don't like carrying a change of shoes. I haven't found any clipless (recessed or not) that were comfortable enough for all day wear. Full disclosure -- I wear 13 wides and have found very few makers catering to my canoes. All that said, I do think they add to performance. Maybe what you are looking for are those half and half pedals. My .02 cents.
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Old 07-07-06, 08:46 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bragi
1. I suspect that the performance improvement of clipless pedals is vastly exaggerated (though I don't really know, never having used them before). ?
After I bought a road bike with clipless I quit riding my old MTB with platforms for well over a year. Then I had a mechanical problem one day and had to hop on the old mountain bike, and when I was going up hills my feet were literally sliding off the back of the pedals because I was so used to pulling through my stroke with clipless. I had to TRY to keep my feet on the pedals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bragi
2. They might be a real pain if you have to stop/start every few blocks. ?
This was somewhat true when I was using the Looks that came with my bike. But now that I'm using Crank Brothers I couldn't be happier.
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Old 07-07-06, 08:58 PM   #21
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I think it depends how far you are going and what you are going to do when you get there.

5 miles and don't want to change shoes at destination = why bother with clipless.

10 miles and have a place to stash spare shoes, then yeah, probably want some performance pedals.

Right now, I'm kind of keen on PowerGrips.

Edit: I have SPD clipless pedals on my 30 mile weekend road bike.
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Old 07-07-06, 09:04 PM   #22
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Here's my take: I've used platforms, clips, half spd pedals, & double sided clipless (Quattros) on a short commute. Platforms are fine for short commutes. The new bmx style platforms with studs are great for keeping any kind of shoe on the pedal. Clips are a good half way point. But unless you're diligent about getting your feet IN them, you'll can destroy them by scrapping the clips against the ground while pedalling. Half spds were pretty useless in my opinion. Annoying clip lump when wearing regular shoes, & then you have to flop the pedals to the right side when wearing cleats. Clipless is very easy once you have it down, but they can be nerve wracking to use in heavy stop & go rush hour traffic. Hope that helps...
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Old 07-08-06, 05:02 PM   #23
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I use MKS-brand RMX (BMX) pedals, basically metal platforms with built-in reflectors. I used to ride with toe clips and straps, then clipless. I got tired of losing my balance, i.e., tipping to the right, past the point of no return, with my right foot still clipped in. I thought, "I'm getting older (mid-50s), and the last thing I need to do is fall and break my hip." I know, it makes me sound hopelessly old and feeble, but I enjoy the freedom to wear normal shoes when I ride. My typical outfit is cargo shorts, a loose T-shirt and sandals instead of special shoes and special bicycle garb. I don't miss the clipless pedals at all.
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Old 07-08-06, 06:12 PM   #24
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I love my clipless. Been riding them since the mk2 look pedal (remember those black ones anyone? came right after the original white ones about 23ish years ago....) and LOVE THEM!! Currently, I use Time Attac pedals and highly highly reccomend them. They are easy to get out of, have insane amounts of "float" (your feet can rotate a lot before unclipping, making it easier on the knees since your foot can rotate on a wonky pedal stroke like I have instead of your knee grinding if your foot is immobile...). They are also relatively light, and very strong.

OH, you will fall, but you will get over it. Honest.
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Old 07-09-06, 02:49 PM   #25
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Pardon the stupid question, but I haven't taken a look at the clipless sets at my LBS and am looking to buy some from the net...these things are sold in pairs right? I see things like eggbeater's sold for $50ish and wonder if that's 50 each pedal or per pair...I'm assuming pairs, but just want to be sure.
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