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  1. #1
    500 Watts kill.cactus's Avatar
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    Formal Testing of Grant Peterson's Theory

    Okay so this has been invalidated. I just was shown a section of the Grant Peterson Article that says in "vicious sprints" clipless helps.

    But I went to all this trouble! So I'll post it anyways.

    Today I went out to my school's track (which I was barred from biking on after the athletic director saw me) and I put the clipless theory to the test.

    Conditions: I made sure to do the tests in quick succession, having just finished a three mile warm up. I allowed 60 second rests between each sprint. The wind direction was almost entirely constant (to my back on the sprint-side of the track), as was its speed. I'd say the differences between speeds due to wind could be as much as plus or minus 1.5 mph (but that is a generous uncertainty, and in the end what matters is not speed but the analysis of the sprint's form and foot position).

    Test series one:
    Tennis Shoes. In-saddle sprint. Approach to sprint - Spinning. Position - balls of feet.
    I started with 17mph on the initial straightaway into the turn and once I passed the start of the opposite 100 meter straightaway I pushed as hard as I could (remember, in-saddle).
    Observations: I got to 26.0 mph before the end of the 100 meter stretch. ~75 RPM max before I couldn't keep my feet on the pedals.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Tennis Shoes. Out of saddle sprint. Approach to sprint - Hammering. Position - balls of feet.
    Started at same speed on initial straightaway and turn, passing the start of the opposite 100 meter straightaway at 17mph. Began the out of saddle spring and finished with max speed of 27.5.
    Observations: Slightly faster than in-saddle spinning, but taking the wind into account, the uncertainty of plus or minus 1.5 mph eliminates the discrepancy. ~70 RPM max before I couldn't keep my feet on the pedals.



    Test series two:
    SIDI shoes with LOOK style clips. Cheap Nashbar pedal model "Nashbar Special Road Pedal" set to highest tension setting. In saddle sprint. Approach to sprint - Spinning. Position - locked.
    Same routine. Crossed the start of the 100 meter straightaway at 17mph.
    Began the in-saddle sprint and finished with a max speed of 30.5mph.
    Observations: My RPMs were much higher (as I was able to spin without losing my footing) at ~90. During the second 50 meters of the sprint, my upward-bound foot lifted repeatedly from the surface of the sole of its clipless shoe. I did not experience "pulling", or physically pulling the shoes (and thus pedals) up with my foot - only the slight (but real) lifting of my foot from the shoe's sole.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    SIDI shoes with LOOK style clips. Cheap Nashbar pedal model "Nashbar Special Road Pedal" set to highest tension setting. Out of saddle sprint. Approach to sprint - Hammering. Position - locked.
    Same routine. Crossed the start of the 100 meter straightaway at 17mph.
    Began the hammering, out of saddle sprint and finished with a max speed of 33.0mph.
    Observations: My RPMs were higher than the tennis-shoe-hammering sprint at ~80. During the second 50 meters of the sprint, my upward-bound foot lifted repeatedly from the surface of the sole of its clipless shoe. There was pressure on the top of my foot from "pulling" the shoe upwards (my foot was pulling the shoe and was pressed against its top.


    To note:
    I did not use the same shifting techniques for each test. I shifted opportunely - that is to say I shifted with the intention to get as fast as I could. This involves (for me) spinning high RPMs, even while hammering.
    While pedaling, I was trying to test Grant Peterson's point that even the pros "minimize the downward force on the upward-moving pedal more. They don't pull up on it or even unweight it." (quoted directly from article). Thus, I tested to see if in a powerful sprint one's feet lift naturally. See analysis for results.

    Analysis:
    The clipless pedals were definitely faster. They allowed me to run higher RPMs without the danger of having my feet slip or fly off of the pedals.
    The most important thing:
    In both tests of series two, my feet lifted from the soles of my SIDIs on the upstroke.
    If I had done this with tennis shoes/no clips I would have lifted my foot away from the pedal. Even if I modulated this effect of lifting, I would have such little weight on the pedal in upstroke that my feet would slip off the pedals dangerously.

    My feet do not do this during normal pedaling. Truthfully, I noticed on the way to school that I apply surprisingly great pressure downwards on the up stroke. I'm working on modifying this so that I apply as little pressure as possible on the downward stroke (but I don't want to nor think I can make the "pulling" or lifting effects part of a safe, everyday cycling stroke. That must be saved for pure sprints or climbs, if it can be).

    I did not go into these tests with the intention of pulling up so hard that I would lift my foot from the soles of my clipless shoes in test series two. I realized before the tests that anyone who tried to do this could, and it would result in an awkward pedaling style (the person would probably be so focused on the upstroke that he/she'd be able to focus less energy into the downstroke, making it counterproductive). I simply tried to eliminate all downward force (this took concentration) while putting as much force into the downstroke with the other leg. I happened to lift my feet, though. (oops - but it mounted considerable evidence that Mr. Peterson's claims are false)



    These tests strongly support the conclusion that one can (and does) either apply such little weight to the pedal on upstroke that slippage is guaranteed to occur without clipless, or lift one's foot completely from the pedal/shoe-sole surface.

    QED. Lol

  2. #2
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    All my rides are vicious sprints.


    Although the above statement is quite false, I kind of like the sound of it.

  3. #3
    Jet Jockey Banzai's Avatar
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    Trainers and hundreds of racers have already demonstrated the clear advantages of platforms when it comes to efficiency, which is why they use them almost exclusively in their events.
    Good night...and good luck

  4. #4
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruiser View Post
    All my rides are vicious sprints.


    Although the above statement is quite false, I kind of like the sound of it.
    I suspect that if you subscribe to the peterson theories and are riding around in your seersucker that none of your rides are vicious sprints.

    [edit] this was just a general comment, not directed at ghettocruiser specifically
    Last edited by JeffS; 10-19-07 at 03:51 PM.

  5. #5
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
    Trainers and hundreds of racers have already demonstrated the clear advantages of platforms when it comes to efficiency, which is why they use them almost exclusively in their events.
    "platforms?" really?

  6. #6
    Jet Jockey Banzai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    "platforms?" really?
    Maybe I should have used more winking smilies at the end of that sentence, since one wasn't enough to convey the dripping sarcasm.
    Good night...and good luck

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    Well, in reality platforms are are frequently used preferentially to clipless in the most demanding sprints. It's just that the shoes have cleats and the pedals have straps that basically bolt the shoe to the pedal w/ no hope of unintentional release.

    M

  8. #8
    Enjoy
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    To the Op. Good tests! Good work! Now that you know this...are you considering racing?

  9. #9
    M_S
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
    Maybe I should have used more winking smilies at the end of that sentence, since one wasn't enough to convey the dripping sarcasm.
    You should know better than to rely on subtlety on this place, even if it is blatantly un-subtle.

  10. #10
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Thing is Peterson expressly states that hard sprinting is one of the few places that being clipped in is a positive advantage. This didn't show anything to disprove what he stated. What he ACTUALLY said was that in normal riding, ie, what 95% of us are doing 95% of the time, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

    I should point out, I disagree with him, at least regarding clips and straps. I hate clipless, because of the special shoes, and because of falling on my arse over and over, but I love clips and straps, regardless of whether I'm hard sprinting, because they keep my feet correctly located on the pedals, and prevent them slipping off. My most painful ever accident happened pulling away from the kerb on an empty street in the drizzle. My right foot slipped off the pedal, hit the floor, and the pedal hit me in the back of the calf, gouging me quite badly, and throwing me over the bars, I ended up with my bars and seat out of whack, numerous bruises, a gouge out of the back of my leg, and several other cuts from the bike landing on me. Wouldn't have happened had I had clips and straps.

  11. #11
    DoB
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    My most painful ever accident happened pulling away from the kerb on an empty street in the drizzle. My right foot slipped off the pedal, hit the floor, and the pedal hit me in the back of the calf, gouging me quite badly, and throwing me over the bars, I ended up with my bars and seat out of whack, numerous bruises, a gouge out of the back of my leg, and several other cuts from the bike landing on me. Wouldn't have happened had I had clips and straps.
    One accident like that justifies a lifetime of riding with clips or clipless, doesn't it? I've done the old slipping off the pedal trick myself and it invariably causes some big time pain.

    I happen to prefer clipless on my commuter and toe clips on my 'round town bike (so I can wear street shoes). I ride with a fast cadence / low torque and I like having my feet attached. It's more comfortable and I'd just as soon avoid ever wracking myself on the bike again when a foot slips off.

    I guess I really don't know if it is more efficient or not.

  12. #12
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
    Trainers and hundreds of racers have already demonstrated the clear advantages of platforms when it comes to efficiency, which is why they use them almost exclusively in their events.
    What exactly is the relevance for commuting cyclists, of the opinions of trainers and hundreds of racers on the most efficient technique meant for the specialized realm of bike racing?

  13. #13
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoB View Post
    One accident like that justifies a lifetime of riding with clips or clipless, doesn't it? I've done the old slipping off the pedal trick myself and it invariably causes some big time pain.
    Yep, pretty much. I do use platforms on a couple of bikes, notably those I wear my office shoes with (clips scuff the ends unacceptably). I'm even considering Powergrips for those.

  14. #14
    SSP
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    What exactly is the relevance for commuting cyclists, of the opinions of trainers and hundreds of racers on the most efficient technique meant for the specialized realm of bike racing?
    For some commuters...none at all.

    But, for many of us, the joys of commuting include:

    • the fitness benefits, and
    • the ease with which we can incorporate "training time" into our busy lives.


    Last month, I commuted for several weeks on a full-on time trial bike (see below). The commutes helped me to get my position on the bike sorted out, and the training helped me to win one bronze, one silver, and two gold medals at the Huntsman World Senior Games last week.


    As for the question of platform vs. clipless vs. straps:

    I've ridden with all three, and much prefer clipless. However, I'm currently building up an around town bike that will use Shimano's PD-M324 pedals...clipless SPD on one side, and platform on the other (for those quick trips to the grocery store).
    Last edited by SSP; 10-20-07 at 10:37 AM.
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  15. #15
    SSP
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
    Thing is Peterson expressly states that hard sprinting is one of the few places that being clipped in is a positive advantage. This didn't show anything to disprove what he stated. What he ACTUALLY said was that in normal riding, ie, what 95% of us are doing 95% of the time, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

    I should point out, I disagree with him, at least regarding clips and straps. I hate clipless, because of the special shoes, and because of falling on my arse over and over, but I love clips and straps, regardless of whether I'm hard sprinting, because they keep my feet correctly located on the pedals, and prevent them slipping off. My most painful ever accident happened pulling away from the kerb on an empty street in the drizzle. My right foot slipped off the pedal, hit the floor, and the pedal hit me in the back of the calf, gouging me quite badly, and throwing me over the bars, I ended up with my bars and seat out of whack, numerous bruises, a gouge out of the back of my leg, and several other cuts from the bike landing on me. Wouldn't have happened had I had clips and straps.
    If you're falling on your arse over and over with clipless...something's wrong. For most folks, clipless are a no-brainer - "click" you're in, and "click" you're out.

    After riding with straps for years, for me the transition to clipless was reasonably painless. And I find it much easier to quickly get out of clipless than to get out of straps...and easier to get locked in too (though I usually trackstand at intersections, so that's a non-issue for me).
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    Why didn't you test the theory that it's less dangerous to have platform pedals for a commuter bike that allow to stop and wait at every intersection than to run red lights and stop signs in order to avoid unclipping clipless pedals?

  17. #17
    SSP
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barabaika View Post
    Why didn't you test the theory that it's less dangerous to have platform pedals for a commuter bike that allow to stop and wait at every intersection than to run red lights and stop signs in order to avoid unclipping clipless pedals?
    Sounds bogus to me...unclipping at a light or intersection is a no-brainer with modern clipless pedals.

    I doubt that the choice of pedal has any relationship with red-light running behavior.
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  18. #18
    Jet Jockey Banzai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    What exactly is the relevance for commuting cyclists, of the opinions of trainers and hundreds of racers on the most efficient technique meant for the specialized realm of bike racing?
    The OP was running a test, insofar as I could tell, concerning efficiency. I'll go read the text again, but I don't think the test involved the ease and efficiency of walking through the grocery store after a short ride to pick up some bread.

    But I could be wrong. Was that 30 mph walking down the frozen food aisle?

    To my poor reading comprehension skills it seemed the OP was attempting to test the efficiency involved in making his bike go, as well as some of the more subtle aspects of Mr. Peterson's hypothesis about foot lift, etc. I thought I'd make a seemingly relevant comment about speed and efficiency in generating it.

    To illustrate my impartiality on this, I have two "commuters"...one with platforms and trekking bars, the other with clipless. The bike with clipless makes most of the commutes, though I prize my other bike for short casual rides. So I wouldn't say that my clipless pedals only have a place in the "specialized realm" of bike racing. They do pretty well in the specialized realm of my commutes and errand running.

    And a recessed cleat with egg beaters even makes it simple to pick up that loaf of bread.
    Good night...and good luck

  19. #19
    Jet Jockey Banzai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barabaika View Post
    Why didn't you test the theory that it's less dangerous to have platform pedals for a commuter bike that allow to stop and wait at every intersection than to run red lights and stop signs in order to avoid unclipping clipless pedals?
    Ummmm...uncliping isn't that hard. It takes about one extra movement of your foot more to step off the pedal.

    Your theory isn't about clipless pedals, it's about the mentality of a particular rider on a particular day.
    Good night...and good luck

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banzai View Post
    Your theory isn't about clipless pedals, it's about the mentality of a particular rider on a particular day.
    Well, it's possible to expand this theory.

    There are bikes that are good for stop-and-go traffic; and there are those that are not.
    Look at the photo of a trial biker above. I'm sure his bike is not comfortable for the city traffic, and he will try to avoid stops.

  21. #21
    SSP
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barabaika View Post
    Well, it's possible to expand this theory.

    There are bikes that are good for stop-and-go traffic; and there are those that are not.
    Look at the photo of a trial biker above. I'm sure his bike is not comfortable for the city traffic, and he will try to avoid stops.
    I agree that my time trial bike is not appropriate for urban cycling...but, not because of the clipless pedal system.

    It's inappropriate because of:
    • the riding position,
    • the fact that my hands are not near the brakes when on the aero bars, and
    • the brakes themselves are not very good (due to the use of "soft" carbon brake pads to help extend the life of those expensive wheels).


    That said, no matter what bike I'm commuting on, I stop for red lights (though I'll also roll through 4-way stop signs if there's no other traffic in sight). But that has more to do with common sense and safety than a desire to avoid unclipping.
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  22. #22
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
    ...., hit the floor, and the pedal hit me in the back of the calf, gouging me quite badly, and throwing me over the bars, I ended up with my bars and seat out of whack, numerous bruises, a gouge out of the back of my leg, and several other cuts from the bike landing on me. Wouldn't have happened had I had clips and straps.
    It wouldn't have happened either if you were more careful and aware of the situation.
    Last edited by slvoid; 10-20-07 at 12:27 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SSP View Post
    But that has more to do with common sense and safety than a desire to avoid unclipping.
    How long does it take to start riding from a complete stop on this trial bike?
    Possibly, a minute. A bad position, an unsuitable cassette, uncomfortable pedals, etc.
    What if there are stops every 500 ft? You probably won't go much faster than a person on a commuter bike, and lose at every intersection.

    Compare it to this commuter bike:


    A casual skirt, high-heel boots, coffee, etc.
    How would she clip her boots?
    Last edited by Barabaika; 10-20-07 at 01:00 PM.

  24. #24
    SSP
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barabaika View Post
    How long does it take to start riding from a complete stop on this trial bike?
    Possibly, a minute.
    What are you talking about? I can get under way very quickly on the TT bike or my road bike. At most intersections, I don't even put my feet down (I can trackstand the bike for a minute or longer). I also use the red-to-green transition to work on my sprinting and routinely out-accelerate cars for the first 25 meters or so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barabaika View Post
    A bad position, an unsuitable cassette, uncomfortable pedals, etc.
    What if there are stops every 500 ft? You probably won't go much faster than a person on a commuter bike, and lose at every intersection.
    I've already admitted that the TT bike is not well-suited for urban cycling. But, I used it for my commutes to get in extra training time, and because my regular road bike was in the shop for repairs. The cassette is suitable for my needs, and the pedals are not at all "uncomfortable".

    As for me not going much faster than a person on a "commuter bike"...that's simply not true. I'd guess the gal on the bike in the photo below averages less than 10 mph while under way...I tend to average a bit more than 20 mph.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barabaika View Post
    Compare it to this commuter bike:


    A casual skirt, high-heel boots, coffee, etc.
    How would she clip her boots?
    Those *are* some nice boots! And, if I commuted in "street clothes", having platform pedals might be something to consider. But, I commute in "bike-specific clothing" (including shoes), so that's a non-issue for me.
    Last edited by SSP; 10-20-07 at 02:05 PM.
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    I do my commuting in street shoes. I use clips on my pedals. You won't see me in clipless anytime soon; I wear 12EEEEEE shoes in below freezing weather and i'm not keen on freezing my feet solid with shoes that I would have to have custom made for me in the first place. I do fine with lifting up on the toe clips.
    My bike is closer to the one being ridden by the woman in the picture than the street rocket racer roady, and I cover about 10 miles in 45 minutes - not many intersections, but plenty of hills that drop me down to the lowest couple gears. I'm by no means a strong rider, I just came off of two years of being sedentary living next door to everything I needed.
    Last edited by JusticeZero; 10-20-07 at 02:04 PM.

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