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Old 04-24-09, 08:43 AM   #1
Urbanis
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Fenders, toe clip overlap, and urban commuting?

Hi all, I believe fenders are a bicyclist's best friend for keeping one's self and one's bicycle clean. Unfortunately, on my new road bike, I discovered that adding a front fender causes toe clip overlap. I do not have overlap issues with the bare wheel, so for the time being, I've removed the front fender.

I've read that toe clip overlap is generally not something to worry about because when riding at a reasonable speed, one can't turn the front wheel far enough to cause a problem. However, I live in New York City and commute in NYC traffic. There are plenty of situations where I am carefully (and slowly) picking my way through obstacles and cars on over-crowded streets. I am *very* concerned about what might happen if I had to turn my wheel suddenly and sharply to avoid, say, getting doored.

So, what say you? Is the overlap a real danger? Should I stop worrying and put the front fender back on? Are there workable solutions that would allow me to have both the benefits of a front fender and NO toe clip overlap (such as a shorter fender or other crud- and spray-catching device)? Suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 04-24-09, 08:51 AM   #2
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Why not remove the toe clips and go with platforms or clipless?

Paul
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Old 04-24-09, 08:52 AM   #3
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If I were moving that slowly and turning that sharply often, I'd switch to platforms.
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Old 04-24-09, 08:56 AM   #4
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That overlap would make me real nervous too.
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Old 04-24-09, 09:12 AM   #5
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Thanks for everyone's thoughts so far.

Clipless: I don't like clipping in and out--too fiddly, expensive to set up, and it means an extra pair of shoes that aren't good for walking in once I get off the bike

Platforms: I prefer the added efficiency of toe clips with the flexibility of getting to wear normal (not special) shoes

Also I should note that my primary reason for this road bike is for long-distance riding (e.g., centuries) and so I need to keep it optimized for that (hence the toe clips). I have a folding bike (with fenders!) that I use more often in the city, but I like being able to use my road bike to commute as well. I don't turn sharply "often," but there are occasions in the heaviest Midtown traffic where it is helpful or necessary. Also, all it takes is one accident...
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Old 04-24-09, 09:21 AM   #6
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Sounds like you've answered your own question then.
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Old 04-24-09, 09:31 AM   #7
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No, I haven't. I'm asking if I can have fenders and toe clips on my road bike so I can use it for both safe commuting and long rides. There are many solutions I may not know about, and I am looking for options.
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Old 04-24-09, 09:43 AM   #8
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It seems to me that if you're going slow enough to have toe-overlap issues (since they only really occur at low speeds), dooring won't be an issue since you can just stop in time to avoid being hit.

I do have a little bit of toe overlap with both of my bikes, and I've sort of gotten used to it. When I know that my foot might hit my wheel (or fender) I can angle my foot a little differently, and straighten out the wheel just a teeny bit for the brief interval until I've cleared the wheel. It only takes very slight adjustments, so it doesn't reduce my maneuverability all that much either (though I suppose the severity of the toe overlap would make a difference).

This was something I didn't consciously set out to try to learn; I just sort of eventually adapted to my toe overlap.
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Old 04-24-09, 09:52 AM   #9
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I, personally, don't believe toe clips give you any advantage in efficiency or otherwise. I used them for 25 years before going to clipless systems, which I used for five years before getting my folding bike on which I can't use either one. After two years on the folding bike, I've put platform pedals on all my bikes.

That said, you say you want options? Okay, then:

--You could try powergrips, instead of toe clips; similar in principle, but they don't stick out to the front as much.
--You could try smaller (shorter) toe clips.
--You may be able to adjust your fender so there's less room between it and the tire.
--You can use shorter crank arms. You've ridden my bike, which has 140 mm crank arms; did you notice any difference?
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Old 04-24-09, 10:08 AM   #10
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What about getting two pairs of pedals? One with clips, one without? (or remove the clips) I think that, for city riding, I'd prefer platforms, albeit with the pins (or whatever they are) so as to get a good bite into my shoes. Then you could use your clips for longer rides.

On my "other" bike, just before I went to clipless on the new bike, I eventually put the toeclips back onto the pedals. But I removed the plastic cage bit, so that it is only the straps. I run with the straps a bit on the loose side, so it was easy to pull my foot out of. But if I just hopped onto the bike, the worst that might happen was the straps would flop and hit the ground, until I reached down and pulled them over my toes. Seemed like a great compromise. Almost beats my current method, where I just put my foot forward (so as to not clip in) and then wacking the front wheel every time I get out of the driveway.
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Old 04-24-09, 10:14 AM   #11
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I had a similar problem this winter. I had some largish tires (35 mm) that would barely fit on my old road bike. I used clip on fenders and there was overlap. To me it was more annoying than dangerous but YMMV. The fender hitting my foot never caused a crash but would press the fender up against the tire. Since I was moving slowly it just made noise. Since they were knobby, studded tires, they made a lot of noise.

I prefer powergrips to toe clips for a variety of reasons and switching to them might solve your problem. To be honest, I never liked clips anyway and while I think power grips are OK, I'll probably move to something like shimano's A530s. With those you can use cleated or regular shoes. You can also get shoes where the cleats are recessed enough that walking on them is no problem.
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Old 04-24-09, 10:48 AM   #12
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N+1
Time to buy a second bike so you have one optimized for commuting and one for weekend rides.

Paul
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Old 04-24-09, 11:06 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by apricissimus View Post
It seems to me that if you're going slow enough to have toe-overlap issues (since they only really occur at low speeds), dooring won't be an issue since you can just stop in time to avoid being hit.
This has been my experience as well. The times I've struck my fender with my toe clips are usually when making a sharp turn from almost a standstill or at really, really low speeds. It's definitely annoying, but it hasn't put me into harm's way yet and it's a pretty infrequent event even though I ride in a city every day. I guess one thing you can assess is what is the upper limit speed-wise in which TCO still occurs?
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Old 04-24-09, 11:28 AM   #14
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There are two ways you can minimize toe-wheel overlap problems when riding with fenders and clips:

-Choose a bicycle that has a frame with a longer wheelbase; this puts the front wheel farther ahead of the pedals. Touring-oriented frames tend to be built this way, and they are usually comfortable for commuting as well..

-Or, get a bike with 26" wheels. I have gone this route on all my bikes as I'm mostly a fenders-and-clips guy, and with the small frame sizes I use, toe overlap gets to be an annoying problem with 700cm wheels. Some people believe that smaller wheels slow them down, but in my 23 mile commute I found that bike weight had a larger effect on my commute times than wheel size, back when I had a mix of wheel sizes in my miscellaneous collection of bikes.

The Power Grip option helps too.
If you ever get interested in riding a recumbent bike, most long wheelbase models are also free of toe overlap problems.

Last edited by rnorris; 04-24-09 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 04-24-09, 11:47 AM   #15
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My first serious road bike, an 87 Cannondale Black Lightning, had a small frame, short wheelbase and toe clips. It had overlap. It never bothered me at all. I don't know if I just adjusted, or overlap isn't really a problem. But it never bothered me.

I even have a bit now with my commuter bike that sports fenders.

So, not to worry. Carry on.
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Old 04-24-09, 11:50 AM   #16
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As others have suggested ....

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Old 04-24-09, 02:11 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by apricissimus View Post
This was something I didn't consciously set out to try to learn; I just sort of eventually adapted to my toe overlap.
+1

When I first got my bike my foot came in contact with the wheel at least three times per ride; now, I know to rotate the pedals out of the way even in sudden emergency manoeuvres.
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Old 04-24-09, 02:23 PM   #18
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SPD platform adapters. $10 - take them off for centuries and only use the shoes for the long rides.

http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product..._200276_200409

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Old 04-24-09, 02:34 PM   #19
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I ride clipless with overlap. Doesn't bother me. It did for a little bit, but then I got used to it. I don't even think about moving my foot out of the way now.
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Old 04-24-09, 02:42 PM   #20
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I just kick my fenders, they are made of some pretty rugged plastic, and I don't overlap the tires. They have been fine getting kicked so far and it happens so rarely that I don't even notice it any more. I just have to make sure that I tighten the stays periodically and I am good to go.
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Old 04-24-09, 02:49 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apricissimus View Post
It seems to me that if you're going slow enough to have toe-overlap issues (since they only really occur at low speeds), dooring won't be an issue since you can just stop in time to avoid being hit.
I do have a little bit of toe overlap with both of my bikes, and I've sort of gotten used to it. When I know that my foot might hit my wheel (or fender) I can angle my foot a little differently, and straighten out the wheel just a teeny bit for the brief interval until I've cleared the wheel. It only takes very slight adjustments, so it doesn't reduce my maneuverability all that much either (though I suppose the severity of the toe overlap would make a difference).

This was something I didn't consciously set out to try to learn; I just sort of eventually adapted to my toe overlap.
This.

And unless this bike is a fixed gear there's nothing preventing you from putting the pedals at 12 and 6 o'clock for these emergency maneuvers. Don't worry about it.
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Old 04-24-09, 09:21 PM   #22
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I have the same thing on my bike, but I just have learned to maneuver around it. For me it was either picking a bike that was too long or have a little bit of clipping. I almost never need to turn that sharply so It is almost never an issue for me. I think its more of a annoyance to most people...not really a danger thing.
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Old 04-24-09, 09:39 PM   #23
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Why not remove the toe clips and go with platforms or clipless?

Paul
I agree. If it really worries you, just ditch the clips. I have some overlap with my clips on the front fender, but I've never really given it a second thought. Here is a really good article on the subject of ditching clips/clipless pedals. http://www.rivbike.com/article/clothing/the_shoes_ruse
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Old 04-24-09, 10:50 PM   #24
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racing bikes tend to have some fairly serious overlap. You generally don't notice it much, because you have to be doing a track stand with the wheel turned the wrong way, or turning at an impossible angle to even run into it. My commuter has overlap with the fender, I'm just too lazy to do anything about it. I occasionally run into the fender with my toe clip and just power through it. Last summer, I was doing a track stand on my road bike and for some reason turned the wheel the wrong way so that I got my toeclip stuck on the tire. I thought I was going down, but I managed to get through it somehow.
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Old 04-24-09, 11:37 PM   #25
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No, I haven't. I'm asking if I can have fenders and toe clips on my road bike so I can use it for both safe commuting and long rides. There are many solutions I may not know about, and I am looking for options.
You could try Power Grips, might be a good compromise.

FWIW, I don't quite understand the concern about toe clip overlap, since presumably you're talking about riding a geared bike. This means that you can coast without pedaling as well as move the pedals out of the way of the wheel for sharp turns.

I ride a fixed gear bike with fenders and toeclips and have some overlap (though none with the fenders off - so it's not much, presumably similar to what you've got). It's not enough to completely block the wheel from moving but it's definitely enough to notice and introduce a bobble. And since it's a fixed gear, coasting is not an option so overlap is always (at least hypothetically) a potential issue. That said, the only time it's an issue is when I'm track standing at a stop, and even then it's not that bad. And after a relatively short time, I've gotten pretty used to it and can subconsciously sort of plan around it.

Long story short, have you considered not worrying about it and just riding more? Chances are good that this perceived issue is really not that bad and something you can learn to work around pretty easily through practice and modification of technique.
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