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Old 02-01-06, 11:34 AM   #1
Velo Dog
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Jury's in: Clipless is a fraud

Well, OK, I'm exaggerating. But I have two roughly similar bikes (Rivendell Atlantis and Rambouillet) that I've set up differently. The Atlantis has 37mm tires, racks, macho touring stuff, and the Rambo uses skinny tires and sort of nods at being light, though I haven't made any effort to prune the last few ounces. The Atlantis has platform pedals with toe clips, because I ride it around town and like to wear ordinary shoes, and the Rambo has clipless Looks.
I've never been able to see much difference in any aspect of performance between clipless pedals and toe clips. So for the last two weeks, just for something to do in winter, I've alternated bikes AND alternated pedals on the bikes, so I've done my normal rides a few times with each combination.
The verdict: No difference. No measurable time or speed difference, no difference in perceived exertion or fatigue, no difference in comfort. If I were racing and needed the last 1 percent of power, I might be able to justify clipless, but for JRA, I don't think it matters.
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Old 02-01-06, 11:40 AM   #2
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The problem is that you are riding clipless on Rivendell's.
Grant does some sort of vodoo on those frames before they are packaged and shipped that make any and all modern hardware perform at the same level as old school hardware.


But Seriously, I like Riv bikes.

Not sure your argument works for me though... I like clipping in. Can't really get comfrotable without it. Feel a better connection to the bike... legs feel better pedaling at higher RPM's and trying for smooth circles... and my toes do not go numb from the pressure of the straps...
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Old 02-01-06, 12:26 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Velo Dog
The verdict: No difference. No measurable time or speed difference, no difference in perceived exertion or fatigue, no difference in comfort. If I were racing and needed the last 1 percent of power, I might be able to justify clipless, but for JRA, I don't think it matters.
Problem I find with toe clips is that I have to have them very tight, and I do mean very tight, to stop my feet coming out of them when pedalling hard. Even with them at the tightest I can still pull my feet out of them if I pull up on the pedals- even though I do not do that very often. With the toe straps that tight I then have a different problem- I can't get my feet out easily from the pedals, and then to put them back in without loosening the straps is impossible. SPD's I find ideal. No way do I pull my feet off the pedals, never have trouble getting out of them, and definitely no trouble getting back into them- Unless the sole is covered in mud, but then that happens so rarely, because our only stop on the tandem is for coffee and that is on concrete or tarmac paths.

I know some of us have problems on toe clips or clipless, but my wifes bike has a half toe clip. For local riding I find these ideal. It just covers the toe area, no straps, and although not for aggressive riding- do offer better pedalling than just flats pedals.
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Old 02-01-06, 01:20 PM   #4
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My two cents.......last night I was doing "crits" on a 1.5 mile loop with some young hammerheads. There's a short stretch uphill where they like to really push the pace quite a bit. If was I was not clipped in and not able to use more of the pedal stroke, I'd always get dropped. I find myself pushing and pulling and giving it everythiing just to hang on. Bascially being clipped in helps me when I need that extra push....but I also find it's nice when just spinning along as well.
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Old 02-01-06, 02:17 PM   #5
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I can recall tooling along some years ago on unclipped platforms with my head thinking of how to improve my gumbo recipe when I hit an unseen hole in the pavement. One foot flew forward off the platform and, hitting the pavement, pulled me forward. While the pedal, in downstroke position, ground up the back of my ankle, my top tube played a tune on the old (they weren't so old then as now) nards.

I now ride clips n straps on one bike, clipless on two others. Feel more secure and connected etc. and unclipping has become autonomic.

(Will admit to a recent crash made worse by being strapped down to tightly to pull out.......but, can't cover ALL eventualities.
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Old 02-01-06, 02:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stapfam
... but my wifes bike has a half toe clip. For local riding I find these ideal. It just covers the toe area, no straps ...
This is what I use - tossed out the straps that came with the "rat traps" - I think they're dangerous for any cyclist the least bit sloppy - and just kept the cage over the toe parts. I find when I'm fatigued, they keep my feet on the pedals and more importantly, in a sudden stop I can take a foot off the pedal to plant on the ground quickly and safely.
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Old 02-01-06, 03:04 PM   #7
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There are two advantages to clipless:

1) You can use the whole pedal stroke though granted most people don't. If you're racing with rattraps and clips and you don't have your straps pulled down REALLY TIGHT your feet will pull right out.

2) If you're touring or recreational riding you don't have to pull the straps loose or tighten them up and you can clip and unclip anywhere at any time.

If you can't tell the difference you've already told us that you don't pull up on the pedals and that you don't climb standing and that you ride with your straps loose all the time.

Nothing wrong with that mind you, whatever works for you is fine. But that doesn't negate the value of clipless pedals for the vast majority of recreational riders.
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Old 02-01-06, 06:35 PM   #8
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I just began using Look clipless recently on my 5200 Trek. My feeling is that I do feel a better contact with the bike. My feet do not slip when in wet conditions and on very steep hills I really use a pushing and pulling technique that has me moving much faster 1 - 2 mph uphill.
With this in mind I have to say I am all for them.
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Old 02-01-06, 07:21 PM   #9
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I don't think clipless is automatically better; I think you have to develop your pedalling stroke to take advantage of clipless. Once you do that, I think it's a lot better.
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Old 02-01-06, 07:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrailRider
This is what I use - tossed out the straps that came with the "rat traps" - I think they're dangerous for any cyclist the least bit sloppy - and just kept the cage over the toe parts. I find when I'm fatigued, they keep my feet on the pedals and more importantly, in a sudden stop I can take a foot off the pedal to plant on the ground quickly and safely.
Hey, I like that idea. I think I'll give that a try.
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Old 02-01-06, 07:59 PM   #11
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I was using clips for several decades, up until last year. I had some Diaddaro shoes with cleats designed for clips, so they were very secure and there was no difference in pedal stroke between them and clipless.

What I initially hated about clipless, is that with the clips when I was riding in a hazardous area like heavy traffic, bad roads, or MUPs filled with kids and dogs, I could loosen the straps and be more prepared for a quick stop. Clipless require a little more time to stop, and at least a couple seconds forewarning.

However, clipless are more convenient in those same circumstances since you can easily clip in and out without reaching down and fiddling with straps.

As far as wearing street shoes, I use mountain bike shoes with recessed cleats. They look just like tennis shoes, walk like tennis shoes, (my Lakes even have Vibram soles!) and feel just like tennis shoes with rigid soles. Perfect for running errands, commuting etc.

I wasn't sure at first, but after giving clipless a whole summer's worth of riding to get used to them, I prefer the convenience.

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Old 02-01-06, 08:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bud Bent
I don't think clipless is automatically better; I think you have to develop your pedalling stroke to take advantage of clipless. Once you do that, I think it's a lot better.
Bingo!
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Old 02-01-06, 09:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bud Bent
I don't think clipless is automatically better; I think you have to develop your pedalling stroke to take advantage of clipless. Once you do that, I think it's a lot better.
If you use cleats with clips, they work just like clipless as far as pedal stroke goes.

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Old 02-02-06, 08:46 AM   #14
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I started riding clipless about a year ago and can't ride with out them now. I find my feet dance all over the peddles if they are not clip in.

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Old 02-02-06, 05:51 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Az B
If you use cleats with clips, they work just like clipless as far as pedal stroke goes.

Az
Except you don't have a strap tightened down so hard it cuts the blood off. It doesn't matter what pedal system you use. You have to teach yourself that pedals go around in circles and not up and down. If clipless didn't work better, the pros wouldn't be using them.
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Old 02-02-06, 07:49 PM   #16
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I use loose clips and straps on my commuter and some other "knock-around" bikes just to keep my foot on the pedal. I never tighten them down (what a huge hassle that would be). I use campus pedals on my touring bikes with SPD on one side and platform on the other. The platform side has room for the spd shoe clips to sit down into. When I'm riding city curbs and pothole zones, I use the platform side. Once the road opens up a bit, I clip in and go.
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Old 02-03-06, 12:01 AM   #17
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I use loose clips and straps on my commuter and some other "knock-around" bikes just to keep my foot on the pedal. I never tighten them down (what a huge hassle that would be). I use campus pedals on my touring bikes with SPD on one side and platform on the other. The platform side has room for the spd shoe clips to sit down into. When I'm riding city curbs and pothole zones, I use the platform side. Once the road opens up a bit, I clip in and go.
The original thread questioned the aspect in performance of clipless pedals not convenience. As all we old people should know,Eugene Slone who wrote one of the first bicycling books back in the late 60's tried the teach the art of ankling whereby you rotate your ankles in such a way as to push the pedals around not up and down. With the advent of clipless pedals, this procedure became easier.
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Old 02-03-06, 12:10 AM   #18
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I personally prefer pinned platforms . If I blow a landing on a 14' gap double, I want to bail without carrying the bike over my head with me.
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Old 02-03-06, 01:52 AM   #19
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The verdict: No difference.
As long as I cinch my straps tight, I virtually feel no difference as well...
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Old 02-03-06, 08:59 AM   #20
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I'm just a recreational rider but I prefer clipless pedals now. I have the Candy SL and wear mountain bike shoes even though my bike is a touring frame with mountain bike components. I find when I'm climbing hills, it helps to be able to pull up on the pedal and use different muscles then when I'm just pushing on the pedals. It actually seems like it's easier to climb that way (at least for me). It took me a long time to find the right kind of clipless that worked for me that were easy to get in and out of. I like the small platform, that way if I can't get clipped in immediately I can still pedal through until I get my foot in. Even doing standing climbs, I feel more secure then with plain platform pedals, my know my feet won't slid off the pedals.
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Old 02-04-06, 05:08 AM   #21
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Toe clips with tightly pulled straps and shoes with cleats that fit in the rear groove, for me, feel just about the same as Look clipless. The problem is that if you use the former method, you simply can't get out quickly. You need to reach down to loosen one strap. With Looks, you twist an ankle and in one second you're out!
One day I was riding down Mt. Sutro in San Francisco wearing my tightly pulled straps and cleats. I lived at the top of this mountain, so I was familar with the left hand turn that leads out to the road at the bottom of the hill. This day, my speed got away from me and even though I was feathering the brakes and alternately pulling harder I still knew I was going to get into trouble at the final turn. I heard the tires skipping as I leaned the bike going to turn left while somehow hoping I could scrub off enough speed . Bang! I bounced right off a parked BMW on my right and headed perfectly sideways with my wheels and head on an exact horizontal, for the middle of the road with only my left hand to keep my face from making first contact with the road (hardly anyone used helmets in 1981). If I could have gotten loose from the pedals I might have been able to land on my feet, but no, I remained straped in all through the impact. It took me 15 years to fully recover from the damage done to my left wrist, and I still might feel an occasional something on a rare day. Straps are great, but clipless is safer for almost all situations other than where the rider chooses to ride with one foot barely held in with a loose strap ( and no cleats to make it still easier to exit).
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Old 02-04-06, 07:58 AM   #22
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You are probably right about "No measurable time or speed difference, no difference in perceived exertion or fatigue..." between clipless and clips.

I recall the days of leather Detto Pietro's, where you had to hammer the cleats onto the soles. Sometimes the pointed end of the nail protruded into the shoe, there was almost no vertical foot movement freedom, and I had to really tighten down the straps for full effectiveness. So the convenience and comfort of clipless for me far outweighs other considerations.

It took me less than one ride to get used to clipless and I won't look back now. (I do not use my bike for chores around town, I only ride from point a to b with a change of clothes and a shower at point b).
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Old 02-04-06, 08:17 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by berts
I recall the days of leather Detto Pietro's, where you had to hammer the cleats onto the soles. Sometimes the pointed end of the nail protruded into the shoe, there was almost no vertical foot movement freedom, and I had to really tighten down the straps for full effectiveness. So the convenience and comfort of clipless for me far outweighs other considerations.

It took me less than one ride to get used to clipless and I won't look back now. (I do not use my bike for chores around town, I only ride from point a to b with a change of clothes and a shower at point b).
I recall those days, also. It was a pain in the rear, but that was the way it was. Then, about '85, I bought the first pair of Look pedals that my shop got in. I haven't looked back, either.
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Old 02-04-06, 11:01 AM   #24
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After 3 years and many miles of "clipless", my wife lost her balance coming to a stop and the left cleat did not release quickly enough and the subsequent fall broke her arm. Sometimes a mili-second is significant! There is no way performance is better/improved if one is in a cast for 6 weeks followed by months of painful recovery. We ride for fun and if our speed is 3 to 4 MPH slower and we are delayed five to 30 minutes due to platform pedals.....DON'T CARE........at least we are riding (which can't be done at all while in a cast).
I tried clipless...... but due to several 7.62mm body "modifications" (right ankle, foot, and leg/calf) compliments of unca Charlie during my 1965 Vietnam "tour", I am unable to "twist & release" properly. During a 50 to 60 mile day, I constantly change the position of my foot on the pedal......sometimes break the cardinal rule and ride with my heel on the pedal. We are, occasinally, impugned for having platforms on an Allez Comp Triple and LeMond (wife's) but we always arrive at rest stops etc....albeit later than most.
Thanks and BCNU,
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Old 02-04-06, 11:48 AM   #25
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I still use toe clips but with moutain bike sneakers but I keep the straps loose enough to get in and out. When I used cleats many years ago, I tighten the straps enough to take advantage of the clip/cleats and as best as I can remember, my shoes, under normal riding conditions, never came out. But I would test to make sure that if I push up and out very hard, the leather straps would give enough for me to pull out (no rubber jokes please ). Luckily, I never got to find out whether this would work under a sudden and panicky situation.
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