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  1. #1
    Senior Member Jawbone's Avatar
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    Pedals: free riding up big long hills

    I'm curious to know if any randonneurs ride with step on pedals... no clips, no cages. If so, can you share what its like riding long, hilly tours?

    I've been riding "free" this winter on my commuter bike and swear it has fixed my numb foot troubles that I get with my clip ins, but I'm not sure whether this is a solution for those long challenging brevets.

    thanks!

  2. #2
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    At the risk of having this thread go into bad places,
    I agree with Grant Peterson.
    Foot retention devices are highly overrated.
    BMX platforms for me, only.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I have platform inserts so that ones side of my pedal is an SPD clip and the other side is a platform. I ride with one foot (my left one) clipped in, and the other foot (my right one) on top of the platform. I started doing that last summer, and I love it! I especially like it when I'm riding steep hills because it has taken away my fear of hills.

    However, I have ridden just with the platforms (both feet on the platforms), and I don't like that at all. One foot has to be clipped in.

    The inserts I have are just inexpensive ones, but when my cashflow situation improves, I plan to get proper pedals with the platform on one side and the clips on the other.



    -=Łem in Pa=- ... I didn't know you were a randonneur!

  4. #4
    nun
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I have platform inserts so that ones side of my pedal is an SPD clip and the other side is a platform. I ride with one foot (my left one) clipped in, and the other foot (my right one) on top of the platform. I started doing that last summer, and I love it! I especially like it when I'm riding steep hills because it has taken away my fear of hills.

    However, I have ridden just with the platforms (both feet on the platforms), and I don't like that at all. One foot has to be clipped in.

    The inserts I have are just inexpensive ones, but when my cashflow situation improves, I plan to get proper pedals with the platform on one side and the clips on the other.



    -=Łem in Pa=- ... I didn't know you were a randonneur!
    And I though I was a complete freak. I ride clipped in on the right and on a platform on the left, I've removed the cleats form my left shoe. I use Shimano double sided PD-M324s. I think it gives you a slightly asymmetric pedal stroke, but I ride in traffic a lot and think its safer to be able to get off the pedal instantaneously.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Jawbone's Avatar
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    I think I might try this half-clipped in thing on my commutes. My right foot is the one that I normally have trouble with, so I could put a step on pedal there and clip in on the left. The thing that holds me back a bit from using both step ons with hills and long distance is that I often use the up stroke when pulling fast from a stop or for getting a little relief going up the big hills.

  6. #6
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nun View Post
    And I though I was a complete freak. I ride clipped in on the right and on a platform on the left, I've removed the cleats form my left shoe. I use Shimano double sided PD-M324s. I think it gives you a slightly asymmetric pedal stroke, but I ride in traffic a lot and think its safer to be able to get off the pedal instantaneously.
    And when I started doing this last summer, I thought I was the only one!

    It does work very well for me when I am riding in traffic ... especially, when we're cycling through a city on a tour, and we're not 100% sure where we're going so there is a lot of stopping and starting in general in city traffic, but also a lot of stopping and starting to consult maps and signs etc.

    Having one foot clipped in allows for that pull upward to get your foot into position to take off, but having one foot out, allows for fast stops.

    Same for climbing hills. One of my biggest fears on really steep hills was reaching a point where I wanted off the bicycle to walk, but going so slowly at that point I couldn't unclip. I actually did fall a couple times in that situation, and that gets old very quickly (I've still got a scar on my right elbow from my first fall in that situation). But riding with one foot unclipped removes that fear. I know that if the hill becomes too steep for me, and I want to walk it, I can just drop my foot and get off the bicycle.

    The interesting thing is that before I would opt to walk pretty much any steep-looking hill from the bottom, out of the fear that I might not be able to cycle it ... but now I just go for it, and I'm making it up all kinds of hills I would never have even attempted before.

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    I stay clipped on both, as I try to use the upstroke as much as possible, especially on steep hills. I have a theory it's better for my knees to work a wider set of muscles/ligaments etc.

    On my SPDs I can unclip quite fast, so have never really had this fear.

    SharpT

  8. #8
    Member mplee's Avatar
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    i agree with SharpT. i use SPDs and have been in situations where i've had to unclip instantly (like shifting my derailleur into my rear wheel...not a good idea). The benefit for me is that I have a rounder, more efficient stroke. I concentrate not on either the down stroke or the upstroke but moving my feet laterally, as if I was scraping mud off the bottom of my shoes.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jawbone's Avatar
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    SharpT and mplee, thanks, but I'm really interested in hearing from those who have decided not to be clipped in and what experiences they have on long rides and on hills.

  10. #10
    nun
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    My take on this is if you can get comfortable clipping in that's the way to go. However, the advantage it gives you is probably only a few percent and I don't think there's anything wrong in not clipping in. For me the reassurance of having my left foot free is more important than the slightly more efficient I'd be
    on hills if I could pull on both sides. We're talking about endurance here not sprint speeds so I'd go with whatever makes you most comfortable on the bike.

    Here's some Petersen "cool aid". I don't buy all of this, like I don't buy over priced tweed bags, but it's food for thought.

    http://www.rivbike.com/article/clothing/the_shoes_ruse

  11. #11
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    I know two randonneurs (actually maybe 3, now that i think of it) who use plain 'platform' pedals.

    Paul Donaldson, locally known as the "World's Greatest Randonneur", uses them. I believe he may have used clips and straps at some point in his randonneuring career, but now opts for platforms so he can move his foot around on the pedal for comfort.

    My friend Rusty from the Richmond area used SPDs when i first met him about a year ago, but has since switched to flat pedals for the flexibility of being able to wear whatever shoes he wants on his commute.

    And last, but not least, Dave Berning, an important figure in the history of randonneuring in the DC area, rides either flats or toe clips, i can't remember which. I do remember though, that he wears SPD compatible touring style shoes (with no cleats installed) because he likes a stiff shoe when pedaling. He is also completely carfree.


    EDIT:

    I forgot to mention that, personally, i ride crank brothers pedals, and i find it very useful to be able to pull up on the pedals for a quick burst, or when spinning, or even grinding, up a hill.

  12. #12
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    The OP can just ignore this post since it doesn't address riding up hills on brevets with platform pedals.

    I tried riding with Power Grips this winter, because I figured that the number 1 reason my feet won't stay warm at 20F is the metal-to-metal contact of the cleat. The PowerGrips did help the cold feet problem. But I found that keeping my foot slightly torqued so that the grips were tight enough was a bit bothersome to my knees, even on my 10-mile commute. If the Grips were tighter, then they were too tight and made it hard to get in and out of them in a hurry. And if they are too loose, I found it very disconcerting not to have the solid pedal attachment afforded by "clipless" pedals. Turns out I really _do_ pull up hard when I'm sprinting or climbing.

    One other thing that clipless pedals have helped is that when your geartrain does an autoshift, your foot doesn't go flying off the pedal and cause an unwished top-tube-crotch-contact. On a very hilly brevet a couple of weeks ago, my geartrain wouldn't stay in first gear reliably. Several times it plunked down into second, causing my feet to do a half rotation. With platform pedals, if history is any guide, I'd have hit the top tube. With my Crank Bros Quattro pedals, my feet stayed firmly attached. (Note to self: When you replace the chain, check the cassette for wear before riding really hilly brevet.)

    For those of you who ride one-foot-platform-the-other-foot-clipless ("ofpofc"): I've had a number of occasions where I came to a stop on some unstable ground (steep hill, or slippery stuff, or snow, or whatever) where as I stopped and unclipped one side, I got off balance and then ended up doing an emergency unclip on the other side. With my Crank Bros pedals, or in previous times SPD pedals, it's always been easy to do an emergency unclip. But I'd worry with the ofpofc method that if this off-balance stop happened that having got out of the habit of unclipping, my reactions wouldn't be fast enough, and I'd hit the ground. Am I the only person who has stopped and unclipped their right foot only to get off balance and have to land on the left?

  13. #13
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    See ... it amazes me when people can unclip easily. For me, dislocating my right hip (I always unclip my right foot first), and removing the leg would likely be quicker and easier than getting out of my SPD pedals. In fact, it feels like I'm dislocating my hip in the attempt anyway. If I have to unclip frequently on a ride, my right hip is in a lot of pain.

    I have my right pedal so loose the bolt drop out, so it isn't a matter of loosening the pedal off. I have also cut back the rubber from the bottom of my shoe, and that has helped some, but it's still a difficult process for me.

    So that's another reason the ofpofc (see post above) method works so well for me. My right hip loves me for it!

    As for going off balance, I used to go off balance just about every time I pulled into my driveway when I lived in Winnipeg. I nearly fell getting off my bicycle almost every day ... and it took me a while to figure out what was going on, because this didn't happen anywhere else.

    My driveway was a sharp left turn up a very short slope ... so I was leaning left to make the turn, and still going at a reasonable pace to make it up the slope, and then I came to a rather sudden stop so as not to run into the garbage bins. But I was still leaning left when I stopped. I had to change my driveway-entering technique to lean left and then immediately lean right.

    Other than that one situation I have rarely had unclipping balance issues ... well, there was the one tandem situation where I ended up sitting in the middle of the highway ... and the business of trying to dismount from a loaded touring bicycle where I ended up sitting in the middle of the highway ......

  14. #14
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    I recently switched to a toothed clip-and-strap pedal (MKS touring) with a plain-soled shoe (no cleat). It's very comfy, but it's just barely adequate, efficiency-wise. It's definitely a step down from clipless or clips-and-straps with a proper cleat. It's very easy to remove my foot from the pedal (though I never had any trouble unclipping from clipless or reaching down to loosen a strap with a cleated shoe) but I do have to be careful not to pull out while climbing or accelerating.

    For me, at least, riding without some form of foot retention would be fairly inefficient and mildly hazardous. At the very least, I think a clip and strap (or clipless) serves to prevent the foot accidentally coming off the pedal, which can be a dangerous thing in-and-of-itself.

  15. #15
    34x25 FTW! oboeguy's Avatar
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    Wow, I've never had serious trouble with clipping and unclipping. Even on steep, narrow climbs. I even once had the rear wheel pop out of the dropouts of my folding bike on a very steep, narrow climb in my neighborhood (coming up from the GW Bridge in upper Manhattan, for those wondering) and managed to unclip in the blink of an eye and not fall over.

    I admit, though, to having foot problems on long rides from time to time. To be honest, though, I'd rather not ride longer than ride w/o my clipless pedals. So there's another solution.
    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy
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  16. #16
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    Just practice clipping in and out. You will get used to it and it will be nothing to get out of them.

  17. #17
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SharpT View Post
    I stay clipped on both, as I try to use the upstroke as much as possible, especially on steep hills. I have a theory it's better for my knees to work a wider set of muscles/ligaments etc.

    On my SPDs I can unclip quite fast, so have never really had this fear.

    SharpT
    +1 I use multi release shoe clips though, which are very easy to get out of. Almost as easy as not having cleats at all, but they hold your foot in the same position all the time.
    George

  18. #18
    Senior Member JOHN J's Avatar
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    im not a randonneur, but will add my thoughts.

    Ive been toying with platform pedals for a bit now and do belive they may be a better way to go for 95% of my riding than clipping in.

    Im currently using speedplay frogs and do like them (favorite clipless to date) Ive had Look , time and shimano spd in the past (all still in parts box)

    also used to do alot of offroad riding and used BMX platform pedals with good results.

    I went to florida last week and took my single speed to cruise around with, I installed crank bros 50/50 pedals on it anyway I did a 26 mile ride on a very windy night with the platforms and CROCS Yes crocs and it was fine my time was good too, though crocs are a bit soft a bit stiffer shoe would be better (lots of options there). SO?????

    I also was badly hurt last year with my frogs when I was riding behind a bus in traffic , I stopped when it stopped at a red light, when it moved i clipped in and then the bus stopped almost right away to let someone off within seconds , I couldnt get out of my pedals fast enough and twisted My ankle /lower leg pretty bad , also had the same whan a car shot out of a bank without looking I had to put the bike down OUCH.

    I also realy like the idea of any shoe will do, often I dont do fun rides esp at night (my commute /LD bike has a schmidt) I often wont go on fun rides cuz I dont want to dig out the bike shoes.

    Im going to put the 50/50s on my custom marinoni frame when it comes in at the end of the month and give the platforms a real good try on my 19mile one way commute which has 379 feet of climb on the way home.

    ill bet they will be fine, if yes I may just use the frogs for group rides so I wont be considered a Fred

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    See ... it amazes me when people can unclip easily. For me, dislocating my right hip (I always unclip my right foot first), and removing the leg would likely be quicker and easier than getting out of my SPD pedals. In fact, it feels like I'm dislocating my hip in the attempt anyway. If I have to unclip frequently on a ride, my right hip is in a lot of pain.

    I have my right pedal so loose the bolt drop out, so it isn't a matter of loosening the pedal off. I have also cut back the rubber from the bottom of my shoe, and that has helped some, but it's still a difficult process for me.

    So that's another reason the ofpofc (see post above) method works so well for me. My right hip loves me for it!

    As for going off balance, I used to go off balance just about every time I pulled into my driveway when I lived in Winnipeg. I nearly fell getting off my bicycle almost every day ... and it took me a while to figure out what was going on, because this didn't happen anywhere else.

    My driveway was a sharp left turn up a very short slope ... so I was leaning left to make the turn, and still going at a reasonable pace to make it up the slope, and then I came to a rather sudden stop so as not to run into the garbage bins. But I was still leaning left when I stopped. I had to change my driveway-entering technique to lean left and then immediately lean right.

    Other than that one situation I have rarely had unclipping balance issues ... well, there was the one tandem situation where I ended up sitting in the middle of the highway ... and the business of trying to dismount from a loaded touring bicycle where I ended up sitting in the middle of the highway ......
    you ought to try the time atac aliums. if you're not in stop and go and you use the right shoes (or modify the shoes a bit) they can be pretty easy to get out of and were actually easier one my knees than my plats (i think a lot had to do with my specialized sport MTB shoes and that body geometry crap). they're kind of a pain to get into though.

    although i am going back to plats. maybe some http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...s.php?id=21175

    i'll put up pics of my cleat positioning if you want to that you can see one of the things that made them more comfortable for me.

    i also must say the clipless seemed to add about a cog and a half to my speed. 2 cogs with a little extra effort.
    Last edited by goldfishin; 07-23-08 at 09:25 PM.

  20. #20
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    FWIW, I've given up on the rubber soled shoes with clips and straps. They're fine for flat, easy rides -- and they're the dorky-coolest things I own -- but for uphills, starts, acceleration, well, they just suck. I can't imagine using an even lower level of retention for anything but trips to the market.

    Each to his own, I suppose, and apparently I'm fortunate that I can easily unclip from any pedal...

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    In the end it is the surface area and stiffness of that area under the front of the foot that determines numbness for most people. SPD's have little surface area and so require a very stiff soled shoe or you get numbness problems. Platforms can help if they have a lot of surface area. Some of the BMX kinds do but others do not. The larger the surface area of the pedal the more likely you can get by with a softer soled shoe. There may be some energy lost but it might be the best solution for some foot problems. I use the Look system on my road bike. I like it better as it has more surface area for the shoe to rest on that does the SPD but it doesn't work for touring since you can't walk much in those shoes.

    There is an integrated SPD/platform pedal which I would think would be better for SPD type shoes that are not really stiff. The more casual cycling shoes fit into this category.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Hezz; 07-24-08 at 09:09 AM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    I have a bike setup for casual riding that requires no special shoe. Loafers or an oxford type work shoe work well, at least better than running shoes.

  23. #23
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours View Post
    FWIW, I've given up on the rubber soled shoes with clips and straps. They're fine for flat, easy rides -- and they're the dorky-coolest things I own -- but for uphills, starts, acceleration, well, they just suck. I can't imagine using an even lower level of retention for anything but trips to the market.

    Each to his own, I suppose, and apparently I'm fortunate that I can easily unclip from any pedal...
    You need these.





    I keep dodging this issue on my LD bike. I'm currently using Time RSX, Time ATAC on my fixed gear... and half clips and MKS pedals on the Bakfiets. I've tried power grips and MKS touring pedals - hated the tension in my knee... I've gone back to straps and cages for a few days... I've debated buying those sticky expensive Riv flat pedals... and I usually come back to my Sidi's with clipless.

    Sigh. I want to wear flat, normal shoes - I get around town on the Bak with my Simple shoes and those half clips... but for long rides my feet just like the Sidis and I guess I'll live with walking funny.


    A ride partner swears by his Shimano flip flop pedals - SPD on one side, platform on the other. Long rides he wears his Sidi's, around town his Keenes - but I don't like the SPD system.

    Another ride partner wears some Patagonia shoes with cages and straps. Loves them. Often times only rides with half clips. Fixed and free riding.

  24. #24
    Pilot Deeper flian's Avatar
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    ...but I'm really interested in hearing from those who have decided not to be clipped in and what experiences they have on long rides and on hills...
    So! You'd like to keep on-topic, eh? G' LUCK!

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    Fro long rides, I like being clipped in. Partly because it helps when pedalling with a fast cadence, partly for the security (not slipping off in wet weather, or if gears slip, etc).

    I use spds, and think that the numb foot problem stems from two problems. One is having shoes too tight - it's tempting to do them up tight so they feel 'solid' on the pedal. The other problem is the small surface area of an spd cleat.

    For me, using Shimano spd sandals cured both problems. The sole is very thick and stiff, so I don't feel the spd pressing into the bottom of my foot. The velcro straps are easily adjustable, so I can slacken or tighten them without riding when necessary.

    Regarding clipping and unclipping; I turn the spring adjustment screw down to it's lowest setting. If you pedal smoothly, there is no need to turn it up; pulling at a tangent to the axle cannot make the cleat unclip. It will only unclip if you twist your foot.

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