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  1. #1
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    newbie with toe clip/clipless question

    Hi, I am new to the bike forums and I am thoroughly enjoying reading everyone's posts. I ride a hybrid with a WeeRide front-mount child carrier. I can go for about an hour at a time with my daughter, more than that and she gets a little bored. Since I would like to get the most that I can out of our rides, I'm considering using toe clips or clipless pedals. I am riding for enjoyment with her but I am also trying to get in shape and lose some weight.

    My question is about safety. It seems that toe clips would be harder to get out of quickly and I want to be as safe as possible when I'm riding with my girl. I've never had clipless pedals so I'm wondering how easy it is to get in and out of those - mostly out. We ride mainly in town and have to cross a few busy streets to get to the zoo, etc.

    Also, do you buy the pedals and the shoes separately? How much can I expect to pay for a good set of both?

    Thanks in advance,
    Chego

  2. #2
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    Toe clips are easier to get out of, when not cinched tight and wearing cleatless shoes. With clipless pedals you'll need to wear shoes with the manufacturers cleats to get the benefit of the clipless pedal. If you buy the two side pedals (clipless on one side, traditional quill pedal on the other), you would be going half way to clipless. Still able to ride with street shoes but also able to ride with clipless shoes.

    If possible, I'd recommend putting some toe clips on. Much cheaper than the clipless route. You can get toe clips for under $10. If you go the clipless route you can get cheaper pedals for ~$20 (Wellgo), but you will also need to buy shoes. Wellgo will perform well enough. If you have any problems with them down the road, just junk them. Overall, I think the toe clips will be safer than clipless. Just about everyone has had their foot unexpectedly not unclip from a clipless pedal. Very difficult to not be able to get your foot out of a loose toe clip wearing street shoes.

  3. #3
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    If you have never ridden with clipless you will fall because you forgot to unclip, sooner or later.
    If you have never ridden with toe clips you will fall because you forget to move your foot back first, sooner or later.
    If you ride with toe clips, you have to have the straps reasonably tight, for them to have any real effect, which will cause you to fall, because you forgot to loosen them first. Sooner or later.
    The biggest problem with clipless is in your head, and there is a learning curve, but there are some things you can do to lessen the chance of falling over.
    Practice, both unclipping, and falling over(on the grass), you'll see it is no big deal.
    Set the release to the minimum setting, and forget it.
    When you approach a stop, unclip both feet, no matter which way you lean, you have a free foot.
    To unclip from clipless pedals, you twist your foot, then move it to the side when it unclips.
    To get out of toe clips, you first have to move your foot backwards.
    After about five minutes, unclipping feels natural, you won't even notice you are doing it.
    If you do fall, you will be either stopped, or near stopped, you won't have a high speed crash because you are clipped in.
    Yes you do have to buy shoes with clipless pedals, but that is also a benefit. You will not have any pressure points from the pedal cages on the bottom of you foot, you'll be more comfortable on longer rides, which means you'll ride longer.
    IMHO, the best thing for you would be single sided pedals, you can ride un-cliped on the platform side when you are with your daughter, and clipping on the other side when without her.
    Every one I have set up with clipless pedals said the same thing onthe first hill, something like "HOLY COW, these things are amazing!"
    BTW, prepare to be laughed at when you come to a stop, realize you forgot to unclip, and do the crazy leg dance as you slowly fall over.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by leob1 View Post
    BTW, prepare to be laughed at when you come to a stop, realize you forgot to unclip, and do the crazy leg dance as you slowly fall over.
    Forgetting to unclip with a kid on the bike could be detrimental to more than your ego.

  5. #5
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    I pull my daughter all the time on clipless pedals. After a while, the unclipping part becomes second nature, so truly, I wouldn't worry about it. That said, there are a couple caveats and my clipless story to share.

    Sooner or later, yes, you won't unclip in time and may stumble. This is not a guarantee of a fall, but you will look silly, at the very least, trying to recover. It happens to all of us eventually. Things are made a little more difficult if your cleats and pedals get muddy.

    Second, spring tension has a lot to do with how quickly you can release your feet. If you make them too tight for casual riding, you'll stand a better chance of a fall. So to that end, start at the lowest setting and move up from there.

    Third, if you plan on doing any kind of walking in your shoes, say more than ten feet, go with mountain style shoes. Road cleats are very large, and the pedal combination provides a great platform for pedaling long distances, but they're horrible if you need to walk around in them.

    Okay, so now for my story... I had been riding clips-&-straps for a while and wanted to move over to clipless because I was starting to ride longer and longer distances. So I went for a cheap pair of Nashbar SPD-style pedals (probably re-branded Wellgo's) and a pair of inexpensive Diadora's from the LBS. Needless to say I was super excited when I put everything together. I practiced in my living room clipping and unclipping the pedals a few times and set the tension at the lowest setting. I wheeled my bike out to the street, mounted, and clipped in the left foot. By this time I'm just giddy. So then I give a little push and bring in my right foot. "Okay... get the toe in... no wait... there... wiggle it..." SNAP "cool, got it!" By this time I had completely stopped moving and started losing balance. So I tried to pull my foot back, just like with straps, and set it down. "Pull your foot back... back... BACK!!" Now picture a guy upright on his bike, doing a very poor track-stand, wiggling his right leg madly, and as if in slow motion, starts to lean to the right. A little more, a little more, and... CRASH! "Okay, well at least my feet are out now. That was embarrassing." Eleven years on, I can still replay my tipping over, in slow motion no less, exactly as it happened.

    In short, you do get used to clipless and it becomes almost automatic to unclip. I really don't think about it any more and really couldn't imagine riding more than a couple miles on flats.

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    For the kind of eay riding you do, toe clips can be used with lose straps. They will add a lot of efficiency over plain platforms and will keep your feet on the pedals over bumps.
    You need to match the grippiness of your shoes to the pedals. If the sole pattern is too knobbly it will catch on the pedal, preventing a swift exit. If it is too slick it will slide out . A "Goldilocks" tread will provide a useful amount of grip with lose straps but allow you to pull your feet out immediatly.
    You can use miniclips which hold your feet in position but dont use straps.

    There are many situations that can unbalance you, wet grass, dry sand, black ce. I have lost balance on all three but managed to remove my feet from the pedal and reach the ground safely DURING the slide. My last unbalancinmg act was an off-road very steep corner where I hit a rock which deflected my wheel and the ground was cambered away so it was a long way from my feet. I still managed to recover without hitting the ground sidweys.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Sci-Fi's Avatar
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    Personally, if you have a bike mounted child carrier, platform pedals are the safest option.

    Buy some platform/clipless combo pedals.
    http://www.teamcyclist.com/store/Shi...P17341C788.cfm
    http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...e.cfm?SKU=2275

    And mountain (MTB/MTN) shoes. The clipless cleats are recessed so you can walk in them without having to carry/change into a regular pair of shoes. Plus some prefer MTN shoes on the pavement for better balance and grip at a stop without fearing of slipping and falling (it happens, even to the most experienced clipless users).

    Can clip in one side and use the platform on the other, then switch/alternate with the other leg. On long flat and straight roads, can clip in both shoes for better pedaling efficiency.

  8. #8
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    Thanks, everyone, for the replies. We'll be moving soon and I don't know what our riding situation will be once we get to the new place so I think for now I may get some of the small toe clips just to get my speed up a bit and make those hills a little easier.

    And, leob1, you do make a good point about a fall generally happening when I'm stopped. That actually made me feel a lot better - it's not so scary to think of it happening in slow-motion!

    Thanks again!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Do you ski? Serious question, I never had problems with clipless and I attribute a large part of that to the fact that SPD uses the same motion as ski bindings do to release.

    The biggest problem with either clipless or clips is that many people try to stop and then remove the foot, that is backwards. Foot should be off the pedal before you have come to a stop. Same in reverse for starting. Clip one in and then roll out a little before getting the other in. You can see what I mean on a platform pedal bike, try to do something while stopped, perhaps just change which side of the pedal your foot is on. Then try to do the same thing while up to speed.

  10. #10
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    I vote for toe clips. I used them through two kids, with an older-style front carrier, and never had a single incident. In fact I STILL use them, on my commuter and mountain bike, so I can ride in ordinary shoes when I want. Getting out of them is easy if you leave them slightly loose, and I don't go any slower than I do with clipless.
    Secretly, I think clipless pedals are largely a triumph of marketing, but nearly everybody else in the world disagrees, so I suppose I COULD be wrong...

  11. #11
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    can you buy clipless straps? Im interested in goin the clipless route, but Id rather buy like a "strap" adapter where I can just strap the cleat(?) onto any shoe. hope y'all following what im saying.......

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by arej00dazed View Post
    can you buy clipless straps? Im interested in goin the clipless route, but Id rather buy like a "strap" adapter where I can just strap the cleat(?) onto any shoe. hope y'all following what im saying.......
    No such thing that I know of. They do sell a clipless cleat that has toe clips attached to them. It converts clipless pedals to toe clips for when you want to ride with street shoes.

  13. #13
    Senior Moment Litespeed's Avatar
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    My husband and I were just talking about clipless pedals and remembering the first time using them. I know with me, my biggest problem when trying to get out of them was pulling UP instead of twisting or trying to twist and pull up at the same time --- doesn't work. If anything it's probably better to push down slightly and then twist. I would say 90% of people learning clipless pedals will take a fall just because of the learning curve. Once you have got it in your mind just to twist and don't pull up, it's smooth sailing (or pedaling) from there.

  14. #14
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    Hi chego, everybody is different, but for the sake of another data point, I found clipless pedals really easy to get used to. At the risk of jinxing myself, I've been riding 4-5 days a week for the past few months, and I've only fallen once, when I tried to hold a trackstand a little too long on my fixed gear at a stoplight. If I had just unclipped before stopping like I normally do, that wouldn't have occurred. On my geared bike, I usually unclip well before I need to stop, especially when I'm towing my son in the TAB. I have Crank Brothers Eggbeaters on both my bikes and wear Shimano mountain bike shoes.

    By the way, is there a minimum size/weight or age for a child to ride in the Weeride? I know the max is 40 lbs, but I was wondering about the other extreme.

  15. #15
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    Thanks again, everyone, for the continued responses! I picked up some cheap toeclips at the LBS - they were laying on the counter and the guy said, "how about $5?". I couldn't really pass that up! They've been perfect for what I need right now. We're moving to Colorado in a few months and I'm pretty sure that means that I'll need a dedicated road bike so I'll get clipless pedals on that. I don't ski now but I plan to so that will help as well!

    By the way, is there a minimum size/weight or age for a child to ride in the Weeride? I know the max is 40 lbs, but I was wondering about the other extreme.
    I don't believe there is a weight limit but as with any other child carrier or trailer, you want to wait until the child is at least 1yr old. They need to be able to hold their head up so that their neck can act as a bit of a shock absorber for all the little bumps. We didn't start using the weeride until Elena was 2.5 but I can't imagine using it with a child less than 18 months or so.

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