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  1. #1
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    Toe clips add about two percent -- an experiment

    I just did an experiment comparing clipless pedals to toe clips. I found about 1.9 percent improvement on a climb and 1.85 percent on a flat course. How much do clipless pedals help you?
    Escher's law of cycling: It is uphill both ways.

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    Up and comer pelotonracer's Avatar
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    A lot. If you're doing any serious sprinting, you don't want to be using anything other than clipless- plus, they're easier to get out of.

    With clips, if you don't have the straps on tight enough, your feet come out during hard efforts. With straps on tight, you get circulation cutoff and the inability to release your feet.

    In your experiment, your best average speed with the clipless pedals in Trial 1 (33km/h, 20.5 mph) is pretty good, but most racers are going to be quite a bit quicker than this. The faster you go, the more every little bit helps.

    No question- clipless all the way.

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    It’s interesting the report mentions using sneakers. Many folks rode clips with Bike Shoes and Cleats. (In fact I still use them on my trainer.) I am sure there is still an improvement, I believe there is, but I wonder how much different it would be vs. cleats and toe clips?

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    Quote Originally Posted by pelotonracer
    The faster you go, the more every little bit helps.
    No question- clipless all the way.
    No doubt they help, but, it is not a great deal (in my test). For example, they would not save me the time it takes to change shoes in a sprint triathlon.

    Larry
    Escher's law of cycling: It is uphill both ways.

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    Aluminium Crusader :-)
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    I have a theory that a lot of 'new' riders who have never used toe-clips and straps don't realise how tight clipless shoes should be at times. In 'the old days', if you didn't do the straps up tight, your foot would've flopped around quite a bit and may have even lost contact with the pedal. With clipless, however, the shoe will still be clipped in firmly even with loose straps, so when people start hammering they're getting foot movement in the shoe.

    but what the hell would I know?

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    Mooninite shakeNbake's Avatar
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    The flat course is a 7.3 kilometer bike path running along a paved creek from West Los Angeles to the beach
    Ballona?

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    Quote Originally Posted by shakeNbake
    Ballona?
    Yes -- round trip from Overland Avenue to the beach. There is a link to the route map in the writeup I linked to.

    Larry
    Escher's law of cycling: It is uphill both ways.

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    In beaurocratic limbo urbanknight's Avatar
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    I think an important factor in this study is how smooth your pedal stroke in clipless pedals is. I can tell you I gained almost nothing after switching to clipless until I learned to pedal in circles. Now it's a big difference!
    "Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want... Sooner or later, these kids aren't going to have anything to read or write about." (Richard Dreyfus as Glenn Holland)

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    Aluminium Crusader :-)
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    clipless vs clips has nothing to do with efficiency or being faster (unless someone can convince me that the extra float makes them faster); they (clipless) are only about comfort, ease of use and safety.
    Last edited by 531Aussie; 06-20-07 at 02:50 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 531Aussie
    clipless vs clips has nothing to do with efficiency or being faster (unless someone can convince me that the extra float makes them faster); they (clipless) are only about comfort, ease of use and safety.
    Safety? I never fell off my bike until I went clipless.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by 531Aussie
    I have a theory that a lot of 'new' riders who have never used toe-clips and straps don't realise how tight clipless shoes should be at times. In 'the old days', if you didn't do the straps up tight, your foot would've flopped around quite a bit and may have even lost contact with the pedal. With clipless, however, the shoe will still be clipped in firmly even with loose straps, so when people start hammering they're getting foot movement in the shoe.

    but what the hell would I know?
    I see 90% of the people out there who are running Look are on the red cleats.
    These are all riders who have been riding for several years.

    I never understood this BS. 9 degree float 

    I started riding about 1.5 months ago and I run the gray cleats and I can’t stand the float and it is 4.5 degrees, half the 9 degrees in the red cleats. I’m seriously thinking about getting the blacks.
    Oh, and the major reason I hear for using the reds is knee problems. I think that has more to do with the seat height and the cleat position on the shoe.

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    Disgruntled Planner bpohl's Avatar
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    My toes always went numb when I was using toe clips. COuln't stand the things.
    Don't waste your breath to save your face when you have done your best.

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    Aluminium Crusader :-)
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    Quote Originally Posted by mleess
    Safety? I never fell off my bike until I went clipless.
    yeah, good point

    When clipless first came out the 'safety' message was WAAAAAAY overstated. It was like, because the clips were similar to ski bindings, we would automatic 'fall' out our pedals at the slightest hint of trouble, therefore reducing a whole host of injuries. Well, guys are still mashing collar bones. Clipless are obviously safer, but the 'sell' was over the top at the time.

    I had a couple of medium impact crashes in the old days while using toe-clips, and my feet were wrenched out of the pedals

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    Aluminium Crusader :-)
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    Quote Originally Posted by group105
    I see 90% of the people out there who are running Look are on the red cleats.
    These are all riders who have been riding for several years.

    I never understood this BS. 9 degree float 

    I started riding about 1.5 months ago and I run the gray cleats and I can’t stand the float and it is 4.5 degrees, half the 9 degrees in the red cleats. I’m seriously thinking about getting the blacks.
    Oh, and the major reason I hear for using the reds is knee problems. I think that has more to do with the seat height and the cleat position on the shoe.
    in my opinion, float 'annoyance' can depend on the pedal paltform surface. My Shimanos have a plastic cover which is not as slippery as some alu surfaces. Aslo, the plastic cover roughs up as it wears, reducing slip even more. So, my feet don't 'float' unless they really want to.

    My first ever clipless were some kind of red LOOKs that I bought in about 1993. The surface was so slippery that I had no confidence standing up. I persisted for a few weeks, but the slipperiness was horrible. It put me off clipless pedals for at least another 5 years

    'BORING ALERT', coz I'm gunna tell a grandpa story....

    My recollection of the history of float is........with toe-clips, the plastic/nylon cleats would wear a small amount almost immediately, and just enough to provide a little bit of lateral movement. When clipless came in (I think), none of them had float, and some injuries were popping up, hence the development of float

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    Quote Originally Posted by urbanknight
    I think an important factor in this study is how smooth your pedal stroke in clipless pedals is. I can tell you I gained almost nothing after switching to clipless until I learned to pedal in circles. Now it's a big difference!
    I did my best to use the upstroke, but you are right in that I was fairly new to clipless pedals. Do you think the difference is more than 2 percent?
    Escher's law of cycling: It is uphill both ways.

  16. #16
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    I recently did my hill repeats in spite of forgetting my shoes. I saw a 20% increase in my times wearing running shoes on my Looks. These were really steep climbs, so it's exaggerated somewhat.

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    Shoes have gotta be pretty tight when you need them to be. During a group smash-fest or a race i do them up very tight! If you haver loose shoes, you're gunna lose a lot on the upstroke

    I suspect if your time improved with clips and straps, then your clipless set-up isn't tight enough. They don't have to be uber tight for your whole 2 hour ride, only when it's needed.

    Did you buy the right size shoes? I bought a size too large when I bought my first pair of clipless shoes

  18. #18
    Senior Member gfrance's Avatar
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    My personal experiments, run many times, suggest clips/straps in sneakers don't come close to clipless with carbon sole shoes. On the same fixed gear bike, I regularly switch back and forth. Not only do the sneaker/clips cause numbness and discomfort, the spongy sole decreases efficiency on climbs, without a doubt. I then run the same course with Looks and road shoes and the bike feels pounds lighter and more responsive. The hills are much easier and faster to get up. No contest in my book.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gfrance
    My personal experiments, run many times, suggest clips/straps in sneakers don't come close to clipless with carbon sole shoes.
    How much of the performance difference is due to the pedals and how much due to the shoes? If you are using high quality cleated shoes with toe clips (tight straps), I don't think you'll notice any performance difference when using the same shoes with clipless pedals. Actually, clipless pedals are often heavier, so maybe there will be a difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 531Aussie
    yeah, good point

    When clipless first came out the 'safety' message was WAAAAAAY overstated. It was like, because the clips were similar to ski bindings, we would automatic 'fall' out our pedals at the slightest hint of trouble, therefore reducing a whole host of injuries. Well, guys are still mashing collar bones. Clipless are obviously safer, but the 'sell' was over the top at the time.

    I had a couple of medium impact crashes in the old days while using toe-clips, and my feet were wrenched out of the pedals
    Broken collar bones usually happen when you try to brace yourself with your arms out. Staying completely attached to the bike (feet AND hands) will prevent this. If you ever watch Japanese Keirin races you'll notice during crashes that they [usually] don't let go of the handlebars.

    Also, the Keirin racers are using toe clips and straps with slotted cleats.

    Back on topic, you could always do what some track sprinters do - put toe straps on clipless pedals.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by pelotonracer
    A lot. If you're doing any serious sprinting, you don't want to be using anything other than clipless- plus, they're easier to get out of.

    With clips, if you don't have the straps on tight enough, your feet come out during hard efforts. With straps on tight, you get circulation cutoff and the inability to release your feet.

    In your experiment, your best average speed with the clipless pedals in Trial 1 (33km/h, 20.5 mph) is pretty good, but most racers are going to be quite a bit quicker than this. The faster you go, the more every little bit helps.

    No question- clipless all the way.
    To quote Botto-incorrect.

    Many track racers still use toe clips and straps because they are more secure than clipless.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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