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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 05-26-06, 11:37 AM   #1
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Stupid question - explain pedals w/ clips and straps to me, please?

So, I'm riding singlespeed with platform pedals. However, everyone seems to think that clips and straps are pretty much absolutely neccesary for riding fixed....

Can someone explain why this is? What are the real advantages to clips and straps? I've ridden with them before (on someone else's bike) and they don't seem like they hold your foot well enough to give you many of the benefits of clipless pedals, but then maybe those weren't adjsuted right for my feet or something?

I'd like to get some of the benefits of clipless pedals without having to wear cycling-specific shoes, and I'm thinking about getting a fixed rear-wheel, and I don't want to be riding around unsafely or anything... so can someone explain the reasoning behind these things?

Thanks.
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Old 05-26-06, 11:41 AM   #2
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I like them for these reasons:

1. They keep my foot on the pedal
2. I can where any type of shoe that I want
3. With straps tight, they keep me locked in
4. I need them to slow and skip/skid
5. w/ road shoes w/ cleats I am really locked in
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Old 05-26-06, 11:47 AM   #3
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Old 05-26-06, 11:48 AM   #4
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for me the safety issue is going down steep hills. since you can't coast you have to spin along and when you get to spinning really fast you run the risk of your feet coming off the pedals. if you have no brakes, and your pedals are spinning too fast underneath you to get back on, then you have a problem.

the other andvantage to clips and straps is the ability to pull on the pedal with your foot. the most efficient pedaling is constant, circular force.

that being said my recommendation is to have two sturdy brakes and use whatever pedals make you happy.
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Old 05-26-06, 11:49 AM   #5
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even loose they will keep your foot from sliding forward off the pedal if you hit a bump unexpectedly oe some such. Tighten em up, and you've got your foot strapped to the pedal pretty well. They can assist in climbing by allowing you to really pull up as your foot comes around on the upstroke.

Basically the benefits are similar to those of using clipless systems, except they really don't work as well as clipless. The only advantages clips and straps have over clipless are 1. you can ride them with any shoes, thus allowing you to ride anywhere, and not need to bring street shoes along or suffer walking or working in bike shoes. 2. They are a lot less expensive over all.

I use clips and straps when I'm riding for transportation, and clipless when I'm riding just for the sake of riding. TO me changing peals before I go for a ride is easier than dealing with cycling shoes at work, while shopping etc.
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Old 05-26-06, 12:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattface
.
Basically the benefits are similar to those of using clipless systems, except they really don't work as well as clipless. The only advantages clips and straps have over clipless are 1. you can ride them with any shoes, thus allowing you to ride anywhere, and not need to bring street shoes along or suffer walking or working in bike shoes. 2. They are a lot less expensive over all.
There are more benefits of clips and straps and price is not one of them. decent straps cost around $60 and good pedals plus clips another 40 to 150. For that price you can get a very nice clipless setup. They also work just as well as clipless if used with proper shoes - that is why track cyclists wear them still. Sloted cleats! The main benefit for fixed street riding is that there is no accidental unclipping since they are not designed to release under torque or extreme force. It is a safety thing. Of course if you are rolling with handbrakes it might be overkill but unclipping when not expected really sucks regardless.
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Old 05-26-06, 12:17 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by 46x17
There are more benefits of clips and straps and price is not one of them. decent straps cost around $60 and good pedals plus clips another 40 to 150. For that price you can get a very nice clipless setup. They also work just as well as clipless if used with proper shoes - that is why track cyclists wear them still. Sloted cleats! The main benefit for fixed street riding is that there is no accidental unclipping since they are not designed to release under torque or extreme force. It is a safety thing. Of course if you are rolling with handbrakes it might be overkill but unclipping when not expected really sucks regardless.
My street pedals are Wellgo track pedals I got off ebay for $10 with plastic MTB clips (fit street shoes better), and nylon straps. The nylon straps do wear out, but they are mega cheap, and won't break unless they are quite worn, so my clip system is very inexpensive but reliable. For clipless I have Ritchey SPDs, and while I can always pull out when I want to, I've never had them pull out by mistake, even when yanking myself up steep grades. I have managed to break a steel campagnolo clip though. My SPD pedals weren't that expensive either, but the need for compatible shoes doubled the price. Try to find a workable clipless setup for $20.

Back in the day I used clips and straps with cleated cycling shoes. They were ridiculous to walk in, and were really only suitable for racing. I doubt they would be any better on the track than a modern clipless system. Anyone pulling out of a pedal on the track either doesn't have it set up correctly, or they aren't pedaling correctly. there isn't a single pedal clipless or clipped that should allow for that if you are pedaling in a smooth circular motion.
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Old 05-26-06, 12:18 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by 46x17
decent straps cost around $60

???
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Old 05-26-06, 12:23 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by nine o'clock
???
Translation: Toshi Double toe straps cost a fortune and are nigh on indestructible. If you are 46x17 apparently nothing south of that is "decent". Woven polyester straps cost $5, and if you can break one of them that's not frayed halfway through then apparently you need $60 straps. the $5 ones work fine for me.
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Old 05-26-06, 12:38 PM   #10
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Yup, I refuse any strap south of laminated thick leather. No stretch or flabbyness and last for quite a while. Very secure and you can tighten them down real nice. A good version of such straps are hard to find under $50. Of course there are the cheap leather ones like christophe but those will stretch and snap in time.
Anyway, ride what you want. I don't really care, but have seen people unclip by accident and it was not pretty. Have yet to see strap and clippers unlip.

BTW, breaking a clip does not compromise safety.
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Old 05-26-06, 12:38 PM   #11
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you can get "decent" straps (leather singles - polyester ones tend to stretch a lot more than leather ones) for around 12 bucks and good ones (laminated singles) for around 30-40, sometimes less, on ebay if you look. and then theres doubles and what not (toshi doubles are about 100).
in general i would say that clips and straps is cheaper than clipless, but there is also the extreme low end to clipless systems as well.
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Old 05-26-06, 12:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattface
Translation: Toshi Double toe straps cost a fortune and are nigh on indestructible. If you are 46x17 apparently nothing south of that is "decent". Woven polyester straps cost $5, and if you can break one of them that's not frayed halfway through then apparently you need $60 straps. the $5 ones work fine for me.
If you are 46x17 you break a lot of equipment and need to make sure that what you get is good stuff to make it last at least for a little. I don't spend much on frames or tires, but shell out for decent straps, BB, cranks, hubs and rims. In my exerience it has been worth it as the cheaper stuff breaks to soon and replacing it constantly is more costly
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Old 05-26-06, 01:06 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by 46x17
BTW, breaking a clip does not compromise safety.
I know a guy who wiped out after breaking a toe clip while skidding. It probably happens less often that accidental unclipping, but it still happens.

Ultimately it really just comes down to what you are comfortable with and how well you maintain your equipment. If you check your clips and straps or cleats for wear fairly often, the chances of your foot coming off the pedal are pretty slim.
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Old 05-26-06, 01:08 PM   #14
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toe clips and straps are deck IMO. but has anyone noticed it's gettin' harder to find medium or large steel ones. i don't dig plastic ones. steel is real. and they have to be stamped "christophe".
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Old 05-26-06, 01:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 46x17
Yup, I refuse any strap south of laminated thick leather. No stretch or flabbyness and last for quite a while. Very secure and you can tighten them down real nice. A good version of such straps are hard to find under $50. Of course there are the cheap leather ones like christophe but those will stretch and snap in time.
Anyway, ride what you want. I don't really care, but have seen people unclip by accident and it was not pretty. Have yet to see strap and clippers unlip.

BTW, breaking a clip does not compromise safety.
I suppose if I only used clips I would be more fussy about my straps as well, but for their intended purpose (riding around town, on errands, and back and forth to work) cheap clips/straps/pedals work for me. I've thought about upgrading my track pedals to MKS Sylvans, but then I was like "why bother, these get the job done.

Moreover SPDs have worked very well for me for more focused cycling. I've thought about trying Eggbeaters, but why fix what ain't broke.

BTW breaking that clip didn't compromise my safety, but it sure did screw up my ride. It was slightly less annoying than a flat tire. I didn't bring it up to condemn clips and straps. I like riding clips and straps. I only did it to illustrate that even the simplest of systems can fail. Of course when they do it's most likely due to wear and tear, and or poor maintenance. I've broken Leather and woven straps before as well, but of course they were old and worn. I suppose unclipping is more likely than a broken brake cable, but on properly maintained and adjusted pedals It really should be a rare occurrence. Since I don't posses the skill or desire to skid a bike going 30+ mph downhill I run a brake. That also gives me a backup system should I ever come unclipped. If I ran brakeless I'm sure I'd be petrified about coming unclipped on a fast decent, but then again I'd be too scared to enjoy it in the first place.
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Old 05-26-06, 01:17 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by brunop
toe clips and straps are deck IMO. but has anyone noticed it's gettin' harder to find medium or large steel ones. i don't dig plastic ones. steel is real. and they have to be stamped "christophe".
I like the Soma Steel ones. they are double gate (wider like the MTB ones) and steel. I guess if ya only ride in skinny shoes the road ones are fine, but double gates are preferable to me when I'm in clunkier shoes. Chucks are about the only shoes I wear that fit well in road clips.
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Old 05-26-06, 01:20 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 46x17
If you are 46x17 you break a lot of equipment and need to make sure that what you get is good stuff to make it last at least for a little. I don't spend much on frames or tires, but shell out for decent straps, BB, cranks, hubs and rims. In my exerience it has been worth it as the cheaper stuff breaks to soon and replacing it constantly is more costly
I hear ya on that. I wear out a lot of parts too, but the woven straps work well enough for me, better than the inexpensive leather ones. The one I broke was OLD, and I should have had the good sense to replace it when it frayed.
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Old 05-26-06, 01:58 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by brunop
toe clips and straps are deck IMO. but has anyone noticed it's gettin' harder to find medium or large steel ones. i don't dig plastic ones. steel is real. and they have to be stamped "christophe".
deck?
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Old 05-26-06, 02:01 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by brunop
toe clips and straps are deck
Wasn't "deck" the word that nobody said? Anyway, clips and straps rock. They're easy, they're cheap (you don't need $60 straps - jeez), you can get on 'em with any shoes. They have it all. And they look old skool.
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Old 05-26-06, 05:59 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by mattface
Anyone pulling out of a pedal on the track either doesn't have it set up correctly, or they aren't pedaling correctly. there isn't a single pedal clipless or clipped that should allow for that if you are pedaling in a smooth circular motion.
ummmmm where did you get that. I am neither as big nor as strong as alot of track racers yet there are pedals(looks and spds) that I have pulled out of numerous times with the tension maxed out and without twisting my foot. Granted I can't do this while pedaling smoothly at 100 rpms but its pretty easy at 0 or even 30. If you have a smooth pedal stroke at 15 rpms then you are the one that isn't pedaling correctly
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Old 05-26-06, 09:07 PM   #21
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Cheap plastic clips are OK but the toe ends grind away on pavement every time they're dragged a little (like when you're walking the bike or starting at a light in traffic and you can't clip in fast enough) and eventually you have to replace 'em. Steel clips don't have that problem unless something stupid happened to them.

In 15 years of using clips I haven't had a problem with using nylon straps. They stretch, but not suddenly, so I readjust every so often, and replace them every few years.
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Old 05-26-06, 09:15 PM   #22
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they match my shoes and i saw the pictures in the PUMA: Fixed Gear 101 book I paid $45 on eBay for and decided to buy the top line schitt because I think they are the best ever, even though I have no clue what separates them from other pedals (besides price). But, you gotta have the best - even if you do not understand it. I never really ride them though as they are too expensive and I have a Moped now anyway. Sometimes, I put on tight pants and walked around the Mission with my bike and a messenger bag I bought all used and stuff.

After riding the BART one stop with my bike, I walk it to a grocery store and grab a $5 bottle of Cane Cola on just thug it up in the park. Keep it real, yo.


----------------
the real answer:
I have broken a strap, but never a clip. My GF broke a clip, and the strap caught her. It was sketchy too, b/c the clip was new. It was an aluminum one - not the steel ones. If you ride hard, get steel. If you ride straps loose, get steel.

Most of the honest suggestions above lead you to the right path - if you are going fixed, get something that will lock you in the pedals. You will need it when you decide to stop, and do not have a brake.

Last edited by pitboss; 05-26-06 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 05-26-06, 10:16 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dutret
ummmmm where did you get that. I am neither as big nor as strong as alot of track racers yet there are pedals(looks and spds) that I have pulled out of numerous times with the tension maxed out and without twisting my foot. Granted I can't do this while pedaling smoothly at 100 rpms but its pretty easy at 0 or even 30. If you have a smooth pedal stroke at 15 rpms then you are the one that isn't pedaling correctly
I've never been on a track, but I don't think they pedal much in the 15-30 rpm range. Even pushing tall track gears. 15 rpm on my bike (70 gear inches) is 3mph. The only time I pedal that slow is when I'm riding with someone who is walking slow, or I'm climbing a monster hill (like the one I live on). Either way I've never pulled out of my SPDs at that speed. The only time I ever pulled straight out of my SPD was one time when I panicked and forgot to twist. I think it was the first week I had them. Are you saying there's something wrong with my pedal stroke because I don't unclip spontaneously at 3-6mph? If so I don't want to be right. Unclipping at 3mph would be SCARY
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Old 05-26-06, 10:30 PM   #24
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i broke an MKS steel clip the other day and replaced it (temporarily) with a plastic mtb clip. from now on when i buy toeclips, i have a feeling it'll be mtb clips, for comfort reasons. if i were to build a track bike solely for aesthetics, i'd have to stick with steel though.
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Old 05-27-06, 12:00 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattface
I've never been on a track.
You should maybe try getting on a track then.

During standing starts or hard accelerations you put pretty huge forces on the pedals/cleats. During a match sprint the riders can accelerate from almost nothing to over 40 mph in a short space while maneuvering hard, often throwing their bikes/bodies around. Keirins can have a lot of contact and you don't want your foot popping out from getting banged or in a hard maneuver. In a Kilo or team sprint start the riders are doing 1500+ watts at the start, at low rpms in a big gear-- that's a lot of force.

There are still plenty of track riders who use clips and double straps (mostly sprinters). One of the top US women (who has medaled at world cup events) was talking about pedals the other day and will only use these: http://fixedgear.americancyclery.com/Details/Pedals/6 which have a hand-operated mechanical lock plus a strap. She's *tiny* and races primarily mass starts, but has come out of other pedals and been injured. Her pedal stroke and handling are quite good. A lot of the big sprinters either use clips and double straps (very common) or Shimano SPD-R modified to add a strap, just in case you do twist out. I've seen a few of them stop using the straps (at least for training) because you can tighten them so hard they're nearly impossible to get in and out of-- I have a pair, and if I put them much past half-way they're hard to get into.
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