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  1. #1
    ...into the blue...
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    Platform pedals down (up) the Blue Ridge?

    I usually ride w/ crank bros candies, but recently put on platforms (yes, I know sheldon doesn't call them that) when I was going to be walking for a couple hours on pavement at the far end of a ride. I haven't ridden with platforms for years, but I have to say that I've thoroughly enjoyed them in my commuting over the last couple weeks.

    I'm headed to the Blue Ridge parkway at some point in May/June, and was wondering how much of an advantage they'd give for that type of terrain, i.e. long 7% hills. They certainly help on shorter hills, but what about the long ones?

    Clearly there are at least two advantages to clips: stiffer-soled shoes, plus using the full pedal stroke. I'm always a bit suspicious of claims for the former, as if the ball of your foot is over the pedal, I don't see how sole stiffness can really help.

    And here I'm specifically talking about the Jan-Ullrich-type rider (sitters), as opposed to the Lance-type (out of the saddle).

    Please assume "only you can determine what is best for you" etc. has already been said. I'm interested in YOUR experience w/ platforms vs clips on this type of terrain.

    Thanks,
    pete

  2. #2
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    I put platform pedals on my commuter bike so I could switch easily between shoes and the lightweight hiking boots I use in the winter. As a confirmed user of Speedplay Frogs I was surprised at how much I enjoyed using the platform pedals. I'm going to ride the Blue Ridge in June, and I plan on bringing the Frogs, but if I wanted to be in a particular kind of non-clip shoe, or was going to be on and off the bike a lot, I would consider using the platforms.

    But only you can determine what is best for you.

    Speedo

  3. #3
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    I don't know jack, but I like toe clips. Haven't ever ridden clipless, but I always wonder if it's that much more efficient at pedaling than clipless.

    I've also ridden up a bigass mountain in the Blue Ridge on platform pedals and I think I was wearing Chacos. Plus the bike had old, worn out tires and was mad ghetto in a lot of other ways.

    Edit: relevance to your post: 12%

  4. #4
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    I would recommend some kind of foot retention, either clipless or toe cages, because my feet tend to come off the pedals when I'm spinning at high cadence (which is what I usually do for long climbs on a touring bike). Clipless (and cages) also give you the option of getting out of the saddle for short streches. I know that you aren't interested in imitating Lance, but sometimes you find a really steep grade (like some of the roads that intersect the parkway) or just want to get the blood flowing to your butt for a few seconds and clear out some lactic acid.

  5. #5
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    as soon as the first snow comes i put my platforms on and i love them and my winter boot commute. As soon as i can go back to clipless i can tell the difference, last summer when i toured i think the only reason i was able to make it up some larger hills was because i was able to use the full peddle spin. Go clipless the freedom of platforms is nice but for distance and efficiency i dont think you can beat clipless.

  6. #6
    Senior Member pasopia's Avatar
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    It's all about comfort for me. I don't really care about performance, but I'm way more comfortable with stiff shoes and clipless pedals. If you're enjoying the flats at the moment I'd say stick with it unless it starts bothering you for some reason.

  7. #7
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    OK as you asked this will be just my take on this. No assumption that anyone should do the same should be made.

    I find enough benefit that I wouldn't dream of touring without my Sidis and SPD pedals. I was MTB racing when SPD was released and immediately loved them. I find them so much better than clips and straps that there is just no comparison. If straps are tight enough to do any good they are much harder to get out of than clipless.

    As far as using no retention system... I would feel naked. I do sometimes ride my folding bike for a mile or two without bikes shoes and clipping in, but that is to go a few blocks to the store or whatever.

    Walking comfort
    OK so yeah other shoes are better for hiking and walking. That said I tend to spend most of my day on the bike so it makes sense to optimize for comfort on the bike. I can hike/walk a couple miles in my Sidis with no problem. Going into restaurants and stores with them is no big deal. I can slip on my Crocs if I want/need a break from my bike shoes and I can walk a few miles in them if needed. If more serious hiking is a major part of the trip, I can carry my trail running shoes. That said I have not taken my trail running shoes on tour yet. I am considering it for the Sierra Cascades trip because I am considering doing more hiking, but I do hate the idea of another pair of shoes.

    Falling over
    I really don't get all the chatter you hear about falling over at stops because of clipless pedals. It seems to me that would be way more likely with clips and straps assuming they were tight enough to do any good. I found clipless liberating after having used clips and straps for years.

    Clipping out because of iffy conditions
    This one I really don't get either. If it is icy, muddy, sandy. or whatever that is when I really want the security of knowing that my foot will stay put until I want it off of the pedal. If I clip out it is because I am ready to touch the ground a millisecond later. The fact of the matter is that I first adopted SPDs for just those conditions when MTB racing.

  8. #8
    Senior Member TonyS's Avatar
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    I just started using SPD this year, and I have fallen over at stop lights (twice on my last outing!) when the side I've clipped out (I always unclip on the right) ends up being slightly uphill from the side I didn't clip out on and I didn't realize this until it was too late. Sometimes I can save myself mid-fall, but not often.

    I am terrified of this happening on my fully loaded brand new touring rig for the TA, so I haven't made up my mind yet on it. My dad rides with platforms and claims his doctor told him not to use clips because it'll wreck his bad knees... and he does fine without them. He rides 62 miles round trip to work every day. Once I tried the clips, they don't hurt my knees at all but they do hurt my ankles if I start pulling up too early, which I have tended to do on occasion.

    Who knows... I have 2 years to get used to the clips though.

    Also, it may be just my shoes, but I get TERRIBLE hot spots from my SPD pedals, which have just slightly stiffer than normal shoe soles. Guy at the LBS told me the stiff sole would take care of that, and for a long tour like the TA I'm going to want more contact area (ie great big road cleats) holding me in.

    Can anybody confirm or deny that?

  9. #9
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    I'm a fan of a hacksaw trimmed toe clip sans strap. On 4 bikes I have both plastic and metal units. I like the metal ones cuz you can change their shape a little with some mild bending

    I suppose I should buy brand new pretty mini clips but I'm holding back for now. However, Harris Cyclery has a some sweet minis for about $9-$10.

    this pic is of my winter MTB commuter
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    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  10. #10
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    I run platforms on my commuter bike. I can wear whatever shoes I like which is nice because I commute all year in all weather and I don't have to worry about my feet. My commute is only 6 miles and relatively flat. I still want clipless. You can't spin on platforms, you can only push and in doing so, you're only using one group of muscles. On long rides and steep rides, being able to shift muscle groups is important. You'll be less tired, you'll be more comfortable, and yes, you'll likely go a bit faster. There are nice mountain bike shoes with fairly soft soles that are comfortable to walk around in. Use those.

  11. #11
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyS View Post
    I just started using SPD this year, and I have fallen over at stop lights (twice on my last outing!) when the side I've clipped out (I always unclip on the right) ends up being slightly uphill from the side I didn't clip out on and I didn't realize this until it was too late. Sometimes I can save myself mid-fall, but not often.

    I am terrified of this happening on my fully loaded brand new touring rig for the TA, so I haven't made up my mind yet on it. My dad rides with platforms and claims his doctor told him not to use clips because it'll wreck his bad knees... and he does fine without them. He rides 62 miles round trip to work every day. Once I tried the clips, they don't hurt my knees at all but they do hurt my ankles if I start pulling up too early, which I have tended to do on occasion.

    Who knows... I have 2 years to get used to the clips though.

    Also, it may be just my shoes, but I get TERRIBLE hot spots from my SPD pedals, which have just slightly stiffer than normal shoe soles. Guy at the LBS told me the stiff sole would take care of that, and for a long tour like the TA I'm going to want more contact area (ie great big road cleats) holding me in.

    Can anybody confirm or deny that?
    The only way you'll wreck your knees from clipless is if they're not adjusted correctly. Some companies, like Speedplay, use a huge amount of float and are more comfortable than others.

    It sounds like your shoes aren't the right size and your feet are slipping. I've used Shimano, Speedplay, Crank Bros, and Look type pedals. I've found the Look style, with their longer base, to be more comfortable on long rides. I don't get hot spots (which are an indication of your foot moving) on the smaller area pedals but rather pressure points.

  12. #12
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    I'm a fan of a hacksaw trimmed toe clip sans strap. On 4 bikes I have both plastic and metal units. I like the metal ones cuz you can change their shape a little with some mild bending

    I suppose I should buy brand new pretty mini clips but I'm holding back for now. However, Harris Cyclery has a some sweet minis for about $9-$10.

    this pic is of my winter MTB commuter
    I am curious... what benefit do you get from mini clips? It always seemed to me like they did absolutely nothing beyond locating your foot consistently fore and aft on the pedal. If that is the desired result for you I can see where they accomplish that but don't see them doing much else.

  13. #13
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    I use them to keep my feet from sliding off the pedal, duh. sorry for the "duh", but really.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  14. #14
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    I am curious... what benefit do you get from mini clips? It always seemed to me like they did absolutely nothing beyond locating your foot consistently fore and aft on the pedal. If that is the desired result for you I can see where they accomplish that but don't see them doing much else.
    Duh indeed. There are a number of reasons for using a retention system. The significant reasons include, but are not limited to:
    1. Locating the foot in a consistent position fore and aft.
    2. Locating the foot in a consistent position side to side.
    3. Locating the foot consistently with regard to how it is rotated (heel in heel out)
    4. Allowing the ability to pull back on the pedal.
    5. Allowing the ability to pull up on the pedal.


    Not everyone will agree on which are important and which are not. Some will even consider some of them disadvantages.

    Originally clips were not only used with straps but also with cleats with a groove that engaged the pedal allowing the pull back advantage. Eliminating the cleat makes the system easier to exit, but loses much of the advantage. Eliminating the strap even more so.

    The mini clips are fine if they are what you want but they only do a small fraction of what clips and straps with cleats or a clipless system does. That may be what you want. If so great, but if mini clips were the only option I probably wouldn't bother.

  15. #15
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    I suppose it depends on the pedal and the shoe. mine stick pretty wicked good and I can do all kinds of stuff with my feet :-)
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  16. #16
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    Right now, I stick with flat pedals. I have some bone deformities in my feet, a 17 deg rotation in my right hip, and I'm mostly recovered from a left knee sprain that left me on crutches for about 6 weeks a year ago. Even in the best of times, my legs have pretty serious structural problems, and I started developing arthritis from it by age 16. It's hard to keep your feet on flat pedals at high cadence without using semi-decent technique, and I think decent technique is pretty important given my physical problems.

    Since my body doesn't have much margin for error, if I swap to a retention system, I'd probably do it with a sports medicine doctor's guidance. I *really* like being able to walk and move, and I'm trying hard to make sure my damaged joints last as long as possible. My parents started needing joint replacements and repairs in their early 50s, which is really not great given that the lifespan on a replacement can be less than 15 years.

  17. #17
    Senior Member TonyS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnsafeAlpine View Post
    The only way you'll wreck your knees from clipless is if they're not adjusted correctly. Some companies, like Speedplay, use a huge amount of float and are more comfortable than others.

    It sounds like your shoes aren't the right size and your feet are slipping. I've used Shimano, Speedplay, Crank Bros, and Look type pedals. I've found the Look style, with their longer base, to be more comfortable on long rides. I don't get hot spots (which are an indication of your foot moving) on the smaller area pedals but rather pressure points.
    Yeah I don't think it'd hurt his knees either, but apparently his doctor thinks it would so he won't try 'em. Doesn't seem to hurt him any, so I'm not too worried about it.

    As for my shoes, yup... these shoes are Specialized, and they run long... They fit the width of my foot but leave a BUNCH of room on the front... and the hole for the cleat doesn't go back far enough, so the cleats have to be about a half inch in front of the ball of my foot or it's too close to the back of the recessed area to let me clip in... Basically, I need some shoes that fit better for my shorter, wider feet. I found some at the LBS the other day, but they were stiff-soled and still look like I walked in from the moon. Plus the guy recommended road cleats.

    Anyway, that was the part I was asking about... does anyone agree with or disagree with the assessment that road cleats > SPD for long-distance rides? You will be graded on originality, and how many times you can use the word "ketchup" in your post.

  18. #18
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyS View Post
    Yeah I don't think it'd hurt his knees either, but apparently his doctor thinks it would so he won't try 'em. Doesn't seem to hurt him any, so I'm not too worried about it.
    I think clip-less does screw up some folks knees, but only because they either don't know how to or don't bother to get them set right for them. I actually think that having your foot automatically in the same position with only minimal float is beneficial if the adjustment is right and based on where it is comfortable when riding in your best form. The lack of choice can help maintain good form. Moving your foot to different angles as you tire is more likely to yield poor form than to help.

    I also think that float isn't particularly desirable for most riders, but it is better than riding with a minimal float setup that isn't adjusted properly.

  19. #19
    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    I rode part of the Blue Ridge and part of the Icefields in past two years, both with platform peddles. Very comfortable to me.

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