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Stock pedals or upgrade?

Old 11-17-21, 11:52 PM
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Bicicletta89
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Stock pedals or upgrade?

My 1970s Fuji road bike has your typical rectangular vintage rat trap pedals. Never really paid much attention to pedals before, but I'm wondering...would upgrading to new pedals mean a much better experience? Would comfort, smoothness, resistance, grip, etc. be better to the point that it's worth it?

I'm not interested in clips or special cycling shoes. I wear sneakers on my bike. Sometimes my foot slips a little. The pedals aren't too narrow for my feet per se, but just due to my gait my feet tend to sit along the edges which can sometimes be a little annoying. Again, none of this is serious, but I'm wondering if there's a much, much better experience I'm missing out on.
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Old 11-17-21, 11:58 PM
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Cleaning and greasing the bearings has probably long been a need if it hasn't been done and getting rid of old, sticky and fossilizing grease can make the pedals smoother and remove more resistance then you realize. Redoing rear der bushings can also seem to have an outsized effect on how much easier it seems to pedal. Personally I like tossing platform pedals on my bikes that aren't clipless. My MTB has dual sided while my Gravel bike and old road bike run full platforms with pins. I have wide feet with a wider stance and there's a noticeable improvement in foot comfort with the broader platforms which offer more support. I also tend not to slip on them as the pins really dig into my sneakers, have gone flying off them, but never slipped even in the mud.
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Old 11-17-21, 11:59 PM
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I prefer vintage Japanese pedals from KKT (Top Run or Pro Ace with clips and straps) that often came on bikes like yours. I've used new pedals as well from VO. They're nice too. But I like keepin' it old school. An important issue for me is being able to fully service them with new grease/bearings.
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Old 11-18-21, 12:12 AM
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MKS pedals are excellent and not very expensive, so it could be worth experiencing the difference yourself. At worst, you could sell them for close to what you paid. Read some of the descriptions on Rivendell’s website of the pedals they sell and you can get a sense of why the list has been curated as such. There’s also nothing wrong with sticking to the pedals you have and spending zero.
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Old 11-18-21, 02:37 AM
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I think the answer depends a lot on the type of riding you do. I have different bikes for different purposes. For relatively short, casual rides across the flats, rat trap pedals are perfectly fine and won't hinder you at all. For long, intense rides over varied terrain, pedals with some form of retention (either clip-in or clips & straps) can be one of the best, most cost-effective and transformative upgrades you can make. In addition to the benefits of being able to pedal throughout the rotation (I find this especially helpful when starting from a standstill, climbing, and sprinting), there are the added safety benefits of not slipping off the pedal and being better able to bunny hop over hazards. Bunny-hopping over hazards not only avoids the hazard, but can also sometimes saves you from having to swerve into traffic. You don't need clips to bunny hop, but they definitely make it easier.

When I was young (around 12 years old) I slipped off a rat trap pedal on an exercise bike and the pedal rotated with force through my calf requiring 33 stitches. A few years ago, I put my foot on the ground while riding at a modest ~10-15 mph, and instantly snapped my tibia and fibula requiring a titanium rod down my leg and a long recovery. Don't underestimate the importance of keeping your feet on your pedals.

Lastly, I do find the outside of my calves do get more tired if my foot hangs over the edge of the pedal.
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Old 11-18-21, 06:56 AM
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I think it might be important to note that "clips" means "toe cages," not the little pedals that you clip your shoes into.

If you're used to rat traps, clips and straps look evil or something. I did not want to use them- I was afraid of my feet being trapped in the pedal when I stopped. I think it was someone here said something like "you'll fall once- and then you'll get it." That was pretty much true. And in the times I've ridden rat traps or other pedals without clips, my foot has slipped and felt all over the place. I'm not a competitive rider- I don't pull up on the pedal stroke, I don't tighten my straps- the clips are just there to keep my feet from slipping- not really to hold them tightly in place. The other thing is that it makes it so much easier to get your pedals in position to start out and to get started. That's something I immediately miss when I'm riding without clips.

So- is there a better experience- if you use rat traps without foot retention, I think so.

My favorite pedals are the old SR SP-11 pedals. They're a platform, they were meant to be used with clips, straps and cleats- but I just use tennis shoes and they're awesome.

SP-11 King2 by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr

SP-11 CatEye1 by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr


MKS makes the "Urban Platform" pedal that's very similar.
https://www.modernbike.com/product-2...caAht0EALw_wcB

I like the wire clips- I think they work great and look classy and cool. If you're hesitant about the whole clips and straps, MKS makes half clips that you just fit your toe into- it doesn't go over the body of your foot and there's no straps:
https://www.treefortbikes.com/MKS-Ha...waAhKPEALw_wcB

They also make a bent metal one that's $5 less expensive.
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Old 11-18-21, 07:34 AM
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There are half clips that are strapless, I haven't used any for years. That could be a good alternative for you.
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Old 11-18-21, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr. 66 View Post
There are half clips that are strapless, I haven't used any for years. That could be a good alternative for you.
I'll put in a plug for half clips as well -- I have these on three of my bikes, and for me it's a perfect balance. They help with placement (no accidental toe overlap, i.e., clipping the back of the front tire) and retention, but not at the expense of being able to remove my foot easily. They also bias the pedal weight forward, so pedal position is predictable as I lift my foot off the ground.

https://www.amazon.com/MKS-Half-Clip.../dp/B004H0CM9G
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Old 11-18-21, 01:27 PM
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1/2 clips, aka mini clips. bought new or DIY hack up your own from regular toe clips w/o straps





Last edited by rumrunn6; 11-18-21 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 11-19-21, 10:22 AM
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Thanks, everyone. Your comments are a big help. I'm wary of toe clips/straps for fear of getting scuff marks when I wear leather shoes. I think I'll get some inexpensive platform pedals that are wider and have the little pins that provide some more traction for your shoes. Damn...the Velo Orange ones are soooo beautiful, as if a fancy 1930s airplane became a bike pedal, but they're so expensive and sold out. The MKS Allways pedals in silver look nice and seem like they'll have more support for the center of the foot than my current rat traps. Might give those a go.
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Old 11-19-21, 11:37 AM
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I have always been found of Shimano DX style for sneaker riding. (Ignore the urchins.... more bmx)


From left to right: Suntour '80's beartraps with replacement Urchin cages. Next is the original Shimaon DX platform. Third is the Shimano DX re-release from about 10 yrs ago of the DX pedal. 4th is the 2nd to latest rendition of the Shimano platform the PD-M8040 (it was cheaper than the 8141 I was looking for ;-)
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Old 11-19-21, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Bicicletta89 View Post
I think I'll get some inexpensive platform pedals that are wider and have the little pins that provide some more traction for your shoes.
Do be aware that those little pins can really do a number on your shins. I have them on my mountain bike and no matter how hard I try to avoid it I smack my shin at least once every ride. Personally, I go with clips and loose straps on my road bikes. Never noticed any issue with shoe scuffing.
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Old 11-19-21, 04:06 PM
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Clips and loose straps for me.

Single sided pedals with the pointy flipper tab are best. For riding in soft soles, flat surface pedals that take clips, like MKS GR10, are ideal. Pedals with a raised ridge for slotted cleats can be uncomfortable over long distances.

My favorite clips are plastic MTB ones by Zefal. They are rigid and hold their shape for easy entry and exit.

I have both leather and nylon straps and donít think the difference matters. Some people say nylon straps tend to slip, but I donít cinch them down enough to notice as Iím not trying to retain cleats.

I tried the wide downhill pedals with pins and hate them. The pins keep your feet from sliding around but thereís no upstroke retention whatsoever. I have modern bikes with Look and SPD pedals and canít unlearn pulling up with my trailing foot. With clips and straps this is a non-issue.
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Old 11-19-21, 08:28 PM
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For what it is worth, my opinion regarding pedals is that the SPD style pedal with appropriate mountain bike SPD shoes is the best possible upgrade that anyone can make to a bicycle. Up front, the cost appears prohibitive but nothing compares to the ease of use nor the increase in performance that the rider will experience. I back up what I say with my daily practice.

There are two basic models or styles. Pictured below is the SPD on one side and cage on the other for the best of both worlds...



My preference, however, is SPD on both sides...


Most (all but one) of my bikes are pretty old but everyone of my bikes is fitted with the modern SPD pedal system. Every one, even those that I have attempted to restore. I am sure that those people who are used to traps and straps will argue in the rat trap arena but for a guy like me, who never had a chance to make rat traps my go to system, SPD is the answer.

Make sure, should you choose the SPD system to buy shoes with recessed cleat mounts. Regular road shoes will prove difficult to walk in. As for durability, I have been riding for a long time and covered an awful lot of miles. My first pair of shoes wore out two years ago and the new set, replaced, show hardly any wear at all. I am not sure how many miles these guys saw by the time I tossed them. But I they did last me for close to twenty years. I should add that they saw a lot of walking miles on the hard aggregate roads of Jamaica...




I, pretty much, wore my gloves out at the same time. These days I have new shoes and gloves. Yahoo!
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Old 11-19-21, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by C9H13N View Post
Clips and loose straps for me.

Single sided pedals with the pointy flipper tab are best. For riding in soft soles, flat surface pedals that take clips, like MKS GR10, are ideal.
When I was younger, I would cinch the straps up but I never had (could afford) shoes that I could put the slotted cleats on. These days I just run the straps loose. I like clips and straps on vintage bikes because that is what I would have used in the day. I also bought a set of the MKS GR-10s today because even though I can find the MKS Esquartz I want for my Raleigh, I can't find any with clips that I want to pay that much for. The GR-10s look like a good compromise.
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