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Toe Clips vs Clipless vs Pedal Pins

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Toe Clips vs Clipless vs Pedal Pins

Old 08-27-17, 01:47 PM
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WT21
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Toe Clips vs Clipless vs Pedal Pins

Recently got a more serious bike for road riding for fitness. In my biking area, there are a number of turns across traffic, etc. This is not urban, but suburban.

My last bike had what I thought of as shoe cages. I guess they were technically toe clips, but I never tightened the strap. I could get my foot quite easily in and out, and the clip did a good job of putting the ball of my foot on the pedal.

This bike, I have clipless.

Right away, I can see the direct power connection, no doubt. But I've fallen a couple of times, and they make me far more shy in approaching any kind of traffic and turns. They require a lot more thought about my approach to an intersection, and make me a little nervous in tenuous situations.

I've tried to do research on this, but almost all comparisons are clipless vs. pedals with pins, or clipless vs. tightened down toe clips, but in my experience, you don't have to tighten the clips, and still get some benefit.

Has anyone else been happy going from clipless to either clips or pedals with pins? One thing I would miss for sure is the much stiffer sole. Are there such things as "biking shoes" with stiff soles, but that can be used with pins or toe clips?
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Old 08-27-17, 02:12 PM
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Oh yeah.

35yrs,off and on, with toe clips and straps. Five yrs riding with Shimano spd-sl.

There is a learning curve, but once I got comfortable, I was through with toe clips, unless I'm on my vintage Fuji.

I still ride half clips on my mtn bike.
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Old 08-27-17, 02:16 PM
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Try not to get hung up on the fact that you are clipped in. Pretend that you are approaching an intersection (or some other place to stop) and that you are in your car. If you have a manual transmission, unclip one or both feet whenever you would depress the clutch. If you have an automatic transmission, do the same thing except exchange the brake pedal for the clutch.

When I first went clipless, I found that the more I concentrated on what point I had to unclip before coming to a stop, the more times I fell for forgetting to unclip. Let it come as natural as clutching or braking in your car.
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Old 08-27-17, 02:27 PM
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I rode with toe clips on a road bike decades ago. And platforms now, the grippy pinned type on my hybrid, more urban type platforms on my road bike. Haven't tried clipless yet but it's in my near future now that I'm riding a road bike again.

For toe clips to offer any real advantage you need cleated shoes like the old school Detto Pietros and the straps cinched down. Partly it's power transfer with the stiff soles. Partly it's keeping the foot in/on the pedals over rough stuff while bouncing around.

Yeah, I rode with toe clips for commuting, casual shoes, with the left strap loose. It helped a bit, but not as much as the cleated Dettos cinched down. With loose straps, or shorty clips without straps, it just gives you a hard stop to reposition your foot quickly. To me, it's all the disadvantages of platforms and none of the advantages of foot retention. With platforms I can move my feet from the balls to the arch as needed to suit conditions. Can't do that with toe clips.

And it can be risky commuting or riding in traffic with cleated shoes cinched down. You can't get free as efficiently as with clipless. Watch some videos of racers during the 1950s-'70s. When a rider reached the finish line his team was there to greet him, not just for congratulations but to physically support him. It's hard to get loose from cinched down toe clips when you're physically exhausted, legs, arms and back trembling.

Yesterday I took my road bike out for a metric century/ride-my-age ride. Just got the bike in June, still using Wellgo platforms while I get reacquainted with a road bike. Fine on smooth pavement. But it's a chore to keep the feet ideally positioned over rough chipseal, especially on hard climbs. I was wasting energy having to reposition my feet as they got bounced around. And it was transferring shock to my back and neck, which are aching today.

Foot retention -- toe clips or clipless -- would be more efficient for me in that specific scenario -- rough riding chipseal, which is the worst stuff I've ever ridden a road or hybrid bike on. Most gravel isn't nearly as bad, with the exception of a few paths that can barely be called roads, using rough railroad ballast type rocks.

The one exception was rounding a fast downhill blind curve and inadvertently nearly blowing through a stop sign. Worst intersection design I've ever seen. No warning of a blind curve or upcoming stop sign intersection. And a car was coming from my right. I used my best emergency braking, sliding back off the saddle while locking up the wheels and skidding. The rear end still came up because the stop sign was still on a steep downhill.

Soon as I felt the rear up come up I hopped down with both feet and caught myself. No fall. The driver to my right was staring, mouth agape. I did a comical "Whew!" and exaggerated forehead wipe to indicate I was okay. Lots of cyclists ride that route but it was my first time. The driver probably thinks we're all crazy.

That would have been difficult with clipless and impossible with toe clips cinched down. It happened much too quickly to fuss with foot retention.

But I'm still considering clipless for the road bike because the advantages to foot retention outweigh the disadvantages for most road riding conditions.
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Old 08-27-17, 02:52 PM
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I've recently gone to clipless.

Toe clips and straps were no good. Didn't like them, and they were harder to get in and out of clipless. I really like my dual sided platform/clipless pedals. Can ride in regular shoes, can ride in cleats, can ride clipped in on long stretches and platforms in a busy stop-go area.

As far as firm soled shoes, I wore MTB SPD shoes for a year and a half on platforms before going clipless. Just leave the cleat hole covers in place, don't install cleats.
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Old 08-27-17, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by WT21 View Post
But I've fallen a couple of times, and they make me far more shy in approaching any kind of traffic and turns. They require a lot more thought about my approach to an intersection, and make me a little nervous in tenuous situations.
I fell the first time in traffic. A little nervous is an understatement.

If you have fallen twice you are about finished with the learning curve. I bet we have all fallen twice. That seems to be the magic number for getting the hang of it. It will become second nature and very natural.

For now just make sure you are coming to intersections prepared. Soon you won't have to think about it.

For me SPD mtn shoes make the most sense for my road bike. I don't feel the need for the difficulty of road shoes but lots of serious riders wouldn't use my SPDs.

I recently built my 1st mtn bike and even though I'm very comfortable with my clips I am nervous about learning to ride trail clipped in. So I got some flats with pins. I'm using smooth sole tennis shoes, not expensive shoes and I am very impressed with how they stick. But they are not as positive as clips.

For road I want to be able to pull up and flats don't let you do that. For me cages are useless. I'm not about to strap my feet a pedal.

Last edited by peugeot mongrel; 08-27-17 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 08-27-17, 09:38 PM
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Thanks all. Great helps.

I just read the difference between Shimano SH51 vs SH56 cleats. I believe I have SH51, as they only seem to release in one direction. Maybe I should try 56?
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Old 08-27-17, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by WT21 View Post

Has anyone else been happy going from clipless to either clips or pedals with pins? One thing I would miss for sure is the much stiffer sole. Are there such things as "biking shoes" with stiff soles, but that can be used with pins or toe clips?
I use all three, happily. For fast rides & MTB my bikes are equipped with clipless. Vintage...cages. Fun/cruiser/commuter...platforms with pins.

There are 'regular' shoes that are somewhat specialized to work well with platforms & clipless, like those made by chrome Shoes | Sneakers, Boots, & SPD Bike Shoes | Chrome Industries . I'm a fan of AdiRacers, but they are hard to find in the US, pricey on eBay. Frankly, the old style tennis shoes with a stiff and flat sole are pretty much perfect for warm weather platform riding, and the good ones are pretty light.
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Old 08-28-17, 04:47 AM
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I've used clipless and clips. I just went back to clips because I wanted to be able to use any type of shoe.


I use MKS deep toe clips https://www.amazon.com/MKS-Deep-Stee.../dp/B003UWF3UM and leather straps. I feel no need to tighten the straps to where you cannot easily slip out. I find them very comfortable. For me, being able to use any shoe is a plus.
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Old 08-28-17, 06:20 AM
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Like user FrenchFit, I have found uses for each of the pedal types.

I use clipless pedals and shoes for my fast road bike, where the efficiency and security is well-welcomed. On the MTB, I value a more loose feeling, using flat-soled 'skater' shoes riding on flat pedals with pins; I can still bunny-hop the bike, and whip the wheels around, but can also instantly get a foot planted on the ground in the rough stuff. On the touring bike, I use the same shoes as my MTB, but with cages and straps; I don't tighten the straps too much, but the cage has saved me from slipping off the flat pedals more than once (especially in wet and rainy conditions).
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Old 08-28-17, 07:07 AM
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I use toe clips...not real tight. I wear skateboard sneakers with a stiff sole.
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Old 08-28-17, 08:03 AM
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Step in clipless pedal shoes are less comfortable to wear all day off the bike to work in..
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Old 08-28-17, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by chemtrailsnifer View Post
I use both and switch between the two in seconds.

A "real" ride? Clipless.

A jaunt to the store, post office, etc. wearing flip flops? https://www.flypedals.com/products/fly-pedals-version-2
Those are nice.
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Old 08-30-17, 07:36 PM
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I ride a variety of clipless pedals, 3 types of Speedplay, and Shimano SPD SL. I rode this week in more urban conditions on a trip than I do at home with Speedplay Ultra Light Action Aero walkable pedals. They were perfect for that situation. So easy to clip in and out of. Full floating isn't for everyone though. OK with me for more casual or touring cycling. Not sure I'd like it if I were really pushing it a lot of the time.
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Old 08-30-17, 08:16 PM
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I've never used the toe clips and straps. I went to clipless a couple of years ago just 3-4 months after I started riding. I've only fallen due to forgetting I was clipped in once, while stopped taking pictures. I just built up my first real MTB for real trail riding and I wasn't willing to try clipless on real trails knowing crashing is inevitable. I bought pinned platform pedals with large platforms and was riding in a pair of Globe skate shoes. I found riding on platforms to be very awkward all the time except when I'm going down or falling over. I just bought a pair of Five Ten Free Riders that I've only gotten to try out riding here at home. As far a staying in in place, the Five Tens and platforms are very sticky but give no assurance of proper foot placement.

As far as clipless goes. I've used SPD, SPD-SL and Crank Brothers. I by far prefer the Crank Brothers and MTB shoes. I find them much easier to both get in and out of that SPD's which IMO is much easier than SPD-SL. I rode the SPD-SL's last summer but switched to a set of Crank Brother Candy's like I have on my then only MTB (which was only used for gravel riding). My road shoes were vented and not very warm was the reasoning for going to the MTB shoe during the winter. I put the road pedals back on for a few rides but just prefer the Crank Brothers so much I don't see me ever using any other clipless system again.
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Old 08-30-17, 10:33 PM
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I bought a bike that had clipless pedals and never went back to toe clips. I have had two or three 0 mph tipovers from not clipping out. It takes time to get used to clipless pedals, but after a while it becomes second nature. I live in suburbia with lots of lights and stop signs and I don't find clipless pedals to be an issue. What is more of an issue is with my older bike I use it to do errands and walking around in clipless shoes, even SPDs, sucks.
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Old 08-31-17, 10:09 AM
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As far as stiff soled biking shoes, this morning I bought a pair of DZRs for $40 that my local Performance Bike was clearancing out to take over as my non-retention cycling shoes. Once again, just leaving the cleat cover in place and riding them on platforms.

Look and feel good as regular street shoes, too, I could wear them to work.
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Old 09-02-17, 09:57 PM
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I've fallen twice with clipless: the first time when I came to an intersection & hesitated between "balancing" & unclipping - I never try to balance anymore, I unclip before the intersection. The second time I had stopped & unclipped on one side, had a conversation with someone & then leaned on the wrong side. In both cases, embarrassing falls. I learnt my lesson from these two falls.
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Old 09-02-17, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by SimcoeAce View Post
I've fallen twice with clipless: the first time when I came to an intersection & hesitated between "balancing" & unclipping - I never try to balance anymore, I unclip before the intersection. The second time I had stopped & unclipped on one side, had a conversation with someone & then leaned on the wrong side. In both cases, embarrassing falls. I learnt my lesson from these two falls.
Took me 50% more falls than you to learn, and I might still be learning, time will tell...
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Old 09-03-17, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Lakerat View Post
I ride a variety of clipless pedals, 3 types of Speedplay, and Shimano SPD SL. I rode this week in more urban conditions on a trip than I do at home with Speedplay Ultra Light Action Aero walkable pedals. They were perfect for that situation. So easy to clip in and out of. Full floating isn't for everyone though. OK with me for more casual or touring cycling. Not sure I'd like it if I were really pushing it a lot of the time.
Since Speedplay Ultra Light Action pedals are so easy to clip in and out of, when you think you may have to unclip, you can rotate your foot into a ready position for unclipping. If you don't actually need to unclip, you just turn your foot back and it pretty much clips back in automatically.
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Old 09-03-17, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by WT21 View Post
Recently got a more serious bike for road riding for fitness. In my biking area, there are a number of turns across traffic, etc. This is not urban, but suburban.

My last bike had what I thought of as shoe cages. I guess they were technically toe clips, but I never tightened the strap. I could get my foot quite easily in and out, and the clip did a good job of putting the ball of my foot on the pedal.

This bike, I have clipless.

Right away, I can see the direct power connection, no doubt. But I've fallen a couple of times, and they make me far more shy in approaching any kind of traffic and turns. They require a lot more thought about my approach to an intersection, and make me a little nervous in tenuous situations.

I've tried to do research on this, but almost all comparisons are clipless vs. pedals with pins, or clipless vs. tightened down toe clips, but in my experience, you don't have to tighten the clips, and still get some benefit.

Has anyone else been happy going from clipless to either clips or pedals with pins? One thing I would miss for sure is the much stiffer sole. Are there such things as "biking shoes" with stiff soles, but that can be used with pins or toe clips?
I've always found that comfort comes with time and practice.

This is a bit more than you asked, but it's fun to learn track stands. Once that happens, it makes clipless much less annoying in the city.
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Old 09-03-17, 03:48 PM
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I never could unclip reliably from SPDs. I think the problem might have been that I was unable to find shoes that were tight enough to stay with my heel when I turned it out in the hope of unclipping. My foot sometimes moved without moving my shoe. Actually, I was able to unclip most reliably with the high-float Shimano clips by rotating my foot inward. In any case, I hate tight shoes.

I've used rat traps w/toe clips, quills with toe clips, SPDs, plastic platforms with plastic pins, and platforms with metal pins. IMO, the ones I like best are the flats with metal pins and Five Ten shoes. I think I give up 5% of my speed at most, compared to toe clips/cleats and SPDs - but I pedal for enjoyment and exercise, so the 5% is meaningless to me.
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