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Old 10-03-08, 10:50 PM   #1
yeamac
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My newfound joy and freedom with platform pedals

In college I got into road riding and used toe straps for several years. After a decade away from road biking I got back into it 2 years ago. Thanks to the internet I learned all about the benefits of clipless pedals. Better efficiency, transfer of power, control, yadda-yadda. I drank the kool-aid, and it tasted good.

I adapted to clipless pedals very quickly. I learned to always be thinking about potential situations where I might need to unclip. Red light at the intersection, better unclip, because it might not turn green in time. Stop sign, better unclip. Is that car really going to pull out in front of me? Better unclip.

And I learned to put up with the inconveniences, which included:

- The constant unclipping and clipping in urban areas, described above
- Walking around like a buffoon at convenience stores, eateries, etc.
- Worrying about slipping on and/or damaging the floor surface in some places
- Intentionally avoiding dirt, sandy, or gravel areas
- Having to change from a different pair of shoes into cycling shoes before each ride
- When driving to a ride, I had to always double check that the cycling shoes were packed

I've been able to go on 4 rides the past 2 months of over 100 miles, 3 of those over 200K. I've been getting hotspots on my feet after 70 miles and sore feet in general by the end of the ride. A little bit of pain in the leg, too. I am fit to my bike very well, but figured out the problem is probably my feet swelling on these long rides causing the discomfort. I had loosened my shoes as much as a could, but my toes were still a little too cramped (although I've been wearing these shoes for a year without much problem until now).

I had a 125 mile ride planned with a friend today. Earlier this week I decided to remove the clipless pedals and put on a pair of platform pedals, waiting for a new, larger pair of PI Seeks to come in (changing from Sidi road shoes because I want a more walkable shoe). I thought I would do the 125 miles on platform pedals wearing my soft sole, mesh water shoes. I hoped I wouldn't loose control and that I wouldn't be a whole lot slower than the last time we did this ride.

EUREKA! I loved the freedom of the platforms! I loved walking up to my bike at the start of the ride, hopping on and going (not having to take time to change shoes). I enjoyed walking around convenience stores like a normal person. I liked being able to put my feet in whatever position I wanted on my pedals. I actually looked forward to stopping at intersections to be able to stop and put both feet down and stretch (with clipless I ALWAYS put my left foot down, right foot stayed clipped, which didn't allow that leg to stretch). I ended this ride with a faster average moving speed than the last time we rode this route (almost identical weather conditions) and a similar cadence. I worried about loosing control if my foot slipped. I worried I may not be able to stand to climb a hill or accelerate from a stop. Those worries were simply Kool-aid stains, because I felt I did everything on platforms I could do with clipless, except for pulling up the pedal at an intersection when I wanted to start to accelerate.

Anyway, I've stopped drinking the Klipless Kool-aid and thought I would post my experiences. This article at Rivendell Bikes concludes: The most important and liberating thing I've learned in 40 years of riding nearly daily, is that normal shoes and pedaling unconnected is the way to go. For me, at least, and for a growing number of people who try it.

Preach on, brother! I'm just a recreational rider. Done a couple MS150's and am getting into longer distance cycling because I enjoy it. Clipless pedals have been a minor pain, but one I was always willing to live with for the "benefits." I believe they did help my pedaling form. But today I have graduated, for I believe the benefits of platforms and regular shoes beats a clipless system for a rider like me.
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Old 10-04-08, 01:52 AM   #2
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Bless ya !!! The only time I missed the clipless is when its raining. Feet slip off platforms. Other than that, I prefer the platforms.
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Old 10-04-08, 02:12 AM   #3
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Platforms and chaco sandals all the way!
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Old 10-04-08, 06:02 AM   #4
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I have considered going clipless but am still hesitant because I've always liked my shoes to fit loose.....10-1\2 wwww. My very large platforms with small spikey things to grip my leather dress/work shoes work out well for me now. The 50 mile Sunday rides are in an area with many stop signs and intersections so maybe this is the best setup. Now if I rode in the country with endless miles of non-stop road it may be a different story?
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Old 10-04-08, 08:01 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yeamac View Post
- The constant unclipping and clipping in urban areas, described above
- Walking around like a buffoon at convenience stores, eateries, etc.
- Worrying about slipping on and/or damaging the floor surface in some places
- Intentionally avoiding dirt, sandy, or gravel areas
- Having to change from a different pair of shoes into cycling shoes before each ride
- When driving to a ride, I had to always double check that the cycling shoes were packed
You do realize that there are pedals that have practically none of those concerns (except having different pairs of shoes)?

My frogs clip and unclip so easily I don't notice them. You can walk in sand and gravel or on hardwood floors silently and normally. And I don't slip because I have a walkable touring shoe (Shimano R085) with no crazy treads.

I rode platforms or toeclips for over 20 years before I drank the koolaid. I'll never consider anything but clipless for any ride over a few miles.
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Old 10-04-08, 09:37 AM   #6
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I'm also wondering about cadence, can you get a high cadence with platform pedals? I tried the platform pedals with the little spikes in them and my feet came off the pedals a few times.
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Old 10-04-08, 10:09 AM   #7
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You do realize that there are pedals that have practically none of those concerns (except having different pairs of shoes)?

My frogs clip and unclip so easily I don't notice them. You can walk in sand and gravel or on hardwood floors silently and normally. And I don't slip because I have a walkable touring shoe (Shimano R085) with no crazy treads.

I rode platforms or toeclips for over 20 years before I drank the koolaid. I'll never consider anything but clipless for any ride over a few miles.
I have the MO75 shoes and the Shimano 424 pedals and I have all the float I need. They are so easy to get out of, it surprised me. Anyway to each his own, but I really like my setup.
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Old 10-04-08, 10:43 AM   #8
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Have you ever tried a mountain shoe/pedal combo on your road bike? If not, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
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Old 10-04-08, 12:41 PM   #9
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but with platforms you resign to mashing/stomping on the pedals... how do you get uphill efficiently, e.g. 'round' pedaling?

if i used platforms, i'd at least use straps/cages, and a stiff-soled shoe of some kind. i used to ride fixed in sneakers and after doing hills all day my arches were killing me!

have fun! whatever works for you. my SPDs with a mtn shoe for walkability works well for me. we all drink kool-aid of some flavor.
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Old 10-04-08, 12:54 PM   #10
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Mmmm, maybe it's time to give clipless a try, they do peak my curiosity.
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Old 10-04-08, 03:00 PM   #11
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I use platform pedals, but not because I feel like they're any profound improvement- I just never have had a need to go to anything else. Part of it's just the style of bike, too. Cruisers come with platform pedals, road bikes don't.

However, I would guess that pretty much 100% of the riders of clipless pedals have also used platform pedals in the past as well (as a kid, if nothing else). So I wouldn't expect them to be be any big revelation for most riders.

By the way, I have found that flexible-sole shoes can make my feet start going numb. While I can shift my feet around and take care of the problem, just using a shoe with stiffer sole will also prevent the problem.
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Old 10-04-08, 06:37 PM   #12
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I've got one foot in each camp ..... my left foot is clipped in, my right foot is on a platform pedal. Works great!!
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Old 10-04-08, 07:32 PM   #13
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I'm also wondering about cadence, can you get a high cadence with platform pedals? I tried the platform pedals with the little spikes in them and my feet came off the pedals a few times.
Depends on your stroke. Maintaining 120 RPM is not hard if your stroke is smooth. However, as mattm observes you can get power out of much more of the stroke if you're attached to the pedal.

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I've got one foot in each camp ..... my left foot is clipped in, my right foot is on a platform pedal. Works great!!
That Fred award you won was well-deserved
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Old 10-04-08, 07:38 PM   #14
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That Fred award you won was well-deserved
You better believe it!!
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Old 10-04-08, 08:26 PM   #15
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Platform pedals? As in the kind on a kids bike? I use those and just put toe clips on. It's a decent compromise. I don't do more than about 15-20 miles at once though.
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Old 10-04-08, 08:46 PM   #16
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Platform pedals? As in the kind on a kids bike?
The kind on most bicycles when you first buy them.
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Old 10-04-08, 09:09 PM   #17
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You do realize that there are pedals that have practically none of those concerns (except having different pairs of shoes)?
I don't mean that its a huge deal to unclip, but I've been in quite a few situations where I had to unclip unexpectedly and being clipped in caused a problem that would not have existed had I been on platforms. But I do realize certain mountain shoes are good, like (I'm hoping) the Pearl Izumi Seek pair I ordered. I'll probably still keep the Seeks as they are mesh (which is what I want here in TX) and they will have a harder sole than any of the other shoes I have. They have a plate that covers the cleat area. I use Bebops, but with road shoes, so always walk on the cleat and the rubber heal. I always felt like I should be part of a circus show.

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I'm also wondering about cadence, can you get a high cadence with platform pedals? I tried the platform pedals with the little spikes in them and my feet came off the pedals a few times.
On my recent ride I was able to maintain a cadence in the high 90's (my typical "fast" cadence) with peaks in the 100's with no problems. Same as with clipless.

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I've got one foot in each camp ..... my left foot is clipped in, my right foot is on a platform pedal. Works great!!
I remember reading your post on this. I gave this a lot of thought on my last ride and still may give this a try, too. I suppose it would help with pulling the pedal up at stoplights. But, as I mentioned, I really liked putting both feet down and stretching the legs when I stopped. And Houston is FLAT. Only about 50 miles west does one start running into hills. The only hills I normally encounter on my rides are the overpasses.

As for toe clips, I had those on my road bike years ago and also the past 14 years or so on a mountain bike. Toe clips always fall down when you take your foot out -- when you start you need to fiddle around with one foot to slide your shoe back in. I got pretty proficient at it, but still. Not to mention when you wear shoes that are different widths, then the strap is either too loose or else your foot won't even fit in the strap without loosening it up.

Promise me you won't laugh. Here is the pedal I bought 2 years ago on clearance at Target for $10 for the pair. I really bought them for my son's bike, but the platform is large compared to his small bike. Hey, maybe I ought to try for one of those Fred awards. I've got a handlebar bag, too.

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Old 10-05-08, 01:34 AM   #18
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The problem with clips and straps is unless you cinch the straps tight and/or wear proper cleated shoes designed for them, they are no better than using standard flatform pedals with sneakers.
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Old 10-05-08, 08:10 AM   #19
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In college I got into road riding and used toe straps for several years. After a decade away from road biking I got back into it 2 years ago. Thanks to the internet I learned all about the benefits of clipless pedals. Better efficiency, transfer of power, control, yadda-yadda. I drank the kool-aid, and it tasted good.


Anyway, I've stopped drinking the Klipless Kool-aid and thought I would post my experiences. This article at Rivendell Bikes concludes: The most important and liberating thing I've learned in 40 years of riding nearly daily, is that normal shoes and pedaling unconnected is the way to go. For me, at least, and for a growing number of people who try it.
It sounds like you like the taste of Rivendell kool-aid better.
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Old 10-05-08, 09:26 AM   #20
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The problem with clips and straps is unless you cinch the straps tight and/or wear proper cleated shoes designed for them, they are no better than using standard flatform pedals with sneakers.
That doesn't seem to be true for me. I keep the straps loose, and I can still pull up and push forward when pedaling if desired. Also, the clips put my feet into the right position, and I feel confident that my feet won't slip off the pedals, especially when standing.

I got my wife a pair of strapless clips that I will give her on her birthday, and I'll be interested to see how well those work.
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Old 10-05-08, 09:32 AM   #21
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If you prefer platforms, go for it.

IMO platforms are a little more efficient (especially on hills), and I prefer the ride feel. For touring the one-side-clipless, one-side-platform is a decent compromise. However, I do agree that platforms are much more convenient than clipless.

I happen to use recessed SPD's, so walking is not a problem -- even carrying a heavy bike down stairs. I have no problems clipping / unclipping in NYC, it's an unconscious act by now; I even catch myself turning my ankle out when I use platforms.

As to the hot spots, if you ever decide to use clipless again: move the cleats back.

By the way, "average speed" on a cyclometer, particularly on a single ride, is a very poor tool. Even if weather is the same, there are just too many variables.
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Old 10-05-08, 09:35 AM   #22
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I agree that not everyone should ride or even try clipless if they don't want. I made the switch because I simply can't keep my cadence reliably high with platform pedals, which I MUST do due to the condition of my knees.
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Old 10-05-08, 10:44 AM   #23
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The bottom line is ride what works best for you.

Some people may feel insecure about using clipless pedals under certain riding conditions and might not use them at all, thus never really reaping the benefits from this system. Riding clipless should become second nature where you're able to put that foot down instinctively almost as effectively as using platforms, regardless of riding condition.

Most of my bikes run clipless pedals but I have one bike with clips/straps and another one with platforms. You bet I can tell the difference in efficiency or lack of among these systems, no matter what distance I ride.
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Old 10-05-08, 03:57 PM   #24
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As to the hot spots, if you ever decide to use clipless again: move the cleats back.
Tried that. Cleat position wasn't the problem.

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By the way, "average speed" on a cyclometer, particularly on a single ride, is a very poor tool. Even if weather is the same, there are just too many variables.
It's kind of the only tool, isn't it? How else would you determine if you were any faster or slower comparing one ride to another? And I used AVS as a general guide to determine if I was slower with platforms. From the ride data, changing from clipless to platforms didn't slow me down, nor did it change my cadence any.
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Old 10-05-08, 04:40 PM   #25
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If you have a poor pedaling technique, clipless pedals might not help or the other way around?
Just joking.
I am using the shimano pedals, which are platform on one side and SPD on the other (giving one full freedom of choice). In my case, I only use the platform side on high speed descents.

For scientific support of your theory, you could record, in addition to speed and cadence, the heart rate and power input with a powertap or better with a SRM power meter ???
http://www.srm.de/usa/index.html

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