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Importance of foot retention

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Importance of foot retention

Old 07-28-21, 02:14 PM
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If you are a recreational cyclist, being cleated in is really a matter of choice. If you are trying to maximize speed or are concerned with being fastened to the pedals for security and safety then cleats might make sense. Also, if you like the idea then there is nothing wrong with cleats. I gave up cleats years ago and now use only BMX pedals on all my bicycles. For me, I like the simplicity of simply putting my foot on the pedal. No issues for me, but as I have said, whatever you prefer is good.
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Old 07-28-21, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan
Sure, you can crash if your foot slips off the pedal, but I'm betting a six pack that the number of crashes from not unclipping in time is at least 10x that.
I’ll see your six pack and raise a keg that the admittedly rare crashes caused by slipping off a pedal are 10x worse than tipping over at <2mph because of not unclipping in time
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Old 07-28-21, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by LarrySellerz
someone suggested duct tape, I think they were joking but I think I'm gonna start with that.
Taped worked for Dave Stoller:




1. Dave Stoller was on a track bike single-speed coaster brake bike, on a closed course.
2. You, sir, are no Dave Stoller.
3. If you do it, post photos.
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Old 07-28-21, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
1. Dave Stoller was on a track bike, on a closed course a total bad@$$.
fify
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Old 07-28-21, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Broctoon
1. Dave Stoller was on a track bike, on a closed course a total bad@$$ a fictitious character.
Fixed it for real this time. And for Terry, he was on a single speed but NOT a track bike or fixie. You can see plenty of cases in the movie where they coast.

I have seen track racers tape their feet to the pedals, but they can just pull up to a rail and take their time unwrapping them when they're done.
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Old 07-28-21, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
Fixed it for real this time. And for Terry, he was on a single speed but NOT a track bike or fixie. You can see plenty of cases in the movie where they coast.

I have seen track racers tape their feet to the pedals, but they can just pull up to a rail and take their time unwrapping them when they're done.
Plus, they have coaster brakes.
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Old 07-28-21, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
Fixed it for real this time. And for Terry, he was on a single speed but NOT a track bike or fixie. You can see plenty of cases in the movie where they coast.
Accurate. Even more accurate...it's a single speed with a coaster brake.
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Old 07-28-21, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by billnuke1
Easy bolt on…never had my foot slip out!
I can wear any shoes with these…easy in and out…
nice! they look pretty deep! what brand/model? I make my own & been using them for years. I have the same opinion, tho I am experimenting w/ other options right now. but if/when I go back to them I would consider upgrading my DIY units
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Old 07-28-21, 05:04 PM
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reusable zipties... just have to be quick with that release tab.
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Old 07-28-21, 05:14 PM
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I was hesitant to try cleated pedals & shoes for a long time. but when I tried them, I liked them. road bike has them. the hybrid & MTB do not. I have no plans to remove them from the road bike until winter comes

I use large MTB pedals on my road bike, w/ cleats on just 1 side. recently I took a trip & had to ride a handful of miles in closed toe sandals, using the flat side of the pedals. I had to remind myself while riding. but there were no issues. later, when I went for a legit ride, I put on my cleated shoes. I do prefer to have some foot retention such as mini clips aka 1/2 clips (no straps). just used to them I guess

experimented w/ toe clip covers this past winter & set up some legit toeclips w/ straps (not tight). didn't care for trying to wiggle my feet into the whole setup. 1/2 clips w/ waterproof, winter shoes is easy peasy

I think a lot of it is personal choice. who knows, you might enjoy trying cleated pedals/shoes for a while. but as with anything new, there are options to consider. diff. features & benefits & the expense. the whole project of trying them, might be too big of an investment in time, energy & money, to be worth it. I got started w/ used pedals & then got sucked it after that, buying other pedals & I'm on my 2nd pair of shoes, for comfort reasons
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Old 07-28-21, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
...The pulling up thing gets mentioned a lot, but I think it’s a red herring. Nobody really pulls on their pedals unless they want to injure themselves...
When I first used clipless I tended to literally pull the back wheel up off the ground when standing to climb. Just poor technique. Took me awhile to get the hang of spinning while seated, and more efficient pedaling while standing.

Younger folks who are well conditioned may get away with pulling up on the pedals without injury, and maybe put out more power. But that ain't me. I'm more likely to end up with hamstring spasms and knee problems.
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Old 07-28-21, 07:17 PM
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!

Originally Posted by rumrunn6
nice! they look pretty deep! what brand/model? I make my own & been using them for years. I have the same opinion, tho I am experimenting w/ other options right now. but if/when I go back to them I would consider upgrading my DIY units
I threw the packaging away, but, I’ve got 5 more pairs on order…Oooo…thanks for reminding me!
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Old 07-28-21, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat
When I first used clipless I tended to literally pull the back wheel up off the ground when standing to climb. Just poor technique. Took me awhile to get the hang of spinning while seated, and more efficient pedaling while standing.

Younger folks who are well conditioned may get away with pulling up on the pedals without injury, and maybe put out more power. But that ain't me. I'm more likely to end up with hamstring spasms and knee problems.
Ha ha! Well I'm glad someone else agrees with me! The myth of "pedal pulling" as a way of increasing power refuses to die even after the science shows it to be ineffective at best, even at pro level. I think clipless pedals are great for road riding and have been using them since the mid 80s on all my road bikes and only relatively recently moved to flat pedals just for mountain biking. But I don't think using flat pedals on a road bike (done properly) is any major disadvantage for an average cyclist and the more I think about it, the more I can see some advantages for a touring setup. It was very interesting to hear about Lachlan Morton using sandals and flat pedals on the Alt TDF because of knee problems using his normal clipless pedals. Apparently his average speed remained the same, as someone else pointed out much earlier in this thread.
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Old 07-28-21, 08:29 PM
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For casual riding, simple platform pedals or strapless half-clips are certainly adequate. But slotted cleats and straps or clipless cleats do offer a significant a performance advantage, albeit with some learning curve required. Worth it, IMO.
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Old 07-28-21, 08:44 PM
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I have to chuckle every time I read some authority state that no one, not even the pros actually pulls up on the pedals. If I am fit and have been riding, I regularly pull my slotted cleats off my pedals if I don't pull the straps tight. I am so used to the clicking from the transition from lifting/floating over the pedals to the aluminum cleat coming down on the pedal after 12:00 that I am no longer aware of it but it never goes away.

Fun thing I did a couple of weeks ago on my best fix gear. Went for a ride up to and along Bald Peak Road on my fix gear. Brought 4 cogs and the tools. 23 and 12 for the hills. Rode the 23 to the first high point then swapped to the 12 (42 in front.) After the moderate descent on the summit road, I decided to simply muscle the big gear over the next rise. Probably 150: vertical and not more than maybe 7% but in a 95" gear, that becomes real. I simply settled into a full body push-pull. Used inertia to carry me through 12:00/6:00. It was fun! (and completely impossible without full foot retention).

A benefit to pedals with retention is that many are narrow with excellent ground clearance. I hate having to take time out and coast for routine corners,
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Old 07-28-21, 08:54 PM
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I can appreciate the benefits of foot retention for fixed gear, but the OP did not say anything about riding fixed gear.
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Old 07-28-21, 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta
I can appreciate the benefits of foot retention for fixed gear, but the OP did not say anything about riding fixed gear.
I see more of a safety benefit with fixed gear than freehub. Warming up a the San Diego Velodrome, a teammate accidentally unclipped while doing jumps. Since the natural reaction is to stop pedaling, the fixed gear carried him up and over his handlebar in a flash. I barely missed running over his neck and he had to hold his skinsuit together to avoid letting his dangly bits fall out of the gash he ripped in it.
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Old 07-29-21, 12:45 AM
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I used to suffer from knee pain, but since moving to clipless no longer have that issue. I started off with the zefal half toe clips attachments on my pedals to get used to being 'attached' to the pedals then moved to spd then spd sl, will never go back to riding flats now as I don't feel safe without clipping in!
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Old 07-29-21, 03:23 AM
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Those who are leery about foot retention should try learning to trackstand. It seems impossible at first, but try it while leaning on a pole or something. Helps a lot if you're on a steep camber and/or a bit uphill. Also spend a bit of time above the bars on the front brake, finding your balance up there where you'd be just after an emergency stop. You can flick the back wheel around a bit like that for extra manoeuvrability at low speed. That way you'll be a lot more comfortable with your feet glued to the bike. Practice not putting a foot down.

I rode for decades on toeclip pedals, with the straps loose enough that I could just step out by lowering my heel. Like this, it's all the security without being stuck on, it feels freer then clipless. Granted, flicking the pedal around and stepping in is a tough one to master, but it's worth it.

Normal shoes plus foot retention - toeclips should be more popular, IMO.
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Old 07-29-21, 04:29 AM
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Originally Posted by billnuke1
I threw the packaging away, but, I’ve got 5 more pairs on order…Oooo…thanks for reminding me!
haha OK but when you get them please share the product info
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Old 07-29-21, 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney
I have to chuckle every time I read some authority state that no one, not even the pros actually pulls up on the pedals.
Well I guess your personal anecdotes trump scientific studies of pro cyclist pedal strokes.

To be fair they were studying elite cyclists pedalling at a normal cadence at high power. The point was that they produced no power from their upstroke when pedalling at high power, even if their own perception was different.

I’m a big fan of clipless pedals for various reasons, but I can accept that they don’t actually increase my power output.

Riding a fixie in a huge gear might be different, but I don’t think it’s either relevant to the OP or a particularly good idea.
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Old 07-29-21, 05:41 AM
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Studies of elite and professional cyclist pedaling patterns have been out there for at least 30 years. Many studies. And no, I am not finding them for anyone too lazy to do their own research

They do not pull up. They push hard.

The hip flexors are weak.

Anyone who gets lower back pain on long rides is probably experiencing referred pain from the psoas muscles.
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Old 07-29-21, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62
Studies of elite and professional cyclist pedaling patterns have been out there for at least 30 years. Many studies. And no, I am not finding them for anyone too lazy to do their own research

They do not pull up. They push hard.

The hip flexors are weak.

Anyone who gets lower back pain on long rides is probably experiencing referred pain from the psoas muscles.
Exactly, thank you!

Having read a few of those studies, it was interesting to note in one study (Dr Jeff Broker) that not a single one of the 100 elite pros he tested produced positive torque on their upstroke. In fact when pedalling at high cadence and power they were struggling to even overcome gravity acting on their upward moving leg - so they still had a net negative torque on the upstroke. This explains why your feet don't fall off flat pedals on the upstroke.

The edge case of crawling up a steep climb at very low cadence is likely different. I feel like I'm pulling up in that scenario too, but I know I can't produce anything remotely like the same torque as I can on the downstroke - glutes vs hip-flexors is no contest.

All the OP has to realise here is that moving from flat to clipless pedals will not increase his power by allowing him to pull up on his pedals. You can pedal just as smoothly on flat pedals as with clipless. But there are other reasons why clipless pedals are worth trying, which can be either be positive or negative. Foot positioning is far more precise (positive if you are fixed in the optimal position, negative if you are not). There is no risk of slipping off the pedals (if you are prone to that). They allow for a lighter, less bulky pedal (if you care). They make bunny hopping easier (if you do that). They arguably give you more control over bike handling, but I'm not convinced personally having gone back to flats for mountain biking. They give you better security when sprinting flat out.
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Old 07-29-21, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Yeah, yeah sure. But I thought the question here was “how important are they?” for a guy who is happily riding along without them and only considering them because some “roadie” friend thought he ought to.
You have to follow the story here. The Sup Larry saga began with him crashing the group ride, hoping to crush the poseurs with his BSO, flip flops, jorts and no shirt. Now it has evolved. We have a love interest and the rising awareness that there might be reasons for the weird stuff that roadies do and wear. Tune in tomorrow!
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Old 07-29-21, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Exactly, thank you!

Having read a few of those studies, it was interesting to note in one study (Dr Jeff Broker) that not a single one of the 100 elite pros he tested produced positive torque on their upstroke. In fact when pedalling at high cadence and power they were struggling to even overcome gravity acting on their upward moving leg - so they still had a net negative torque on the upstroke. This explains why your feet don't fall off flat pedals on the upstroke.

The edge case of crawling up a steep climb at very low cadence is likely different. I feel like I'm pulling up in that scenario too, but I know I can't produce anything remotely like the same torque as I can on the downstroke - glutes vs hip-flexors is no contest.

All the OP has to realise here is that moving from flat to clipless pedals will not increase his power by allowing him to pull up on his pedals. You can pedal just as smoothly on flat pedals as with clipless. But there are other reasons why clipless pedals are worth trying, which can be either be positive or negative. Foot positioning is far more precise (positive if you are fixed in the optimal position, negative if you are not). There is no risk of slipping off the pedals (if you are prone to that). They allow for a lighter, less bulky pedal (if you care). They make bunny hopping easier (if you do that). They arguably give you more control over bike handling, but I'm not convinced personally having gone back to flats for mountain biking. They give you better security when sprinting flat out.
In criterium or track races when sprinting, the pedal motion is a little different and straps help. I have not done a Crit in 5-6 years. For OP, the clipless might help for the township sign sprints but not much else.

The pulling motion of the opposing leg has a more pernicious effect on the force of the driving leg.

Getting efficiency and maximum recruitment is probably more important than trying to memorize what cannot be memorized. Control of these muscles is involuntary. Doing hard sprints, very hard short climb, and higher speed cadence drills is more effective than some of the other stuff one reads online.
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