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Clipless Performance Boost?

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Clipless Performance Boost?

Old 11-09-07, 01:16 PM
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stidle
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Clipless Performance Boost?

I realize that I'm bringing up a semi-controversial subject with my first post, but here goes nothing...

(Trumpets Sound) THE GREAT CLIPLESS DEBATE!

Iíve been biking with regular tennis shoes on platform pedals my entire life. Even so, Iíve done a lot of long rides and even my first Century about a month ago...Now Iím training for the infamous Dirty Dozen (a race up the 13 steepest hills in Pittsburgh) and the folks Iím riding with canít believe that I donít use clipless pedals Ė or even clips, for that matter.

I do find that I am struggling significantly more than the others on sustained, steep climbs. I assume that this is 95% just because I am not as fit as the other riders Ė- but I was wondering how much my performance might improve if I were to go clipless. Once again, I know that hill repeats and increasing my cardio abilities are what I really need to work on Ė- I realize Iím not going to put some cleats on and win the Tour de FranceÖBut how noticeable do you think the improvement in time or climbing ability would be as a result of going clipless?
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Old 11-09-07, 01:21 PM
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Being able to pull, as well as push, while climbing is a bonus. Different muscles get involved, meaning the work is shared, and fatigue won't set in quite as quickly. This is how I feel about it, anyway.

Regardless, as you said, pedals won't make you into a TdF champ.
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Old 11-09-07, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by stidle View Post
...how noticeable do you think the improvement in time or climbing ability would be as a result of going clipless?
noticeable enough that it's worth doing.
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Old 11-09-07, 01:24 PM
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The biggest advantage of clipless pedals is that your body gets used to pedaling with your foot attached to the pedal in the excact same position. Guys that ride clipless can tell you that after months (or years) of cycling with your cleat setup at 'X' position even a slight movement of 1mm off this setting will make your leg muscles hurt. Even the slightest change in position here will work different muscles or the same muscles in a different way. Some will say clipless allows you to "pull up" but studies have shown that cyclists dont put out much force this way. It does however give you the ability to eliminate dead spots in the stroke by pulling forward at the top or pulling back at the bottom. Think wiping mud off your shoes if you will.

Real reasons that clipless pedals are more efficient.
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Old 11-09-07, 01:39 PM
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I recently went clipless for the first time in my life because I got my 1st road bike. It's been an adjustment period alright, but feel that for the right purpose it is the best way to ride. I too came across the study and related articles about the negligible performance differences between them and flats. To each their own I suppose, but if it isn't for you, then there's no point in fighting it. I like the clipped in feel because it keeps your feet where it's supposed to be, but for those with knee problems that won't help them at all if you have to ride with pain.
I ride flats exclusively on my MTB's but found a pr of Shimano 520 on crazy sale so got them for my xc MTB. We'll see how that goes, but my freeride will always be flat.
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Old 11-09-07, 01:45 PM
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I'd say you'll find a noticeable improvement. Not enough to turn you in to Lance Armstrong or anything, but worth it.

Originally Posted by wfrogge View Post
Some will say clipless allows you to "pull up" but studies have shown that cyclists dont put out much force this way.
Really? I agree under most riding I don't think I gain a lot on the "up", but when climbing (especially when standing) I feel like I'm really pulling up quite hard on the pedals. And the original poster seems to be asking about climbing.
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Old 11-09-07, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by hmto View Post
I ride flats exclusively on my MTB's but found a pr of Shimano 520 on crazy sale so got them for my xc MTB. We'll see how that goes, but my freeride will always be flat.
When I ride with flats on mountain bikes I always end up wacking pedals in to my shins. I found them to be a miracle on my mountain bike. I love the ability to jump and have the bike come with me. Works really well for hoping logs.
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Old 11-09-07, 02:03 PM
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The primary thing I like about clipless as I recently switched is that my feet don't slip around anymore and I feel more connected to the bike.
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Old 11-09-07, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by stidle View Post
I realize that I'm bringing up a semi-controversial subject with my first post, but here goes nothing...

(Trumpets Sound) THE GREAT CLIPLESS DEBATE!

Iíve been biking with regular tennis shoes on platform pedals my entire life. Even so, Iíve done a lot of long rides and even my first Century about a month ago...Now Iím training for the infamous Dirty Dozen (a race up the 13 steepest hills in Pittsburgh) and the folks Iím riding with canít believe that I donít use clipless pedals Ė or even clips, for that matter.

I do find that I am struggling significantly more than the others on sustained, steep climbs. I assume that this is 95% just because I am not as fit as the other riders Ė- but I was wondering how much my performance might improve if I were to go clipless. Once again, I know that hill repeats and increasing my cardio abilities are what I really need to work on Ė- I realize Iím not going to put some cleats on and win the Tour de FranceÖBut how noticeable do you think the improvement in time or climbing ability would be as a result of going clipless?

Huge, especially in climbing, once you get used to them and learn how to utilize them.
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Old 11-09-07, 02:46 PM
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Huge difference when you stand out of the saddle.
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Old 11-09-07, 03:05 PM
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A guy with the initials AB did the Pro/1/2 Killington Stage race which is a pretty hilly race in the area. He forgot his shoes at home. Did the first stage (relatively flat) in sneakers with either toe clips and toe straps or with his shoes duct-taped to his pedals (I think the former, the latter sounds too much like breaking away). Finished in the field. He said the hills were the hardest part but the flats were fine. He's a strong racer - placed overall at least in other years, raced in Europe somewhat successfully, etc. He had his shoes for the next stages and was fine after that.

Clipless pedals make a difference in the following ways:
1. stabilize your foot on the pedal, allows faster pedaling
2. allow slight foot rotation during pedal stroke ("float")
3. allow much more violent upward pedal action, especially during slow rpm or jump type efforts
4. secures foot without using a blood flow inhibiting strap over the foot
5. allows you to at least lift your leg up without displacing your foot.

Toe clips and toe straps (it's not clear if you use them) help with #1 and #5.

I used to use 2 toe straps along with shoes with slotted cleats and I'd crank them down till my feet went purple and I'd still pull out during shifts in sprints. I never have this problem with clipless pedals. If anything I can sprint even harder and still shift.

On "lifting" - most riders have a hard time putting any significant amount of power pulling up, but there's a significant power savings when simply lifting your leg up (instead of pushing down with the other leg to "lift" it up). I find on platform pedals I automatically lift my foot right off the pedal on the upstroke - this indicates to me I must be exerting some sort of upward power. Clipless or clips/straps will allow you to lift up with some amount of force.

Clipless pedals will make a huge difference when exerting maximum power or when spinning quickly. It makes less of a difference when you're just loafing along.

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Old 11-09-07, 03:13 PM
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It's like Night vs. Day.

You probably won't go back. Even for 'social' rides I end up riding with clipless, and, if necessary or useful, changing shoes when I get there - but usually not necessary as a lot of the folks I roll with also ride clipless these days. These situations tend to be for formal events, hiking/mountain climbing, soccer, or some sport event where I'm going to need sneaks...
We're all wearing MTB shoes (and our various choices of pedals systems to accommodate two-hole soles), so walking has never been an issue
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Old 11-09-07, 03:25 PM
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I have used both clipless and toe clips extensively. I don't think there is any performance difference between the two, all other things being equal. Anyone who says clipless is much better than toe clips is probably using stiff cycling shoes with one and flexy sneakers with the other, and then the benefit is entirely because of the shoes, not the pedals.

The main benefit of clipless vs. toe clips is that starting and stopping is much easier with clipless, which does improve safety when riding in traffic. Clipless is also more comfortable since you don't have that tight toe strap pinching your feet; and using toe clips with a loose toe strap is not as efficient.

Comparing clipless or toe clips to plain platform pedals is another story. Either clipess or toe clips will give you a 10-20% efficiency advantage vs. platform pedals, depending on your pedaling technique and speed. There is also a safety benefit of clipless vs. platform since your feet can't accidentally get knocked off the pedals.
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Old 11-09-07, 03:50 PM
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I eventually stepped from toe clips to clipless, and like prendrefeu said, I wouldn't go back to having nothing at all. I was originally planning to get clips for my first new bike this year (first new bike in 8 years, and first one that I'd consider to be of good quality), but eventually let myself get talked into riding clipless.

Back with toe clips, though, I was very satisfied with how much more oomph I was able to put into my pedaling. The first time I both pushed & pulled on the pedals was really encouraging, feeling my speed jump up with what felt like no extra effort.

I never really tightened the straps on my toe clips, partly because my shoes were big enough that there wasn't much strap left anyway. But, after knowing how much better they were than plain pedals, and after realizing that going clipless would give me snugly-strapped efficiency without the safety & comfort drawbacks, it made plenty of sense to go clipless.
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Old 11-09-07, 03:54 PM
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I was able to solve multivariable differential equations in my head when I switched to clipless.
 
Old 11-09-07, 04:27 PM
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If you are not totally convinced, take the next logical and least expensive step...
Buy a set of new or used toe clips and straps and install them on your pedals. See if you notice any changes in your performance.
Granted, tennis shoes are too flexible for efficient pedaling, but you'll have your feet more stabilized, be able to push forward and pull upward through the stroke. (Can't pull backward though)
For recreational riders, the cost and trouble of dedicated cycling footwear and clipless pedals aren't justifiable in their mindset..too few miles. Not everyone enjoys walking like a duck.

I started on toe clips, because clipless wasn't on the market yet. So, I acclimated to their feel, their advantages and disadvantages. Two major disadvantages that encouraged me to go clipless were lack of float and the need to reach down for the strap buckle. Once the cost of updating to clipless fell, (not all of us are obsessive or rich) I switched to a Look style system with float. The improvements are obvious. The egress is so much safer.

Bear in mind, the you can now find clipless pedals new for under $20 online. (ie. Nashbar sales)
SPD type systems as low as $16. That's about the price for new set of toe clips and straps!
Your real cost is in the shoes. But at least SPD clipless still allows you to walk normally, and pop on a pair of $5 platform inserts to use regular sneakers.

Given your aspirations for tough long rides, I'd go clipless now.
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Old 11-12-07, 12:45 PM
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Hey -- thanks everyone very much for all of your feedback. This has been in a great aid in my decision to go clipless!
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Old 11-12-07, 12:59 PM
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Bah, no need for fancy pedals. Just lace up them shoes nice and tight, spread some 5 minute set epoxy on the soles, and go for a ride. By the time you're ride is up the epoxy will have bonded the soles of your shoes to your pedals and you'll have all the performance advantages of clipless with none of the cost!
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Old 11-12-07, 01:06 PM
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this is just me, but i find clipless pedals make you less lazy. At stop lights i try not to slow down, try to track stand, when i get fatigued i tend to not put my feet down and rest because it woulkd involve me clipping back in (this is esp on climbs).

all in all i think clipless helps me from vegging, i road my bike with mountain bike pedals for the longest time and finally moved to clipless when i got serious
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Old 11-12-07, 01:36 PM
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Between clips and clipless, there's really no performance benefit that I've noticed.

Between platforms and clips/clipless, on hills, there's a big difference.

See you at the DD! I'll be on the beautiful silver Motobecane.
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Old 11-13-07, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by explody pup View Post
I was able to solve multivariable differential equations in my head when I switched to clipless.
Me too. Get the SRAM Red group and you can do Partial Diffy-Q's in your head as well.
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Old 11-13-07, 11:29 AM
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I don't think it's much of a debate. I don't think that anyone will tell you that clipless shoes/pedals perform worse than any alternative. The only reason to not use them is perhaps if you're commuting and you don't want to take 2 pairs of shoes. They're a pain to walk around in, but they're definitely better than anything else as far as performance goes.
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