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Pushing or Pulling on Clipless?

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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

Pushing or Pulling on Clipless?

Old 02-10-15, 06:06 PM
  #26  
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Old 02-10-15, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
power per revolution
You mean just power?
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Old 02-10-15, 09:17 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
What I'm saying is that you can deliver more power per revolution of the pedals. I am not saying that you can delivery more power to the pedals with the same energy. It's not saving energy, it's giving you the opportunity to deliver more power per revolution.

J.
No way.
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Old 02-10-15, 09:39 PM
  #29  
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I'm not sure you get more power. But me, personally; I find it helps me recruit other muscles and more easily recruit specific muscles. Especially useful on tougher hills and segments. There's been plenty of studies done to at least raise suspicion to whether or not clipless is as monumentally more efficient as some make it out to be. But the fact that it FEELS better for cyclist should really count for something. We're getting a little TOO crazy if we're going to say that something makes us feel like we can go farther and faster, but because some study of some other cyclists says it doesn't, then we don't do it.

My personal practice: I don't try to 'pull up'. It doesn't feel comfortable, and lots of stuff suggests it doesn't do anything for you anyway. But I do 'lift my knees' (concentrate on that instead of lifting my feet). Not to pull up, but just to unweight my feet from my pedals. There's some power data out there from folks who actually put a little bit of pressure, naturally, on the opposite pedal when pedaling (makes sense, we stand on both feet). That's wasted power. Concentrating on lifting my knees, not to add power, but to keep my opposite leg out of the way (does that make sense) seems like good form to me. Then I begin the pedal stroke by pushing forward, push down, and scrape back.
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Old 02-10-15, 10:50 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
No way.
Why?

If I can supply power to the crank for (say) 180 degrees of rotation instead of 100 degrees, I have more opportunity to delivery power to the drivetrain. Yes, it uses more energy/calories but I have a higher duty cycle for power delivery over a rotation of the crank. There is no way that doesn't deliver more power per revolution but it is not necessarily more energy efficient.

A watt is a joule per second. A joule is a measure of energy. If I am putting out wattage during more of the crank cycle I am definitely putting more energy into the drive train per pedal stroke.

J.

Last edited by JohnJ80; 02-10-15 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 02-10-15, 11:10 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
Why?

If I can supply power to the crank for (say) 180 degrees of rotation instead of 100 degrees, I have more opportunity to delivery power to the drivetrain. Yes, it uses more energy/calories but I have a higher duty cycle for power delivery over a rotation of the crank. There is no way that doesn't deliver more power per revolution but it is not necessarily more energy efficient.

A watt is a joule per second. A joule is a measure of energy. If I am putting out wattage during more of the crank cycle I am definitely putting more energy into the drive train per pedal stroke.

J.
Yes, of course. For the OP: it may not seem like any big deal at first, but keep messing with your pedaling, trying different things, and after a year or so and you build up the coordination and muscles to make best use of them, you'll come to see a big difference.

For me, the first time I got on a road bike with rat traps and toe clips it was like I'd gone to heaven. And clipless is so much better.
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Old 02-10-15, 11:12 PM
  #32  
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Here's a very good little video about bike fit and how to pedal:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z04uoO7U_SA
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Old 02-10-15, 11:37 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by dippitydoo View Post
Okay so I finally went to clipless for the first time. Didn't fall on my first ride so thats an accomplishment.
You'll have many more opportunities.

Originally Posted by dippitydoo View Post
One thing Im curious about is, what is the correct way to pedal.

I ask because people told me that a large reason you go for clipless is because you use your energy more EFFICIENTLY.....
I've heard that too! I am sure many talented cyclist benefit greatly with the increased efficiency of clipless.... although I've never actually met any myself. But if I stand-up and pull on a long climb... I do notice a big difference in the muscles being used.

A half a century ago.... we used to debate/discuss whether or not the toe cages increased efficiency. Not much difference between the two methods/devices. Both keep your feet where they belong... perfectly placed on the pedals. Clipless... do a BETTER job. But many of us can't really "feel" the huge difference between ether clipless, clips, or plain old platform pedals.

But placing your feet EXACTLY on the same (hopefully correct) place on the pedals can make a big difference as part of a proper bicycle fit. And that IS a big benefit.
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Old 02-11-15, 02:16 AM
  #34  
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Clipless don't make you more efficient, but allow you to be more efficient by spinning faster. There's no way I'd attempt to spin at 100+ without them. The more you spin the more power you put out and the less muscle fatigue.

It's all about safety and security. Even if you don't spin fast or even if you never ride in inclement weather, do you also never drip sweat on your pedals or spill water while trying to grab your bottle? Or any other myriad of reasons that cause your foot to lose contact with the pedal?

Unless I'm coasting down to the corner store or around the neighborhood with the kids, I never ride without being clipped in -- including on the trainer.
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Old 02-11-15, 05:14 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
Why?

If I can supply power to the crank for (say) 180 degrees of rotation instead of 100 degrees, I have more opportunity to delivery power to the drivetrain. Yes, it uses more energy/calories but I have a higher duty cycle for power delivery over a rotation of the crank. There is no way that doesn't deliver more power per revolution but it is not necessarily more energy efficient.

A watt is a joule per second. A joule is a measure of energy. If I am putting out wattage during more of the crank cycle I am definitely putting more energy into the drive train per pedal stroke.

J.
You can think that's what you're doing, "easily generating 30% more power by spinning circles," but it's not, and the science proves it. Hell, simple observation proves it: when it's time to go fastest, to sprint, that's when pedaling is the jerkiest and choppiest.

Anyway, if you seriously believe there's an easy 30% power gain just sitting around untapped, you really should get off the forum, get your business plan done, and get your Perfect Circle MudScraper i3000 pedaling system (that's my gift to you!) to market because there's a lot of money waiting to be made right there!
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Old 02-11-15, 08:26 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
You can think that's what you're doing, "easily generating 30% more power by spinning circles," but it's not, and the science proves it. Hell, simple observation proves it: when it's time to go fastest, to sprint, that's when pedaling is the jerkiest and choppiest.

Anyway, if you seriously believe there's an easy 30% power gain just sitting around untapped, you really should get off the forum, get your business plan done, and get your Perfect Circle MudScraper i3000 pedaling system (that's my gift to you!) to market because there's a lot of money waiting to be made right there!
We're talking here about cyclists who are at the beginning stages of technique, not TdF riders who mastered all that long ago. This is the difference between cyclists who can pedal through the whole revolution (or at least most of it) and those who can't.

Clipless pedals are a serious PITA if there is no net gain in having them. It would also be a lot of money saved. Getting rid of all that hardware in pedals and cleats plus changing pedal design to lightweight flat pedals would also be a big weight savings. Why is none of that done? Simply because it is possible to put a higher sustained rate of energy transfer from legs to wheels by pedaling through more of the revolution of the crank.

Look at the diagram that bleui posted, take out all the opportunities for power application except on the downstroke. That's less energy into the drivetrain.

J.
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Old 02-11-15, 08:37 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by hairnet View Post
And then once you learn how to ride a bike again with flat pedals you realize it isn't such a big deal.
Even if it is just a "little" deal, I'll keep riding the better system.
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Old 02-11-15, 08:47 AM
  #38  
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This is interesting, because I just bought my first pair of SPD pedals and will try them this season. Whenever the snow melts around here anyway.

I use Power Grips right now and I really like them. But I wanted to see what the hype was all about for myself.

I do have two concerns. The main one is being locked into one position on the pedal. This seems like a recipe for repetitive stress injury to me. One of the things I like about the Power Grips is I still have alot of room to put my foot in different positions during a ride, and I do. Will I miss that?

The second one is crashing. Not failing to unclip at a stop and falling over, but having a real crash. Will I be able to bail or will I be stuck to the bike?
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Old 02-11-15, 08:59 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
Why?

If I can supply power to the crank for (say) 180 degrees of rotation instead of 100 degrees, I have more opportunity to delivery power to the drivetrain. Yes, it uses more energy/calories but I have a higher duty cycle for power delivery over a rotation of the crank. There is no way that doesn't deliver more power per revolution but it is not necessarily more energy efficient.

A watt is a joule per second. A joule is a measure of energy. If I am putting out wattage during more of the crank cycle I am definitely putting more energy into the drive train per pedal stroke.

J.
Difference in peak power in the stroke, and bio-mechanical factors are two ways that you may not be delivering more power per revolution.

In fact, elite cyclists don't actually pull up in the recovery phase of the pedaling cycle. They are able to unload the pedal to some extent. For example https://www.powercranks.com/assets/pd...sis_BurnsJ.pdf, "Research to date has shown little-to-no benefitsthrough the use of training with pedal clips and cleats on efficiency and economy of motion"
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Old 02-11-15, 09:30 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Agent Cooper View Post
I do have two concerns. The main one is being locked into one position on the pedal. This seems like a recipe for repetitive stress injury to me.
The second one is crashing. Not failing to unclip at a stop and falling over, but having a real crash.
1) Have your cleats properly fitted with seat height checked and ease into big efforts and long miles to adapt, no worries.

B) The clipless systems were originally designed by Look the Ski binding company w/ automatic release in the event of a crash in mind.
Having been through the transition from toeclips & straps w/ cleats to clipless in competition one is far less likely to be injured in a wreck w/ clipless than fully tightened in with clips/straps/cleats.

iii) Get lots of seat time and practice starts & stops until it's automatic and 2nd nature.

-Bandera
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Old 02-11-15, 09:42 AM
  #41  
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Oh good lord. Stop with the lifting up nonsense already. Try strapping a weight that's half your body weight to one of our feet and lift it a few times. Those muscles and mechanics suck.
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Old 02-11-15, 09:42 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by Agent Cooper View Post
..... I do have two concerns. The main one is being locked into one position on the pedal. This seems like a recipe for repetitive stress injury to me. One of the things I like about the Power Grips is I still have alot of room to put my foot in different positions during a ride, and I do. Will I miss that?
Yes... clipless does lock the foot into a fixed position... so the movement is undeniably repetitive. The SPD brand/style/flavor... allows a little more movement. I wouldn't consider the fixed position of the SPD as injury causing nearly as much as injury preventative. As the position (if properly set) will be better for ankle and knee.

Originally Posted by Agent Cooper View Post
..... The second one is crashing. Not failing to unclip at a stop and falling over, but having a real crash. Will I be able to bail or will I be stuck to the bike?
I would think... in most cases you will still have the "bailing" option. However... I think in most cases it would be safer to NOT separate from the bicycle. Remaining at (close) to your normal fixed position on the bike should help in keeping the bicycle between you and hard obstructions. I'd rather ride the bike to the pavement (shifting my body to the topside) than ride the pavement on my knees and elbows (while the bicycle handle bars dig at my ribs).
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Old 02-11-15, 10:14 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by Agent Cooper View Post
I do have two concerns. The main one is being locked into one position on the pedal. This seems like a recipe for repetitive stress injury to me. One of the things I like about the Power Grips is I still have alot of room to put my foot in different positions during a ride, and I do. Will I miss that?

The second one is crashing. Not failing to unclip at a stop and falling over, but having a real crash. Will I be able to bail or will I be stuck to the bike?
Actually, staying in a consistent position is more beneficial because you work the muscle group that was optimally designed for providing pedal energy. If you've ever noticed someone who didn't use any kind of binding (e.g. toe clips or clipless pedals), the thing they have a difficult time with is keeping their foot in a consistent spot. In most cases, their foot slides forward, meaning they're using more of the front of their foot for pedal contact, instead of the middle. If anything, you may notice annoying pain that you have in your legs goes away.

As far as crashing, for better or worse, many of us have done it -- unexpectedly of course. I had a car turn in front of me over the summer. I was going at a good clip and honestly just couldn't react quickly enough to avoid making contact with the car. Thankfully, contact with the car was minimal , but that also meant I crashed at a pretty decent speed.

My SPDs worked exactly as they should and I was easily able to dismount the bike using the leg that was on top of the bike after the crash. To me, another plus for SPDs is they're easily adjustable, which makes it super simple for you to arrive at a tension setting that's right for you. Initially you may want to have a lower tension and adjust it.

The vast majority of cycling incidents/accidents can just be solved by more attentive riding. Yes, the car should have stayed behind me this summer and let me clear his turning path before he turned in to me, but had I been going slower through a more congested area and taking more of the line, I'd have helped myself too.
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Old 02-11-15, 10:18 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Difference in peak power in the stroke, and bio-mechanical factors are two ways that you may not be delivering more power per revolution.

In fact, elite cyclists don't actually pull up in the recovery phase of the pedaling cycle. They are able to unload the pedal to some extent. For example https://www.powercranks.com/assets/pd...sis_BurnsJ.pdf, "Research to date has shown little-to-no benefitsthrough the use of training with pedal clips and cleats on efficiency and economy of motion"
Interesting article but it concentrates on the efficiency (less loss of energy - or energy in to energy out). Wattage is the delivery of energy per second. Elite cyclists are certainly better than I in optimizing their power output to the cranks through technique and in using more of the pedal revolution.

If this article is correct, then speedplay and look have a short lifetime in the pedal business. If there was no benefit to clipless pedals and given that changes could be made without them that would be beneficial to speed/efficiency, they we'd be seeing radical changes to pedal design and they'd be showing up at the elite level right now. We're not, so I think there is perhaps an issue in the attempts to quantify the performance of a pretty complex biological system and it's associated mechanical interface.

I do know that when I attend to doing a better job of pedaling at the top and bottom of the stroke per foot, I go up hills faster and easier. How is that explained then?

J.
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Old 02-11-15, 10:19 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Agent Cooper View Post
This is interesting, because I just bought my first pair of SPD pedals and will try them this season. Whenever the snow melts around here anyway.

I use Power Grips right now and I really like them. But I wanted to see what the hype was all about for myself.

I do have two concerns. The main one is being locked into one position on the pedal. This seems like a recipe for repetitive stress injury to me. One of the things I like about the Power Grips is I still have alot of room to put my foot in different positions during a ride, and I do. Will I miss that?

The second one is crashing. Not failing to unclip at a stop and falling over, but having a real crash. Will I be able to bail or will I be stuck to the bike?
Regarding fixed position, you are fixed to the pedal, but you get about ±6° of side to side float, so not fully fixed.

Regarding crashing, a severe enough crash will most likely disconnect you from the pedal anyway. Practice unclipping all the time. It will become second nature and you won't be concerned about it again.
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Old 02-11-15, 10:21 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
We're talking here about cyclists who are at the beginning stages of technique, not TdF riders who mastered all that long ago. This is the difference between cyclists who can pedal through the whole revolution (or at least most of it) and those who can't.

Clipless pedals are a serious PITA if there is no net gain in having them. It would also be a lot of money saved. Getting rid of all that hardware in pedals and cleats plus changing pedal design to lightweight flat pedals would also be a big weight savings. Why is none of that done? Simply because it is possible to put a higher sustained rate of energy transfer from legs to wheels by pedaling through more of the revolution of the crank.

Look at the diagram that bleui posted, take out all the opportunities for power application except on the downstroke. That's less energy into the drivetrain.

J.
Your reasoning is sound, but that's not enough to make the conclusion correct. You should read the available literature on the subject.

regarding clipless pedals, I think you are missing the forest for the trees there, too. There are other games to be had besides being able to pull up. Just take a look at the comments above. I also don't find them to be a PITA at all, and in fact our faster to enter and exit than a securely cinched toe clip, never mind the truly old-school toe clip and cleats set up which Bandera mentioned. Those things worked out traps!
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Old 02-11-15, 10:31 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Your reasoning is sound, but that's not enough to make the conclusion correct. You should read the available literature on the subject.

regarding clipless pedals, I think you are missing the forest for the trees there, too. There are other games to be had besides being able to pull up. Just take a look at the comments above. I also don't find them to be a PITA at all, and in fact our faster to enter and exit than a securely cinched toe clip, never mind the truly old-school toe clip and cleats set up which Bandera mentioned. Those things worked out traps!
But there would be no relative difference between clipless and toe/clip or toe/clip+ cleats (which I used to ride back in the '80s pre-Look).

I'd agree that the pull up (i.e. up stroke) is not particularly useful, but the push across the top and pull across the bottom are better enabled by having the foot attached to the pedal (my estimate of 180 degrees of power application instead of 100 degrees).

J.
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Old 02-11-15, 10:31 AM
  #48  
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While most of the comments are absolutely true and clip-ins do help to a small degree, the number one reason most folks wear them is to be cool and one of the boys. Except for the very competitive riders, not using them is more fun and you don't looks as silly, especially when walking around. If you just like to feel somewhat clipped in and would like to walk like a human being, try straps.
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Old 02-11-15, 10:37 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
Interesting article but it concentrates on the efficiency (less loss of energy - or energy in to energy out). Wattage is the delivery of energy per second. Elite cyclists are certainly better than I in optimizing their power output to the cranks through technique and in using more of the pedal revolution.

If this article is correct, then speedplay and look have a short lifetime in the pedal business. If there was no benefit to clipless pedals and given that changes could be made without them that would be beneficial to speed/efficiency, they we'd be seeing radical changes to pedal design and they'd be showing up at the elite level right now. We're not, so I think there is perhaps an issue in the attempts to quantify the performance of a pretty complex biological system and it's associated mechanical interface.
Hold up - it doesn't follow that there is "no benefit" to clipless. Just that greater efficiency or more power delivered is not among the benefits.

Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
I do know that when I attend to doing a better job of pedaling at the top and bottom of the stroke per foot, I go up hills faster and easier. How is that explained then?

J.
My guess would be that you benefit from consistent and long term training using a particular pedal stroke. And that by concentrating on a smooth stroke you aren't pushing particular muscle groups to exhaustion because you're recruiting more slow twitch muscles.
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Old 02-11-15, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Hold up - it doesn't follow that there is "no benefit" to clipless. Just that greater efficiency or more power delivered is not among the benefits.



My guess would be that you benefit from consistent and long term training using a particular pedal stroke. And that by concentrating on a smooth stroke you aren't pushing particular muscle groups to exhaustion because you're recruiting more slow twitch muscles.
This is confusing to me because I specifically made it one of my training goals to better my hill climbing through better technique this last year. One of the things I really concentrated on was pedaling at the across the top and and "wiping" along the bottom of the stroke. My training numbers supported that I was able to do this faster and I can tell you subjectively that it was much easier for me than it had when not paying such attention to pedaling technique. I'm certainly not an elite cyclist, but there was a distinct and measurable difference.

I can't tell you if I burned more energy in the process, but I'm certain that I did. I can't believe that I was not able to apply more power more efficiently (note: that would still entail more net energy consumed) in that effort. I also would have found it very difficult to do that without clipless pedals attaching my feet to the pedals.

I do think we are getting confused here in the difference between power (watts), energy, and energy efficiency.

J.
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