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Pushing or Pulling on Clipless?

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Pushing or Pulling on Clipless?

Old 02-09-15, 04:05 PM
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Pushing or Pulling on Clipless?

Okay so I finally went to clipless for the first time. Didn't fall on my first ride so thats an accomplishment.

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***, that you are using energy both pushing down and now pulling up.

The thing is, it doesn't feel any different. It still feel as though i'm only using energy pushing down. The ONLY time I feel my pedal stroke as "complete" is when I pull up with my legs, if that makes sense.

Before with platforms, I would push down and then let the momentum of the initial pressure to bring the pedals back up.

Man this is coming out jumbled. I just hope someone understands what this convulated post is getting at

Last edited by dippitydoo; 02-09-15 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 02-09-15, 04:12 PM
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Pedal in circles. Use the same motion you'd use to wipe mud off your feet. Focus on pushing your foot forward and back.
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Old 02-09-15, 04:23 PM
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Clipped in, I pull through the bottom of the pedal stroke, enough that now when I ride a bike not clipped in I tend to pull my foot backwards off the pedal at the bottom.

I don't consciously pull up a lot except when climbing a short hill, it gives a nice boost to the pedal rpms and my speed but of short duration. I do try to visualize my feet moving in circles, I think that helps too. Be sure you are very comfortable riding clipped in and not falling before you devote too much attention to this other stuff though!
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Old 02-09-15, 04:27 PM
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It took me a while to get used to effectively pushing and pulling with my pedals. One thing I practiced was to try and just pull on both pedals without pushing at all. Just the opposite of what you were doing before clips. Let the shoes just take a ride on the push stroke. You can also alternate by pulling on one side only, then the other - pull only and no push. You can even throw one shoe out of the clip and try just pulling as you ride. What I learned was how the pull stroke worked and once you get used to it the result is a much more efficient ride.
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Old 02-09-15, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by dippitydoo View Post
I ask because people told me that a large reason you go for clipless is because you use your energy more EFFICIENTLY***, that you are using energy both pushing down and now pulling up.
A common fallacy. Being clipped in is more comfortable but has no effect on efficiency. You're still doing exactly the same amount of work, except clipless allows you to distribute the work a little differently and ever so slightly reduce the peak force applied to the pedal. But it isn't more efficient and I wouldn't expect an improvement in performance.

When you're riding at a steady pace and not sprinting there's little difference between riding on platforms and being clipped in. When sprinting or standing up on a steep hill or starting from a stop clipless allows one to apply more power but not for any length of time.
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Old 02-09-15, 05:03 PM
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Honestly, I think the only real pulling is done when out of the saddle. Yes, you should focus on moving your feet in circles and this probably off-loads the opposite pedal a smidge.

The real reason to be clipped in is to be "at one" with the bike.
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Old 02-09-15, 05:21 PM
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What I notice most about using clipless pedals is that they keep your feet properly positioned on the pedals even when going over bumps. It is surprising how much your feet "bounce around" on platforms after you have been using clipless for a while. If you have just started riding with clipless there is only one certainty; you will fall over (a couple of times ) until releasing your cleats become second nature. Like everything else it just takes practice until muscle memory sets in and then you will never look back at using platforms.
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Old 02-09-15, 05:52 PM
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The "pulling up" effect is often over exaggerated; the vast majority of your power is generated on your downstroke. The real benefit of clipless pedals are the fact that it forces you to use cycling specific shoes. Many people use running shoes or whatever they can find under their bed and often these soft sole shoes have very poor power transfer, meaning that the force you apply is often absorbed by the shoes instead of being transferred to the drive train.

The other benefit of clipless is that it provides foot retention- in very aggressive riding situations when you need to apply a lot of torque your feet may slip off the pedal. This can also happen if you are riding in wet weather and your platform becomes slippery.

There are benefits to "pulling up", as it engages different muscle groups (mainly calves) and with experience you will learn how to distribute the load. You won't generate significantly more power, but the load will be distributed more equitably. The best way to learn this is to practice one-legged drills: find a park or a quite road and just pedal with only one foot clipped in. You'll find that in order to avoid being fatigued too quickly you need to distribute the load throughout the pedal revolution.

Last edited by yankeefan; 02-09-15 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 02-09-15, 05:59 PM
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Old 02-10-15, 07:46 AM
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First of all, pulling up an the back stroke is not an efficient way to pedal, not only because it's virtually impossible to coordinate biomechanically at pedaling speeds, but because it's robbing Peter to pay Paul, and whatever miniscule torque you generate back there comes at the expense of propulsive force in the power stroke; all of the sudies I've seen show that.

One may want, momentarily, to pedal with different muscles, but it invariably is less efficient and less powerful than pushing all the way through the power phase (like 12 0'clock to 5).

As has been stated, the big reason to use clipless is for foot stability and security; you can simply focus on driving the pedals and not worry about keeping your foot placed or having them bounce around and slip off, which could be fatal. Being connected like that also allows more fine control in handling.
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Old 02-10-15, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
Pedal in circles. Use the same motion you'd use to wipe mud off your feet. Focus on pushing your foot forward and back.
^^this.

It takes some practice, concentration and attention to detail. Start by concentrating on this whenever you are climbing, even small grades. You can easily get 30% more power out of something like this. Makes a huge difference.

Lots of videos on youtube that illustrate the technique.

J.
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Old 02-10-15, 08:11 AM
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a really interesting comparison of pedalling with and without clips...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNedIJBZpgM
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Old 02-10-15, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by dippitydoo View Post
I ask because people told me that a large reason you go for clipless is because you use your energy more EFFICIENTLY***, that you are using energy both pushing down and now pulling up.
The Efficiency effect is very slight, but not negligible if comparing clips & straps vs. clipless.
Make sure that your seat height is correct and work on a supple high cadence pedaling style for efficiency.

Positive, reliable and easy to engage/disengage Foot Retention is the big advantage to going w/ clipless pedals.
Having one's feet firmly, precisely and comfortably positioned on the pedals is important as other's have noted as is being able to dis-engage w/ a simple "click".

"Back when" a mass start race pre-clipless used to include the inevitable wobbling/shoulder banging start as the less coordinated struggled to reach down and tighten their off-foot toe strap. Not particularly sightly or safe.
The ceremony of tightening toe straps for the big climb/crunch/finishing sprint disappeared w/ clipless, I always enjoyed that moment of drama........

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Last edited by Bandera; 02-10-15 at 08:45 AM. Reason: drama
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Old 02-10-15, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by dippitydoo View Post
...
I ask because people told me that a large reason you go for clipless is because you use your energy more EFFICIENTLY***, that you are using energy both pushing down and now pulling up....
That's probably a myth in my opinion, and even if true you only have so much power to put to the pedals even while standing.

I can tell you one situation where I'd really like to use clipless (tho I don't): very high cadence sprinting. High intensity intervals, sprinting with a group, that sort of thing.
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Old 02-10-15, 08:43 AM
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Pulling up only slightly unweights the leg. Don't worry about it.
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Old 02-10-15, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by dippitydoo View Post
I ask because people told me that a large reason you go for clipless is because you use your energy more EFFICIENTLY***, that you are using energy both pushing down and now pulling up.

The thing is, it doesn't feel any different. It still feel as though i'm only using energy pushing down.

Here is the biggest, simplest truth I can tell you about clipless:

You are feeling what everyone feels the first time they use them. You have heard how much better they are, and you did not feel any magic when you started using them. You aren't going faster and you thought you would.

But you will. Use them for a while. Get your new pedaling muscles built up, get used to them, and then try going back to platforms. THAT is when you will see how much better clipless has made you. You may not think you are pulling up on the pedals, but when you go back and try platforms, you will be pulling your foot off the pedal. That's when you can tell clipless is much, much better.
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Old 02-10-15, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by thump55 View Post
Here is the biggest, simplest truth I can tell you about clipless:

You are feeling what everyone feels the first time they use them. You have heard how much better they are, and you did not feel any magic when you started using them. You aren't going faster and you thought you would.

But you will. Use them for a while. Get your new pedaling muscles built up, get used to them, and then try going back to platforms. THAT is when you will see how much better clipless has made you. You may not think you are pulling up on the pedals, but when you go back and try platforms, you will be pulling your foot off the pedal. That's when you can tell clipless is much, much better.
Uh, well that proves that it changes your pedal stroke, but does not prove that it increases your efficiency.
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Old 02-10-15, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by thump55 View Post
Here is the biggest, simplest truth I can tell you about clipless:
They are better because they hold your feet in place.
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Old 02-10-15, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
Uh, well that proves that it changes your pedal stroke, but does not prove that it increases your efficiency.
I never said more efficient, just better.
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Old 02-10-15, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
You can easily get 30% more power out of something like this. Makes a huge difference.

J.
Easily 30% more power? You have got to be out of your mind!
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Old 02-10-15, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bbbean View Post
Pedal in circles. Use the same motion you'd use to wipe mud off your feet. Focus on pushing your foot forward and back.
This.

However, realize all the data indicates it just doesn't matter; your body figures out how to be efficient.

If you want to work on your pedal stroke, one legged pedal drills ( alternate legs for one minute each, work up to 10 repeats.

And fast pedals (110-120rp) in an easy gear, work up to 5x5. And your pedal stroke will naturally improve.
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Old 02-10-15, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
^^this.

It takes some practice, concentration and attention to detail. Start by concentrating on this whenever you are climbing, even small grades. You can easily get 30% more power out of something like this. Makes a huge difference.

Lots of videos on youtube that illustrate the technique.

J.
All the data says it just doesn't matter how you pedal. There's a famous study with Jacque Anquetil that found how you pedal really doesn't matter.
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Old 02-10-15, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by thump55 View Post
But you will. Use them for a while. Get your new pedaling muscles built up, get used to them, and then try going back to platforms. THAT is when you will see how much better clipless has made you. You may not think you are pulling up on the pedals, but when you go back and try platforms, you will be pulling your foot off the pedal. That's when you can tell clipless is much, much better.
And then once you learn how to ride a bike again with flat pedals you realize it isn't such a big deal. Clipless is a tool that you can use to do things better but it won't make you better if don't know how to take advantage. I think most people don't really know and they ride clipless cuz road bike and everybody else is.
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Old 02-10-15, 03:46 PM
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The only thing that focusing on pulling up will do is get you into trouble when you eventually come accidentally unclipped while pedaling hard
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Old 02-10-15, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
All the data says it just doesn't matter how you pedal. There's a famous study with Jacque Anquetil that found how you pedal really doesn't matter.

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.
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