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Clipless, toe clips or flat pedals?

Old 03-30-24, 09:24 PM
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Clipless, toe clips or flat pedals?

As I keep thinking about doing the Empire State Trail another question popped into my mind. What kind of pedals? I'll be riding an old modded Trek 7000, with 26" Gatorskins (as I decided after reading the thread on the Schwalbe Marathon Plus), 3x10 gearing with a very wide range, NFW I'll be riding a Brooks saddle so I have to come up with something else, lights, bags, and a lock (as in my prior thread).

I use Assioma power meter pedals on my road bike, and I like having that measure. These are similar to Look but I haven't found the cleats to be fully compatible. On the touring bike I always used flat pedals with toe clips, on my other MTB that I hardly ever use I just have flat pedals. I also somewhere have a pair of SPDs, but no compatible shoes. Having a power meter will give me a better gauge of what I'm doing on a day to day basis. I'll have my Wahoo Bolt on the bars anyway so I may as well have power too. But the downside is the shoes. I always envisioned myself wearing regular shoes on the tour so I'm not clomping around in cleats, and I wouldn't have to carry extra shoes. I commuted for years with toe clips in NYC and it is just natural to me, as are the Assioma/Look. I never really liked the SPDs and swapped them out for the flat pedals on my 3rd bike. I have no idea where the shoes went.

What do people usually use? Pros/cons, experiences, disaster stories, foot pain? I'll have to load up the bike and test them both with longish rides.
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Old 03-30-24, 09:50 PM
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I always use flat pedals and ride in my hiking shoes as I like to break up my multi-day tours with some walking which I find relaxes my leg muscles and allows me to visit places the cycle path does not go.
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Old 03-30-24, 09:59 PM
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I was thinking just lightweight running shoes for the toe clips, but then started thinking maybe something stiffer, but not stiff with a carbon sole. I can't imagine riding in hiking shoes though. If I go with the clipless Assioma pedals I'll have to wear my Lake shoes.
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Old 03-30-24, 10:36 PM
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Flats for 2 reasons, after hours of riding it's nice to move your foot around on the pedal and change the pressure points. Second, I can wear any footwear I want, even flip flops.
My standard shoe is a trail shoe like Salomon XA Pro, but lately have been looking at the Shimano ET5
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Old 03-30-24, 10:51 PM
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I went with SPD pedals and Sidi Dominator shoes, took light trail runners. The Dominators are fine for quick laundry and shopping, the trail runners for all the rest of off bike activity. Very comfortable. My touring was mostly about liking the riding and rather putting up with having to be off the bike, so that worked really well. Did do some hiking though, had a very light rucksack along for shopping too.
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Old 03-31-24, 01:16 AM
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Toe-clips with light running shoes.

MKS GR9 pedals, Zefal toe-clips, and Adidas shoes to be more exact

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Old 03-31-24, 02:59 AM
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I've always toured with SPD's. Lately I've used a lot of flat pedals for general riding and while they're convenient in terms of shoe choice, I find flats to be a bit unstable and I always end up feeling unsupported in the saddle. Clipless even with small footprint SPD pedals is much better in that regard. Large footprint SPD pedals are again a whole different beast. I also much prefer the locked in position of clipless as that's one less variable to think about when riding long days. It's a position I've used a lot of time setting up and so it's usually the best possible I can be in.

IME Flats work best when the shoe has an actual heel block to lock the pedal against. With modern wedge sole shoes I'm constantly trying to find a locked in position both lengthwise and side to side.

Shimano spd sandals are quite good for walking around, but for actual walking shoes I either use minimalist running shoes or regular running shoes.

My current pedals are Shimano PD-T8000, which are hybrid with large footprint SPD on one side and large spiked MTB flat on the other. Best of both worlds you could say.
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Old 03-31-24, 04:42 AM
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I think since you are used to toe clips and you have shoes that fit them, that is what you should use. If you brought a spare pair of shoes, you could have two pair that both fit the toe clips.

Since you do not have SPD shoes, that is one less thing to buy.

But make sure your shoes are stiff enough that they fill not hurt your feet after 6 or 8 hours in the saddle, softer sole shoes can be a problem on long rides with some pedals.

You asked what others use, I like SPD but also bring a pair of lightweight hiking shoes or trail running shoes on a tour. I use pedals that are SPD on one side and flat on the other side to allow the hiking shoes to be used, I have used both Shimano M324 and A530 pedals for touring. There have been several times when I will ride with the hiking shoes on the flat side of the pedals all day, thus the two sided pedals are best for me.

I have toe clips on my folding bike, but the only reason was that when I bought the MKS Ezy pedals for my folder, at that time the MKS Ezy were not compatible with Shimano SPD cleats, thus I chose toe clips instead. If I was shopping today, they would be SPD, but it is not worth the cost for an upgrade.

Regarding toe clips, I like slightly longer toe clips than normal for my size 44 or 45 shoes, on a long ride my feet feel better with my feet slightly more forward on the pedals. Thus I later bought a longer pair of toe clips for that bike.

Have a great trip.
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Old 03-31-24, 07:19 AM
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I use Superfeet insoles in my running/walking shoes for some extra stiffness, with pinned flats. Never had a problem.

Most of my cycling days also entail quite a bit of walking around. I can ride almost everywhere I need to go.

I've started riding with a small group of cycling seniors my age, most of whom (four out of six) have converted from cleats to flats. I converted about 25 years ago, after about 20 years with cleats.
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Old 03-31-24, 08:06 AM
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My son and I use Speedplay pedals. I am told that there is an attachment available for Speedplays that fits over the pedals and allows them to be ridden without cleats for short distance commutes when touring.
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Old 03-31-24, 08:28 AM
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I think I'm going to have to try the Assioma on a long ride with cleats. While I did try my 10 mile commute that way it wasn't with much of a load, one change of clothes so I could get a baseline of calories. It did feel a little weird because I wasn't used to it on that bike, and that ride is with traffic in parts. What surprised me is that there was no difference between the commuter bike and my good road bike in calories, meaning it took the same effort either way without penalty for riding a clunker. Anyway, I can give it a try with a loaded bike both ways and see which feels right. I'll find a NYC route that doesn't involve a lot of street riding (yes there are some) because the stop and go of street riding isn't what I'll be doing on tour.

Another thought is to bring both and ship the one that I don't use back home with my wife when she meets me. I don't plan on having a huge load with me anyway and this wouldn't add too much.
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Old 03-31-24, 08:49 AM
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I use mountain bike clipless for touring, usually Time ATAC but I've used Shimano SPD too. The difference is minimal.

I don't take any other shoes. I walk around a ton on tours and just wear the mountain bike shoes, including for hiking. I use Shimano shoes.
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Old 03-31-24, 08:50 AM
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SPD’s on one side, flats on the other. I love SPD’s but also like having the option for flats.
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Old 03-31-24, 08:58 AM
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Zac, which direction you thinking after Albany?
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Old 03-31-24, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Yan
I use mountain bike clipless for touring, usually Time ATAC but I've used Shimano SPD too. The difference is minimal.

I don't take any other shoes. I walk around a ton on tours and just wear the mountain bike shoes, including for hiking. I use Shimano shoes.
This.

Discussions of whether stiff bike shoes would be tolerable for walking during bike tours are puzzling. Combat boots are very stiff and are designed to be walked in for many miles with heavy loads. So are mountain-climbing boots.

Double-sided SPD pedals (i.e., SPD interfaces on both sides) and either mountain bike shoes or - my favorite, but they seem to have disappeared from the market - police bike patrol SPD shoes. I have one pair of Sidi SPD police shoes and another pair of Diadoras. Police shoes, too, are designed for lots of walking, with little or no concern for style. Both my pairs are wider than any cycling shoes I've ever owned.
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Old 03-31-24, 10:14 AM
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A toeclip fan here - if I can find shoes that are stiff enough, have grippy but smooth soles (so getting in is easy but I can pull hard enough to get up steep hills with the straps puled tight.

The shoes I loved were the LL Bean Ranger Oxfords before they went to the lugged (Vibram?) sole. Never rode the Beta Bikers but they looked excellent. Now a low end LAKE with a walkable sole? (I am not touring now and haven't researched this. But every low end LAKE I've owned had been very comfortable, very ridable and had lasted many years. I've had cobblers add sole rubber to those to make them walkable.)
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Old 03-31-24, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
This.

Discussions of whether stiff bike shoes would be tolerable for walking during bike tours are puzzling. Combat boots are very stiff and are designed to be walked in for many miles with heavy loads. So are mountain-climbing boots.

Double-sided SPD pedals (i.e., SPD interfaces on both sides) and either mountain bike shoes or - my favorite, but they seem to have disappeared from the market - police bike patrol SPD shoes. I have one pair of Sidi SPD police shoes and another pair of Diadoras. Police shoes, too, are designed for lots of walking, with little or no concern for style. Both my pairs are wider than any cycling shoes I've ever owned.
I found this police bicycle shoe website via Google. My mind is blown.

https://www.police-bikes.com/collections/footwear
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Old 03-31-24, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by BTinNYC
Zac, which direction you thinking after Albany?
I'm planning on Buffalo to NYC.
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Old 03-31-24, 01:44 PM
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I like flat pedals. As far as footwear is concerned, anything with a good stiff enough sole is fine by me, if I'm riding in warm in climates I'll wear sandals.
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Old 03-31-24, 02:52 PM
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I suffered through that same existential crisis myself when I was setting up a touring bicycle a few years ago.
Previously I had never left town without some kind of cycling shoe/pedal system, as I consider myself a "real" cyclist.
But as an older guy, now, I walk up hills a little more than I used to. I also like to walk around casually during the day.
Now on my touring bikes I use large-area platform pedals and, usually, a light hiking or skate shoe, not anything with a thick, cushy sole.
I don't feel I have lost any efficiency or anything by using platform pedals, pedaling around is still just as fun as ever.
But the freedom to just walk around, when I want, in comfortable shoes is priceless, no stiff soles or cleats crunching on the gravel.
Not to mention I save a lot of room in my pannier by not needing an extra pair of around town/camp shoes.
But for sure I still use cycling shoes on my sport bikes and fast/group rides where the emphasis is on pure cycling and nothing else.

tldr; yes, platform pedals rock.
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Old 03-31-24, 03:14 PM
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Clipless all the way for me, it just feels so much better than riding on flat pedals. I changed to Crank Bros egg beaters a few years ago when i had some knee trouble as I find they have a lot of play which I like. I have some giro shoes which are nice and stiff but ok for short walks, but carry a pair of very light "barefoot" shoes as well if I will be walking more.
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Old 03-31-24, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan
I found this police bicycle shoe website via Google. My mind is blown.

https://www.police-bikes.com/collections/footwear
I checked that site earlier today in the hope of finding current SPD-compatible patrol shoes. Didn't see any there or on another couple of sites. Too bad. The two pairs of SPD patrol shoes I have are close to 20 years old and not long for this world.
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Old 03-31-24, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
I checked that site earlier today in the hope of finding current SPD-compatible patrol shoes. Didn't see any there or on another couple of sites. Too bad. The two pairs of SPD patrol shoes I have are close to 20 years old and not long for this world.
What about the Serfas on that page? They are SPD compatible.
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Old 04-01-24, 04:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Yan
What about the Serfas on that page? They are SPD compatible.
Clicked on various of the other shoes on the page but not on the Serfas for some reason. Thanks!
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Old 04-01-24, 04:30 AM
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For me it is clipless all the way. I go with the same spd pedals and sidi dominators that I use for mountain biking. Whether I take other shoes for hiking or other off bike use and if so what kind depends on the trip.

Edit to add a bit more on off bike shoes in addition to the SPD shoes:
  • I have used only the MTB spd shoes is some cases. I have good done a bit of hiking in them and managed okay, but if there will be a lot of long hikes over rough terrain maybe not. Short hikes to interesting features on easy to moderate terrain yes.
  • I have carried some kind of light shoe for in camp. That has ranged from crocs, to light sandals, to super minimal sandals,
  • I have used trail runners if I planned to do a lot of hiking. In one case I bought a pair while on tour for a week of hiking in the Yosemite Valley.

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