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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 11-14-17, 07:27 PM   #1
jefnvk
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Metal v Plastic Platforms

Simple question. I have read up quite a bit on winter snow biking pedals, and have found many people believe clipless turn the pedals into giant heatsinks and numb feet.

Can the same be said about metal platforms? The topic doesn't seem to be covered as extensively, but I can see where the logic would hold. Is it better to go with a composite platform in winter? Are there any materials not recommended for cold conditions? The cost of winter biking boots is making clipless unattractive, even before getting to the heatsink issues. Just don;t want to run into reliability issues with plastics.
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Old 11-15-17, 07:31 AM   #2
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My winter bike has had the same plastic pedals since I bought it in 1997. And it sits in an unheated shed year round. I don't know if that's typical, but that's my experience.
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Old 11-15-17, 09:04 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
Simple question. I have read up quite a bit on winter snow biking pedals, and have found many people believe clipless turn the pedals into giant heatsinks and numb feet.
What people "believe" and what is true are often two very different things. Clipless pedals may draw a little bit of heat from your feet but that pales in comparison to cubic meters of cold air per minute flowing over your feet. It doesn't matter what kind of boots you use, your feet are going to get cold eventually.

Part of that is physics and part of it physiology. Physics is the air flow and physiology is the way that your body responds to cold. Your feet are at the end of a relatively long pipe line and the central processing unit will shut down the flow to preserve the heat in the middle of the system, i.e. your brain keeps the core warm at the expense of your extremities.

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Can the same be said about metal platforms? The topic doesn't seem to be covered as extensively, but I can see where the logic would hold. Is it better to go with a composite platform in winter? Are there any materials not recommended for cold conditions? The cost of winter biking boots is making clipless unattractive, even before getting to the heatsink issues. Just don;t want to run into reliability issues with plastics.
An argument could be made that the larger mass of metal in a large platform pedal is a greater heatsink but, again, the air flow over your feet has more of an effect.

On the other hand, most winter clipless boots have solved the problem of the cleat being in contact with your foot. 45NRTH boots attach the cleat outside of the sole and add lots of insulation to the foot bed. If you use "regular" bike shoes, you can add insulation to the bottom...I suggest a sole insert with aerogel...which solves the problem nicely.

As to cost, yes, the initial cost is prohibitive. But a pair of winter boots can last many seasons. $300 to $150 amortized over 5 years is $60 to $30 per year. You can find lots of deals on clipless winter boots even now depending on your needs.
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Old 11-15-17, 09:42 AM   #4
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You will want steel pins, not aluminum. Composite race face chesters or some aluminum flat pedals with steel pins would work well.
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Old 11-15-17, 12:04 PM   #5
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The main issue with clip less was the lack of suitable boots. Yes, the Lake 303 have been around for years, but those will not keep your feet warm at subzero (F) temps. And yes, with some summer shoes the metal clear is not well insulated from your feet and it will act as a heat sink. With the (admittedly expensive) current crop of winter boots, that is not an issue.

As for platforms, they are a cheaper option. I have not tried plastic ones, but my experience with handlebars is that carbon bars are "warmer" than aluminum. So I can see how you could have a similar situaton with pedals.

Also, there are some composite pedals now that grip like metal ones but are cheaper and lighter. For winter use where you aren't likely to be smacking them on rocks, they seem like a good option.

Finally, keep in mind that circulation (blood flow) is a big if not the main component here. Some people can ride for hours in cold weather wearing sneakers. Other people freeze their toes at 30 degrees wearing heavy boots. You should expect some experimentation to find what works for you. And on long, cold rides it is common to get off the bike and run for a few minutes to get blood back in the toes.
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Old 11-15-17, 12:05 PM   #6
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I have experienced this - and it was particularly evident after switching out my clipless pedals for plastic, and riding with the same winter boots with the cleats removed. So in my case, same boots, but no cleats and no clipless pedals, and there was a noticeable difference in how long my feet would stay warm in cold weather.

What made an even BIGGER difference was shelving my $250 winter cycling boots and wearing cheap $70 insulated winter boots (similar to these: https://goo.gl/j1D7cV). Super comfy, incredibly warm, excellent grip on the sole, and inexpensive (you won't find that combination in any winter cycling boot, unfortunately).

Others may disagree, but my experience is that clipless pedals don't make much sense in winter where I live.
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Old 11-15-17, 02:44 PM   #7
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Others may disagree, but my experience is that clipless pedals don't make much sense in winter where I live.
I've always asked myself why you'd want to use clipless pedals in winter. 90% of the cases in which my foot needs to be on the ground really fast is in slippery winter conditions. With SPDs, that's impossible or hurts the knees/ankles over time.
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Old 11-15-17, 02:49 PM   #8
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I've always asked myself why you'd want to use clipless pedals in winter. 90% of the cases in which my foot needs to be on the ground really fast is in slippery winter conditions. With SPDs, that's impossible or hurts the knees/ankles over time.
Agreed. But surprisingly, I have had a few people vehemently disagree with this opinion. Perhaps their winter riding conditions are not the same as our locales, and what works for some doesn't for others.
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Old 11-15-17, 03:40 PM   #9
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I find no difficulty in unclipping fast enough to avoid problems. Be it winter or summer. And I find the benefit of being connected to the pedal (not bouncing off) worth it both winter and summer.
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Old 11-15-17, 04:41 PM   #10
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I've always asked myself why you'd want to use clipless pedals in winter. 90% of the cases in which my foot needs to be on the ground really fast is in slippery winter conditions.
As Frozen K says, getting out of a clipless pedal has never been an issue. I mountain bike in them and have found my foot out of the pedal before I think about it.

On the other hand, I've not found to many instances where getting my foot on the ground "really fast" is beneficial. Just the opposite, in fact. If the ground is slippery enough for me to crash, it's too slippery for me to put a foot down to "catch" myself. I've even torn a hamstring trying to do so. I've also seen the compound fracture resulting from someone trying to do the same and having their leg folded the wrong way under them. Essentially, keeping your arms and legs inside the vehicle keeps your arms and legs from being damaged as severely.

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With SPDs, that's impossible or hurts the knees/ankles over time.
Haven't noticed any injury in 25+ years of using them.
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Old 11-15-17, 04:42 PM   #11
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I have some diadora polaris2 clipless boots and they aren't nearly as warm as normal winter boots with platforms. Maybe the 45NRTH boots are better. I'll never spend the money to find out. I don't think plastic vs. metal platforms makes too much difference. I use Answer Roves down to around zero at which point my face hurts, and it's not fun anymore.
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Old 11-15-17, 04:43 PM   #12
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Thanks all for the advice. Think I'm leaning towards the composite RaceFace, esp as I think I've got an REI coupon.

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As to cost, yes, the initial cost is prohibitive. But a pair of winter boots can last many seasons. $300 to $150 amortized over 5 years is $60 to $30 per year. You can find lots of deals on clipless winter boots even now depending on your needs.
True, but when I've got numerous pairs of nice winter boots that can accommodate me from active at freezing to sitting around still at -20F, dropping $300+ on a pair strictly for cycling above 10F or so just seems redundant.
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Old 11-15-17, 04:54 PM   #13
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True, but when I've got numerous pairs of nice winter boots that can accommodate me from active at freezing to sitting around still at -20F, dropping $300+ on a pair strictly for cycling above 10F or so just seems redundant.
Bicycle winter boots do better than just 10F. The $300 45NRTH do a whole lot better than that. You can find Lakes for about $150 and I've used mine to lower than 10F.
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Old 11-15-17, 05:38 PM   #14
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@cyccommute: thanks for your inputs!
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Old 11-15-17, 10:13 PM   #15
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Bicycle winter boots do better than just 10F. The $300 45NRTH do a whole lot better than that. You can find Lakes for about $150 and I've used mine to lower than 10F.
Just going off 45NRTH advertising their boots down to 0F, and adding some marketing fudge factor on top. To be fair, the 45NRTH/Red Wing collabs I looked at dont look any more substantial than my regular Red Wings, which would be borderline around those temps.

The clipless is growing on me, but as I set the fast run of the summer on my normal route on the flat side of my dual sided pedals, I still haven't fully embraced it being the end all answer. Just not to the point of dropping the cost to be attached. Maybe I'll change my mind this winter tho!
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Old 11-16-17, 08:44 AM   #16
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Thanks all for the advice. Think I'm leaning towards the composite RaceFace, esp as I think I've got an REI coupon.



True, but when I've got numerous pairs of nice winter boots that can accommodate me from active at freezing to sitting around still at -20F, dropping $300+ on a pair strictly for cycling above 10F or so just seems redundant.
20% off a full price item until the 20th, saved $ 50 on my studded wrathchild. 26 x 4.6"
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Old 11-16-17, 09:47 AM   #17
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fwiw - my hands warm up after 40 min of cycling, but not my feet

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Old 11-19-17, 09:48 PM   #18
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Thanks all. Ended up going with the Race Face Chesters from REI, they match the Race Face cranks well (obviously a prime consideration!). I'll give it a go this year, if I really get into it and see the benefit I can convince myself to buy the boots next season and move those pedals to my touring bike or something
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Old 11-20-17, 10:12 AM   #19
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Along a similar line I religiously avoid grips with exposed metal pieces. Sooner or later I must grab the grip at low temperatures with bare hands and it can be a pretty unpleasant experience in grabbing the metal. Ergon grips are particularly offensive with that regard and I look to other brands when striving for a flatter grip.
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Old 11-20-17, 10:57 AM   #20
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For some of us, the advertised and promoted "winter cycling kit" is more appropriate for our autumn and spring cycling, not for our winters.

For that reason, once "real" winter hits, I either have to consider spending a lot on boots like 45NTH produces so I can keep my clipless pedals or switch to "flat" pedals (flat with spikes to bite into the soles of my boots) and wear regular winter boots.

I think that there is enough insulation between flat pedals and the sole of a persons' feet that cold from metal pedals won't really transfer to the foot.

I have also found that the "spikes" on some flat pedals are not really that sharp and your shoes/boots could slip off the pedals with dull/rounded spikes. It is my feeling that plastic pedals are more likely to have dull spikes than metal ones but not all metals ones will have sharp spikes: you'd be best to have a look at them to see how sharp the spikes are.
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Old 11-20-17, 08:10 PM   #21
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I have two winter bikes, one with plastic pedals and one with aluminum. I don't notice a difference between them, still get cold after an hour or so.
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Old 11-22-17, 12:18 AM   #22
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There's a number of reasons why clipless might be bad for winter:
- Your standard clipless mountain bike shoes are designed to cool your feet, not keep them warm.
- Your regular winter shoe has around 1 inch of material in the sole of the shoe between your foot and the pedal. Clipless shoes try to have as little sole as possible (weight).
- Theoretically the cleat is metal, it attaches to the shoe via metal screws, which likely screw into a metal plate inside the shoe. All that metal that transfers cold, in place of insulation that stops cold, could make the shoes colder.
- It used to be that no one made a decently insulated clipless winter shoe. Though not the case any more, it used to be that clipless "winter" shoes were pretty crappy insulation-wise.

All that being said, I don't have cold feet (as in if the rest of me is warm my feet usually are as well), and I've used both and I didn't really see a difference with my flats vs clipless with a neoprene cover.

Last winter I was simply wearing average chrome canvas shoes, with a thick wool sock inside, and that worked very well and I was very warm. Again though, I don't have specific cold feet issues though.

I think the pedal you bought should be fine, when you're wearing flats, metal vs plastic pedals aren't going to make a temperature difference through an inch of sole on the shoe. Not compared to the 15mph windchill the rest of the shoe is getting hit with.
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Old 11-22-17, 08:04 AM   #23
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- Your standard clipless mountain bike shoes are designed to cool your feet, not keep them warm.
hmm maybe I'll park mine for the winter. too bad I was really enjoying them (even tho I use them w flats)
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Old 11-22-17, 08:10 AM   #24
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No, your shoes won't have a metal plate in a hole through the sole, that is required to bolt the Spud cleat onto..

it will be insulated by a thick insole and thick rubber outsole.. of regular winter boots.


I have a pin spiked platform pedal on my studded tire bike, (use plastic Ergon pedals when its raining)

YMMV, I haven't screwed a Spud pedal on my bikes in over 10 years..






....

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Old 11-22-17, 08:32 AM   #25
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I haven't screwed a Spud pedal on my bikes in over 10 years..
I don't think I've heard anyone call them spuds since the 90's
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