Toe clip v clipless anxiety

bice
bice Posts: 772
edited August 2008 in Road beginners
I am shortly to pic up a Trek 1.7 and have been obsessing a bit about the clipless issue. As I have used toe-clips on my commuter for years in London and on an MTB, I know them very well and get on fine with them. They are a huge improvement on nothing at all.

The Trek comes with some pretty hopeless soft plastic toe-clips (for test riding really), which tangle and then mean you can't get your foot out. But tougher plastic toe clips, especially those for MTB, are much better and provide a proper cup. They would be fine on the Trek, and I will start with these until I get to know the bike.

I am worried about going clipless, especially in London and commuting. Quite a few posts here cheerfully talk of falling onto cars and buses duirng initial outings going clipless. I really don't want to do that on the King's Road. This bike will be mainly recreational and only some commuting, but out of London - or even London at weekends - might be suited for clipless.

But will it be a huge improvement on good quality toe-clips? Has anyone here made that step up?

I can see the logic - of getting the 360 degree pull/push power - but I'm not far off that with toe-clips, am I?

Another thought is to buy some, put them on my wife's hybrid and get the hang of them first - provided I don't trash the pedal threads.

Comments

  • mididoctors
    mididoctors Posts: 16,844
    clipless spds are safer
    "If I was a 38 year old man, I definitely wouldn't be riding a bright yellow bike with Hello Kitty disc wheels, put it that way. What we're witnessing here is the world's most high profile mid-life crisis" Afx237vi Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:43 pm
  • topdude
    topdude Posts: 1,557
    Get some pedals with SPD on one side and flat on the other, then you can clip in or ride with ordinary shoes when it suits. After a while with clipless you will want to use them all the time.
    He is not the messiah, he is a very naughty boy !!
  • richa
    richa Posts: 1,631
    Go clipless.

    I don't think "Falling onto cars & buses" is as commonplace as is made out.

    If you are cautious you should get on fine. Take yourself to a car park, etyc and practice clipping in/out.
    Rich
  • doug5_10
    doug5_10 Posts: 465
    You will never go back to toe clips once u try them, honestly! I've never even used toe clips, they look such a faff! went straight to clipless when i got my first roadie. After a summer of fitness riding, putting flats back on for the 5 min jaunt to Uni always felt horrendous!
    Edinburgh Revolution Curve
    http://app.strava.com/athletes/1920048
  • alfablue
    alfablue Posts: 8,497
    A positive story:

    My girlfriend started cycling 6 weeks ago, having purchased a Trek 1.2 road bike. In the last 6 weeks she has ridden 240 miles only, from being a complete novice, she is in her late 30's (don't tell her I told you that!). (I only say that because us old dogs are supposed to find it difficult to learn new tricks).

    When she bought the bike the LBS manager and myself both agreed that she should ditch the toe clips that came with the bike and ride with flat pedals until she was ready for clipless. We both believe that toe clips are the worst option for a newbie. I bought her some Specialized Soma cycle shoes with a view to getting her clipless eventually (I though maybe after several months of riding).

    Well yesterday I thought the time had come for her to go clipless. She was very apprehensive and said things like "well we may as well get on with the falling off thing then..." etc.

    I bought her some Shimano M520 spd's (£17) and some multi-release cleats (the pedals come as standard with single release cleats, but mult-release will come out easier if you panic and just yank), fitted them, set the release on its loosest, and took her to the railway path (flat, smooth, no traffic, and at 7.00pm few other cyclists).

    I told her not to even think about clipping in, just pedal, after about 50 metres one foot clipped in, then soon after the other one went in (I had obviously estimated the cleat position pretty well), then she realised how they work, then I trained her to unclip and clip back in as we went along slowly, she could do this at will within another 100 metres or so. Then I drilled her to unclip the left before coming to a stop and always leaning to the left. I rode infront, modelling the technique for her to copy, we practised this a few times.

    After about 5 miles she was saying they were fabulous, and "I see the point now" and "riding is so much easier" and "I feel I can ride faster now" etc. By the end of our ride she said she was never going back to ordinary pedals. I took off the plastic platforms with reflectors on that come with these pedals and make one side flat (I had reassured her saying she could always use that side rather than clipping in, knowing she wouldn't need to do so). She is now fully fledged, and is delighted at the improvement to her cycling enjoyment.

    Yes, she may have a "clipless moment" sooner or later - it is said that everyone does, but I never have. Its simply a case of developing the habit / physical memory, unclip the left, lean to the left...

    Now if my novice g/f can do this, so can you. Take courage - it ain't so hard, really.

    And would go for double sided SPD's personally. That way the clip is always there, no flipping, and I often ride my bike to the shops in town (2 miles) in ordinary shoes without any problem.

    You only get the benefits of 360 pull/push with toe clips IF you tighten the strap up, which then means you have to bend down and release them every time you stop - this is not good.
  • Theres something I dont understand.

    for toe clips to be any good, and get any real benefit, surely they need to be fairly tight. And surely they are, if tight, they must be harder to get out of than an spd will ever be...

    I don't understand all the concern - set them up with a loose float, and you'll never look back.

    I was in honesty, sceptical from both a "falling off" and a "will I benefit, isnt it for real enthuiasts" vire, and tbh, I wonder how I rode a bike, even on the roads, let alone off road, without them...
    Bianchi c2c Alu Nirone 7 Xenon (2007) Road
    Orange P7 (1999) Road
    Diamond Back Snr Pro (1983) BMX
    Diamond BackSIlver Streak (1983) BMX

    Oh, and BMX is the *ultimate* single speed.
  • alfablue
    alfablue Posts: 8,497
    Juju_uk_68 wrote:
    Theres something I dont understand.

    for toe clips to be any good, and get any real benefit, surely they need to be fairly tight. And surely they are, if tight, they must be harder to get out of than an spd will ever be.
    EXACTLY - I think there is quite a lot of anxiety about clipless, and it is understandable given some of the stories, but they really are far safer than toe straps. 10 years ago I remember saying I would never want to have my feet fixed to my pedals with SPD's - how wrong I was!
  • synchronicity
    synchronicity Posts: 1,415
    I'm a proponent of both flat pedals and clipless. There's nothing like the simplicity of hopping on a bike with flat pedals (no straps) for a trip to the local shops or a quick spin. Just jump on & go - nothing to prepare! :D I find it encourages bike use...

    On the other hand, for serious road rides, I always don some lycra pants & go clipless.

    I'd never consider using toe straps. why? Because you have to pull your foot straight back out & it's not natural. They're probably more dangerous than anything else.
    Powergrips are the exception - an excellent alternative to either!

    Stay away from busy roads for the first week until you get used to them... I suggest you think about other double-sided pedal systems like TIme atac, not just spd. I wouldn't worry about anxiety (:?:). Once you train your brain, that automatically disappears... there is a fair bit of difference in efficeincy between conventional toe-straps & clipless pedals... it is worth it.
  • Rich Hcp
    Rich Hcp Posts: 1,355
    Clipless is best!

    You'll soon get used to them

    Don't panic!
    Richard

    Giving it Large
  • bice
    bice Posts: 772
    Thanks for the replies. But the point is that I do use toe-clips and get on with them fine for both commuting and mtb. Most of you have looked at toe-clips and disliked the thought, or tried the light plastic ones that come with road bikes just for testing really.

    Toe-clips are a huge improvement on nothing at all. You do have to keep them lose enough to get your foot out easily, but the plastic cup is what keeps your foot in position and against which you pull up.

    You can be lazy, however. I am really right sided, and have a damaged left hip (from motorbikes) and a limp. The right hand side pedal is used much more than the left and is always the first to crack or creak etc. Clipless might encourage evening this out a bit, though the thought of pulling against my left leg doesn't appeal either.

    The question is really addressed to those who used toe-clips a lot and then moved on to clipless.
  • ride_whenever
    ride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    Get double (or quadruple) sided clips and get on with it.

    My GF is a complete muppet, but has just put spds on her roadie and loving it. If you get shimano SPD (as opposed to SPD-SL) pedals, get the 540s over the 520s. They have better bearings and don't have spanner flats so won't chew up your cranks to the same extent.

    Avoid single sided pedals or ones with large cages (tiny cages like CB smarties are okay) as these pedals offer the worst of both systems.

    As for learning, practice indoors, whack the saddle right down so you can get one foot flat on the floor. Practice first with one foot cliping in and out in carious positions, then do the other foot. Finally, lean against a wall (with quite a lean) and practice both at the same time, once again in various positions.

    If you always lead off with one foot practice unclipping the other one at the back a bit more, also practice clipping in the other on the upstroke at the back. Then just hit the road. You'll be fine for about 2 weeks, then you really need to start concentrating. It also helps to keep the saddle 1/2 and inch lower whilst you're getting used to them, as if you can only just touch the ground you can topple over the other way if you are a bit of a muppet!!!!!
  • giant_man
    giant_man Posts: 6,878
    Stop panicking and just do it, you will get used to them. I went from toe clips to clipless AGES ago and haven't looked back. I have never fallen over cos I couldn't get my shoes out of the pedals.

    It isn't that common so don't believe the hype about coming off with clipless pedals. You'll be fine.
  • il_principe
    il_principe Posts: 9,155
    Go for it. Don't worry about pulling up with your left leg; you don't have to pull if you don't want to. Once you are using clipless properly you won't really feel the "pull" anyway as you'll simply be "pedalling in circles" - “souplesse”, the art of pedaling in smooth, effortless circles.
  • pst88
    pst88 Posts: 621
    I had to ride my backup bike with flat pedals the other week and it was horrible! Felt dangerous, like my feet could slip off the pedals at any moment (it was in the wet). Never want to go back from clipless now.
    Bianchi Via Nirone Veloce/Centaur 2010
  • julietp
    julietp Posts: 67
    bice wrote:
    Thanks for the replies. But the point is that I do use toe-clips and get on with them fine for both commuting and mtb. Most of you have looked at toe-clips and disliked the thought, or tried the light plastic ones that come with road bikes just for testing really.

    Toe-clips are a huge improvement on nothing at all. You do have to keep them lose enough to get your foot out easily, but the plastic cup is what keeps your foot in position and against which you pull up.

    You can be lazy, however. I am really right sided, and have a damaged left hip (from motorbikes) and a limp. The right hand side pedal is used much more than the left and is always the first to crack or creak etc. Clipless might encourage evening this out a bit, though the thought of pulling against my left leg doesn't appeal either.

    The question is really addressed to those who used toe-clips a lot and then moved on to clipless.

    My boyfriend and I both went from toe clips to clipless. We have done many many miles in clipness now including commuting and never fallen off. We still have toe clips on our mountain bikes but will replace them with clipless as soon as we get round to it. If you haven't fallen off with toe clips (as a result of forgetting to take your foot out) you're non more likely to fall off with clipless. In fact, you're at an advantage to those going from flats to clipless as you already have that anticipation thing in your brain that says 'foot out now.'
  • SPD's are great for commuting - you very quickly get into the habit of unclipping one foot as you approach junctions etc. Wouldn't use anything else (couldn't get on with toe clips that came with the bike).

    You might fall over at some point until you get used to them, but if it's in front of a bus then it will only happen once! :D
  • randellp
    randellp Posts: 12
    Funny you should bring this topic up, but only this morning I got my usuallly reliable "remove foot from pedal before stopping" procedure all in a twizzle and fell over siedways, both feet up in the air in front of 4 lanes of stationary traffic. :roll:

    No harm done except to the ego, and you just have to laugh!

    This is on my road bike with Look road clipless pedals. Which are much stiffer than my MTB spds, so much so I keep pulling my feet out when I'm on the MTB. Time for some adjustments I think.
  • Dorset_Boy
    Dorset_Boy Posts: 6,920
    I'd never used clipless until 3 weeks ago having had clips on my MTB.
    5 minutes practicing clipping in and out, and away I went.

    It's a doddle and easier than toe clips.
  • synchronicity
    synchronicity Posts: 1,415
    I used to use traditional toe straps AGES ago, but I'd never consider using them again. Either get powergrips, or get clipless pedals. There is no comparison.
  • Jon8a
    Jon8a Posts: 235
    You'll be fine if you've come from clipped.

    I find my mtb double sided ones easier to clip into than my roadie ones. But the roadie ones feel better to use.
  • alfablue
    alfablue Posts: 8,497
    bice wrote:
    Thanks for the replies. But the point is that I do use toe-clips and get on with them fine for both commuting and mtb. Most of you have looked at toe-clips and disliked the thought, or tried the light plastic ones that come with road bikes just for testing really.

    Toe-clips are a huge improvement on nothing at all. You do have to keep them lose enough to get your foot out easily, but the plastic cup is what keeps your foot in position and against which you pull up.

    You can be lazy, however. I am really right sided, and have a damaged left hip (from motorbikes) and a limp. The right hand side pedal is used much more than the left and is always the first to crack or creak etc. Clipless might encourage evening this out a bit, though the thought of pulling against my left leg doesn't appeal either.

    The question is really addressed to those who used toe-clips a lot and then moved on to clipless.

    I did use toe clips a lot, and seriously so. When I moved to SPD's I was sold on them, never looked back. You won't know how good they are until you try them, and you can try them very cheaply (Shimano PD-M520, generally available for around £17 posted - try Highonbikes on eBay). If you don't like them you can sell them and get most of your money back (I'll make you an offer).
  • Sorry randellp - glad you could laugh. The first time I forgot to unclip, shortly after I started using them, was as I slowed down when I came home from a ride, finally discovered what had been making a squeeking noise on my bike, and then noticed the world was changing shape - sideways! :oops: No witnesses - phew!

    The second time was when I took my urban bike a bit off-road, hit a rut on the way up a steep-ish hill, and fell over in front of a cow. I would have p*ssed myself laughing if I had seen me falling over - I guess cows don't have a sense of humour. :D

    SPDs suit me because it's so easy to walk in my cycling shoes, but I wouldn't be without them.
  • I took them off an old racing bike, the bikes worth and lot and I am scared of damaging the bike. Plus, just moved from MTB to racing and thats freaky enough.
  • alfablue
    alfablue Posts: 8,497
    I took them off an old racing bike, the bikes worth and lot and I am scared of damaging the bike. Plus, just moved from MTB to racing and thats freaky enough.

    Uh? :?
  • hodsgod
    hodsgod Posts: 226
    I just went clipoles a few weeks ago, after 12 years of riding with toe clips. They arent as difficult as made out, at least I haven't fallen over yet, but I have had a couple of wobbles.