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Controversial clipless opinions.

OnanOnan Posts: 321
edited November 2008 in Road beginners
I just read this article, on the website of a company that make very nice looking old fashioned steel framed road bikes. I really like the no nonsense old school ethos of his website, and I found his thoughts on clipless pedals interesting.

I have litle contribution to make to this kind of debate, given that I'm still waiting for my first road bike to arrive, but I have certainly never found riding on flat pedals on my hybrid to be a problem, and had I not known about clipless pedals, somebody suggesting I should have my feet attached to them would have seemed insane to me.

I was wondering what you all think about them.

Here's the article:

http://www.rivbike.com/article/clothing/the_shoes_ruse
Drink poison. Wrestle snakes.
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Posts

  • inseineinseine Posts: 5,745
    I hope you're not in the UK, or did you reallt get up at 4.30 to post this!!
    I haven't the time to wade through the article, but it 's clear that it's rubbish. Get yourself clipless pedals and don't listen to this nonsense (IMO :wink: ).
  • niponnipon Posts: 68
    "you can even wear flip plops" :roll: what a load of bo***cks
  • nicklousenicklouse Posts: 81,520 Lives Here
    this pie of censored again.
    "Do not follow where the path may lead, Go instead where there is no path, and Leave a Trail."
    Parktools :?:SheldonBrown
  • NuggsNuggs Posts: 1,804
    Sounds like utter twaddle to me...
  • fatfreddyfatfreddy Posts: 332
    this is awful - he wears socks with sandals.
  • BUICKBUICK Posts: 362
    Hardly a revelation that you can ride on flat pedals without specialist cycling shoes. The big disclaimer at the start makes it clear it's been targetted at slower leisure riders - and in those circumstances I agree it probably works best to wear 'normal' clothes and shoes.

    The parts that seem to be saying that people are deluded to think there is an advantage to riding clipless pedals are a bit daft though. You can't 'learn to pedal' if you are clipped in? Most riders learn to pedal a long time before they ever look at clipless pedals! And your foot doesn't flex? What to say about that... yes it does. Especially when you are out of the saddle putting power down.

    The writer seems to think the main selling point of clipless pedals is that we all think you can pull upwards on every stroke - I've never personally come across any rider who seriously suggests that is how to cycle. However, the cleat positioning being correct means less chance of injury whilst keeping the maximum power transfer and making the most of your positioning consistently.

    Anyone who's slipped off a platform pedal while going fast will remember how rubbish it is to suddenly have the handlebars in their face an instant before bike and rider cartwheel down the tarmac...
    '07 Langster (dropped one tooth from standard gearing)
    '07 Tricross Sport with rack and guards
    STUNNING custom 953 Bob Jackson *sigh*
  • jojo90jojo90 Posts: 178
    Utter rubbish. I put flats back on my MTB to do some technical riding in the woods and it killed me on the uphills. You naturally start pulling up on the pedals over time.

    Funny how 'old school' technology often costs a similar amount to newer tech. This guy must make a mint. Try looking through the marketing twaddle :)

    'new' steel bikes are even made using up to date geometries.
  • meagainmeagain Posts: 2,774
    Extract from the linked article:

    "during normal pedaling at normal cadences, nobody pulls UP on the backstroke

    the elite/efficient pedalers push down less on the upward moving pedal than the rookies do.

    Think about that until it sinks in and you're bored. The good pedalersthe guys in the logo costumes and the white sunglasses and shaved legsminimize the downward force on the upward-moving pedal more. They don't pull up on it or even unweight it. They just minimize the downward pressure on it, so one leg isn't fighting the other as much.

    That is a far cry from the 360-degrees of power the clickers and media and experts promise you."

    As I reacll THIS is precisely what a number of objective studies established when clipless first arrived and BEFORE the trade (and thus the "media") decided that so much money to be made from pedal/shoe systems that it would be a shame not to claim advantages that where at best minimal and mostly - for most riders - non-existent. I've always assumed predominantly marketing nonsense.
    d.j.
    "Cancel my subscription to the resurrection."
  • John.TJohn.T Posts: 3,698
    Meagain. You seem to be forgetting that clipless pedal systems were created to be a safer and more comfortable replacement for toe clips, straps and shoe plates that had been used for decades. Having used both I know which I prefer. I do not think that any proponents of clipless pedals will say you can get 360 deg power but you can get much more than with flats especialy when out of the saddle.
    Looking at my own riding style when cruising I do not pull up on the pedal but I do follow through further than is possible on flats. The pedal does lift my leg to some extent but at least I know it will stay on the pedal. One less thing to think about. As a cyclist with over 55 years experience I consider clipless pedal systems to be probably the most important advance in bike components, followed by modern gear systems and frame materials.

    I notice that the article is predictably American but is aimed at the leisure rider rather than the sport one and is rather deliberately provocative. If I had a bike just for going down to the shops it would have flat pedals. It would also have flat bars and maybe even a basket on it.
  • Mister WMister W Posts: 853
    I agree on the "not pulling up" issue but the stuff about riding in any shoe is complete and utter rubbish. Yes, if you're just pottling round town or a leisure ride then any shoe will do. But if you're working hard up a hill on a training ride or in a race then clipless pedals and proper cycling shoes offer a number of advantages. The first is that you're not losing energy in compressing the sole of the shoe. This may only be a small amount of energy but when you're riding up Alpe D'Huez every calorie counts. The second is that you're less likely to slip off the pedal and smash your wedding tackle on the top tube or handlebars. The third is that your feet will stay in the best position for pedalling. Most people tend to pedal with the arch of their foot over the pedal spindle but, as I'm sure you all know, you get much better results with the ball of the foot over the spindle.
  • damage36damage36 Posts: 282
    what a load of bullsh*t :roll:
    Legs, lungs and lycra.

    Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,422
    I think the first statement says it all - "non-racers". Who cares what people wear when they ride. Wear what you like. Not everyone is a bike racer. He does make one really good
    point though. Just because everyone says so doesn't make it true, i.e. you must have stiff
    soled shoes.

    Dennis Noward
  • I do have bikes with both clipless & non-clipless pedals, and there's a few things I don't agree with:
    If your foot is locked in one position, you're much more likely to get a repetitive stress injury, for the simple reason that you repeat the same motion over and over.

    Eyelids! They move in the same repetitive manner & I don't know a single case of eyelid strain. :) :roll:
    Your feet learn to pedal in circles, because they aren't forced to. As a bike rider, you're already accustomed to moving your feet in a circle, but when you're locked into the pedals, your muscles don't have to learn, because they're going to move in circles no matter what. But when you aren't connected, your muscles truly learn to move efficiently in circles, and that' seems like a good goal. If you want to train a dog to come, you don't keep him (or in my case her) on a leash. And if you want to train your feet to move efficiently in circles, you don't force them to comply by locking them to the pedal.

    That's true to some extent, but it's impossible to pull up on a flat pedal. It's also very difficult at the top of the stroke as you're trying to apply some forward pressure. Sometimes your foot shoots right off. How is that pedalling in circles?! :?

    When I first starting using flat pedals on my DH + around town bikes, I did actually find my feet unintentionally lifting off the pedals on the upstoke. so he's wrong about that (although I do do a fair amount of climbing)

    But most of the time, if I want efficiency, I don't have to think about which one is best (and just so it remains clear: clipless pedals)
  • from what i've read we all agree with each other ..no?
    For leisure riding wear what you like. Performance is not an issue
    Nobody pedals in circles but at certain times it is beneficial to be clipped in to push or pull a little earlier in the pedal stroke.
    Stiff soled shoes most likely help transfer power but leisure riding is less important.

    I admit i am actually researching the way that people pedal and after analysing peoples pedaling technique there is a small variation when we're working very close to V02 max when you're pedaling on the falt at submaximal efforts it is not helpfull to pull up.
  • OnanOnan Posts: 321
    inseine wrote:
    I hope you're not in the UK, or did you reallt get up at 4.30 to post this!!
    I haven't the time to wade through the article, but it 's clear that it's rubbish. Get yourself clipless pedals and don't listen to this nonsense (IMO :wink: ).

    I did indeed post that at four in the morning, but I wasn't up at that time by choice. I have chronic insomnia.

    It's a pain in the censored .
    Drink poison. Wrestle snakes.
  • OnanOnan Posts: 321
    I thought it might be controversial. LOL.

    I also really enjoyed all the stuff he had to say about frame sizes, weight, tyre width and volume, unnecessary numbers of gears, and carbon fibre frames.

    I'm not saying I agree with him. To be honest, I don't think I'm entitled to an opinion either way, given I do much less riding than most of you here. I just think it's refreshing to hear somebody saying you don't need special clothes, or a bike that weighs less than the bag on your back.

    I'm bookmarking his website, so if I ever find myself obsessing about any of the techy stuff that seems to go along with cycling, I can remind myself there are people who don't think that stuff is as important as it's made out to be.

    I realize he's trying to sell the idea of his old school bikes, but he sure seems passionate about what he's selling. I love the way he talks about the way his bikes are wrong for people rather than trying the hard sell. You don't get many sales pitches that run along the line of "we'll sell you the bike we think you should have, not the bike you think you want. And it will cost you $3000, and will take 2 years to build".

    How does he make any money?
    Drink poison. Wrestle snakes.
  • Mister WMister W Posts: 853
    I've just read a bit more of the website. Is this for real?

    The best position for bars is a few cm higher than the seat??? Not on my race bike it isn't. I'd rather be down out of the wind if it's okay with you. As for most cyclists being on a bike that's too small? I disagree. Most cyclists I've seen ride bike that are too big. And as for his claim that small bikes are uncomfortable........... I managed to get round an Ironman bike course on my extra small Argon 18 without any discomfort :D
  • OnanOnan Posts: 321
    Mister W wrote:
    I've just read a bit more of the website. Is this for real?

    The best position for bars is a few cm higher than the seat??? Not on my race bike it isn't. I'd rather be down out of the wind if it's okay with you. As for most cyclists being on a bike that's too small? I disagree. Most cyclists I've seen ride bike that are too big. And as for his claim that small bikes are uncomfortable........... I managed to get round an Ironman bike course on my extra small Argon 18 without any discomfort :D

    I think he's talking about non-racing bikes, and non-racing cyclists.

    As far as I could tell his point is this: Most people who ride bikes do it to commute, or for fitness, and not to race, so comfort and safety are more important than all that stuff. And I think he has a point there. As a newcomer to 'proper' road cycling (I'm getting a road bike so I can do long rides at the weekend to get fitter), all the technological developments, and special clothing, and tiny super light bikes can really put a guy off.

    Some of the bikes I sat on which were meant to be the right size for me felt ridiculous. My censored was right up in the air, and I would have had to crane my neck right back to look forwards properly. that might be OK if you want the fastest lightest bike possible to shave seconds off your PB, but I want something a bit more comfortable.

    I think the fashion in road bikes is to put massive emphasis on performance, and that filters down to levels of cycling where performance is not that important.

    But as I say, maybe when I start getting out on my road bike, I'll change my mind about that, and decide I want skin tight lycra and a carbon fibre frame after all, so I can go even faster.
    Drink poison. Wrestle snakes.
  • meagainmeagain Posts: 2,774
    "The best position for bars is a few cm higher than the seat??? Not on my race bike it isn't"

    The second of those sentences may well be true. It does not in any way invalidate the proposition which you deride in the first sentence. For the great majority of PEOPLE WHO RIDE A BICYCLE FOR PURPOSES OTHER THAN RACING (i.e. the great majority of people who ride a bicycle) it clearly is correct. As it almost certainly will be for you should you stil be riding when 50-60-70.
    d.j.
    "Cancel my subscription to the resurrection."
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,422
    meagain wrote:
    "The best position for bars is a few cm higher than the seat??? Not on my race bike it isn't"

    The second of those sentences may well be true. It does not in any way invalidate the proposition which you deride in the first sentence. For the great majority of PEOPLE WHO RIDE A BICYCLE FOR PURPOSES OTHER THAN RACING (i.e. the great majority of people who ride a bicycle) it clearly is correct. As it almost certainly will be for you should you stil be riding when 50-60-70.

    Hold on a minute now I'm 60 and....... well now that you mention it it does seem that my bars are getting higher and I seem to be having trouble remembering what the uses are
    for the bottom part of the bar(drops I think they were called way back when I used them).
    Non racing seemed to be key words in that article, as I recall.

    Dennis Noward
  • John.TJohn.T Posts: 3,698
    We need to remember that a bicycle is a very versatile machine and can be used by a wide variety of people for many different reasons.
    I am 66 but my bars are 8cm below the saddle and I can and do still use the drops. Tri-bars as well sometimes. 70+ mile rides are no problem. But as I said earlier if I had a shopping bike it would have flat pedals and flat bars.
  • bahzobbahzob Posts: 2,195
    Best way to learn to pedal IMO is clipped in on a fixed bike.
    Martin S. Newbury RC
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    Non racers (commuters, leisure riders, like I am) want efficient and ergonomic machines, that means clipless pedals and a reasonable aerodynamic position. Those that adopt a "sit up and beg" bike position may well be comfy and prefer it (that's their choice) but I suspect some would enjoy the benefits of clipless / lower bar positions if only they tried it. Each to their own really, but I think this guy's rant is way off the mark as a generalisation.
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 7,137
    I think he has a point on the pedals. I have seen a lot of people (ok often triathletes on a running forum) claim you can put power in 360 with clipless pedals and that a stiff soled shoe increases power transfer significantly. He does concede that clipless are better for racing - that you can pull up on the pedal for short periods such as a power climb. There are a lot of people wear clipless just for commuting or touring though and I do wonder if perhaps they might be just as well off with flats and not having to bother with the faff of cycling shoes when they get off the bike.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    I think he has a point on the pedals. I have seen a lot of people (ok often triathletes on a running forum) claim you can put power in 360 with clipless pedals and that a stiff soled shoe increases power transfer significantly. He does concede that clipless are better for racing - that you can pull up on the pedal for short periods such as a power climb. There are a lot of people wear clipless just for commuting or touring though and I do wonder if perhaps they might be just as well off with flats and not having to bother with the faff of cycling shoes when they get off the bike.
    Well SPD shoes are perfectly walkable, for touring and commuting I use Shimano MT90 Gore-Tex boots, the only shoe I need in these circumstances. I am not sure about 360 pedalling, but I definitely do pull up a bit when doing hills. Regular shoes are far too sloppy and can cause foot pain as the foot curls around the pedal, and I am sure energy is lost compressing the sole. Also, I don't miss for one minute those times when your foot slips off the pedals, which usually damages nadgers or inside of shins as they scrape down the pedals.
  • OnanOnan Posts: 321
    If you crash your bike in clipless pedals, doesn't it kind of jurt worse, because you go with the bike? I like being able to bail. I can think of loads of times I've had to stop really suddenly on my ride to uni, and when I'm out with the dog, and I think if I'd been clipped in, I would have fallen over attatched to the bike.

    The price seems to outweigh the benefits to me, to be honest.
    Drink poison. Wrestle snakes.
  • Much harder to bunny hop obstacles when not clipped in.


    It always amuses me when I read about "pedalling in circles". What else does one think the pedal does besides follow a circular path relative to the bottom bracket?

    If one is talking about the relative application of torque around a pedal stroke, then the evidence is pretty clear (as is the basic physics that supports it), i.e. the most powerful riders have the greatest ratio of peak torque to average torque (IOW - they just push harder). Just look up the 1991 study by Coyle et al, Physiological and by mechanical factors associated with elite endurance Cycling performance.

    Indeed, attempting to "pedal in circles", if by that one means apply a more even application of torque around the pedal stroke, is an ineffective means to improve one's power output.

    Just push harder and faster.


    But back on topic, I didn't read the item but I get the gist.

    Most cycle equipment these days is fashion-based rather than performance-based and for the most part, a reasonably decent frame that fits you properly with basic but well made components is all one needs to enjoy cycling and get good fitness. The thing that makes the most difference is the engine pushing the pedals, not the 11th cog on the cluster or the CF super frame you are riding. It is only when you are racing that the introduction of some specific equipment becomes a factor in performance.
  • used to do the SPD thing on mountain bikes, but gave them up when I discovered the joys of platform pedals. The principal reaseon for the switch was not technical, I did not suffer too many of the "clipped in on the edge of a rock and wish I wasn't" moments, but one of comfort. Having spent a small fortune on a variety of footwear, I always ended with frozen feet an hour into the ride. Now I can ride in any old soft soled trainers, with a pair of seal skins and woolly socks under and toasty toes. Not greatly in favour with the fashion police of course, but you mustnt mistake me for someone who cares, I'd rather be out there.

    To be honest, when I switched, I did not notice a great deal of difference in pedalling efficiency, even on all day rides. Did have a short period living in fear of the "Bear-trap" till I got used to them, but now I prefer them. My personal level of fitness is far more important than any mariginal benefit the footwear might provide. would consider swapping back if i was racing, but that doesnt happen very often.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    Onan wrote:
    If you crash your bike in clipless pedals, doesn't it kind of jurt worse, because you go with the bike? I like being able to bail. I can think of loads of times I've had to stop really suddenly on my ride to uni, and when I'm out with the dog, and I think if I'd been clipped in, I would have fallen over attatched to the bike.

    The price seems to outweigh the benefits to me, to be honest.

    No, if you have the tension set correctly you will unclip as you crash - the design was inspired by ski bindings, which do the same...IF you set the tension right.

    The price is no more than (decent) regular pedals, and even with toe clips you are likely to be wearing stiff soled shoes (if you have any sense) that are most likely suitable for clipless. When I made the transition many years ago, I already had spd compatible shoes.
  • Indeed, attempting to "pedal in circles", if by that one means apply a more even application of torque around the pedal stroke, is an ineffective means to improve one's power output.

    Just push harder and faster.

    i'm not really qualified to comment on the accuracy of this statement - but I like the way you seem to be thinking about it logically -

    as a very recent convert to clipless the main benefit i have noticed is at the top and bottom of the pedal-stroke, that it is possible to push the pedals through the vertical crank position without any risk of the foot sliding forwards or backwards off the pedal (as the circular motion is parallel to the ground at this point)

    it is intuitive that the torque applied to the pedals in this position will be less than the peak torque (which presumably occurs somewhere closer to the horizontal crank position). however, there is some torque (however small) to be applied at the vertical-crank position nonetheless.

    The main problem I have with the article is the notion that one has to be able to "pull up" on the pedal in order to achieve "360degrees of power". Most of us cyclists are in fact blessed with two legs. This means that as long as the front leg pushes down with a greater force than the back leg applies down onto the pedal [for the duration that it is the 'front leg' ie. 180degrees - a half-cycle] - then we end up with "360 degrees of power" transfer.
    In this sense then, we need each leg to apply torque for only half of the cycle. Any more is a bonus. And perhaps a clipless system can help ensure torque application around the 'vertical crank' position.

    Whether or not we should usefully focus our efforts on increasing the peak torque rather than the smaller 'vertical crank' torque is another discussion. But if clipless pedals do increase the torque that can be applied in this (vertical crank) position, then presumably this can combine with any given peak torque to give an overall higher power output? Admittedly I can't comment on the relative significance of any improvement. I do like that clipped-in feeling of security though!
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