Author Topic: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?  (Read 21350 times)

EastCoastMike

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Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« on: October 26, 2014, 10:50:46 AM »
My LBS suggested I purchase these for my bike.  The claim is that they would let me use my full leg stroke (down and back up) and thus increase my efficiency.  I have a 10mi commute to work and being more efficient appeals to me, but I'm not convinced that spending $100 for the pedals then an additional $100 for the special shoes required to use the special pedals are worth it. 

Has anyone used these?  Is it actually a worthwhile investment?

sol

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2014, 11:12:18 AM »
Clipless pedals are dumb.  Absolutely useless, plus a PITA, for anyone other than lycra-clad racers.

For one thing, no one actually uses the "upstroke" of their pedal cycle to generate power.  Guys on the Tour don't pull up on their pedals.  Nobody does.  Pure marketing BS.

The primary advantage of attached shoes is that they correctly position your foot front to back and side to side (but not twisted left right, as you can still move that way while clipped in).  But this is something anyone can do on their own by paying attention so I don't really see it as much of an advantage.  The other advantage is that they weigh less, but if you're counting ounces on your whip then you probably aren't asking this kind of question here.

For new bikers, the learning curve is usually sufficiently slow that they will fall over at least once.  That's a significant risk of injury and bike damage.  If you're a casual or commuter cyclist, definitely skip it.

If you have crappy plastic pedals, then sometimes your foot may slip around while biking.  The solution to this problem is better regular pedals, not clipless pedals.  You don't have to worry about carrying an extra pair of shoes everywhere, and good pedals should not have any slipping problems.  Look for some with little metal teeth on top to grip your regular shoes.

swiper

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2014, 11:40:08 AM »
I don't agree with Sol's assessment. Perhaps if you are a gear/brakes shunning hipster... ;)

Efficiency: I don't have any data on the efficiency, but they seem popular in pro circles where speed/efficiency matter. I assume there is a small gain in there somewhere.

Comfort: Having your foot properly positioned should lead to a more comfortable ride. I think this is especially relevant on hills where your feet tend to slid forward.

Security:  Being attached to the bike at the right place all the time allows you to put full power down regardless of wet peddles, shoe flex etc (bike shoes have much more rigid soles). Also when standing and cranking hard it just feels much more stable.

They don't have to cost $100. I've had an SPD pair like these ($45 new) ( http://www.mec.ca/product/5006-774/shimano-pd-m520-spd-pedals/?Ntk=productsearch_en_q32008&h=10&q=pedels )  for 5 years, with no issues. Just a quick lube once in a while if the mechanism is getting sticky.

I've got clipless and definitely no regrets.

waltworks

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2014, 12:12:18 PM »
There are measurable efficiency gains (5-10% depending on the experience level of the cyclist) over straight flat/platform pedals. That said...

For casual commuting, the hassle of dealing with another pair of shoes, plus the added expense of buying the whole setup means it's basically a waste. You won't save more than a minute or two on your commute, at best. In a race, that would be a giant gap and well worth it. On your way to work, not so much. Many people are not comfortable/safe clipped into their pedals, either.

-W

JJsfr

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2014, 12:33:46 PM »
I commute about 20 mi round trip a day, so pretty similar. I recently (~6 months) ago swapped to clipless SPD style pedals/shoes.

I cannot go back.

Sure, you have increased efficiency. You can read up on that all you want. One other big thing I've noticed is that your mind doesn't have to keep track of where your feet are on your pedals.

For commuting, I would recommend the 2 hole SPD style pedals/clips. The shoes are much more comfortable and geared toward commuting, and you can walk in them. You can pick up a pair of platform/clip pedals for ~$30. I found my shoes for about $80.

I will say that if you have to stop/start (clip/unclip) a lot, you may not enjoy them. Riding downtown on them sucks because I hit every other block's light, but I wear regular shoes when I go that way.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2014, 12:36:01 PM by jsfr »

sol

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2014, 12:57:48 PM »
I will say that if you have to stop/start (clip/unclip) a lot, you may not enjoy them. Riding downtown on them sucks because I hit every other block's light, but I wear regular shoes when I go that way.

This has always been the problem for me.  I prefer my bike shoes and clipless pedals when I'm going out for a three hour pleasure ride on my go-fast bike.  But the vast majority of my biking is getting to work, or the library, or the grocery store, or ukulele practice.  And for those types of trips I much prefer a bike with regular pedals, so that I can not worry about stopping at lights, or stopping to talk to people, or carrying extra shoes with me and changing when I get there.  Biking is just really convenient when all you have to do is throw a leg over it and go.  Don't make me change my shoes.

Bike shoes are for people who want to ride long and fast.  They are impractical for the sort of everyday biking that this community recommends.

BPA

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2014, 01:05:55 PM »
My boyfriend has them but I do not.  He claims that it is easier to cycle up hills with them which may be the case because he frequently has to stop and wait for me.

He keeps saying he is going to buy them for me, but I keep resisting.  I don't want to have another pair of shoes to carry around and city riding would be a bigger pain in the ass.  Not only that but I lump them into the same category as fitbits, bike speedometers, and other stuff I find largely unnecessary.  I want to avoid lifestyle inflation, not give into it.

pen67

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2014, 01:23:44 PM »
No, they are not worth it. They might be worth it for people who ride in competitive situations, where you absolutely cannot mis a single stroke, but for ordinary people they give no benefit, and they might mess up your knees. Itīs the same with most pro equipment, it makes no sense.

zenyata

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2014, 01:53:43 PM »
I've used them for years while mountain biking - riding technical singletrack they make a lot of difference in situations where you do NOT want your feet slipping off the pedals or where that little bit of upstroke power helps give you just enough momentum to crest a hill or ride over an obstacle.

For commute style riding though I think they'd be a liability.  Due to worn cleats or dirt or improper adjustment I've had my share of times where they were difficult to get out of and not necessarily confidence inspiring - having that happen in the woods with some rocks and roots to fall onto isn't the greatest feeling but it would be much worse to have that issue in amongst traffic etc. 

I ride with them in any situation now simply because I'm completely used to them after about 15 years... but they aren't something I'd just start using for the hell of it in situations where problems with them could result in some very bad things...

JJsfr

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2014, 01:55:16 PM »
Bike shoes are for people who want to ride long and fast.  They are impractical for the sort of everyday biking that this community recommends.

I agree. If his rides go no longer than 10 miles a leg, not worth it (edit: not worth it monetary wise; I still think they are 'nice' and can't go without mine).
« Last Edit: October 26, 2014, 05:51:13 PM by jsfr »

dios.del.sol

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2014, 02:01:13 PM »
Clipless pedals are dumb.  Absolutely useless, plus a PITA, for anyone other than lycra-clad racers.

For one thing, no one actually uses the "upstroke" of their pedal cycle to generate power.  Guys on the Tour don't pull up on their pedals.  Nobody does.  Pure marketing BS.

<etc...>
Actually, what really happens is that while you are always pushing down on the pedals, you push less when you have the clipless pedals to help you pull up. There is no way you could ever achieve an efficient pedal stroke for racing without toe clips or a clipless pedal. There are other advantages, but that's not the point, so let's not argue about things we're ignorant about.

I still agree with the conclusion. For beginning racers it's the first place I'll suggest spending money. For casual everyday riding, if you have to ask, don't get clipless pedals. I happen to ride them because I used to race, it's what I like, and it's what I have at home. I'm not going to buy new gear. However, it is a PITA to bring extra shoes and change out to just walk into the store.

My boyfriend has them but I do not.  He claims that it is easier to cycle up hills with them which may be the case because he frequently has to stop and wait for me.

Your boyfriend is probably just fitter than you. I have  seen so many people buy new gear in hopes of riding faster... and they still were just as slow. I'll put it this way: Lance Armstrong now, shamed and out of shape, can beat me on a beach cruiser even if I were on a $10k racing bike. We're all better off riding inexpensive gear and working on our engine... i.e., our fitness.

OP: a 10 mile commute can benefit from clipless pedals. If you've been doing it for a while and you're wicked fit, then sure, consider them. Just be honest with yourself that you're not going down the bedpan & catheter path. And practice with them in an empty parking lot until you can clip and unclip safely.

deborah

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2014, 02:50:10 PM »
I agree with all who say clipless bike pedals can cause injuries. A few years ago, a workmate bought some for his wife for her birthday. The next day they went somewhere quiet to get used to them. She fell, broke something (I think it was her ankle), and was in hospital for at least the next 6 months. As he sat in the next desk, I had a blow by blow description. Sure, the hospital did some things wrong, but the injury was in a really bad place. Unfortunately, because clipless pedals attach your foot to the pedal, this injury is evidently very commonly associated with them.

Spudd

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2014, 03:03:51 PM »
I got some for my touring bike in hopes it would make it easier for me to keep up with my husband on tours. I do think they add a little efficiency, but they are also annoying when you have to clip in and out all the time which is common in city riding. I have fallen over twice. I feel the main advantage is on hills, when you get tired you can start focusing on the upward part of the motion instead of the down, and it does seem to use different muscles and give you a bit of a break.

All that being said, I am considering removing them because I find the hassle of having to use different shoes is annoying, the clipping in/out is annoying, and I don't know that the added efficiency is worth it. Plus, I think that on tour, I would get pain in the part of my foot that contacts the pedal because you can't move your foot around to allow different contact points.

sol

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2014, 03:11:36 PM »
There is no way you could ever achieve an efficient pedal stroke for racing without toe clips or a clipless pedal. There are other advantages, but that's not the point, so let's not argue about things we're ignorant about.

Very well, I accept.  You did mean for that personal insult to be a challenge, right?  Okay good, just checking.

Consider the following quote from this primary source:  "while torque during the upstroke did reduce the total positive work required during the downstroke, it did not contribute significantly to the external work done because 98.6% and 96.3% of the total work done at the low and high workloads, respectively, was done during the downstroke."

I can find about ten more scientific papers that say the same thing (and so can you) but I thought I'd let you have a turn next.

I'm a scientist and open to having my mind changed by counter-evidence.  It's just that everything I've ever read about clipless pedals says that when you actually measure total power output scientifically (aka correctly, so you get a measurable answer) they don't help.

amha

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2014, 03:44:28 PM »
Sol's comments are interesting, and I want to learn more.

For what it's worth, I spent several years commuting 15 miles each way using toe clips/cages. From my (anecdotal, non-scientific) experience, it seemed to be a LOT more efficient than just using platform pedals. Clipless pedals get you a little better power transfer than toe clips. If you had to do a really long commute (i.e., >20 miles), they'd probably be a good idea. But for less than that, toe clips seem like a good choice: they give you most of the advantages of clipless pedals, at like 10% of the cost!

(But maybe this is all wrong?)

hdatontodo

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2014, 04:00:36 PM »
My hybrid bike has toe clips. They are easy in/out when stopping and starting in town. Plus, I can wear sneakers and not clip-clop around.

My racing style bike has clipless pedals. I like them for longer distances w/o all the in-town starting and stopping. I have bike shoes to use with them.

My wife has clipless pedals on her race bike, but hers will connect to the shoe regardless of which side is up. However, it has a smaller surface area than mine.

Edit: I'd like to add a fitment rant. I see so many people with their seat too low (due to, I suppose feeling more safe when stopped.) They don't take advantage of an almost full leg extension with the knee only slightly bent when the pedal is at the bottom of the stroke.  [/rant]
« Last Edit: October 26, 2014, 05:28:24 PM by hdatontodo »

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2014, 04:52:29 PM »
EastCoastMike , do you currently use toeclips with your pedals, or nothing? If nothing, definitely try toeclips first.

waltworks

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2014, 05:02:59 PM »
Good cyclists *do* pull up on the pedals on the upstroke. So much so that if, for example, I have worn cleats or haven't clipped in properly, my foot will come flying up off the pedal and in some cases I'll crash horribly even when going uphill (I'm a former professional cyclist, fwiw).

Note that the article points out that something like 95% of the work is done on the downstroke at high effort levels (so 5% is being done on the upstroke). Less is done on the upstroke at lower pedaling loads/power levels. This DOES NOT mean that the upstroke is not contributing anything. In fact, it means that elite cyclists, riding hard, are doing 5% of the work on the upstroke. That is HUGE in a competitive situation - literally the difference between the podium and finishing mid-pack for well trained racers.

The study did not attempt to compare to flat/platform pedals so it's really not relevant here but since you certainly can't pull up *at all* on platform pedals without toe clips or straps of some kind it's not too crazy to imagine that you'd lose that 2-5% of your power (again, if you're an elite cyclist). Folks with less training may gain nothing at all, of course.

-W

underscore

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2014, 05:32:10 PM »
I like clipless pedals. It took me a few rides to get used to them, but after a week or so I didn't want to ride without them. That said, I ride long distances and on rougher MTB trails for fun; I think that's where the advantages (foot retention, stiffer cycling-specific shoes) really start to matter. I didn't notice a big speed boost or anything like that after buying them, though I'm by no means a pro cyclist or a racer; maybe the efficiency gains are lost on me. I commute and run errands with my clipless pedals and shoes and I don't find that they get in the way, but if that's all you're doing, platforms are probably fine too.

I'll second the recommendation to check out SPD cleats/shoes if you plan to ride around town. They have a recessed cleat, so they're pretty easy to walk in, and you can even buy normal looking shoes to go with them.

frompa

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2014, 06:19:46 PM »
Hey East Coast Mike - On some of my bikes I have nothing but clipless pedals (Mtn bike and lightweight road bike), on some I have plain old platforms (my folding bike, which I seldom ride more than a few miles at a shot; our spare mountain bike which we have for visitors to use), and on my usual ride about town touring bike, I have pedals that I can clip into on one side, and on the other are straight platforms.  This last is because usually when I'm about town, I don't want to be limited to my dorky bike shoes (I do, after all, like to bar hop on my bike from time to time, and then only heels will do) but when I'm out on a week long bike ride with my fully loaded panniers, I appreciate the efficiency and comfort of my dorky bike shoes over a long day of cycling.  I have from time to time made a point of using my bike shoes when the weather is snowy or particularly wet, because I have more control of the bike and don't have to deal with slipping off the pedals.  HOWEVER, I've been using clipless pedals for years and they require no conscious thought any more... if you make the switch, be prepared to have a few awkward moments and perhaps even a nasty fall or two, so do your practicing before you get into riding in traffic.  Good luck.

johnintaiwan

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2014, 06:29:41 PM »
After over a year of riding and completely wearing out the old pair of sneakers I went with clipless. This is on my road bike, not my around town bike. The new pedals are awesome. It makes you feel much more secure and attached to the bike especially when you are flying down mountain roads at 50km/h. They are also nice for very long rides as they keep proper foot placement even whe you are tired and not thinking about it. But for a commuter bike I would not use them. If you are constantly having to unclip they will be a pain.

Also, they shouldnt be that expensive. I bought my pedals and shoes for about $100 total. Brand new Shimano pedals and shoes. If $100 bucks for each item is the low price in the US i should start sending some home

FreeWheel

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2014, 07:03:39 PM »
It's true, even the pros don't pull up on the up stroke all the time. But you can, and will pull up at times, so foot retention does give a performance and comfort advantage.

Many people will do a zero mph fall or two in the beginning, and the vast majority suffer little to no injury from it. Unless you're a frail senior citizen, fear of being injured in a simple fall like this is a silly reason not to try them.

Mountain bike (spd) shoes are easy to walk in, and look almost like normal shoes. Road cycling shoes are only comfortable on the bike and suck for walking.

For commuting to work, you won't need to carry extra shoes. You just leave a pair at work to change into.

I use all three systems, depending on bike. Clipless, toe clips with cages, and platform. I float between bikes without ever thinking about it. I prefer some sort of foot retention on longer rides, and haven't fallen in years.

Jack

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2014, 07:35:32 PM »
For commuting, I would recommend the 2 hole SPD style pedals/clips. The shoes are much more comfortable and geared toward commuting, and you can walk in them. You can pick up a pair of platform/clip pedals for ~$30. I found my shoes for about $80.

I'm going to second this. I use Crank Bros (Egg Beater) style instead of normal SPD, but they're similar in that they're walkable and even have shoes that look relatively "normal" instead of being obviously-intended-for-cycling.

Biking is just really convenient when all you have to do is throw a leg over it and go.  Don't make me change my shoes.

Often, when I wear my "normal" cycling shoes, I just leave them on while I run my errands.

Also, the particular variety of pedals I use on my commuter bike is the "downhill" variety and has a large enough platform that I can use it without the special shoes if I want.

slugsworth

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2014, 08:54:58 PM »
I wanted to just throw out another option that I use on my computer bike and have used on centuries and mountain biking too (perhaps sub-optimally). Power grips, they are cheaper and you can use them with any shoe, I've never heard of anyone falling out of them and they hold your foot firmly in place. If you wear out the straps, which happens every few years you can buy replacement straps saving a few bucks.


DollarBill

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2014, 09:56:38 PM »
My LBS suggested I purchase these for my bike.  The claim is that they would let me use my full leg stroke (down and back up) and thus increase my efficiency.  I have a 10mi commute to work and being more efficient appeals to me, but I'm not convinced that spending $100 for the pedals then an additional $100 for the special shoes required to use the special pedals are worth it. 

Has anyone used these?  Is it actually a worthwhile investment?
Depends on what you're doing. If you're a pro then go with the clipless/clipin pedals (why do they call them clipless pedals?) I think most of us are not pro's. So any pedal will do. I have done many fundraiser races and it is fun to compete but I catch myself from going all in. I see many people carbo loading for a 5K or powering up before a race...really I can wake up and run a 5K on a banana (and still beat 80%). I use to do biathlons with a mountain bike and still beat 80% of the roadies.

I do like clipins because I can use different muscles. If you keep using the same muscles all the time you will negate other muscles...Kind of like runners butt syndrome.

dios.del.sol

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2014, 10:59:33 PM »
There is no way you could ever achieve an efficient pedal stroke for racing without toe clips or a clipless pedal. There are other advantages, but that's not the point, so let's not argue about things we're ignorant about.

Very well, I accept.  You did mean for that personal insult to be a challenge, right?  Okay good, just checking.
I suppose it does sound like the gauntlet was thrown. I just dislike strong opinions when I know them to be wrong ("Pure marketing BS"? Sounds a bit over-simplified.). You'll note that I agree with you on not using clipless pedals for casual use. However, from extensive personal experience I am sure that clipless pedals are much more effective for racing. I am not sure why, although what I said previously is part of the explanation. With platform pedals you need to press down more to maintain contact with the pedals, effectively fighting against your power leg more than with clipless pedals (or just toe clips and cleats). I don't really feel like digging deeper - one of the downsides of going to work tomorrow. If you really press me I'll read the appropriate section here: http://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Science-David-Gordon-Wilson/dp/0262731541.

sol

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #26 on: October 26, 2014, 11:15:49 PM »
If you really press me I'll read the appropriate section here: http://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Science-David-Gordon-Wilson/dp/0262731541.

If I can find a copy of that book online or at a library somewhere, I'll totally read it.  Actually looks pretty interesting.

I use clipless pedals when I want to ride far and fast.  I agree that they feel more efficient.  I'm just saying that the handful of sources I've read that actually tried to measure this effect have all concluded that clipless pedals do not make you go any faster, as counterintuitive as that may seem. 

And that scientific observation flies in the fact of what every bike store employee in the world has ever told me.  Hence my suggestion that bike stores like clipless pedals because they are one more thing to sell to cyclists, rather than because they actually increase power generation.  Marketing BS.

I bet we can find a cycling forum where people even dorkier than me about bikes have hashed this subject out in great detail. 

FreeWheel

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #27 on: October 27, 2014, 05:10:41 AM »
(why do they call them clipless pedals?)

The original foot retention system was toe clips with straps. This newer system eliminated the need for any clips, thus were dubbed clipless. The fact that one "clips into" clipless pedals certainly does confuse the matter though.

Bottom line is enough cyclists find clipless pedals beneficial (even sol! haha) that anyone wondering about their merits shouldn't hesitate to give 'em a try.

Another option some riders like are combination pedals that allow you to clip in with the spd cleated shoes on one side, but are platform on the other, allowing you to jump on with any shoe.

FunkyStickman

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #28 on: October 27, 2014, 05:25:11 AM »
If you had to do a really long commute (i.e., >20 miles), they'd probably be a good idea. But for less than that, toe clips seem like a good choice: they give you most of the advantages of clipless pedals, at like 10% of the cost!

(But maybe this is all wrong?)

Bingo. This is the Mustachian secret I've been trying to get people to understand: toe clips work just as well as clipless, and you don't need special shoes. A complete mid-range clipless setup is $150 at least, and toe clips are practically free.

Having some sort of foot retention does help smooth out your pedal stroke, but why would you spend $150+ when toe clips and straps (or power straps) are less than $50?

It's personal preference, but I will be quick to facepunch people who swear they make you faster or are more efficient over other foot retention methods. They just don't, it's been scientifically proven.

And again, for rides less than 10 miles, it really doesn't matter anyway.

(Sorry for being a retro-grouch, but I'm "that guy" who gets preached to every single time I ride with the local bike club. I eventually quit riding with them because I got tired of the comments on my retro steel touring bike.)

GuitarStv

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #29 on: October 27, 2014, 06:36:43 AM »
While I kinda get the appeal of clipless pedals or straps with pedals for long rides in warm weather with no stopping . . . For me, clipless pedals don't make much sense.

My commute is 11 miles each way, and it's in the city so there are multiple stops for lights/crazy drivers/crazy pedestrians/etc.  Especially in the winter you don't want to be stuck if the bike starts to slide out from under you, you want to be able to instantly put a foot down to keep yourself from wiping out.  (I do this several times a year.)  It's also pretty damned hard to find clipless shoes that are insulated properly for winter riding.

If all that you're worried about is slipping off the pedal, I've found that studded bike pedals grip your shoes/boots remarkably well in all weather conditions.  You will not slip off them in rain, snow, slush, whatever.  You can push forward and pull backwards with the studs while pedaling.  Your feet will stick to them when going over bumpy terrain.  You can immediately lift your feet off them if you need to put 'em down.  They're great!

« Last Edit: October 27, 2014, 10:19:53 AM by GuitarStv »

poorboyrichman

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #30 on: October 27, 2014, 07:04:33 AM »
I can't imagine riding without them, so much so that I take them off my road bike and put them on my MTB if I'm going out for a day of off-roading.

You don't have to spend a fortune, I picked up pedals and shoes for Ģ50, baring in mind you will use them every day, well worth the minuscule expense.

fallstoclimb

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #31 on: October 27, 2014, 07:30:06 AM »
I commute with clipless pedals now, because I was having pretty bad toe overlap issues with my cages.  Once you're really comfortable with clipless pedals, it's not really an issue to unclip a lot since it becomes 100% instinctual.  I actually find platform pedals to be the most annoying, because whenever I stop I have to use the top of my shoe to "pull" the pedal I'm attached to up to 12 o clock for the push-off -- whereas if I'm clipped in, I just lift that foot up.  If that makes sense.

Also:  it is a myth that "most people" fall over when learning to use clipless pedals.  I think the ones that fall just tell themselves this to make themselves feel better  :)

That said, I did prefer commuting in cages, which is sort of the best of both worlds -- your foot is stable and you are able to pull up on the pedal, but you don't need to wear special shoes.  (Although the cages can rough up the toes of shoes, so I would only wear certain ones).  And I do have platform pedals on my around-town bike for the simplicity, but that bike's not going anywhere fast.   

For long rides (30-100 miles) I can't imagine doing anything other than clipless. 

davisgang90

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #32 on: October 27, 2014, 08:12:06 AM »
I went "clipless" when I started riding in to work.  I agree with most that if you have a lot of stop and go, they aren't worth the hassle.  Since my ride is mostly on multi-use trail, I enjoy using them.  I bought pedals with the clipin part on one side and teeth on the opposite side so I can use them with regular shoes as well.


FreeWheel

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #33 on: October 27, 2014, 08:55:55 AM »
I bought pedals with the clipin part on one side and teeth on the opposite side so I can use them with regular shoes as well.

Like this: http://www.performancebike.com/bikes/Product_10052_10551_1033468_-1_400264__400264

Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #34 on: October 27, 2014, 09:27:09 AM »
I'm another mixed user. I have clipless on my road and cyclocross bikes, but I've always used BMX style pedals for my mountain bike. For mountain biking I used to ride some ugly technical, slow trails and so they worked best for me. For biking around town, I use the BMX pedals. For long, fast rides, I want clipless. I swear they also make uphills easier and I feel more secure in them. Also, my shins aren't fans of what my BMX pedals do to them from time to time. 

Clipless are not hard to get used to. After a week (or less), it's second nature.

I fricking hate toe clips. They are truly the worst of all worlds.

skunkfunk

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #35 on: October 27, 2014, 09:46:01 AM »
I use the toe cage things on my commuter. Seems to work great. One benefit is that I can more easily apply power smoothly in adverse conditions, reducing the likelihood of losing traction.

BlueMR2

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #36 on: October 27, 2014, 09:55:37 AM »
Are they worth it?  Yes, for some people.  For people of the mustache, most likely not.

I love my Speedplay pedals for tour riding events/longer distance stuff.  The being able to pull up for more power comes in handy even though I don't do it most of the time.

However, as I become more mustachian, tour events are going away for me.  I'm now getting my cycling in my riding around town doing errands (instead of driving my bike to and event, riding it, then strapping it back on a car for the drive home).  For running around town, clipless pedals are horrible.  Besides the annoyance of constant clipping in/out, having to deal with special shoes at my destinations is very annoying.  Oh yes, even having to get the special shoes out to start the ride is bad news (never mind swapping pedals like some people do) as it discourages me from riding and pushes me towards the clown car.

skyrefuge

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #37 on: October 27, 2014, 10:05:16 AM »
1) For the vast majority of commutes and the vast majority of riders, going clipless will be a waste of money.

2) From my own personal, anecdotal, but extensive experience (riding the same bike with both clipless and platform pedals, in the same timeframe for tens of thousands of miles), the main advantage of clipless is that they eliminate the chance of your foot slipping off the pedal (and bashing yourself in the shin). So perhaps they allow you to conserve some of the energy that would otherwise be going towards keeping your foot from slipping on a platform pedal. The "allows you to pull on the upstroke" thing strikes me as a load of bunk.

3) IF you are going to go clipless, get pedals that are clipless on one side, and platform on the other. They give you the ultimate flexibility, with almost no downside. You have flexibility between rides (if you want to just hop on your bike in flip-flops to go down to the store, no problem), and flexibility within the ride (if you're going through a sequence of traffic lights, you can skip clipping in until you get to a road open enough to make it worthwhile).

Shimano's version is unfortunately the most expensive, but it's been the best and longest-lasting of the 3 or 4 different brands I've used.


During commutes, I find that I'll go a half mile or more without bothering to clip in, which tells me that the benefits of being clipped in, if they exist, must be very small. I did 80% of a 2000 mile bike tour through the giant canyons of Utah and Arizona without clipping in my right leg, because the clipped-in position seemed to be aggravating a knee injury. Didn't seem to make any appreciable difference.

BlueMR2

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #38 on: October 27, 2014, 10:09:39 AM »
3) IF you are going to go clipless, get pedals that are clipless on one side, and platform on the other. They give you the ultimate flexibility, with almost no downside. You have flexibility between rides (if you want to just hop on your bike in flip-flops to go down to the store, no problem), and flexibility within the ride (if you're going through a sequence of traffic lights, you can skip clipping in until you get to a road open enough to make it worthwhile).

I'm going to vote against those.  I've been riding my wife's old bike most of the Summer (because mine has the full clipless system on them) and her's has these combos (the Shimano specifically).  Very irritating.  While the platform is there, they don't work that great.  I get one of them upside down about half the time and have to kick it around.  Happens at the worst times too, like when trying to get going from a red light in traffic.  If you get one upside down, it's real easy to slip off.  I think they're one of those great idea, but fails in real life.

Jack

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #39 on: October 27, 2014, 10:19:44 AM »
A complete mid-range clipless setup is $150 at least, and toe clips are practically free.

Who said anything about "mid-range?" Even the cheapest clipless pedals -- even used ones -- are perfectly serviceable as long as you're not a weight-weenie. The more expensive ones don't actually work better; they just weigh less.

It's personal preference, but I will be quick to facepunch people who swear they make you faster or are more efficient over other foot retention methods. They just don't, it's been scientifically proven.

I would never argue that clipless pedals are more efficient than toe-clips, but I would argue that they can be easier to use:
  • With toe-clips, your shoe can get caught on the pedal when you try to slide your foot into the toe-clip (especially if the sole has any kind of textured tread on it)
  • At least with my preferred style of clipless pedal, both sides are symmetrical so it's always right-side-up (see next paragraph)
  • There's no strap to drag along the ground if I decide to ride without being clipped in for a while

3) IF you are going to go clipless, get pedals that are clipless on one side, and platform on the other. They give you the ultimate flexibility, with almost no downside. You have flexibility between rides (if you want to just hop on your bike in flip-flops to go down to the store, no problem), and flexibility within the ride (if you're going through a sequence of traffic lights, you can skip clipping in until you get to a road open enough to make it worthwhile).

I'm going to vote against those.  I've been riding my wife's old bike most of the Summer (because mine has the full clipless system on them) and her's has these combos (the Shimano specifically).  Very irritating.  While the platform is there, they don't work that great.  I get one of them upside down about half the time and have to kick it around.  Happens at the worst times too, like when trying to get going from a red light in traffic.  If you get one upside down, it's real easy to slip off.  I think they're one of those great idea, but fails in real life.

These are the solution to that problem. They're symmetrical so they're never upside down, and they work reasonably well as platform pedals with normal shoes. (The clip mechanism protrudes slightly, so it's best not to wear shoes with smooth soles. I'm also considering adding some grip tape -- like you'd find on a stair tread or skateboard surface -- to mine.)


yyc-phil

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #40 on: October 27, 2014, 10:23:43 AM »
In my necks of the woods where roads are covered in ice or snow for most of the year, clipless are totally useless and the whole setup is the worst you could find to protect your foot against cold (there is no cleat to let the cold in) and your body against falls. I much prefer using Powergrips Pedal Straps mounted on a standard flat pedal which give me the security of a toe clip and strap combination but with instant release should it be required. I am using the extra-long version so I can use them with my pair of winter hiking boots, and it is the best compromise I could find.

Carlsky

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #41 on: October 27, 2014, 10:24:20 AM »
Well it looks like I arrived at this thread 2 days too late.  On Saturday I picked up a road bike for my 18km, 11mi. commute to the office.  Last week I rode my mountain bike with standard pedals and it was brutal.  I was very tired when I got to the office.  I decided to take some severance money and buy at $500 road bike with clipless pedals.  Tomorrow will be my first ride in.  I practiced with the clipless pedals last night and found that I liked having my feet connected to the bike.  I did pull up when attacking hills which seemed to help climbing.  However, I forgot to unclip both sides when I stopped at a stop sign.  I fell over on my left side and slightly scrapped my leg. 

Runge

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #42 on: October 27, 2014, 10:31:50 AM »
For me, I love clipless because I feel more attached to the bike because well...I am attached to it. I like the feeling because to me the bike becomes an extension of my body (sorry, getting weird up here, haha), and that makes me thoroughly enjoy biking so much more. It doesn't matter to me if I'm stopping and going all the time because while I'm riding it's pure bliss.

I have better control over maneuvering the bike, especially in emergency situations. I've bunny hopped over obstacles that have suddenly appeared on the road. I've also been able to shift the bike up to 2 feet to the left temporarily to swerve around an unexpected obstacle and then bring it back underneath be before falling. You can't do either of these with standard platform pedals. Granted these are lower probability events, but if I wasn't clipped in, I would have crashed in all of these situations.

Plus the fact that fallstoclimb brought up, if I don't use clipless, I have to pull up on on a pedal with the top of my shoe that isn't on the ground. It's really a minor quirk and to some (most?) it's not a huge deal at all, but I personally find that more annoying than clipping out.

Clipping out has become so second nature that it's as thoughtless as stepping off the pedal. If your clips are set up properly, then it's not an issue to get in and out. If it's too tight, yeah you can have a problem clipping in or out which can lead to wrecks and/or frustrations, same as being too loose. Also, if they're set up properly it actually helps prevent knee damage because your foot is in the precise position it should be throughout the stroke, not angled left or right, or too far forward or back. If your clips are set up properly, and you're still having knee problems, then likely your seat's too low, or you just have terrible knees and need to pedal lighter.

I don't think clipless pedals are for everyone, but for me as well as many others, it's a huge bonus to bike riding.

skyrefuge

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #43 on: October 27, 2014, 11:09:49 AM »
I'm going to vote against those.  I've been riding my wife's old bike most of the Summer (because mine has the full clipless system on them) and her's has these combos (the Shimano specifically).  Very irritating.

Though, apparently less-irritating than putting on your biking shoes and riding your own bike instead. :-)  Just wanted to make it clear that this is still a vote against clipless, and a vote for full, dual-sided platform. I might actually vote the same way these days.

So yeah, I agree that ending up on the wrong side of the pedal is the biggest downside. But over time, I've developed the 2nd-nature muscle memory to allow me to flip to the other side without even thinking about it. I don't recall ever slipping off the clipless side while wearing a street shoe, because it's always really obvious that there's a bulge under my foot, so I just don't hammer away on it until I get a chance to flip over to the platform side. Also, the pedal balance (at least on mine), and maybe my starting/stopping habits, seem to favor the platform side facing upwards. I did a 50-mile ride yesterday (suburban/country roads) and 20 miles the day before through downtown Chicago, both in flat sandals, and can't recall one time where my foot ended up on the clipless side. Maybe it happened, but if it did, it was so inconsequential that I don't recall it. So then when I'm wearing my clipless shoes, I always keep my right foot clipped in, and on the left side, flip over to the clipless side whenever I feel like it once I'm going.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2014, 11:17:58 AM by skyrefuge »

EastCoastMike

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #44 on: October 27, 2014, 11:14:27 AM »
Thank you all for your input.  I don't think I'll get the clipless.  First, in 90 days or so I'm moving to a new place only 5 miles from work (and $200/mth less).  Second, I'm trying to reduce the amount of crap in my life, not add to it.  Third, I'm a fatty and I don't think I could really wring any sort of advantage from using the pedals.  I'm less of a fatty than I was before I started biking, but still a long way to go. 

Thanks again for all the advice.

dios.del.sol

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #45 on: October 27, 2014, 12:30:01 PM »
Sounds like the OP has enough input and has decide not to buy clipless pedals, but I suppose we can continue discussing dorky nuances.

If you really press me I'll read the appropriate section here: http://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Science-David-Gordon-Wilson/dp/0262731541.

If I can find a copy of that book online or at a library somewhere, I'll totally read it.  Actually looks pretty interesting.

I use clipless pedals when I want to ride far and fast.  I agree that they feel more efficient.  I'm just saying that the handful of sources I've read that actually tried to measure this effect have all concluded that clipless pedals do not make you go any faster, as counterintuitive as that may seem. 

And that scientific observation flies in the fact of what every bike store employee in the world has ever told me.  Hence my suggestion that bike stores like clipless pedals because they are one more thing to sell to cyclists, rather than because they actually increase power generation.  Marketing BS.

I bet we can find a cycling forum where people even dorkier than me about bikes have hashed this subject out in great detail.

I'd be interested in hearing what else you find. I finally delved into the paper you linked. Fun read. The fact that racers have been racing with their feet tied to the pedals for as long as racers have been racing suggests that there's more to it than marketing BS or simply the fraction of power production during the upstroke. I barely have time to read the literature in my own field so I can't delve into this one in detail, but here are my thoughts going forward:

  • Some of the advantage comes from reducing the degrees of freedom for foot motion relative to the pedal - the foot is always at the correct location to produce power. Would the power profiles in the paper you sent even be possible if the foot were not in the correct location? What we need is a control study with platform pedals.
  • The paper suggests there is a 4% contribution of the upstroke. This is pointless for casual riding, but huge for endurance racing at the elite level. These people do air tunnel studies to find much smaller advantages.

Just to be clear, as I said before, for somebody who is riding casually, recreationally or just getting started, I say ride your bike, have fun, be safe, and don't buy stuff that bike merchants say you need.

OK. Back to work now. Darn internet... stealing all my time. I need to stop picking fights with virtual strangers.

Goldielocks

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #46 on: October 27, 2014, 12:57:10 PM »

I will say that if you have to stop/start (clip/unclip) a lot, you may not enjoy them. Riding downtown on them sucks because I hit every other block's light, but I wear regular shoes when I go that way.

This!  Way back when I bike Commuted... I at my max gear 100% of the time, and wanting to get more power / speed on my commute.  Then I realized that I was only able to hit and sustain the maximum speed once, for five whole minutes in my 20 minute commute.     

The rest of the time was accelerating from stops, or need to corner or cross pedestrian crossings meant a reduced speed. 

frugalnacho

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #47 on: October 27, 2014, 01:23:03 PM »
I don't understand what is going on...

For the thousands of miles I have ridden bikes I have always simply placed my foot on the pedal and pushed.  Never once has my foot slipped off, or have I lost footing.  Am I doing something wrong? 

davisgang90

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #48 on: October 27, 2014, 01:34:15 PM »
I don't understand what is going on...

For the thousands of miles I have ridden bikes I have always simply placed my foot on the pedal and pushed.  Never once has my foot slipped off, or have I lost footing.  Am I doing something wrong?
Yes, Occasionally your foot should slip off the pedal and you should scrape your shin.  You must not be a klutz.


yyc-phil

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Re: Are "clipless" bike pedals worth the expense?
« Reply #49 on: October 27, 2014, 02:05:00 PM »
I don't understand what is going on...

For the thousands of miles I have ridden bikes I have always simply placed my foot on the pedal and pushed.  Never once has my foot slipped off, or have I lost footing.  Am I doing something wrong?

That's because you are probably not wearing lycra...