Tuesday, September 16, 2008

[Cyclelicious] New comment on Going clipless-less.

Ron has left a new comment on your post "Going clipless-less":

Howdy, all--

If anyone's already seen this at the Bike Forum's Living Car Free list, or on the Surly Long Haul Trucker Group, I apologize for the triple post (and the length). I just thought I'd share this, since many people (other than Fritz) seem to be going through some of the pedal angst I've felt over the years. While your results may vary, this is how I've come to feel about the

I believe the much of the gain in efficiency from toe clips or even clipless pedals is illusory. Being connected to the cranks gives a rider a powerful feeling.

Toe clips might give some benefit across the top of the pedalstroke, but unless you reach down and tighten those straps when you mount up, you can't pull up on the backstroke. You might feel like you're putting some pressure
against your toes, but how much do you think you can really pull up against a loose strap and a flexible chunk of nylon?

Clipless pedals are a big improvement. Older riders will remember cyclists frantically fumbling with toe straps they'd forgotten to slack before stopping; they'd tip over with one hand grabbing at a foot. Clipless pedals release easily, and they can theoretically provide power across the bottom of the pedalstroke, as well as on the upstroke. I say theoretically because tests don't bear out cyclists' perception that they're applying power throughout the pedalstroke.

This is from Edmund R. Burke's "Science of Cycling":
"When asked, most cyclists' response to a question regarding the direction of force application during the recovery phase is unequivocal. The say they
definitely pull up." He goes on to write, "In all of our studies of the steady-state riding of the elite 4000m pursuit team and of recreational riders, we only found a few examples of pulling up."

If people generally aren't getting power out of the backstroke--in fact, Burke even found that some racers were applying small amounts of pressure on the backstroke--then being attached to the pedals provides minimal benefit, mostly through the bottom and top of the pedal stroke.

I've found that the traction afforded by a sticky set of flat pedals also allows power transfer through these parts of the stroke. BMX and downhill pedals also tend to have large platforms, which offer similar benefits to stiff bike shoes. These qualities make the pedals my top choice for most
every type of riding, as they allow me to wear shoes that aren't so single-purpose as most bike shoes. Spiky platforms also eliminate concerns about slipping off the pedals (which suggests you have too much weight in the saddle, but that's another issue).

For what it's worth (sorry, I don't care for acronyms), I rode toe clips from the '70s bike boom well into the mountain bike craze. I've ridden clipless from Time, Shimano and Crank Brothers, with shoes from Sidi, Northwave, Pearl Izumi, and others I've forgotten. I now have platforms on my mountain bikes and my Long Haul Trucker. On the LHT, I'm using the Kona Wah-Wah, which is wide, slim and spiky. The slim part is accomplished by using bushings
where bearings would be preferable; I'll see how that works out.

While others may have a different experience, I don't get a significant gain being attached to the pedals--especially off-road or on rough surfaces. In fact, I'd be surprised if I get two percent. Really. And if I'm wrong, I don't really care, because I'm so blissfully happy riding around in
any old sandals or shoes, free to move my feet about as I please.
Happy Trails,
Ron Georg

Posted by Ron to Cyclelicious at 9/16/2008 03:05:00 PM