Foot Loose

Back in the late 1970s I became what I thought of as a “serious cyclist”. Serious cyclists back then rode handmade bikes with drop bars and fancy Italian components. They wore wool shorts and jerseys. Their shoes were handmade in Italy and they always rode with toe clips and straps. Platform pedals were definitely not serious and were best left for children and your grandmother.

During the 1980s “clipless” pedals became de rigueur and I made the obligatory switch. Some of those early clipless models were awful, with zero flotation and humongous cleats. They eventually improved and most of today’s clipless pedals are well-engineered and relatively easy to use.

In recent years, as I started using my bicycles more regularly for transportation, I became awfully tired of always wearing special shoes (waddling around like a duck in the grocery store is terribly undignified.)

In recent years, as I started using my bicycles more regularly for transportation, I became awfully tired of always wearing special shoes (waddling around like a duck in the grocery store is terribly undignified.) Initially, I searched for comfortable riding shoes and cleat systems that presented a low profile for better walkability, but in the end I was never really satisfied, so a little over a year ago I switched all of my bikes over to platform pedals. Now I ride in whatever shoes I happen to have on and I’m able to switch from being a bicyclist to a pedestrian without changing costumes.

Another plus to “pedaling free” is that your feet are able to move around on the pedals, which I believe reduces the chance for repetitive injuries, something that is a concern for many bicyclists (especially old farts like me with tired knees). Many of today’s clipless pedals have plenty of lateral float and probably won’t cause problems for most people, but it’s the ability to move my foot fore-and-aft on platforms that has proven to be a big plus for me.

Grant Petersen of Rivendell wrote a somewhat controversial article on this subject titled “The Shoes Ruse“. Here’s an excerpt:

The biggest myth in bicycle riding is the need for special cycling shoes and the benefits of stiff ones. The argument in favor of Special Shoes is this: With a firm connection to the pedal, you will be able to apply power for the full 360-degrees of a pedal revolution.

That’s one of the biggest, fattest lies of all time on any topic, but experts, riders, and the media repeat this over and over again, year after year. Coaches, trainers, people we’re supposed to listen to. Statesmen and Pillars of the Community. Even the Girl Next Door says it over and over.

And this:

When elite pedalers and lousy rookie pedalers have been hooked up to machines that measure muscle activity during pedaling, the machines tell us this:

—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 pedalers — the guys in the logo costumes and the white sunglasses and shaved legs — minimize 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.

There’s a lot more where that came from, and even if you don’t agree, it’s a fun read, so you may want to check it out.

Mostly I agree with Mr. Petersen in that the average non-racer is not gaining much (if anything) in efficiency by riding clipped-in. It may feel more efficient to be clipped-in, and if a person likes the feeling and doesn’t mind the drawbacks presented by special cycling shoes, that’s great. But in reality, being clipped to our pedals is probably not going to shorten our commute times by a significant amount.

Switching back to platforms has been one of the best bike-related decisions I’ve made in a very long time. Maybe I’ve lost a little efficiency, maybe I haven’t; honestly, I couldn’t care less. What really matters is that I no longer have to “dress up” to ride my bikes, which in turn, makes bike riding that much more integrated into my daily routine.

50 Responses to “Foot Loose”

  • Donald says:

    I have tried all sorts of pedals and the bare pedals for me seem to be one of the most comfortable. I just switched back this weekend from pedals with toe clips and rode a 50+ mile loop out to Woodland and Davis. My feet were more comfortable with less burning in the soles. I think this is due to the varying position that occurs with these pedals. I used clipless pedals for a while on my Trek and kept falling over. It was always at a stop and from just spacing out. After bending my handle bars the last time, and concluding my knees could not take any more of the beating, I took them off the bike. (On the short wheel base V-Rex recumbent though I think they are absolutely necessary, but on that bike you are less likely to fall because you can clip out both sides at the same time.) I have a burning sole problem with clipless on either bike, but I think this is from the fact that the riding shoes seem to run a bit too narrow for me.

    There is one situation where I prefer the toe clips over the bare pedals. On a high speed descent on a chattery rough road my feet move around on the pedals. This is where toe clips would make it feel more secure, but probably not enough to switch back.

    Sacramento, CA

  • Ian Camera says:

    Hi Alan-

    I suspect that you are correct on this front, as you are about many things. However, I would suggest for those of us riding ‘bents, clipless pedals still make sense, as our relationship to gravity is a bit different, and it isn’t helping us to keep our feet on our pedals. What do you think?

    Ian

  • Ant says:

    I made the switch last year as well when I decided to try biking for all of my transportation needs. It didn’t impact my rides around town at all with respect to time but made a ton of difference in terms of convenience. I haven’t dressed up to ride my bike in years so it was nice to get rid of the last obstruction to just jumping on the bike at a moments notice.

    I do have a set of power grips on one of the bikes to see how I like them. There are times (like rain/snow) when I’d like to have a little more secure connection to the pedals without compromising wearing shoes that are best for the conditions/occasions. So far they seem to work ok with both boots and sandals, which is more than I can say for any toe clips I’d used (having sz 13 shoes may impact that ), and are fairly convenient to use. Kept a little loose they also seem to offer enough room to move around front-to-back and side-to-side as well. Time will tell but they at least seem like they’ll be fine for the winter bike.

  • Alan says:

    @Ian

    Yup, I agree – most bents require some sort of foot restraint, be it clips, clipless, or PowerGrips. I rode my Tour Easy with platforms, but TEs have low bottom brackets in relation to their seats, so they’re almost like uprights in that regard.

  • Ant says:

    FWIW I also use platforms on my V-Rex and find a lot less instance of hot-foot/feet falling asleep/knee strain than I did clipless. I make sure to use a good wide grippy platform (like the mks touring pedal) and haven’t had any problems so far. Sadly I have experienced the joys of leg suck in an accident about a week into ownership with the stock Wellgo pedals but its not really something that worries me terribly at this point. I may also give power grips a shot in that application just to provide a little insurance without sacrificing the convenience.

    Ant

  • jamesmallon says:

    I still like the feel of clipless, whatever the true efficiency, and keep them on my pavement bikes. However, after falling down on ice once too often, I have gone to platforms for winter’s glazed Toronto streets. Studded platforms are what I’ll be putting on my new 29er, too. Sometimes, you just need to get your foot down.

  • Chandra says:

    Although, I have gone back and forth, a bit, on this, I have decided to stick to platform pedals. I have MKS Touring on my touring bike and something simple on my Commuter and Mountain bikes. I tried using the Power-Grips but I found taking my feet off those tricky as well. I don’t ride fast like some, however.

  • bongobike says:

    I have switched to MKS rat traps too on all my bikes except the ‘bent. As others have stated above, leg suck really sucks and it’s not something I want to experience. So my Vision will always have a pair of Crank Bros. Candy pedals (I love them, much better than SPDs!).

  • edde says:

    Clipless pedals (Frogs) on high BB recumbents make a significant difference when hill climbing, spinning and long distance riding for me (riding recumbents for 20 plus years, df bikes for over 50 years).

    Power Grips work fine on uprights and low BB recumbents. There is genuine pleasure riding with regular shoes.

    Studies show up-stroke power is 25% or less of down-stroke power. At my riding level, I need all the power I can get;-)

    edde

  • Jeff says:

    Great shot of the MKS Touring Pedals Alan. I have those on my Raleigh One Way and love the feel as well as the vintage look. I even bought the MKS wrenches which I probably dont need but they look cool in my Brooks Challenge tool bag.

  • Doug R. says:

    Great topic Alan! As usual! I just went through a stage of the “Clipless” trial, and I hate the entrapped feeling. My attorney is a lifelong biker and he suggested using “Speedplay clipless”
    instead of the others, however, I manage to get around pretty well with these $4.95 shorty toe clips from Nashbar. They allow a little more secure stroke and I can get my feet down for stoplights
    and such. Oh, and they have no Rattrap straps. I too remember riding my old Gitane ( I miss that bike) with full Rattraps, I thought I was so euro trash! Ha, Ha. My old mb-2 bridgestone still has the original traps on it, and I don’t seem to have the heart to take’m off. Then again, I don’t ride the old girl that much anymore.

    Keep the rubber on the ground old friend, keep this site up! Doug R.

  • cycledad says:

    huh i have three bikes with all three systems, no clips, clipless (shimano m324) and toe clips.

    The clipless are great for my birdy it just adds to the security and power off it. I can spin fast or descend on rough ground and my feet stay secure.

    The clips are best for all round movement, comfort and support on a long ride. Its noticeable that i can vary my peddling style to use different muscles with these.

    The no clips whatsoever are fine for commuting and best for convenience but i have actually damaged my knee trying to keep my feet on the pedals. There is effort involved in this and in the wet they are a bit scary. I tend to end up riding with the middle of my foot just for the security. I do like them but its the convenience i like not the efficiency or power delivery.

  • Ari Hornick says:

    I think foot loose is best for 99% of cyclists. I’m a weirdo though. I really do pedal 360 all the time when I use clipless pedals. I entertain myself on my commute by using one leg at a time to make sure it’s a smooth 360. When I use both legs at the same time my time saving is very noticeable (versus not pedaling 360). On the other hand, when I use platform pedals, I get the same increase in performance by arch pedaling. Now, if I had cleats under my arches, that would be the optimal scenario.

  • Roger says:

    Right on!, having a bike that I can jump on an ride no matter what I’m wearing is a key factor to getting out and riding more for me and it really ups the enjoyment. During a breif period this spring when I did not have such a bike, I missed it a lot.

    Granted, still love my MTB, and my road bike, but prep time on these always ends up being 15 minutes or so in costume change, water, tire checks etc.

    Roger in Vermont

  • Larey says:

    I’d like to offer a contrary opinion: I normally commute and run errands in street clothes, except for Shimano M075 shoes which are quite normal for walking around the super market. I’ve worn them to dentist appointments, it’s just no big deal. I normally put on shoes as I’m leaving the house and my cycling shoes sit by the door next to my tennis shoes and flip flops.

    I have two sided pedals on my utility bikes but I never use the flat side (unless it’s with flip-flops riding up and down the street). I do kit-up for road-rides and couldn’t imagine trying a big climb without clipping in, and I would hate for my foot to slip off a pedal on a 45mph descent. Riding clicked-in makes the interface between foot and pedal so secure that I’m not willing to give it up, even if I’m just riding to work or the store.

  • Bryan Willman says:

    Well, I’m a counterexample that sort of proves the point. (Like Larey I guess.)

    If I try to ride very far at all, or climb *at all*, in anything *other* than cleated stiff sole shoes, my feet hurt, or I slide off the pedals, or both.

    So I wear cycling shoes with deep cleats (time ATACs) that allow me to walk pretty well.

    I also sweat terribly, so riding more than, say, 100 yards, requires some sort of change of clothing regardless.

    But whatever works…

  • charles says:

    I’ve tried them all….. everything from old school slotted cleats and toe clips to clipless, including powergrips and I have settled on no retention style, BMX cage or pin pedals with a large surface area to prevent sore feet. That is what keeps the psi down on your feet doing away with the need for uber stiff soles. In 14,000 miles over the last few years I have not had my feet slip off even at 125 rpm when riding my single speed. I even ride with Grants favorite Teva sandal made for slippery rocks in streams etc. These sandals allow my toes room and the Velcro straps allow room for wide or swollen feet. I don’t get numb feet or toes anymore nor do I get sore feet on the contact areas and that is because the pedal surface is so large on the pedals I use. I use Crank Brothers 50/50 pin pedals and the inexpensive Redline cage or Bear Trap style as some call them. I like to describe the comfort as the difference between riding on the edge of a knife as opposed to riding on a 4×4 inch flat piece of aluminum with little grippy pins to hold you feet on. I’m hardcore no retention these days and I often laugh at the power claims some try to explain they get by using retention systems. I’ve done my own tests over several years and I don’t see a significant difference. About the only use for clipless that I can see is for high bottom bracket recumbents. I own a Rans V2 as well as several uprights so I am familiar with the differences. Unless someone is paying me to ride I don’t see the need to ride clipless and save maybe a few seconds every ten miles.

  • kevin E says:

    I have used ‘bear trap’ style pedals for years now. I ride year round and these work with my snow boots even. I am talking about the big platform with the pointy screws that you can change out. Don’t ask what my shins look like from the pedal strikes though.
    peace
    kev

  • bicycletim says:

    No idea what all the fuss is about if you are a ‘serious cyclist’ then your ‘normal’ shoes ARE your cycling shoes!

    I don’t care what the stats say, I most definitely pull up and quite hard too especially in instances where a bit of power or acceleration is required, pulling away from the lights or cresting a little rise. Whenever I use toe clips I really have to concentrate in not pulling back and up, as soon as my mind wonders I pull my feet backwards from the clips.

  • greenobike says:

    I started using bmx platforms on my bikes back in the 1980s. In the ice and snow, some type of retention mechanism – aggressive pins or clips and straps – is helpful in keeping the feet from slipping off the pedals.

  • Dottie says:

    I only use platforms. In the city I have to put my foot down quickly so often, straps would be a disaster waiting to happen. My husband has the ones shown in your picture, but I can’t use those anymore – they always scratch the shit out of my ankles and calves. Dangerous teeth!

  • Jeff says:

    I like clipless for road riding and platforms or toe clips for utilitarian cycling. Like Larey and Bryan, I have clipless pedals on my road bike and can’t imagine riding platforms or even toe clips for long road rides. I kit up for road rides so pulling on a cycling shoe is no bid deal, and I truly feel more efficient clipped in. However, I have platforms and toes clips on my commuter/errand bike and single speed, respectively, both of which I almost exclusively ride around town and rarely farther than 10 miles. I ride these bikes in whatever shoe I have on, except flip-flops, and I wouldn’t consider riding either of these bikes with clipless pedals.

    – Jeff

  • Simon N says:

    I use SPD clipless for commuting simply because in the wet platforms can be a bit precarious – especially out of the saddle (I’ve had a couple of top-tube to groin experiences to back this up).

    But you’re right, no real advantage for leisurely riding. Platforms are dandy. :)

  • Dean says:

    I ride with both. I definitely feel that I generate more power and more smoothly with clipless. I use platforms on my commuter and touring bikes.
    I have found that SPD cleats are not bad to walk in should the necessity arise, and my mountain bike shoes while not the height of style don’t look out of place in a shop or restaurant.
    I read the article looking for a reference to the scientific study that found that no one pulls up on the backstroke, I could not find it.

    Dean

  • Alan says:

    @Dean

    I’ve seen the study but I couldn’t find it. If I locate it, I’ll post a link here.

    Alan

  • Alan says:

    Here’s a reference to the same concept from “Bicycling Medicine” by Arnie Baker:

    Bicycling Medicine

    Unfortunately, the bibliography isn’t re-produced in the above, so I couldn’t access the source.

  • Alan says:

    OK, I hit the Motherlode:

    Effects of pedal type and pull-up action during cycling. International journal of sports medicine 2008;29(10):817-22.

  • Bob Baxter says:

    Using clipless on my tadpole trike is a no brainer, leg suck sucks. On my Rans Stratus it allows me to pull back on the clipped in pedal and keep momentum going until I get the other foot clipped in. On long rides (50 or 60 miles on my upright tourer) I’m getting foot cramps and I’m thinking seriously about going to rat traps or some other type on non-slip platform pedal. I have two other uprights, that I use around town, with platform pedals. My biggest problem with platform pedals is with foot slippage in the wet.

    Bob

  • EdL says:

    I used to use clipless Look-style pedals on my rode bikes and platforms with clips and straps on my commuter/utility bikes. About two years ago I switched everything over to clipless SPD – I never particularly liked cages/straps, but I also wanted walking convenience when off the bike. I feel much more confident and secure clipped in, and actually miss the stable feeling of wide Look platform, but, like Alan says, a little loss of stability is worth not having to duck-walk around the CVS.

    My road bike continues to have strictly clipless pedals, but about a year ago, I discovered the Shimano PD-M324 Pedals, which are clipless SPDs on one side and a nice, toothed platform on the other. I find this to be the perfect commuter/utility pedal as it allows me to use cycle-specific shoes for my commute or longer rides, but also provides a nice platform for short rides or for when I am going to be doing more walking than riding.

    I am willing to believe that there is actually little true power advantage gained from the upstroke while clipped in – although, like bicycletim, I do often find myself actively pulling up on the pedal when sprinting or climbing. But I also know that, if I am looking for time, being clipped in is the only way to go. This is probably more about feeling more confident and therefore riding more aggressively, but, for me, clipped in is definitely faster.

  • doc says:

    I started using MKS Lambda Grip Kings earlier this year. Love the convenience of platforms and the arch support provided by a longer surface area. Definitely more comfortable and no problem on longer day rides.

  • bongobike says:

    Some “platform” pedal/shoe combinations can be pretty hazardous to your health. I quickly found out that smooth leather soles on rubber-block pedals make for a slick combo, when, as a 10-year-old, I fell riding a bike with that particular kind of pedals while wearing penny loafers. I think the safest combination of regular pedals and shoes is rubber soles on toothed pedals, like the MKS rat traps illustrated here, the grip kings, or any of those that have screwed-in studs.

  • Dan says:

    I read Grant’s article and thought it sounded like a good ideal so I bought some Grip Kings to try. I liked them at first but I started to get knee pain. I kept using them for about 1000 miles before deciding to try my clippless pedals again to see if the knee pain was coming from the pedals or not. The knee pain disappeared when I went back to the clippless pedals. So for me anyway, the platforms are not worth the knee pain.

  • Alan says:

    @Dan

    That’s interesting. I had just the opposite experience: clipless = more knee issues, platforms = fewer knee issues. I guess it goes to show that everyone is different. One thing I have to watch our for with platforms is the tendency to pedal lower cadences. That in itself can cause knee issues. It took me a good part of a year to learn how to spin higher RPMs with platforms.

  • Stephen says:

    MKS Touring platforms for city riding in my black dress shoes, and MKS racing platforms with old-fashioned toe clips (leather straps, natch) on the weekends for this retrogrouch.

    I still like stiff cycling shoes for long-distance rides, and I’d really like to have a pair of those lovely black French touring shoes. Petersen may pooh-pooh them, but they are stylin’.

    I rode to the likker store on a wine run on my city bike wearing flip-flops the other evening, and that was kind of uncomfortable. My arches like a bit more support, and I was worried my toes were going to slip and get caught between the chain and the sprocket.

  • Roland Smith says:

    I’ve been riding short wheelbase ‘bents for over a decade now (Optima Condor and Challenge Hurricane). I ‘ve always been comfortable with platform pedals and never had a foot slip off the pedal. An open metal pedal like the one shown above combined with the profile on the soles of my shoes has been sufficient to prevent that. Having said that, I wouldn’t use rubber coated pedals with leather soles, especially in the wet. That would be a good recipe for disaster.

    Good job on locating the report abstract, Alan. I’ve been looking for confirmation ever since I read “the shoe ruse”.

    As a commuter, efficiency isn’t on top of my list. I keep the tyre pressure up and take care of chain, to prevent the feeling I’m dragging a boat anchor. But otherwise I should just be able to grab my bike and go wearing my normal clothes. No funny shoes, stretchy pants, helmets or dayglow yellow jackets necessary.

  • david p. says:

    despite compelling arguments made by alan, grant, and others whom i respect.

    i still prefer clipless. no one has mentioned the wear that bicycling takes on normal shoes. i rode clips for two years, and the pedals really beat your nice shoes. you could have a regular pair of shoes you ride in, but then that’s essentially the same thing as clipless shoes.

    i’ve found that there are a variety of attractive, mtb shoes out there that allow you to walk, comfortably off your bike. i like that clipless allows me to beat up just one pair of shoes. it is quite simple to leave a pair of shoes at your work, for commuting purposes.

    additionally, when it comes to errands or going out – i like the way my cycling shoes look. i think they send a subtle message that i’m a bike minded folk, and that that’s ok.

    this is not to say that platform pedals and normal shoes are inferior when it comes to running errands, but for commuting i think clipless is by far the best way to go. lots of comfort, prevents unnecessary streetgrime/wear from your normal shoes.

  • Dween says:

    Those pedals in the picture would not be ideal for my favorite summer biking style: barefoot.

  • Marty says:

    I have been using my Odyssey, pedals since I got bent in 99. Clipping in and out never worked for me. I got numb foot and could never find a comfortable pair of cycling shoes. The best clippless pedals I could find was Look with it’s large platform, unfortunatley, you had to walk like a duck. I have used my Odyssey pedals on all my bikes including LWB, SWB, Trike and Fuji. They have a wide platform, with extreme gripping ability and cost effective.
    I like to ride with what I have on and not have to change into cycling specific clothes to make a short ride.
    Sometimes I just get so amazed that after 4 days off from work, my car has not moved.
    KEEP RIDING!!!!!
    Marty

  • Mark K says:

    It’s a hard sell for me to ride without clips/straps. I just prefer it. I do, however, despise the current crop of cycling shoes. When I’m out for a longer ride, or a faster paced fitness ride, I prefer the cycling shoes. Maybe it psychological, but it feels right. I’m still nursing along a pair of Beta Bikers I bought in ’86 for something like $20. I may cry when those finally give up the ghost.

    When I’m running errands, going on a leisurely ride to the farmer’s market or what have you, it’s street shoes all the way! I’ve even been known to slide my dress shoes into the cips to get somewhere…

    Mark K. | http://gettinaroundpnw.blogspot.com

  • Dean says:

    Alan says:

    OK, I hit the Motherlode:

    Effects of pedal type and pull-up action during cycling. International journal of sports medicine 2008;29(10):817-22.

    Thanks Alan. This is interesting. When feedback is present (the normal situation if I understand correctly) then clipless increased “effectiveness” by up to 86% and reduced mechanical “efficiency” by up to 9%. What it doesn’t mention is that by engaging more and different muscles you should concievably be able to pedal longer and further before tiring.

    Dean

  • astarok says:

    Another vote here for clipless pedals with a high bottom bracket recumbent. I have two sided pedals so I can go platform on occasion but mostly I stay clipped. I bike most of the time in MTB type sandals which are perfectly reasonable off the bike. It is a pain to keep a pair of dress shoes at work but… Oh well. On long rides I occasionally unclip so I can move my feet around a bit but I always get tired of my feet slipping around and clip back in. What you are used to I guess.

  • beth h says:

    I tried clipless pedals more than once and discovered that my unorthodox pedaling style required more float than ANY clipless pedal could give me. (Except maybe the Speedplay Frog, but by the time I got enough float my foot had slipped off the pedal. Not good.) I gave up on clipless fifteen years ago and haven’t looked back.

    My brevet/long distance road bike still uses a platform pedal (MKS GR-9) with a toeclip and strap, and I wear an older model of touring show with the SPD holes left covered. However, I ride this bike less and less and may ultimately decide to either sell it or swap it over to flat pedals to see if that will make me want to ride it more.

    But my other three bikes — including the mountain bike I’m currently racing short-track xc on — use big, flat, BMX pedals. For city riding I use an older model of Shimano BMX pedal. For racing I’m using the Crank Bros. 5050’s with pins loaded into every hole, and I wear thick-soled Vans. Grippy as all get-out, and my knees don’t ache after a race:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bethness/3450324861/

  • brad says:

    I’ve been using clips and straps on my touring bikes since the late 1980s, but a couple of weeks ago I went on a 300-mile loaded tour with no clips, no straps, and plain old sneakers. It was fine; I sensed no difference in pedaling power, my feet never slipped off the pedals, and I never got numb feet (which I did sometimes get with the clips and straps). I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

  • doug says:

    After some tens of thousands of miles with sneakers and clipsnstraps, including thousand mile tours and many eight hour days, can’t say I feel any particular need to go out and spend money on new pedals and shoes. I would probably ditch the straps, except for all the rain I ride through in the NW. The biggest problem I experience is indeed the tendency of normal shoes to be utterly destroyed by regular bike riding. Shredded soles and holes in the upper start happening after about four months. I’ve always been very, very hard on shoes, though so I don’t think anything of it.

    Some questions

    1. Is there a brand of bike shoes that cater specifically to wider feet than normal? Note that extra wide shoes are not really wide enough for my hobbit feet. Does anybody at all make triple extra wide bike shoes?

    2. Has anyone had maintenance difficulties with the non-drive side MKS touring pedal? I’ve used two sets and both repeatedly develop horrible creaking, requiring cleaning and re-greasing twice each winter, as well as once in the summer. Both drive side pedals have never required re-greasing at all after several years. (As a result, I bought a set of MKS Tour Lites, which are, ahem, expensive!)

  • Alan says:

    @Doug

    1. You might look at Keen sandals – they’re nice and wide. I’m referring to their standard hiking sandal, not their bike-specific sandal which is narrower. Both make great riding shoes though.

    2. I haven’t run into your issue, though I don’t ride in the rain much. I wonder why only the non-drive side pedal? Are you left-footed by chance?

    Alan

  • Chandra says:

    I agree with Alan on the regular Keen sandals. They are nice and wide. I have found them somewhat slippery when walking on muddy paths, sometimes. It could be because my pair is about 3-4 years old (or something like that).

    I find the Keen Commuter sandals somewhat narrow, which in my unlearned opinion, I have associate slight numbness in my feet (after 50+ miles or so) to their constrictive nature.

    What is the drive side? I use MKS Touring pedals. They are about 500-1000 miles old and they do not creak (may be not just yet?).

    Peace,
    -Chandra…

  • doug says:

    Chandra, drive side/non-drive side just refers to the right/left sides of the bike, respectively. I was going to use “left,” but couldn’t figure out a way to say it without it sounding awkward. Instead, I sounded like a needleheaded bike dork. What’s worse, I wonder?

    Alan — not sure which is my stronger foot. I almost always use my left leg to start out from a stop, which means something, probably. I read somewhere of other people having trouble with the left pedal — and something about them leaving the factory ungreased. This doesn’t explain why they resume creaking so soon (most likely I am not doing an A+ job with the repack, to be honest).

  • TD says:

    I have never ridden clipless, but I do use toe clips and straps on a couple of bikes. This is mainly because I live in a VERY hilly area. On my commuter bike, I have to climb a hill so long and steep that if I didn’t have some kind of foot retention I think I would kill myself. That being said, my city bike just has some MKS touring pedals with no clips. My point being, different situations call for different set ups, and I don’t understand either side of the debate. I think my way is what the Buddhists call the “middle way” or something to that effect ;).

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  • Doug P says:

    This is a very late comment, but an idea I don’t believe was addressed is that- when STANDING clipped in and pedaling one can pull up very forcefully at low RPMs. For riders like myself who stand often, this makes a difference. That having been said, once I forgot my cycling shoes, and rode my fav MBT loop in my Tevas. I felt I rode just as fast, but differently. The disadvantages of not being clipped in were offset by the ability to easily slide off the pedals for balance in turns.

 
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