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Clipless + Crash = ????(18 posts)

Clipless + Crash = ????Aztecs
Aug 17, 2001 8:44 AM
Just curious. What happens when you crash while using clipless pedals? Seems that you could end up getting twisted up pretty badly. Is the risk the same whether you use non-clipless pedals? I have recently switched to clipless (thankfully I have not crashed yet).
re: Clipless + Crash = ????PegLeg
Aug 17, 2001 8:53 AM
I migrated from toe clips to clipless early this season. I tipped over twice coming in for stops because I was not used to unclipping. This was in the first couple of weeks. Now I am fine.

I crashed 1 time this year. To close in a paceline and my tire bumped the rider ahead of me and down I went. My right foot unclipped sometime in the process. I do not remember trying to specifically unclip it but I might have. My left leg did not unclip. Of course this was not a major crash. I ended up on my right side still on the bike for the most part.

In a really bad crash I figure that either the shoe/cleat is going to unclip due to the forces or you foot is going to come out of the shoe leaving it behind still attached to the pedal.
Aug 17, 2001 8:56 AM
Hopefully Clipless + Crash = Release.

That's what's supposed to happen. If you have them set too tight (not likely) they may not release quick enough. And there are probably some extremely rare situations where they can't release, but 99.9% of the time, they will release.

Do you ski? Ski bindings are essentially the same thing.

Practice clicking out until you can do it easily. Eventually it will become natural, and you'll never worry about it again.
re: Clipless + Crash = ????Trent in WA
Aug 17, 2001 8:57 AM
I had a few gravity-assisted rapid dismounts (GARDs) while learning how to use mine in a parking lot, plus one actual if low-grade crash while on a ride. In one of the parking-lot flopovers, I rode the bike down and wound up laying on the ground, still clipped in. Some of my mountain-biking friends have had that experience with low-speed wrecks on trails. The other time I flopped over and the time that I wrecked, both of my feet spontaneously unclipped--and I'm using Time road pedals, which keep your feet more reliably clipped in than pretty much anything else.

It's my understanding that (a) a "typical" bike wreck will generate sufficient lateral forces to make you unclip automatically, and (b) the real worse-case scenario involves unclipping only one leg. I think that does happen occasionally, but rarely, especially since most newer pedal designs allow you to unclip by rotating your heel inward as well as outward.

BTW, what clipless system did you choose? While I like the Time road pedals in a lot of ways, I'm switching to Speedplay X-3s as soon as I can scrape up the money.

Hope this helps,
Not a worrygrzy mnky
Aug 17, 2001 8:58 AM
Normally it's not a worry, but it does depend on the pedal system, the tension, and the nature of the crash. Fall doing a track stand at a light and you may not come out. Go down at 20+ mph and you will probably come out. Ultimately it's a lot better than the old toe clips and cleat systems that we used to use. Those things were deadly. It's even more noticable in the MTB world.

I've crashed at speed in SPD, Look, and Campy systems under a variety of conditions and the pedals were never and issue. I prefer the Campy system since they have a wider operating envelope and if you go down hard enough it's just like an excellent pair of ski bindings - you'll never even feel the release.
Better with clipless but try to keep the rubber side down.MB1
Aug 17, 2001 8:58 AM
You will often release before impact if your retention is not set too tight. If you were using clips and straps clipless is much easier to exit from while falling. If you were just using platform pedals without any retention devices you will have much more control with clipless and may survive some dicey moments that you would not without retention.

Best not to crash.
re: Clipless + Crash = ????jtolleson
Aug 17, 2001 8:59 AM
First, the perceived benefit of coming out of the pedals is highly overrated. I unclipped (apparently, not that I have any memory) during a crash (front tire blowout on highspeed descent, about as bad as it gets) and stiff legged it into the pavement. Three years, three surgeries, a total of nearly 30 weeks on crutches, and a fused ankle later, I know I'd have been better off if I'd stayed clipped in and rolled with the bike. It is like all the broken wrists that come from instinctively putting an arm out on the way down. I'm not convinced that riding the bike to the ground is inherently more injurious than any other method of being turned into a grease spot.

Secondly, of everyone I know that has crashed, they've all separated from their bikes (unclipped). I don't know if it is the force of the crash or instinct. And if you use toestraps properly (well-cinched over a stiff shoe) the risk of staying connected to the pedal is every bit as great.
Argh, that wreck & aftermath sound awful. R U OK now? (nm)RhodyRider
Aug 17, 2001 10:15 AM
Thanks, Rhody.jtolleson
Aug 17, 2001 11:09 AM
Guess it depends how you define OK. My riding form is back, but I walk with a limp and can't tolerate impact (I used to run). Also, since the foot has lost its range of motion, I'm like a tippy-toddler walking down steep downhills.

Definitely a life changing crappy deal! But I got a new bike out of it (cracked my old Cannondale R900)
re: Clipless + Crash = ????Aristotle
Aug 17, 2001 9:11 AM
I have Speedplays. I had a crash at about 25mph last month. As I started to go down, I unclipped my right, but the left stayed in. I would have preferred if I could have got the left out so I could have had the option of rolling/tumbling, but no dice. I was lucky -- only road rash, but no broken bones or twisted ankles.
Thats a question that a mtn biker would never ask...Bruno S
Aug 17, 2001 9:14 AM
What happens? They just release. I have gone down many times on my mtb bike and they always release. If you go down at a stop light because you could not release in time you may have a little touble to release them because you have the bike over you and its difficult to move. Not that it ever happend to me but I have seen it happen a few times.
re: Clipless + Crash = ????Rich Clark
Aug 17, 2001 9:36 AM
I'm probably atypical here since I use MTP-style SPD's on a road bike, but I've never had even a hint of an unclipping problem. The one crash I've had since adopting them -- a drunken pedestrian, at night, who decided to "walk into the light" (my NiteRider) -- I was out of the pedals without even thinking about it. Same story in other tight situations, like getting squeezed into a curb by an inattentive driver -- my curbside foot was out and ready to catch me instantly.

With SPD's anyway, if your release tension is properly adjusted and you haven't left too much sole too close to the cleats, emergency release should never be a problem.

Greater float + crash = No ReleaseLC
Aug 17, 2001 9:45 AM
I tried different pedals on a old bike and crashed on purpose on some grass. I found that large float pedals tend not to release as well as the ones that had 4% or less float.
re: Clipless + Crash = ????Andy M-S
Aug 17, 2001 10:09 AM
Just a few weeks after I put clipless on my bike, I had a high-speed run-in with a car (I was heading downhill through a green light at 27 MPH, and he made an illegal left in front of me). I struck the car at the rear wheel, my pedals released and I went over the trunk. I broken rib and some bruises, no road rash. Bike was toast.

I hate to think what would have happened if I had been death-lashed into my toe-strap equipped platform pedals. I expect I would have (at a minumum) made a face-shaped dent in the car's trunk lid, and might have ended up with fractures all up and down my legs.

Clipless rules.

And his insurance paid.
re: Clipless + Crash = ????Stickers
Aug 17, 2001 10:34 AM
Mine have released me from the ride. It's the silly feeling, as those near, look. Ya gotta laugh at yourself, be glad only pride is hurt.
re: Clipless + Crash = ????Chen2
Aug 17, 2001 11:31 AM
It was in the Spring of my first year with clipless pedals, decided to participate in a big organized ride with about 400 of my closest friends. I decided to ride my bike over to the registration tent through heavy bike and pedestrian traffic. Right in front of the registration table I released my right foot but leaned left. I slowly rolled over and wound up with the bike sticking straight up in the air. I could feel hundreds of eyes looking at me. When I finally got up there was an old guy (like me) sitting on the curb and he said softly, "It happens to everyone".
re: Clipless + Crash = ????Nickthedart
Aug 18, 2001 6:08 AM
those low speeds crashes where you don't unclip are called Captain's Crashes, because you go down with the ship.
My CrashDCP
Aug 17, 2001 2:47 PM
Happy I've had only one road bike crash but I do think my pedal caused me to hurt my knee. I was riding slowly waiting for someone to catch up. He started riding faster and caught up just as I turned to look for him. I discovered that riding slowly and looking backwards while not changing directions is not something I do well. I hit his rear wheel and quickly went down. Not a big crash because I was slow. Both pedals (SPD) released (not that I had time to consciously cause them to release), but I hyperextended my knee on the outside in the fall. Off the bike for a couple of weeks, but otherwise OK. I would not have hurt my knee with clips, but there is too much benefit to clipless to give them up.