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How many grumpy old retro's DON"T use clipless pedals? Why?(17 posts)

How many grumpy old retro's DON"T use clipless pedals? Why?treeman
Dec 12, 2002 9:58 AM
Just wondering if everyone has bought in to the idea that you have to cycle with all of the latest/greatest accessories to be part of the "in crowd".

I just can't believe how many expensive options there are nowadays for shoes/pedals/cleats.
Toe clips on two bikes, Power Grips on one...cory
Dec 12, 2002 10:27 AM
...and two pairs of clipless pedals in the parts bin.
I've tried Looks and SPDs, and while I don't hate 'em, they didn't really offer any advantages for most of the riding I do. I was happy with toe clips, and I have a large investment in shoes (I wear size 15s, which aren't that easy to find, and for awhile I bought a pair or two whenever I saw them, just in case).
I switch back and forth sometimes, but by far the majority of my riding is with clips and mountain bike shoes without cleats. Works fine on the bike, and I can walk around without feeling like a duck.
This grumpy old retro ...Humma Hah
Dec 12, 2002 12:12 PM
... doesn't yet. The fixie project may very well change that.

I've always been a platform user. I have no idea what you roadies are raving about when you look down at my platforms and can't understand how I can possibly do more to ride to the corner store with 'em. I'll admit to anyone who asks that I've never managed to ride more than 152 miles in a day on the things, and they turn kinda pale. Folks interested in being "in" don't road-ride three-decade-old cruisers on epic rides.

Modern platforms work great, and if you wanna see how well feet stick on 'em, watch the Gravity Games. All that airborn stunt stuff is done on BMX platforms like mine. You all claim to lift with your clipless pedals, but I'm absolutely sure most of you don't, and the few that do are not getting more than a 15% leg power increase, which is not meaningful if your limits are cardiovascular. Lack of leg power is NOT a singlespeeder's problem.

For the fixie, I've bought both traditional toe-clips and a set of Looks that have toe clips with Look cleats and pedals. I picked 'em up used, about $10 a set, so there's little risk. I'll give 'em a try.

I have used toe clips in the past, both on track bikes and road bikes, so I feel safe in saying they really don't give me much advantage on a singlespeed. I have NEVER used clipless, and there's a very simple reason why: nobody ever offered to lend me their shoes. I've never been so interested in clipless that I was willing to lay out a small fortune on a set of shoes and pedals to try 'em myself. The toe-clip Looks are a way around that problem, and I expect to try them soon.
What are "toe clip LOOKS" ? Different than clipless? nmtreeman
Dec 12, 2002 12:22 PM
Instead of putting cleats on a pair of shoes ...Humma Hah
Dec 12, 2002 12:58 PM
... they stuck cleats on a pair of toe clips. You strap the toe-clips on any old pair of shoes, then click into a set of Look pedals.

Its the worst of both worlds, but, for ten bucks, a cheap way for me to try out clipless.
Good sometimes, not so good at othersCalvin
Dec 12, 2002 3:21 PM
I've got cliplless on some bikes, but not all. There are times when your riding clothes are the clothes you are wearing. Sometimes you just want to jump on the thing and go some place.
re: How many grumpy old retro's DON"T use clipless pedals? Why?desmo
Dec 12, 2002 5:19 PM
I keep a pair of rat-traps on my beater fixie that only gets ridden into town to pick up the mail and store runs etc. For real riding IMO, modern is the way to go. My '73 Italvega which is almost completely original in all other respects wears Campy Pro-Fits. Reason 1: Float. Rat-traps with cleats = no float. Rat-traps without cleats, well to me that just ain't the way. Reason 2: The shoes. Modern shoes are just much more comfortable, stiffer, and warmer than the old wafer thin jobs. Granted the style factor of my old Maresi's with Italia tri-color stripe and giant "M" is out of this world, but draped over the handlebars of a parked bike is where they now live. Not having the cage dig into the top of your foot, not having to strap and unstrap, not having to tie (and re-tie) laces, and lighter pedals, are all a plus as well.
While were on the subject of toe clips...Lone Gunman
Dec 12, 2002 5:52 PM
I began using toe clips a long time ago and switched to clipless about 10 years ago, and since being bitten by the retro bug this year tried using my toe clips on my chrome SS on it's maiden 30 mile voyage. I wore old bike shoes with stiff plastic soles and cinched the straps tight so my feet would not slip around. This was not comfotable. First my toes contacting the clips hurt and cinching the clips tight caused discomfort in my foot. Is there a brand of toe clips that do not cause this/these problems? My 2 sets of clips are Ale and Shimano Exage. Do you bend the clips to mold around the front of your shoes or buy the clips with the leather sewn on them to prevent the toe pinch problems? Never used the cleats on shoes for the clips either, those things really scared me.
While were on the subject of toe clips...M_Currie
Dec 13, 2002 7:35 AM
Scary or not, cleats will solve most of your clip discomfort problems, because you won't have to cinch then so tight. You also won't need to have the clips so tight to the toe of the shoe. Clips come (came?) in several sizes to accommodate different shoe sizes, and perhaps you just have a size too small. With cleats you can choose just how tight to keep them, and even a little loose they won't pull out accidentally, but will still allow you to yank a foot out in an emergency. Then as you get used to them you can ride tighter. If you have access to extra cleats, you might also try grinding down a set so they're shallower. You'll get some of the benefit but be able to pull out more easily. Or try, if you can still find them, "touring" shoes, which have a groove in the cleat position that allows just a little grip. Avocet used to make some nice ones of these.
re: How many grumpy old retro's DON"T use clipless pedals? Why?Andy M-S
Dec 12, 2002 6:27 PM
Given the choice, I'll never use toeclips again.

When I bought my pre-owned RB2 recently, it came with clips and straps, and I ordered a pair of NOS Ultegra SPD's for it. Until the SPDs arrived, I rode it with the clips and straps.

I cannot believe I once finished a century that way!

On a scale of real cycling improvements, I would rate clipless above 8+ speeds and indexed and integrated shifting.
re: How many grumpy old retro's DON"T use clipless pedals?Galligruppo
Dec 13, 2002 6:25 AM
I only switched to clipless pedals 3 years ago. I think they are superior to toe clips and straps and my modern bikes are clipless. Nevertheless, when I take my late '70s Peugeot PX10 out for the local "vintage" rides, I use toe clips, straps and cleated Vittoria shoes. I have no problem switching back and forth between clips and clipless so there are no "technique" issues involved.

What about Retro Clipless?M_Currie
Dec 13, 2002 7:19 AM
For my road bike I use clips and cleats for the simple reason that the pedals in question are these beautiful Campy Chorus things that will obviously last forever and never need any mantenance, and the shoes are comfortable, so why replace? Basically, I'm just too cheap to buy new until the shoes rot off. I figure at that point, I may be ready for a new bike too. But that's a different story.

But on my "mountain" bike, which is really a dirt-road cruiser, I have a set of Cyclebinding clipless pedals. Since they went out of business about 15 years ago, I figure they're properly retro. Yes, I know that they have a reputation for snapping off unexpectedly, but I'm taking my chances. They work very nicely, and you can walk in the shoes.
Where can I buy slotted cleats? And.............treeman
Dec 13, 2002 9:24 AM
Why doesn't someone develop a GOOD "in between" shoe - not a hard plastic road shoe and not a deep lugged mtb shoe?
Where can I buy slotted cleats? And.............M_Currie
Dec 13, 2002 10:18 PM
I would expect any bike shop that's been around a long time ought to have some cleats hidden away somewhere. As for in-between shoes, they used to be easy to find, but I don't know who makes them now. Cannondale made a flat-soled touring shoe, and Avocet had one with ridges that acted as a pseudo-cleat. I've occasionally seen these shoes on closeout at shops. It might be worthwhile going to every established shop you can find and seeing what they have in some dusty corner.
re: How many grumpy old retro's DON"T use clipless pedals? Why?xxl
Dec 13, 2002 2:21 PM
I agree with those who use clipless setups; it really is a better way to go. I fought the conversion for years, based on economics, but I have to admit that I don't have nearly the foot discomforts I'd get during the days of feetbelts.

Now, STI, that's bs.
It's all coming back to me now . . .micha
Dec 13, 2002 3:38 PM
Toe clips and straps were not an on-off system, like clipless systems are. With the strap, you dialed in your degree of connection to the bike You left it completely loose rolling through town. Riding in a group, you'd tighten the straps just a bit more. Just before a sprint, you'd tighten the strap until your feet screamed. (You also gave away your intentions by doing that.) In a race, riders constantly would stop pedaling for an instant, reach down to the strap lightning-fast to get it tightened just right. They even sold little plastic screw-on strap ends ("goof balls") that allowed you yank at the strap end while you were pedaling.

Because the strap took all the pulling and shearing forces, the shoes could be kept light and airy. In clipless systems, the shoe itself takes all the forces. It has to be much more substantial, making it heavier.

The toe clip wasn't designed to hold the foot on the pedal. It's only function was to keep the strap open and in its place. Conventional wisdom said (rightly so) that you want a 2mm gap between your shoe tip and the toe clip. You got that gap by proper cleat adjustment, buying the right size toe clip, bending the toe clip creatively, or putting some washers between the toe clip and the pedal cage at the two fixing screws to move the toe clip further out.

Non-riders would always look at your clips and say "what if you crash?" I suppose the thought was that one could avoid crashs by sticking your foot into the asphalt. Some riders would explain that toe clips allowed them to "pull up" on the pedal, which no one ever did, or does now.

Well, all this and more was said in previous posts. But it was fun to think back a few years. I ride clipless now. some months ago, a (very) young rider rolled up next to me, grinned and said "hey old man, shouldn't you be riding with toe clips?" Ha ha I love this sport.
different bikes, different pedalsRay Sachs
Dec 14, 2002 10:17 AM
I really like clipless, but I'm not addicted to them. On my two "go fast" (the bikes, not me) road bikes, I have Looks. On my off-road bike, fixed gear, and commuter I have SPDs (or SPDs backed by a platform on the other side), but I don't like the feel of SPDs (or ATACS or Frogs or anything else with a small cleat/pedal interface) for long rides. No need to suggest your favorite here, I've tried them ALL!

So on my touring / wandering around / long ride bike I have platform pedals with clips and straps. I've done seven straight days of 70+ mile rides with these and never had a problem with 'em. They don't feel quite as efficient when I'm really going hard, like on a short steep climb, but not enough to matter and I'm not doing much of that on those kinds of rides anyway. With the platform pedals, I effectively have as much "float" as with my Looks. And I can walk around off the bike without duckwalking or changing shoes. If I could stand SPDs for long rides, I'd probably have those on everything for the convenience, but I really like the feel of a larger platform on longer rides, which both Looks and the clip 'n strap pedals have.