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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    371

    Angry Giving up on SPDs

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    I'm giving up on clipless (SPD) pedals and going back to toe clips. Trying to go clipless has totally zapped my riding confidence. I'm having a horrible time clipping in and can't unclip for an emergency. I've had two notable incidents related to clipless pedals:

    Last summer I stopped to rest part way up a steep grade. It is so steep that getting started requires turning crosswise across the trail. I clipped in my lead foot, pushed off to continue riding, but was unable to instantly clip in my second foot. That meant I couldn't move my weight forward which meant my CG was behind the rear wheel. Thus my front wheel lifted and I almost did a backwards endo down a 30% grade (or over a cliff). Luckily, mid-endo I tipped over toward the uphill side. With toe clips this incident would not have happened.

    Two weeks ago I was riding a path on a roadway that washed out decades ago. The "line" through one spot is only 3 or 4 inches wide. To the right, broken asphalt forms a curb, and to the left there's a pit. My front wheel bounced off the curb and dropped out from under me into the pit. Forward motion stopped and I started tipping to my right. Unfortunately, the right pedal and my heal were on the ground. Because I was already tipping over, I was unable to turn my heal out to unclip. I could do nothing but yell expletives as I fell over. With toe clips, I'd have been able to get a foot on the ground, and probably muscled the front wheel back on route without even stopping.

    Clipping in has been a continuing problem. Often in urban riding, half a city block after a stop sign or light, I'll still be stomping, wiggling, and sliding a foot around trying to find just the right spot to clip in. This is not safe because it means I'm not watching out for traffic. Unclipping in normal conditions works just fine. I can ride up to a stop sign, come to a complete stop, and then unclip. However, it seems I'm unable to unclip for an emergency.

    Looking back, my riding confidence is seriously hurt. I used to sometimes enjoy popping a wheelie going uphill leaving my driveway. Now I walk the bike up to the road. I figure there's a 95% chance of not clipping in the second foot, and thus a 100% chance of stopping, and then a 50% chance of falling towards the clipped in side. I've also started walking my bike around various trail obstacles.

    After the second incident above, my emotions bounced between anger and crying. This was the last straw and hence I'm giving up on SPDs. I feel ripped off and conned by the bicycle industry. They portray clipless pedals as a superior replacement for toe clips. Shimano doesn't even make a two sided pedal compatible with toe clips. Four pairs of shoes, three sets of pedals, and an expensive tool to fix the pedals - and I find they don't work for my style of riding. (OK, two pairs were clearance sale shoes and one shoe/pedal combo is for an indoor trainer so the lost investment isn't all that big.)


    So - are there any good premium platform (rat cage style) pedals compatible with toe clips? Cheap department store bike type pedals probably won't survive my riding. I notice that WTB's "Momentum" pedals are listed as being toe clip compatible. Is anyone here familiar with them?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    123
    DId you practice?

    I always tell people to put your bike in the house - preferably in front of the tv in a doorway so you can hold yourself up and just clip in....clip out....clip in....clip out. It's about muscle memory!

    And SPDs can be adjusted so the tension is really loose. I wouldn't give up - in the long run, they're much safer than toe clips.

    Of course you could always try a frog or a time which have no tension.......

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    371
    Quote Originally Posted by MtnBikerChk View Post
    DId you practice?
    I've had the SPD pedals (Shimano M324) on the bike for more than a year. The situation has not been improving. As I wrote, in normal conditions I can unclip just fine. But if I'm already falling, I don't have time for two motions (unclip and then sticking a leg out). In the second incident there was no way of unclipping - my foot was trapped.

    As for clipping in, sometimes my shoe will click right in. At other times, I just can't find the right spot.

    Quote Originally Posted by MtnBikerChk View Post
    And SPDs can be adjusted so the tension is really loose.
    Oddly enough, I found it easier to clip in with the tension turned up quite a ways. And this higher tension doesn't seem detrimental to clipping out.

    For the riding I do, I'd almost say I need "downhill" (platform) pedals, except I'm more often than not going uphill.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    somewhere between the Red & Rio Grande
    Posts
    5,310
    I had a terrible time unclipping with Crank Brothers Candys, I wrecked at least 3 times that I remember. Was ready to throw in the towel on clipless too. My husband told me to give Times a shot and they are wonderful. They clip in surely, even when I have mud on the cleats and feel secure clipped but not stuck like the Candys. They also release without question but don't release when I am not expecting them to. I am riding the Time Atac XL.
    Amanda

    2011 Specialized Epic Comp 29er | Specialized Phenom | "Marie Laveau"
    2007 Cannondale Synapse Carbon Road | Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow | "Miranda"


    You don't have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to be great. -Lee J. Colan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    I'm the only one allowed to whine
    Posts
    10,576
    Quote Originally Posted by laura* View Post

    For the riding I do, I'd almost say I need "downhill" (platform) pedals, except I'm more often than not going uphill.
    I have Crank Bros 5050X pedals that I love for all riding.

    They go downhill AND uphill.

    It's great being able to adjust the placement and height of the traction pins, and I bought an extra pack of tall and regular pins which allows me to customize the surface of the pedal even more.

    http://crankbrothers.com/pedals_5050x.php The 5050XX are lighter and have sealed bearings (and cost more). You can buy plate kits to change the pedal colors, too. Lots of fun!

    Honestly, I like them better than my Speedplay Frogs and MUCH better than the toeclips I used for decades.
    "If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark." - Richard Wilkinson

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Abq, NM
    Posts
    309
    I second the Crank Bros.

    However, riding should be fun. If you want to go back to platforms, do it. No harm, no foul, no shame. You could always get those double sided ones with the clips on one side and the platforms on the other. Do whatever make you feel comfortable.
    Lookit, grasshopper....

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,845
    I use speedplay frogs on my road or mountain bikes... They're easy to get into and out of - lots of float for my knee. I had my share of clipless pedal falls in the beginning, but they're pretty 2nd nature by now.

    On my commuter or bikes that I use platform pedals on, I use VP bear trap/cage pedals - you can get 'em on ebay in various fun colors, and you can hook toe clips to them (least they definitely have the holes to do it):

    http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trk...ar+trap+pedals

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts
    10,952
    Quote Originally Posted by Catriona View Post
    I use speedplay frogs on my road or mountain bikes... They're easy to get into and out of - lots of float for my knee. I had my share of clipless pedal falls in the beginning, but they're pretty 2nd nature by now.

    On my commuter or bikes that I use platform pedals on, I use VP bear trap/cage pedals - you can get 'em on ebay in various fun colors, and you can hook toe clips to them (least they definitely have the holes to do it):

    http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trk...ar+trap+pedals
    Do you get bites from the bear trap pedals? How sharp are the edges? Does your foot slip off? I have regular BMX pedals and I love them because my foot hardly ever slips off - but those for metal thingies (technical term) have added to my collection of scars (from chain and chain ring).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Beautiful NW or Left Coast
    Posts
    5,645
    you're right. Don't use the things if they make you uncomfortable. Life is too short. It took me years to get the courage to try them (SPD's) and I took a class - a one hour session with a private instructor... which helped immensely. I have mine set as loose as they can possibly be.
    good luck. enjoy cycling - and it sounds like you have the sense to discard what doesn't work for you.
    I like Bikes - Mimi
    Watercolor Blog

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    Old Raleigh Mixte - Mitzi

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,403
    Another alternative is to give up on any kind of attachment. Many riders do just fine with a MTB specific flat pedal ( not the original bear traps that come with the bike) and a bike specific flat shoe. 5/10 makes some great shoes - they resemble skate shoes but the sole is very stiff, and sticky. They are sticky enough that the pedaling efficiency argument is pretty much a non-starter

    At any rate, I'd suggest ditching toe clips. If you have any aspirations towards technical riding they are pretty worthless. Why?
    • The time that it takes to get in and out of a toe clip is vital time where you could be already putting a foot down.
    • If you are strapped into a toe clip, it's really no different that being clipped in: you are still attached to the bike when you may not want to be.
    • The bear trap pedals that toe clips attached to are like meat grinders on your legs.
    • The pedal is not balanced. It's guaranteed that when you want to put your toe in the cage, the cage will be flipped to the down side and you'll need to waste time flipping it around with your toe so you can get your foot in it.
    • Again, flipping the cage around is wasted time when you might need to be focusing on the trail, an obstacle, anything but what you are doing with your feet.
    • Last but not least, if you are riding on the flat side of the pedal (don't want to be in the cage) with the cage on the downside....well.... any one ever notice all the broken bits of toes clips along the trail? They get caught on things, bounce off rocks, break, reduce clearance...

    Don't let people tell you that you have to be attached to the bike somehow. Many strong successful riders use flats and sticky shoes and do just fine.

    Great article by Lee McCormack, http://www.leelikesbikes.com/benefit...at-pedals.html




    Notice how the shoe has ankle coverage on the inside...


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Limbo
    Posts
    8,783
    I like those shoes. What are they?

    never mind
    Last edited by Zen; 07-09-2010 at 07:35 AM.
    2008 Trek FX 7.2/Terry Cite X
    2009 Jamis Aurora/Brooks B-68
    2010 Trek FX 7.6 WSD/stock bontrager

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    The Mountains
    Posts
    92
    I think SPDs are about my favorite part on my mtn bike. They are the only component that I can use as a bottle opener.
    "I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel...the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood." Susan B Anthony

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
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    4,403
    Quote Originally Posted by Zen View Post
    I like those shoes. What are they?

    never mind
    Five Ten Karver.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,845
    Quote Originally Posted by Catrin View Post
    Do you get bites from the bear trap pedals? How sharp are the edges? Does your foot slip off? I have regular BMX pedals and I love them because my foot hardly ever slips off - but those for metal thingies (technical term) have added to my collection of scars (from chain and chain ring).

    I've never gotten bikes from the bear traps and haven't had my feet slip off - the metal spiky things are flat on top so they aren't actually spiked, but it's enough to hold to my shoes. It could just be that I've been lucky though.

    I just use those on my commuter bikes - originally 'cause I could get them in red and they're a nice wide platform. So I can't say i've really done more than 25 mile rides on them.

    The times I've crashed with them, they haven't done any damage to my legs, but it was probably the way I crashed or something.

    My brother has a set of mine that unfortunately were the only set of pedals i had handy or could find when I was bringing him a bike over that a friend was selling - so he's been mountain biking with the bear traps for a couple of weeks now without marking up his legs (believe me, I told him a few times to be really careful about that and he probably really shouldn't use them mountain biking). But I found my spare cage pedals, so this weekend I'm gonna go swap 'em onto his bike 'cause I want my orange bear traps back! (he's probably scraped them all up!)

    I have a couple chain ring scars.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    I'm the only one allowed to whine
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    10,576
    Quote Originally Posted by Catrin View Post
    Do you get bites from the bear trap pedals? How sharp are the edges? Does your foot slip off? I have regular BMX pedals and I love them because my foot hardly ever slips off - but those for metal thingies (technical term) have added to my collection of scars (from chain and chain ring).
    The platform pedals I use (Crank Bros 5050x) have pins instead of teeth, and they cause me fewer boo-boos than my old bear traps. I think the pins grip better than teeth for the way I ride, too. (see the pins on the Shimanos that Irulan posted)
    "If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark." - Richard Wilkinson

 

 

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