Clipless - Why ??

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JEJV
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Clipless - Why ??

Postby JEJV » 2 Feb 2011, 11:36pm

What exactly are the functional, quantified, benefits of clipless pedals, over toe-straps, or strapless toe-clips ?

How much more power can one expect from "clipless" pedals compared to toe-straps, for the same effort ?

It's clear that "proper cyclists" now are "clipless" - almost by social definition.

But my (anecdotal) understanding is that clipless pedals can (and frequently do) cause injuries that would not happen with less rigid toe-straps, and that knee injuries for cyclists were rare or non-existant before "clipless" pedals.

I have the impression that most of the benefit of any kind of device that stops our feet flying off flat pedals mostly comes from two things:
- We can unload the pedals on the upstroke more, while still being in the right place to push for the next downstroke (more torque).
- We can spin faster - so our feet haven't flown off the pedals (more rpm).

Is that right ?
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meic
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Re: Clipless - Why ??

Postby meic » 2 Feb 2011, 11:45pm

That sounds about right to me.

The strapless toe clips offer the quick get out of clipless but not the retention while pedalling.
The strapped up toe clip offers the retention but not the quick release.

The force of a toe clip and strap would be going through your foot, whereas clipless is connected to the sole and your foot has no compression or tightness on it.
In other words, I can do it comfortably in my sandals. :wink:
Yma o Hyd

pherron
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Re: Clipless - Why ??

Postby pherron » 3 Feb 2011, 12:04am

Two advantages for me:
cycling sandals - never a comfortable option before clipless
overshoes - I used to find them quite awkward with toe clips, now they are easy

Oh and I find it easier to do hill starts with double sided clipless pedals than with toe clips!

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Clipless - Why ??

Postby [XAP]Bob » 3 Feb 2011, 7:01am

On the upwrong:
- Keep my feet in the right place.
+ I unload completely on the upstroke (when I had to use flats for a bit I kept lifting my feet clean off)
+ I can pull up to honk up a hill, or for a sprint

On the 'bent:
- Keep my feet in the right place.
+ I can't run my legs over (which would hurt, alot)
+ When I stop I don't have to hold my legs up

I find it very odd riding without cleats now...
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Mick F
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Re: Clipless - Why ??

Postby Mick F » 3 Feb 2011, 7:41am

With feet connected to the pedals, they are always in the correct position, no slipping, no worries. You don't have to think at all.

However, the problem arises with disconnecting. With clips and straps, you have to undo the strap prior to stopping. Sometimes, you may stop unexpectedly and bang! you hit the ground with an embarrassed smile. I did it many times!

With clipless, same advantages, but an extra advantage is that with a deft flick of the foot, you're out! No worry about thinking ahead, just a flick when you stop. No need for hitting the ground.
Mick F. Cornwall

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531colin
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Re: Clipless - Why ??

Postby 531colin » 3 Feb 2011, 7:52am

JEJV wrote:But my (anecdotal) understanding is that clipless pedals can (and frequently do) cause injuries that would not happen with less rigid toe-straps, and that knee injuries for cyclists were rare or non-existant before "clipless" pedals.


This is completely wrong. My knees are better with clipless, there is free float in clipless, with anything else you are fighting against resistance for a bit of float.

I pull back at the bottom with clipless. (You know...like walking!)

Off road clipless is brilliant.....instant engagemant,.complete security of foot on pedal, no toestraps caught in the heather....clipless winter boots are great, but I cant do boots and toeclips

tatanab
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Re: Clipless - Why ??

Postby tatanab » 3 Feb 2011, 7:54am

JEJV wrote:But my (anecdotal) understanding is that clipless pedals can (and frequently do) cause injuries that would not happen with less rigid toe-straps, and that knee injuries for cyclists were rare or non-existant before "clipless" pedals.

This is not true, or need not be true. Clipless pedals with no float facility can caused knee problems. I know because I had some 15 years ago. I binned them after a long weekend inflamed a knee. Of course this might not happen for other people. Clipless pedals with various degrees of float are the norm these days and I have no problems.

Releasing in a collision. I was hit a few years ago. I pretty much stopped dead and went over the bars to one side. The pedals released even though I did not do the twist to release, my shoes were just snatched out of the pedals.

Benefits have been listed. I would add that stepping into a double sided pedal when moving off is quicker than finding the toe clip. I still have toeclips on my shopper and still have the knack of finding the clip in the first half a revolution when moving off.

Edwards
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Re: Clipless - Why ??

Postby Edwards » 3 Feb 2011, 8:12am

The OP did say "with less rigid toe straps". With cleat-ed pedals the foot does not move out on in. More importantly the foot does not move backwards staying on the pedal in the correct position that you have set.
As Colin put you can scoop the pedal backwards as in walking. This is an aspect of how the leg muscles work that is not given the prominence it deserves. Walking is some thing most of us do all the time, the muscles and the blood pump in the ankle are designed for this action.
Keith Edwards
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hubgearfreak
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Re: Clipless - Why ??

Postby hubgearfreak » 3 Feb 2011, 9:28am

JEJV wrote:What exactly are the functional, quantified, benefits of clipless pedals


what do you mean by quantified?

JEJV
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Re: Clipless - Why ??

Postby JEJV » 3 Feb 2011, 9:33am

pherron wrote:cycling sandals - never a comfortable option before clipless

Ah - SPD sandals - fair enough.
Don't drive on the railroad track.

JEJV
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Re: Clipless - Why ??

Postby JEJV » 3 Feb 2011, 9:38am

hubgearfreak wrote:
JEJV wrote:What exactly are the functional, quantified, benefits of clipless pedals

what do you mean by quantified?

Something like average power measured over 15minutes, ideally on power cranks, to show where in the cycle work is being done (or undone).

Has anyone done this kind of thing ?
Don't drive on the railroad track.

ANTONISH
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Re: Clipless - Why ??

Postby ANTONISH » 3 Feb 2011, 9:39am

[quote="531colin

This is completely wrong. My knees are better with clipless, there is free float in clipless, with anything else you are fighting against resistance for a bit of float.

I pull back at the bottom with clipless. (You know...like walking!)
I can remember people having knee problems in the fifties, but one can say the same today (going by the posts on this forum) so I don't know if clipless is as good (or bad) for the knee as using toe clips.
Pedals with toe clips enable the foot to be closer to the pedal axle which means that the ankle has a greater range of movement than is the case with SPDs, other clipless systems are ( Time, Speedplay) are better in this respect.
As for pulling back, well with shoe plates I could do this with toe clips.
Generally I left the straps a little slack unless going for a sprint or before a hard effort, so pulling up hard would enable the foot to be released.
I agree that the buckle on a toe strap was a nuisance. Occasionally the toe clip could break.
The reason that I use SPDs is for the practicality not for any pedalling advantage.

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hubgearfreak
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Re: Clipless - Why ??

Postby hubgearfreak » 3 Feb 2011, 9:45am

JEJV wrote:Has anyone done this kind of thing ?


so you mean proof that they work, real evidence? i don't think there's any

swansonj
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Re: Clipless - Why ??

Postby swansonj » 3 Feb 2011, 9:51am

hubgearfreak wrote:
JEJV wrote:What exactly are the functional, quantified, benefits of clipless pedals


what do you mean by quantified?


When this subject has cropped up before, many posters assert that they got faster when they changed to cleats. There may not be many properly controlled quantitative comparisons, but I find the anecdotal evidence moderately convincing.

The interesting question is "why". Cleats allow you to exert significant tangential force (ie force in the direction that rotates the cranks) on the pedals for a greater fraction of the revolution. Some people present that as if it is a sufficient explanation ("I can pull backwards at the bottom so of course it's better"). But it isn't a sufficient explanation on its own. That certainly allows your legs to deliver more power for a given cadence. But that will only improve your speed if your cardiovascular system is capable of delivering that increased power to your legs. And if your cardiovascular system is capable of delivering that extra power, then, simplistically, you don't need cleats to deliver it, you could do it by selecting a slightly higher gear and pushing harder (or same gear, higher cadence).

I think the slightly more complex explanation of what's going on has at least three elements (and maybe more I haven't thought of):
(1) for a given cadence and a given power, cleats enable you to deliver the power over a larger fraction of the revolution. Therefore the peak force you need to exert is reduced. Muscles are non-linear - the harder you push, the less efficient they become. So by reducing the peak force - by evening out the pedalling cycle by spreading it over a larger fraction of the crank revolution - the human engine is used in a more efficient way.
(2) if, during the upstroke part of the crank revolution, you are actually pushing down on the pedal, you are working against yourself and wasting energy. If cleats reduce this effect they save energy.
(3) by making the rider feel more connected to the bike, they inspire the rider to greater efforts.

Personally, I think (3), the psychological effect, will turn out to be more significant than many people admit. I'm a bit dubious about (2) on the basis of reports from some people that when you measure it, you find that even with cleats, most riders don't actually pull up on the upstroke (though admittedly they probably do push down less heavily).

I can't think of any reason why cleats should be any better (from the point of view of efficiency/speed, clearly there are other relevant issues like ease of detaching and float) than tight toeclips.

james01
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Re: Clipless - Why ??

Postby james01 » 3 Feb 2011, 9:58am

One thing not mentioned above is the need for specialised shoes with clipless. On a practical level this can mean you can't jump on your bike for a quick run to the shops without changing shoes. If your clipless shoes get wet and muddy you can't change into dry shoes unless you own a second pair.
Overall, clipless is good, I just have a slight prejudice against anything which makes riding a bike a specialist activity - a bit like compulsory helmets.