A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

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Telecaster68
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A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

Postby Telecaster68 » 15 Aug 2019, 4:50pm

I'm getting back into cycling to commute (urban, about 25 minutes) to work on a Decathlon hybrid, plus some weekend canalpath/railway line excursions. A friend has been moderately insistent I get toe clips because of the - alleged - pull-up, so I just spent an unbelievably frustrating 30 minutes attaching a cheap pair from Halfords, only to find I really don't like them. At all.

The weight of the clip makes the pedal swivel round so it's underneath any time I take my foot of the pedal (at lights, for example). Flipping the pedal round to get my right foot back in the clip is mildly annoying but I expect I'd get used to it. But then it seems that as I ride off, mostly, in my case, in rush hour traffic, I apparently have to flip the left pedal round, catch it with my foot, and slot my foot in, as I change up through the gears and attempt not to get cut up and find a reasonably assertively safe road position. I doubt I'll live long enough to get the hang of this before I end up under a bus.

And for my purposes - a fairly short city commute, with no massive hills - I really don't buy this 'pull up' thing. I'd have to be pulling up with more significant force than these clips look like they'd take, before it would make any difference to anything.

Also, having my feet attached to the pedals just feels unsafe. My feet (in perfectly normal trainers) just don't slip off the pedals, but if I did veer or wobble, getting my feet out of the clips would take a few fractions of a second which might make all the difference, or might just mean I twist my ankle. It's a solution to a non existent problem, for me.

Am I missing something, or am I just the wrong use case for toe clips?

poetd
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Re: A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

Postby poetd » 15 Aug 2019, 6:59pm

Not for me. Too many traffic lights and hazards on my commute for me to want to be that connected to the bike.
But then I never go race speeds on the commute - safety in traffic is my no.1 priority (also priorities no's2 and 3).
I think it's speed where clipless/toeclips really make the difference from what I've seen/read.

To each their own of course.

colin54
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Re: A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

Postby colin54 » 15 Aug 2019, 7:11pm

I gave up toeclips a few years back after a couple of mishaps, I can't say I've missed them. I just use spikey flat pedals nowadays. Clips are a nuisance in heavy traffic, ditto the modern SPD 'clipless' pedals an unnecessary complication to me. Maybe see if your mate will buy 'em of you ! Have fun.
Welcome to the forum.
Edit,here's a link to a previous long thread on the subject...
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=20524

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TrevA
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Re: A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

Postby TrevA » 15 Aug 2019, 7:59pm

I do use toe clips, though I don’t commute these days.

Knee trouble with clipless pedals has sent me back to toe clips, though I’ve always used them on my touring bike. Unless you pull the toe straps up tight, you are not that connected to the bike, you can easily slide your foot out in an emergency. I agree that they are a faff when stopping and starting, but you soon get the hang of flipping the pedal over and getting your foot in. The advantages are that they do prevent your foot from slipping off the pedal and they do give some assistance when climbing, especially with the toe straps tightened. Even with the toe straps tight you can still get your foot out in an emergency. I’ve never had the equivalent of a “clip less moment” (when you try to unclimbed but can’t and end up toppling over), with toe clips.

That said, I’ve never used flat pedals, so I don’t know how they compare.

Syd
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Re: A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

Postby Syd » 15 Aug 2019, 8:08pm

I never got on with toe clips very quickly swapping them out for SPD, then ATAC CX, on my commuter.

I, personally, find the extra pull up force you get in moving off in traffic helps get me up to speed quicker.

DaveReading
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Re: A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

Postby DaveReading » 15 Aug 2019, 8:45pm

I've been using toeclips for 50+ years and I'm not about to go clipless any time soon. :P Current ones on my main bike are Pinnacle clips with straps.

That said, if I'm commuting into town I just tighten down the straps so that the clips don't scrape on the ground when I have my feet on the flat side of the pedals. The toeclips only get used on leisure or training rides.

tatanab
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Re: A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

Postby tatanab » 15 Aug 2019, 9:14pm

Telecaster68 wrote:The weight of the clip makes the pedal swivel round so it's underneath any time I take my foot of the pedal (at lights, for example). Flipping the pedal round to get my right foot back in the clip is mildly annoying but I expect I'd get used to it
As with most things in life it is just a matter of practice. It is a point of honour to be able to pick up the toe clip within the first half a revolution of the cranks. No freewheeling and fumbling to turn the pedal over.
And for my purposes - a fairly short city commute, with no massive hills - I really don't buy this 'pull up' thing. I'd have to be pulling up with more significant force than these clips look like they'd take, before it would make any difference to anything.
In your case, possibly true. However, I am so used to toeclips etc that I feel lost without them. A major problem is that cheap plastic toeclips are easily available. But they bend around too much, metal toeclips are where it is at.

Also, having my feet attached to the pedals just feels unsafe. My feet (in perfectly normal trainers) just don't slip off the pedals, but if I did veer or wobble, getting my feet out of the clips would take a few fractions of a second which might make all the difference, or might just mean I twist my ankle.
You are not attached at all. Set the toestraps so that they are a snug fir around the shoe (helps with any ideas of pulling up) and to remove your feet you simple pull your feet backwards instead of whatever you do at the moment, probably sideways.

Like most people here I use modern clipless pedals and shoes (like SPD), but I have two machines where I have toeclips. One because I ride it around town in normal shoes and the other because it is period correct. It shows me how much I pull up and backwards when moving off when using clipless pedals because I pull my feet out of the toeclips unless I am a bit careful.

As I wrote above, if riding with no clips works for you on a short commute, then stick with it if you are uncomfortable otherwise. If this short commute is the extent of your riding, then it may well suit you. If/when you take on longer rides you views might change.

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661-Pete
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Re: A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

Postby 661-Pete » 15 Aug 2019, 9:32pm

I expected most people would answer your query with the remark "don't use toe clips, use clipless (SPD etc.)". That's certainly been my experience years back on other forums - the ones populated by younger more sporty individuals.

Switching to SPD if you're having trouble with toe clips is the very worst move you can take. Don't go there!

I use toe clips but then I'm used to them, having always used them. But nowadays I keep them very loose, their main function being to correctly position my feet on the pedals: so they don't slide forwards and I find myself cycling on the insteps. This last is a very poor practice as I've known even from childhood. Indeed the first thing I notice that tells me another cyclist is a rookie, is that he/she is pedalling on the insteps.

It's better if your pedals have a sort of projecting 'lip' on the rear edge, so that you can easily flip them the right way up and slip your foot in, in a single movement. It needs a knack, but you should be able to acquire it with a bit of practice. Also, don't go cycling in trainers, especially those with ribbed soles. This will only make it more difficult to get into the clips. If you haven't got specific cycling shoes, ordinary leather shoes will do.

Don't ever tighten both straps in traffic. Reason is obvious! As I said, I keep both straps loose. Or you can use clips without straps.

Above all, persevere! You will find they are a benefit, given time...
Suppose that this room is a lift. The support breaks and down we go with ever-increasing velocity.
Let us pass the time by performing physical experiments...
--- Arthur Eddington (creator of the Eddington Number).

richardfm
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Re: A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

Postby richardfm » 15 Aug 2019, 9:53pm

661-Pete wrote:I expected most people would answer your query with the remark "don't use toe clips, use clipless (SPD etc.)". That's certainly been my experience years back on other forums - the ones populated by younger more sporty individuals.

Switching to SPD if you're having trouble with toe clips is the very worst move you can take. Don't go there!


I'm neither young nor sporty and have used SPD pedals and shoes for years on my commute. I can clip in and out at will as needed.
Would you care to explain
661-Pete wrote:Switching to SPD if you're having trouble with toe clips is the very worst move you can take. Don't go there!
? Did yo try them once and not get on with them?

kwackers
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Re: A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

Postby kwackers » 15 Aug 2019, 10:10pm

I've used toe clips and I've used SPD's.
These days I use neither, just grippy peddles.

Never found them any faster, never found them any safer and in some situations I found them a liability.
About their only use was when you needed a few seconds of extra power and could pull and push at the same time, but the truth is that's rare and not maintainable over any real distance.

I also like my feet to be free so I can change position / angle etc whenever I feel like.
I can also wear light, breathable running shoes (which gives them a second life when I've worn them out running) to keep my feet cool.

Obviously it's a personal choice, but that's my take on it.

pwa
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Re: A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

Postby pwa » 15 Aug 2019, 10:16pm

As a brief answer to the OP, toe clips and other retaining things are chosen by people who have found that their feet slip off the pedals too easily, or people who want to be able to move their legs around more vigorously without having to make an effort to keep their feet on the pedals. If you don't have those concerns you don't need to use toe clips. There are no rules, just what you yourself prefer.

LollyKat
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Re: A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

Postby LollyKat » 15 Aug 2019, 10:54pm

I have used toeclips for years and hate riding without them. But they are now the plastic moulded ones without straps, so easy to get in and out of. They keep my feet in the correct position on the pedal, stop them slipping off in the wet or when standing on the pedals uphill. When setting off e.g. at traffic lights they save me having to kick the the starting pedal up into position. They also mean that I can 'hop' on one foot and pedal a half stroke with the other which is useful in very narrow shared use paths uphill (think temporary roadworks) when getting off and pushing my bike means I fill the whole width. I miss having them on my Brompton but they impede the fold.

I have no problem picking up the second clip but in any case I have double-sided pedals so it doesn't matter if I do miss it. I don't bother pulling up for extra power - it's not my style, and in any case my plastic ones are a bit loose for that. Fragile knees (and old age) mean that I'm not interested in clipless or any method that requires twisting the foot.

If you don't like them and prefer to ride without that's fine. But for a lot of us toeclips do have a point, particularly on a stop-start commute.

HobbesOnTour
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Re: A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

Postby HobbesOnTour » 16 Aug 2019, 6:29am

Telecaster68 wrote:I'm getting back into cycling to commute (urban, about 25 minutes) to work on a Decathlon hybrid, plus some weekend canalpath/railway line excursions. A friend has been moderately insistent I get toe clips because of the - alleged - pull-up, so I just spent an unbelievably frustrating 30 minutes attaching a cheap pair from Halfords, only to find I really don't like them. At all.


Am I missing something, or am I just the wrong use case for toe clips?


I'd suggest your first priority should be getting comfortable on the bike and enjoying your commute & recreational cycling.
Your second priority should be the same as the first! :D

I have a 42 km daily commute and use flat pedals.
I recently fitted toe-clips to my tourer because my feet had a tendency to slip off in wet weather. The first set (a half cage) didn't suit me, so I switched over to a strappy type and I found them fine after a period of adjustment.

Maybe, when you're comfortable and want to go longer distances you can try them again.

Cycling, like all things in life is not a one-size-fits-all. Find your own groove..... and enjoy! :)

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Spinners
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Re: A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

Postby Spinners » 16 Aug 2019, 8:59am

When I was working, my commute was so short that I didn't bother with toeclips or spd's but I did upgrade the plastic pedals on my Giant Escape 3 to old XT pedals from the spares box. Decent pedals with smooth bearings and grippy alloy cages are worth paying the extra for.
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drossall
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Re: A noob asks... what is the point of toe clips for a commute?

Postby drossall » 16 Aug 2019, 9:19am

In short, it's a lot more worthwhile the longer the rides that you do.

As indicated here, there are two broad systems for securing feet to the pedals - toe clips and clipless systems (including SPDs but also other designs such as Look). In general, either is most suited to longer rides - touring, racing, training, long commutes, etc. However, riders who are accustomed to clips (or clipless) will often prefer to have them on short utility rides too. My only significant clip-related accident ended with my being checked in hospital for concussion after my foot slipped off a rubber pedal - i.e. I crashed because I didn't have clips fitted. Fortunately the car behind stopped in time, and the driver kindly took me home.

As tatanab says, with practice you can get into clips on the first pedal stroke. However, constant unclipping in traffic is the main reason why clips (again, or clipless) work better on longer rides. Whilst clipless is far more popular these days, clips do have the advantage of working with ordinary (non-cycling) shoes. There are adaptors for clipless pedals, providing platforms for non-cycling shoes, but these only make sense if you do actually use the SPDs/whatever most of the time.

I rode for years with clipless or clips on all my bikes. After a change of job, I now use a folder for commuting and utility riding. Clipless isn't standard on those, so I don't bother. However, I did swap out the rubber pedals on my original Dahon, after an incident with foot-slipping in the wet on the Pentonville Road. I've got a Brompton now, and grip is better on the pedals on those.

Pulling up has been shown, in various biomechanical studies, to be largely mythical - except on hills of course. Riders simply don't do it. Nonetheless, clipping your feet to the pedals does give a great feeling of security, and does help with pedalling. Arguably there's more chance of your foot slipping, the harder you're riding. Clipless pedals generally release your foot in any accident (because they release by twisting, which tends to happen as part of the crash...) That's one of their advantages over clips.