riding clipless

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riding clipless

Postby Rando » Wed Jul 24, 2013 5:36 am

I'm wondering if anyone else rides recumbent clipless?
I'm on a Bacchetta Strada, and am happier without clips. I broke an ankle once from not doing enough 'get out in a hurry training' when I started using clips. When I moved to recumbent I began using clips again, and always got out alright when I needed to, but recently, after starting commuting again, tried it without clips, and there seems to be less stress, at low speed anyway. This low stress is really important to my commute. Work is stressy enough.
Then a couple days ago I hit one of those long height changes on the edge of a narrow footpath, grass from concrete, silly mistake, car driver parked on footpath to answer mobile phone, and I went down so fast it was incredible. I wouldn't have had time to unclip or even think about it. Would that have been the same ankle rebroken? Who knows. Anyway, it seemed to re-affirm that clipless is good for me. I know I'm missing out on some circular muscle use, but getting to work is not a race. It has to be as safe as I can make it. Any time saved by speed is lost at red lights or fixing flats anyway ( those little 23mm tyres will pinch flat even at 140 psi on footpath tree root slab rises. I'll upgrade to 32mm when I can afford a new wheelset. But the clipless...I don't actually lose the pedals often, only from a fast footpath/road transition if I don't point my toes over the pedals, so as I get more practice its working better, but I wonder what the experience of others is.
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by BNA » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:41 am

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Re: riding clipless

Postby Aushiker » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:41 am

I am a little confused sorry (probably not unusual) but clipless normally refers to having ones feet "clipped in" to the pedal using say Shimano SPD pedals and cleats or Shimano SPD-L pedals and cleats. Is this what you mean by clipless or are you riding with your feet free of the pedal, i.e., not attached?

Clipless pedals (also clip-in or step-in) require a special cycling shoe with a cleat fitted to the sole, which locks into a mechanism in the pedal and thus holds the shoe firmly to the pedal. Most clipless pedals lock onto the cleat when stepped on firmly and unlock when the heel is twisted outward, although in some cases the locking mechanism is built into the cleat instead of the pedal. Clipless refers to the toe clip (cage) having been replaced by a locking mechanism and not to platform pedals which would normally not have toe clips. The clipless pedal was invented by Charles Hanson in 1895.[3] It allowed the rider to twist the shoe to lock and unlock and had rotational float (the freedom to rotate the shoe slightly to prevent joint strain).[4] The M71 was a clipless pedal designed by Cino Cinelli and produced by his company in 1971. It used a plastic shoe cleat which slid into grooves in the pedal and locked in place with a small lever located on the back side of the pedal body. To release the shoe a rider had to reach down and operate the lever, similar to the way a racing cyclist had to reach down and loosen the toestrap. The lever was placed on the outside edge of the pedal so that in the event of a fall the lever hitting the ground would release the foot. The pedal was designed for racing, in particular track racing, and because of the need to reach them to unclip they have been referred to as "death cleats".[5] In 1984, the French company LOOK applied downhill snow skiing binding or cleat technology to pedals producing the first widely used clipless pedals. Initially used by triathletes in order to facilitate faster "transitions",[citation needed] Bernard Hinault's victory in Tour de France in 1985 then helped secure the acceptance of quick-release clipless pedal systems by cyclists. Those pedals, and compatible models by other manufacturers, remain in widespread use today. The cleat is engaged by simply pushing down and forward on the pedal, or, with some designs, by twisting the cleat in sideways. Then, instead of loosening a toestrap or pulling a lever, the cyclist releases a foot from the pedal by twisting the heel outward.

Source: Wikipedia

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Re: riding clipless

Postby RonK » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:24 am

I have been warned by recumbent riders that riding without clipless pedals is dangerous because of the risk of injury if your foot slips off the pedal and hits the road or worse, is trapped under the bike.
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Re: riding clipless

Postby rdp_au » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:27 am

Assuming you mean riding without your shoes attached to the pedals at all, I think I would find that very hard, particularly on a recumbent. Because of the position, you need to actively 'hold' your feet up on the pedals, which I found very tiring during my first few forays when I was learning to ride a recumbent. Once I progressed to being clipped in, it felt much more secure and certainly needed less energy. I commute regularly on my Corsa using clipless pedals, and wouldn't have it any other way.

I can understand your caution if you've broken a bone falling when clipless (ie: attached to the pedals), but in my experience, the pedals have always released when I've come a cropper. Releasing them in a hurry when stopping unexpectedly is another matter, and just needs experience. You will develop the automatic habit of twisting your feet to get them out of the pedals when you need to. Perhaps it would help to back off the release tension all the way, or consider something like Shimano's Clip n Go system, which is designed to be commuter friendly.

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Re: riding clipless

Postby rdp_au » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:31 am

RonK wrote:I have been warned by recumbent riders that riding without clipless pedals is dangerous because of the risk of injury if your foot slips off the pedal and hits the road or worse, is trapped under the bike.


True, but this really only applies to trikes, which are low to the ground. On a two wheeler, having a foot slip off a pedal is akin to it happening on a DF bike - it upsets your balance which can lead to problems.
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Re: riding clipless

Postby Rando » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:13 am

Thanks for the language re-orientation. I did mean riding without clipping in. There's something comfortable about the instant foot down response to a wheel going sideways. I will go to cleats again I reckon, if they guarantee release during a spill. I can still remember the sound and feel of the bones letting go :shock:
So there are good clipless cleats which let go.... allright. I'll let you know how they go.
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Re: riding clipless

Postby Hotdog » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:06 am

rdp_au wrote:
RonK wrote:I have been warned by recumbent riders that riding without clipless pedals is dangerous because of the risk of injury if your foot slips off the pedal and hits the road or worse, is trapped under the bike.


True, but this really only applies to trikes, which are low to the ground. On a two wheeler, having a foot slip off a pedal is akin to it happening on a DF bike - it upsets your balance which can lead to problems.


Yep, the dreaded trike 'leg suck', it can lead to very nasty injuries. I imagine that on a low two wheeler contact of your feet with the ground at speed would still be pretty serious. You won't be running over your own leg like on a trike but there'd be a big risk of a crash. On a high racer there's enough clearance that your foot is unlikely to accidentally contact the ground even if it does slip off the pedal but it's going to cause a big wobble as you regain balance and which could easily cause an accident.

Personally I always ride my Bacchettas clipless, and I know from various forums that most other recumbent cyclists do too. On the handful of occasions that I have ridden a recumbent without being clipped it has felt distinctly less safe to me, when my feet aren't attached I do feel insecure due to the tendency of my feet to move around on the pedals as a result of being jolted by bad road surfaces (and there are a lot of those around here). The extra effort required to keep my feet up on the pedals is very noticeable too. On a recumbent, and especially one with a high bottom bracket, the difference between being clipped in and not is more profound than on a DF bike. On the recumbent if you're not clipped in you need to actively apply pressure with both feet at all times to prevent them slipping off the pedals under gravity, in other words one leg is working against the other. Back to the issue of safety though, I have had experience of a few crashes on my recumbents while clipped in, one of which was pretty dramatic (low sided while descending a hill at 60 km/h). In each case my feet stayed clipped in during the crash but I'm convinced this actually reduced my injuries rather than contributed to them. With my feet secured on the pedals my legs were held in a position where they couldn't get pinned by the bike or other bits of my body, consequently while I have had some nasty road rash injuries and a few bumps and bruises I haven't suffered any broken bones.

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Re: riding clipless

Postby Hotdog » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:29 am

Rando, I'm curious what type of clipless pedals you had been using? From your post it sounds like your main reason for no longer using clipless pedals is worry that you won't be able to unclip when you need too.

I've settled on Crank Brothers pedals for my bikes. Most of my riding is (sub)urban commuting too so I do a lot of clipping in and unclipping and I find the CB pedals easy to use in both respects. When there is stress in my rides it's only because of what other road users are doing (or because I'm running late...), not because of my pedals.

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Re: riding clipless

Postby Hotdog » Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:07 pm

This post wasn't visible when I wrote my two other posts, it really gets to the heart of the issue.

Rando wrote:Thanks for the language re-orientation. I did mean riding without clipping in. There's something comfortable about the instant foot down response to a wheel going sideways. I will go to cleats again I reckon, if they guarantee release during a spill. I can still remember the sound and feel of the bones letting go :shock:
So there are good clipless cleats which let go.... allright. I'll let you know how they go.
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Some clipless pedal systems are easier to unclip than others, definitely, but there are none that will guarantee release in the event of a spill. That, however, does not necessarily make them dangerous. On a recumbent at least dropping your feet off the pedals is unlikely to help in the majority of cases, in fact it'll probably make things worse. While you might be able to prevent a fall by putting a foot down during a low speed manoeuvre if you're rolling along much above walking pace it's going to be very difficult, most likely you'll fall anyway and end up landing on top of your leg and doing even worse damage to yourself as a result. Generally it's better to keep your feet up out of the way and just ride out whatever happens in your normal position. In other words for the sort of recumbent accidents where you don't have time to unclip you probably shouldn't have taken your feet off the pedals anyway. This is somewhat counter-instinctive, especially coming from a DF background where it's easier to transition from riding to standing, and even more so in your case where you've had a nasty injury while clipped in, but I do believe it's true.

For the sort of tricky low speed manoeuvring where putting a foot down can save the day what you can do is unclip your inside foot and dangle it just above the road surface ready to put down at a moment's notice. Having clipless pedals actually makes dangling a foot like this easier as you can continue to pedal with the other foot, something which is essential if you're doing it up hill. I habitually drop my inside foot when negotiating the super tight hairpin bends found on some shared use paths, there is one in particular on my commute that requires an uphill 180 within the length of my bike on a lumpy surface that is frequently covered in leaves. It's a decidedly dicey corner but dangling a foot allows me to tackle it safely despite the clipless pedals.
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Re: riding clipless

Postby Roadie » Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:15 pm

I've never used pedals where I click in but after 6 months of riding my recumbent (nearly every day) I' m just about to give them a go but its mainly to give me more power. I can't say I've ever had trouble keeping my feet on the pedals. I ride swb 2 wheeler. Ian.
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Re: riding clipless

Postby Rando » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:17 pm

Hotdog wrote "For the sort of tricky low speed manoeuvring where putting a foot down can save the day what you can do is unclip your inside foot and dangle it just above the road surface ready to put down at a moment's notice. Having clipless pedals actually makes dangling a foot like this easier as you can continue to pedal with the other foot, something which is essential if you're doing it up hill. I habitually drop my inside foot when negotiating the super tight hairpin bends found on some shared use paths, there is one in particular on my commute that requires an uphill 180 within the length of my bike on a lumpy surface that is frequently covered in leaves. It's a decidedly dicey corner but dangling a foot allows me to tackle it safely despite the clipless pedals."[/quote]

Yes that's the sort of stress I'm happier without. Thanks for the tips. We've got an uphill tight and barred S curve with leaves and bumps on a premier bike path here in Bris. Because my sandals have no cleats on the bottom I'm just getting off and walking whenever I need to. I think there's a sign asking us to dismount anyway. Pretty relaxed commuting. The 'paddle' start is a bit undignified but getting smoother with longer leg movements. Sitting up with elbows on the bars is kinda nice when waiting for lights too.

My pedals are Shimano double sided: cleat one side, concave stable platform the other. PD-A530

I do have pair of crank bros eggbeaters I don't want to risk again. Maybe one day my trained reflexes will give me overconfidence again though...
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Re: riding clipless

Postby Rando » Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:36 pm

Well there we go. I just did a cleated ninety km ride with a group, and enjoyed it all the way. Thanks for all the tips and encouragement guys.
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Re: riding clipless

Postby John Lewis » Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:22 pm

Good on you.
I reckon cleats ate the way to go for sure.
I started using them when I got the trike. No need to unclip.
Guess what happened first stop when I first went to a two wheel bent. :oops: :mrgreen:
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Re: riding clipless

Postby Roadie » Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:42 pm

I've just had my first few days with clips and can certainly say I will have more power once those muscles have got used to it, I've just got to stop falling over-- twice today and it would have been 3 except I was close to a wall. I just can't predict when I'm suddenly going to need to stop. No doubt I will soon. Ian.
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Re: riding clipless

Postby Xenon » Sun Aug 04, 2013 8:50 pm

I've managed to come off my trike (yes I'm talented :)) using spd clips and I can distinctly remember watching both my feet unclip as I went over. No stress at all on my ankles, they just came out. I managed to roll clear of the trike only slightly damaging my pride in the process.
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Re: riding clipless

Postby Summernight » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:28 am

Roadie wrote:I've just had my first few days with clips and can certainly say I will have more power once those muscles have got used to it, I've just got to stop falling over-- twice today and it would have been 3 except I was close to a wall. I just can't predict when I'm suddenly going to need to stop. No doubt I will soon. Ian.


Unclip early - you don't have to take your foot off the pedal until absolutely necessary and can re-clip in without any issues if a stop was not necessary. I find it a natural process now to unclip early if I see any possible problem areas and then re-clip once the issue has past. Practice makes it more natural and easy. :)
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Re: riding clipless

Postby Rando » Thu Aug 08, 2013 10:28 am

Well that's nearly a fortnight of using cleats and it's all good. More power!
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Re: riding clipless

Postby Roadie » Fri Aug 09, 2013 7:19 pm

I'm getting used to it now, all though I find the unclipping twist is more difficult on a bent than on my regular bike. They are set on easiest setting. Ian.
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