Day 11. 30 Days of Biking

Flat pedal, clipless pedal: You decide.


There are nine or ten bikes in the basement. (Hey! I sold the Dahon!) Some have flat pedals; some have Shimano SPD pedals.

None of them have toe clips, even though toe clips and straps were an important part of the bikes I rode in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Toe clips made sense back then. You wanted to be as efficient as possible, and efficiency meant nailing(!) cleats to the bottom of leather cycling shoes. The cleat engaged the back cage of a quill pedal, and the toe clip and strap kept you from lifting your foot off the pedal.

Now that you were firmly attached to the pedals, you could spin the cranks faster without your feet sliding off. You could also muscle the pedals around, no longer limited to the downward stroke alone.

It just made sense—right up to the point that Look clipless pedals were introduced. Bolting a cleat to the bottom of the shoe (no more nails) seemed like a more elegant engineering solution.

But the huge advantage of clipless pedals was, and is, you didn’t have to reach down to pull up on a leather strap. All you needed to do–all you need to do–is kick your heel away from the bike. Nothing could be simpler.

More importantly, you no longer had to reach down—one hand off the handlebar, by the way—to loosen the strap when you came to a stop.

I still sell a few toe clips, but without a cage-catching cleat on the bottom of the shoe, they are much less effective than they were 40 years ago. About all they really do today is keep your feet from sliding forward.

If I need the security and efficiency, I go clipless. If I’m bopping around town in street clothes, I go with flat pedals–no clips, just shoe against pedal, like I did when I was learning to ride in the first place.

I only have one bicycle sporting a different solution. It has a double-sided pedal with clipless AND flat possibilities.

Now that’s versatility.

Great day for coffee and flat pedals at thirty-thirty Coffee north.

About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
This entry was posted in #30daysofbiking, Equipment, Giant and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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