cleat neuroses

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
914
294
83
Tokyo
#1
In short, are cleats likely to be helpful for me?

Longer version: In some past life, I used to use toe-clips; but I did so for some silly reason such as thinking that using them looked more macho than not using them, and also because of a notion that the ability to pull upward was useful. However, looking back, I don't think I ever did them up properly, so they were pointless additions (and limited my shoe choice). Last year I resuscitated one bike and bought another, and fitted both with SPD/platform pedals. Then I got SPD shoes (Shimano SH-MT43G). There was always something (irrationally) scary about being snapped into place, and it was some time till I tried out the cleats.

Being cleated into place seemed comfortable from the start. (Maybe I have "default feet", or maybe I'm undemanding.) But I didn't sense any benefit. One day on one bike I slowed unexpectedly, couldn't detach my shoe in time (I guess this was at least in part because I panicked), and fell. A few weeks later the same thing happened on the other bike. Both falls were excellent: not a scratch. But they got me thinking: Next time I might not be so lucky; my head might hit a wall, or a car might hit me. And so since the second fall I've been using the platform side virtually all the time.

What gives racers a slight edge is of little interest to me; I'm not going to race. I really start to wonder where/what the advantage of cleats is for "active" but noncompetitive cyclist. (Here for example, John Allen seems to take an advantage as given, and discusses the options for implementing it.) Somewhere I've read that without cleats/clips you waste energy because you have to press down the foot that's going up; this sounds like baloney to me, but who knows, perhaps I really do (unconsciously) press down and haven't yet learned not to do so with cleats.

I also read somewhere that in order to make the most of cleats (how?) you may want to lower your saddle a bit. This sounds a bit inefficient/uncomfortable and I've not wanted to do it. Should I try? (What advantage would it likely bring?)

Or is there perhaps a small but non-nutty minority of cyclists who generally know what they're doing but nevertheless dislike cleats and don't use them?

Anyway, as long as I'm mildly alarmed by cleats and don't sense any pluses to them, I'm not using them. If I just shut up and used them, would their benefits be likely to grow on me? (And would I become better at extricating myself from them in emergencies?)
 
May 22, 2007
3,617
1,454
143
Kawasaki
halffastcycling.com
#2
It will definitely become second nature to clip-out when approaching a potential hazard. That will come quicker if you use your cleats consistently, rather than on-and-off.

Everyone falls three times while learning. If they say didn't, or haven't, they're either lying, or it's about to happen.

Another factor is the type of shoe. If you don't have cleat-only pedals, you can cycle in whatever is comfortable or convenient to wear. Some folks ride in running shoes or similar with big, squishy soles. Those soles will absorb loads of energy from the pedal stroke, reducing the amount power available for generating forward motion. (joewein will have a formula for this)

And yes - you do 'load' the pedal as it comes up to keep your foot in place on the striking surface. With cleats clipped in you don't need to do this and can 'unload' that foot with the opposing muscle set.
Or is there perhaps a small but non-nutty minority of cyclists who generally know what they're doing but nevertheless dislike cleats and don't use them?
Persecute the heretics!!!
proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.badnewsaboutchristianity.com%2Fpics_03%2Fjanhuss.jpg&hash=b30c5298fdb7f50b1fb38ec0dc11f73c
 

Sibreen

Maximum Pace
Jul 23, 2010
565
244
63
Hanno, Saitama
#3
This discussion is of great interest to me, as well: I currently ride in running shoes with the "big, squishy soles" (though I'm thinking about going clipless).

Without wanting to derail the thread, is there a cheap, recommended shoe for those who want to continue riding platform pedals?
 

bloaker

Maximum Pace
Nov 14, 2011
1,567
1,258
433
Miura, Japan
#4
When I ride on platforms (rarely as I feel naked when I do) I prefer a shoe with a thin sole. I like to feel the pedal with my foot since I am not longer 'attached' to the pedal.

As for seat position when clipped in... you can go down and back since you now longer need to be 'over the pedals' to push down.
Also, as the pedal comes over the top, when clipped in, you can pull the pedal into the beginning of the down stroke.
This may not seem like a big deal, but it helps me maintain momentum longer going into climbs... and I am a poor climber, so I need to take every advantage I can get.

As for falling, it sucks and we have all done it.
I have crashed more after a long ride on my front porch more than I have crashed anywhere else.
I am home, I for whatever reason I am no longer actively thinking about being on a bike... and boom.
On rides, when i encounter an obstacle (pedestrians, red lights, etc) - i unclip with one foot and I am prepared at any point to put that foot down, once I clear the obstacle, I clip back in and continue on my way.

Last thing I really like about being clipped in vs flat pedals... my foot in in the same position every time.
I cannot find that sweet spot on flats that allows me to comfortable pedal for a significant distance on flat pedals.
 

j-sworks

Maximum Pace
Feb 5, 2012
1,199
48
68
Tokyo
#5
It will definitely become second nature to clip-out when approaching a potential hazard. That will come quicker if you use your cleats consistently, rather than on-and-off.

Everyone falls three times while learning. If they say didn't, or haven't, they're either lying, or it's about to happen.
One of those falls will likely be you trying to do a track-stand at a stop light, falling over, looking and feeling like a fool, and learning your lesson very quickly.
 

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
914
294
83
Tokyo
#6
It will definitely become second nature to clip-out when approaching a potential hazard. That will come quicker if you use your cleats consistently, rather than on-and-off.
Well, let's consider hills. I'm crappy at hills. (Yes, I should have more muscle. But I don't.) So currently as I go up a hill -- puff, puff, puff -- I may think "No, I can't take it any more", lift/slide my left shoe off its platform, and stop (gasp, gasp). Should I instead think 50 metres previously, "No, soon from now I may not be able to take it any more" and disengage a shoe from (the SPD side of) the pedal? But disengaging it would itself probably bring me to a halt.

Meanwhile, the consistency part of it makes immediate sense to me. I'm even prepared to buy two new sets of pedals -- but I hesitate not only out of nervousness but also because I now only have one pair of shoes for SPD and if they ever got waterlogged I wouldn't want to be forced with a choice between (A) putting the soggy things on again and (B) not riding at all. (Actually I'm already keeping an eye out for an additional pair.)

If you don't have cleat-only pedals, you can cycle in whatever is comfortable or convenient to wear. Some folks ride in running shoes or similar with big, squishy soles. Those soles will absorb loads of energy from the pedal stroke, reducing the amount power available for generating forward motion.
Yes indeed. Before wearing these SPD shoes I was consistently wearing a pair of ratty old hybrid sneakers cum walking shoes (cheap even when new): I found these far better for cycling than spongier and (elsewhere) more luxurious alternatives.

And yes - you do 'load' the pedal as it comes up to keep your foot in place on the striking surface. With cleats clipped in you don't need to do this and can 'unload' that foot with the opposing muscle set.
Hmm, I'd like to see evidence for this. I mean, as I'm not consciously lifting the leg, it surely weighs down. But does it really weigh down more than if it were clipped in (and I were practised)?

is there a cheap, recommended shoe for those who want to continue riding platform pedals?
I have to say that my Shimano SH-MT43G (SPD) shoes are good on the platform side too. But they're not cheap. (Not by my standards, anyway.) Moreover, though they're supposed to be good for walking around (and I can indeed go into konbinis, etc, without getting irritated looks), mine aren't good for that: when I walk, they ride up and down at the heel. (They don't seem too long when I'm riding; and the same shoe one size smaller was clearly too short.)

One of those falls will likely be you trying to do a track-stand at a stop light, falling over, looking and feeling like a fool, and learning your lesson very quickly.
I have so many pratfalls while attempting the (more or less) sensible that I don't push my luck. Also I presume that track-stands are a lot easier in fixies, yet fixies strike me as insane denials of god's glorious gift of the freewheel. (Even our family car

proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fcdn2.carsdata.net%2Fpics%2FSAAB%2Fsaab-95-de-luxe-wagon-05.jpg&hash=54bfc9e63fafe39c642ec5b1af20cc69


had a freewheel, though that did alarm me.)
 
May 22, 2007
3,617
1,454
143
Kawasaki
halffastcycling.com
#7
you do 'load' the pedal as it comes up to keep your foot in place on the striking surface. With cleats clipped in you don't need to do this and can 'unload' that foot with the opposing muscle set.
Hmm, I'd like to see evidence for this. I mean, as I'm not consciously lifting the leg, it surely weighs down. But does it really weigh down more than if it were clipped in (and I were practised)?
I can't 'prove' this on you without a set of very expensive transducers and a recording rig. However, tests have been done. Sikochi seems to read extensively from learned journals. Perhaps he can come up with a reference or three?
 
May 22, 2007
3,617
1,454
143
Kawasaki
halffastcycling.com
#8
Without wanting to derail the thread, is there a cheap, recommended shoe for those who want to continue riding platform pedals?
I would say it's best to get a cycling-specific shoe, whether you use cleats or not. A hard, non-flexible sole transmits the energy to the pedal instead of dispersing it as heat. MTB shoes (i.e. with some tread, rather than just a smooth sole) can be ridden on platform pedals, but can also be used with cleats.

I use these

proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wheelies.co.uk%2FImages%2FProducts%2F40229.jpg&hash=4a44b2d2869d545540c5ae102e3cb130


About 9000 yen a pair. I have SPD cleats in them, but they can be used without.
 

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
914
294
83
Tokyo
#9
I can't 'prove' this on you without a set of very expensive transducers and a recording rig.
No, no, that's fine, thanks all the same!

However, tests have been done. Sikochi seems to read extensively from learned journals. Perhaps he can come up with a reference or three?
I don't even need to see them. (If I attempted to read them, I'm sure I'd doze off.) I would like to encounter somebody who has seen them, rather than the usual talk in putatively expert articles, which seems to assume that some tests have been done somewhere or anyway that this kind of thing goes without saying.

Still, if the studies were on the interwebs, I'd certainly read the abstracts. NB I'm not interested in 3% savings of such-and-such by athletes. I'm not an athlete; cycling is one thing, but the mere mention of sit-ups and so forth (gah) has me pondering whether to buy a La-Z-Boy and a bigger video monitor. (Though I'm sure that sit-ups are excellent and I applaud others for doing them.)

So, um, Mike, when you're SPD-ly attached, are going up a hill that turns out to be tougher than you thought, slow down, and think "Do I stop, or do I keep going and die?", do you deftly extricate a shoe from a pedal?

(One of my pairs of pedals has an adjustment for macho-ness/tightness; at its slackest, it's still tough for me. Though maybe my legs are curiously feeble at rotation. Or perhaps it's just a panic thing.)

Sibreen -- yes, my Shimano shoes too came with all-rubber undersides. The buyer is expected to unscrew one small patch of rubber and replace it with a metal thingie, but of course doesn't have to do so. Maybe my shoes didn't cost more than Mike's, I forget. (Maybe I'm a cheapskate, but I regard any pair of shoes costing more than five thou as expensive, when the soles and heels aren't easily replaceable.)
 

bloaker

Maximum Pace
Nov 14, 2011
1,567
1,258
433
Miura, Japan
#10
I find it difficult to disengage the pedals at certain positions. I prefer to unclip near the top of the pedal stroke vs the bottom.
When I have decided a climb has truly beaten me and it is time to quit, I am usually still rolling... however slow... and I will just unclip and dismount. (in my head I am simultaneously calling myself names that are not very flattering)
 
May 22, 2007
3,617
1,454
143
Kawasaki
halffastcycling.com
#11
So, um, Mike, when you're SPD-ly attached, are going up a hill that turns out to be tougher than you thought, slow down, and think "Do I stop, or do I keep going and die?", do you deftly extricate a shoe from a pedal?
Obviously this never happens. But if it did, just hypothetically, it would be easy to pop the brakes on and clip out on one or both sides. It's a planned manoeuvre, and can be done deftly.

The ungainly part is usually unplanned manoeuvres. Case in point: coming down my local 10% hill this morning. There are so many bends in it that you can't see far. It's so steep that you can't easily stop. In places it's only wide enough for one car and a pedestrian or bike. So I'm going down, first thing in the morning so a bit dozy and therefore letting gravity do its stuff and consequently accelerating too fast for the wet road surface. CAR UP! Big nasty white station wagon, proceeding very gingerly up the narrowest section. No way I can stop in time. But I managed a graceful, controlled skid into the perilously narrow gap between the car and the guard rail and unclip while doing so.

(Maybe I'm a cheapskate, but I regard any pair of shoes costing more than five thou as expensive, when the soles and heels aren't easily replaceable.)
I couldn't possibly comment.
 

theBlob

Bokeh master
Sep 28, 2011
2,865
1,451
129
...
#12
If you are that old enough that a fall from a stopped bike will put you in risk of broken bones then you shouldn't consider cleats. Otherwise the choice should be fairly simple.

They are better for your knees, legs, power delivery and bike handling.
 

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
1,181
76
68
Kochi
#13
Sikochi seems to read extensively from learned journals. Perhaps he can come up with a reference or three?
Did someone call my name? Does that mean I have a reputation? Is that good or bad? :eek: Actually, I just have too much time on my hands, and surfing the internet is about the only thing I can do when looking after the little one, as he tends to sabotage everything, unless he is asleep, like now.

Actually, I used to be a cleats zealot, but switched to flat pedals a few months ago, so I could ride mid-foot and I prefer it. So much less hassle - want to stop...no probs. Head into the shop...no problem. Been raining, so pavements/roads are slippy when you unclip...no problem. Feet cold...get off and run for a bit. Commute...less hassle than having to take two pairs of shoes, or ride with flat shoes on pedals that aren`t wide enough. Want to stop and explore some local landmark only accessible on foot...no problem...etc... Other advantages, no noticeable foot pain at all, less knee flare-ups from when I aggravated it a while ago.

Is there a performance difference...yes, esp. if your feet are prone to coming off the pedals and you have to waste energy repositioning them. Significant...depends on what you are doing, and your definition of `significant`. (I did actually try to find a study on this, but couldn`t.)

While searching the topic, this was the best website I found. See this article here. If you download the `flat-pedal manifesto`, that has all the info. For shoes, the site recommends 5-10s, but the thing to remember is that if you are riding on flats, especially mid-footed, you foot drives into the pedal, so there is not so much need for a stiff sole, as when you are riding on top of a tiny interface between the shoe and the pedal as with clipless. But my barefoot running shoes on the mama-chari weren`t such a good idea yesterday - you can feel too much pedal!

Basically, I will switch back to clipless pedals just for any hill-climb events I enter and ride flat pedals the rest of the time. Though, if I can get a pair of shoes drilled/adapted for mid-foot riding, then I might use those and then compare.

Like everything, it`s about what you enjoy, and if you don`t like clipless pedals, don`t use them. Certainly, if they add stress to cycling, then don`t use them. For the non-pro, there really is no pressing need for them. A lot of the clipless bandwagon is just marketing, trying to sell you expensive pedals, shoes, and overpriced replacement cleats

Btw, I think there is a reported case of someone who died as a result of using clipless pedals, as couldn`t unclip, and fell into the path of a car.
 
Likes: Bartek

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
1,181
76
68
Kochi
#14
As for seat position when clipped in... you can go down and back since you now longer need to be 'over the pedals' to push down.
Actually, saddle should be lower with flat pedals, as no cleat means less stack height. Also, clipless pedals being under the ball of your foot, require you to be higher up, than riding mid-foot which allows you to sit lower.

Also, from what you write `going down and back` would have me concerned that you are applying the force through your knee joint, which is not good for the long term...but ProRaceMechanic is the one to ask about that.
 
Sep 2, 2009
5
0
0
#15
Flats for BMX and maaaaybe DH. Cleats and at least 20000yen shoes for everything else. Any deviation of this screams of beta-male.
 
Likes: saibot

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
1,181
76
68
Kochi
#16
Half-Fast Mike, thinking about it, have you thought of switching to flat pedals whilst you have your knee problems? Might help, might not, but you can always try it and see. Hope the knee recovers soon.
 

bloaker

Maximum Pace
Nov 14, 2011
1,567
1,258
433
Miura, Japan
#17
Actually, saddle should be lower with flat pedals, as no cleat means less stack height. Also, clipless pedals being under the ball of your foot, require you to be higher up, than riding mid-foot which allows you to sit lower.

Also, from what you write `going down and back` would have me concerned that you are applying the force through your knee joint, which is not good for the long term...but ProRaceMechanic is the one to ask about that.

Chuck would be the one who moved me from high over to lower and back.
My knee extension is almost identical since the seat basically rotated around the bottom bracket.
I do not open my ankle as much on the bottom of the pedal stroke and I am 'kicking' over the top of the pedal stroke.
And now that I have roughly a 1000km on the new setup, I am comfortable with my original statement.
Now my statement was fairly generic as I have no idea what his current setup it, but on my bike with my fit - I would not want to be 'behind' the pedals as much with flats.
 

Sheep

Maximum Pace
Jul 27, 2009
285
54
48
Tokyo
#18
Cleats rock. Just be sure like me you first fall over at a junction right in front of a large windowed restaurant filled with people having their lunch. I find that soon speeds up the ability to unclip quickly.
 

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
914
294
83
Tokyo
#19
This is getting mysteriouser.

If you are that old enough that a fall from a stopped bike will put you in risk of broken bones then you shouldn't consider cleats. Otherwise the choice should be fairly simple.
Well, I'm 60, but I like to think that I still move briskly about. I think that age (up to a point) is good: it slows my reflexes, so I don't have time to instinctively put out my arm, and therefore don't risk damaging my hand. Instead, my hands stay on the bars and I safely land on the side of my arm. (Or anyway safely until something runs into me.)

Actually, I used to be a cleats zealot, but switched to flat pedals a few months ago, so I could ride mid-foot and I prefer it.
Each to his taste. I'm never tempted to ride mid-foot, except perhaps for 200 metres every 20 kilometres, as a novelty. (The leg/foot equivalent of clasping my hands behind my head.) But that extreme aside, I have wondered ... even if one has an optimum foot/pedal position, does one really want it all the damn time? Isn't a certain degree of wiggling around normal?

While searching the topic, this was the best website I found. See this article here. If you download the `flat-pedal manifesto`, that has all the info. For shoes, the site recommends 5-10s, but the thing to remember is that if you are riding on flats, especially mid-footed, you foot drives into the pedal, so there is not so much need for a stiff sole, as when you are riding on top of a tiny interface between the shoe and the pedal as with clipless.
The "flat pedal manifesto" is actually here (PDF). Yes, he's very keen on this and that type of "Five Ten" shoe (a new name to me); but a lot about this is for their adherence to pedals, and surely this matters considerably less on roads than offroad. (I do remember having my shoes slip from pedals, but probably the shoes were utterly unsuitable and nothing like what I'd consider wearing now.)

But his particular recommendations for shoes are only of minor concern; the other stuff he writes is much more interesting.

Flats for BMX and maaaaybe DH. Cleats and at least 20000yen shoes for everything else. Any deviation of this screams of beta-male.
Twenty thousand yen for shoes? That sounds ... like the kind of money my wife might spend on shoes. (Of a very different kind.)

For a long time I was an upsilon male. I'm now an omicron male. Eventually I may perhaps become a zeta male.