Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Plain Pedal Permission


Back in January I wrote about riding with platform pedals and ordinary shoes. In the months since then, I've converted all my bikes to platform pedals and I don't see myself going back. And I'm not the only one.

Mark Boyd, a very experienced bicycle tourist , writes about his experience here:

http://search.bikelist.org/getmsg.asp?Filename=touring.10708.0250.eml

Grant Petersen, Rivendell's founder, has long believed in the virtues of platform pedals. Grant wrote a lovely essay on the subject here:

http://www.rivbike.com/kb_results.asp?ID=45

Mark, Grant and I are all saying pretty much the same thing: we don't need clipless pedals. And maybe you don't either.

What has been interesting to me hasn't just been my experience but the sense of relief I've encountered in other folks when they find someone who perhaps rides more than they do who says "you don't need that."

If you are racing criteriums, clip in. If you love your clipless pedals and Sidi shoes, that's great. But do you need clipless pedals to be a "serious" cyclist? I don't know, I've never been a "serious" cyclist.

But if what Mark or Grant or I write or do helps get some sort of "free foot" movement going, I don't think that's a bad thing.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent

29 comments:

Perry said...

Kent, these things tend to go in cycles for me. I was all "I love platform pedals" for quite a long time (years) and now I'm all "I love my SPDs as long as I have a platform on the other side when I need it." Guess I'm fickle.

Here is my latest fave pedal.

Jill said...

Cool!

I recently switched my clipless pedals back to platforms for a short tour, and have since been reluctant to put the clipless back on. Why give up all that freedom and array of comfortable shoes? I don't know. But I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Paul said...

Very interesting. I switched to clips many years ago because I had problems with my feet coming off pedals. I wasn't (still) a fast cyclist, and while I could certainly improve my technique wasn't bad, but clearly there was some flaw that made my feet move around more than was good.

I recently bought a single speed with normal pedals, and haven't had the slipping problem. I think I'll keep the clips (I even bought some new spd-sl ones, and am very happy with them), but only in their proper place, on my (relatively) weight-weenie road bike.

gazer said...

What's next, kickstands?

Oh right, my commuter has platform pedals AND a kickstand. Heaven.

:}

Jim said...

While most of Grant's missive seems reasonable, one area where I disagree with him is on the utility of a stiff sole. In my experience, a lot of flex in the toe area aggravates my arthritis. With a stiff sole, I can ride all day pain free.

Anonymous said...

Are those Keens mid ankle hiking boots? I have a pair, but haven't used them for hiking yet, gut they feel great.

Ronnie

superfreak said...

Kent I thought you ran POWERGRIPS. did you stop using them? thx superfreak

Kent Peterson said...

Yes, I ran Powergrips for years and I'd still use them on a fixed gear or a recumbent or anywhere where I felt I NEEDED secure foot retention. But all my bikes these days are coasty upright bikes and wide platform pedals with grippy shoes work great there.

As for the stiff sole issue Jim raised, I think he's right in that you don't want sole flex. But with a big platform the pedal gives the stiffness I need. I averaged close to 100 miles per day on my Wander Around Washington tour with my platform pedals and Keen shoes and I rode 400K (about 250 miles) in less than a day on this setup earlier this year with no foot issues at all.

Cellarrat said...

I love my platforms even fixed offroad riding....

No foot issues on the gdr until I pinched my foot between a rock and the pedal... think I woulda been even worse off with clipless then anyhow.... Good articles!

beth h said...

Kent -- I am tempted to run flats again on my citybike. Only thing that keep the old-school toe clips and straps in place is that my foot feels more secure wth than without (I am a serious klutz on the bike). I run the straps wide open and that does give me room to flex as needed. (I'll note that I go numb in the tow less often when I ride flats than when I use toe-clips.)

I am really intrigued by the King Grip flat pedal that Riv is now selling, but at over 50 bucks a pair (youch!) I will probably run my old-school BMX flats again when I make the switch. No guilt here.

superfreak said...

i ride flats but need some pretty honkin nasty spikes on them to keep from slidin around. thx superfreak

Robert said...

Like Perry I run flat one side, SPD on the other. When I do long rides I'm on the flats maybe half the time. I love having that freedom. But what I like clipping in for is those long rides when you just need to mindlessly pedal. It all seems to fade away when you are clipped in and just riding.

Also to me the big advantage of clipping in is correct placement of the foot. On flats one almost always eventually ends up riding with the flat of the foot over the spindle as opposed to the ball of the foot and that is bad ergonomics.

Anonymous said...

Kent,

I can see that this is a moving subject for many ... 12 comments already !

I think it's great to see that some people aren't being seduced by the bike and component marketers and simply trust their instincts.

Hi ... My name is Chris and I prefer plain flat pedals. Man that feels good :)

Chris ... Novi, MI

Bob H said...

I'm sold on this because I want it to work. From 14 yrs to 24 I road a 5 speed der every day for miles. Can't remember the pedals or the shoes but hills got climbed and it was good. Recently I've spent more time looking at the patterns on the underside of boots than is probably legal. That bear trap looks an optimum size for big soles. Does size matter or is it pedal design? Kent - what platforms are you going for?

Kent Peterson said...

The pedals in the picture are some old pedals I had in one of my junk boxes, I think they are SRs. On my Green Bike I have a set of these:

http://tinyurl.com/244ndx

Which I got on sale at Nashbar for thirteen bucks. They are pretty much the same design. Basically I go for pretty big and pretty grippy. These fit the bill.

Anonymous said...

Per the comment I contributed when you posted on this earlier this year...Amen!

I have been one year solid with platforms. On geared commuter bike. On SS/fixed commuter bike. On mtb. On fast group rides. Whenever.

Big and grippy pedals are the key.

A neat bonus when I ride my bike fixed: Coming down big hills I just take my feet off the pedals at the top and rest them on the down tube. When I slow down a bit, I synch up and start pedaling again. I used to try to do this with spd's and you basically have to slow almost to a stop to unclick and click in again.

Dave D.
Medina, WA

Coach Tammy said...

KENT! You are DE-volving!! Stop the INSANITY!!!! ;)

Jim G said...

"I've converted all my bikes to platform pedals..."

What's this about multiple bikes -- we thought the $20 bike was the only one these days...you been holdin' out on us?!?

;)

Kent Peterson said...

Jim,

The green bike (formerly known as the $20 bike) is really the only bike that's getting ridden these days. I still have the Kogswell G built-up with a three-speed hub that I tried to give to my friend Ken but he didn't bond with it. And I have my Monocog GDR bike, which I've also tried to give away but I haven't gotten any takers. I should post pictures of these bikes here. Somebody should be riding them and I've got way too much stuff.

Anonymous said...

hiya, great meeting people who are into the same things i am , still riding SPD's though , on an one hour commute at past ten o'clock pm
i have to face a long slow uphill grade,no traffic ,all strictly bikepath, wellcome to Europe, Belgium,but a long haul anyways, SPD keeps the mouvement 360 degrees allround, nighttrucking as i call it, keep rolling and keep the good work up !!Steffi

christian said...

I'm a big fan of bmx style pedals with pins. They seem to shred the soles of my Keens though. The best alternative I've found is plain old basketball sneakers (Vans with sticky soles would probably be good, though they didn't have much arch support when last I wore them ~15 years ago). Any suggestions?

Jim G said...

Me again. Thanks for the bike-explain-o. I thought mebby you still had the root-beer-brown bike as seen in the top photo -- that was the 700C-wheeled REI Novarra, the "adventure bike", right?

mike said...

After a few years of riding clipless or with clips and straps, that's certainly a different feeling. Did ten miles with just flat pedals yesterday, and never quite got used to it. It may be the pedals contributing to it, though, as they're one-sided, designed to accommodate toe clips. I kept trying to unclip when I came to a stop. Oh, well, it'll probably just take practice. I'm going to try going flat for awhile and see if it "takes."

Anonymous said...

I can't decide, which is why I love my Shimano M-whatever that have a regular pedal on one side and clipless on the other. I can choose on a whim. I really like both ways of riding, however, there is one advantage of riding clipless with cycling shoes: if you are at all sensitive to saddle height, with clipless and your shoes, you know that's it's always exactly the same. You can do that with non-clipless too, but only if you wear the exact same shoes all the time. But clipless is too convenient to ignore. Mind you, I can live and ride perfectly well without them if I have to.

Anonymous said...

Kent,

An irredeemable toeclips & straps retro-grouch here, but have a few bikes with platform pedals, including a Dahon folder (Speed - D 7) Somehow my foot ends up in the right position without much thought or effort, & without toeclips & straps.

But I do have a question to your post on platform pedals - what is your experience commuting in wet weather (which you have in abundance)? As an urban/suburban commuter I am accelerating often during my commute - do you find wet weather any issue in keeping good contact with a platform pedal?

Yours, Eric in Santa Clara, California

Kent Peterson said...

For Eric (and others) wondering about flat pedals in wet weather, it hasn't been a problem. With the Keens and the big, toothy pedals on the Green Bike things seem plenty solid. The folding pedals on my Dahon aren't quite as secure, but OK.

Anonymous said...

My custom LYNSKEY has a kickstand with down tube 8 speed shifters and no-retension pedals, also the TREK Fuel EX7 no-retension pedals.

CharlieP.

David Damerell said...

Curious. I like clips and straps (and I did a 200 on the Brompton without, and it was murder) but I never felt the need for clipless; with clips and straps you can move your feet around a bit and ride in the shoes you prefer. I've never found a cycling-specific shoe I like as much as British army surplus boots, with plenty of room for my toes.

G said...

If you are worried about stiffness wear an indoor soccer show - very stiff and you don't need clip-ins!