Clipless Pedals – Saving Bacon At A Theatre Nearest You

“Clip pedals” saved my bacon, “clipless pedals” haven’t saved me yet.

Back in the eighties I had my front wheel clipped by a car bumper when an oblivious driver turned in front of me.. Before I could think about my impending doom, I’d flipped over 180 degrees and was sliding along on my backpack with my bike straight up in the air above me.

I was commuting home from college and had my feet firmly strapped into the cages of my pedals. Only my backpack and books took a hit. It was pretty slick. Maybe clipless pedals would have done the same job, but they haven’t yet (thankfully) so they get no ‘hide-saving’ credit.

A Clipless Pedals Dichotomy

It’s been written about ad nauseam, but clipless pedals are the kind that tie you to your pedals with a clipping sound. Clip (cage) pedals make no clipping sound whatsoever. They’re also called toe clips.

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Some History Is In Order Here

Here’s a little history as I understand it. Cino Cinelli began producing the ‘death cleat’ in 1971. Before that, man’s efforts to get firmly in touch with his pedals was limited to the cages and straps of the toe clip style.

clipless pedalsCinelli crafted a cleat and pedal design that locked the victim in place with a small lever that was on the backside of the pedal. The lever handle was on the outside edge of the cycling shoe so that the rider would have to inconveniently reach down to extricate themselves from their cycling steed. Some riders were unable to perform the task in a timely manner and experienced the Cinelli death tumble.

In 1984 the Look company used the concept of ski bindings to produce the first clip-in and twist-out cycling pedals. In hindsight it seems like such an obvious application, but so does the concept of pre-slicing loaves of bread.

A part of the colorful history of clipless technology is Dino Signori’s (founder of Sidi shoes) claim to being the creator of the adjustable cleat system. There is information on the Sidi site claiming that Dino’s innovation was an evolution from the days of nailing cleats to the bottom of cycling shoes.

I’m not sure where this fits into the Toeclip to Cinelli to Look progression. The ‘cobbler’ stage must have been in there somewhere.

Circular Pedaling Beats Pedal Mashing

In case you’re just beginning cycling, let me point out the obvious. Propelling your bike by pedaling in a ‘circular’ manner beats stomping your pedals solely in a downward direction. Even if you’re a very aggressive person. Being clipped into your bike allows you to practice your smooth pedaling stroke.

circularpedalingYou can make some headway by pulling over the top of your stroke (like cresting a hill) or by pulling through the bottom of your stroke. ‘Pulling through’ is like scraping dog crap off the bottom of your shoe. Or off the bottom of your bare foot if you are extremely unfortunate.

I’ve noticed that when I’m trying to get better at pulling through the bottom or pulling over the top, I have to initiate the ‘command’ to my legs a few degrees before I intend it to happen. If I want to pull through the bottom of the stroke from 5 o’clock to 7 o’clock, need to initiate the command at what I think is 4 o’clock. I guess my legs are chronically late.

My coach is really making a good case for using a fixed gear bike to smooth out myfixie pedal stroke. The neuro-muscular programming of being engaged throughout the stroke is extremely effective. It goes without saying that a clipless pedal is essential to getting the benefits out of seamless fixie pedaling.

Yah! ANOTHER bike for me to buy!

I intended to write about types and brands of clipless pedals, but I know enough about website readers to realize that most haven’t made it this far down the page.

I’ve actually done some writing about Speedplay pedals, Look pedals, and Shimano SPD pedals elsewhere on this site.

Happy ‘clipless pedals‘ pedaling!

If you’d like to see just about any bicycle pedal known to mankind…look no further than Amazon.  No foolin’.

Cycling pedals Wiki article
Clipless pedals ehow article
Homepage from Clipless pedals
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