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View Full Version : Cleats v Cages v nothing


Oldguyonabike
08-13-2007, 08:42 AM
A friend with a new desire to hit the road just got a new Trek. Spent some major money on it but opted for basic flat pedals. We got to talking about the advantages of cleats and how much additional power you get from the upstroke. Even well designed cages offer a little advantage to the upstroke over nothing.
So, how much advantage? I'm guessing that with a perfectly executed rotation you get 70% of the power pushing down and 30% pulling up. But I really have no idea. And how about cages? Are there cages that come close to matching the upstroke? My friend doesn't see any reason to "trap my feet" without significant advantage.

brock
08-13-2007, 08:56 AM
A friend with a new desire to hit the road just got a new Trek. Spent some major money on it but opted for basic flat pedals. We got to talking about the advantages of cleats and how much additional power you get from the upstroke. Even well designed cages offer a little advantage to the upstroke over nothing.
So, how much advantage? I'm guessing that with a perfectly executed rotation you get 70% of the power pushing down and 30% pulling up. But I really have no idea. And how about cages? Are there cages that come close to matching the upstroke? My friend doesn't see any reason to "trap my feet" without significant advantage.

I'll never use cages again - back in the day we'd use cages and cleats with a notch that fit into the pedal, pretty much stuck in there once you were in. Not very safe in a fall, and easy to forget to reach down and take out some slack before a stoplight.

Something to think about though, with a good pedal stroke, you are never really 'pulling up', but rather 'pulling back' along the bottom of the stroke. I don't think you're going to get any sort of definative 70-30 type ratio, but you'll get a generally 'smoother' style recruiting more muscles and will be able to maintain a higher cadence.

Cages without cleats, I don't think you'd get that advantage unless you really torque them down, otherwise you'll just pull out the back. There are advantages over a flat pedal - easier to bunny hop and such.

But these days, for any longer/faster rides/commutes, clipless is the way to go. Once you get used to them, exiting the pedal is no harder than a flat pedal IMO, you get the pedal stroke benefits, a safer exit in case of a fall, securely attached for bunny hops, and these days many 'street shoe' looking options that make it easy to wear on a commute or running errands.

lynnef
08-13-2007, 09:53 AM
A friend of mine has her daugher use Powergrips when she's stoking their tandem. Not toeclips, but they apparently work quite well. No special shoes needed.

Here is a writeup on them:
http://www.ekosport.com/pg_benefits.shtml

donnambr
08-13-2007, 12:51 PM
I use PowerGrips on MKS sylvan touring pedals and I couldn't be happier with them.

wyeast
08-13-2007, 02:59 PM
Just yesterday I was considering ditching the cages because we realized that they were positioning my feet (in cross trainers) that the ball of my foot was behind the spindle of the pedal. No wonder my feet hurt. :(

brock
08-13-2007, 03:20 PM
PowerGrips may be nice for keeping your foot positioned, but I doubt they'd make any sort of appreciable difference in pedaling efficiency.

donnambr
08-13-2007, 04:21 PM
People who have tried all 3 say they are more efficient than toeclips but less efficient than clipless. I can tell you that they are far more efficient than plain platform pedals.

ds3509
08-13-2007, 06:27 PM
I just feel like I have more control over the bike with clips or cages. I tent to pull my foot off of the pedal when I'm riding with a flat pedal now.

cecilanne
08-13-2007, 09:16 PM
After over 25 years of riding with toe-clips (what y'all are calling cages), I switched to Speedplay Frogs last year - I couldn't be happier, except for when I forget and try to pull my foot up and back to get out instead of pivoting it sideways, thus leading to embarrassing Arte Johnson moments. My pedaling efficiency immediately increased, plus I feel more "one" with my bike . . .

Oldguyonabike
08-14-2007, 08:27 AM
Thanks for all the ideas. I had not seen or heard of Speedplay Frogs as a clipless system, but the reviews are good
http://www.roadbikereview.com/cat/drivetrain/pedals/speedplay/PRD_28043_2503crx.aspx#reviews

So does anyone know a rough power ratio of the perfect downstroke:upstroke in a clipless system?

Duncan
08-14-2007, 09:11 AM
I dont like the idea of being attached to my bike in the event of an accident. Ill stick with flats on my 1400$ road bike.

brock
08-14-2007, 09:50 AM
I dont like the idea of being attached to my bike in the event of an accident. Ill stick with flats on my 1400$ road bike.

With modern clipless pedals, that's really not an issue. They're like ski bindings - you'll stay attached when you need to, but release when things go bad. I've crashed enough to prove this over the years; or go watch the big crashes in the Tour.

So does anyone know a rough power ratio of the perfect downstroke:upstroke in a clipless system?

Again, don't think upstroke, you're not really generating power there so much as you are smoothing out the dead spot by pulling through the bottom of the stroke (5-7:30 or so). I'd guess that you could see a 25% or so increase in efficiency due to recruiting new muscles, but more importantly you can maintain a smoother cadence. This takes work though, clips or clipless don't just magically give you a better stroke.

lynnef
08-14-2007, 10:09 AM
Thanks for all the ideas. I had not seen or heard of Speedplay Frogs as a clipless system, but the reviews are good
http://www.roadbikereview.com/cat/drivetrain/pedals/speedplay/PRD_28043_2503crx.aspx#reviews

So does anyone know a rough power ratio of the perfect downstroke:upstroke in a clipless system?

of course the reviews are good :-) They are great pedals! Lots of float, so my knees don't feel constrained, and easy to get in and out. They also work when you've been walking in a sucking mudpit and get back on your bike...

tao
08-14-2007, 02:49 PM
The unique feature of the pedals from Speedplay is the free float. Most people refer that to the feeling of "walking on ice". I had SPD before switching to the Speedplay pedals. It took me a while to get used to the feeling.

My heels move in and out (horizontally) when pedaling. The free float works out great for me. I don't need to fight with the retention system while pedaling and my knees are probably saved by the free float.

I fell twice at the stop light using SPD and LOOK pedals. Yes it was embarrassing and I'll admit it here. But I never fall (knock on wood) once with the Speedplay pedals (yet). Again, I think it is because the free float makes disengaging much easier.

cecilanne
08-14-2007, 04:33 PM
I dont like the idea of being attached to my bike in the event of an accident. Ill stick with flats on my 1400$ road bike.

I am not sure I understand what the cost of your bike has to do with your pedal choice . . .

Duncan
08-15-2007, 08:28 AM
With modern clipless pedals, that's really not an issue. They're like ski bindings - you'll stay attached when you need to, but release when things go bad. I've crashed enough to prove this over the years; or go watch the big crashes in the Tour.
.

I ski... I dont trust those bindings either, but there you got no choice. I can bike 100miles/day with flats at a goodly speed, and choose when I get off. YMMV vary and if clips make you happy, I am happy for you too.

I think my perspective comes from being an ex-motorcyclist- but I have had one accident on a bicycle (car backed into road, bike hit car, stayed, Duncan rolled over top of car) where I really felt that had I been attached a broken leg would have been a likeliy outcome, where as I ended up with some awesome bruises but nothing more.

Oldguyonabike
08-15-2007, 01:19 PM
Duncan - thanks for the new perspective on the rotation. I tried thinking about rotating through the pedal cycle on the way home yesterday & coming in today and its very different than what I was used to. I had really been thinking about it as an up/down recruitment rather than around. I can feel how an accomplished rider would have to do that to get to the speeds they go. It takes too much concentration for me (almost hit parked car...). I'll keep it mind, though.
And thanks all for the clipless system ideas. I, too, fell a handfull of times at stop signs and quick breaks until I got used to them (and loosened them). I would never go back to cages now. I agree that they are like ski bindings and my feet come off easily whenever I need them to.

Duncan
08-15-2007, 01:24 PM
I am not sure I understand what the cost of your bike has to do with your pedal choice . . .


flats seem pretty rare on partial carbon roadbikes from what I have seen... when i bought my town bike, it didnt seem a big deal, but with my road bike the sales person kept asking "are you sure?"

Also there is the matter of my feet. At size 15 they are hard to find specialty shoes for (it took months to find NNN BC boots for XC skiing), so I tend to avoid buying specialty shoes unless I have too. Merril Cross trainers work fine for me with the flats.

cecilanne
08-15-2007, 02:00 PM
flats seem pretty rare on partial carbon roadbikes from what I have seen... when i bought my town bike, it didnt seem a big deal, but with my road bike the sales person kept asking "are you sure?"


Ah. Thanks for the explanation.

Duncan
08-15-2007, 02:19 PM
Ah. Thanks for the explanation.

no i wasnt showing off...

cecilanne
08-15-2007, 02:58 PM
no i wasnt showing off...

That's okay - I didn't see it as showing off, just irrelevant :-)

Duncan
08-15-2007, 03:43 PM
zzzing....