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Why I’m Through With Clipless Pedals

I left home for my lunch hour ride earlier today with the idea that I’d pay some bills before getting in a quick 15 miles.   Usually, I take my  mountain bike when cycling around town, but today I was on my road bike since I was planning on getting in those extra miles.  Technically, it’s more of a cross bike than a true road bike but it has drop bars and I usually ride it on pavement so I call it a road bike.  Anyhow, I had just dropped off the last payment at city hall and hopped back onto the saddle when it happened.  I was a little wobbly and went to pull my foot off the pedal not realizing I had already clipped in. When I pulled up, the pain that shot through my right calf was excruciating.  I  almost went down.   Now I can barely walk.  It’s  just a nasty pull, but still…

The “go fast” bike, complete with clipless pedals.

This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened to me.   It seems like whenever I hurt myself on the bike it’s because of those ridiculous pedals and the cleated shoes that go along with them.  When I got home, I went online and did a little research and it confirmed what I suspected.  There’s absolutely no reason for a guy like me to have clipless pedals and cleats.   I’m getting rid of them.  Here’s why.

They’re expensive.  Clipless pedals aren’t cheap.  I figure I have $200 into mine and they’re far from top of the line. I can buy a lot of other important stuff (like cowbells) with $200.

They’re superfluous.  Once upon a time I  bought into that whole “you get more power” from clipless pedals argument.  Turns out it’s urban legend.  Scientific studies have disproven it  completely and without a shadow of a doubt.    You don’t get power from pulling up on the pedal.  You get power on the downstroke.  Clipless pedals add nothing on the downstroke,

They make me look silly.  I’m going to ride 10,000 miles this year.  A lot of those miles are going to be at 20 mph or faster.  I’m fairly serious about cycling and I’m a fairly strong cyclist.  I’m also pretty comfortable with who I am.  I don’t need to dress up like a domestique on Team Astana  every time I head out. When I walk into the local hardware store, I don’t want to look like a visitor from another planet.   That’s what happens when I try walking in cleats.

They’re dangerous.  Clipless pedals have done me wrong.  They’ve hurt me.   Meanwhile, the BMX platform pedals on my Surly Instigator have been my best friends.   Matt at Skyline Cycle in Ogden recommended them and he did me right.  I miss Matt.  My foot never slips off of them, even when doing some gnarly riding in the mountains above Ogden or the B road gravel of rural Iowa.


My Odyssey twisted pedals are made of hard plastic and virtually indestructible.  They’re also incredibly comfortable, even in Keen sandals.




There’s actually one more reason to skip the clip.  Have you ever dropped a clipped in cyclist in full kit while riding a bike with platform pedals?  If you haven’t, I’m not going to wreck it for you.  All I’m going to say is that it is an experience everyone should have….and soon!

If you love your clipless pedals, keep on keeping on.   This post is not an attempt to dissuade you from clipping in.  If, on the other hand, you’re relatively new to cycling and think you need to spend money here, maybe you don’t.  You might be better served putting that  $200 into a better bike or a professional fitting or something that will bring you more enjoyment and a little less pain, all things being equal.  Like cowbells.

1 Comment

  1. I wholeheartedly agree. I broke my elbow last summer because I could not put my foot down to stop from falling. Two weeks in a sling and then an argument with Cleveland Clinic about whether to have more radiation exposure in order to schedule a follow-up appointment. It is healing on its own just fine without more radiation and medical bills.

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