The bicycle pedal: this fundamental part begins the invaluable connection between the rider and the bicycle. The rider’s foot releases force on the pedal that transfers to the crank, bottom bracket spindle, chainring, chain, rear cogs, and ultimately the wheel; creating one of the greatest inventions man has ever created. The evolution of the pedal has changed over the years, but the purpose has remained the same; to efficiently transfer energy from the rider to the bicycle.
At first glance, “clipless pedals” sounds like a strange term for pedals that you “clip-into” with a special cycling shoe. After being locked in, they unlock when the foot is twisted outward. Its inventor, Charles Hanson, revolutionized this human-bicycle connection in 1895; calling it “clipless” because the toe-clipping, strap and cage mechanism was replaced by this locking mechanism. It has become the standard for most bicycle racing, although flat, platform, pedals are still used in downhill mountain bike racing.
For a lot of people, the thought of attaching their foot to a pedal could only lead to a catastrophic disaster. However, more and more cyclists are making the switch despite all the scary hype.
Scary things about clipless:
- It takes longer to whip a foot out if you start tipping over like a sleeping cow
- A beginner might fall over at a stop because they can’t “clip-out”
- During the event of a fall or crash, the bike may stay close to the body, resulting in more bodily harm
- During mountain biking, sometimes you can’t clip-in resulting in a slower pace or crash
- You need special shoes that are often uncomfortable, awkward, and noisily clank around
Awesome things about Clipless:
- Better power transfer – the solid connection between the shoe and pedal maximise muscle to motion
- Greatly increased efficiency – there is a circular pressure on the up-stroke and down-stroke of the foot
- Clip-in and don’t worry about it – your foot will stay exactly in the right spot throughout the entirety of the ride
- Better control of the bike – a rider can push and pull the frame of the bike laterally to avoid hazards or more easily bunny-hop a curb
- One-with-the-bike-ness! – it’s a feeling that you have to try to believe