Many of you may not be familiar with toe clip pedals in this age of clipless and flat pedals. However, many riders do like using them. The most common argument against toe clips is that they can be dangerous in certain situations. But exactly how risky are they? And should you use them? You will find the answers to these questions and more in this article.
Toe clips can be harmful only if you don’t use them properly. It requires a bit of practice to master the technique of getting in and out of the toe cages efficiently. Also, it’s not a good idea to use toe clips or even clipless pedals for certain cycling disciplines such as gravity riding. Nevertheless, toe clips have their pros and cons, just like other pedal types.
Toe Clip Pedals
This is the type of pedals that riders used for high efficiency pedaling before clipless pedals were invented. Also known as clipped pedals, toe clip pedals have a toe cage and a strap that keeps your feet in place on the pedals. You might have seen them on spin bikes. You can tighten or loosen the strap according to your feet/shoe size or how easily you want to take your feet on and off. Here are some of their pros and cons:-
|Advantages of toe clips||Disadvantages of toe clips|
|Offers freedom to wear any shoes that you want||Taking feet off the pedal and putting them back on can be tricky|
|High transfer of power to pedals||Requires some practice to use them properly|
|Can be used to both pull up and push down on the pedals, increasing efficiency||Adds weight to the pedals|
|All leg muscles are engaged||They are bulky and might hit rocks or even the road when cornering|
|Keeps feet from slipping or bouncing off the pedals|
|Not too expensive|
Toe clips are still found on many bikes used by commuters and recreational riders. However, most serious cyclists do not use them at all and they are almost never seen on high-end road bikes or mountain bikes these days.
Why toe clips may be dangerous
The danger of toe clips stems from the fact that removing your feet from the pedals is not as easy as with regular flat pedals. When you have to make a quick stop you might not get your foot out of the toe cage in time. Everyone who has used clipped pedals can tell you about at least one time that they have taken a tumble. To stop safely, you have to loosen the strap on one side while coasting before you apply the brakes.
You could ride with the strap loosened all the time but even that takes some practice to master. Besides, it would take away from the pedal efficiency since your feet can move around a bit. Regardless, there are plenty of riders that can make the best use of toe clips without facing too many issues. Let’s compare them to other types of pedals to give you a better understanding.
Toe Clips vs Clipless Pedals
Clipless pedals have a mechanism that attaches with cleats mounted to your shoes. Both toe clips and clipless pedals allow you to keep your feet attached to the pedals for better energy transfer from your legs and for highly efficient pedaling. However, the performance of clipless pedals is slightly better. This is why nearly all road cyclists and a lot of mountain bikers use clipless pedals. They are also paired with cycling-specific shoes that have a stiffer sole for even better performance.
Clipless pedals are less bulky and lightweight. Additionally, disengaging cleats by twisting the ankle outwards is somewhat easier than pulling your feet backwards to get out of the toe cage. Toe clips have a few advantages over clipless pedals as well. Primarily, they are more affordable and they can be worn with any shoes you want. The second point is important since cycling shoes are not as comfortable to walk around with, especially road shoes where the cleats stick out from the sole.
Toe Clips vs Flat Pedals
Flat pedals simply have a platform on which your feet rest. They will have a rough surface or small pins that provide the grip needed to stay on the pedals. These are the most common type of pedals found on urban bikes, commuter bikes, recreational bikes, and even on plenty of mountain bikes. The reason why they are so popular is their ease of use. The ability to mount and dismount the pedals instantly is what many riders value a lot.
Compared to toe clips, they are less efficient and there is the chance of slipping off the pedals. However, they work well enough for everyday use by most people. Moreover, you still have the option to wear whatever shoes you like. The reason why some people may choose toe clips over flat pedals is mainly for cycling long distances or for uphill cycling.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. For what style of riding should you use toe clips?
Ans.: You can use toe clips for practically any form of cycling. However, they may not be a good idea in some scenarios where you have to get on and off the pedals at a moment’s notice, for example during downhill riding. The pedaling efficiency of toe clips make them a great choice if you are riding a long distance and/or climbing uphill. Clipless pedals work just as well or even better in these cases. However, they are costlier and you would have to buy and wear cycling shoes that may not be comfortable for walking.
Q2. How much do toe clip pedals cost?
Ans.: Compared to clipless pedals, clipped pedals are a lot cheaper. In fact, most of them are even cheaper than a good quality pair of flat pedals. You can get a set of toe clip pedals for less than $30. There is also the option to purchase the toe cage and straps only. These can be installed on your current flat pedals and cost only around 10 bucks.
The reasons why toe clips may be considered dangerous can also apply to clipless pedals. And with flat pedals, you could slip off the pedals which can also lead to injury. Therefore, there is a risk factor to all types of bike pedals. If you, like many other people, truly enjoy using toe clips and can use them correctly, then there is no reason to not keep using them. It’s all about personal preference when it comes to bike pedals.