Clipless on a racer

I would not recommend use clipless pedals. When I UPD on the Coker i realised that the unicycle maybe not straight. There is difficult to unclip the shoes when the unicycle is not completely straight.

I also feel that i can control my unicycle better with bmx pedals, because you have a bigger contact area to the shoe. At last i like a little soft shoes to get feeling with the unicycle.

i couldnt agree more in terms of road riding having the ability to both pull up on one pedal whilst pushing on the other makes it much easier to put the same amount of force on the wheel (half as much effort but equally distributed on both legs)

an interesting thing to point out is that you’ll never see anyone on anything but clipins in a road race on bikes ever

You will also never see anyone on less than two wheels in a road race on bikes ever either :wink:

Having one shoelace crash myself, I will also not try to increase my chances of falling while attached to my uni.

I think that only happens if you are riding long cranks on a 36" Schlumpf or doing Coker MUni with long cranks. I very much doubt you’d get much extra power from pulling up on the pedal otherwise.

Most of the time, I’m pedalling so fast I try to keep as little pressure on the pedals as possible. Just enough to float on my foot on the pedal and adjust my balance with. At high revs and short cranks, I don’t think you have enough time on the upstroke to be pulling up!

I think the main advantage in the clipless is the ability to keep your foot securely locked in place when pedalling fast, allowing you to pedal even faster.

Although interestingly, according to this recent study actively pulling up reduces your mechanical efficiency. That is in terms of energy use over a certain distance, you’ll be better off putting no pressure on your upwards foot.

What pulling up does allow though is for a higher total power output, so if you want to sprint at super fast speeds, you can go faster. It is less efficient, so you end up putting in way more power, but that matters less than absolute speed in a sprint.

On most current unicycles though, the limiting factor isn’t how much power you can put in, but like Ken says, the speed you can spin at. Clipless pedals / toeclips help massively with this, although personally I prefer to stick with half toeclips, for most of the advantage, but with minimal risk.


The energy gain with clipless doesn’t come from pulling up on the pedal; it comes from not having to spend energy keeping your foot on the pedal. Your foot is always in the right place (once you get clipped in) so your energy output is always optimized.

I run clipless on my single speed mtb, and I’m about to go clipless and fixed. I was told that it is imperative to run clipless with a fixxy bicycle, since getting your foot off a pedal could turn your leg to hamburger.

Anyway, having run clipless since the Shimano SPD first came out (1980’s), I am pretty comfortable on them, but on a uni I’d be scared. You have to rotate out of a clipless pedal, so you’d give up the “spikes” on your pedal to gain some uplifting power. You may lose some lateral control without those spikes.

If someone was really ineretsed in clipless ona uni, I’d point them toward a platform styled Sjimano SPD and encourage them to get the silver colored “easy out” cleats; they release diagonally as well as horizontally. My wife and kids use them to MTB and it has saved them from crashing (as much).

There are also some cage pedals that have a clipless attachment that retracts into the pedal, this might be an option for folks wanting run clipless and regualr shoes.

Clipless freemounting …

With practice you should be able to get to where you can hit the second pedal much of the time. Just go out and do mount after mount until you can hit the pedal most of the time. May take more that one day as Coker mounting to clipless will wear down the leg you start with clipped in. Then you may need to regularly keep up the practice or you will start to hit it less often. For me normal riding does not require me to mount enough to keep good at it.

I usually start left foot clipped in. Some time you will want to be good at starting with either foot. If you do not work at both sides now, you may never want to look bad at the none preferred foot so will never get around to mastering it. Going back to a 24 inch for the off foot may help overcome the hesitance.


For about the last four weeks before I went geared, I rode clipless on my nimbus 36 with 102s, and I felt like I had way more than twice the control of my unicycle. By “control” I mean ability to torque it out of otherwise UPD-probable positions on the fly. Also, I could accelerate WAY, WAY faster while clipped in… it was insane. Also, clipped in on 102mm cranks on a 36" wheel, you can idle with as fast a tempo as on a 24" muni - by pulling the top pedal over the top of the circle with your high leg.

When cruising, I didn’t really ever pull up on the rear pedal with my hamstrings, though I could ride no-handed at 18-19 mph without much concentration just by being confident that my feet wouldn’t come off the pedals. When I did pull up on the pedals, though, it was for accelerating out of stoplights and up hills. I found it was much easier to get to speed while clipped in: a few really hard pushes and pulls and you’re at cruising speed.

Also, the amount by which you can lean forward to accelerate is HUGE!! :slight_smile: There was a time when my friend and I took pictures of each other falling off the fronts of our Cokers (snapping the photo just before the first foot comes off a pedal) to make it look like we were madly accelerating in a drag race or something. Honestly, when clipped in, I could lean forward that far or farther and just accelerate right out of it. (really really far!!)

Riding geared up is amazing, and definitely faster than being clipped IMO, but being clipped in is a sensation I really miss, and at least right now, I refuse to ride geared up, clipped in. I don’t want to damage myself; I like to use my knees and head too much!


John, clipless controlled exit and stuck to the pedals with “uncontrolled” shoelace are a poor comparison. Yes, I’ve bit it with laces. It’s not fun. Yes, I’ve bit it with clipless SPD. Also, not fun.

When I bit it with laces, I was dragging the unicycle with me.

When I received my tibial plateau fracture while riding with SPDs, it was not fun. But, I don’t blame the clipless pedals or the road conditions for my riding errors.

It’s great that my Sidi riding shoes no longer require laces.


Chuck, if I recall correctly you use Speedplay clips, I tried those out and felt like the platform was much to small to feel stable, especially when mounting. I’m assuming you were used to Speedplay from your road bike but what you think about the smaller platform versus a larger one? Also, do you still have those pictures of leaning ridiculously forward?

If I were to ever go clipless on a uni, I would use the clipless pedals I use on my road/commuter bicycle. They are Shimano PD-M324 multipurpose pedals, and let you have both a platform pedal and a clipless pedal (one side SPD, one side “platform”). I haven’t tried them out on my uni yet, and I don’t really plan to, the idea is still too scary to me.

Yeah, I’m a speedplay guy just because of my road bike. I totally love them on my road bike, but, really, I’ve only ever used the classic Look clips aside from my speedplays. (Those are pretty much the two main setups road folks use.) SO, I don’t know too much, and can’t guarantee that Speedplays rock, but for my uni, I loved them because they’re rotationally symmetrical and you can just stomp with your shoe on the pedal to clip in. (The pedal will rotate into your shoe, and since both sides are identical, no matter where you hit it, you get in.)

As far as the smallness of the platforms… Again, I don’t know too much, but I would imagine that it’s not the size of the pedal that matters, but rather the area on the bottom of the shoe of the assembly that clips on to the pedal. I think you could have a “pedal” no bigger than the spindle if you wanted, and if you clipped onto it with a shoe with a large, stiff platform, it wouldn’t feel any different than any other good clip shoe. I know that the Speedplay cleats use the same three-bolt pattern to screw into the shoe as the Look cleats, so I don’t see how they could be any less stiff and/or comfortable than the Look ones. The area of the clip is actually pretty large on the bottom of the shoe; it’s just the pedals themselves that are small.

Or… maybe I don’t know anything :slight_smile: Fill me in if that’s the case!

The size of the pedal does matter because that is where most of the pressure it put on your foot. In theory the three-bolt cleat will spread out that pressure better than a two-bolt one, creating a larger contact patch. What matters is how much of the pedal is touching the shoe. (whether though the cleat or directly touching the shoe) That is why mtb shoes are indented (see pic below), so if you have a platform pedal (see below) the whole platform touches the shoe.

See how the edges around the cleat are raised to create more space where the pedal can contract the shoe, creating more stability.

An example of a normal platform clipless pedal.

A huge platform pedal. You can ride these pedals with or without clipless shoes.

By the way, NEVER EVER use look on a Uni, getting the ‘tongue’ on the front of the clips into the pedal is hell, I have a broken arm to prove it.

I thought the main reason MTB shoes had tread and small cleats was because that makes it possible to walk in them. Pretty much every MTB rider I’ve ever ridden with uses the small clipless pedals without a platform, particularly the racers.

If the cleat is pretty solid, then if it is big, that is the area that pushes on the foot. That is how the road shoes with small pedals and great big cleats (speedplay?) work.

At the extreme of clipless, you have these pedals - where the pedal body is basically just an axle with a tube on it.