Securing one's feet to the pedals...

Hey everyone, bear with me on this one, as I know my title sounds silly.

As Summer approaches, the British weather has taken a turn for the better, with some nice sun and warmth and all that good stuff. Then, well, a week later it’s turned back again. So while I’m in the mood for some good riding, I’ve mostly just been riding on smooth paved surfaces (Not roads, but other spots). I’ve been taking this opportunity to work on riding fast, and doing it for long periods of time, which is where my title comes in.

I ride a 29er with a ‘fast’ tyre, and relatively long cranks. So while I can get up to decent speeds, by the time I do, my feet are going crazy. Sometimes, at the top of my pedal stroke, my foot leaves the pedal. While this doesn’t usually end badly, it does scare me, and occasionally causes me to lose some speed. I’d like to point out that I don’t think this is anything to do with pedal grip, as my feet don’t slip and slide, they just lift off the pedal.

So… After a few conversations and thoughts, I’ve thought about toe clips. I even looked at Clipless pedals, but I’ve never even used these on a bike, let alone a uni, so I decided not to risk it (Not to mention I love riding in my safety boots, and those fancy biking shoes look horrible). I also had a strange idea of somehow embedding magnets into my pedals, allowing me to ‘stick’ to the pedal but still be able to pull away when required (My boots have metal plates in the bottom that are supposed to be for if you step on a nail, I think my use is far more productive!).

I considered something like this:

Which eliminates the problem of having to strap-in every time I mount. But I thought their weight might cause the pedal to tip forward, which would make mounting and clipping into them REALLY difficult and possibly dangerous.

Has anyone had any experience in this sort of thing? I know there’s a few riders who ride clipless, but as I’ve said I’m not really feeling ballsy enough to try that. I don’t really want to go shorter on the cranks, as I do a LOT of hill-climbing and my uni setup feels more or less perfect for everywhere I ride.

Look to the archer, not to the bow, Grasshopper.

If you are not yet confident and competent enough to keep your feet on the pedals without clips, then you are certainly not ready for clips.

Try not riding as fast as you possibly can, but just fast and smooth. Over time, your definition of fast and smooth will develop until it is faster than your definition of as fast as you can used to be.

I don’t think this is a competence thing, and it’s definately not a confidence thing - I don’t usually bottle it unless my feet start bouncing off too much :smiley:

I’m not even sure how to prevent this happening!

I’m kinda new to this (I ride a 36er), but those clips look like a reasonable option.
They look like they would provide some pedal-position stability, as well as leaving a viable escape route.
Let us know how it goes!
I wonder if they will make the pedal tip forward (possible mounting issue), although they look very light-weight.

This is the main reason I haven’t taken the dive yet (Plus I don’t have pedals they’ll fit onto) As I did a quick test run to see if I could mount with the pedal pointing down (How I assume I would mount with these clips on) And yeah, it didn’t really work. I guess I’d have to weight my pedals backwards so I can dive up into the clips.

I don’t ride a 36er, my 29er is fast enough! :slight_smile:

It seems to me that the soles of your boots are too hard and not able to absorb the vibrations caused by riding on a less than perfect riding surface. I prefer to ride with soft soled trainers which allow my feet to feel and to respond to bumps jolts as I cycle.

Also, your boots are probably restricting and stiffening your ankle movement. The boots you wear are industrial boots and are too clumsy for articulate foot movement.

Hope this helps

Yes they’re work boots, but aren’t THAT stiff around the ankle, the stiffness is mostly in the toes/soles. They don’t go up my leg much so my ankles aren’t exactly locked.

I would test your theory, but the only other shoes I own are skate shoes, and well, with the sole on those I might as well wear lubed-up sheets of glass on my feet!

And the surface I start to push my max speed on is nothing less than smooth :smiley: I feel like it’s purely the leverage of the wheel taking my cranks around that’s causing my feet to fling upwards. OK, maybe it’s my legs not being able to keep up.

Remember that a hard sole may bounce off the pedal if you don’t keep even pressure on the pedals while riding. Also if the sole of your foot wear is curved rounded it can cause your foot to slide upwards and off the pedal as you ride.

I suggest you try wearing flat grippy trainers instead of using toe clips. Using toe clips could result in face plant. Ouch!

Urg, I hate trainers! :slight_smile: I also can’t stand riding on soft-soled shoes (Used to ride on my Skaters before I had an epiphany and slipped my workboots on!) Feels like my feet bend round the pedals. Terrible!

Sorry to sound so stubborn, but I love my boots and wear them for absolutely everything. I don’t really like the idea of having a pair of shoes JUST for uni, as I tend to ride my uni anywhere that doesn’t involve a bus or a car, then do whatever it is I’m doing at the location. Boots are all-purpose :slight_smile:

The fear of face-planting is strong though. I sort of hoped toe clips would provide easy release in the event of me losing control, though I’ve never tried them, so don’t know how hard they are to get out of!

I’d try riding a fixie with a smidgen too much slack in the chain. The hiccup you get when pedal pressure is unsteady is pretty annoying and should go a ways toward straightening you out.

No, please dont go for toe clips, the ones with straps in front, thats totally asking for a face plant. You would need to slip your shoe out from the back…and majority of the UPDs are from the front, and if fall backwards without releasing quick enough, youll break your elbow or possibly crack your head. Our upds happens in micro seconds. Clipless are a lot faster with a twist of the ankle, but still, I wouldnt risk it, but thats just me…

I do agree, it could be the work boots.

+1 Where’s the ‘Like’ button?

There’s more to the world of footwear than workboots and skate shoes. I won’t ride my unicycle in running shoes for the same mushy, lack of control you describe. I like my 5/10’s for riding 'cause they’re firmer, but still allow my feet to ‘hang on’ to the pedals a little bit. When my feet are really flying, it’s ankle flexion that keeps my toes in contact with the pedals rather than grippy shoes or whole leg movements.

If I had a pair kicking around, I’d totally try it, but the thought of hitting the ground at full speed in those shoes sounds like a disaster!

I would probably end up slipping on the clipless pedal while mounting.

I know that! :slight_smile: I just don’t really feel ready to splash out on a pair of unicycle-only shoes (And those 5/10’s aren’t cheap!), not to mention I love my work boots for everything except, apparently, unicycling at speed!

Interesting you’re the second person to mention ankle flex in the shoes. I don’t really think my boots are stiff on the ankles, but I guess they might be compared to other shoes :smiley:

Just to illustrate how subjective the shoe issue is, these are (pretty much like) the “shoes” Kikenji is currently wearing on his cross-country 36’r tour. I asked him why he chose them, and wouldn’t firmer-soled shoes be more appropriate. He just shrugged and said he was used to them. Like wearing slippers, if you ask me, but each to his (or her) own.
(Edit: He’s gone 1,500+ miles so far, since mid-April.)


Is that the guy who’s going across the States? I asked my friend in Oklahoma to find/wave at him when I saw he was passing through :smiley:

Those shoes look like beach shoes (Those things that are made out of wetsuit-type material with pump-type soles and a drawstring ankle tightener thing) :smiley: Definately not my cup of tea.

I completely agree that shoes are subjective though, and if it’s working for him I won’t judge.

I’m exceptionally ungraceful/clumsy and it seems foolish of me to wear anything on my feet that won’t protect against my constant toe-stubbing, tripping over stuff, getting my stupidly big feet stuck in things like cattle-grids… And yet here I am, discussing how to glue myself to a unicycle. I must be drunk :roll_eyes: I like to think my unicycle is the exception to my lack of grace that proves the rule though.

I started clipless with Shimano SPD. They release very easy. I didn’t have them long before switching to crank brothers candy. I liked the SPD release function but they had no platform. I mount and dismount unclipped. For the last two years I’ve had the 2010 model crank brothers mallet. They have a big platform for clipless pedals. Bungee Joe clips in while mounting. I’ve tried but not very successful. Especially with my commuter pack.
When I first started using the crank brothers pedals I mounted my shoes on the pedals and adjusted them to release any where on the arc of travel. It took me a while to get it to release anywhere. I have size 14 US ( 49) Europe feet. I spent the coin on the 5 ten Hellcat shoes. They have good grip on wet concrete. My Shimano shoes have mountain tread and that is very slippery on wet concrete. I always were good armor and wrist guards. My clipless uni is a geared 36er. I’ve been thumped several times. Over the last several years riding clipless has become natural for me. It only took me about a month to get proficient. Every now and then I have a lapse and thump myself.

Interesting clipless experiences. My main gripe that’s stopping me going with a clipless setup is mostly that the shoes are ridiculously expensive, and the shoes seem to be single-use (Not as in, you use them once, but as in, they don’t seem much good for anything else… I tend to ride TO things!)

Just a heads-up to any shoe makers. If you could build me a hard-wearing workboot with cleats recessed into the sole, I would snatch it up in an instant :smiley:

I joke, but your input is appreciated! At the moment I don’t wear much in terms of armour (aside from my boots) when riding, obviously if I were to start sticking my feet to the pedals in any way, shape or form, I would pad up.

There are tons of variations on SPD shoes, including boots, sandals, casual shoes, passable dress shoes, you name it. Not being able to wear them once you stop riding isn’t really an issue.

But I wouldn’t try it unless you are a very, very good rider, and very, very good at clipping out. I have close to 20 years riding clipless pedals on bikes, but I’m still not willing to try it on a unicycle.

(“Every now and then I have a lapse and thump myself.”)

Unipilot sir, can you further ellaborate what that “thump” is? And feels like? I’m sure you have much, much experience and Iam sure over years you have a made a science of how to take such fall gracefully…please teach…

I reckon the biggest and hugest difference in using clipped and spd’s on a bike vs. uni is its (freewheeling) vs. fixed crank. Much much harder on a uni because you’re constantly having to pedal so you would have to time it just right to unclip and dismount (especially if you’re going fast). Versus on a bike, you can freewheel anytime, at any peddle position and having the handle bar to lean weight on, not to mention, another wheel and larger, longer frame for balance.