Well, I did it. I joined the (according to John Foss) 1% of unicyclists who use toe clips (that’s gotta be a tiny number). I went to my LBS and got a $15 pair of Bontrager resin body and steel cage pedals with toe clips and straps. After about 2 min. of testing them out I decided I was ready to put them to use and set off on my daily 15 mile loop.
The main reason I got them was that I was tired of constantly readjusting my feet as they slowly slid down the pedals. Cleated pedals don’t help since, when my feet become unadjusted (like after hitting a bump), it’s difficult to slide them back without slowing down.
So far they’re everything I hoped for. First, and most obviously, I feel much more secured to my uni. I can understand how many would view this as a bad thing in the event of a UPD. However, I find that (with road unicycling), 90% of my UPD’s are caused by nothing more than a foot slipping off the pedal. I actually feel much more stable and confident with the toe clips. Also, I’m forced to keep the ball of my foot on the pedal, allowing me to utilize my ankles more when climbing hills. I also feel like I have a lot more control and maneuverability. No problem idling. I also raised my average speed to 12.5, compared to my usual 10.5-11.
Intentional dismounts are easy, though not as convenient as my usual method of stepping forward off the uni, straight into walking. Instead I have to stop with one foot down, step backwards with my 12’o’clock foot, then remove my 6’o’clock foot and go from there. However, the pedals work just as well upside down, so for riding around campus I’ll probably just do that.
The only thing that really sucks is the inability to freemount. Any advice/comments from the other 1%ers? I think I saw toe clips on one of Hopeful’s unis.
That 1% has got to be a major overestimate. You are in a very teeny-weenie percentage of a teeny-weenie sport.
I can see how clips (or clipless) would be less scary for road riding, especially on a familiar route, such as my ride to work. I have had only a small handful of unplanned dismounts in many trips to and from the office, and most of those were at stops and starts. Otherwise I pedal all the way from one forced stop (traffic light) to the next.
But my feet don’t slip around on my pedals. I can adjust them as I see fit, but they stay in place very well with my pinned pedals. On a large wheel cycle, especially a Coker, I think there is less chance of getting tangled up with your pedals as there is with smaller wheels. So if you don’t have pinned pedals try some out, and possibly a shoe with a softer bottom if those aren’t working for you.
If your feet are still slipping it may mean you just need to work on smoothing out your pedal stroke. Or if not that, your route may be more bumpy than my mostly paved one. But I rode several miles on dirt yesterday and didn’t notice a problem with foot placement on the pedals, except when mounting.
How to mount with toeclips? My advice for the most part still has to be “don’t.” Beyond that, I think I’d start on the open side of the pedal, and carefully try to flip them one at a time before speeding up. Practice your one footing skills!
I have a pair of regular eggbeaters on my road bike and a pair of candy SLs on my fixed gear. Mounting the fixed gear is similar to mounting a Uni in that once you are up your feet are moving, and sometimes at a high rate of speed. I have no problems clipping in at any speed, or unclipping at any speed (just unweight the foot and swing the ankle out 15 degrees). Engagement is easy and very positive.
Because of the symmetry and simplicity there are three ways to get in:
Line it up and stomp down
Scuff foot forwards
Scuff foot backwards
Now that I’ve experienced a couple of “high speed” crashes on my Coker I’m a little more likely to go for cleats. First, because I DID crash on the Coker - both falls were low-side, twisting affairs where rolling out of the fall where rolling out of the fall was far easier than running out of the fall. On my smaller unicycles I always land on my feet. I tried that on the Coker a couple of times and concluded that I would eventually jamb a knee, twist an ankle or strain my back. Rolling is safer.
Second, both my Coker falls were very benign. I’m used to high-speed bike crashes where you get 3-5 seconds of deep meditation on the potential usefulness of protective gear as a hand-sized piece of skin is ground down, then 2-3 weeks of carefully changing bandages and watching for signs of infection. The worst I’ve seen with a Coker crash is a minor abrasion on my elbow. I think with practice rolling I wouldn’t even get that.
So I’m inclined to believe that “tumbling in” while cleated would be no worse than normal pinned pedals, and perhaps less frequent since control with cleats is so much more positive. Also, by eliminating the need for pins the pedals would be a little more leg-friendly and less armor would be required.
Of course, I have to get good at the dang thing first. That might take a while. I am enjoing the “carved” turns that are possible on the big wheel. It’s beginning to feel like I’m riding something instead of just managing to push the planet away.
As far as mounting, put one foot in a clip & mount, then do a quick idle & flip the second clip on. You’ll get used to it with time. Sometimes it takes a second try to get the second clip on, especially on the Coker. The giraffes are the easiest, but in all cases remember to keep the straps loose. My straps aren’t missing (like a previous post), but are open almost all the way.
Mounting into clipless pedals on a unicycle is very different from
mounting on a bike, even a fixed-gear bike. You have to manage to
press down and forward at the same time, while still using your pedal
stroke to balance. It’s quite tricky, really. The fixed-gear will stay
balanced no matter what you do with the pedals.
When I rode with SPD pedals, I would try to clip in while holding on
to something–even that was quite tricky. If I had to freemount, I
was often a significant distance down the road before I managed to get
both feet clipped in, and I had a number of UPDs and a few falls related
to attempting to clip in.
)So I’m inclined to believe that “tumbling in” while cleated would be no
)worse than normal pinned pedals, and perhaps less frequent since control
)with cleats is so much more positive. Also, by eliminating the need for
)pins the pedals would be a little more leg-friendly and less armor would
It’s definitely true that being clipped in reduces UPDs at speed.
(Dealing with the clips tends to increase UPDs while mounting and
dismounting). However, I think it’s foolish to think you’d be able to
safely “tumble” your Coker while it was clipped to your feet, and
while you’re having a fall in traffic.
For years I rode with toe clips/straps. I found that they offered the same advantages as you pointed out.
It was only after I started pushing myself for more speed that I abandoned them. I had a couple of nasty UPDs and decided they weren’t worth it.
To freemount with clips is pretty easy. I think it’s obvious that one of your feet is already in the clip to start. Then you do a static mount where the toes of your free foot sort of “grab” the edge of the pedal and flip it around. Once you get than hang of it it will feel as natural as freemounting in general. Occasionally I’d miss the clip and have to try again on the next revolution. On rare occasions I’d ride for some distance before I’d actually get the free foot in place. As with all things the more you practice the easier it gets.
It’s been at least two years since I’ve had clips on any of my unis. Sometimes I think about putting some on my Coker but I’ve not yet done so and I probably never will.
Ah, well, there’s your problem. I had SPDs for a a few years and never liked them. Too fussy. You had to find the sweet spot to engage, then press down with significant force to click them in. Once the cleat had worn a bit it was a bear getting in. It usually took several attempts, and once I was in it was tough getting out. I eventually threw them away.
The eggbeaters, on the other hand, are effortless. I just ride away knowing that as my feet shuffle around they’ll eventually engage. After 50 yards if they don’t engage I reposition my foot and “click”, they’re in.
Also, note the eggbeaters I recommend have nice, big platforms. There really isn’t much penalty for not clipping in immediately. IMHO, the risk is that you silently clip in, don’t know it, and forget to unclip when you try to dismount.
I wouldn’t ever consider SPDs for a unicycle.
Agreed, it would be tough to “tumble with the Coker clipped to [my] feet,” but my sense is that that would never, could never happen. I’ve never had a crash where my feet stayed attached, even those slow-faling low-siders on a bike. And in all but the sudden crash cases, I’d have time to unclip and step off as usual. It’s just another reflex that can be trained. Unlike SPDs, the eggbeaters have almost no resistance to unclipping.
That said, I’m still a long way away from confidently screwing a pair of clipless pedals onto a unicycle and riding away. I figure I’ll need at least a full summer of riding to reduce my UPD frequency to less than once per mile. When I can go for months with routine, UPD-free rides of more than 10 miles I’ll consider it, but not before. I’m not crazy.
In article <cyberbellum.15pkyp@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com>,
cyberbellum <cyberbellum@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com> wrote:
)Tom Holub wrote:
)> * When I rode with SPD pedals…
)Ah, well, there’s your problem. I had SPDs for a a few years and never
)liked them. Too fussy. You had to find the sweet spot to engage, then
)press down with significant force to click them in. Once the cleat had
)worn a bit it was a bear getting in. It usually took several attempts,
)and once I was in it was tough getting out. I eventually threw them
)The eggbeaters, on the other hand, are effortless. I just ride away
)knowing that as my feet shuffle around they’ll eventually engage. After
)50 yards if they don’t engage I reposition my foot and “click”, they’re
I have a pair of eggbeaters on one of my bikes, and while I do like them
more than the SPDs, I do not think it would be significantly different
trying to engage them on a unicycle. You still have to get your cleat
positioned exactly correctly, and push it down in the proper way
without messing up your pedal stroke.
Cleats are an old-school way to secure your feet to the pedals. The only place you find them now is at velodromes. They are always used in conjunction with toe clips and straps. They are typically rounded blocks made from nylon, aluminum or other fairly light material with a slot in the back that fits securely over the back part of a rat-trap pedal. When the straps are tightened the cleats prevent fore-and-aft movement of the shoe.
Track beasts use them because the penalty for coming off the pedal while sprinting at 40 mph and 160+ rpm is severe. Many track sprinters, myself included when I was younger, use two fiber-reinforced straps per pedal to make SURE their feet never come off the pedals. (for the record, despite the deep cleats and double Binda Extras my feet always came off when I crashed at the track).
The newfangled “clipless” pedals also use cleats, however these aren’t nearly as solid. They are small bits of metal or plastic that bolt to the bottoms of the shoes and engage mechanisms in the pedals. Some of the kids like them but I don’t think they’ll ever really catch on.
That’s just the problem, they’re super grippy without actually securing your foot to the pedal. This sucks when you hit a tiny bump that jostles your foot into an awkward position, then you can’t get it back without slowing down quite a bit. It’s nice to have something over your foot to keep it from flying off the pedal even a little bit. The roads I ride on aren’t especially bumpy, but unexpected bumps (UPB’s) do happen.
Those half clips look promising. Looks like they’d be easier to mount than the full clips with straps I have. Safer too. If the ones I have break (or if I break while using them) I may consider getting a pair of those.