Toeclips or clipless pedals in Trials competition?

A little birdie told me about a recent Trials competition, in which one of the top three riders used clipless pedals.

“Was this fair?” the birdie asked.

I replied that it was, as we have no rules about toeclips or clipless pedals in either the IUF or USA Rulebooks.

[NOTE: A referee’s definition of “fair” is the same as asking if something is “legal.” If it’s within the rules, and the rules were properly followed, stuff is fair! When rules are not followed, or not enforced properly, that’s when the results are unfair. If it’s legal under the rules (or not covered) and you still think it’s “unfair,” it’s time to propose changes to the rules. The purpose of rules is to determine what’s fair.]

Having feet attached to the pedals would seem to be an obvious benefit in hopping, as well as landing, making for potentially greater abilities for a Trials rider. The obvious downside would be nasty dismounts, with lots more potential hand and wrist damage.

Do you think there should be any kind of rule about clips or clipless? My concern is that it might be picked up by less-skilled, newer riders as a way to get bigger jumps and stick landings better, but result in a higher incidence of injuries.

My guess is that is someone like Kris Holm used clipless pedals, even after lots of practice, he wouldn’t be able to do any more than slightly better, maybe, than he can now. Is it worth the risk?

You’ve got to let the decision be the riders.

There’s no advantage, it just changes the mechanism by which you pull the unicycle up underneath you on high jumps.

In fact these shoes would be a disadvantage as they rule out strato-dabs.

If somebody wants to risk their teeth then so be it.

Simple as that.

As I understand it, strato-dabs render a run a failure under the unicycle trials rules. Am I wrong? In that case, clips would help. I would prefer to see a rider not use anything attaching their feet to their cycle for safety reasons, at least for trials.


I think if clipless pedals make risk of injury much higher then there’s room for considering not allowing them in competition.

Part of the reason for rules is to minimise injuries and, though I’ve never used them, I would imagine clipless pedals are pretty dangerous.

If they do provide an advantage then some people will use them and I reckon that a trials competition should be more about finding the most skilled trialsist rather than the one with least sense of self preservation.

It may seem that you’re restricting personal liberty by doing so, but then again by allowing them you’re potentially restricting the liberty of those who don’t want to use them but have to to have a chance of competing.

Look at the situation in body building, where competitors are virtually forced to take steroids in order to have a chance against those who do.

In dinghy racing (sailboats) there are even rules about tacking and the like, which are pure technique. One of them says that a racer who tacks cannot come out of the tack faster than he went into it. The idea is to prevent power tacks, in which the sailor, by shifting his weight drastically, forces the sail through the air abnormally fast, thus creating an artificially high apparent wind, and creating more lift, or pull, across the sail’s surface. The motivating concept behind this restriction is that the race should favor the smarter, rather than the brawnier, sailor.

Although I doubt there is any data whatsover on the relative danger of attaching one’s feet to the pedals during trials competitions, there seems to be enough common sense around to make such a prohibition justifiable. The justification is safety, a far more serious one than the sailing one mentioned above.

The entire purpose of rules of competition is to restrict behavior in such a way as to provide competition along certain lines with a reasonable degree of safety. The personal freedom comes in deciding whether or not to compete under those rules.

i agree with u-turn here (i hope i read your sentence right) i feel that the technicle advantange is out weighed by the practicle.a double sided clipless pedal is going to be destroyed on a concreate surface and its just another piece of equipment that a non-wealthy beginner has to buy in order to feel competitve.

I think the advantage of using clipless pedals would not be very large. The fact that virtually no pro biketrials riders actually use them says a lot about how much advantage you’d get from clipless pedals. Their reason for not using them is not simply because they’re not allowed at biketrials competitions.

I reckon if a rider is bold (or suicidal) enough to ride with clipless pedals then let him/her. The small advantage gained will, in my opinion, be outweighed by the large disadvantage of painful dismounts. Mind you, I live in a country where there is government adminstered “no fault” health insurance (ACC). This is great because it allows people to take risks and not have to worry about being sued. It also means you can do really silly things too. For example a friend of mine passed out whilst trying to blow up a thin balloon-animal type balloon. He fell backwards and hit his head. He was OK but ACC paid for his stitches. Good old ACC, eh?


I’ve tried clipless and they certainly do help you jump higher, no hands and give you much better control. But of course once you get tired and have a UPD you’re really going to dig yourself into the ground.

ACC is great. They even paid for physio and follow up for my broken ankle even though I broke it and had it screwed back together in Nepal.

Yes. They took care of me when I had malaria in Auckland.

If I came down with malaria here in the States, for some reason, I’d be out of luck with no insurance.

It is worth noting that Yoggi during the Reb Bull and on his muni rides here always rides with clipless pedals.

He hails from a remote part of France and I think he did not hear that is was dangerous. He certainly rides better with them and has some interesting moves because of the pedals.

I have tried them after seeing him ride and concluded that it did not give me any advantage at all. But this may have been the pedals I was using.


Sounds great. I’m sure there are downsides to it as well, probably the fact that it would put too many lawyers out of business (here), so it would unfortunately be hard to enact in my country.

But I don’t want this thread to drift completely off into an ACC discussion…

If liability were not a concern for me, this is how I would go as well. Unfortunately legal/insurance concerns force us to be pessimistic chickens, rather than nose-burying risk-takers.

So I guess the question boils down to whether we allow people to risk their bodies, and have freedom, or take away some freedom in the interests of safety?

My main concern is for new riders just getting into the sport, who may start off with clips before they develop good skills. I think the potential for getting hurt that way would be much higher.

What are you doing getting Malaria in Auckland? I guess I’d better remember my malaria propylaxis next time I head North:p

Hee hee they thought it was a heart attack. It was really hard to convince them that it was malaria. But I had just come from Vanuatu; I felt sick as I arrived at the airport. Finally after sticking me a bunch of times to draw blood they accepted my diagnosis and we were good to go.

It did make me think about health issue cover-ups though. :roll_eyes:

Here’s a link to a recent thread on unicycle trials rules vs. bike trials. Yes, strato-dabs don’t work in uni trials.
Whistler Gravity Festival
Do trials bicyclists use clipless pedals? It seems both more dangerous and more beneficial for them to use clipless pedals.

I hope this doesnt lead to someone making crutial last minute judgement that could ruin the sport for someone…

That should only happen if urgent word comes down from the insurance company or something like that. Otherwise, now that this is a known issue, it can be dealt with ahead of time.

I believe Colin Schworer is the Racing Referee for NAUCC. If someone else is in charge of MUni events it would probably be you. Is that the case? Whoever it is, it is up to them to determine the policy for clips or clipless pedals in NAUCC competition.

Whatever the decision is, I’m now wondering if it should apply across the board for all unicycle track and field. Hmm. I think not. The question has come up in the past, and our over-30 1500m record was originally set by a guy using toeclips (Floyd Beattie). He may have even used them for his 100 mile Guinness record in the mid-1980s and in his ill-fated race with Takayuki Koike, where he set the current record. In other words, he was not just one fluke example, but a guy who put in hundreds of training miles, and treated unicycle racing very seriously.

In other words, toeclips worked okay for him. I believe we left mention of them out of our traditional racing rules because we did not intend to prohibit them. But for rough terrain I think the risks are different.

Unless I have reason to think otherwise, I’m setting my position thus:

  • No rule against toeclips or clipless pedals for track and racing on flat ground (leave rules as-is; no mention of them)
  • Toeclips and clipless pedals should not be allowed for high jump, long jump, MUni events, and Trials

I dont see a huge difference beteen using clipless and not. Its a personal choice like choosing Cage Pedals or Platforms. If you feel comfertable enough to use clipless pedals than go ahead and use them. I’m unaware of anyone using them in comps mostly because I’m a looser and dont get on computers much anymore. But I really dont think a rule is needed.

I would say definately do not ban them from Muni. And this is after seeing Yoggi riding Muni with them. He is perfectly safe with them, they do not cause him to fall more than any other pedal and he de-clips without any problem during any falls he does make.


Tell me more! The de-clipping is the worrisome part. If a certain pedal offers a better way to get out fast in a UPD, that’s the kind to look at. Do you know what type they were?

I asked him the same thing and he said it was the type of pedal he uses. It was one of the newer DX pedals I think but he certainly had no problem. He actually even did the night laps using them! I will see if he can post a reply him self.