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Bikepackers: flat pedals or SPD clips?

Old 08-25-23, 02:38 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
My pedal cleat adjustments are adjusted almost as loose as they can get.
I agree, my spd pedal / cleats are always set to least amount of tightness possible and yet I still never have a problem with my shoe's cleats ejecting undesirably.
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Old 08-25-23, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by robow
I agree, my spd pedal / cleats are always set to least amount of tightness possible and yet I still never have a problem with my shoe's cleats ejecting undesirably.
I found that at their loosest, my foot could lift off the pedal and move around too much to my liking. I'm used to my feet being snuggly attached with my toe-clips and straps and pulling up is often part of my pedal stroke. Spinning really quickly with not too much resistance, I even tend to be pulling up more than pushing down on the pedals. And I start pulling up more at any time when I need just a bit more power. I still have a bit too much play (a lot less that at the loosest) and will tighten down a bit more hoping that this will eliminate it (I'm not sure that the system actually works this way).

I'd also prefer the sole of my shoe to sit on the entire pedal platform and not just a narrow band of rubber on each side of the cleat recess.
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Old 08-25-23, 04:40 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Paul_P
I found that at their loosest, my foot could lift off the pedal and move around too much to my liking. I'm used to my feet being snuggly attached with my toe-clips and straps and pulling up is often part of my pedal stroke. Spinning really quickly with not too much resistance, I even tend to be pulling up more than pushing down on the pedals. And I start pulling up more at any time when I need just a bit more power.
The long standing myth that you can add power to your cycling stroke by pulling upward has long been disproven. Below is a piece and there is more that can be read on the subject by this author if interested.


Jeff Broker, Ph.D., former biomechanist for the U.S. Olympic Committee. Broker currently serves as an assistant professor in the biology department at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Armed with years of pedal-force graphs obtained from ongoing studies of elite cyclists at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs,

Broker has separated out the gravitational and inertial components of a pedaling force diagram, so that one could really see exactly what was being produced and at what cost to the rider. According to Dr Broker, pulling up on the pedal does not increase maximal power output, and in fact it can cause injury. Pulling the pedal up puts a lot of pressure on the hamstrings and the hip flexors. These muscles are designed to lift the weight of the leg against gravity whilst running or walking and struggle to cope with the demand of contracting repeatedly against the resistance of the pedal. As the muscle fatigues, this increases tightness, which can contribute to lower back and hip pain. In addition to this, at recommended cadences of 80-90rpm, the muscular system cannot contract and relax quick enough to deactivate one group of muscles and contract another. In other words, as the left leg pushes down, the right leg cannot get out of the way quick enough to create negative pressure on the pedal, let alone generate force in an upwards direction.
In short, pulling on the upstroke does not work. So what is the correct pedal technique? Dr Broker advocates directing all your power into the downward stroke, starting the stroke at 12 o’clock, and ending it at 6 o’clock. This is termed the ‘drive phase’. As the drive phase is coming to an end on one leg, it should be beginning on the other leg, while the first leg relaxes. Peak torque during the drive phase should occur around the 3 o’clock position."
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Old 08-25-23, 05:29 PM
  #29  
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I fully agree with Robow, pulling up on the pedals is not very effective. If you are the only person on earth that pulls up on the pedals as much as you say, you are quite unique.


Originally Posted by Paul_P
...
I'd also prefer the sole of my shoe to sit on the entire pedal platform and not just a narrow band of rubber on each side of the cleat recess.
That is one reason for a stiff shoe sole, it does not matter if there is an air gap under two parts of the sole that are well supported by two parts of the pedal on each side of that air gap.
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Old 08-26-23, 07:55 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by robow
The long standing myth that you can add power to your cycling stroke by pulling upward has long been disproven. Below is a piece and there is more that can be read on the subject by this author if interested. ...
I hope I don't come across as argumentative since this subject is of great interest to me and I'm trying to figure out why I seem to have developed a style that goes against what is considered normal. I realise what the doctor talks about is accepted theory, but my legs tell me otherwise. I can also give my regular leg muscles a break by lifting up more for a bit. I know very little about anatomy, but I can feel that there are some pretty hefty muscles involved in lifting which would go unused if I never lifted (and then the downward leg has to push the other heavy leg up as well as move the bike forward ?). I can accept that the upward pulling muscles are not built to be used as much as the downward ones, but I don't lift constantly either, but often.

Maybe I've developed some better pulling muscles from doing it so much. Maybe because I run cross-country where I'm constantly lifting my feet over rocks and roots. Maybe my thick legs are better suited to high resistance than low resistance high speed spinning. And I keep falling back on the idea that if muscles are present, why not use them ? Not abuse them. Like any muscle, they tell you when you're asking too much. But any muscle can definitely contribute to the whole.

Originally Posted by robow
In addition to this, at recommended cadences of 80-90rpm, the muscular system cannot contract and relax quick enough to deactivate one group of muscles and contract another....
This may be where I'm not fitting into the 'accepted' practices. I've been practicing lately to increase my cadence, but I can't maintain 80-90 for any length of time (I run out of breath fairly quickly like if I sprint while running) and it was while doing this that I noticed than I was almost pulling up more than pushing down to keep the speed up this high (again, on the flat with little resistance, a situation I don't particularly enjoy since it feels quite out of control due to the lack of resistance). I can go forever at a lower cadence but same speed and not be out of breath at all.

I have a similar difference of point of vue with respect to the calf muscle. A huge muscle that apparently is only to be used to maintain the foot position on the pedal. After lowering my saddle to conform more to the norm in my quest to increase my cadence, I can no longer use them as much and they feel like they want to cramp from just maintaining a fixed position.

I find it really strange that I seem to be in a world of my own. I've biked for 60 years and always with a eye on how to be as fast and strong as possible, but I've never spent any time studying how I was supposed to do it. Also, I've used toe clips and straps for 50 of those years so pulling up has always been possible.

To rbrides : sorry to have highjacked your thread. You say you're normally clipped in for bikepacking. On trails is one situation where I'd not want my feet attached to the pedals, but I haven't done much of that.

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Old 08-26-23, 05:26 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by Paul_P
I hope I don't come across as argumentative...
Not at all. Since the days of Eugène Christophe and Alfredo Binda it was accepted that one pulls up as well as pushes down. Riders could feel it! lIIRC it wasn't until the early 1980s that measurement electronics became available to study the issue. Researchers were shocked that no actual pulling up occurred.

They did find that a few cyclists (Leonard 'Harvey' Nitz, call your office!) could do a little lifting to prevent the power leg from having to raise the entire mass of the off leg.

Of course, these revolutionary studies also gave us BioPace chainrings. (Shrug. Sheldon liked them.)


...sorry to have highjacked your thread.
Oh, I dunno. Seems applicable to the flat v clip decision.
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Old 08-27-23, 02:30 PM
  #32  
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I have clipless and flats for all my bikes
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Old 08-27-23, 03:32 PM
  #33  
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In the 1960's I started out with clips and pedal straps but as soon as clipless shoes and pedals became available I switched to using them. I use the "mountain bike" type that has the cleat recessed and allow for normal walking when off the bike. When I was using toe clips and pedal straps with the cleats nailed on the bottoms of my shoes I found it necessary to take a pair of cheap tennis shoes to use when off the bike. Bike shoes with a very stiff sole greatly reduce foot fatigue on long rides.

On my mountain bikes I use Five Ten bike shoes and flat pedals with pins as I need this amount of flexibility in shifting my foot position as I am still very much a novice as a trail rider. They provide a lot less foot support but that is not important on dirt trails.
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Old 08-27-23, 08:15 PM
  #34  
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On the subject of pulling up while pedaling, I went for a ride earlier today and noticed a few things. My seat was lower than usual since I have a padded cover for my Brooks saddle that gives me an extra 10-20km of comfort to my rear end once it starts to get sore. Since it's pretty thick, I have to lower my saddle to compensate (I'm pretty picky with regards to saddle height). I'd forgotten I'd lowered it (and it was already lower than usual due to my experiments) but decided to continue like that to see how it would be. It was still a bit high compared to the common recommendation of being able to put your heel on the pedal without rocking the hip, but it was quite a bit lower than where I normally set it. I could barely reach the pedal with my heel and my hip had to lean a bit to get there. I found that the lower saddle forced a fairly cramped position compared to what I'm used to. What I noticed, though, is that I could no longer use my calf muscles and it was a lot less easy to pull up like like I usually do.

So if you start with the premise that the saddle should be low (compared to me) you end up with it not making much sense to move the foot or pull up on the backstroke. There just isn't enough room (or time) to move. I've also noticed that the faster I spin, the more I want to be closed in on myself, which brings me closer to usual practice. As I mentioned before, I almost got a cramp in my calf this afternoon from it being continuously tensed up to keep a fixed foot position on the pedal.

At one end of my experience, my saddle is as high as it can be for an almost straight leg and ball of foot down at bottom of stroke (but always without any hip rocking). This allows me to use all my muscles and they each contribute what they can to the overall movement. Pulling up is easy and offers a definite plus in several types of situations and the calves are doing work by pushing the foot down and releasing. The pace, however, is low.

At the other end, where everyone else seems to be, the body is held in a tight, closed configuration, and only certain muscles move while others are more or less immobile. No foot movement and no pulling up. And the pace is high. This apparently is the most powerful configuration. But I wonder if it's the best for the overall well-being of the body. Don't you end up super-developping certain muscles, and not the others ? And isn't the posture quite restrictive in that any movement of the body that isn't directly involved in propulsion should be minimized ? I'll probably end up somewhere in the middle, having no requirement to go as fast as possible. I have noticed an overall improvement in power and comfort so the experimenting is worth it.
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Old 08-28-23, 04:41 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Paul_P
.... As I mentioned before, I almost got a cramp in my calf this afternoon from it being continuously tensed up to keep a fixed foot position on the pedal.
...
I am only going to comment on this one comment you made. Previously, I said: I like my cleats fairly far aft.

The reason that I like my cleat positions fairly far aft on the sole is that my foot is a bit further forward on the pedal and I am using less muscle to hold my foot position at an angle. Not sure if that is the same muscle that was tensed for you or not.
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Old 08-28-23, 08:14 AM
  #36  
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There's actually a secret, subversive 'mid-sole' movement:



IIRC, Sheldon was experimenting with instep pedaling. I can't speak about it any further. I've probably already said too much.
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Old 08-28-23, 09:00 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by tcs
There's actually a secret, subversive 'mid-sole' movement:



IIRC, Sheldon was experimenting with instep pedaling. I can't speak about it any further. I've probably already said too much.
My cleat position.



My cleat is just a hair back from the widest part of the sole, your example is much further back.

If I had much more adjustment space on the shoe, I would probably keep the cleat about where it is, that is back far enough.

I used to have my foot further back on the pedal when I used toe clips. That was a function of the shape of the toe clips that were sold in stores at the time. With cleats, I could move things around and experiment for where I felt things felt best.

I put some old toe clips on my folding bike and my feet felt really weird since I was used to having my pedal spindle a bit further back under my foot. I then bought some extra large toe clips for those pedals.




If you are trying to figure out why I have toe clips on a folding bike and only on a folding bike, it is simple, MKS Ezy pedals that were compatible with Shimano cleats were not available at the time I bought them. I did not want to have some shoes with cleats that fit on one bike and other shoes for other bikes. Thus, toe clips allowed most of my shoes to work on all bikes.
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Old 08-28-23, 10:48 AM
  #38  
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There is one advantage to toe clips and straps over pedals that combine flat and clipless. While both offer the choice depending on circumstances, toe clips always end up down when you release your foot, so the flat side, which is what you're going for, is always at the ready and you don't have to think about it.

With combination clipless and flat, I don't know which side ends up up when I release my foot, so I end end up not taking the chance of accidentally clipping in again and just push with my foot on the very extremity of the pedal. This is far from ideal. I don't really see what can be done about it, short of putting some kind of weight on the clipless side.
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Old 08-28-23, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul_P
...
With combination clipless and flat, I don't know which side ends up up when I release my foot, so I end end up not taking the chance of accidentally clipping in again and just push with my foot on the very extremity of the pedal. This is far from ideal. I don't really see what can be done about it, short of putting some kind of weight on the clipless side.
If your pedals are Shimano, the Shimano pedals I have used that use cleats on one side, flat on the other, when your shoe is not connected to the pedal, the part of the pedal that faces to the rear is the cleat side, the platform side faces forward. So, moving your foot forward when your foot contacts the pedal will turn the pedal to put the cleat side on top so you can click in. Or if you have non-cleated shoes, move your foot to the rear as your foot contacts the pedal to turn the other side of the pedal to the top.

But, new pedals that have tight seals and some stiff grease inside, the pedal might be oriented in a random orientation for several hundred miles until it loosens up.

That said, when I am starting our after being stopped, I often have to pedal one or two revolutions with one foot on the wrong side of the pedal because I am in traffic and trying to stay out of the way of cars, etc., thus trying to pedal fast. Thus, I might be pushing down on the pedal on the wrong side. But once I am up to enough speed to maintain balance and not a traffic hazard, then muscle memory kicks in and I get connected just fine.
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Old 08-28-23, 09:02 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
But, new pedals that have tight seals and some stiff grease inside, the pedal might be oriented in a random orientation for several hundred miles until it loosens up.
I was telling myself this today since up until now the pedals just stayed where they were with respect to their cranks, but now they appear to be loosening up and often end up as you say. [new Shimano pedals] So I guess this issue will quickly resolve itself into something useful.
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Old 08-29-23, 06:52 AM
  #41  
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I just convinced myself to try flat pedals on our next trip ..

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Old 08-29-23, 04:28 PM
  #42  
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I use Time ATAC because after two surgeries on one knee, and lingering tendon damage in the other one, I need float.

Flats lock my foot into one position in the whole circle, and if it's not exactly where I need it to be, it hurts after a short while.
The cleats allow me to put my foot *exactly* where it feels good, no matter where my hips are due to shifting my weight as I ride.

And, unlike Eggbeaters, they are both adjustable for the angle of unclipping, and applies positive pressure before they unclip so I don't ever get surprised.

I've had enough practice with clipping and unclipping that it's second nature, so I have no issues with the usual drawbacks of clipless.
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Old 08-29-23, 06:09 PM
  #43  
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Flats only for me.
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Old 09-05-23, 12:40 PM
  #44  
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Spd for me

Shoes are comfortable enough and I bring lightweight sandals for tooling around the campsite
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Old 09-05-23, 01:31 PM
  #45  
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Big difference between riding on paved, dirt, and gravel roads and riding on single track trails with a bike. On the latter I want to be able to adjust the position of my feet on downhill sections and in going through curved sections and even to make use of a dropper post.

On open roads I use what are considered mountain bike clip-in shoes as they are far more comfortable to walk around in when off the bike. In the days of metal cleats nailed to bike shoe soles and clips with straps I would take a cheap pair of sneakers that took less space in my pannier. With the arrival of shoes where the cleat is recessed there was no need to take a second pair of shoes.
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