First let me clear up a terminology problem. What I name clip-in pedals are normally referred to as “clipless”. This odd time period is do distinguish them from old-school pedals with toe clips and straps. “Clipless” have a cleat on the underside of the shoe that hooks right into a mechanism on the pedal. I’ll preserve calling them “clip-in” pedals as a result of I believe it describes their perform higher.
I at all times assumed recumbents want clip-in pedals as a result of your toes are protruding entrance, so the load of your legs would trigger you to slide off the pedals. There are execs and cons to utilizing clip-ins, on any bike.
The largest professional of clip-ins is that they will make your pedaling extra environment friendly. The largest con is you could clip out to place your foot down. Many people, when first making an attempt them out, have had an embarrassing sluggish pace crash attributable to not getting a foot out in time. The scenario is worse on recumbents, that are wobbly at sluggish speeds, plus your foot has an extended option to journey to get it to the bottom when stopping. On a current journey I had one of many sluggish pace crashes as a result of I misplaced my momentum doing a hairpin activate a pedestrian overpass, and didn’t get my foot out in time.
I’ve been driving ‘bents on and off for nearly 20 years and it by no means occurred to me to see if I actually need clip-ins. Then I observed on final Sunday’s journey with my recumbent group that many of the different riders weren’t utilizing them. So, earlier than yesterday’s journey, I swapped out my pedals for flat mountain pedals.
Some mountain bikers additionally don’t like clip-ins as a result of they’re extra more likely to have to put a foot down when encountering surprising obstacles. However in addition they nonetheless need a very grippy pedal so their toes don’t slide round. Flat (additionally referred to as “platform”) mountain pedals are a compromise that addresses this downside.
I acquired within the behavior of utilizing flat mountain pedals on my uprights as a result of I usually go on mixture bike/hikes the place I’m dismounting extra usually, and in addition wish to put on strolling sneakers that are extra snug mountaineering with than biking sneakers with cleats. So I attempted this mixture on my recumbent. And it really works nice! I spent a morning fortunately cruising round, stopping and restarting, and doing hairpin turns. So far as pedaling effectivity, there was no noticeable distinction. And there’s no signal of a bent on your foot to slide off the pedal. This might be my arrange of alternative sooner or later.
Clip-ins and Pedal Effectivity
I believe this problem is a bit overblown, a minimum of for leisure riders. For racing, after all you need any marginal acquire you will get. However on my upright bike I’ve a pair of pedals which can be flat on one aspect (with a grippy floor like a flat mountain pedal) and clip-in on the others. I ought to time myself on the identical route with this bike, with common sneakers vs. clip-in bike sneakers. I’ve in contrast them qualitatively and observed little distinction. I’ve accomplished group rides each methods and don’t have any extra hassle maintaining with the common sneakers vs. biking sneakers. If I ever do one thing aggressive like a time trial I’ll positively use my clip-in bike sneakers, however for leisure driving, the flat pedals are nice for me.