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Could you complete without clipless pedals?

Quick question – Could you complete this ride without clipless pedals? I know the route changes every year, but I’m not quite familiar with Iowa terrain….I recently broke my wrist after a pedals incident and it’s been a financially and physically painful nightmare that sort of has me burned out on the idea of clips…

39 Replies

Paul, May 23, 2012 at 5:59 am

Yes you can ride with any type of pedals and do just fine.

+1 Tony. Knowing your equipment’s quirks and needs is the main worry.

The only 2 new items I have to add is to remember to adjust your clipless mechanism to release as hard or as easy as you want and to know how to get out of both sides in a hurry if needed (no offense intended Roberto,I see what you say but….). Ragbrai is not the time to rely on only one pure,elegant, and efficient process like always just clipping out of one particular side or one foot only at a time.The crowds can be a mess. You will just get worked up if you expect everyone to be uniform.

Off I go now to get all worked up at work, just wishing I was on the ride.


Michrider !!!, May 23, 2012 at 6:55 am

I’ll be riding my Shimano A520’s. I use them all the time. I ride what I want and you should too!!!! See you on an Iowa Kurb!!!!!


Tony, May 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Clipless is relatively new to non competitive cycling. As gag gas pointed out. Look developed a cleat system for racing in the mid 80’s. Shimano quickly licensed their system and had Look make pedals with their branding on them. Shimano didn’t developed there own system, SPD, until the early 90’s. It was also only for road bikes. By the mid 90’s you started to see them on floor model bikes. The first bike I had with clipless was a 1999 Trek 2100. It had Icon SPD pedals. It was my first experience with clipless. Before that my bikes always had MKS pedals with toe clips. My first road bike was a Vista Esquire 10 speed. It had MKS quill pedals with toe clips. That was in the early 70’s. I road that bike all over Europe while in the Navy. I would have to say most of us gray hairs learned how to ride road bikes with toe clips. Toe clips have been around for 120 years. They are a good option. For those that don’t want to buy special shoes. If you leave the straps a bit loose. You can slip in/out easily. They do take a bit to get use to. To get into them you drag your foot backwards across a flip tab or tap it with your toe. This flips the pedal and the toe clip over your shoe. If you cinch the straps tight. You must reach down and hit the release tab on the strap buckle. There is no way to get out of them in a panic stop. When they are cinched tight.As I said above. With any of these systems. The more familiar you are with them. The more second nature they are.


dennis the bald, May 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I’ve done it on a mountain bike, a touring bike, a recumbent, and a trike.
I didn’t use clips or clipless the first couple of times, nor on the trike.
I can’t ride a 2wheel recumbent w/o them, YMMV.

You should use what ever equipment you find the most comfortable.
Comfort is good. Any little thing that annoys you on a 50 mile ride will become problematic when you’re doing longer rides every day, and sleeping on the ground between ’em.

Personally not having to change my shoes and still not tipping over when starting from a dead stop going up a hill was one of the driving factors in my switch from 2 to 3 wheels.


dennis the bald, May 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Yes, what you say is true, but do you wanna be tethered to your optimum position all day every day for a week? I don’t, but I can surely understand if you do.

Any time your feet are getting you where you’re going it’s important to keep them happy; happy feet, happy seat, happy camper. I spent a long time looking for the path to happiness, and lo and behold, it was right under my feet all the time.

When I wear shoes I like to change socks every couple hours. But I like SANDALS best of all. (nashbar ragsters)

“Bicycle Bill”:
From a non-pro standpoint — it has long been accepted that there is an optimal position for the foot and the pedal to come into contact, usually right about the ball of the feet, in order to fully utilize the leg muscles and deliver the most power to the pedal and in turn to the rear wheel.Toeclips and straps (including the PowerGrip straps) tend to hold your foot in the same position on the pedal, eliminating the need for you, the rider, to waste even a small amount of energy concentrating on keeping an untethered foot in the proper position.Clips (such as the original Look ‘ski-binding’ pedals) were just a more techogeeky way of doing the same thing.THAT’S the reason why being attached to the bike is a definite benefit.



Spenser, May 23, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Thanks, everyone! I’m sitting here now with my newly un-casted arm that is stiff and painful (and weird looking), so it’s hard to imagine using clips right now…on the other hand, I live in Austin and know what it’s like to pump up a real hill…no easy feat (I could be cheesy and say “feet” but I will resist).

I really like the idea of using clipless on one side and a flat pedal on my dominant foot since there would probably be a lot of unexpected stops. I’ve also used toe cages and like those as well.

But really at this point I’m just itching to get back on again… i will
(hopefully) meet everyone at RAGBRAI 2013!


mclousing, May 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I have one more piece of advise for newbies on clipless pedals. The best training I can say to get your legs used to the motion of engaging and disengaging the cleat would be to just take your bike in your house and while watching tv just sit on your bike supporting yourself on a couch or something and just clip in and out for a couple of shows. After a couple of days of that muscle memory will start kicking in.


longrider42, May 24, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Hey Spenser, here is an option : http://www.rei.com/product/788129/power-grips-sport-pedal-kit. Just put some on my bike. Very secure, easy to get in and out of, with practice, and the pedal has a flat side. So its all good. if the sport isnt good enough for you, they make one thats supposed to be better. Enjoy.


Twice Retired, June 6, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Quick question – Could you complete this ride without clipless pedals? I know the route changes every year, but I’m not quite familiar with Iowa terrain….I recently broke my wrist after a pedals incident and it’s been a financially and physically painful nightmare that sort of has me burned out on the idea of clips…

I have always had toe straps, a compromise at best. I now have ~360 miles on the combination pedal that is flat on one side and clipless on the other. I love the option; I knew I would forget my shoes someday and it has happend twice this spring. I did discover that riding clipless is far superior to flat pedaling. I don’t have to worry about my feet slipping or whether they are positioned properly. I also gain 2mph going up hills. I’m not racing so mine our set to release with a casual flick of the ankle. I have popped vetically from the pedals in one panic stop; a pleasant surprise.


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