Clipless Pedals vs. Toe Clips vs. Straps – Which Fixed Gear Pedals are Best for You?

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Clipless Pedals vs. Toe Clips vs. Straps

Choosing based on your riding style on whether you want clipless, toe clips, or straps is always confusing if you don’t know much about them. Even if you do, it’s still a little difficult at times, which is why we’ll discuss them in this article about fixed gear pedals.

While platforms are the easiest way to go on a bike, since they are beginner-friendly and are simply comfortable as you don’t need special shoes for them, foot retention systems, such as those with clipless pedals, are trickier.

Flats do have a bunch of cons, such as the lack of power transfer, which is important for MTB and even for road bike sprinting. That’s where clipless systems and the like come in handy since they make you feel like you are part of the bike.

Straps

If you do still want to ride flat and maintain comfort with stability, you can go for a flat with a foot strap and a bunch of protruding heads so your feet won’t move as much.

Pros

What we like about straps is that you can use them for MTB and sprinting on the road. You don’t need special cleats to wear them as you can even wear Crocs or your favorite gym shoes so long as they have a good grip.

Because straps are easily adjustable, you can go and ride your bike with a setup that’s as tight as you want.

What straps will do is that you can wear a wide range of footwear and still have the power to control your bike properly and comfortably.

Cons

While straps give a sufficiently better power transfer when compared to flats, it is still not as much as compared to having cleats with a clipless system. They’re also still not as good as clipless systems when it comes to MTB uphill and downhill riding.

Toe Clips

These toe clips are a variety of straps but the catch is that your toes are also part of the fixture.

Pros

They are stylish and still a convenient way to not have to wear cleats when using your bike. You can also wear different types of shoes instead of having to specifically buy cleats. When positioned properly, your foot and the toe box will provide sufficient grip and stability. On power transfer, it has just the same amount as you would on regular straps, albeit slightly more efficient.

Cons

A little challenge for this type of fixed gear system is that you can’t just wear any shoe and ride your bike – some of these toe clips won’t accept certain footwear. Boots, for example, aren’t ideal but sneakers are okay to use for them.

On durability, when compared to regular straps, toe clips could get easily ruined if you didn’t set them up properly or if you don’t have a quality set. However, most toe clips are also slightly more expensive than straps.

Toe clips aren’t exactly the most secure of all fixed gear types as they could make your foot move a little bit, especially between the toe clip and your feet. They could be a little uncomfortable on the first ride.

Tips on Using

If you do want to buy a toe clip, you may want to go for a double strap instead because they will make your ride more comfortable in the long run thanks to a better distribution. Aluminum and nylon types are available when it comes to materials.

Clipless Pedals

Many MTB riders rave a lot about clipless pedals – and they’re not wrong to do that. Most MTB riders (and bikers in general) will tell you just how much efficiency and power transfer you will get with clipless pedals. If you set them up correctly, they will give you a great time on your bike without worrying as much about uphill and downhill riding.

Pros

Because you don’t have any slight movement with your feet at all, you feel that you are the same with the bike, as if you are part of the bike. That translates to better power transfer and pedaling efficiency, especially for difficult sections.

While clipless pedals come with all the tricky bits, in the end, they are still the most efficient for power transfer when used properly. Shimano pedals are the most common type because they have tension adjusters for you to set your comfort levels when unclipping.

Cons

However, many bikers will also tell you that clipless pedals aren’t the most beginner-friendly and can be tedious to set up. With clipless pedals, you have to separately buy special shoes or cleats to snap onto your pedals, which is added cost to some.

While MTB cleats are okay to walk around, if you have a road bike and want to convert it to clipless pedals, you will have a problem with shoe comfort. Road bike cleats are not very comfortable to walk around so you need to bring an extra pair with you (what a hassle!).

However, if you aren’t used to clipless pedals, you could accidentally clip off your shoes when you exert a lot of force, so it takes a little bit of getting used to. This is also why you always have to check if your cleats are in ok condition, otherwise, they will be dangerous to wear.

Clipless pedals aren’t very budget-friendly as a whole when compared to toe clips and straps. However, if you are willing to invest in power, performance, and pedaling efficiency, the price tag probably won’t scare you off. Lighter-weight pedals may also cost more.

Tips on Using

Sometimes, you may find that your pedal and bike design doesn’t have sufficient float area (which allows you to flex your foot in and out) and it will also be a problem because it will be difficult to remove your foot from the pedal. Injuries can happen if your clipless pedals are too tight or too loose so make sure they have just the right of tension for your comfort needs.

Aside from the difficulty of using them at first, it’s also tricky to set the right tension for them so that you won’t clip too light or too heavily. Setting a balance between keeping your foot secure and making it easy to get off the bike when needed is something that needs time and dedication. That’s why clipless pedal riding requires a lot of patience and experience – more than just riding skill.

If you want cleats that are okay for walking for your clipless pedals, keep in mind that you might sacrifice a bit of efficiency and durability but it all comes down to your preference between the ability to walk with your cleats around versus performance.

Road bikes, as mentioned above, have bigger cleats so they aren’t good for walking around. It’s like you’re wearing spiked shoes and they certainly won’t give you the best comfort if you want to ride your bike to the grocery store. However, if you want speed and are a serious racer, road bike cleats are the best way to go (just bring an extra shoe pair with you for walking).

Conclusion

All pedal setups are different and it is mostly based on your preference. What you want matters the most and not what’s popular – even some racers use flats from time to time or even toe clips and straps just to get a bit of comfort, especially for road bikes where cleats are horrible to walk around with.

There is no best pedal winner here – only clear advantages and disadvantages between them. You have to decide which one is best for you based on its pros and cons and which one you think works for your riding style. Each rider is different and that’s what spawned the different types of fixed-gear pedals for you to choose. Happy riding and stay safe!