eBent Recumbent Cycling

A Bent Look at Self Contained Touring

Why I don’t use Clipless Pedals

with 18 comments


pg_in_action1.jpgpg_in_action1.jpgUpdated: 2/29/08 – No Clipless Pedals for me this year

About 5 years ago I switched from clipless pedals to PowerGrips. There were several reasons I changed but the primary one was comfort. Yes, I had more power with clipless pedals but my feet were never really comfortable and my knees felt stressed.

I believe that clipless pedals don’t release as well on recumbents. There always seemed to be a little more resistance and a slower release that I got on a diamond frame. Even after riding with clipless pedals for years I still had a few tumbles in Portsmouth each year when oblivious walkers stepped out in front of me. The thought of taking a tumble on a mountain while touring fully loaded convinced me that it was time to change.

Plus I don’t’ feel on a recumbent that the advantage of the clipless pedal is as great. On a recumbent, you don’t pull the pedal back horizontally as you do on a diamond frame. The bottom of the stroke occurs when you foot is out in front of you not under you and the motion still has a downward component. Thus you don’t need that firmer attachment quite as much.

I had used PowerGrips before I went clipless so going back seemed obvious. I knew that getting my feet out of PowerGrips is easy and I could forget about getting my foot stuck in the pedal.

eBent is optimized around comfort and reliability, not speed so the change was a back to PowerGrips was a natural. Now I can wear my sandals allowing my toes to self actualize in the sun as nature intended. My feet are comfortable and securely attached to the pedals with PowerGrips, I am happy and my feet are happy.

There is very little to go wrong with PowerGrips and they work with any shoe, so that is a plus for reliability and flexibility. It is also nice that when you get off the bike you have comfortable shoes to walk in. On a tour that means you have 2 pairs of walking and riding shoes instead of one pair for riding and one pair for walking.

I do not recommend riding without some kind of attachement to the pedal. I know many recumbent riders do this but if your foot slips off of the pedal you can take a nasty spill.

The PowerGrips web site is awful and they don’t give you a price break. Just Froogle PowerGrips if you decide to buy. Usually someone has them on sale.

If you also ride in sandals and have industrial sized feet (11 or bigger) you will probably need the extra long straps. I usually mount my PowerGrips on a pair of Welgo 888 pedals with stainless bodies. You can find these pedals almost everywhere for about $20. I usually buy mine at the local bike shop.

I used to use MKS Touring Pedals. They are very wide and very nicely made but MKS stopped greasing the Left Pedals. After two sets in a row failed in a month I stopped using them. The fix is easy, just open and grease, but I don’t stock BBs anymore so why take the chance.

For recommendations on sandal see “Sandal Hot Buys“. These are sandals I have tested and found comfortable for long rides and touring. The sandals I recommend are waterproof and work well with PowerGrips.

Giving Clipless Pedals Another Try

See Shoes and Pedals for more posts on this topic


Written by Roland

June 1, 2006 at 12:07 am

18 Responses

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  1. Why I don’t use Clipless Pedals

    I believe PowerGrips work better on a recumbent than clipless pedals. This article explains why.


    June 1, 2006 at 12:11 am

  2. Anonymous

    June 29, 2006 at 7:46 am

  3. I tried the PowerGrips on my recumbent, which was a Burley Spider at the time. I found that they didn’t provide much float and my knees started to get sore.

    anon from IL

    September 7, 2006 at 4:02 pm

  4. Sounds like you may have had the straps too tight. Your foot should not be tightly held by the straps and should move freely. They are not meant to be as tight as toe straps.

    I need to use the longer straps because my shoe size is 11 and the standard straps are too tight. If you have an industrial size foot that may be the problem.

    Enjoy the Ride … Roland


    September 7, 2006 at 9:25 pm

  5. […] I haven’t used clipless pedals for about 10 years. I never really liked SPDs (I can’t beleive Shamino never had a Product Liability Issue with their SPDs) but had good luck with Time Clipless Pedals. But when I started self contained touring in the mountains it became obvious that the risk of a fall just washed out the benefits. Plus my toes needed to self actualize in sandals. (Why I don’t use clipless pedals) I still would not recommend clipless pedals for self contained touring but I am suffering the post tour blahs and need to do something to bring the spark back. I am in the post tour riding slow mode and though trying clipless pedals might help to get me out of it. I think they might be fun for local riding, we will see. Plus I had trouble resisting that great price on the eggbeaters and the sale price on the shoes. […]

  6. I had a recent accident using spd clipless pedals. I was on a 44 mile ride. At about half way, my left calf begain to cramp. It would not allow me to pedal at all. So I coasted in pain to a driveway. As I reached the driveway a cramp got in my left leg just as I began to stop. As I came to a stop, the cramp in my left leg would not allow me to twist my foot enough to get my foot out of clip. It was only as I fell to the ground that my foot finally released from the pedal. fortunately I did not get hurt.


    September 4, 2007 at 3:45 pm

  7. Learning how to fall is part of the SPD experience. Glad to hear you weren’t hurt.


    September 8, 2007 at 7:08 am

  8. Re: Powergrips

    Powergrips tighten when you rotate your foot after you slide in the strap. If you rotate to the outboard, passed the point you would normally pull back and out, the strap tightens again — and you are trapped. If the rotation continues, the result can be painful. My wife hit a 6 inch curb straight on on her burley. She dislocated her right ankle, and broke the tibia as it enters the ankle. It’s take six weeks before she would ride again (platform pedals).

    I ride with BeBops. I’ve used SPD and Power grips, and I can get out with Bebops faster then powergrips or SPD. My wife was using powergrips at my suggestion. I’ve fallen with all systems, including platforms. If you are going to ride, you will fall someday.


    Robert Evans

    October 4, 2007 at 3:30 pm

  9. I just dislocated my ankle mountain biking with spd pedals. The pedal did not release and my foot twisted 90 degrees out of socket. The is very painful. I am a very experienced rider. I ride only steep advanced single track with full body pads. i am 190 lbs at 11 percent body fat. I now have a cast and screws in my leg so all the ligaments from my knee to my ankle can repair.


    January 3, 2008 at 5:47 am

  10. Dave, sorry to hear about your injury. I hope everything heals well and quickly.

    Do you plan on changing pedals when you go back to bicycling or do you think your injury was just really bad luck?


    January 3, 2008 at 9:34 am

  11. […] a Parking Place for your Car while Bicycle Touring in VermontHip HopeAn Inexpensive Trip to CroatiaWhy I don’t use Clipless PedalsCleaning Disc BrakesKennebunkport Loop – 40 Mile Maine Seacoast RambleGarmin Maps – Big Price […]

  12. Thanks!,


    December 13, 2008 at 1:02 pm

  13. Clipless pedals are very dangerous. I know of 2 other cyclists who had hip fractures due to not being able to release from their pedals. The risk is not worth the efficiency of using them.


    January 12, 2009 at 6:28 pm

  14. try a trike (~;

    no problem !


    April 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    • Bernard, I think you have something there. I have always said we all will ride trikes eventually.


      April 20, 2009 at 9:01 pm

  15. I’ve just started using SPDs on my new Bacchetta highracer, and would never ride without some sort of clip. More than taking advantage of the full stroke, I think clipless on a recumbent is more about foot positioning and attachment. For the brief time I didn’t use them I always hated going over an unexpected bump or shifting down too quickly and having my feet fly off the pedals.

    Good SPDs can be adjusted to allow for very easy release, which I use on my bike. It really becomes second nature to give them that little twist and I’ve never had a spill… on my Mtb either. Think with SPDs it’s always good to practice lots if you’re not used to them. Waiting for an emergency is not the right time.


    May 23, 2010 at 6:00 pm

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    October 2, 2014 at 3:38 am

  17. Clipless Pedals this article is a helpful for everybody. I will buy a Recumbent Bike for exercise. I enjoy by this bike. Thanks for shearing this page.

    Recumbent Bike

    March 18, 2015 at 1:32 pm

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