There are a lot of different kinds of pedals out there in the bike world, but they fall roughly into two categories: clipless and not.

Riding clipless on the X90.

Non-clipless pedals are probably what you think of when you think of a bicycle pedal – flat, made of plastic or metal, platform. Clipless pedals, on the other hand, attach to a cleat mounted on the bottom of special cycling shoes – and the rider clips in to the pedals.

In one of the strange twists in cycling language, yes, you clip into clipless pedals. How did these pedals get this name?

Well before there were clipless pedals, there were (and still are) toe clips – straps or cages that attach to the pedal that cyclists use to keep their foot from sliding around. These toe clips provide more retention than a basic platform alone, but not as much (says conventional wisdom) as a cleat. The reason clipless pedals are called “clipless” is because lack the toe clip/strap.

A platform pedal with a toe clip

Some of you may already know that Montague’s SwissBike X90 doesn’t come with pedals. That’s because oftentimes, riders who are interested in high performance prefer to use clipless pedals, and there’s more than one style of clipless pedal on the market.

If you’ve never tried it (or even if you have), you might be wondering if clipless pedals are a good option for you. (And yes, all Montague bikes can be fit with clipless pedals).

Benefits of Clipless Pedals

Some different brands of clipless pedal.

• Better power transfer – this makes it easier to go up hills. You can also stand without the risk of slipping off the back of your pedals.

• More efficient riding – you can use both your quads (forward pedal stroke) and hamstrings (back pedal stroke). This efficiency also means more power.

• Your feet don’t slip – you will appreciate this if you ride in the rain and have had your feet slip off your pedals.

Drawbacks of Clipless Pedals

• They take some getting used to – the first time I rode clipless, I thought I was going to be stuck to my bike forever. It was scary. Then I learned how to unclip.

• Riding clipless in heavy traffic can be kind of a pain (and the first time you do it, you will probably fall over from slowing down too much before unclipping).

• Cost – there’s a range on everything, of course, but platform pedals can be had for pretty cheap. With clipless, you’ve got the initial pedal/cleat/shoe set-up, plus the cost of replacements over time.

Moving Forward…

Really it’s up to you – when I go on longer rides, I use clipless pedals. For commuting, with all the stopping and starting, I use platform pedals. But I know some riders have strong preferences one way or the other.

How about you? Do you prefer clipless or platform pedals? What made you decide one way or the other? Have any good “Falling Over” stories? Photos of your Montague bike with clipless pedals?

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