18 December, 2009

Half Clips


We received our new VO half clips a few days ago. Making our own half clips was not an easy decision. The tooling was expensive and they were not as easy to design as you might imagine. There are already two companies making metal half clips, MKS and ALE. So why did we make the effort and  the  investment?

The main reason is that I really like half clips and I think they will become much more popular as  as more cyclists try them and spread the word. Of all the new products I've tried since starting Velo Orange, half clips and wide-range double cranks are probably the two that were the biggest revelations, the two that I'd overlooked in a lifetime of cycling.




Half clips provide most of the advantages of full toe clips and straps, but are very easy to get in and out of. That's a big plus in city traffic. When riding without clips I find that I can't pedal at a high cadence; I "spin-off" the pedal. I also feel that I don't have the power to accelerate as quickly as on a bike with toe clips. But with full clips and straps there were the inevitable, though rare, occasions when I'd miss the clip with my toe and struggle to get into it in the middle of a busy intersection. Half clips solved all these problems.

Another reason that we made our own half clips is to have a more economical model. With the value of the Japanese Yen rising and rising, MKS clips will get ever more expensive. ALE clips are also more expensive, hard to find, and their shape is not quite ideal. At $12 the VO clips hit a sweet price point.

I also wanted a perfectly shaped half clip. The old style low half clips, which are shaped like the front of a racing style toe clip, are too low to accommodate bulky street shoes. Half clips need to be deeper. The MKS deep clips are good, but I wanted to refine the shape further. So I spent a fair bit of effort getting the shape just right to fit the widest range of shoes while making them easy to get in and out of.

Do you use half clips? Like them?

43 comments:

James said...

Great! I agree with all your points, half-clips are definitely underated. Really glad you have done this - I will be buying some.

Anonymous said...

I have never given half clips a try. Just by looking at them it's hard to believe they would make a difference, but I guess there's no way to know until you actually test them. I wonder if they would help make my MKS rat traps less slippery when my shoe soles are wet.

Sheldon Brown used to think they were pretty useless, but then again he didn't like full toeclips and straps either and changed all his bikes to SPD.

Mark said...

How do you think these will work with a bulky winter boot?

franklyn said...

I have been using MKS half clips for 2 years and have them on two bikes. They are really quite useful--you don't feel their presence as much as full-cages, but they still help to keep your feet in place and give you some leverage to pull on the pedals. Definitely recommend half-clips as a product.

MKS ones don't fit bigger shoes, so if the VO version can do that, then this is a big improvement

Christopher said...

I like them. I have half clips on two of my bikes, plastic ones on my SS mountain bike and banged up rusty ones on my 3speed. I like them on SS and minimally geared bikes because I spin off the pedals when going fast. However my fixed gears and geared bikes go without and I don't miss them. So it is a bit of a wash. I do want nice pedals on my latest build, and I will probably get some for that.

fritz said...

I'm curious too about big shoes.. this time of year I'm cycling in my heavy winter boots nearly every day.

I'm really interested in buying a pair and testing them out, but if my hella big Timberlands won't fit in them I might wait until summer to try them out..

Preston said...

I used half clips several decades
ago and really liked them, especially
for city riding. In recent years a
knee problem demands that I be able
to move my foot around on the pedal
so I abandoned using full toe clips
and straps in favor of BMX type
sneaker pedals. I did try some
MKS half clips, but they were so low
that they restricted me to cycling
shoes. The new VO half clips look
like they will solve that problem,
and allow me to wear a variety of
footwear. They would be great
with leathers on them.

Jeff said...

I used PowerGrips, half clips, full clips, etc., but nothing ever really worked with my big clunky shoes. I finally started using super-aggressive pinned BMX platforms, and those work quite well no matter what shoes I'm wearing... the pins dig into your soles so much, it's almost like being clipped in.

Gunnar Berg said...

The Ale "Lady"s are just about perfection, especially with cowhide leather covers. Sorry to see the cowhide covers disappear. The elk is just to soft and stretchy. But I digress.

Pierre said...

I first discovered strapless toe clip riding something like 39 years ago. Briefly used half-clips around 12 years ago. For the kind of riding I do, which is long and steady non racing and non pretend-racing, as well as a lot of inner city riding, just something to keep my foot in place is great. It can be something called a half-clip, but I've always found that Christophe toe clips minus the strap do the same job just as well if you already have them.

Half-clip or toe clip minus straps, I think just having something to prevent the foot from sliding forward is all I need for safe and happy road riding.

Congratulations on bringing half-clips back into cycling consciousness. More than adequate, and such an elegant, low-tech, low-complexity solution. Throw the clipless pedals away!

KC said...

Mark and Fritz, maybe I can offer some insight into your big-shoe queries. For about the last 2 months I've been wearing Timberland Earthkeeper boots size 11 (as was a point of sartorial derision on my last VO blog appearance). The half clips have no problem accommodating clod-hopping size hooves vertically (unless perhaps you have elevator or Herman Munster shoes), but you do need to bear in mind that if you have narrow pedals and wide boots, you might not fit. The half clips keep your feet fairly centered on the platforms, so the inside of your shoes might hit the crank arms. Something to bear in mind.

As to whether or not they increase efficiency in addition to keeping your feet more secure, I can definitely testify to both. In my experience, you notice greater pedaling efficiency on the down stroke rather than the up (like you do on full clips w/ straps). Half clips allow you to really lean into each down stroke on the pedals, saving you energy because gravity and your body weight do some of the work for you. Anyway, there's my unsolicited opinion.

Kyle

Chester said...

Love half-clips on whatever I'm commuting on. Had a pair of MKS Deep half-clips on a bike that, sadly, was stolen a couple weeks ago. Will be getting a new pair to put on the replacement rig.

Are you planning on offering your VO half-clips in a leathered variation? For those of us who wear dress shoes, the leather buffer is essential to preventing nicks, cuts, and scuffs.

olybikes said...

Toeclips have more than one benefit. They not only allow the rider to put more force into the pedal (power/efficiency), they also keep a rider's foot from slipping off the pedal under intense efforts, especially a standing sprint (safety).

Regarding power/efficiency, half clips are less effective (but still somewhat effective) than full clips. However, they are just as effective as full clips regarding their safety benefit.

One of my worst solo crashes as a kid was slipping off the pedals as I sprinted after the ice cream man. Sure, the pedals were worn out rubber ones, but a toeclip, even a half clip, would have prevented that hellish wreck -- I think I still have a hex-shaped indent on my sternum from the stem bolt :-(

I'm interested to see the VO clips as 99% of clips out there are simply context-ignorant carry-forwards from the era of low-profile capezio-like bike shoes (I get paid by the hyphen). Today's shoes have larger toeboxes and wider outsoles with rougher treads. There are several full clip offerings out there that address contemporary needs Winwood clips are the best plastic ones IMO, and there are several "single" and "double-gate" two-spine metal clips out there that are properly designed for today's shoes. To my knowledge, VO's half-clips are the first to be purposely designed for this purpose. Kudos!

Viva Toeclips!

scott said...

Chris, glad to see this. The half clips look useful, well designed and a great price point.

You also mention a wide range double crank, any word on a design for such a crank? Would love to see V/O produce affordable arms and rings based on the T.A. Cyclotouriste system.

J ustin. said...

I wonder if these would work with my Redwing boots...they are hilarious to ride a bike in.

Joel said...

I am a big fan or half clips. And, I agree the MKS are too small for many U.S. people's feet. I have big dogs and would more often flatten the MKS than get my foot in them.

Currently I have Bruce Gordon stainless steel half clips matched with White Pedals. BG sells these as a combo now. Except that I did not get the mark down BG offers(still costs almost as much as a VO bike) I am proud to say I came up with the combo before BG started marketing it. Guess I should have told him about it.

Rick @ Bicycle Fixation said...

Though I now use full clips with loose straps, and am very happy with that, I used half clips for a long time, and they worked very nicely, even though they were just crappy plastic ones.

I find the clips with straps a little more secure, and not much trouble, but half clips have been very good to me.

Chris Moore said...

I first got into half clips with my first mountain bike. I thought they were a fantastic solution when you didn't want to be clipped in but wanted a bit more security that just flat pedals. You can even pull up on them a bit. On my one bike that does NOT have "clipless" pedals I use half-clips.
Can't comment on the need for you to make your own, but I think in general they're great!

guidon said...

When I first got half-clips, I thought they wouldn't really make a difference. I was wrong. They are great for city riding when you have stop signs and lights every block. I can use any shoes I happen to have on my feet, jump on the bike, and go!
Glad to see you are promoting them; I thought they might disappear once clipless pedals got popular.

jamesmallon said...

I've been using clips without straps on my winter ride for years! A fine idea. It's nice to get your foot on the ground BEFORE falling on ice.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the new clips! Grant from Riv always talks about how clips are useless for city riding, since you don't need to pull up as if you were racing. I agree, but I think that in order for this to be successful, you need big clunky bmx style pedals with soft soled sneakers. I use neither. Half clips are perfect with fairly hard soled (dress shoes?) or smooth soled shoes (I ride in deck shoes all summer) , and you can pedal hard without worrying about slipping off.

yankee_dollar said...

I have nerve damage from SPD shoes and size 47 sneakers don't fit most toe clips. I've thought about making big half clips out of 3/16 steel rod.

Any word on Pro 5 vis crank copies or even the 3 bolt art-deco Herse copies? I think vo would make a killing even with the bad exchange rates....

Chris Kulczycki said...

VO 50.4bcd crank prototypes are on the way. We've been refining the design using 3D cad and sweating every little detail. The prototypes are being made by CNC mill. We will soon be testing them. If they are as good as we hope the tooling to forge them will be machined and we'll start production in a few months. There may be some surprise features with this crank!

yankee_dollar said...

forgings? ;-) I want cnc cranks, pink anodised, with matching brakes and levers-ah, I meant to say flashbacks aren't always good!

So when can we expect a VO snow bike-you know, like a surly pugsley but with 4.5" wide Honjos and guidonnet levers and a 200mm wide bottom bracket and a orange paint and...

Pierre said...

Well of course, nowadays, you never know when you will have to race, and so you must absolutely never leave home on your bike without having confidence that you have left no stone unturned in your quest for maximum efficiency.

Pre-internet hype people learned long ago that you don't actually need maximum efficiency in order to ride a bicycle really far or even pretty fast. For these people, half clips work fine, toe clips without straps work fine, and just pedals without anything work fine too.

But, if you are going to ride a lot, you do have to match the pedals to the kind of shoes you will be wearing. For example, shoes will smooth, hard leather soles (like dress shoes) probably are not going to work that well with traditional racing quill pedals, no matter what kind of clips you put on them.

Or, if you intend to use really wide shoes or boots, you will probably prefer to use a wide pedal (like a full width touring pedal).

For general-purpose road riding that isn't racing, I find a touring pedal combined with a half clip or strapless toe clip is more than efficient and comfortable enough.

Anonymous said...

I bought a set of mks half clips about a year ago and really wanted them to work so I could retire all my clipless pedals for good. No matter what shoes I try some part of my foot ends up hurting after an hour or so of spinning (usually the top or front of the toe box from rubbing against the metal). Your design looks like it has a slightly more open profile in the front which would probably be an improvement.

Raiyn said...

If these will work with my MKS GR9's and my Chuck Taylor's I'm in- particularly if they can be leather covered. Holy Crap! I sound like a hipster! At least it's not a fixie....... (retires in shame)

Anonymous said...

Half-clips sound great but less nice than powergrips. They fit any shoe, boot or sandle you can throw at them and provide nice positive contact and a quick dismount in an elegant package.

They do look awfully stuck in the early 90's.

Now a VO powergrips knockoff made of old leather belts...

Please

Anonymous said...

nice and a good price. I'll probably add a pair to my next order.

Allan Pollock

Mike R. said...

I rode for years will full clips and straps. For a long time I claimed I didn't know how to ride a bike without toe clips, but have become detached in the last two years, and I'm liking it a lot.

I have those MKS sylvan touring pedals on one bike and the Rivendell GripKing pedals on another. Both work well for me. Tevas are great cycling shoes in the summer. Birkenstock are not great.

I'd be willing to give half clips a try, if they're $12, it's a cheap experiment. I'm not expecting them to be great with Tevas though.

superfreak said...

chris
will they work for DH bikes. i find my feet bouncing on really rough patches and these may help where full toe clips and straps are too much retention when i need a quick dab. i run spiked bmx flats. i hate clipless pedals so they arent option for me ever
thx superfreak

Raiyn said...

@ Superfreak

I can't begin to tell you how BAD an idea that is. The weight of the half clip will (if you have decent bearings in your pedals) rotate the clip away from you when you dab. Yes, you can get add on pedal flips, but at DH (Downhill Offroad racing for those who don't know) speeds it ain't going to happen. You'll hook a clip and splash yourself all over the run. These are for regular people riding in normal situations not for a Kamikaze run down a black diamond in summer.
Stick with the BMX pedals (or get some spiked Grip Kings) or suck it up and go clipless. If you go that route it's been my experience in use and having sold them that they are the easiest to learn and operate - especially when it gets hairy.

nicholas said...

i just found some NOS christophe half-clips on ebay (not cheaply, sadly) and they seem to be exactly like the new VO models. my loss! the VO clips look great. i really prefer half clips for town-oriented bikes; i have a racing bike and go full clip on that; but for my "townie" px-10 (really??) you cant beat them. it sure beats getting in and out of full clips every other block. i dont feel like you can really "pull" with half clips, but theyre great for stability, and also due to the fact that you can pull up the cranks to start again. i ride regularly in chuck taylors and they fit like a glove. i tried riding with some taller red wing boots and thats a no-go. i highly recommend half clips!

Raiyn said...

@ Nicholas
Good to know that I'd be fine with the Chucks

In my last post I was referring to TIME clipless pedals as being easy to use and escape. As to why I didn't type that I haven't a clue.

keithwwalker said...

Side by side profile photos of the new clip and the mks would really help out Chris.

I have the MKS and they are great for commuting, BUT in the rainy season in Portland I would like to have larger clips to fit my ankle galoshes. Yes galoshes (rubber boots - wellingtons) on the bike, it is very practical to throw on a rain cape, and wear galoshes for the 5 mile one way commute.

The bicycle brand whores can wear all the expensive rain gear, a rain cape and wellingtons do nicely.

Raiyn said...

@keithwalker
Any suggestions on rain capes for taller riders? Also a good source would help.

keithwwalker said...

I am 6'1" and use the extra large (super size) waxed cotton Carradice rain cape. A bit narrow at the shoulders, but good enough.

It could be improved with an offset zipper, remove the hood (though it makes sense off the bike w/o a helmet)

The cape drapes over the handlebars so you don't need special rain gloves, I wear Smartwool merino gloves

Raiyn said...

@Keith
We're both over 6'4" - Still doable? Unfortunately capes, especially waxed cotton (drool) are hard to come by in my area so it's not like I can test ride one.

Greg said...

Installed the VO Half Clips on my
'91 Bridgestone RB-T commuter and took them for a 21 mile test ride wearing Keen Coronado suede sneakers.
I've used clips n' straps, SPD, PowerGrips and Grip Kings on this bike in its nearly 20 years of service and the half clips are the best set-up I've used for commuting.
They even work with Crocs.

keithwwalker said...

@Raiyn, I ordered my Carradice through the internet. If there is a nylon Carradice in your area, I would assume that the sizing is the same for comparison's sake.

Luis Garcia said...

2009 marked my return to cycling. I knew upon my return that I wanted to ride differently. I have made many changes to my road bike in the past year, but my #1 most favorite change of all has been swapping out my SPD clipless pedals for a pair of MKS deep leathered half clips. After 20 years of riding clipless and being a snob about it, I have repented! I ride all over the city of Dallas and now feel safer, more comfortable, and just as fast in my half clips.

Luis Garcia

Peter said...

I can't tell you how many shops I've been to asking for these, only to get a 'deer in the headlights' kind of response. Some have gone as far as to suggest they don't exist. I'll definitely be buying a pair. My first visit to your site, btw. Great stuff.

Kurt said...

I have been riding half clips for years. I never tried clipless pedals because everyone I talked to said you WOULD fall getting used to them. That seemed silly to me and I was worried about being attached if I had an unexpected crash. Getting out of straps was never a problem, but getting into them was, so this seemed a good compromise. I haven't looked back. They are fine for maintaining my foot on the pedal when out of saddle and keeping my foot in position all other times.