11 April, 2013

Winnifred's Unconventional Foot Retention

A guest post by Casey:

In my last blog post, Winnifred's Funky Cockpit, I talked about my attempts to find the most comfortable and utilitarian setup for my touring bike's cockpit. For the past few years I've been on a similar journey in terms of pedal setup.

When I first started cycle touring in high school I had already been mountain-biking for a few years. At the time it seemed natural to use the SPD system with which I mountain biked. Unfortunately, this didn't go so well for me: I eventually developed some nasty knee pain. It ended up taking about a year for me to figure the exact source of my knee pain and eliminate it. The problem came in part from the longer rides I was doing while touring. The SPD setup had been putting strain on my knees while mountain biking, but I hadn't noticed it because I wasn't riding long enough. The problem I was having came from the fact that when my knees are pointing straight my feet are pointing out. Most clipless pedal systems naturally point the riders feet straight, for me this meant that my knees were turned in at an odd angle. Of course, it took me a good while to figure this out, and a lot of trial and error with different clipless pedal systems.

By the way, if any of you are suffering from knee problems I've found this website to be exceptionally helpful.

I tried TIME, Speedplay, and Crank Brothers Candy pedals. I found the Candys to be the only clipless system that I could adjust in a way that didn't give me knee problems. After pushing the pedal body through the spindle on two different sets of the Candys, I decided they weren't going to work for me either. In a strangely backwards way this brought me to platform pedals. With platforms pedals, I don't have to worry about what direction my feet are pointing, they just move to what is comfortable and my knees are fine. The only problem is that if I am going to be wearing regular shoes while riding, I want to wear my regular shoes -  which, in my case, are boat shoes or espadrilles. But thin soled shoes are horribly uncomfortable on classic road pedals. For this reason we designed the Grand Cru Sabot Pedal, which is what I currently ride with on my touring/city build. I've loved the sabots; they are easily the most comfortable pedal I have ever ridden.

Despite how uncomfortable clipless pedals were for me, I still loved the solid connection that you have with them when you are clipped in. This is something that the Sabots are lacking on their own. Traditional toe clips don't go well with the Sabots because the pedal is so long. I also personally don't think that traditional toe clips would look very good on the Sabots. Thankfully the guys over at Hold Fast came to my rescue. They make a unique foot retention system designed to be used with large flat platform pedals like the Sabot. They were even nice enough to a make us a version in brown
Ignore the questionable fashion choice of wearing black ankle socks with boat shoes
So far I've been really impressed with Hold Fast foot straps. They're secure enough that I feel comfortable pulling up on them like I would clipless pedals. They're also amazingly easy to get into, and I never feel I need to look down to make sure my foot is in the right place. They also don't have any pressure points since they secure your foot with such wide strap. All in all, they feel very solid, and are exceptionally comfortable. They are also made right up the road from us in Baltimore, Maryland. The combination of Hold Fast foot straps and the Sabots alongside my current cockpit setup has made for an ideal touring setup. With nice weather suddenly upon us and my bike all set up and ready to go, I can't wait to get out on tour this summer.


gypsybytrade said...

Glad to see such unique bikes behind closed doors at VO. Time for another edition of "Staff Bikes" on the blog!


Wes Ewell said...

Are those unusually long cranks?

Anonymous said...

How do the Hold Fasts compare to Powergrips?

VeloOrange said...

Wes: They're 175mm long, which is fitting for me since I'm 6'2"

Anon: I personally do not like Powergrips. I don't like the way they look and I don't think they are very comfortable. I've also found the Hold Fast straps a lot easier to get in and out of when I want to.


Wes Ewell said...

I am using Zefal MT strapless toe clips on White Industries platform pedals. They fit my cycling shoes snugly, so I can exert force on most of the rotation; can be adjusted side to side for foot alignment; and are very easy to slip in and out of. They are not as good with street shoes, however, and useless with sandals.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I think you might give the PowerGrips a try. These you show look like one could easily get stuck in them. The exit from the PGs is clean. Anyway, one of the key tricks in using PowerGrips is to turn the strap over, so the PowerGrip label is inside. The ugly logo is then gone. I have used the PowerGrips for years and love them. One only one bike that has Barelli pedals that can't use them, do I still use cages.