Reverence: Time iCLIC Pedals

Unlocked and loaded.

If you’ve ever sold bikes for a living, (or even just ridden them), you’ll know that the biggest fear of the newbie, or the moderately experienced cyclist is clipping in.  It can strike the Fear of Merckx into the brawniest of men and reduce them to a quivering mess, saying things like “I don’t want to fall over”, “how will I get out if I need to walk up a hill” (hopefully only uttered by mountain bikers) or “I’ll look like a dick if I fall over at the traffic lights.”  But as most of you here will attest, it’s happened to the best of us.  It’s all part of the learning curve, a curve so shallow and rapidly transient that it’s probably best described as a slightly bent line.  The mere act of clipping in quickly becomes second nature, as instinctive as flicking an Ergo, STI or DoubleTap lever to change gear, or reaching down to grab a bottle without taking your gaze from the road ahead.

My own initiation into the world of clipless was in 1991, a year or so after I started mountain biking.  Up until then it had been a world of toe clips and straps, which while not exactly easy to get into or out of, was still a better alternative than muddy sneakers slipping off the pedals and gouging six-inch trenches of skin from your shins.  Shimano had just released their first attempt at the SPD system (the M737?), and seeing local trend-setter Burgo rocking them with the sweet matching shoes was like witnessing the moon landing; it was right there in front of you, but you didn’t quite know if such a marvel of technology was possible.  But it was, and soon a spate of ‘clip-ins’ were appearing from several other brands, including the now long-defunct Onza.  Their HO pedal was smaller and lighter than Shimano’s, so it got my vote on those counts alone.  It used two elastomer bumpers (similar to those being used in the suspension forks of the day) instead of steel springs for their retention force.  You want more retention?  Rebuild them with harder durometer bumpers.  They were universally considered a pain in the ass to set up, and even more so to get in and out of as I quickly found out.

The Onzas were ditched after maybe a year or less of service, and the only way to go (according to the magazine reviews, and more importantly, advertising) was the Time ATAC.  They were lauded as the easiest entry/ release, cleared mud better than Shimano due to their open body design, and were being ridden to victory in just about every World Cup race by the likes of Little Mig Martinez and a young Cuddles.  They were a revelation in my clipless experience, and now on my third pair I won’t be changing anytine soon.  I still have those original grey ATACs kicking around on my commuter bike, and apart from a tiny amount of bearing slop and some cosmetic gouging from the cleats, are still working flawlessly.

When I bought my first ‘real’ road bike, a steel Gipiemme, the shop set me up with some basic Look pedals, but with Time shoes.  Both sucked.  It wasn’t long before I’d replaced both, the Looks with a set of alloy-bodied Time Impacts, and the shoes with Sidis.  (Still got both, although I’m buggered if I can find the pedals.)  A set of RSX Carbons kept the Time-line going, more to reduce weight than for any operational advanatge.  The only problem I’ve had has been the left cleat wearing prematurely (from putting the foot down and straddling the top tube Casually Deliberatley at lights) which can make entry a tad frustrating if you don’t get it right the first attempt.  And at about $70 a set, replacing them regularly becomes not only a chore but a drain on a poor bike-shop guy’s wallet.  Pulling away from a coffee stop on a ride, flailing left foot struggling to engage, slipping off and making a bloodied gouge in my knee warmer was all I needed to convince me to check out Time’s latest system, the iClic.

Now, it seems if you want to make a product sound hip and cool, just take the name of said product and stick an “i” in front of it. So no kudos to Time’s marketing team there, but I guess they took the easy option and one that’s easy to remember because of it’s genericity.  All that aside, the promise of piece-of-piss-easy entry was too hard to resist, and when a customer wanted a set ordered, I thought I’d give them a try too.  Dan at Sola Sports was singing their praises too, and hooked me up with a set of Carbons at the Velominati Special Deal rate.  Cheers Dan!

It took, oh, about ten seconds to declare these the easiest pedals ever to get into.  It was like my foot had been magically or magnetically drawn to the exact position for the cleat to engage, the pedal falling at the optimum angle, and the most satisfying ‘clic’ that I’d heard since those very first ATACs converted me for life.  If you don’t know how the iClics work, think about ski boots/bindings.  (I have never ski’ed, so if it all sounds like bullshit then it probably is.)  The secret is in the Carbo-Flex plate under the pedal’s platform, which holds the retention mechanism open when you twist the shoe out. When it’s time to clip back in, the spring is in open position, allowing the cleat to locate with minimum resistance.

And as the Gestapo would tell you, resistance is futile.

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67 Replies to “Reverence: Time iCLIC Pedals”

  1. Perfect timing w/this post Brett. I’m about to drop some coin on new pedals and replace my less than stellar Looks. I was leaning towards Speedplay, but I’m gonna check these out as well. Thanks!

  2. “Pulling away from a coffee stop on a ride, flailing left foot struggling to engage, slipping off and making a bloodied gouge in my knee warmer was all I needed”

    Um? Gold. For me, anyway. I thought you knew how to ride a bike?

  3. “If you’ve ever sold bikes for a living, (or even just ridden them), you’ll know that the biggest fear of the newbie, or the moderately experienced cyclist is clipping in.”

    I’ve never understood this, personally. Falling over while clipped in has to be one of the least dangerous falls you can have on a bike since you’re going approximately 0 kph. These same people, scared of falling over, will then bomb down hills without issue and ride with large groups of other un-coordinated individuals.

    When I purchased my first nice bike, with STI shifters and Speedplay pedals and took it on my first ride, I was literally (and I do mean literally, not like how some people use it when they really mean “figuratively”) giggling and laughing at how great it felt to be securely connected to the pedals by stiff-soled shoes, and how easy it was to shift. My previous bike had flat pedals (without clips) and friction shifters behind the stem.

    I was very glad I just took the plunge and didn’t do the weird transition that some folks do, riding around a nice bike with platform pedals… what an awkward way to ride.

  4. In Italy all road bikes come with clipless pedals. I tried not to over think it to much and I have never fallen yet. Its an over rated fear.

  5. i’ve had to re-learn how to clip in.
    over the last few weeks i’ve built up my first road bike and had an ankle re-construction. the adjustment from riding track/fixies and not being able to unclip my one ankle has resulted in some classy clip in moments, and a few low speed slow motion falls.
    thank goodness for old loose low end shimano clipins!

  6. The fear of being clipped in definitely comes from riders who are going straight from flat pedals or loosely strapped toe clips…the effort to unstrap your foot from a old school racing pedal with toe clips is much more likely to result in a nasty fall.

    But all options are better than this one, my favorite bit of cycling WTF history:

    With these puppies you actually have to actuate a pin UNDER YOUR FOOT in order to clip in and out. Good luck doing that in a pinch.

  7. @Brett,
    Nice one, mate. Ah…those old Shimano shoes. Damn those were sweet. They were so cool, I bought two pairs. I rode in one, and took the cleats off the second and used them as my rad walking shoes. To think I used to kick around in high school and college in those bad boys. Man, was I cool. Can’t seem to locate any pics, but I’m sure I have them at my parent’s place still.

    I also went to Time ATAC pedals…ah, what a trip down memory lane. Reminds me of good ol’ Johnny T and The Lung.

    In fact, Johnny T is wearing the shoes I’m talking about in this shot:

    And this one:

    Not to mention that the shoes he’s wearing in this shot here were the incarnation of the Time pedals prior to the ATAC. I still have these shoes and pedals as well.

    Man, that was a fun time to be involved in mountain biking. So much excitement, change, and innovation. Cool stuff.

  8. @pakrat
    Go the Speedplays mate – they kill ’em all, even the Times. But just like the Times, cleat wear and replacement can be a pain. I learned the hard way that its a good idea to replace the rear screws on the cleats whilst you can still get a screwdriver to them.

    Bretto – I don’t think the fear is clipping in, it is NOT clipping out. That is where the problems arise.

    My personal clip out (or non clip out) story came about 18 years ago when I decided that, just like the bike couriers, I could mount a kerb by lifting the front wheel and pedalling over it. My nascent bike handling skills honed as a runner turned triathlete (yes I said it – have long since repented) did not allow me to correctly execute this manouevre. I came to a halt and just slowly fell sideways to the ground.

    Mcsqueak has clearly never fallen properly onto a hard surface whilst travelling forwards at 0 kph – it can fucking hurt because your sideways downwards velocity can be somewhat greater than 0 kmp. Resulted in a fracture dislocation of my top thumb joint which has never been the same since… But gee I got up and rode away quickly…

  9. I’ve always ridden Speedplays, and I’ve always secretly scoffed at the legion of cyclists on Look, Shimano, etc. Why limit yourself to clipping into only one side of the pedal when two are available? So archaic. With that being said, a member of my club rocks Time iClics with matching shoes and they look unmistakably PRO. If I were to ever abandon my beloved Speedplays, Time would be the first pedal I considered.

  10. Nice one, Brett!

    I had a sharp ascent in my life as a Velominati – rode with clips + straps for only about a year and then went clipless. On my first or second ride I did the 0 kph fall over, felt like a total dick flailing around on the grass between the road and sidewalk on my side, still clipped in. Don’t think I’ve gone down since.

    I’d love to try these, or Speedplays, but fuck, if I like them that means I need to change pedals on four bikes, plus cleats, plus play around with cleat position. I’m standing my ground, at this point.

    As for those Shimano shoes – I got a pair a few years ago on the bay for $0.99. No joke. Still using them on my commuter with some spds. Sweet as.

  11. Brett, just FYI and in case you didn’t already know, Dan is no longer with Sola.

    Frank, the Cinelli pedals you are WTFing at were predominately used on the track, where bolting the rider in was much less of an issue than it would be on the road. I’m sure the odd forward thinking rider adapted them for road use, but not many. Having used a pair myself back in the day, pulling the release pin wasn’t much harder than reaching down to loosen ones toe straps anyway…

  12. @Marcus

    I agree – love Speedplay pedals. I have the Zero, the float is fantastic.

    I’ve had a few tip-overs while clipped in, worst injury was a bloody knee, and a bit of a saddle scuff. Guess I’ve been lucky, I’d take that type of crash over one at speed! I’m young though, plenty of time yet to mangle myself.

  13. I’ll take this as my chance to relate my favorite slow speed fall story. Once upon a time… No, that’s not right, starting again.

    A few months ago I was riding home from a Saturday club ride along a tree-lined bike bath. As I pedalled along, I started hearing this strange, intermittent staccato whir to my right, like a small RC airplane. And it was tracking me, seemingly just out of sight past the trees. I rode along for a few minutes, becoming more and more disturbed by the sound… Who’s following me? Is someone playing a joke, having a laugh at my obviously growing discomfort? It was really starting to piss me off!

    Finally I stopped, unclipping my left foot, of course. (Sidebar: do we need a Rule?) As I turned aound, expecting to see someone behind me doubling over with laughter, I heard the sound again! Still on my right, but now on the other side of the path! Awareness slowly dawned… I carefully removed glasses, then helmet, and what did I find? A 7 cm dragonfly, lodged in the vent above my right ear, flapping its wings frantically. (Thank Merckx for a helmet with a bug net liner!)

    Now laughing myself, I leaned over to my left, gently tapping my helmet on the pavement to dislodge the hapless creature, who proceeded to fly drunkenly off into the undergrowth. Laughing harder, I stood up, a bit too swiftly, lost my balance to my still clipped in right, and tumbled over into the verge. More laughing, both from me and the family pedalling past on their cruisers…. The End.

    PS I like my Speedplays too, but there are lots of great pedals…. Vive la difference!

    Good post, Brett.

  14. Oh those Cinelli pedals… are the ones that one of my old friend was using all the time
    on his silver Cinelli Supercorsa.
    He was a good pistard in the ’40s and more important to me, one of my cycling mentors.
    Between them he was the one with more class and style, so that was his legacy to me.
    Boy, he was really elegant in every aspect of cycling and off, I never even noted how difficult was to use those pedals.

  15. I went these bad boys back in 1994 on my Giant Cadex mtb (full Suntour groupset – didn’t that cause huge problems later when they went bust?).

    First ride clipped in was on my university campus at night. Fun times with stairs and ramps and stuff.
    So I see a girl from a class, Petra, who was every guy’s not-so-secret crush. We’re chatting away as she walks to the tram stop to go home, me rolling beside her.
    Things are going well when, inevitably, I slowly topple over. We had a good laugh, luckily.
    Fun times.

  16. These have a similar locking mechanism to the Cinellis, and still get used on the track a fair bit. It’s been interesting, I’ve considered them but people who used them on the road complained about the plastic body flexing, so instead I’ve just gone with Shimanos I can put a strap through if I need it. I know people luuurve speedplay but they’re for me they’re a solution to a bunch of problems I don’t have. For the record, with speedplay you
    have to regularly oil your cleats. That you walk on?
    Cleats are expensive, even by cycling standards to replace
    Unless you have custom shoes you need an adaptor plate to go from 3 to four bolt.
    For? A lighter bike with double sided entry?
    Like I said they’ve got their fans and I don’t have any issues that potentially could be resolved by speedplay. BUT (caution personal opinion ahead) nnnnarrrgggh I just hate them. I think they suck and hate them with an indignant anger not appropriate for any inanimate thing that I’ve never used.

    I remember my last clipped in 0kph incident was my first ride back after my most serious crash, I had a bruise from my hip to the middle of my shoulder, 2 dislocated fingers and detatched my collarbone from whatever the heck it is supposed to be attached to. Anyways, once I thought I’d healed up enough, hop back on the bike, first set of traffic lights I keep both feet clipped in and start going over. The last thing I remember was debating about which hand I should stick out to break my fall – fingers and collarbone were on opposite sides. Think it turned out ok, managed to continue the ride so must have been ok.

  17. Clip, unclip, no problem. It was learning to track stand that caused some real embarrassment. In the 90’s no-one really cared about road rules. Unlike nowadays, running a red light back them was de norm rather than the frowned upon activity of the modern era. And we didn’t have to wear helmets either. Instead we got to scoot around in our little cycle caps for that genuine pro feeling. Anyways, I digress. Learning to trackstand was, for me, simply a case of rolling through a red light at increasingly slower speeds, one eye through the intersection on the lookout for non-existent traffic. Early one morning, whilst slowly, slowly, s_l_o_w_l_y rolling through a deserted insection, I collided with an unseen cat’s eye on the road. Thinking I was meant to be rolling forward, and at a mere 5km/h it was enough to completely throw off my balance and have me roll backwards. As a recently graduated newbie, I had no time or even the ability to rapidly unclip. The result was that I ended up on the ground, still clipped in and pathetically shimming around like an oversized turtle trying to unclip. Of course, from nowhere the once deserted intersection became a thoroughfare of vehicles, a whole lot of which slowed down to have a good old look. I actually heard one guy with his window down laughing as he drove past. The shame still hurts.

  18. On a fine day in summer 1987 I pulled up to the lights beside the crowded bus stop at Kirkaldies department store and settled into a relaxed track-stand.

    Looking around, I caught the eye of a stunning brunette with piercing green eyes. I smiled at her, and coquettishly she smiled back. Feeling cool and confident, I turned on the full-charm Oli smile and I was delighted to see her give me a full beam smile in return.

    “I’m in here!”, I thought. That’s when my front wheel slipped from under me, I for the first and last time failed to unclip my brand new Look pedals, and I sprawled onto the road like the proverbial sack of shit.

    The topple lasted longer than it took me to spring back onto my feet, but not as long as the withering and contemptuous look she gave me before turning her gaze irrevocably away from me forever…

  19. @minion
    Bro, what are those?
    Bought some sidi’s of trademe to get my lady started clipless, and they came with a set of pedals. Those ones. She’s still on flats.

  20. @minion
    Sounds like when you fell you also damaged the part of your brain that used to prevent you from speaking from a position of ignorance! If you haven’t used Speedplays, how can you hate them?

    I that the key benefit of Speedplays is how securely they lock you in – or at least how securely they feel like they lock you in. You simply can’t pull out of them unless you want to. Add to that how much more I feel like I never lose anything on the pedal stroke (not like when your cleats on say Look pedals can start to wiggle a bit as they get older).

    They also put your foot closer to the pedal axle than any other pedal I know of – note you have to lower your seat when you first move to Speedplays – this kind of feels good too. Even with the miniscule adaptor plate which is a cinch to install.

    They are the business!

    The cleat wear is an issue – but you can get over that by just being a bit careful. As to lubing the pedals, it takes maybe 10 seconds – and you lube the contact points to the pedal. You cant walk on this part of the cleat. I do it about once a fortnight. Never had an issue with them…

    NB: when you combine the cleat and pedal together not sure they are that much lighter than other pedal systems.

  21. I have poured-forth on here previously on my love of all things Time. I first “clipped-in” with a pair of white Time Equipe pedals, having been swayed by their design and being technically superior to anything else out there: lower bioposition and the free-float that no other pedal had.

    I did make the mistake of not buying new shoes at the same time. Trying to unclip in shoes not designed to take the force of a foot twisting out of the pedal meant that the side of the shoe merely collapsed instead of moving and on more than one occasion I found myself lying in the middle of the road just after I stopped.

    Those who owned Time Equipe pedals could always recognise another owner of the pedals in the middle of a race by the mid-corner scrape of metal on tarmac sometimes accompanied by a bike kicking it’s rear-end out. You would also nod in appreciation when noticing that another set of Time Equipe’s missing one, or both, rear spring covers, something that happened without fail.

    They also taught me how to track-stand. The cleats were a two-part affair and all the front cleat did was guide the shoe into the pedal. Originally made of aluminium, and later plastic, putting your foot down at a junction or lights and then pushing off again meant that at the speed they wore down they might as well have been made of cheese. In those days new cleats were a lot of money I didn’t have, so I decided learning to track-stand was a more cost-effective way of dealing with the issue

    I was briefly seduced onto LOOK pedals a couple of years later after a broken spring on the Time’s left me with damaged knee ligaments, but it was only a few years before I returned to Time and the Equipe Pro, the full-metal body which had “slightly” improved cornering clearance and no spring cover to fall off.

    I missed the whole evolution to Impact pedals, through a period away from road bikes, suffice to say my MTB’s have always had Time pedals. Came back to the road bikes with Time RXS, lovely pedals and a massive improvement and weight-saving on the older pedals. I’ve now got a set of i-Clic’s and must say that I can’t really notice the benefit, they’re just the latest model.

    I do miss the multi-coloured days of the Equipe though, although not the uncertain cornering.

    I am always baffled why more people don’t ride Time.

  22. CJ:
    Bro, what are those?
    Bought some sidi’s of trademe to get my lady started clipless, and they came with a set of pedals. Those ones. She’s still on flats.

    They are NZ-made Keywins.

  23. @frank

    Wow, toe clips and straps… do they still even exist except maybe in museums??? Oh yeah, I suffered with them; because clipless were just barely appearing on the horizon when I was getting serious (which was pretty much about my fifth ever road ride, maybe?). God I hated them… trying to get them cranked down enough on the line. CRANKCRANKCRANKCRANKCRANK. Start hard (crit), tighten up the low gear leg after getting foot in, recrank the other, recrank the starter leg… Jump out of a corner, recrank. Jump with a possible break, recrank. Numb toes. Heading in for a final sprint, crank crank crank never tight enough! I can’t honestly say I remember having a whole lotta trouble getting out. Maybe because I was always so pissified about staying IN.

    I don’t remember when I got my first clipless; it took a while (I blew all my money on my bike and race wheels). I can’t remember squat about the first ones except that though I loved the idea (no more numb toes), they SUCKED; very little float and added to the what they then called chrondo malasia and now call something or other patella syndrome that I ended up with not long into racing. Mostly my fault (spinning? what’s that? I’m a sprinter! and a stupid one at that!), but feet locked on to pedals with little play didn’t help.

    My second set – joy! Look-style Ultegras, used hand-me-downs… they are still on my bike today (I think just one of them weighs more than my fork!). I read a fair amount of bitching about Looks up above, but for some reason these puppies (though Shimano knock offs of Looks) have done me right through years and years of racing and other abuse.

    And @whoever – what’s up with the cornering comments? That’s something that sounds plausible in an engineer’s head or on paper. Only. If you’re really going fast on a hard corner, that foot is up, I’m sorry; it could have an elepehant piggybacking on it and he (the elephant) would be safe as houses. As would be the corner of your pedal. If you are managing to pedal through a corner, really the same thing, just timing, you make sure that inside foot is on the up stroke at the apex.

  24. After spending several years in the early 90’s on Shimano clipless MTB pedals – including doubling them up for road use, very much a breach of the Rules – I switched to Time ATACs for the same reasons given by Brett – in MTB they were seen as the ne plus ultra including for their ability to shed mud. (Although query whether this was really an issue in Sydney and surrounds, where wet sand was pretty much as close as we got to mud). Stayed with Time onto the road – Time Equipe Mags, the gigantic red things shaped like an Imperial battleship from Star Wars, still on the RSX Carbon Tis, that felt so light when I took them out of their box for the first time I thought they were going to fly away. I like them but the tabs at the front break (although has not seemed to affect functionality). Have put some KEOs on my commuter as a test. They seem to agree with me so may consider them when the RSXs finally give up the ghost, the Keo seems a bit easier to get into although doesn’t have same satisfying click on the way in.

  25. @Brett:

    Great hit on one of those not-as-prolific-as-many-might-think pieces of tech that (in my humble opinion) actually changed the way we ride.

    Funny how many stories people have associated with these gifts from heaven; I’m no exception. My first memory of clipless pedals…

    When I started riding, the group I hooked up with first (maybe about my sixth ride ever) was Team Florida, the racing arm of my college’s club (I was a grad student). As I’ve mentioned, no “collegiate” racing then (what IS that, anyway??).

    The first person among us to go clipless was a guy named John Leiswyn, who actually went on to have a relatively lengthy and successful pro career in the US. Young know-it-all punk back then (what 18 yr old road racer isn’t? He turned out ok, though, smile); though vaguely remember he’d just either won or done very well at junior nationals.

    When we started off on daily rides, he natch had the habit of jumping right off the block, sometimes before word about the decided on ride had gotten around to everyone (they were always yelling at each other about not turning on the engines until after point x, outside of town – small town, didn’t take long – dangerous in traffic, broke up the group, not warmed up, etc. Stupid guys).

    One of those effervescently clear scenes burned with the crisp detail of a laser etching in my mind: Route decided on – barely – John and a few other big shots zip out onto the campus road, almost sprinting down a slight incline (decline?) to the intersection with the first main road…

    John: PUMP PUMP PUMP airrrrrrrrrbooorrrrrrrnnneeeee!!!!! heels over head, spectacular height… yep, wunna dem heels was no longer attached to bicycle. Of course we were all concerned and rushed to his aid. At the same time we were all busting our guts laughing. Thankfully bike and he were ok, and apparently he learned to adjust the tension in his pedals (no memories of what they were, but it was waaaaaay early in clipless history).

    @Oli Brooke-White

    …and of course, in line with ya’ll’s (above) tales, there’s The First-Date-Ride story … no, I wasn’t the one that fell over. At a busy intersection. People laughed. I was one of them. Man, I was mean back then!

    (Like many commenters, I don’t really remember having much of a problem with clipping out. Or in; Yeah, I remember learning, but not this gut-shaking fear of falling over, or ever even actually falling over – I dunno, though, I could have and just forgotten. I didn’t tip over due to pedal naïveté (I don’t think); but I did crash on my head a lot.)

  26. For me, the failing to unclip was because with toe straps you pulled back to get out – even if they were cinched right up you could pull out if you wanted to bad enough. With Looks pulling back did diddly-squat. When I fell over in front of the green-eyed vixen my thoughts were directed almost anywhere but my feet, so I pulled back instead of twisting out.

    Story of my life, really…

  27. @karolinka
    actually you sound like the one with the engineers theory. If you never rode Time Equipe (the original not the later Pro version) then you’ll never have discovered this issue, the available lean angle of those pedals was not huge. But then I’ll just take it that I go REALLY fast through all corners.

  28. Before I rode bikes I climbed mountains and skied the backcountry. I joined the elite ranks of sliders who knew the addictive rush of the telemark turn. We were different from the masses. We lived for the perfect run and carved out our art with great pride in the knowledge that our heels were free. We mocked the alpine sliders with their bondage gear – feet inexorably bound to the boards.

    I started mountain biking as a commuter and to keep the legs in shape for winter. I rode flats pedals and rarely got off the fire roads. My brother changed the course of my life when he gave me his old ironman bike – a softride solo with downtube shifters and look clipless pedals.

    When I first clipped in I was transformed. No longer was I a person sitting on a bike. We bonded. I loved the bondage. The softride and I were one. I never felt trapped or locked down. We each gave ourselves up to the other. For me the act of clipping in is a glorious, sublime moment. Often there’s a period of phaffing about beforehand – the pre ride ritual – car, pump, kit, stuffing pockets, shoes, helmet, gloves…and then you throw a leg over, give a little push and CLICK! That snapping of a spring is like a door opening into another world…The start of the road to nowhere, the road to everywhere.

    At the other end of the spectrum, going clipless on the MTB was rough! My first outing on technical uphill singletrack was a humiliating ordeal of blood, cuts and bruised hips. The emergency clip out is an essential skill if you want to avoid the instant rock massage.

    There is a brilliant comedic appeal to falling over at 0kph. Its not a crash really is it. Unclipping left and leaning right is a favourite of mine. You know right away you’ve blown it but time slows down – sometimes enough for you to think “I’m OK here” before gravity slaps you over like one of the stooges…

  29. Yup, love my speedplay zeros. Unmistakably pro. Sadly, I can’t use the Ti version because of the total weight limit.

  30. I have a pair of the Time shoes and pedals Tomac’s using. They weigh a ton and the shoes are now (fortunately) too small. Does anyone else remember Adidas’s pedal/shoe combo in the late 80s? If I remember it was a big, flat, black plastic (or resin) platform and was kinda like the Cinelli in that you had to reach down and flip a lever to disengage. You also had to buy Adidas shoes as it was a groove system along the side of the actual shoe that engaged it with the pedal. My boss at the bike shop had a pair. I can’t remember anyone else using them. As Look was coming out at the same time and were much more flexible in terms of pairing with shoes, the Adidas system was DOA.

  31. minion:
    BUT (caution personal opinion ahead) nnnnarrrgggh I just hate them. I think they suck and hate them with an indignant anger not appropriate for any inanimate thing that I’ve never used.

    Hah, sounds like an inferiority complex to me! It’s funny you hate something so much that you’ve never tried and don’t use.

    Maybe you’re secretly jealous of our bulging, over-sized, lubed cleats? Or the fact that we can clip in from BOTH sides?

    You know what they say, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

  32. @Karolinka
    John Leiswyn used to write very interesting cyclingnews articles when it was quite novel to hear a “pro” insight. Sounded like he probably could have done more in Europe if he had some luck?

  33. @Marcus


    Hehe, thanks for the concern, I did try to indicate there was little to no rationality involved in my dislike of speedplay. Tons of people use them and love them. But I can’t do it: somewhere along the line my aesthetic appreciation for the bike developed into including pedals with an appreciable platform, and speedplays don’t fit my narrow world view of how things should be. Its a flaw I’m aware of and quite happy to live with.
    Though Mcsqueak, you may be onto something,

    <a href="#comment-21472" style="text-decoration: none; color:

    Hah, sounds like an inferiority complex to me! It’s funny you hate something so much that you’ve never tried and don’t use.
    Maybe you’re secretly jealous of our bulging, over-sized, lubed cleats?

    funnily enough I never thought I was jealous before, but now…

  34. John Lieswyn lives here in New Zealand now. I believe he owns a bike shop in one of our provicial centres, Palmerston North. Great guy, by all accounts.

  35. Being the semi-old dude, my bike shop days and riding “real” bikes started in the early ’80s. Toe straps were the norm. I remember my first race shoes with the slotted cleat that slid into the rear of the pedal cage. Crank down the toe straps and you’re in there for good. Coming to a stop required reaching down to loosen the straps. Bit of a lost art for kids nowadays. Rode mountain bikes for years with straps as well (no slotted race shoes) – got damn good at flipping pedals over and sliding feet into the straps.

    A little too damn good actually, since years of muscle memory made moving to clipless a hassle for me. I started riding clipless during the ’90s – when the mountain bike SPD was released. Used ’em on the road first, no problems at all. Off-road however, I swapped between SPD and straps up until 2000 or so. Yeah, I’m weird. I couldn’t seem to pull off technical stuff with SPDs – we’re talking mild observed trials kinda stuff here, not general dirt riding – so I’d get hacked and put the straps back on. Like I said, I’m weird. Finally, said screw it – put the SPDs on for good and got over it. Been 10+ years now.

    Breaking some Velominati rules, I wear Sidi mountain bike shoes and run Shimano mountain bike SPD pedals on all my bikes. It’s just easier and you can walk like a human off the bike. The extra few ounces of plastic sole don’t seem to slow me down on the road…

    I’ve gotten to relive the whole clipless experience recently, via my 11 year old son. He just converted to clipless from running platform pedals. Being a kid, adjusted to all it pretty damn quick. He now has a few rides and races under his clipless belt. He digs’ em.

  36. Oli – great story! The one that got away. She sounded like a vixen for sure!

    Pretty amusing how many of us have had the 0 kph tip over. I’m glad I’m not the only one to do the clipped in beetle, or turtle, or bug dance on the ground while trying to get a foot out.

  37. @Jarvis

    Jarvis :
    actually you sound like the one with the engineers theory. If you never rode Time Equipe (the original not the later Pro version) then you’ll never have discovered this issue, the available lean angle of those pedals was not huge. But then I’ll just take it that I go REALLY fast through all corners.

    Hi Jarvis. You are gonna have to clarify a little for me, if you could. Not the latter part, I’m sure you go really REALLY R E A L L Y fast through all corners; got it.

    OK. Are you saying that the original Equipes were just so incomparably bad (vis a vis bottoming out on corners) versus whatever else I may have ridden, that regardless of my, or anyone’s personal speed or technique around corners, since I never rode them it’s unlikely I experienced the flying sparks phenomenon?

    Or is it that they were really really bad, but a rider would only experience this if said rider was going “REALLY fast around all corners?” Does this imply pedaling through, or at least so far into, EVERYTHING, that timing the inside foot up at critical moments is impossible as it would slow the rider down?

    How long are your cranks? How high is your bottom bracket?

    I didn’t propose any theory… I don’t think. Did I? I’ll try to clarify, sorry for not being clear before. My main statement about pedal clearance is based on my own limited experience of racing with Pro women, including a few little crits (I’m discussing crits, since I THINK probably, in general but of course not Guinness Book of World Records 100% all the time, that that’s where you are going to see the mostest, fastest cornering) – um, lessee, for example, one I rode a couple of times that maybe you’ve heard of is the Twilight Crit in Athens, Georgia, if you are in the USA… and spending time with other riders on the couple of amateur (though several of the riders did go pro; there’s another comment running around here about one of my teammates, John Lieswyn, who did) teams I was on (at the same little crits); watching pro men in same, etc. OO, OO, this sounds silly, but a cousin of mine who was a big influence on me and who I spent time with whenever possible WAS a US Pro (Matthew Wojcicki-Sarna; ’80s-early ’90s). I watched him a lot and rode with him when I could.

    And from all that limited experience, what I perhaps incorrectly gleaned and confusingly tried to say was: a millimeter or two on a pedal appears (via personal experience and observation) to make relatively little difference in the real world; primarily because other issues of physics and different limitations of the machines (bikes) themselves, as well as a rider’s skill, have far greater effect. These other issues will (in my humble experience) be far more likely to (or even, in some cases, with the conincidentally right set of variables and due to the laws of physics, MUST) come into play before a millimeter less or more of “lean” will.

    But I could have it all wrong! Especially if there is/was a pedal that was just an out and out fat, long log on the end of your crank arm that I never personally experienced, or noticed slowing people down.

    Thanks for your input!

  38. @Marcus

    Marcus :
    @Karolinka John Leiswyn used to write very interesting cyclingnews articles when it was quite novel to hear a “pro” insight. Sounded like he probably could have done more in Europe if he had some luck?

    I honestly didn’t follow him too closely later on… but that was the impression I had. I do remember a year or two when he was making a lot of print in VeloNews as The Guy to Watch. But yeah, then things didn’t seem to click. He actually came back to Gainesville (Florida, Home of the University of Florida, Team Florida, and, still, myself) a few years ago, I don’t know what else he was doing, but he came by a bike shop owned by a friend (former US pro rider himself who had earlier spent time in Gainesville, Mike Gann; he’d had some offers from European teams; he said he didn’t want to get into the required uh, supplement routines, and so passed) and gave a presentation that I can’t even remember; did a general meet greet answer questions etc., very quiet, nice, willing to talk… kind of funny remembering way back to when he was a young buck. ok, that was useful. Not so much.

    @Oli Brooke-White

    Oli Brooke-White :
    John Lieswyn lives here in New Zealand now. I believe he owns a bike shop in one of our provicial centres, Palmerston North. Great guy, by all accounts.

    No way. NO WAY! This is one heckuva small world! Thanks for sharing that, Oli! Yep, he turned out ok, it seemed to me! He was awfully nice to me during later Team Florida Days – he’d often stick around for the women’s race to do a little coaching. I still remember my first “real” crit, poor little cat 4 in with the Pro-1-2’s. I made the first cut, but then was hanging like ten feet off the back for laps and laps and laps (I have not idea why I didn’t just get back on). He’d stuck around just to watch, and I don’t remember if he yelled it during the race or said it after or both, but I was bummed because I didn’t finish well (got my ass handed to me, I’m sure), and he pointed out something to the effect of “you silly, you’re as strong as them — you were doing MORE work than them that whole time because you wouldn’t just GET BACK ON!” That stuck with me. I got a lot better. Belated thanks, John!

  39. @Karolinka

    Those old Time Equipe Mags had so much material outboard and below the spindle that they probably provided about 10 degrees less lean angle than Speedplays. With Speedplays I can put power back on the pedals much earlier coming out of turns. Which makes keeping speed & momentum through turns a lot easier, saving energy.

  40. @Lars

    Lars :
    Those old Time Equipe Mags had so much material outboard and below the spindle that they probably provided about 10 degrees less lean angle than Speedplays. With Speedplays I can put power back on the pedals much earlier coming out of turns. Which makes keeping speed & momentum through turns a lot easier, saving energy.

    Ten degrees. That’s pretty close to the result of having a big fat long piece of tree stuck to the bottom of your foot. Significant, in other words… and clarifies for me that those particular pushers were indeed pretty positively appalling. Thanks for putting some numbers in, and just some more plain good input!

  41. @Karolinka

    Does this imply pedaling through, or at least so far into, EVERYTHING, that timing the inside foot up at critical moments is impossible as it would slow the rider down?

    That one. It didn’t happen every time, but a misjudgement or not paying enough attention you would generally be reminded. Everyone with those Time pedals had the outside back corner gouged clean of paint. They did make the Criterium pedal which was more cut away, just for that reason. The issue with the Criterium for me was that the bioposition was higher than on the equipe and therefore your pedalling would be less efficient.

    Not that the pedals were that bad, Indurain won quite a big race using them and when I moved to LOOK pedals I occasionally grounded them. Maybe I was just crap, but I always figured it was faster to pedal through the corner than coasting, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. It wasn’t until Shimano introduced the road SPDs that cornering angles really started to be improved. The Equipe Pro’s that came in mid-90’s were the Criterium cut-away body but with the lower bioposition.

    I think you need a picture, better than that I’ve found an archive review that says 31 degrees of lean-angle. In comparison a Speedplay Zero Ti has 39 degrees of lean.

    As to how long my cranks were, I think they were 170’s on that bike and no idea on the BB height. It was 20 years ago, the frame has long gone to the scrapyard.

  42. @Jarvis

    Thanks, Jarvis! Now I know exactly what you are talking about; and also Lar’s comment above, putting a 10 degree difference on it, DID give me a number/picture (as opposed to “these are better than those”) – don’t have time to check the review right now, but thanks for taking the time to find it! Though that’s reference number two in the 10% neighborhood, so I’m convinced yup, those pedals did make enough of a difference to be annoying and at worst even slow-ing. I just never personally ran into them!

    BTW, I really appreciate the non-confrontational, informative tone; as well as saying that some of what I’d experienced (that good judgment could at least mostly avoid the problem, even at speed) was valid… which is far more convincing than a fanatic ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’ position. Especially since I was honestly looking for the info, not trying to make anybody wrong. I hadn’t ridden those pedals; for some reason I never heard any other fast riders kvetching about them at the time; I know if I screwed up – or was caused to screw up – in a corner, or pushed hard (well, that was, I hope, always!) & precisely as you said, didn’t pay really close attention, on either of the two sets of pedals I raced on I’d occasionally bottom out… so I really wondered if there was THAT much of difference a specific set of pedals could make. And I’ve got my answer.

    Thanks! (to @Lars as well)

  43. Alright, a bit off topic, but we are talking about gear. Why do multi-tool makers not include a knife? I don’t need a sword or a hacksaw, but a small knife blade is a useful tool.

    I have a Crank Brothers m17, which I like a lot. But a nice, small knife blade wouldn’t take up any space and could be useful. I don’t see any downside, but do see it being useful at some point.

  44. @Ron it’d be handy when you need to show some Cutter who the real Italian PRO is too…just slash a tire instead of jamming your frame pump in the spokes and losing it.

  45. @Karolinka
    the archive website also has info about LOOK pedals from the same era and oddly the PP196 which I replaced the Time Equipe’s with only had 32 degrees of lean, while the PP156’s I had on my training bike had 30 degrees. There wasn’t much else on the market, so for err… the time, the Time pedals were up there with the best for cornering clearance. There just seemed to be something about them that made them easier to catch, hence, I presume, the criterium version and the the re-design in the mid-90’s.

    A mate had a pair on his fixed winter bike. Took a chunk out of the road on a steep descent when a corner caught him out

  46. While we’re on reverence, as a counterbalance to my myopic dislike of speedplay, I love these things to bits.

    Low stack height, metal body and metal cleat mean they are increadibly stiff and secure, they spin unbeleivable, you can’t buy shoes to take them any more and the twisting force required to clip out has ruined knees and led to me sitting on the side of the road, mini tool in hand, shoe still attached to the pedal trying to unscrew the bloody cleat so I could put the shoe back on and back off the tension screw.

    BUT for track they are without par. I reluctantly sold them off the track bike because the shoes I had used with them were stuffed and it looked increasingly like I would have problems getting more in the future, so I changed to the same pedal across all my bikes. Regretted it straight away.

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