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Why you need foot retention

Posted by Michael Tarr on

Why you need foot retention straps

About 5 years ago I was cycling along a road in Oxford on my old mountain bike and as I stood up on the pedals to accelerate the chain skipped a gear and snapped. My right foot slipped off the pedal downward into the tarmac. This resulted in quite a bad crash but luckily there were no buses behind me otherwise I could’ve been in trouble. This really shook my confidence and from then onwards every time I rode my bike I made a conscious decision not to stand on the pedals remaining seated always.

It was not until my first fixed gear bike that I invested in some restrap pedal straps. My pedal stroke became much more secure and efficient. My feet never once slipped off the pedals, even in wet weather. Had I been using some form of foot retention back in Oxford I doubt my foot would’ve come off the pedals.

Why pedal straps are essential for fixed gear riding

Foot retention straps are essential if you ride a fixed gear bike without brakes. I don’t encourage brakeless riding however if you only have a front brake, straps will be beneficial to your ride. Pedal straps allow you to skid stop on your fixed gear bike and apply resistance to the pedals to help slow you down. Even with a front brake riding in hilly areas can sometimes not be enough to stop you. The push and pull action of the skid stop can only be achieved with pedal straps or a clipless pedal/shoe combination.

Pedal straps are safer than clipless

If I was riding brakeless down a hill and my clipless shoe popped out of the cleat whilst skid stopping, I often think what would I do? Even with some softer green options in the photo above it could still be quite nasty. With pedal straps it is unlikely your foot would come off the pedals but if it did, you could probably catch the pedal and slot your foot back into the straps. I find this trickier to do this with Horizontal pedal strap types. The Restrap Diagonals are much easier to slip your foot back in at speed. If you are sensible and use a front and rear brake, riding clipless would be an option.

Pedal straps for all types of bikes

I would highly recommend pedal straps for almost all bike types. If you ride single speed or a road bikes with normal flat pedals I would encourage the use of pedal straps as it keeps your feet from slipping and makes your pedalling action more efficient. Pedal straps have become very popular over the last few years and now you can find them being used on mountain bikes, tourers, fixed gear/single speed bikes and some road bikes. It’s also a great step to take if you are not yet ready to go straight to a pair of clipless shoes and pedals. It will give you a similar feel of your feet being attached to the pedals and help to build confidence for the transition.

The benefits of pedal straps

Pedal straps offer the benefit of being able to wear normal shoes making it quicker to go from house to bike and once you reach your destination from bike rack to shop, work, university lecture or anywhere else you are going.

Cost

Another benefit of pedal straps is that they tend to be quite affordable. They range from £20 up to £40 for a pair. A pair of pedal straps is likely to cost a third less than if you were to buy a set of clipless pedals and a pair of cycling shoes. For a mid range pair of cycling shoes you are looking at £50-£70 and the pedals about £40.

Comfort
 
Pedal straps are very comfortable because they allow you to use normal everyday shoes. For those new to cycling, cycling shoes and cleats can take alot of getting used to and be extremely uncomfortable. Sometimes almost so uncomfortable it can put you off cycling as it did to me for a while. I always went back to my bike with pedal straps because it felt so natural. I could place my foot on the pedal exactly where I wanted it. I felt much more powerful.
 

Before you buy some pedal straps

Pedal straps tend to fit most BMX pedals. Please make sure you have pedals with reflector holes for the restrap horizontal straps. The images below should help you see how pedal straps are attached so you are aware of what to look for with your own pedals.


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