Last fall I ordered toe clips for Basil. I knew that clipping in wasn’t a good idea for me; I’m just too clumsy to ever trust that I could unclip in sufficient time to avoid a fall (or worse).
On group rides, I worry a lot about holding up the others (though I ride with unusually supportive people — all the more reason, though, to keep up my end, yes?). I’d heard that clip-in pedals could mean a 15 percent boost in power, so I figured that toe clips must offer at least a little of that advantage.
A Brompton bicycle — specifically, the folding pedal — won’t accept standard toe clips, so Terry, at Alphabet Cottage in the UK, sells a kit with Zefal clips and special plates that accommodate the Brompton pedals. Ordering was simple, the kit arrived promptly, and Terry is very good about communication.
The kit comes in a couple of versions, based on Brompton model year. Installation was easy, once I figured it out, but the instructions provided with mine appeared to be for a slightly different kit — and the illustrations were extremely faint, and ultimately not helpful.
After installation, I meant to go back and add thread-locker. I was sorry that I’d forgotten to do so when one clip loosened during a ride. I’d recommend sloshing that thread-locker on at the start; if you lose your original screws, you’ll end up with mis-matched ones, as below:
I debated which size toe clips to get, since my cycling shoes are Keens, and have an extremely boxy toe. The S/M toe clips, described as fitting “up to shoe size 8 (UK); 8.5 (US); 42 (EU)”, just fit my size 4/6.5/37 Keens; anyone wearing larger Keen cycling shoes might want to go up to the next size. Standard cycling shoes, with a narrower toe, wouldn’t present this dilemma.
My Keen shoes don’t “lock” into the cage, as standard cycling shoes might. Nonetheless, they stay put, and don’t slip out while riding. Yet I can easily remove my foot without risk of entanglement, and I don’t have to think about how to turn my foot to do it. For a rather uncoordinated cyclist like me, this is a real advantage, and a critical safety factor.
The clips do affect the fold somewhat; I take pains to make sure that the toe clip is against Basil’s tire, not against his spokes, but this immediately became intuitive, and doesn’t slow the process at all. When walking an unfolded Zefal equipped Brompton, you’ll need to keep the bicycle upright, as there is little clearance between the dropped toe clip and the ground; again, this is an easy accommodation.
Weight doesn’t seem to be much of an issue; the toe clips are quite light, and the adaptor plates aren’t heavy. (You will lose the reflector on the folding pedal, which gets swapped out for the adapter plate, though the effect on weight is likely to be minimal.)
Open toe clips can be used with street shoes as well as with cycling shoes or trainers; that was a big plus for me. I almost always ride with cycling-specific footwear, but wanted the option to use whatever, whenever.
Do the toe clips give me the edge I hoped for? Well, I don’t really know; however, I’ve learned to love them. I do believe they increase the power of my upstroke, and I find I like the sense that each foot is firmly set in the correct place on the pedal. At a minimum, they’ve made me a more confident biker.