Gear Guy

What’s the advantage of wearing bike shoes with pedal clips?

What's the advantage of wearing mountain bike-style shoes with pedal clips, versus regular, all terrain-type shoes? Also, how does one escape from the clip? Jes Greene, New York

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Mountain bike shoes are drilled to work with most any of the “clipless” pedals now on the market, offering a securer foot-to-pedal connection than you get with non-clipless or all-terrain shoes. Myself, I find it difficult to ride when not clipped in; I still use the pedal as a balancing tool, but also don’t lose half the pedaling stroke on the upward revolution (you can’t “pull” the pedal up with a regular shoe on top of it). Escaping isn’t a problem—usually. In most cases, you can release very quickly with a quick outward twist of your foot. For that matter, I’ve never been in a crash in which the pedals didn’t release, at least not for more than a rotation or two downhillB

Certainly, though, all-terrain shoes work fine. You can add a toe clip to a pedal for a little more control, as that will give your toes something to butt up against. There are also several pedal straps that release and engage easily, give you some of the control of a clipless pedal, and cost much less than clipless pedals. Eko’s Power Grip, for instance, sells for $35 with a kit that includes pedals (

But, I generally think clipless pedals are much, much better. Time’s ATAC Alium is a light, dependable pedal that sheds mud well, re-engages quickly, and sells for $90 a pair ( Many riders love the design of the Crank Brothers Egg Beater (, a pedal that actually gives you four clip-in points, not two. Some of the older models are popping up on sale for well under $100. Finally, there’s the Ritchey Pro Logic ATB, a good-quality pedal you can find on sale for $50 per pair (

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