TCI Friday

I don’t know how I arrived at a place where every bike I owned required a specific pair of shoes, but you can imagine I felt pretty dumb about it,. Now, obviously I am an extremely serious cyclist who needs to take himself extremely seriously, and what’s more serious than highly-specific footwear? But then there I stood, in the basement, contemplating my rack of hard-won bicycles, trying to figure out which one to take to the grocery store.

Does Sidi make a shoe called the “Grocery Getter?” Does Giro make a “Prescription Picker Upper?” There’s a trick being missed, a sales door to kick open, and I’m here to tell the bike industry’s marketing wizards all about it.

See, I am not one to go tippy-tapping around the grocery store with a basket over my arm and the potential for a banana-peel pratfall waiting next to every Pop-Tarts display. And what that means is that I don’t ride my bike to the grocery store. If only there was a pedal/shoe solution for this dire problem.

Well, I suppose mountain bike shoes tackle the difficult terrain of Aisle 5 (I spend most of my time in the snack aisle) pretty well, and if I didn’t have to keep my bag mostly empty in order to fit in several bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, then I could even slide a pair of flip-flops in there and do a whole wardrobe change in the parking lot, over by the dumpster. But this problem started back at my house.

How did I end up with no flat, platform-pedal equipped bikes?

I do have a fixie my friend Mike built for me, but the hills between me and Aisle 5 make that bike not entirely effective for the fetching of foods and summoning of takeout.

I have friends who, having realized that too many of their mountain biking skills are clip-in dependent, have gone back to platform pedals as an exercise in relearning. I admire them. They’re taking their riding seriously, while I’m strolling the bread aisle and wishing I could ride a cruiser with a basket through the store.

Something seems askew when all my equipment is so serious, and yet I, myself, remain a garden-variety chucklehead.

This week’s TCIF asks, do YOU have flat pedal bikes that you ride regularly? Where do you go? What do you do? Or are you like me so, so evolved as a rider, that all your pedals are vestigial bits of metal protruding from your cranks like so many spindly milk frothers?

Join the conversation
  1. TominAlbany says

    Currently, I own three bikes. I have a road bike, a CX bike and a MTB. I own two sets of clipless pedals. One set is dedicated to the road bike. The cleat style just isn’t amenable to walking around. The other set goes back and forth between the CX and the MTB. I still have the original set of flat pedals – steel deck bridge style – that my original MTB came with. Those are on the bike that doesn’t have the Crank Bros and also go back and forth.

    When I ride to the store, I use the MTB no matter which pedals are on it, and I wear sneakers. It’s a 1/2 mile ride and doesn’t require clips in any way. So, if the Cranks are on it, I ride anyway. I just make sure I keep it down to two plastic bags (I have a stash from the plastic bag era…) that may be hung on the the handlebar if needed.

    I do still have a set of old Shimano SPDs that would need a rebuild to use. They have needed that rebuild for years. I’m not optimistic for their cycling future… But, to answer your question, Yes. I do have a set of flat pedals and I use them. I’m trying to learn how to manual and the videos all say don’t clip in until you know what you’re doing or you’ll break yourself… I’m not too old to learn something but I’m too old to break something in the process..

  2. DaveinME says

    I have flats on my city bike and I can do most errands on it. I love to be able to just hop on it and go. No fuss, no muss.

    My two other bikes have specific clipless pedals on them, Speedplays for the road bike, and Shimano SPDs on the cross/commuter.

  3. khal spencer says

    Love the picture of that banana seat Scwhinn. Brings back memories of my teens when I escaped the dreadful home life during those years when my parents were, shall we say, dysfunctional, and stayed with my cousins and uncle/aunt in Rochester, NY. I would commandeer my cousin’s little hot rod with the banana seat and explore all over Rochester. Sometimes had no idea where I was. Got to a corner and all the signs were in Spanish. Another time, ran into a bunch of Black kids and we toyed around with our bicycles until they got bored with me and knocked me down. So I got back up.

    The incident that struck me as to how resilient we were as kids was at one point I had a broken hand in a splint from a soccer accident. I popped a wheelie on the Banana Bike and the handlebars came off, lofting me off the back. I broke the splint. Had to go back to my uncle’s house and splint the splint back together with popsickle sticks and glue.

    Ah, childhood…

  4. herzogone says

    All of my bikes currently have platform pedals. The only clipless I ever used were SPD, but they are just sitting in my parts bin currently. I realized I just prefer infinite float and instantaneous foot release. There were two specific instances that led me to realize my preference for platform pedals. First was a low-speed right-hook by a box truck while riding my fixie with clips and straps (and brakes). Luckily, just bumps and bruises, but realized I probably would have been completely unhurt if I had just gotten my foot down a split second earlier, in spite of keeping my straps slightly loose for just such a reason. The other instance was using SPD, when I developed ITBS on a training ride and worsened on a brevet from what I’m fairly certain was improper cleat alignment (later fixed the alignment and rode more to support that hypothesis). Also, I would often get foot cramps in clipless shoes that never seemed to happen otherwise. I suspect the shoe stiffness played a role, but being relatively locked in position might have mattered also. I love RaceFace Chesters on both my cheap all-road bike as well as my MTB, though I use a plastic cruiser pedal on my fixed gear to avoid potential injury from traction pins.

  5. Dan Murphy says

    Good timing as we just picked up a custom Tom Matchak steel-frame bike for my wife and we put platform pedals on it. She’s trying it out after having Speedplays for awhile and she likes it. The other option was going to be mtb pedals for convenience, but right now, she’s sticking to the flats.

    I transitioned over to all-mtb pedals all the time 3 years ago. I don’t do any grocery runs or other utilitarian riding.

  6. Hautacam says

    I have mountain pedals (spds) on all my bikes except one road bike that wears road pedals (looks). Mtb shoes with spd cleats work fine for errands. I know I’m breaking The Rules by having mountain pedals on my rain bike but what the hell, I don’t shave my legs anymore either. I think Eddy will forgive me.

  7. scourtright2000 says

    I had eggbeaters on my Brompton for a while, until I realized how truly weird I was being. The original pedals work just fine for what I use it for, e.g., around town and to/from the commuter train that I used to take to work and back.

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