Putting Your Foot Down


Sorry, pedals:

Say what you will about the relentless march of bike tech, but when it comes to turning your cranks there has never been a better time in history to be a cyclist. Clipless pedals:

Clipless pedals for mountain bikes:

Clipless pedals and flat pedals combined for people who can’t make up their minds:

Big-ass modern grippy flat pedals:

Retro pedals:

Pedals that light up:

Pedals, pedals, pedals–no matter what kind of riding you, whether you want your foot attached or free, there are a gazillion great options out there.

So why the hell would you ever use something like this?

Well, you wouldn’t–unless you’re the Classic Cycle Old Crap Test Pilot. My mission, should I choose to accept it, which I have, is to not only ride the bikes, but to understand the bikes, and to learn their many nuances. Sure, I could just laugh of the ridiculous notion of lashing your foot to your pedal, but these are the pedals that came with the Cervino, and just as you must never judge another without walking a mile in his shoes, you must also not ridicule the Freds of Yesteryear until you’re ridden several miles in their shoes, or at least their pedals. To that end I’ve ridden them in clown shoes sneakers:

And these vintage Avocet shoes with molded-in “cleats:”

And modern retro-styled shoes with a slotted cleat:

And in that same spirit I’ve now acquired yet another pair of vintage toe clip-oriented cycling shoes:

I did so with the intention of using them on the Normcore Bike, which is currently equipped with a more touring-oriented pedal:

But my elder son has appropriated that for his school commute, so this past weekend I tried them out on the Cervino instead. I’m guessing they’re from around 1990, since a very similar-looking shoe appears in the Specialized catalog that year along with their “Webfoot” ATB toe strap:

Given that I suppose the most appropriate use for them would be with the RockCombo:

Though I’m afraid if I did that the world would go all blurry like an old VHS tape and I’d instantly vanish into the hills, never to be seen again:

Anyway, here’s what’s going on underneath:

I don’t know if they were supposed to go with a certain pedal and there was a whole shoe/pedal/Webfoot combo, but maybe you do, and if you do I’m sure you’ll let everyone know.

Otherwise, they’ve got the old Specialized “flag” logo:

They appear to be robust in construction, given that they’re intended for “ATB” use:

And, most importantly, they pass the old “smell test:”

They’re also quite narrow and a bit stiff to walk in, but certainly much more walkable than a road or even race-oriented mountain bike shoe. I didn’t expect them to work well with a road pedal meant for a slotted cleat, but I was pleasantly surprised:

They fit in the clips well:

And I had plenty of heel clearance:

I suppose this is because of the aforementioned narrowness. In fact between that and the colors I wondered if maybe they were women’s shoes, but otherwise they fit true to size, so the pastel hues can probably be explained by the fact that even on the cusp of the 1990s humanity was still very much painting with a 1980s palette:

To wit:

Despite the lack of a slot, the little alternating triangular knurled thingies engaged well with the pedal:

With the strap cinched the combination resulted in decent foot retention–I was able to pop the rear wheel up, and my foot came out of the pedal only once, when I was pushing the 42×21 up a really steep hill. At the same time, I could also make small adjustments the angle of my foot, and I knew that in an emergency I’d be able to get out of the pedals without having to loosen the straps:

Plus, they’re fairly warm, so they’ll come in useful with the Cervino as it gets colder:

Mind you, we’re talking about toe clips, so “useful” is relative.

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