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Cycle Binding Review

CycleBinding review Bicycling June 1986


From Bicycling June 1986 

Pedal Revolution , the future is now for pedals without toe clips and straps 

BY Fred Zahradnik 

Cyclists have always grumbled about them, and finally somebody has come up with a better idea. Pedals with toe clips and straps, which can chafe, bind, and cut off blood circulation, can now be relegated to the same antique shelf as cottered cranks by any rider willing to invest in one of 4 new. innovative pedal systems. Each has a distinct method of providing strapless security and comfort.

Newest of the 4 is the CycleBinding. which is expected on the retail market in mid-June. Look, which made its name in ski bindings, now has the Competition pedal in addition to the white Sport pedal that launched this revolution last season. Aero-Lite Products, in the most radical departure from traditional design, is marketing the lightest pedal of all. Adidas, which has man­ufactured cycling shoes for years, is now pro­ducing a strapless pedal system with Manolo of France.

In a future issue, Bicycling's engineering editor, Frank Berto, will provide cornering clearance data, materials analysis, and mea­surements of the amount and direction of force required to release a shoe from each pedal. Meanwhile, here is a look at how the 4 systems are designed and how they per­form on the road. I rode several hours with each system on the same course and re­ceived feedback from other Bicycling testers.


CycleBinding is  the  invention  of Rick Howell. who managed the Geze ski binding company for 8 years. He has applied his ex­pertise from that industry to cycling. His system eliminates toe clips, straps and ever cleats, which he decided were awkward tc walk on and difficult to mount properly. Tc use CycleBinding pedals you must use the system's shoes. Each of the 3 models (Rac­ing, Triathlete, Sport) has a bronze cup un­der the ball of the foot. A spring-loaded mechanism atop the pedal locks into it.

To engage the pedal, simply place the shoe cup over its "powerhead," pivot the foot slightly inward or outward, then push for­ward. It's a natural motion easily mastered.

As you lock in, angled guides on each side of the shoe cup compress the 2 detent pins of the pedal powerhead. When the foot is in place, both pins snap into small notches and are held there by the powerhead's internal spring. The connection prevents any shoe motion independent of the pedal.

Howell claims the retention level of the shoe cup/binding will stay within 10 percent of factory tolerance for 3,000 clip-in/release cycles. That's about 2 years of riding for an active cyclist, he estimates. The shoes are covered by a one-year warranty. Once the notches wear out, new shoes must be pur­chased, since the cup is not replaceable.

The CycleBinding pedal is self-righting. The shoe engages with a click, so there's no doubt about whether you're locked in. The powerhead performs as it should, securely holding the shoe during the normal range of pedaling force and motion, including hard climbing and sprinting. It releases with a de­liberate lateral twist of the foot.

The powerhead unit is the same for all 3 CycleBinding models. The force required to disengage the pedal is greater for the Triath­lete and Racing models, however, because their cups fit more snugly over the power-head. Like a ski binding, this system is de­signed to release the foot in any direction if enough force is applied. Howell says the force required is slightly less than what has been determined in the ski industry to be the injury-causing level for each direction (except the lateral plane, where it's much lower for ease of release).

The powerhead is on a turntable-like base, which is attached to the pedal by four 3-mm alien bolts. A foot's rotational position is eas­ily adjusted by loosening the bolts, turning the unit and retightening. Fore/aft adjust­ment isn't possible without buying the op­tional offset powerhead. This unit allows the foot to be either 2.5 mm ahead of the stan­dard position or 2.5 mm behind it.

The Racing and Triathlete pedals have an aluminum body without a full-length axle. Although the bearing units of short-axle ped­als have been notoriously fast-wearing, How-

ell says he has addressed that problem by using high-carbon ball bearings and preci­sion-ground races. Since distance between the pedal and crankarm is at a premium, no wrench flats are provided. Instead, the end of the axle has a deep hole for a 7-mm alien key. Even so, the pedal center is slightly far­ther from the crankarm than the center of a conventional quill pedal.

Howell created the CycleBinding shoes in collaboration with running shoe designer Bart Hersey. The Triathlete and Racing mod­els have soles of stiff, molded GE Lomod, a material similar to Lexan. They feature rub­ber inserts at the heel and toe and a unique rib that extends to the heel. These features make the shoes easier to walk in.

The Sport shoe has a polyurethane, oyster-colored outersole. The cup is molded into a Lomod innersole that extends the length of the shoe. The result is a successful balance between the stiffness needed for pedaling and the flexibility needed for walking. The shoe provides the advantages of a cleat with­out the drawbacks of actually having one protruding from the sole.

The uppers of all 3 models are designed to handle the forces of pedaling without the with a wide, nylon-fabric insert above the foot's metatarsal area. The Racing model has a 6-inch-long lace-up area and a "Preme" strap that is molded into the shoe sole. This Velcro-fastened strap can be tightened much like a toe strap before a sprint or hill There is also a Velcro-secured lace cover to im­prove aerodynamics. The Triathlete model is snugged against the foot by a wide band of breathable spandex. Two Velcro-secured straps provide adjustability.

We found the 3 CycleBinding shoes to be exceptionally comfortable. They fit the foot correctly, toe boxes are roomy, and all are designed from the sole up to bear the forces of toe-strapless pedaling. Each model comes with firm and supportive Hawk molded in­soles, or custom orthotics can be used.

All CycleBinding pedals are 2 inches wide and 4 11/16 inches long. The Sport pedal's body, composed of Kevlar and Lexan. is somewhat flexible compared to the stiff alu­minum body of the 2 other models. Shoe weights below are for size 9 1/2.

Racing system: aluminum pedal — ^ oz., S130;shoe— 12 oz.. S85.

Triathlete system: aluminum pedal — 8 oz., $115: shoe — 12 oz.. S~5.

Sport system: Kevlar/Lexan pedal — 6.5 oz., S75;shoe — 12.8 oz., S59.

For  information,   contact  CycleBinding. Box 386, Winooski, VT 05404.