“Hey, you know these guys hate you, right?”
My lack of proper cycling equipment had prompted discussion within the group of 20 or so cyclists that day. Coming straight from the office, I was wearing my Outlier New Way Shorts (which are fabulous and designed to resist crotch blowouts for cyclists), and my blue Keds normally used for swing dancing.
The thing is, I do have nice Bontrager RL cycling shoes, and Shimano SPD-SL pedals. Heck, my LBS didn’t let me leave the store without them when I got my bike (probably some of the highest-margin items they sell).
As everyone knows, Rule #69 says you can’t wear cycling gear to work, so I got some platform adapters called PedalDabs that basically clip into the Shimano pedals and provide a larger surface for flat shoes.
So why Keds / flats?
Firstly, I commute, so not having to carry shoes with me is a huge win. I usually don’t carry anything to work, which turns every commute into a mini training session.
However, I’ve also been wearing flats even on group/training rides.
I haven’t found a huge difference in power output (I have a power meter to back this up). GCN did an experiment comparing flats to clipped, and found no significant difference in power either. Also, there’s research that indicates pulling up during a stroke (which is only doable when clipping in) isn’t efficient as it involves smaller muscles and is harder to coordinate.
As a new cyclist, I’m still experimenting with foot positioning. Not being clipped in lets me move my foot around (usually subconsciously) and doesn’t lock my knees and ankles into one configuration that might not be optimal. There are coaches suggesting medium-foot cleat positioning instead of balls-of-the-feet, Q-factor, duck-footedness, and other factors to consider and play with. I’m sure as I get more experienced, I’ll find the right cleat fit, but for now, the freedom is great.
I never fall over at stop signs.
I never fall over when resuming pedaling from a stop on a hill.
I can splay out my legs like a little kid.
And finally… I love my Keds! Fashion statement.