Strapless Toeclips on a Brompton

It needs a little bodging but it works well

Toeclip rear

I like to have toeclips to give me a bit more control and especially to allow me to reposition the cranks when stopped at a junction. I’m not particularly interested in SPD or other special pedals that require you to wear cleated shoes, I feel it’s important to be able to ride your bike in any shoes that you happen to have on (not make cycling into a ‘special’ activity that you must dress up for). I’ve also seen a couple of accidents where people just couldn’t get their cleats unhooked so they crashed to the ground.

So I find the strapless toeclips sold by Zefal ideal and have them on all my bikes. They are easy to fit to conventional pedals but it takes a bit of work to fit them to a Brompton.

First, the non-folding pedal on the newer, post 2009, Bromptons does not have any fixing holes for toeclips so you need to buy a replacement pedal for that, almost any pedal will do so it’s up to you how much you spend. The older Bromptons had a cheap plastic pedal which seemed to work OK for me.

Then the big problem.

The folding pedal is not a natural candidate for toeclips as there are various moving parts in the area where the fixing screw and nut would normally intrude into the body of the pedal.

So you have to fit it by screwing the fixing screws into the pedal body and cutting them to be just long enough to screw into the metal but not stick out the other side where the moving parts are. On the photo above you should be able to make out the ends of the two screws, two circular marks on the inside of the pedal body (click on the photo to zoom in, use ‘back’ on your browser to return to this page). I drilled two holes in the pedal, tapped them and cut two stainless steel socket screws to the correct length. I used some thread-locking compound to keep it all secure and this clip has been in use for a couple of years with no problem.

This works because the body of the pedal is made of thick aluminium so there is enough ‘meat’ to create a decent amount of thread. You’ll see this pedal is well-used, it’s from my original 2003 Brompton and has had a new bearing fitted but the main body and folding mechanism is still fine. I’m about to swap it from my old red bike to the new BWR Brompton (a bit easier than doing the job again).

Toeclip front

Things to watch out for.

Before I drilled the holes I spent some time thinking about theĀ  correct position, it needs to be some way outboard so your foot isn’t jammed up against the hinge/bearing housing and when you drill the holes you don’t want to damage the plastic internals of the pedal, I think I managed to get two hole positions where the drill or tap could pass right through with a bit of fiddling with the hinge movement to ensure that the plastic parts were out of the way. It’s also important that the vertical position of the holes ensures that the top of the pedal is flush with the toeclip – to give your foot a flat platform.

Toeclip top

If you are wondering what size the screw is, I can’t remember but I assume it’s the same size as the fixing screw that came with the toeclip. You could use those screws but they are not very rustproof and since you will want to threadlock them in you might as well use a durable material. I try to use stainless screws throughout my bikes, they are used in all conditions and I don’t understand why bike makers (not Brompton) use cheap materials that go rusty and look ugly in a very short time.

Postscript May 2014: Since I wrote this post 5 years ago, things have moved on and there is a good adaptor kit available from an inventive Bromptonist to allow you to fit strapless toeclips without any bodging. I’ve been using it for a couple of years and it works well, I know a number of other Brompton owners are happy with the kit.

the folding pedal is not a natural candidate for toeclips as there are various moving parts in the area where the fixing screw and nut would normally intrude into the body of the pedal.So you have to fit it by screwing the fixing screws into the pedal body and ensuring they are no longer than they need to be.
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10 Responses to “Strapless Toeclips on a Brompton”

  1. Milo Hurley Says:

    Chris,

    I’m intrigued! How well (ie how efficiently) do the toe-clips work? Is there a difference on climbs, for example?

    Milo.

  2. chrisrust Says:

    Hi Milo,

    Strapless toeclips have been around for a while but I’m not aware of any objective research into relative effectiveness compared to traditional toeclips, cleats or no clips at all.

    So this is entirely personal, For me (and my partner Isobel – you have a sample of two here) the clips give you greater stability and feeling of control than no clips plus the great advantage of easy repositioning when stopped at a junction (very important for city cycling). They do allow some double action pedalling so you can exert more effort when you need to but I expect that’s not as effective as straps or cleats.

    Compared to traditional strapped clips they are a lot less fuss and less restrictive in terms of the shoes you can wear, again that’s important on a general-purpose bike used every day all year. Compared to cleats they have two huge advantages.

    First, I’ve seen too many people fall off using cleats, my old bones would resent that. Second I ride my bike as part of my normal life so I would never want to have special shoes. Maybe if I was rich enough to have many bikes I might buy a super road bike for occasional jaunts and wear cleats for that but that would be just a toy, my Brompton is absolutely central to my life.

    Incidentally, when we bought our Hase Pino, I wanted to fit strapless toeclips and the shop had a huge box full of them, they are supplied by one of the big tandem makers with all their bikes (Thorn I think) and most of the customers didn’t keep them. So their loss was my gain and we use our Pino quite a lot to run around the city shopping at weekends (as well as longer rides) so again I feel they are ideal.

    Finally I don’t think that working well and efficiency are quite the same thing here. Efficient means making the best use of the effort applied and probably cleats are more efficient than the more flexible clips but cleats and strapped clips also allow more effort to be applied, not more efficient but you do go faster. On the other hand, for me, strapless clips work much better than anything else for the reasons I have given.

  3. Stuart Says:

    Hi Chris

    I am about to fit Powergrips on my new Brommie. When you drilled and tapped the holes in the folding pedal, did you need to use a special “tap” or did you use self tapping screws?
    Thanks
    Stuart

  4. chrisrust Says:

    I drilled and tapped it with the correct metric screw size for the screws that came with the toecaps. You might get away with self-tapping screws but they are designed for thin sheet metal and this is a thick chunk of aluminium. Also toestraps are subject to big forces if you use them to the full, that’s why they are called Powergrips I guess.
    The fixings for Powergrips are different to normal toeclips so you may be able to use a nut and bolt if it doesn’t interfere with the folding mechanism in the pedal. I know a few people have used Powergrips successfully with Brompton pedals. Actually the big problem might be with Brompton’s flimsy non-folding pedal, I use a conventional metal pedal instead which is much simpler and stronger.

  5. Stuart Says:

    Thanks for the reply Chris. The nut and bolt mechanism would interfere with the folding pedal and so I will certainly have to solve that problem in a similar way to you have. And I agree with respect to the other pedal and I’ve replaced that with a new one.

  6. eriksandblom Says:

    I don’t get the part about repositioning the cranks when stopped at a junction. Can’t you do that just using your feet/legs? How does the toeclip help with that? Sorry for being stupid.

  7. chrisrust Says:

    It’s like this. You roll up to a stop light and put your left foot down on the ground (UK drive on left) or, if you are lucky, on a convenient raised kerb.
    Then you realise that your right pedal is at the bottom of the stroke.
    Without toeclips you have to hook your foot under the pedal to bring it up, if you overshoot there’s a whole new fiddle around to be done before it’s ready to go. Sometimes you can crack the pedal against your shin.
    With toeclips, powergrips, cleats or whatever you just bring your foot up to the desired position, the pedal comes with it. That’s it. In traffic where you may want a quick getaway it’s particularly useful but in any situation it just feels easier and more in control.

  8. daperson Says:

    Totally agree with your assement Chris regarding the usefullness of half clips. I started using them on my commuter this past summer. My fitness bike has Speedplays and I had a pair on the commuter also. but wanted the freedom of riding in any shoe. For awhile I had full toeclips with straps but found the half clips to work much betterl, almost as well as the Speedplays. My foot flips in naturally, more so than the full clips and another advantage is that i can pedal on the opposite side of the pedal without the clip scraping the ground like the full clip did.

  9. Richard Murphy Says:

    Thanks for the info Chris – I’m taking delivery of my new Brompton soon and had been puzzling over how to fit half-clips so your info will be very useful.

    For those who are dubious about the effectiveness of clips/cleats – I have used Cleats on my Galaxy for many years, set to their minimum clamping strength, and they do give me a more natural pedalling action and at the same time I can move my foot around a little on the pedal if need be. The pedals are single-sided so I can use ordinary shoes on the backs of them with no difficulty.

    I have the strapless half-clips on my mountain bike, on the rare occasions that I use it I feel more secure especially if there is a bit of mud around, and can easily lift my foot off them if need be to stop myself falling over! I can do this on the road bike but I feel happier not having to fiddle the cleat into place on the slippery stuff.

  10. chrisrust Says:

    Hi Richard, I’ve just updated this post, prompted by your comment, with a link to the Alphabet Cottage toeclip kit for Bromptons, which enables you to do this job without any drilling or bodging. http://www.alphabetcottage.co.uk/toe-clips.html

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