Monday, October 04, 2010

Stuff that works: Power Grips pedal straps for winter riding

A month or so ago I discovered a newish blog "Coming Thru!", a Helsinki-based cycling blog, mainly focused on cycle commuting. There are a number of blogs about cycling in Helsinki written (for obvious reasons!) in Finnish, but my Finnish is hopeless enough to make reading them a pain (although I understand enough to really appreciate the people out there doing great cycle advocacy work). So it was great to find a Helsinki cycle bloggers writing in English like on Coming Thru. Anyway, over there Markus appears to be working through the frustration and expense of finding a clothing system that keeps you dry and warm enough to want to cycle commute on cool mornings, but not so hot you end up drowning in your own sweat. As anyone who does aerobic exercise in cool to cold weather knows, this isn’t that easy and can become an endless source of fascination, frustration, new gear purchasing and annoyance at kit you buy turns out not to work as well as the advert promised.

I’ll try and write more about my cold weather cycling experience in the future, but this post is dedicated to a simple idea that greatly improved my autumn/winter cycling experience – Power Grips. Power Grips are simple neoprene straps that fix diagonally onto any basic cage-style cycle pedal and do exactly what old fashioned toe clips do but better. By slipping your feet in diagonally through the to the diagonally positioned strap, your foot goes in with ease. Then when you straighten your foot parallel to the bike it becomes held firmly by the strap giving you the same power as you would get from an SDP style clip pedal. Hard to explain in words but incredibly simple in use – see the photo below (or here) and you’ll understand. Nevertheless, despite holding your foot on the pedal firmly, getting your foot out is easy so stopping and even falling off safely is no harder, perhaps even easier, than with SPDs.

I use clip-in pedals on all my bikes; different SPD version on my mountain bike and commuter, and SPD-SL style on my road bike. But I also get cold feet riding as the temperatures get lower. Sealskinz socks, and then neoprene over-shoes help, but still by the time the temperature is about or below freezing, my feet still get cold and I came to the conclusion that conduction through the cleat (a lump of metal on your shoe connected to bigger lumps of metal – the pedals) was the main reason for this. With Power Grips attached to an old pair of cage pedals I could wear roomy, old leather sneakers and when it got really cold, wear over-shoes over them. With a standard sole, rather than the pedal cleat on a cycling shoes, in contact with a minimal amount of metal because of the design of cage pedals, conduction of heat was minimized. Net result: warmer feet, and less miserable cyclists! So, yes, Power Grips do seem pricey for what you get, but if you ride a lot in sub-zero temperatures you will probably find them worth the money.


Markus Varha said...

Thanks for the Mention Toby and thanks for the tip as well, I'll have to check these out for my other bike!

Jo said...

I will also be checking these out. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

You should check out the KRNKY feetbelts. They're proudly made in Helsinki too!

Btw. my offer to true those wheels still stands lest you've already taken them to some dodgy prepubescent mechanic to have them bent.