At one time I rode a lightweight English-made adult tricycle by Ken Rogers, a British machinest who specialized in tricycles. He fabricated them in his backyard workshop near London Airport. I became so enamored with them that I even started selling them as a sideline to people in Harlow, England, where I then lived and worked. My wife, who didn’t have a driver’s license at the time, also had a Ken Rogers tricycle. It was equipped with a folding child’s seat at the back for my young son and behind that was a wheeled push-basket for light shopping trips.
I still have these machines, together with a Ken Rogers tandem tricycle which can carry two or three children on a rear bench seat.
The thing about a tricycle is that when cornering at any significant speed you have to really lean out, the same as when riding a motorcycle and sidecar, to balance the centrifugal force. For this reason I equipped it with regular toe clips that really keep your feet from sliding out sideways, as shown in the photo below.
On a tricycle, one typically keeps both feet in the toe clips from the time you start to the time you arrive at your destination.
That certainly isn’t the case with a bicycle. Each time you stop one foot must be taken off the pedal and put down to prevent you from falling. Before clipless pedals became available I tried using the above type of toe clip with a bicycle and found that even when the toe clip strap was loose it still tended to catch the bottom strap on the shoe and prevent easy removal.
The solution I eventually found is the so-called mini toe clip which is shorter than a regular toe clip and has no strap to worry about. This allows easy removal of the shoe either backwards or sideways. It doesn’t hold the foot quite as securely as a regular toe clip or the modern equivalent, a clipless pedal, but it has a number of advantages, making it ideal for commuting:
1. It can accommodate almost any size of shoe, from a regular cycling shoe or sneaker, up to a large fur-lined boot that you might wear in winter.
2. It used to be made of chrome-plated steel which could scrape the ground and abrade at the tip, leading to one of mine rusting and eventually breaking.
The modern versions are made from almost indestructible plastic.
3. Mini toe clips are cheap.
The one pictured above is made by Zéfal, which I can recommend as being very durable and also the most expensive …. at around $10 a pair!
In addition to the above, it’s worth pointing out the following advantages of mini toe clips:
4. They position the foot in the optimum position.
If your foot slips forward on the pedal the ball of the foot is no longer centered over the pedal axle and you are losing leverage where it matters most: at the end of your foot. This tends to happen when not using a mini toe clip or similar device to hold your shoe in the optimum position.
5. Increase efficiency in restarting from rest.
After coming to a stop the toe clip allows you to lift the pedal back up to the start position. Otherwise you have to remove your foot and lift the pedal from underneath and then place it back on the pedal.
6. Reduces the risk of loss of control.
Your foot is less likely to slip off the pedal, especially when pressing hard. Without the mini toe clip your shoe can slip off the pedal, leading to loss of control and a possible fall.