Re: [CR] Touring Shoes and Clipless

Example: Framebuilders:Jack Taylor

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From: Jon Spangler <>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2009 01:26:53 -0800
To: Harry Travis <>
Subject: Re: [CR] Touring Shoes and Clipless


I got into serious cycling around 1971-2 in Eugene, OR, when my already-upgraded UO-8 was stolen after less than a year, and I finagled my way into getting a PX-10 as a replacement. (Who needs to pay tuition when you can get an all-531 DB bike?) . Of course, chamois shorts and cycling shoes were next.

All-leather Detto Pietros were what was available, and my LBS told me to "fit them tight" with thin socks--tighter than street shoes. In rainy Eugene, we went riding in the new shoes (sans cleats at first, to mark them, of course)--which usually meant riding in the rain. The common local wisdom was that the shoes would get wet, stretch to conform to your (wider American) feet, and, once the cleats (aluminum and steel TA, short or long) were installed, you'd be set. I started out with size 40 or 41 DPs. Since these shoes actually shrink in length over time (especially riding in the wet so much), they soon were uncomfortably short and tight.

I realized that my wide feet needed more room than average. (Of course, breaking my right foot and getting it re-positioned surgically after a climbing accident did not help any either: it left me with almost a full-size difference between my left and right feet in both arch and overall lengths. My current Carnacs are 43.5s or 44s--I forget which--and I fitted them with both orthotics and thick ragg wool hiking sox for comfort. (Now that they are somewhat shorter, I do well with thick runner's sox that are more padded than cycling sox.) It helped a lot along the way for me to sell hiking boots and learn proper fitting techniques: I learned that all shoes generally do shrink in length as they are worn, following the repeated bending of walking thousands of steps (or cycling thousands of pedal strokes).

As to pedal float--I use a red (floating) cleat on my more normal left leg and foot, but the fixed black cleat, along with my unusual right foot and weakened joints, seems to be better for keeping both my right knee and my right Achilles tendon properly oriented. I doubt that anyone else on CR-land has anything close to my weird biomechanics, and would not recommend that anyone else adopt what I do, BTW...


Jon Spangler Alameda, CA USA

On Feb 11, 2009, at 11:45 PM, Harry Travis wrote:
> John Hurley:
> Float usually refers to the ability to pivot the foot on the pedal
> without spring resistance which precedes almost all unclipping.
> But, Time would have you believe they give you more:lateral float,
> from side to side.
> Jon Spangler:
> Would you tell me more about "back when the "ballet slipper"
> fitting method was in vogue. I nearly ruined my feet that way"
> What was "ballet slipper fitting"t, and how did it come to ruin
> your feet, if it now recognized to have that risk. (Just as fixed
> cleats are believed to be damaging to riders whose legs naturally
> pivot on their pedals as part of their stroke cycle. )
> Harry Travis
> Washington, DC
> On Wed, Feb 11, 2009 at 4:32 PM, Jon Spangler
> <> wrote:
> Kirke and all,
> I use XXL toeclips and straps on my around-town 1973-ish Peugeot
> mixte (UO-18), as I'm in and out of the pedals all the time. I
> extended the toeclip length with spacers so I can pedal in work
> boots or other longer-than-cycling-shoe footwear. The Peugeot may
> have SIS shifting, but she is mostly CR-legal otherwise.
> For longer rides, I can no longer tolerate toe clips and straps
> like I once did. (I used all-leather shoes like Detto Pietros with
> hand-set nailed cleats for a long time, back when the "ballet
> slipper" fitting method was in vogue. I nearly ruined my feet that
> way.)
> I have had chronic problems with my right knee (the leg was
> weakened by muscle mass lost following a 1970 climbing accident),
> and using LOOK clipless pedals (with the black, non-floating
> cleats) has helped my cycling by stabilizing the knee. In my pre-
> clipless days, cinching down on my toestraps so I could pull up
> effectively yielded numb feet and toes after about 40-50 miles.
> Switching to the LOOKs and using bigger shoes--with CF-stiffened
> soles, BTW--with room for thicker padded sox have both
> significantly improved this. Because the LOOKs substantially
> reduced the numbness in my feet and stabilize my knee, I have to
> stay with clipless for long rides, no matter what the "aesthetics"
> may look like. (I'd rather be able to ride longer distances than be
> a purist of any sort.)
> FWIW, I have been using the same Shimano Look pedals for almost 20
> years, which certainly makes them "antiques" by current
> technological and stylistic standards. (Do I get CR brownie points
> for having old-but-not-CR gear like that? :-)
> Yours for being able to pedal long, no matter on what platform,
> Jon Spangler
> Alameda, CA USA
> On Feb 11, 2009, at 8:07 AM, <classicrendezvous-
>> wrote:
> Message: 1
> Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2009 06:54:59 -0800
> From: Kirke Campbell <>
> Subject: [CR] Touring Shoes and Clipless
> To: <>
> Message-ID: <>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
> Hey list! (sorry if this went through twice, I dont know if the
> email cleared the first time!)
> I was wondering if anyone knows of a company that still makes non-
> clipless cycling-specific shoes in the style of old Avocet touring
> shoes? Things like this show up on ebay occasionally, but they are
> rarely in my size and I dont really want to buy used shoes.
> If you have any tips please share!
> Also, I currently have clips and straps on all my bikes and
> (believe it or not) have never used a clipless system! Now,
> everyone likes to tell me that going clipless is the best way to
> improve your pedaling. I was wondering if anyone has decided to use
> clipless pedals on their otherwise "period correct," on-topic bikes
> for the sake of improving technique and efficiency?
> Kirke Campbell
> Houston, Tx USA
> Jon Spangler
> Writer/Editor
> Linda Hudson Writing
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