As a touring cyclist I’ve been torn between the efficiency of being connected to my pedals and the ease of traditional flat pedals. If your cycle touring means pedalling serious miles daily you won’t want to be short changed in pedal efficiency. On the other hand a second pair of shoes for off the bike maybe the straw that breaks the camels back, Restrap Pedal Straps may be the answer.
Cycle Touring Pedal Systems
I’ve experimented with flat pedals, caged toe straps, clipless pedal and shoe systems and now Restraps diagonal toe straps. Check out this article on ‘Clipless Pedals for Cycle Touring’. As well as cycle touring, I occasionally jump on a carbon road bike and knock out some fast miles around the Hampshire countryside. For a short time I rode with the clipless SPD-SL shoe / pedal system. I found this system terrible, clipping in and out was a fiddly and sometimes an out rightly dangerous experience. I persisted hoping the cleats would break-in or the mechanism soften so the action would ease. But even after riding well over a thousand miles I failed to get on with the SPD-SL.
Next I tried the SPD system on my road bike. This clipless shoe and pedal system is more common with mountain bikers and not so popular with the road bike scene, dare I say it – due to it’s ‘not so pretty appearance’. I got on with this system better, clipping in and out came much easier to me. Another benefit is that the cleat is recessed within the shoes grip. Walking is much easier with SPD’s than with the SPD-SL external cleats that sit proud of the shoe. That said, you won’t want to go much further than a short walk in these. I’ve tried SPD equipped sandals and walking boots but in my opinion these are a bit of a compromise. The cleats can be felt and they become clogged with grit, mud and road debris.
Touring Bike Pedal Systems
On my touring bike I fitted the Shimano A530 pedal, these are a nice compromise between SPD and flat pedals. Unlike a full SPD pedal which is double sided, the A530 has one side with the SPD fitting and the other side is a flat pedal. These work great, offering the efficiency of being attached to your pedals but are also convenient if you want to nip down the shops in your regular shoes. The only downside is that you’ll need SPD shoes for riding and then a pair of regular shoes for time off the bike. A second pair of shoes take up precious pannier space.
Introducing the Restrap Pedal Straps
Restrap make two types of pedal strap; the diagonal and the horizontal. Both are made from recycled seat belt webbing. The straps are a great design which are easily fitted to most flat pedals and are supplied with all necessary fittings. The straps benefit from a 3 layer Velcro system that is easily and quickly adjusted to any type of footwear. I have the diagonal Restrap, I’ve not tried the horizontal Restrap but the diagonal design will offer better efficiency. You have to turn your heel outwards to enter the strap, once your foot is straightened the strap tightens. The connection between foot and pedal is better than most would expect from a material fastening.
The Restrap Pedal Strap – In Use
As with any pedal system the Restrap diagonal strap takes a bit of getting use to. Getting your toes into the pedal strap is the fiddliest bit but in no time it becomes second nature. A traditional metal caged toe strap is held open ready for your feet to be pushed into. With the Restrap, the all-material design will slightly flatten. This just takes a flick up with the tip of your shoe and can then be slid in diagonally. Once your foot is straightened the strap tightens to a comfortably snug fit. I’ve not tried, but I’d imagine the horizontal Restrap would be easier to locate. The hoizontal Restrap will work like the traditional toe clip, you won’t have additional tension that the diagonal version gives.
You’ll be glad to read that exiting the Restrap pedal strap is a breeze! Most cyclists have endured the cold-sweat anxiety of coming to a halt and not being able to disconnect from the pedal. With the Restrap this won’t happen. In fact, I’ve never given the exiting process any thought, it’s that straightforward. It’s just a case of turning your heel out to slacken the strap then leave the pedal in a rearward direction, easy!
Restrap Diagonal Straps – Conclusion
I’ve clocked up several hundred miles using the Restrap and I love them. The build quality looks bullet-proof. Mine are showing no sign of wear other than the encrusted muck I’ve coated them in. They’re easy to use and the horizontal version even easier. After your first couple of day trips with the diagonal Restraps you’ll be fluent with them. I’m sure the mechanical connection of a clipless system is marginally better, but only marginally. However, with the Restrap toe strap you’ll have none of the fiddle, fuss or uncertainty that comes with it. You still have a flat pedal side to let you get going from standstill and from now on your touring can be a one pair of shoes affair, Amen!
Take a look at Restraps website here. The Pedal straps were Restraps first product, they now have an array of cycling and outdoor products. The Restrap bike packing kit looks really well designed and made, I’m hoping to try some of it out on my new Surly World Troller and bring you a review. As always, your comments are most welcome.