Pedals: The Amazing Disappearing Bike Part
February 10th 2016
By Bob Forgrave
The four bikes below tell an interesting, seldom-told story. Yes, there’s the well-known message of different bikes for different purposes, from urban simplicity to multi-shock trail ruggedness or carbon/titanium-enabled racing speed. But this is something entirely different, about similarities.
Three of the four bikes below are quite literally unrideable as shown in their manufacturer’s photos.
They all look elegant, appealing, and ready to ride, but when you actually get on the bike and try to propel yourself forward…no pedals. Only the green, lower-cost comfort bike can be ridden away as photographed. And the lowest cost bikes of all—kids’ first bikes—are always shown with pedals.
By cycling industry tradition, the higher end the bike, the more likely it is to be shown without a way to ride it (and yes, in full disclosure, even the Change full-size folding bikes on our own Flatbike.com website are no exception to this strange trend). Which bring us to the all-important question…
What is it about the pedal that makes manufacturers want it to disappear?
Pedals get in the way. For manufacturers, that means an often jagged, dangly thingy that often hangs upside down if toe straps are included. And they’re often rider specific; you don’t want someone not buying the bike just because of the pedal option you showed!
For bike riders, pedals get in the way. They grab ankles when you’re walking your bike and scratch frames when you’re stacking bikes on a car rack. And if you have a lot of bikes to nest tightly on a car trip, you may even find yourself needing to remove pedals with a wrench, thick gloves, and a lot of expletives.
Fixing the pedal problem
One solution to pedal inconvenience is to use folding pedals. These pedals are specially-designed to be strong while pedaling, then collapse when not needed. They can give you just enough leeway to fit bikes closer together, and make it that much easier to slide a bike in and out of the bed of a Subaru when the pedal isn’t grabbing the carpet anymore.
But when folding, they collapse only about 50% of the length of a pedal, if that. And you’re limited to pedal designs that fold—none of which include toe cages or straps, by the way. This limits the appeal of folding pedals, usually to folding bike situations.
Another option is what we at Flatbike call “pop-off pedals”. These pedals are specially designed for easy removal in seconds at times when pedals get in the way, saving 80% or more of the length of the pedal. You can add whatever toe straps or cages you want, even swapping out between pedal types in seconds if you share a bike or use it different ways at different times. And the nub that is left on the crank when you remove a pedal is even more ankle-friendly than folding pedals.
No matter what bike you own, if you ever have to transport it or store it, pop-off pedals can save you the pain—sometimes literally—of standard pedal equipment. Make your biking easier!