I have now logged about 90 miles using Speedplay Frog pedals on Big Nellie my Tour Easy recumbent. This is a progress report on my frogitude.
Frogs are a kind of clipless pedal system. A cleat on the sole of your shoe clicks into a fitting on the pedal. This supposedly gives you more pedalling efficiency. Frogs are reputed to be the kindest pedals for your knees. Since I have knees of glass this is an important consideration. Frogs are knee friendly because they have free float. This means you foot can swivel a whole lot without detaching your shoe from the pedal.
Years ago I tried a Look pedal system on my old Trek 1200 road bike. The Look cleats allowed lots of float. I used them for an entire summer and never much liked them. The float felt like I was pedalling on ice.
Most recumbent riders says that clipless cleats should be put as far back on your shoe as possible. (Some recumbent riders even expand the holes in the sole with a Dremel tool so that the cleat can go even farther back.) I positioned the cleats all the way back and went for a 20-mile ride.
For some reason this cleat position aggravated a nerve condition in my left foot. For my second 15-mile ride, I moved the left cleat forward a bit. This felt better. So I rode the bike to work on Wednesday and Thursday.
Bottom line: I like Frogs. They feel like they aren’t there. This is great until you need to get a foot on the ground and your brain says, “Oh, yeah, I gotta unclip.” I haven’t pulled an Arte Johnson side flop yet but I’ve come close three or four times.
(Side flops are not that big a deal on a recumbent because you have much less farther to fall.)
Another aspect of Frogs that I like is the fact that I don’t have to expend any energy keeping my feet on the pedals. This is not much of an issue on a conventional bike when the pedals are directly beneath you but on a recumbent your feet are out in front of you. With my old platform pedals, I was unconsciously curling my toes to maintain pressure on the pedals. No need to do that with Frogs. My feet are attached.
The forward position of my feet on Big Nellie means that my feet are not bearing much weight, unlike a conventional bike. This means that I don’t get that ice feeling that I disliked with the Look pedals.
My pedalling is a little more efficient making me about a mile per hour faster. This is a nice little bonus.
One thing I wasn’t expecting was the fact that being bound to the pedals makes the bike feel different. Big Nellie already felt like a street luge when going downhill but the Frogs extend that feeling to the flats. Going around curves is a gas.
It looks like the Frogs are a keeper. I need to do a long ride to see if the nerve problem is gone but for now I am pretty happy. I’ll probably try them on Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist next.
So as Arte Johnson said, “Very interesting…”