If you’re ready to take your cycling to the next level, you may be ready to add toe clips and straps to your bike pedal.
These nifty little devices keep your feet safely in place, and a toe clip even helps get a little more speed and distance for every hard-earned rotation.
A toe clip is similar to clipless pedals but is much easier to use and a more cost-effective addition to your bike pedal.
As of right now, the top toe clips for road bikes are:
MKS Toe Clips with Leather and Chrome—Best for Style
Before jumping into the reviews, check out my guide below on how to get the right toe clip to suit your needs.
Do Toe Clips Make a Difference?
A toe clip is on your pedal for two reasons: speed and safety. But that’s not exactly how it started.
The toe clip was first and foremost invented to do one simple thing: make sure your feet stay on your bike pedals. It was all about safety, as having a foot slip off the pedal could lead to disastrous results. This can be particularly embarrassing on a spin bike or exercise bike.
But, there was an off-shoot of the toe clip’s invention that has taken over from safety.
Or, more precisely, power transfer.
You see, without a toe clip, only the leg pushing down on the bike pedal propels you forward. One side is working hard while the other side is just there for the ride.
Toe Clips Pedals Versus Clipless Pedals: Addressing the Clipless Pedals Controversy
Before we go any further, there’s some confusion to clear up about clipless toe clip pedals and toe clips and straps.
There are two methods to make sure your foot stays on your road bike pedals:
- Toe clip bike pedals.
- Toe clipless bike pedals.
And, because English vocabulary is sometimes strange, take a guess which one has toe clips?
You got it… clipless bike pedals have clips, and the toe clips do not. Makes no sense, right?
This is because the “clip” part refers to the hardware that houses your toes—some also call this a cage. Don’t confuse this with the underside of the shoe clipping into the toe clip pedals.
Ok, now that’s cleared up, let’s move on…
As a beginner or intermediate cyclist, it’s best to go for a toe clip and strap (which have no clips on your bike pedals, don’t forget) and not the clipless pedals.
The clipless pedal is for hardcore cyclists, like fixed-gear riders who don’t mind buying special and expensive cycling shoes that make them walk a bit like a flamingo.
Maybe not your style, yet!
Single Strap, Double Strap, or Strapless? Which Is Best in Toe Clip Pedals?
As far as buying toe clip pedals goes, you should now focus on the straps. You see, a toe clip is usually made up of two parts:
- Cage: Attaches to your bike pedals and is where your toe fits in.
- Strap: Keeps your foot in the cage and on the bike pedal.
It’s like it sounds: there’s one strap keeping your foot in place, which is the same strap that your pull-up foot uses. A toe clip with a single strap will provide security and be fairly easy to get your foot out in the event of a fall.
Doubling the strap means doubling security and comfort.
Because there are two straps, your pulling-up foot will have the pressure put on two different points. Less pressure = less irritation or pain.
But be careful. It might be a little more difficult to get your foot off of the bike pedal quickly.
So, why not get rid of the straps altogether and go strapless?
The choice here is for safety. Imagine when you need to make a quick stop, but you can't get your foot out of your single or double-strapped toe clip. It’s one epically slow and profoundly embarrassing fall to the ground!
Not only that, it hurts and, depending on how you land, can be dangerous. I’ve even seen riders fall from a spin bike or exercise bike while indoor cycling due to the straps.
So, with a strapless toe clip, you're looking at just the cage, but a more secure cage.
Of course, there’s a downfall—you're going to lose out on support and comfort. And, your feet have a higher likelihood of slipping out from the cage because the straps aren’t there to keep them in.
What Should Toe Clips and Straps Be Made Of?
There’s not much choice in terms of strap material. Most are nylon, making them pretty durable, but nylon isn’t great on the eye, so try a leather strap for a little pizazz.
The common materials for the toe clip’s cage are:
- Stainless steel.
- Chrome-plated steel.
- Regular steel.
- Aluminum alloy.
As you may have guessed, a stainless steel toe clip provides the best features. It’s strong and scratch and corrosion-resistant while looking good and being more durable.
Chrome-plated steel is similar to stainless steel but looks even better. However, it scratches more easily.
A regular steel toe clip is more likely to rust and isn’t as aesthetically pleasing.
An aluminum alloy toe clip brings you slightly closer to stainless steel’s benefits, but it’s still inferior in terms of durability.
Aluminum is cheaper than all of the steels and weighs less but isn’t corrosion-resistant.
An alternative to metal is plastic or resin. They generally don't look as good and will scratch quite easily. But, they’re low-cost and fairly durable.
If you aren’t hung up on looks, then plastic or resin is a serious contender.
The Top Five Toe Clips and Straps for Road Bikes
Material: Stainless Steel
One of the great features of these stainless steel half-cage toe clip pedals is their versatility and durability. In particular, customers note that the stainless steel makes them feel well-built and allows bending to make the toe clip fit.
There’s also positive feedback for the lack of rough edges in the tubular stainless steel, preventing damage to their shoes. Some also mentioned that these clips accommodate almost any shoe.
Ease of installation is a bit of an issue, though. Users say that they can be hard to install, and some found they took time to get used to.
- Tubular stainless steel for durability.
- Better for your shoes.
- Bendable for different shoe sizes.
- Take some getting used to.
- Difficult to install.
Type: Double strap (not included)
It’s good to see that customers rave about the sturdiness of these double-steel toe clip pedals. On top of this, they accommodate large and wide feet while hugging foot contours well—there’s nothing worse than a loose fit.
Despite this, some customers mention a bit of discomfort and a pinched feeling, while others complained they were heavy. Although there’s no size guide for these toe clip pedals, the manufacturer claims they’re large at a 70mm depth.
Also, while they’re durable, some users reported seeing wear after a few months of use. Even so, it wasn’t enough for them to stop working.
Overall, road bike riders like the double-strap capability, making them feel more secure in the pedal.
- Double strap gives more security and comfort.
- Sturdy and super tough.
- Fits a wide variety of shoes.
- Really hugs your foot.
- Uncomfortable—can pinch the feet.
These toe clips are strapless, but customers mention how secure their feet feel on the pedal. They also like that they can get their feet out in a hurry.
On the other hand, some users say that their foot doesn’t feel quite as secure without straps, so perhaps the Origin8 is better-suited.
Note that installation is easy with these toe clip pedals, although some users had to use their own hardware because the provided screws weren’t long enough.
Be aware that some found the toe clips to be a little short, so you may want to look elsewhere if you have larger feet.
- Easy to get your foot in and out.
- Easy installation.
- Strapless for ease of use and safety.
- Poor quality hardware.
- Can be quite short.
Type: Single strap (not included)
Customers report that this economy product is sturdy and lighter than other toe clips they’ve tried. And, you also have the option of using a single strap with these toe clip pedals, but this isn’t included.
If you do go for the strap, it can be a little difficult to get your feet in and out, although the fit is super snug. Clearly, the clip size is an issue, with some saying it wasn’t large enough for their shoes and others saying the advised sizing isn’t accurate.
Despite this, installation is pretty straight forward, but several purchasers comment on the poor hardware quality, needing to buy extra screws.
- Easy installation.
- Durable and sturdy plastic.
- Inaccurate sizing.
- Difficulty getting in and out.
- Included hardware isn’t the best quality.
Type: Single strap (not included)
Material: Chrome-plated steel and leather
Many purchasers of these MKS toe clips use the words “stylish” and “retro,” and I have to agree. If you want to add an edge to your bike, these are the ones to go for.
While the trendy leather accent protects your shoes while riding, customers mention that the strap makes it difficult to get your shoes in and out when in a hurry.
Despite this, customers praise the toe clip’s ease of installation, but some thought the strap was hard to weave into the cage.
A common criticism of many toe clips is size, and this set is no different. People with large feet complain that even the largest size clip isn’t large enough.
Also, the price is in the midrange, but customers reported that it was a good price for the quality.
- Stylish and retro.
- Easy installation.
- Good value for money.
- Tricky to get feet into straps.
- Leather straps are hard to attach to the cage.
- Can feel a bit snug for larger feet.
Choosing a toe clip for your road bike pedals involves making a few decisions. In particular, you need to decide on whether you want single, double or strapless toe clip pedals.
Then move onto the material, with the steels leading the way for durability in quality.
For me, the MKS Half Cage Clip takes the top spot. Despite being highly priced, the tubular stainless steel toe clip resists scratches and corrosion. Also, it’s easy on your shoes since there aren’t any rough edges.
I also really like the metal cage and how you can bend it slightly to accommodate any or foot size. A strapless toe clip may not be for everyone, but I like how easy it is to get your foot on or off of your bike pedal.
For riders on a budget, check out the Zefal Toe Clips 43. Don’t let the low price fool you—this plastic toe clip will really last.