Black Ice, Clipless vs Flats?

Sharky

Veteran
Location
Kent
I've been riding clipless pedals, almost since they were invented and before that clips & toe straps, almost 57 years, so the usual "Clipless Moment" has no worries for me. However, last January, took a spill on black ice that has shaken me up a bit. I was clipped in and went down with all the impact taken on my thigh/hip, in fact my pelvis was fractured and is still fragile. On this last spill, my right shoe remained clipped in.

My question is aimed at anybody who has lost their front wheel on black ice and has gone down and whether clipped in or on flats. If on the latter, did it enable you to react quicker and were you able to stick your leg out to prevent the fall or to minimise the fall.

As the cold & frosty months are approaching, I am considering putting some MTB/flat pedals on my road bike until mid February.

Thanks
 

dave r

Dunking Diddy Dave Pedalling Pensioner
Usually if the front goes it goes too quick to react, if you can react then I suspect you might have more chance on flats or loose clips and straps.
 
I've been riding clipless pedals, almost since they were invented and before that clips & toe straps, almost 57 years, so the usual "Clipless Moment" has no worries for me. However, last January, took a spill on black ice that has shaken me up a bit. I was clipped in and went down with all the impact taken on my thigh/hip, in fact my pelvis was fractured and is still fragile. On this last spill, my right shoe remained clipped in.

My question is aimed at anybody who has lost their front wheel on black ice and has gone down and whether clipped in or on flats. If on the latter, did it enable you to react quicker and were you able to stick your leg out to prevent the fall or to minimise the fall.

As the cold & frosty months are approaching, I am considering putting some MTB/flat pedals on my road bike until mid February.

Thanks
I’ve come a cropper twice, on frost / ice. Once with clipless, once with flats. It made no difference, as soon as you’re going over because of ice, it’s over too quickly to even think, let alone get anything out to try and prevent a tumble, IME. In fact I had less issues with the feet clipped in, in regards to stopping my leg getting bent out of shape / trapped in the wheels, clipped in, getting feet out of the pedal under the bike was a little more undignified with the clipped in approach though. You’d find it difficult to have such issues on a Trike.
 
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summerdays

Cycling in the sun
Location
Bristol
Black ice, it's very quick when you go over ... there isn't any time to think at all!

Would you consider spiked tyres.... I'm just getting to the point of considering putting them back on the spare bike (though it usually takes one icy morning to make me get around to doing it.
 

screenman

Legendary Member
May be that being clipped in could be safer, in that you are not going to stick a leg out and get it broken. Now that line could well be rubbish, I remember being told not to let go of the bars when coming off ( easier said than done) to help avoid a broken collar bone.
 
May be that being clipped in could be safer, in that you are not going to stick a leg out and get it broken. Now that line could well be rubbish, I remember being told not to let go of the bars when coming off ( easier said than done) to help avoid a broken collar bone.
It’s like falling off a horse, fight the urge to stick your arm out, or risk your scaphoid and collar bone getting broken.
 
Hello Sharky, I am and always have been a toe strap rider and have never found that I can get on with clipped pedals and by the same context riding a bike with plain double sided pedals I always have had difficulty with.

Riding a bike is very much the same as riding a horse, it all comes down to your baseline contact and general balance, some people have lightning fast reactions and are able to foresee the event which is about to happen, having almost a 6th sense in doing so.

I was out with a group of friends some years ago, riding approximately in the middle of the pack when one by one, lightning fast they all started to fall like skittles in a bowling alley but heaven knows why I was still upright although my bike did have quite a wobbly moment!

From my experience on horses, bikes and in competition motoring I honestly do believe the problem is that the vast majority of people stiffen up, as such, they tighten their grip on the handlebars, reins and or steering wheel and in so doing they significantly reduce their bodies ability to react, so hopefully you won't take exception to me suggesting you should HANG LOOSE.
 
OP
Sharky

Sharky

Veteran
Location
Kent
I’ve come a cropper twice, on frost / ice. Once with clipless, once with flats. It made no difference, as soon as you’re going over because of ice, it’s over too quickly to even think, let alone get anything out to try and prevent a tumble, IME. In fact I had less issues with the feet clipped in, in regards to stopping my leg getting bent out of shape / trapped in the wheels, clipped in, getting feet out of the pedal under the bike was a little more undignified with the clipped in approach though. You’d find it difficult to have such issues on a Trike.
I have been thinking about a trike option. I do have a tandem trike, but they are a bit pricey. Might investigate.
 
OP
Sharky

Sharky

Veteran
Location
Kent
Black ice, it's very quick when you go over ... there isn't any time to think at all!

Would you consider spiked tyres.... I'm just getting to the point of considering putting them back on the spare bike (though it usually takes one icy morning to make me get around to doing it.
Hadn't thought about spiked tyres. Might be worth putting one on the front. How effective are they on black ice and do you notice them when riding when it's not icy?
 
OP
Sharky

Sharky

Veteran
Location
Kent
May be that being clipped in could be safer, in that you are not going to stick a leg out and get it broken. Now that line could well be rubbish, I remember being told not to let go of the bars when coming off ( easier said than done) to help avoid a broken collar bone.
Gone down on two other occasions as well in the last 10yrs resulting in broken collar bones both sides! I think I kept hold of the bars, but it happens very quickly.
Now that I think about it, the trike option is looking more attractive.
 

summerdays

Cycling in the sun
Location
Bristol
Hadn't thought about spiked tyres. Might be worth putting one on the front. How effective are they on black ice and do you notice them when riding when it's not icy?
Bike is a bit slower, and makes a crunchy noise especially when frosty... but you can cycle over pure ice and stay upright. Somewhere I have a photo...
IMG_3669.jpg

No problems cycling across that.

I've got on the back and front... and if I was having them I don't see why I wouldn't do both... anything to stay upright.
 

screenman

Legendary Member
Gone down on two other occasions as well in the last 10yrs resulting in broken collar bones both sides! I think I kept hold of the bars, but it happens very quickly.
Now that I think about it, the trike option is looking more attractive.
Ouch! But I still think being tucked in may be safer. I have also had my fair share of tumbles, racing off road for over 20 years takes care of that.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
My question is aimed at anybody who has lost their front wheel on black ice and has gone down and whether clipped in or on flats. If on the latter, did it enable you to react quicker and were you able to stick your leg out to prevent the fall or to minimise the fall.
I was on flats and had no time to react. I cracked my handlebars but only bruised myself. I think the bike was otherwise OK.

I don't think you get any time to react with black ice. I've vague memories of sliding sideways down the road when I was younger. The only times I remember using my feet to save a fall were on white ice and snow.

Hadn't thought about spiked tyres. Might be worth putting one on the front. How effective are they on black ice and do you notice them when riding when it's not icy?
In my experience, they're scarily effective and you really do notice them when riding, losing lots of power to the increased rolling resistance. I rode all the way to the shop cursing that I'd used them when there wasn't any ice around - then on the way home, I was riding towards the sun and could see it reflecting off the mirror-like surfaces I'd ridden over without noticing :eek:
 
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