Are Pedal Straps Dangerous? A Summary of Expert Opinions & Literature


Mountain biking is one of the most demanding sports, not just because of the extreme routes that riders encounter, but also because of the strain their bodies endure. Pedaling puts tremendous strain on the ankles, knees, and hips because a rider needs to maintain his or her foot position on the bike, while also propelling the bike forward over uneven paths. Pedal straps enable riders to maximize pedaling efficiency by using both the upstroke and downstroke to push forward. But are pedal straps dangerous? 

Pedal straps are not dangerous if the rider is accustomed to using them. Pedal straps, pedal clips, and clipless pedals keep the rider’s feet secured to the pedals. These three options enable a push and pull action for more pedaling power on uphills, better control of the bike, and greater speed. Pedal straps are more convenient as they allow a less experienced rider to remove their feet with greater ease. 

Ensuring that the foot remains in constant contact with the pedal is a good way to ensure less energy is wasted on foot placement and offers the rider better speed and control. And a good way to do this is by using pedal straps as explained in our article about whether pedal straps are good.

Pedal straps are not dangerous if you are familiar with using them. 
Pedal straps are a useful way for a rider to become familiar with the feeling of having their feet attached to the pedals. Image Source: PureCycles

What Are Mountain Bike Pedal Straps?

Mountain bike pedal straps can easily be attached to the pedals and can be used with any type of shoe, as long as the bridge of the shoe is low enough for the strap to fit around it. 

Mountain bike pedal straps are strips of nylon or polyester fabric that are attached to the pedal and then folded over the foot and secured in place with velcro. Pedal straps ensure the rider’s feet remain secured to the pedals and enable pulling on the upstroke and pushing on the downstroke when riding on rough terrain. 

Using mountain bike straps is an easy way to keep your feet secured to your pedals without feeling too constrained. Read our articles if you would like to know more about how to thread mountain bike straps yourself or if you want to learn how to make bike pedal straps of your own.

Pedal straps help you to pull on the upstroke and push on the downstroke. 
Pedal straps can be used with any type of shoe. Image Source: Amazon.

Do Bike Pedal Straps Help?

Mountain biking is a strenuous sport because the rider has to ride on steep and rough terrain. Pedal straps can help riders reduce this strain on their joints by helping the rider to execute the downward and upward movement of the pedals with greater ease and force. 

Bike pedal straps do help in that they are a good middle ground between regular platform pedals and clipless pedals. Use pedal straps for the convenience of a flat pedal and the speed and performance of a toe clip without the same constraint. The width of pedal straps ensures the even distribution of weight and force. 

According to this article from the Journal of Physical Therapy in Sport, the body’s exertion is intensified in the hips, knees, and ankles when a rider needs to push on the pedals to ascend sharp inclines and descend declines.

Pedal straps are a practical way to transition from regular platform pedals to clipless pedals because they allow you to become comfortable with the feeling of having your feet attached to the pedals while offering an easy way to remove your feet from the pedals without first learning complicated twisting and unclipping techniques. If you want to learn more about clipless pedals and hybrid pedals that incorporate clips as well as a flat platform then read our article about choosing mountain bike pedals for maximizing grip

Similarly, you may be interested in learning if you should use toe clips on a bicycle. If so, be sure to read through all the pros and cons in our related article. Furthermore, our guide to toe clip installation and use will be extremely helpful to anyone looking to learn more about toe clips. Be sure to check it out too. Finally, we explain how to choose between mountain bike toe clips vs clipless pedals in a comparison guide. So make sure you also read that one. 

Are Bike Pedal Straps Dangerous?

As with anything in life, bike pedal straps can be dangerous if they are not used in the right way. Bike pedal straps are dangerous if used incorrectly or without adjusting to the action of removing the feet from the straps before coming to a complete stop. It has been found that the size of the straps can cause interference while pedaling on uneven trails. Also, if fastened too tightly it can be more difficult to remove your feet from the straps and if they are too loose your feet won't be secured properly.

Bike pedal straps are dangerous if used incorrectly or without adjusting to the action of removing the feet from the straps before coming to a complete stop, if the size of the straps causes interference while pedaling on uneven trails, and if fastened too tightly or too loosely. Bicycle manufacturer LocaBikes states that using pedal straps on fixed gear bikes makes them less dangerous than using flat pedals without any foot retention accessory. 

The manufacturer Scada Pedals explains how pedal straps can be used for children who have trouble keeping their feet on the pedals, as well as adults who want the additional force in the pedal’s upward pull. In fact, LocaBikes, a bicycle manufacturer, states that using foot retention tools like pedal straps makes riding fixie bikes less dangerous. This is because at high speeds the cranks can turn so fast that getting feet back on is impossible, hence foot retention tools prevent foot slippage.

Additional evidence from the book "Complete Road Bike Maintenance"  states that tightening pedal straps too much is the main reason they might be dangerous.  If you'd like some tips on choosing pedal straps with heel support for kids take a look at our related article. 

Scada recommends Fyxation pedal straps like these for use with pedals that are compatible. Scada also suggests that you use these high-quality nylon straps with lightweight nylon fiber pedals, for adult mountain bikers who want to secure their feet to the pedals and get the most out of their mountain bike ride for maximum enjoyment.

Additionally, you can find more information in our article titled, "Are Pedal Straps Good." So be sure to check that one out too.

Are Clipless Pedals Dangerous or Safety Hazards?

Many cyclists consider clipless pedals to be safer than pedal straps because the foot can be released quickly in an emergency.

Clipless pedals are dangerous for a beginner rider. Practice the action of clipping in and out of clipless pedals before riding with them, bearing in mind that a low spring tension can help to make them easier to use.

It really is worth looking into the benefits of clipless pedals on a mountain bike as we explain in our article. Once the rider is familiar with the amount of float—which this article from Crank Brothers explains—they can free their feet in a matter of seconds, if necessary. Clipless pedals have to be used with rigid mountain bike shoes that prevent the feet from flexing when riding, and that have cleats attached to their soles. This video explains how to use clipless pedals if it’s your first time trying them. When considering using clipless pedals for the first time, choose pedals that have a low spring tension, like these ones which have adjustable tension springs, so that they are easier to clip in and out. Dual platform pedals like these are also good for beginner to intermediate mountain bikers because they offer you the choice of clipping your foot onto the pedal or using the flat side without the clip. Resist the excitement to go straight onto a trail when you first install your clipless pedals on the mountain bike and rather use a static home trainer like this to practice riding with clipless pedals. 

As with pedal straps, using clipless pedals is only dangerous if the rider is not used to using them.
Clipless pedals are used with biking shoes that have cleats attached to them. Image Source: BikeRoar.

Similarly, you might find interest in learning about mountain bike armor durability. If so, make sure to read our related article to find out more. And when you're thinking about safety, you might want to reference our guide to mountain bike insurance providers and coverages for additional information.

Which Pedal Straps Are the Best Pedal Straps For Your Needs?

Here we have a summary of the accessories that you may need to help make your mountain biking expedition a fun and safe one.

Required Action Best Pedal Straps and Accessories For Your Needs Example from Amazon Price
Prevent foot flexing Clipless pedals with rigid biking shoes and cleats Shimano SPD Pedal Clipless Pedals Tommaso Montagna 100, 200, Elite Men's Mountain Bike Shoes Shimano SH-51 SPD Cleat Set ~$70

~$80


~$20
Practice having feet attached to the pedals before buying clipless pedals Velcro pedal straps N-A Pedals Straps ~$10
Versatility in terms of attaching the foot to the pedal Dual platform pedals BW USA Rock Garden Combo Pedals – Dual Sided MTB Platform ~$60
Practice using clipless pedals on a stationary bike Static bike trainer stand Alpcour Bike Trainer Stand for Indoor Riding ~$160

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