Mountain Bike Toe Clip Installation & Use –  a Step by Step Guide

For your safety and comfort, it is important to keep your feet properly secured to the pedals while cycling. If they are not secured your feet could slip off the pedals, and you could crash and hurt yourself. Focusing on avoiding this is distracting and can be irritating for cyclists. However, this issue can be solved by mounting toe clips or toe cages onto your bike pedals to help you keep your feet on the pedals. In this article, we provide a step-by-step guide on mountain bike toe clip installation and use.

To install a mountain bike toe clip, first, make sure the pedals are compatible with toe clips, thread the toe clip straps through the bottom part of the pedals, thread the straps through the tops of the toe clips, then attach the toe clips to the front part of each pedal. 

If you are looking at changing your pedals to these for better grip you may be ready to take your mountain biking hobby to the next level. You may even feel that you would like to upgrade your mountain bike in which case we suggest that you check out our article that discusses what mountain bike you should buy. 

Toe clip installation is actually very easy to do, whether you are using them with or without straps. In our article that provides instructions on how to install mountain bike pedal straps and toe clips, we suggest that you thread the straps first and then attach the toe clips to the pedals but you can install them the other way round if you want to. 

In the steps below we summarize how to install mountain bike toe clips. For more information, All City Cycles provides this official instruction manual on how to use toe straps and clips.

Step 1. Make Sure Your Pedals are Compatible With Toe Clips 

In order for your pedals to be compatible with toe clips, they should have screws on the front part of the pedals like these ones - usually where a reflector would be fastened. This is where your toe clips will go so if your pedals do not have these screw holes, then you may have to buy suitable pedals. Also, make sure that the screws on the pedals are in the same place as the holes of the toe clips.

If your pedals are not compatible with toe clips but are suitable for pedal straps why not check out our article that gives step-by-step instructions on how to thread pedal straps to see if they could be a better option for you. 

Step 2. Thread the Toe Clip Strap Through the Bottom Part of the Pedal 

Thread the toe clip strap through the bottom part of the pedal with the buckle on the right side of the right pedal and the Ieft side of the left pedal, and with the buckles facing up or upside down.  

Step 3. Thread the Toe Clip Straps Through the Tops of the Toe Clips 

Thread the toe clip straps through the top part of the toe clips

Mountain bike toe clip installation steps. To use your mountain bike toe clips properly they need to be installed onto the pedals carefully.
The strap needs to be threaded through the bottom of the pedal and through the top of the toe clip. Image source:  Joom.

Step 4. Attach the Toe Clips to the Front of Each Respective Pedal 

Attach the toe clips to the front end of each of the pedals using pliers like these to hold the nuts and a screwdriver from a set like this to tighten the bolts securely. 

Mountain bike toe clips are attached to the front of the pedals and are also strapped to the pedals. 
The toe clips also need to be connected to the front of the pedals. Image source:  AliExpress.

If you're looking for a way to keep all of your tools handy on the go, be sure to read our related article explaining how to fix a mountain bike tool bag that's heavy.

How to Use Your Toe Clips

Once threaded properly, toe clips are actually very easy to use and can certainly help to make your mountain bike ride much safer and much more comfortable.

To use toe clips, thread each toe clip strap through the buckle, place one foot onto its respective pedal by inserting the front part into the toe clip, and tighten the strap until it fits snuggly around the front part of the foot. The strap should be loose enough to pull the foot out quickly. Repeat this process with the other foot.  

Toe clips like these are a great way to have a better grip on your pedals but our article that talks about other pedal options could help you to choose mountain bike pedals for grip maximization.

If you have decided that toe clips are the right option for you then the steps below explain how to thread mountain bike toe clip straps. For more details check out this handy video tutorial.

Step 1. Feed the Strap Through The Buckle of the Toe Clip 

First, thread the strap through the buckle making sure that there is plenty of room for you to get your foot into it.

To use your mountain bike toe clips the straps need to be threaded through the buckles before inserting your feet into them.
Insert the strap through the buckle like this. Image source: SCADA.

Step 2. Adjust the Straps to Fit Your Feet Snuggly  

Place one of your feet onto its appropriate pedal making sure that the front part is inserted into the toe clip. Tighten the straps over your feet making sure that they fit snuggly over your feet, but not too tight for you to remove your foot quickly. 

How to use mountain bike toe clips. Mountain bike toe clips can be tightened by pulling on the strap and loosened by pushing the outer part of the buckle.
Place each foot into its respective toe clip and adjust the tension by pulling the strap. Image source: Stages Cycling.

If you need more information, make sure to look through our detailed guide to all of the different types of mountain bike toe clips. This article will definitely help you decide what will work best for you. Similarly, you may find interest in learning how to choose mountain bike toe clip compatible shoes so be sure to read that one too.

How to Ride a Bike Properly with Toe Clips

Toe clips are meant to keep you safe and comfortable while riding your mountain bike. They keep your feet well secured to the pedals and held in the right position so that you don't have to worry about your feet slipping off. 

Tips to ride a bike properly with toe clips include placing feet inside the clips while wearing sports shoes, placing one foot on the ground while inserting the other into the toe clip, and keeping the strap a little tighter rather than looser.

Tip 1. Place Your Foot Inside the Clip While Wearing Sports Shoes

Placing your feet inside the clips is easier if you are wearing sports shoes like these. Push your feet to the front of the clips until they are comfortably inside and they can be held in place by the strap. If you cannot push your foot into the clip, loosen the strap to allow for more room. 

Tip 2. Support Yourself and Adjust One Toe Clip at a Time 

Before you start cycling it is important to sit on the saddle and while supporting yourself by keeping one foot on the ground, place the other inside the clip to adjust the strap to the right tension. Then repeat with the other foot so that your toe clips are both just right for you before you set off on your ride. Not doing so could cause your feet to get stuck in the clips and result in you having an accident. 

Tip 3. Better Tighter Rather Than Looser 

Adjust the straps so that they are relatively tight around your feet without restricting your blood circulation and so that you can pull them out if necessary. However, it is better to keep the straps tighter rather than looser as it is safer for you and will stop your feet from slipping off the pedals and you losing control of your bicycle. 

Related article:

Pedal straps vs. toe clips - a detailed guide

How to Install Strapless Toe Clips

Strapless toe clips are installed in pretty much the same way as regular toe clips but (as the name suggests) just without the straps.

To install strapless toe clips, first, remove the pedal reflector, then bolt the clip and the mounting plate, then reattach the reflector. 

This article by Evelo features Delta strapless toe clips and explains a bit more about their unique design, but if strapless toe clips like these are not quite what you are after then why not check out our article about the benefits of clipless pedals or our guide to choosing between mountain bike toe clips vs clipless pedals to see which will be better for you.

In the steps below we discuss how to install the Delta strapless toe clips.

Step 1. Remove The Pedal Reflector

First, using a crescent wrench like this, remove the orange reflectors to access the holes for attaching the strapless toe clips. It may be possible to simply pop the reflectors out of the pedals. 

Remove the reflector on the front of the pedal to attach the toe clip.
The reflector, the orange piece on the front of the pedal, can be removed to start installing your strapless toe clips. Image source: Amazon.

Step 2. Bolt The clip and The Mounting Plate 

In this step, you need to bolt the clip and the mounting metal plate together in the right place on the front of the pedal where you have just removed the reflector. 

Mountain bike toe clips can also be strapless like this one from Delta.
A strapless toe clip is attached to the front of the pedal without any straps to secure it to your foot. Image source: Amazon.

Step 3. Reattach The Reflector

Once you have bolted the clip and the mounting metal plate in place, reattach the reflector. This design is actually quite stable and is really a great way to maximize your grip on the pedal in an easy and convenient way.

Strapless pedals like these are very easy to use and allow you to insert your feet and remove your feet safely.
The open design of these Delta strapless clips makes them a breeze to use. Image source: Amazon.

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