14 April 2011

Brompton Power Grips

In my previous post on pedals I mentioned that I also bought some Power Grips to go with them. I use SPD shoes and pedals on my full size bike and I really like the way they secure my feet on the pedals. So I wanted something similar for my Brompton but without the need to wear special shoes. Before moving on to SPDs I had used toe clips which worked reasonably well so I started searching for toe clips suitable use on a Brompton. Whilst searching I ran across a few people that were recommending Power Grips as a superior alternative so I decided to give them a go.

The first thing you notice about Power Grips is the price, they’re not exactly cheap for what they are at around £22, plus another £8 for reflectors if you want to be legal in the UK after dark. However, as far as I’m aware they’re a fairly new idea and it seems reasonable to reward innovation.

Fitting them to my pedals was pretty straightforward just requiring a 3mm allan key and an 8mm spanner (you’ll need a philips head screw driver too if you’re not fitting reflectors). If you are fitting reflectors read both sets of instructions before starting as the reflectors replace a good proportion of the original fixings. You’ll just have to undo your handiwork if you fit the grips first and then look at the reflectors.

The standard fittings look solid and are entirely metal, however when fitting the reflectors it looks like metal bolts are held in place by the plastic of the reflector. So far I’ve not had any trouble, but this system at least looks a bit less strong than the normal fittings so I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

The main downside with Power Grips is that take a bit of setting up to match your shoes, and you then can’t use them properly with any other shoes (unless they happen to have the same external circumference) without readjusting them. You can of course still ride in other shoes, they just won’t be gripped as well. This isn’t a problem for me as I almost always wear the same shoes but could be an issue for some.

Some people have also not liked the fact that you have apply a twisting force to tighten the grips as it has hurt their knees. So far this hasn’t been a problem for me - perhaps because I have quite grippy soles on my shoes. This means that once I’ve twisted them in they tend to stay put on their own.

I’ve been using the Power Grips for a few weeks now and I am happy with them. They hold my feet better than toe clips without straps, and don’t require the constant faffing of toe clips with straps. They are also a bit easier to get your foot out of in an emergency. I had an episode early on when I was still getting used to having my feet strapped in to my Brompton. I did the usual thing of stopping before remembering to get my foot out of the strap but still managed to get my foot out in time to catch myself. I’m fairly sure that with proper toe clips I wouldn’t have been quick enough.

Given the choice I still prefer my SPD shoes though, so if I ever went on a really long ride I’d look into getting some removable SPD pedals and just replace my current pedals for that trip.