If you know me at all, you'll know that I love to ride bikes, and have far more than is considered healthy.
My Housemate and I were pushing our bikes up a local Downhill trail, struggling to get grip whilst continually bashing our shins and the backs of our legs on our incredibly spiky pedals. I have a set of DMR Vaults on my bike that I absolutely love due to the grip they provide. However, when this grip is applied to my lower legs, it's not so nice... (type pedal bite into google images if you're sadistic.) BMX riders actually opt for plastic pedals, due to the much less painful contact.
The thought occurred to us that perhaps if the pins were transferred to the bottom of the shoe, and the pedals had a layer of rubber, it could alleviate/ improve several issues;
- Increased grip on the trail when off the bike (due to essentially having hiking cramp-ons)
- No Shin destroying pins to smash into when your foot slips, or when pushing the bike.
- Increased pedalling efficiency due to having a stiffer sole on the shoe.
- Longer system life- the only component regularly needing replacing being the rubber pad on the pedal ( as opposed to buying a new set of shoes once the soles are worn down.
I managed to rustle a few parts together in the workshop, and set about making a rudimentary prototype of the system that I could take to the trails. I stuck together a quick video to highlight the process.
Currently the sole consists of an external aluminium plate spanning the entire length of the shoe. This will have to change, to find a good compromise between sole flex and walking comfort (you'll notice in the small amount of testing in the video that my gait is rather unusual). In production, this could easily become an over moulded part, integral to the sole of the shoe.
I then kept one of my incredibly rough prototype pedals on one crank arm, and replaced the other with one of my original pedals, the DMR vault. Although the pedal height was very different, I was surprised by the similar level of grip.
The next step is to use a rubber/ elastomer pedal pad, mocked up on both sides of the pedals so that they are equally weighted (it was very annoying having to spin the unevenly weighted pedal around each time), stick it on the downhill bike and take it to some proper trails!