MKS STEEL TOE-CLIPS
The MKS toe-clips with leather shoe protectors are a beautifully executed take on a traditional favourite. Perfect for retro-builds and traditionalists alike, the mirror polished stainless steel clips get that NJS (Nihon Jitensha Shinkokai) stamp of approval. The tan Japanese cowhide is not only decorative but kind to smart shoes, which is a boon for office bound commuting and quick scoots to the pub.
Straps are sold separately - in the photos I am using an older pair that with a bit of polish should come to colour coordinate with my Eroica bike. Vanity apart, there was a time when I’d have never given toe-clips another thought. However, having used these - and got used to starting off in a way that avoids scuffing the leather - one can see their attraction. Plain, stainless versions are also available for £12.99, which will please strict vegetarian/vegan audiences or toe-clip devotees who ride through hell and high water.
Stainless steel should keep the ravages of weather and upward splatter at bay, with an occasional wipe and a bit of attention to the nuts and bolts, there has been no obvious problem. Leather will require a clean rag, natural drying and a decent lick of good quality hide food every so-often, especially after damp outings. Having said that, how often do I clean out the SPDS and the cleats?
Going for the large size - medium and extra-large are also available - to suit my size 9 traditional touring shoe - has proved just about right, but only just. I could probably have got away with a medium. Think shoe size rather than foot size when deciding. Also consider the shoe shape; compared to rounded trail-shoes, traditional touring shoes have a relatively pointed toe. Riding with trainers (9.5) and brogues (10), I have been able to place the ball of my foot over the centre of the pedal.
Fitting was easy. Older models - casting my mind back to the heady days of youth - had a back-plate which was fiddly to get in the right place. These have a flanged bolt head and washer and nut. Fixing them to the forward side of the pedal took a few seconds, using the Allen key provided. After some lengthy rides, don’t forget to tighten them up. A couple of nuts and washers have been added to my on-the-road tool kit.
Initially concerned that the curved cut-outs on the old-style pedals would make fitting awkward, no issues arose. Minor adjustments to foot position can be achieved by adding washers, but you may want to source longer bolts or go for an extra-large.
Bending metal will stress it; even on my wide feet and high instep, I have not had to manipulate the bar upward. Best use the straps to keep it tight. Of course, you can ride without straps and these will still feel stiff enough to keep that circular pedal stroke coaches love.
Well-made, as these are, too much upward pull without straps will cause unwanted pressure on the top of the foot. Riders who habitually wear soft-topped training shoes and are unlikely to push hard may prefer a half-depth toe-clip. MKS manufacture a half-depth model with shoe protecting leather.
So, on Eroica training rides, these have allowed a good deal of acceleration, strong tenure (with straps) when honking, and a comfortable, efficient fit. Nipping out for a sly lunchtime pint, wearing the work-a-day brogues, perfect; stylish and adaptable. With trainers donned, on the way to play badminton badly, ok - but it is only a short trip!
Overall, these are well-constructed, strong and stylish. Think carefully about size and shoe. Perhaps the greatest thing about these - something I’d forgotten after years of SPDS - is just how adaptable toe-clips are. These are a very good model. You’ll find cheaper, by the way, without shoe protectors (DIY possibilities exist using gaffer and other tapes). You’ll need to buy suitable straps. However, the MKS steel toe clip with brown leather shoe protector is built to last and I expect to be using them for a good long time.
Verdict: 4.5/5 Beautifully made and a joy to use, but check sizing carefully first..
PUBLISHED MARCH 2017