SOMA DEEP FOUR GATE TOE CLIPS & DOUBLE TOE STRAPS
Toe Clips 126g per pair Silver $29.99 (about £22.15) Toe-Straps 121g per pair black leather (as tested) $38.99 (about £28.79)
Soma’s Deep Four Gate Toe-Clips and Double Toe-Straps have caused a bit of debate over coffee and biscuits. Much loved for a long time by older trackies, fixie-fiends and single-speeders, there are mixed opinions regarding their value for anything else. Overkill for the weight-weenie? Unnecessary encumbrance on geared bikes? Others simply like the style. Designed to allow easy access to a wider range of footwear and provide security for Hoy-esque sprinting exploits or powerful pull-aways, Soma’s are certainly good looking, well-made, and functional, into the bargain.
Pros: well-made, good-looking and functional - art and craft - at a decent price.
Cons: cheaper, functional models are available.
Design and Spec
Soma claim that the Deep Four Gate toe-clips are the only steel models currently manufactured. Might stainless be a better choice with years of use in mind, not to mention keeping them nice and tidy? Chrome finish helps to keep them looking neat - important for cool fix or stylish retro. Riveting completes the look.
These are deep; the additional height allowing a wider range of footwear. I’ve paired them up Chrome’s Storm 415 SPD Workboot (without the SPD cleat), amongst assorted cycling footwear, for example, also the office brogues, retro cycling leather shoes, SPD touring types, but not the wellies. In this context, there’s plenty of spring in the toe-clips to take bigger footwear - not noticeably more than with other toe-clips in the spares bin, but plenty.
Without pads to prevent scuffs on you nice new trad leather shoes or, vice-versa, on the metalwork, the are lighter than some, such as MKS single toe-clips. Whilst there’s a following for toe-clips per se, its unlikely that this will seal a deal. On the other hand, it has been suggested that scuff protectors allow ingress of water and premature weakening of steel toe-clips. Another glance in the direction of stainless.
Sold separately, but the natural adjunct to the Deep Four Gate Toe-Clips, the Double Toe-Straps come in brown, black or white leather. There’s sufficient choice, though those riding with style in mind might like something a little more eccentric, too. Chrome clamps look smart and Soma lettering completes the picture. The overall impression, in my opinion, is of an arts and crafts attractive sturdiness.
Of course, they are heavier than single straps, but the extra binding is intended to keep foot solidly on the pedal when accelerating or entering a controlled skid - hence the long-term love affair with some riders of fixed and single-speeds, and some MTBers in the late 80s.
There’s a touch of urban cool, too. Laced into Soma’s Citizen du Monde pedals, they put me in mind the of a basket of a cutlass - though I might just have been watching too many pirate movies. Length is good for grabbing on the fly and taking in the extra depth of the toe-clip.
Fitting and Size
Soma suggest up to US 9 (UK8.5) shoe-size should look to small and medium; large-extra large for others. As ever, this comes with the proviso of personal preference and type of shoe. I went of the larger version. I think that, if I were obviously borderline, I’d stick to that choice - especially since I like to ride in casual as well as cycling specific footwear.
Deep toe-clips are intended to take bigger shoes and boots. Size 9.5 (UK) work boots (as specified above), brogues, trekking shoes and SPD touring shoes (wide rather than deep) have slipped slip in comfortably. Did not bother trying the wellies.
Needless to say, the straps - compatible with other four gate toe-clips - need a bit of adjustment. These pull through nicely when underway and the clamps have felt very secure when cornering, accelerating on the single-speed or honking a hill.
Having said that, those used to single toe-straps might find it a little harder, at first, to slip the foot in when setting off. A few attempts and I seem to have got it pat. Basically the extra weight of strap and toe-clip takes a bit more of a knack than lighter counterparts.
Pairing up with the Soma Citoyen du Monde pedals, you’d expect lacing to be spot on. Given that those pedals are a bit broader than most, there was plenty of spare length in the straps to leave more than enough to grab and tighten on the go. A traditional twist in the strap has helped to kept them in place.
Peacocks will find swankier adornments, functionalists and work-a-day users may seek cheaper. In some ways, these are the compromise candidate, without compromising on build quality or function.
Functionally, these are an excellent combination. Out on the single-speed attempts to beat the traffic have been safe and secure, with the straps pulled tight. Dancing on the pedals - lumbering, in my case - on hitting the hills, tenure remained spot-on with no obvious loss of power. I really liked the additional breadth of strap around the outer part of my feet; not a hint of side-slip or hot spot. Taking them for a bit of rough-stuff, I was highly impressed by the foundation for shifting weight about - though, in fairness this is a function of the pedal, too.
Needless to say, deeper boots also fitted well, once suitable fettling of the strap clamps had been completed. They certainly added a touch of style on the daily work-run.
Handing them over to the fixie and performance was equally good. Checking this out with mates at the local cafe there was general approval, though how much, and if, they were outstandingly better than other options was a discussion point. All liked the style and agreed on the quality.
In all, these do just what you’d expect with great effect. Comfort-wise, there’ll always be a bit of wearing in with new leather, but this has not proved to be an uncomfortable task. A little elbow grease and a lick of leather preserver has kept them clean after a blast on dusty or wet roads.
The Double Toe-Straps and Deep Four Gate Toe-Clips take their place in Soma’s gallery of well-made, stylish and functional gear. A good addition for those with - or in need of - urban street-cred, something different for the retro ride, a good-looking functional foot-foundation on the fix, or just possessing big feet (when paired with a broader pedal). You’ll find cheaper clips and straps on offer, so look elsewhere if you are working to a budget. However, these are by no means outrageously priced considering their merits.