Clipless shoes are the ones with cleats and clips on the pedal that the cleat clips into. So why in the world are the called clipless?
Link to the Terminology community wiki Clipless Pedals– Andrew LoweAug 27, 2010 at 10:33
Here's a cool blog post with some vintage catalog scans. blog.performancebike.com/2010/05/13/…. Also note that some of the clip-and-strap systems had cleats.– jqningJun 3, 2015 at 4:37
It has to do with the difference between pedals with toe clips and clipless pedals.
Pedals with Toe Clips
Clipless Pedals (and shoes)
The clipless shoes are for the clipless pedals.
The wikipedia page says the following:
Clipless refers to the lack of an external toe clip, but not to be confused with platform pedals without toe clips.
2Just to clarify, there is a bit of difference in terminology here. The 'toe clip' or 'clips' (black plastic in the first image above) should not be called a 'cage' or 'cages'. A 'cage' on a pedal is the metal surrounding the pedal body; in the above image, it is the silver part. In that sense, 'clipless' pedals are 'cageless' as well. Aug 26, 2010 at 17:56
@Dustin, thanks, you're right - I'm removing the word 'cage' from the post.– b.rothAug 27, 2010 at 8:55
The confusion comes from the word "clip" being both a noun and a verb.
Clip as a noun:
- to hold in a tight grip : clutch
- to clasp, fasten, or secure with a clip
This describes the old-school pedals with the leather (or vinyl) straps that strap the foot down to the pedal.
"Clip-less" pedals do not have the aforementioned securing strap. They (obviously) use a different system.
Using "Clip" as a verb to refer to securing something (and not cutting something) is called "conversion" (linguistic term) or "verbing" (non offial term).
So, saying "Clip into your pedals." is similar to saying "I'm tabling this discussion." It's taking a noun and converting it into a verb.
So, we cyclists confused ourselves :D