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We're reasonably familiar with pedals on conventional bikes.

  • Flats are convenient for normal shoes
  • Clips and Clipless provide foot retention and option of pulling up

A recumbent has additional considerations

  • No way to "rest" the foot on a pedal because your foot pushes from behind nor down from on-top.
  • Heel strike - just the same as toe overlap for smaller DF bikes, heel strike is where your front wheel/s touch your foot while turning.
  • Getting started from stopped - pedals are a lot further from the ground so raising your foot in time for the second push stroke while maintaining low speed balance.
  • Danger of "leg suck" should your foot fall off the pedal and hit the road while rolling.

What other considerations are there for choosing a pedal for a recumbent bike or trike?

Cropped and shrunk from   Wikipedia page

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  • Related bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/5912
    – Criggie
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 21:30
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    In my experience (25.000 km on a 2-wheel recumbent) it is not true that you can't rest your foot on a pedal. My pedals have a clip-mechanism on one side only, the other side can be used with regular shoes. This side has a serrated metal edge instead of a rubber surface. It usually suffices to tilt the foot forward a bit (instead of holding the sole vertically), to keep the foot from sliding down, and you can comfortable rest your foot. Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 10:25

3 Answers 3

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You can add "heel slings" as a choice too. They hold under your foot's heel.

They fit flat pedals and do not provide any cliplike retention. Instead they are a hammoch for the back of your foot (heel) to rest in.

http://www.bentrideronline.com/?p=5131

These wire ones look uncomfortable, but shoe choice comes into it. Prolly not good for flipflops or sandales!

enter image description here

Terratrike sell some that are more strap and less like a garrotte-wire.

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    I have serious doubts about the safety of this design. The steel cable and the size adjustment fittings could cause deep cuts if foot or leg get caught in an accident. I'd rather have MTB style clipless pedals where the clips fit shoes with soles suitable for walking. There are also MTB pedals that clip-in on four sides.
    – Carel
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 12:40
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In the end, I was unhappy with using cleats/clipless on either recumbent. The pedal is just too high off the ground if one needs to get a foot down quickly, which has been necessary several times.

In the end I went with longer platforms, in the MKS Lambda.

enter image description here

Another advantage is that I could add reflective DOT tape to the center, because on the bent the pedal's own reflectors are pointing the wrong way.

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On trikes (and in Velomobiles) clip in pedals are common, but not required on all. Whether your legs fall off easily depends on the relative height of the seat compared to the pedals, as well as how grippy the pedals are and the shoes you use.

Many people also use clipless, click in, pedals on two wheelers, and the longer you ride those the more likely it is that you will be happy with them.

I have only gone over to clipping in (clipless) in the VM, as I never felt de need on my trikes, but I had/have delta trikes where the seat is relatively high and which had/have pedals with quite a bit of grip. And I never felt safe on a bike with clipped in feet, (but I would also not clip in on sit up bikes, due to the same feelings.)

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