My daughter and I ride a tandem, and she really finds her toeclips beneficial (without straps, a.k.a. half clips) as they stop her feet bouncing off the pedals over bumps or sliding forwards.

However we've already broken one (just cheap plastic but a very good fit) because it hits the road when I'm riding solo to pick her up. A smooth road in a straight line is OK, but pedalling through corners (e.g. from a junction) or even an extra steep camber means pedal strike.

Riding solo I can strap the toeclips to the cranks, though even this isn't perfect - the front can still hit the ground and that's what finished one off. But I have to remember.

To make it harder she sometimes rests with her feet on the toptube while I pedal, putting her feet back in while I freewheel, so I'd like a solution that works there too.

We've discussed SPDs but she's not keen, and given the rate her feet are growing neither am I.

So what other solutions are there for mild foot retention that don't get damaged by pedal strike when not in use?

  • 1
    [Sheldon brown][(sheldonbrown.com/tandkids.html) has a note "Although usual tandem practice is to link the front and rear pedals on each side with a bungie cord to keep the toe clips right-side-up, this doesn't work too well if one set of cranks is much shorter than the other" ours are 175 and 165 mm and anyway I haven't seen much else on this approach. I'm not currently clipping in as captain (and if I did would probably use SPDs) so such a bungee would have to attach directly to the pedal
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 11:53
  • 1
    Would weighting the back of the pedals so that the toe clips naturally point up work for you?
    – RLH
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 16:38
  • @RLH I'm not sure. It would make mounting harder as well as getting back into the clips while freewheeling after a rest. I considered trying to balance the pedals so the clips are horizontal, but looking down as I pedal (not very easy) I can see the pedals' rotation is a little odd. This is presumably because centrifugal force and gravity briefly act in the same direction
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 16:43
  • Is it viable to remove the pedals and put them in a bar bag?
    – Andrew
    Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 2:31
  • @Andrew, Criggie's suggestion of quick release pedals would make that feasible. Otherwise it would be a lot of messing about on days when we use it for school run. But neither of those helps if she wants a rest while going along (though that's becoming less common as she grows)
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 6:35

4 Answers 4


In the end, the solution (pointed out elsewhere but also in a comment here) was a cheap set of fabric BMX straps. They can hit the ground with no ill effects, including when there's a stoker who doesn't want to use them.


Two options come to mind.

Harness the pedals

A pulley, held to the top tube just ahead of the stoker saddle, perhaps by a velcro cable tie.

Add a suitably sized length of rope or bungee cord, such that it is just long enough to hold the plastic part upward without adding undue tension to the cord.

For solo riding, this cord passes through the pulley block and moves back and forth with each crank rotation. I suspect it might work with a stoker in place too but there's a risk of entanglement.


I wondered if a plain bungee would work simply clipped to the plastic and up to the saddle such that it stretches when the pedal is low and relaxes when the pedal is high, but that might feel weird to the rider. Or each one would balance out the other one.

Quick-release pedals

Some folding bikes have easily-removable pedals. Whip them both off the cranks and stash in a small saddle bag so they don't get lost.

I have some nice duck-bill folding pedals which would help, but they have no way to mount any foot retention so that's not going to help your specific case.

enter image description here
random example. I know MKS and wellgo both have something like this in their lineup.

  • 1
    Nice ideas. I've managed to find a picture of the other way of using a cord, after considerable searching. Both corded approaches deal with her resting while moving in a way that QR pedals don't (and going to pick her up forgetting the QR pedals would be far worse than forgetting strap)
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 12:04

MTB flat pedal with metal pins (not moulded plastic)

Photo as example not purchase suggestion.


The pins are adjustable and removable in most pedals and will prevent horizontal sliding and with a little adjustment in pedal stroke also reduce the amount of foot lifting from the pedal.

Disadvantages are that they can be a little chompy on bare flesh off-road in a spill but on road shouldn’t be an issue.

  • 3
    We have something similar, very nice and grippy against sliding. They do nothing at all to stop feet getting bounced off, which stokers are always prone to, even experienced adults. Because a stoker can't see the surface, it's inherently harder to keep the feet on the pedals - a call of "bump" from the captain doesn't provide precise timing, and on unpaved bike paths or even bad roads the call would be an unhelpful "bumpbumpbump". So actual foot retention is always recommended for stokers, not just good anti-slip
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 14:13
  • 2
    BMX pedal straps still exist, so could help with vertical retention ? Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 18:26
  • that's more of an answer. A pair should arrive in the next few days as someone else (not on here) has suggested them.
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 6:42

Similar to Criggie's second suggestion of quick-release pedals, you could use one of those temporary flats (plus a toe strap) that clip onto clipless pedals.

On another question, Gary E says he uses a set from Fly Pedals. You could use SPDs underneath for your daughter's eventual transition. (Or tighten them to her shoes before mounting and let her try clipping in and out without buying bike shoes.)

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