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I find that in the summer your feet overheat and this makes it uncomfortable to wear shoes when riding a bike. As long as there is a covering covering the dangerous areas of a bike you can ride barefoot without any trouble or danger to your feet. I am asking if there is anyway to make riding barefeet more comfortable, as you place your foot on hard ridged pedals. When I was younger I used rags, but those slipped off frequently and were not that comfortable. I am not interested in any product suggestion, but I am also not opposed to it completely. What are some methods I could use?

Below are other things that do not work for me:

  • Wearing flip-flops.

  • Cutting old shoes so that they have better ventilation.

  • Wearing only socks.

Disclaimer: I usually drive in the grass or softer areas of land(dirt, mud, etc) if you are riding your bike on pavement you should try to wear shoes, as this can damaging to your feet if you have to place them on the ground. Also, I tend to drive slower when I am barefoot, driving fast can cause more complications and crashes.

  • 5
    I'm usually using sandals, though this is in no way a hack. – Paŭlo Ebermann May 10 '15 at 15:44
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    I strongly disagree that there is "[no] trouble or danger to your feet" when cycling barefoot. In an emergency, you may need to put a foot on the ground while moving and that's potentially going to make a mess if you're not wearing shoes. – David Richerby May 10 '15 at 17:01
  • @DavidRicherby True. I will add a disclaimer to my post, but I usually drive in the grass. Where I live, pavement and roads are really nonexistent. But I see what you are talking about, this could cause injuries. – Pobrecita May 10 '15 at 17:03
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    Actually, one of the great inventions of all time is footwear. If you don't wear shoes you can step on broken glass, thorns, nails, sharp stones, stinging insects, abandoned lego... In the modern world there is no need to go barefoot when you are outside. You can get tetanus, blood poisoning, it's not good. Seriously, consider wearing sandals. – RedSonja Jul 13 '15 at 8:00
  • I have been riding bare foot on a recumbent trike, one where you never have to take your feet of your pedals. My pedals (on all of my bikes when I need to replace) have platforms much like the bare feet ones in some of the answers. I would not ride real bare foot on a bike where I might need to step off. Sandals or at least silppers or flipflops. – Willeke Feb 9 '17 at 20:42

12 Answers 12

16

You could use:

Picture Link.

enter image description here

  • Sponges. I have learned to use large sponges and double them up to make softer cushions. You can also wet the sponges to make them more comfortable and cool. These are also cheap and they can attach to pedals in may different ways: plastic ties, glue them, rubber bands, etc.

Here is a Instructable on how to do it, if you are unsure.

Note: If the sponge depicted is to hard for your feet, then you are more than welcome to get another. I know that softer bath sponges or even foam cushion material is good. When in doubt you can always cover it in memory foam or other foam pads. The sponge depicted is just a example, that may be to rough for your feet.

  • 1
    That sponge isn't even safe for non-stick pans. There's a good chance your feet are softer than non-stick pans. – David Richerby May 10 '15 at 17:03
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    @DavidRicherby Flip it – Alex May 10 '15 at 18:38
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    @DavidRicherby Your foot isn't made of a rigid material that is going to be permanently damaged by touching a slightly abrasive surface. People walk barefoot all the time on concrete; concrete would totally scratch up a non-stick pan. – Random832 May 11 '15 at 4:31
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    @Random832 That's an excellent point. I suspect the constant contact of pedalling vs walking may make a difference but maybe not so much after all. – David Richerby May 11 '15 at 8:20
11

As a variation on "rubber platform pedal" I can suggest a very minimalistic solution of rod-only pedal. I have seen many people ride like that, both barefoot and with sandals/flipflops, in poorer countries/areas purely because their "rubber platform pedals" have broken off, I have also seen hipsters ride that due to the minimalistic look (viewed from the side, the bicycle appears to have no pedals what so ever). The rods are usually quite slippery, but that's actually ok when combined with a flip-flop as the the flip-flop will slide off the pedal before it slips off foot. After a while you will develop a technique to position your foot firmly in the centre so it doesn't slip either way. You also need to take care not to apply too much torque - as the contact area is smaller, it would begin to hurt sooner or later, so this works best on a bike with multiple gears or low fixed gear. Something like this:

bare pedal rod

  • Welcome to Lifehacks S.E.! I think this is an excellent first answer! If you could though, perhaps add a picture or a link to a picture as I am having a hard time picturing what you mean. If you need any assistance with this site, please visit The Help Center. – L.B. May 10 '15 at 23:15
  • can't really find anything accurately showing it and I don't want to destroy my own pedals just for the picture, but I uploaded something that is close enough (albeit rather unattractive) – Lech Rzedzicki May 11 '15 at 1:14
  • Understood :) And perhaps others were able to understand what was being said, I just know that I am rather visual person and this was very helpful! :) – L.B. May 11 '15 at 1:37
8

Some time ago and in certain places, budget pedals were made with rubberized surfaces. They were quite comfortable to ride barefoot out of the box. I have no idea if such designs were popular on the West - and ofc they may or may not fit your modern bike. I'm from Poland and such pedals were the norm here 15-20 years ago, but here's a discussion showing a much older bike made in USSR with similar, smooth rubberized pedals: http://forumrowerowe.pl/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=19622 I think it's worth taking a look at flea markets.

and the image

As you can see, foot rests on 2 rubber pads and middle iron bar that has no sharp edges either. Of course they don't hold to the shoe as good as jagged ones, and are dangerously slippery when wet.

/edit: I've found what they're called in English. It's "rubber platform pedals", often called "commuter" or "Dutch style" - and seem to be available pretty much everywhere dirt cheap ($10-20).

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    I guess one could make ones own, by wrapping the pedal in a old bike tyre tube. – Lyndon White Jun 2 '15 at 13:00
5

My first thought - there are pedals made specifically for this and if this is going to be a long term thing they are worth checking out.

Now for the hack- I've seen people who ride longboards around campus barefoot, and they covered their boards with carpet. This would be pretty simple to modify that idea and cover your pedals with carpet, much like the sponge suggestion, and if you don't have leftover carpet you could go by a carpet store and see if they have leftover scraps you could have.

Now for my warning, it is not just the pedal you need to protect your feet from. If you were to crash barefoot you can expect some damage to your feet so I don't recommend biking without real shoes on. Ok. Warning finished. Have fun riding.

  • Carpet on pedals sounds like it'll have very low grip once you put your shoes back on. Especially if it rains. – David Richerby May 10 '15 at 17:03
  • @DavidRicherby true, in fact there won't ever be great grip, but it is soft foot friendly. Though the carpet is removable. – Doug Watkins May 10 '15 at 17:07
  • Alternately, just cover half of the pedal, and leave the other half for shoes! – seadoggie01 May 11 '15 at 19:50
3

Wooden bicycle pedals can be found for sale, or you can convert old pedals with new wooden blocks either replacing the plastic or overlaying it.

One advantage of wood is that eventually it will wear and conform to your feet and your cycling style, so ultimately will become very comfortable while providing significant traction between your feet and the crank. it is very durable, and is fine exposed to the elements, and it won't get hot like a lot of black plastic pedals do.

Vintage pedals were made for shoe-less cycling, so it may be that simply finding old pedals will solve your problem.

enter image description here

(image source: https://www.etsy.com/listing/183073286/wooden-bicycle-pedals )

2

The sponge is actually a good and bad idea.

It's green area may hurt your feed a lot.

I would go for old socks zipped, just like the sponge image.

If you don't like to throw away socks, then you can use an old cloth rag.
I said old, not dirty. I would prefer a clean one.
If you fall, you have something to, at least, clean off the blood.

  • Thank You for the input, but you can use softer bath sponges and you don't have to have the green area next your foot. Lol, about cleaning up the blood. I have certain precautions against that, like protecting my feet from the gearbox and having a toe guard, so unless something really bad happens, I am pretty protected. On another note, I like the zipped socks idea, but don't know how to go aout that, could you maybe add a little more details. I really think that might be a good idea :) – Pobrecita May 10 '15 at 16:27
  • @itlookslikeimaqueen I honestly have no idea what other details you might want. It's just as simple as it gets: socks tied with zipties to your bike pedal. – Ismael Miguel May 10 '15 at 16:42
  • Ok :) I thought you meant zippered socks, but that does make more sense to me. Thank You! 1+ I can even sew a little cushion and place it in the sock and zip tie that to my pedal :) – Pobrecita May 10 '15 at 16:59
  • @itlookslikeimaqueen Not THAT would be comfy as f**k! Honestly, I would use a bike with pedals like that! I hope you find the right think for you. – Ismael Miguel May 10 '15 at 17:14
  • Thank you! I plan on coming up with some sort of homemade gel pad, that your foot can just slide into. I have a idea of that you go :) – Pobrecita May 10 '15 at 17:16
1

The uncomfortable barbs on the pedals are there to make secure contact with the shoes that prudent people wear when riding bike. You might try wrapping the pedals with Velcro tape which is available in rolls, probably fuzzy side out.

I use a garden Velcro for lots of other things and some have been coverings.

You could pad the pedal with cloth (perhaps wrap an old sock around the pedal) and then wrap the Velcro around that.

If you don't have rolls of Velcro I thought maybe duct tape over the pedal's barbs would help.
One could even fold some duct tape to make a loop on the pedal big enough to slip your foot in, then put tape through the loop onto the pedal to secure it.

1

Just go barefoot on the pedals. I've been walking around barefoot for a year and after about a month your feet get tougher and you get used to feeling different sensations. Sensations which others might find unpleasant at first but once you realize they won't cause you harm you can enjoy the experience.

When biking I've found that if I place my foot correctly I can let the spikes rest between by toes and push down on the pedals with the ball of my foot. This also lets me better grip the pedals and help pull the pedal back up on the upstroke. It takes a little while to get used to but is actually quite enjoyable.

1

I ride a mountain bike too and find those hard spiked pedals too hard for any long distance riding barefoot. The problem is worse in low gear range when you have to push harder. I can ride about an hour in higher gear. One solution I found is to take a pair of slide sandals and wrap the straps upside down around the pedals. That way my feet ride on the bottom of the sandals. (Bonus, I have a pair of sandals with me if I need them. I find the pedals are less of a problem than riding in the middle of a very hot day and having to put my feet on the pavement. Usually I can comfortably put a foot down on the curb which tends to be cooler, but sometimes (making left turns, etc) I am out in the middle of the road and have to keep my foot down for long periods of time. I really enjoy hot pavement walking, and can comfortably stride where others would be wincing in pain, but walking lets my feet up off the surface constantly, standing still is another matter. I've more than once had to hop from side to side (trying not to make it look obvious) on 70 degree Celscius asphalt. It also goes without saying to not leave a bike out in the sun and then put my feet on the pedals. Black objects get hot fast! I've seen white smooth plastic pedals sold, but they just don't look the part with a mountain bike!

1

One other thing I tried that worked well when I knew I was going for a long ride or needed to walk around afterwards was to take a patch of moleskin or thin leather just being enough to cover the ball of my feet and hot glue a small elastic hair tie to it, leaving just enough of a ring to slip onto my second toe. The patch is cut just small enough that it doesn't show. This lets me put the ball of my foot on the spiky part of the pedal and push as hard as I like with hurting. This way my toes are just off the pedal and can wrap around the front for good grip. I got the idea from seeing a girl wearing a variation on barefoot sandals that actually had a small leather pad under the ball of her foot. That let her walk around all day and not hurt her feet, but still have bare toes and most of the rest of her foot. This way if the ground is rough or too hot or there's broken glass, all I have to go is walk on the balls of my feet and I'm good.

0

I love bare feet too but can't really get it to work on the mtb I ride -1991 shogun TI - I find havaianas work well though as a compromise and I ride in these year round (Sydney Aus)nearly all the time unless it's a bush track

The havaianas upper sole pattern is about the least slippery you can get also they are very light

I have a pair one size down so they stay on my foot when I pull out of the pedal cage

So, today, though i happenned to be in a bike shop saw these BBB MTB nylon pedals. $19.99. i thought id give these a try they are nice and light, have a good edge round the front to curl your toes around and out of the box are good for maybe 5 miles. I rode 20 in them (30 km) which exposed a few flaws, notably the sharp edge round the front and the protruding bumps are a bit high for shoeless comfort. 5 minutes with the grinder, i took the edges off and these are so comfy! Even so, 30 km absolutely shoeless- i have never felt so good after a ride.

Ill post some photos of my mod if anyone wants.

0

There are bike pedals made specifically for the comfort of barefoot riders. They cost a little over $10 a pair!

http://www.niagaracycle.com/categories/sunlite-bicycle-barefoot-cruiser-pedal-1-2-in-black-1-pair?utm_source=TPA%20On%20Google%20Shopping&utm_campaign=Top%20Placement%20Ads%C2%AE%20(SPLA)&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=People%20Searching%20For%20Bike%20Parts&utm_content=Google%20Shopping&product_id=48101&device=c&loc_physical_ms=9018717&gclid=CN-r0t7YgdICFU64wAodPgUG5g

  • That is so awesome! I would still be worried about my foot slipping off and then getting road rash on the top of my feet... Still super awesome for those of us that are much happier without shoes. – L.B. Feb 9 '17 at 13:20

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