To get the most benefit from your cycling workout, you need to ride efficiently, and an important part of this is keeping your feet on the pedals. Every time your foot slips off the pedal, much of the muscle energy from that pedal stroke is lost. Especially under a heavy load, the effort of keeping your feet firmly on the pedals can be distracting. In addition, having your foot slip can cause you to crash. Toe cages, sometimes called toe clips, are an inexpensive remedy for this problem. Used with or without accompanying straps, install them on your bike to help with your training.
Examine your pedals to make sure they are capable of accepting toe cages. At least one side of the pedal should have two screw holes in the metal platform that makes up the perimeter of the pedal; this is where the cage will go. Toe cage-compatible pedals also typically have a small metal guide on the inside edge of the pedal to hook the strap over. Install the cage on the side that has this guide if you plan to use straps with the cages. An orange reflector may be installed in the screw holes; if so, remove the reflector using the crescent wrench, or by simply popping it off if it is attached with plastic rivets. Depending on the design of the reflector, you may not be able to reinstall it with the cages.
Install the toe cage using the supplied screws, nuts and washers. Place a washer on each screw, then fasten the screw through the screw holes on the front of the cage and into the holes on the pedal using the screwdriver. Then screw on the nuts. When correctly installed, the cage should form a foot-shaped compartment that points toward the front of the bicycle. If you are unable to place your foot easily into the cage while straddling the bike facing forward, you likely have it installed backward.
Thread the optional toe strap through the slot on the front of the pedal, beneath the toe cage. Feed the strap past the metal guide on the inside edge of the pedal and up into the two slots on the upper prongs of the toe cage. Insert the strap into the buckle so that pulling upward on the strap causes it to tighten. The buckle should be on the outside edge of the pedal. The result should be a forward-facing compartment you can tighten or loosen using the strap and buckle. The strap provides a more secure attachment to the pedal than using the toe cage alone, but some people find the strap overly restrictive.
Clipless pedals used in combination with dedicated cycling shoes provide an even more efficient job of keeping your feet on the pedals. A special metal cleat on the bottom of the shoe clicks into a receiving plate on the pedal, holding your foot firmly in place. Although this often sounds dangerous to new cyclists, a simple twist of your heel frees your foot from the pedal.
Using toe cages and straps takes some getting used to. Practice at low speeds in a safe location before heading out on your normal training ride.