Classic Lightweights UK


Peter Underwood (with help from Nigel Scott and others)
Shoeplates were used in the 1940's and 50's by keen cyclists to supplement their toeclips and straps.  As can be seen in the images below from Nigel Scott, they often consisted of a slot cut in steel, alloy or rubber plates.  The slot engaged with the pedal rear side plate and when the strap was pulled up tight, the foot/shoe and the pedal became as one.  To release, one had to flick off the quick release fitting on the toestrap and riders became very adept at doing this in a micro-second to avoid the indignity of keeling over still strapped to the machine by the pedals.  These plates were nailed to the sole of the shoe using short tacks designed for the purpose; these usually came with the plates. The shoes were used for a ride or two minus plates to enable the pedal to score a mark across the sole. It was then a simple matter to position the plates to line up the slot with the mark on the sole.

In those days many households had a 'last' which was a three-legged steel device with different sized foot shapes on the end of each leg (appropriately!). Thanks to Peter Brown for the image of a last.

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The shoe would be pulled over the largest foot to fit (minus inner sole) and the nails hammered in - the 'last' bending over the nail to form something akin to a rivet.  The inner sole was then replaced and with any luck the nails didn't stick into the sole of your foot. The reason so many homes owned a last was that it was common for the man of the house to do any shoe repairs needed by the family.  The party piece was to hold the set of nails (20?) between the lips and take them out one at a time to nail in - not a good time to get hiccups or give the wife a friendly kiss!

The more affluent riders may have had their plates fitted by a local cobbler.

In the interim period, before SPD and Look pedals became the norm, plastic soled shoes had threaded bosses moulded into the soles and these were married to much bulkier plastic shoe plates which were bolted to the sole, making walking a very inelegant pastime.

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KEN RUSSELL SHOCKSTOP shoeplates made of rubber, autographed by Ken Russell.
I can't imagine they would last long with walking up hills and there is very little material behind the slot which will flex even after taking a few steps.

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Cyclo, they just push against the pedal frame so no danger of getting your foot stuck in an emergency.

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The alloy shoeplate (left) is by CLIFF PETERS from Holdsworthy catalogue. The plates on the right were made by Barelli specifically
for their own brand of pedal.  They were available in two depths depending an the amount of security the rider wanted.

Below are a selection of shoeplates from Derek Browne's collection

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C Foucaux 'Record'
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Waltho 'Clubman'

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Home-made plates
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J Anquetil 'Piste' TA

From Canada, Alan Rea sent the following two images:

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Left: a pair of continental shoeplates with extra support for the sole of the shoe
Right: Diadora plastic plates, the first of the next generation with hole for a single bolt fixing plus nail holes to locate the plate