The Science Behind Bythlon
We have developed the Bythlon Pedal System as a safer alternative to traditional clipless pedals after years of researching the biomechanics of cycling and pedaling techniques.
Bythlon is a safe clipless pedal since it does not lock you into the pedal. Consequently, while you can't slip off the pedal, you can't pull up the pedal to generate a force. We realize that this goes against the common belief that you should push and pull on the pedals for the perfectly round stroke.
This round stroke concept is simply wrong but remains a very persistent folktale. Scientific fact is that nobody can create a force in the upstroke, not even professional cyclists. This myth of the upstroke was first discovered in the 1980s when studying Olympic cyclists.
We believe the reasons that this wrong idea is still around are two general misunderstandings:
First, cycling power analytic diagrams show a positive force on the push-down and a negative force on the upstroke. Cyclists often wrongly assume the negative force to be a pull. Instead, the cyclist can't unweight the leg fast enough when pulling up. The negative force is holding back the pedal!
The second misunderstanding is the so-called pulling exercises that indeed help to improve pedal stroke efficiency. The reason behind: It makes sense to train to pull up your leg quickly. It helps to leave less weight on the pedal in the upstroke.
It was once more confirmed that nobody has power in the upstroke when the Euskaltel-Euskadi pro cycling team provided power meter data to researchers. While not named in the 2016 publication, the great cyclists Mikel Landa, Mikel Nieve, Igor Anton, and Romain Sicard were part of this team.
Our first conclusion: It is not worth the risk of clipping in since you can't create a pulling force.
Other studies show that cleat systems that connect road bike shoes to pedals increase the power transfer by up to 25% compared to platform pedals and regular sports shoes.
Regular shoes have flexible soles that provide friction to stay on the pedal. Here, the foot's muscles must engage with every pedal stroke to prevent the heel from caving in. To do this, they must work against the downstroke power. This work reduces the power available to propel the pedal, exhausts, and often injures the engaged muscles over time.
With a cleat holding the shoes in place, bike shoes can have extremely rigid soles that distribute the power over a much larger area and prevent the foot from caving in without engaging its muscles.
Our second conclusion: Bike shoes with cleats provide a significant advantage over regular shoes for power transfer and injury prevention.
These two conclusions lead us to the patented Bythlon design. It delivers all the advantages of a traditional clipless system without the associated risks.
If you like to dig deeper, we recommend our blog posts The Myth Of the Upstroke and Cycling Science.