Anyone who reads the postings on Recumbent Trikes Group on Facebook have probably already seen my recent posting there about heel slings. For some time now I have considered buying them to try. I finally did about a week ago and have been using them. At first I didn’t care much for them, but I figured out that part of my problem with them was simply getting them “tweaked in”. The pedals I am using probably are not ideal for use with them. I simply used a pair of pedals I had on hand. After studying the pedals and the routing of the cables thru the pedals I decided to reroute the cable. That made a big difference and helped a lot. Now as I ride with my feet in the heel slings I really like them … so much better than using the SPD shoes and pedals. Yes, heel slings get my vote! As for the pedals I will probably buy some other ones which are better suited for mounting these heel slings to.
I understand the danger of “leg suck” while riding a tadpole trike even though I personally have never had an issue of my feet going down onto the ground if and when they come off of the pedals. That being said I know it ‘could happen‘ so it is best to do something to prevent it. I know most people turn to SPD shoes and pedals and really like them. I am not a fan of them myself as I don’t like having my feet locked to the pedals. So that rules out SPD, rat traps, and straps. I find SPD shoes to be uncomfortable to begin with. I need to wear shoes/sandals I am comfortable in. I also need to be able to move my feet around on the pedals a little bit as I ride. With the use of heel slings I can do all this.
Please note: When I originally wrote this article I wrote about the JSRL heel slings product as it was the only such product available I was aware of. Then TerraTrike came out with their version of heel slings which didn’t much impress me. However, more recently they have a new design they offer which I really like. I bought them and use them. I highly recommend them over the JSRL heel slings.
If you are looking for the TerraTrike product be sure you don’t get confused and buy the older version which is still available.
Here (below) is a picture of the JSRL heel slings.
Although it is claimed that heel slings can be used to pull back on the pedal much the same as can be done with SPD pedals I would argue that doing so is not as easy nor practical. The main reason for this is because the foot is not attached to the pedal like it is with the SPD system so when you pull back against the heel sling with the back of the foot the foot lifts off of the pedal. At least that is what happened when I tried it. Supposedly one is to point their toes downward as they pull back on the heel sling with their foot. That seems ridiculous to me. Going thru all that isn’t worth it. For me it is a non issue thankfully since I don’t pull back on the pedal using SPD pedals.
Here is how the cables and hardware are installed:
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The cables are adjustable for different size shoes and it really is important to get the adjustment right. Since cables are flexible and sag down under their own weight the further they are extended the more they will sag down. This makes it more difficult to get one’s feet into them. I personally think they need some means of preventing them from sagging down as it would make it so much easier to get into them. My shoe size is small enough that the sagging is not as much of an issue as it would be if I wore larger shoes.
At first I found it a bit difficult to get my shoes/sandals positioned properly into the heel slings. However, with the tweaking I did and with a little practice now I can get in and out of them fairly quick and easily. And getting out of them is so much quicker and easier than it is with the SPD system. I no longer have to concern myself with my feet being fastened to the pedals should an accident occur or a roll over take place. That is something I think about as it could happen. And if it did happen I might not be able to get my feet loose from the pedals. Also someone coming upon the scene of an accident is not likely to know how the SPD system releases. Lastly, it could be very painful and even dangerous to move the feet and legs to release them from the pedals. Yes, heel slings get my vote!
The one thing I think would greatly improve this product would be for the pedals to be counter weighted so that they would be positioned in the ready position for use instead of rotating way around due to the weight of the heel slings hanging off of them. This would take considerable weight however … unless it was hung way out in mid air on the opposite side of the pedals. Even with this problem I still found them fairly easy to use once I got the hang of it. In the picture above the cable is adjusted most of the way out …. must be for the BigFoot Monster … so the weight is considerable and the pedal is rotated way around to where it is upside down. My pedals are not rotated nearly this much.
John Lawrence sells his heel slings thru his website, JSRLDesigns, LLC. Here is the basic kit he sells. Heel pads are optional and recommended if you wear sandals. John seems to be a nice guy to deal with and genuinely sincere about helping his customers and giving them total satisfaction.
With the use of my heel slings I will be able to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
(without concern of leg suck)