Cinelli M71 Clipless Pedals
“There were clipless pedals even back to the turn of the century. But nothing ever caught on. Everybody had clips and straps,” said Mike Barry Sr. recently. Barry was in the shop where his Mariposa bikes are built and where he has many vintage bikes and components. He held one Cinelli M71 clipless pedal. He has a set of the fourthgeneration M71s, including plastic cleats and a tool for removing the dust caps covering the outside ends of the pedals.
The first generation of the Cinelli clipless pedals came out in 1970, predating the Look pedal (which would be more successful commercially) by more than 10 years. The fourth-generation pedal, out in 1974, featured more plastic than its predecessor: the later model has plastic cleats and dust caps. The pedal body is mostly aluminum.
“You nailed the cleats onto leather shoes,” Barry said. It was a common practice as cyclists at the time attached clips onto the bottom of their shoes in a similar way to work in conjunction with straps. The edges of the cleat slide into channels at the sides of the pedal body. You then push in a black plastic slider. “A little pin comes up, and you’re locked in,” Barry said.
“Should you fall, you push that in, and then you can get your foot out,” Barry joked. To unclip, you had to reach down and pull the slider out. There was no twisting your shoe, as you do with contemporary clipless systems. Barry pointed out that the actions required for engaging and disengaging the M71 cleats weren’t too dissimilar to clips and straps.— Matthewpioro