Hold Fast FRS Review – Straps for BMX Pedals
Hold Fast is a small operation out of Brooklyn that makes the pictured Foot Retention System (FRS) for BMX platform pedals, precluding the use of toe-cages. Fashioned from thick nylon webbing, all metal hardware and heavy velcro, the Hold Fast FRS is meant for abuse, and shows the attention to detail (and double stitching) of the best messenger bag companies out there. Developed for the needs of the growing fixed freestyle riding scene, straps like these are proving useful for more than just one niche market. Polo players, couriers and everyday city riders are finding that the platform pedals and lack of toe-cage has its merits beyond freestyle riding.
The Hold Fast FRS is meant for platform pedals most often seen on BMX and freeride bikes. As compared to flat road pedals, the larger platform gives a bigger contact area between pedal and shoe and tend to be designed a bit stronger for the abuse that some people put on their urban bikes. Larger feet and skate-style shoes can have a less than ideal fit with traditional clips, and some more aggressive riders find that no matter what they regularly break toe-clips. A number of people have created straps or retention systems to address these concerns with roughly the same idea of a wide strap across the top of a platform BMX pedal, with the Hold Fast being the most refined I’ve seen. Installation and adjustment is easy enough—the straps fit through the pedal body and securely loop on themselves, with the top section sliding to fit. Set it for your shoes and forget it. Ron would approve.
After a month riding the Hold Fast FRS I must say I’m thoroughly impressed, and possibly completely converted to this style of pedal retention. The first impression is secure—the large platform feels great with flexible street shoes and the large strap evenly spreads out the retention forces across the top of your foot. The feeling is akin to the difference between single and double straps, with the trick all in the angle that the strap attaches to the pedal, making the leading edge of the strap tighter and matching the shape of your foot better. Different pedals yield different results, but I have no problem flipping the pictured VP-001 and sliding my feet into the pedals with a bit of a twist to make sure they’re just right. It’s different than a toe-clip, and a bit harder at speed, but easy enough and so secure feeling in the end to make it worth getting used to. Beyond a few tumbles during polo where I’ve been tangled up in the bike, I’ve not felt that the Hold Fast FRS is too hard to release from, but I could see that concern amongst those not completely comfortable with clips and straps. For what it’s worth to the serious winter riders, the strap securely closed on a pair of thick, size 13 insulated boots as shown but was at it’s limit. I can’t imagine riding in any bulkier of a boot, but to each their own.
With the added security and feel of the large platform come some certain drawbacks, namely the heft and width of the pedal. Much of the weight penalty can be avoided by using plastic BMX pedals, or high end magnesium or otherwise expensive, lightweight versions. Platform pedals can be significantly wider and deeper than the road or track pedals many people are using, with the extra width making a drastic difference in cornering angle and increasing the likelihood of pedal strike. In my use on mainly high bottom bracket “track” bikes this has not been a problem, but is certainly something to consider with given setups.
The Hold Fast FRS is available for $57 per pair in a variety of trim colors, or roughly what a set of decent metal toe-clips and cheap double straps run. Except these are made in Brooklyn, by people you someday might even meet. I’d recommend these to anyone looking to try an alternative to toe-clips while still being able to wear street shoes, especially those engaged in more aggressive riding. I’m hooked, and find myself back in the situation of moving a single set of pedals bike to bike for different uses.