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  • Am I mentally impaired? SPD related content
  • Premier Icon zezaskar
    Free Member

    So, I’ve used SPD pedals for 8 years or something on XC riding, then 3 years ago switched to flats when I got into more aggressive riding. I got all the usually spouted benefits, huge increase in skills, took more risks, etc etc.
    Today I can say I’m a relatively competent rider, can ride most DH tracks confidently and clear most features (bar crazy large gaps).

    So, some weeks ago my Nukeproof Horizon pedals gave the ghost (I created a thread then about my search for a new set). I noticed I had a meaty Decathlon gift card and in a “why not” moment decided to exchange it for a set of M530 SPDs. Then also realized I had a bunch of discount codes and vouchers at a well known online store and got myself a pair of Shimano AM702 shoes, £20 in the end. So, after 3 years, back into a clipless experiment.

    Now, the first 2 or 3 rides were amazing. Was riding much in the same way as on flats, pumping and letting the bike work under me, but more relaxed and effective. Broke most of my PRs on those rides. Zero issues unclipping by the way, and actually easier to go foot out and clip back into place relative to the sticky flats and shoes. So, overall, was quite happy at the time, feeling as if I had developed my skill enough to “graduate” to clips.

    Then the next couple of rides came and I started to feel my skills as if fading away. It is as if I was losing grasp of the things I developed on flat pedals, quickly. I started having trouble to separate body/bike, to pump, to load my feet, and to jump properly without pulling the bike, feeling stiffer. Really weird.

    Has anyone ever felt this before? Like if the skills earned on flat pedals are just a thin veneer that goes away quickly?

    Just curious about other experiences, not really looking for guidance here as I reckon this is a very personal subject.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Free Member

    You don’t need flat skills on SPDs, nor vice versa. I use both, I ride differently on both because they are different.

    Premier Icon argee
    Full Member

    Spent most of my time on SPDs, specifically time ATACs, moved to flats 2 years ago and struggle to see how i could go back to SPDs, you just develop the skills you need, we get lazy all the time, if you can just muscle the bike up via the clipped pedals, then why bother with preloading and lifting, it’s human nature.

    Main reason for me sticking to flats though is fear of being attached all the time, i like the thought that i can get off the bike quick if something is going wrong, or getting a foot down in a tight turn or area that’s not too grippy, doing SPD hops or the likes wouldn’t bother me too much, as if you have the skills to bunny hop, or manual and so on you’ll not lose them, you will just need to relearn them if you go back, won’t take long either.

    Premier Icon VanHalen
    Free Member

    you dont have to ride exclusively one or the other- i ride both as the mood takes. takes 5 mins to swap pedals.

    sounds like youd benefit from a session on the flats.

    Premier Icon dannyh
    Full Member

    I am totally and utterly SPD dependent and can’t hop for toffee when I haven’t got them.

    I regard them as skills compensators and leave it at that!

    Premier Icon IvanMTB
    Full Member

    Is that not something you can just force yourself to do?

    Friend of mine, very skilled and very strong rider is exclusively using clip-in pedals.

    But his technique is absolutely flawless in my eyes.

    He stays very active on the bike, makes pumps, pre-loads and all that stuff.

    So maybe just a matter of making sure you are not getting lazy?

    Cheers!
    I.

    Premier Icon dc1988
    Free Member

    I switch between both and don’t really have issues, the only problem I sometimes have is not dropping my heels enough on flats through rough stuff. My main issue with flats is struggling to get the exact foot position I’ve become accustomed to with spd’s

    Premier Icon zezaskar
    Free Member

    @molgrips
    Without mutually knowing our riding styles and levels, I’d say it depends a lot on what you want your skill level ceiling to be. If one’s rides are mostly regular XC and trail stuff, then yes, one can definitely manage without “flats” skills. But if a rider really wants to properly clear jumps, bunny hop meaningful heights,preload the bike, properly pump terrain and berms then I’d say “flats” skills are of the most importance.

    All in all, I’ll stick with it for a while and force myself into my better habits

    Premier Icon Superficial
    Free Member

    Are you sure you just didn’t have a bad day riding? I do that all the time. Some days everything ‘clicks’ and I flow, then the next day I’m riding like a bag of spanners, clanging off every rock. That’s not because of any kit selection, it’s just day-to-day variation!

    My take is that there’s very little that you can do on flats that you can’t do on SPDs. If you’ve learnt ‘properly’ on flats, then riding on SPDs again is more-or-less the same, the same techniques can transfer over. The only slight caveat is that on flats VERY occasionally I roll my foot sideways on the pedal for balance which obviously you can’t do on SPDs. I guess some people could potentially do that more often than me. I’ve only noticed it when I’m wheelie-ing.

    Premier Icon zezaskar
    Free Member

    Yes, indeed is very possible that I just had a couple of bad days, one of the reasons why I wish to insist on this setup.

    For me the thing about flats is that there’s a constant “dialogue” between you and the bike – “drop your heels! Be smooth! Preload the bike! Weight back! Weight on the handlebar!”. Not sure if I won’t need that to stay sharp and keep progressing

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Free Member

    But if a rider really wants to properly clear jumps, bunny hop meaningful heights,preload the bike, properly pump terrain and berms then I’d say “flats” skills are of the most importance.

    Yeah, on flats they are. But on SPDs, you need SPD skills. That was my point.

    Premier Icon VanHalen
    Free Member

    But if a rider really wants to properly clear jumps, bunny hop meaningful heights,preload the bike, properly pump terrain and berms then I’d say “flats” skills are of the most importance.

    but they are the same technique flat or clipped!

    put flats on for couple fo rides and reset your brain.

    i found the only difference being dropping heels (i have limited heel movement so clips help me in bike parks in braking bumps. oh and in the mud. i ride like a novice in the mud on clips. and i love riding in teh mud.

    Premier Icon zezaskar
    Free Member

    @molgrips , we’ll have to agree to disagree here, because I consider that a proper bunny hop or jump or corner technique is exactly the same regardless of clips or flats. And flats just make way better learning tools for that

    Premier Icon ads678
    Full Member

    Proper bunny hop has nothing to do with what pedals and shoes you have. It’s the rest of your body….

    Personally I think you’re over thinking it.

    Premier Icon funkmasterp
    Full Member

    Probably just a couple of bad rides as per the posts above. Can you get some cheap flats, swap between the two depending on what you feel like riding?

    Premier Icon RicB
    Full Member

    Then the next couple of rides came and I started to feel my skills as if fading away. It is as if I was losing grasp of the things I developed on flat pedals, quickly. I started having trouble to separate body/bike, to pump, to load my feet, and to jump properly without pulling the bike, feeling stiffer. Really weird.

    Exactly the same happens to me every year around this time when I put spds back on and use winter boots. The first few post-flats rides seem to be the best of both worlds and then my technique gets lazy and I regress.

    Interestingly this works as a big motivator in late winter/early spring when I put flats back on and spend a bit of time working on getting my technique back

    I consider that a proper bunny hop or jump or corner technique is exactly the same regardless of clips or flats

    Agree completely. Flats make those techniques harder to do badly- you either do them properly or not at all.

    Premier Icon scaredypants
    Full Member

    when you ride flats, where are your feet relative to the pedals and does your spd cleat placement replicate that ? I’m betting not

    Premier Icon speedstar
    Full Member

    I keep trying to ride in SPDs again as I exclusively used to but i’m riding far steeper, more technical tracks than back then. I hat the feeling in SPDs that I can’t immediately disconnect from the pedals when I need to bail and that makes me more cautious and in turn, less confident. Personally if you really want to ride in SPDs you just have to keep riding without ever going back to flats for a good period of time. It’s something you will undoubtedly adapt to over time but it won’t be an unconscious skill for a while.

    Premier Icon zezaskar
    Free Member

    @scaredypants
    That’s a pretty interesting question. On clips I’m using the current gen Shimano AM7 shoes, which allow for the cleat to go quite far back, although not exactly replicating the position I assume on flats. But since I feel great on the first few rides, I’m not sure that’s the root cause

    @speedstar
    While what you mention is true, in my particular case it’s not really a matter of feeling confident on my ability to unclip. Don’t know why, but that comes quite instintively

    Premier Icon didnthurt
    Full Member

    I’ve recently went back to SPD’s on my mountain bike and really didn’t like it, I found it a distraction on steeper trails. Ride clipless on my road and cross bikes fine though.

    One big difference I find between clipless and flats is how I weight my pedals in the corners. With flats I kind of push through the corners with my feet more, just feels more organic. Definitely more efficient and powerful with SPD’s though.

    Premier Icon zezaskar
    Free Member

    So today spent the morning doing DH runs on steep and rough tracks, was a nice opportunity to clear things up.

    First run felt awful, stiff and numb.

    Then came a realization – I was riding that way due to fear of unclipping. The mechanism tension was somewhat mid range and I have the habit of twisting my feet a lot on technical sections and corners, and sometimes was feeling the mechanism starting to release (actually a a few accidental releases). I upped tension a good 4 or 5 clicks and felt world’s better.

    I think I got this sorted, but need to ride more this way

    Premier Icon oikeith
    Full Member

    Yeah, on flats they are. But on SPDs, you need SPD skills. That was my point.

    What are SPD skills? unclipping and clipping back in? Remembering to tap your shoe to clear the mud if youve stopped in a bog?

    But if a rider really wants to properly clear jumps, bunny hop meaningful heights,preload the bike, properly pump terrain and berms then I’d say “flats” skills are of the most importance.

    Again, Flat skills? I would say none of the above are directly linked to the pedal and shoe. I think for all skills and riding its just about being comfortable so you have no mental distractions or blocks.

    OP, glad to read you had a good ride in the end.

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