Converting to flatties…..or at least trying!!

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  • Converting to flatties…..or at least trying!!
  • danjthomas

    I’m tempted to convert flats. I’ve been tempted before but failed after me feet jumping on and off the Pedals on the skyline in afan. This time I’m more determined. One main reason is that I would like to Learn the raw skill of bunny hopping and pulling manuals without the need for spds. As the nights are shorter I will probably spend a few nights a week urban mtbing so this will be an opportunity to develop my skills before hitting trails on weekends. I’m not in a group of riders that night ride often.

    I’m running dmr v8 pedals with just a pair of adidas Forrest hill trainers.

    Anyone have any tips for getting used to rising flatties, especially on the ruff stuff? Or should I just stick to what I know – the spds.

    Premier Icon colournoise

    Drop your heels on techie/rough stuff.

    Lift your heels and push ‘into’ the pedals when hopping the back up.

    slainte ❗ rob

    Go and spend hours practicing, that is basically the only way to learn how to ride properly with flat pedals.

    Or just stick with your spd’s and carry on enjoying cycling.

    Get some knee/shin armour for the times when they slip back. Try to place your feet towards the outer side of the pedals so you can feel them more. Angle your heels back, bend your knees a bit more and brace your feet at around 45deg so you can’t get bounced off. If your feel like your getting in to it. Buy some five tens. It’s a revelation


    I converted back from SPDs to flatties after visiting Mr Doyle, using spuddies meant I wasnt working with the bike on jumps, so getting my weight all wrong etc.

    Next visit to the freeride park at Cwn should flush out if I have made a terrible mistake or not….

    Premier Icon Northwind

    Drop them heels, it is genuinely the best advice there is for flat riding. And underrotate your wrists as well. Basically flats riding is all about moving with the bike.

    None of these are flats techniques- they’re just good riding techniques, it just so happens that on SPDs you can get away with not using them. But the plus side of this is, if you can get them into play on flats, and make it a habit, even if you decide to go back to SPDs you might take the better technique back with you.


    Learning to ride with flats is a great idea if you want to learn how to do bunny hops/jumping etc with the correct technique – spds will make you lazy! Nothing wrong with keeping SPDS though, I regularly switch between the two.

    As for technique, this explains dropping heels quite nicely:

    Premier Icon rickmeister

    dan, if you want some flats and 5:10’s… 4 rides only, pm me.

    This is very telling

    Go and spend hours practicing, that is basically the only way to learn how to ride properly with flat pedals.

    Or just stick with your spd’s and carry on enjoying cycling


    Definitely get some fivetens on your feet. They stick to the pedals like glue and will give you so much more confidence.


    make sure you dont place your foot the same as if you were using spds.

    Learn with normal trainers, 5.10s make it too easy… I find I put my feet more centrally on the pedals on descents, and echo the heels down comments above.

    The most important thing though is to gouge some lumps out of your shins. Scabs are SO much fun to pick.


    I wouldn’t bother with shin pads, there’s no better incentive to succeed than gouged shins, I have scars to prove it. My usual trick is the spike my calves at gates.

    I’m trying spds after years of flats, doing some right stupid falls, mainly stationery, so it works both ways, practice is key 😀


    Definitely get some shin guards while you’re learning – nothing worse than a big, bleeding cut on your shin to put you off riding flats.

    As said before, drop your ankles. Also, a good grippy shoe should stop your feet popping off the pedals on harder descents. But for urban riding, just stick to a comfy pair of trainers.

    Premier Icon Radioman

    I used to use SPDs then switched to flats a number of years ago. Took some time to get used to them , but for me the flexibility in foot position and ability to bail plus easy foot down when needed on corners makes it worth it. I Use SPDs on my road bike so that keeps me used to them. For XC racing though SPDs are obviously good as you can easily spin fast. When you first use flats the worry is pedal slips on rough downhill bits, but you soon get used to having the pedal a bit further back which I find much more stable and comfortable than the “ball of foot” SPD position.


    Thanks all for responding. I think I will give it a go. I think once I’ve cracked it my confidence on the proper dodgy terrain will raise. I hope. May help with cramp on those longer rides too if I can move about a bit more.

    If I get on over the next few weeks I will consider some 5:10 shoes.


    I am just trying out some spds after using flats for ages.

    To be honest, i still prefer the flats and may go back to them (i cant really afford to buy the spd pedals and shoes that i am borrowing anyway!).

    I rarely got shin slapped, only twice over summer, once trying a stupid sized bunny hop at a stupid speed, i made it over but my foot came off and the pedal gave me a right ol slap!

    I just like to move around more, especialy through tight muddy sections which is where i mostly ride.

    My biggest shin wound is from a high speed altercation with an airborne lump of Lakeland slate. My second biggest is from a low speed altercation with a flat pedal in a lift queue.

    Take from that what you will.

    Van Halen

    just spend some time messing about riding on walls, hopping kerbs, riding stairs etc. you`ll soon get the hang of it.

    i switch between clips and flats. i prefer flats but im happy riding either now. maybe im a bit slower on clips when riding steeper stuff and the commute is more boring with clips as all the fun urban stuff to ride requires the ability to bail.

    but riding clips is helping with my cornering technique (commitment) and foot position on flats so theere are benefits both ways.


    If you’ve got your saddle at full XC spd height then you may find lowering it slightly will help you place your feet more centrally and get your heels down.

    You also need to be able to absorb bumps with your knees to stop your feet jumping off – again a slightly lower saddle can help.

    Premier Icon Northwind

    flyingmonkeycorps – Member

    My second biggest is from a low speed altercation with a flat pedal in a lift queue.

    Aye… I’m long past the point where I get many scrapes from the pedals while riding, but that doesn’t mean I can wheel a bike out of the garage without losing blood. Best one was getting pedal scars on my head after nutting the bike that hangs from the garage roof.


    I found that rapidly tumbling / being dragged down a very steep, and narrow stream cut ream in the middle of Dartmoor whilst still attached to my bicycle was enough to convince me that flats were the way to go on ‘demanding’ terrain.

    Probably not the only way to decide tho’. 😉

    I’m happy with either really, and if I don’t think that being attached is a good idea, I’ll just unclip for a bit, although that then gives you less control as your foot is then in the ‘wrong’ place on the pedal to avoid an accidental reclipping. Hmm …


    Ive had my first outing on flatties just messing about down cardiff bay. ive beeen just pulling wheelies, riding steps and dropping a foot or so. 2 years of owning my roscoe and only now am i understanding the balance of it!

    i can lift the front good, lift the back ok, but i cannot yet do them in sequence to hop a kerb etc… i can do an american style bunny hop but in all honesty… they are shit and pointless. not giving up this time though.

    get down to your local bmx track, do loads of jumping/manualing starting small and building up.

    Premier Icon seosamh77

    Get used to having your legs looking like the have been through a cheese grater, might sting at first, but I barley notice it when it happens, lost count of the number of times i’ve been in the shower and wondered where i got that last chib from!! 😀 shin guards are cheating! Plus you only really get gouged from extended periods of pushing.

    Other than that, on downhills, heels down and the arch of your foot should be in the middle of the peddle.

    Going uphill, well.. do what feels right you can probably get yourself more into an spd position.

    I don’t usually bother myself but if you tip your toes you can get that pull up effect to a point also. too awkard a riding position though.

    Also if you do slip off the peddles on a descent, the seat is there to catch you, personally I lower my saddle a bit more rather than hang my arse over the back too much. Just hang on you’ll get back on the peddles!

    Premier Icon Radioman

    With flats the shoe pedal combos are massive in terms of “different feel”. If you use 5 10s combined with pedals with long pins your feet may feel “locked on” as that combo is so grippy! When I use my 5 10s I prefer them with my shimano DX pedals as the pins are a bit smaller than my Nuke Proof pedals and I like to be able to easily move around on the pedals.

    As mentioned earlier, don’t run your seat post too high, as the saddle will hit you and push the bike away.

    I think the new shimano non-spd flattie shoes with the lace covers are superb. The Vibram soles give just the right amount of grip and the shoes don’t fill up each time you go over a puddle! They are a fair bit cheaper than 5 10s too


    I’m trying them on my winter bike at the moment and so far I think I’ll stick with them. The terrain I’m riding on isn’t at all difficult but it does include stretches of bare chalk which will be wet and slippery until at least March and I feel a bit safer not being clipped in. Having said that I was on the floor a couple of days ago before my feet left the pedals despite not being clipped in. I also think I need to try dropping the saddle a fraction as my knees seem to suffer a bit from riding with my heels down. I’m just using some very cheap pedals that came with my Boardman and a pair of specialized shoes a friend gave me years ago, combined with rigid forks it can sometimes be tricky to keep my feet on the pedals but at least so far my shins are still in one piece.
    What I really need now is to find some winter shoes that can cope with getting soaked and covered in mud twice a day on the commute.

    Wait, what? Didn’t everyone learn to ride a bike with flats when they were a kid?


    Not everyone mountain biked as a kid. Although I half did. It seams that spds have taken some of the basic skills away from me. I’m tempted with 661 filter shoes as non spd, anyone tried them? They also look to have less venting than xc style spd shoes so may help the toes on cold wet days.

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