- Flat pedal curious
Standing pedalling is a good cue for flat pedals, I was trying to mention it a few posts before, but forgot to mention standing & pedalling, and didn’t exactly say to unweight your wrists & hands while standing pedalling almost to the point that your fingers are barely looped around the grips and instead just lightly resting on the tops of the bars. That reduces input from your bars and maximises input/weight/power/whatever to the pedals from your feet. This allows the bike to move side to side more freely beneath you and helps to find smoother pedal strokes as well as learn body positioning & weighting. Try standing pedalling like this in an reasonably easy gear but maintaining a smooth controlled pedal stroke on both feet. Another ‘drill’ to alternate pedalling and freewheeling, but always with a half pedal stroke at the end so that you alternate which foot is leading when freewheeling. It’s stuff I’ve played around with anyway and think it might possibly help (with the boredom on commutes home at least).Posted 4 months ago
I’ve been on SPD’s for around 20 years all in all and occasionally have a try on flats but quickly go back.
Normally get fed up because I can’t get my foot off a flat pedal quickly enough – how daft does that sound !
Leaving an SPD is second nature now and I haven’t had a crash caused by being caught suddenly and not getting a foot out for years.
But when I put my Vaults and Specialized 2FO shoes on, I seem to lack the ability to simply lift up when needed so my foot always feels too planted.
Think I need to persist !Posted 4 months ago
I know what you mean there, I felt the same for some time. In all my clipless era I never had a problem to quickly unclip or dab, like in a technical situation. That was never a reason for me to leave SPDs. Even today I can jump on a SPD bike and have zero issues with that. On the other hand, got hurt while crashing hand having the bike making my ankles or knees to do wrong moves, like having a feet stuck on the pedal underneath the bike with me on top, but that’s a different story.
I don’t know if it’s the case with the Specialized shoes you mention, but I would argue that there are some shoes too sticky for flat pedal introduction. The Shimano GR7s I had were perfect for this, sticky enough to be more than safe but still allowing you to feel the pedal and correct foot position.
I would never recommend my current Impacts to a novice. They have so much grip that some of the usual flat pedal technique can be overlooked and also you can’t correct your foot position once you step in the pedal. You need to have the mechanics internalised of place your feet systematically in the right placePosted 4 months ago
You need to have the mechanics internalised of place your feet systematically in the right place
Or, like I did, you just get used to it, and move on.
I was on SPDs for years, knee suffered at puffer, gave flats a try. Comibg from SPDs you have a ‘need’ for your foot to be in the position.
Which isn’t really needed.Posted 4 months ago
True, but it’s nonetheless a good skill to be able to place your foot in the right spot on the go.
Specially if you have big feet, even with large pedals you don’t have that much real estate. If you foot is off it feels weird quickly.
But this is something that comes naturally with practicePosted 4 months ago
funny how attitudes have changed over the years, I remember a similar thread on here from around 2007-2008, but the concensus back then was that you werent a proper mountain biker unless you used clipless pedals.
I only ever really used flats on the mountain bike (I always use clipless on the road bike), I tried clipless on mtb for about 6 months back in 2009 ish, I’ve never had so many crashes and injuries as I had during that 6 months of trying clipless pedals – never again. Having said that the best riders I have met have always been on clipless pedalsPosted 4 months ago
useful thread! im also chin stroking the whole flat pedal thing. been on spds since shimano started making them.
its a mixture of wanting to try something new and fear of trying something new!
i think for me, riding a rigid, non dropper bike in the wilderness, perhaps flats just helps the simplicity factor. when its really muddy or over grown, i guess the whole pedaling efficiency thing is less important than just being able to generate forward momentum. perhaps it will be more fun?
i suppose another factor thats still not fully formed in my mind is the whole knee pad vibe – i hate wearing too much kit but guess its part of the whole thing as well. nothing constructive to add to the thread though…
im probably overthinking the whole thing and should just try it!Posted 4 months ago
funny how attitudes have changed over the years, I remember a similar thread on here from around 2007-2008, but the concensus back then was that you weren’t a proper mountain biker unless you used clipless pedals.
Some insisted that a giant backpack was mandatory too.
But in seriousness, dropper posts have played a key part. Anything technical with the seat up and I need clips. Some people have a technique for this but it’s still a big compromise. Now every trail bike can drop the saddle at the push of a button, that huge downside is removed, the flat / clip split IME is around 50-50.
Obviously this never really applied to the pure DHers, and the carry your bike up a mountain to ride back down guys, as they dropped the saddle anyway. Us rolling terrain southerners though…Posted 4 months ago
i suppose another factor thats still not fully formed in my mind is the whole knee pad vibe – i hate wearing too much kit but guess its part of the whole thing as well.
What? No! I’ve used flats, never worn knee pads. Oh.. unless you are talking about protecting your shins from pedal strikes? Never happened to me, not as an adult at least 🙂Posted 4 months ago
Oh.. unless you are talking about protecting your shins from pedal strikes? Never happened to me, not as an adult at least 🙂
Not to me either while riding. I really don’t understand how the pedal that’s under your foot hits the shin that’s above the massive protrusion of your foot? Are people riding like they’re a 2 year old on a balance bike?
Pushing, carrying/putting down after carrying, unloading the bike from the car, then yes, sharp pins at shin level have caught me quite a few times.Posted 4 months ago
julians, I agree, attitudes have changed, but so did the bikes, the kind of riding most people are doing and the technology.
Looking back at most of the flat pedals available at the time I can see how people disliked them, as did the few and far between quality shoes.
Thin(ish), concave, large area and properly pinned flat pedals, together with good flat specific shoes and dropper posts are almost mandatory to make it work.
And totally anecdotal personal experience, almost all the best riders I personally know are on flat pedalsPosted 4 months ago
I made the switch from SPDs to flats about a 2 years ago and haven’t looked back.
I was using SPD for maybe 20 years and for the last few, I was suffering from severe right knee pain during every ride. After switching to flats the pain was gone in a couple of weeks. Its been fun learning how to handle the bike and I’d find it hard to switch back.Posted 4 months ago
I really don’t understand how the pedal that’s under your foot hits the shin that’s above the massive protrusion of your foot?
I think it’s because if one foot slips off, the weight on the other one causes the pedal to spin round and the pins dig into your shin which is now moving downwards under your weight and it then gouges your skin.
However like I say that has yet to happen to me. But I’m obviously now doomed.. what pads…?Posted 4 months ago
If you ride rowdy enough things a pedal to the shin eventually happens to everyone, sooner or later.
Half an year or so ago I was sending a 6′ or 7′ drop to flat which I’ve done a million times. Its quite a pedestrian one once you loose the anxiety and learn to squash it properly. The thing was, that day the drop’s edge had a couple of stones, which caused the rear wheel to lift and hit my arse when I was squashing. The wheel rebounded off me arse and the bike suddenly dropped under me, causing my left foot to loose the pedal. Landed right foot on pedal, left pedal right on shin. 1″ long slice to the shin bone. Dense as I am, never got stitches, that one left a proper scar therePosted 4 months ago
Another spd to flat convert here. Rode spd’s for 10 or so years with no issues but a holiday to Whistler got me thinking about swapping to flats (jumps, drops etc). As a few others have said, I actually hated it for a couple of months, feet kept coming off the pedals. Then something just gelled, and although I’m sure spd’s would / could be a bit faster, I can’t see me going back to spd’s now. Flats just feel more fun to me.
Oh, I’m definitely in the get decent flat pedal specific shoes and pedals camp, they work so much better than generic trainers that you wouldn’t be giving flats a fair crack of the whip otherwise. I would argue that you need decent shoes for messing about in the woods just as much if not more tha xc / trail rides. You can always ebay the lightly used pedals/ shoes if you don’t take to kit to minimise your cost. At least you know you’d given flats every chance then.Posted 4 months ago
Go Outdoors sell Five Tens often at a discount. I only paid £35 or something.Posted 4 months ago
SPD’s since 1991. Tried flats a couple of years ago – SS El Plastiques and 5:10’s. Had 6-8 rides on them and did not enjoy any of them. I was too focused on riding flats, rather than just riding I think.
Foot placement – foot in the wrong place every time, so was always having to try to shift to the right place. Can’t just slide the foot though – had to lift off and look where to put it. With SPD’s it’s pretty much right every time, and not hard to re-position.
Stopping – after all that time on SPD’s, I was still twisting my feet to get out of them which got tedious quickly. With SPD’s, that’s fine as it’s how they work.
Pedaling – always felt disconnected (which is the point) on flats, and never felt secure enough to give it full gas on climbs.
Jumping/hopping – I don’t gate whether using the clips to pull the bike up is bad technique or not. It works and is easy.
I have no doubt that a different pedal/shoe combo or more time trying it would enable me to get over the issues above, but ultimately, SPD’s work for me and ICBA to not enjoy rides until flats work.
FWIW, current pedals are Nukeproof Horizon CS with the pins removed. Still got support, and the pins never did much when I wasn’t clipped in. When I was, they made it harder to clip out.Posted 4 months ago
teethgrinder – Jumping/hopping technique – that’s the whole point, just pulling up on the pedals doesn’t work (not peroperly anyway). Sure, you may get away with it on small stuff but as soon as you get to bigger jumps etc, you need move on the bike properly to get the lift and correct weight distribution. I’m no expert on the bike but I’m pretty sure someone actually good like Jedi would say that pulling up with spd’s is limited in what it allows you to do. Watch any skills video on you tube and they all talk about the bunny hop technique, and it’s not just for effect or to look good, it’s because it works.
On the other hand if what youre doing now works for you then great, but it will limit you.Posted 4 months ago
Sometimes the issue is that we are all talking about wildly different kinds and levels of riding without realizing it. There will be someone commenting on how something works or doesn’t and he’s thinking about full fledged DH tracks or crazy technical climbs and someone on commenting on the same theme who only rides channel paths.
I don’t want to sound judgmental prejudiced, but someone o says that pulling up the bike works and it’s easy is likely to be referring to very small jumps. I might be wrong here, but that’s generally the case. As soon as you hit the bigger stuff, pulling the bike by the pedals won’t get you nor far or high, you wont have much control or stability and you’ll soon pay a visit to nose-dive-ville.
Anyway, to each it’s own, what matters is that people are happy and riding bikes.Posted 4 months ago
The only reason some people get passionate about this topic (me included) is that you feel a huge number of riders are missing a world of riding potential, convenience, fun and safety with little downsides
I started out riding on flats when I started MTB three or four years ago.
The reason for this initially was two-fold. First I was working to a budget and figured that flats were cheaper since I’d just need to buy pedals, rather than pedals and shoes if I went SPD. The logic being I could use some old trainers with flats and I’d be ‘reet. Second being a beginner I liked the idea of being able to get off the bike in a hurry.
So I set out riding in trail running shoes or whatever. But a few months in I got some cheap 5:10s off the classifieds here and found it a world of difference in terms of confidence and grip. Literally a complete game changer. Trainers just feel sketchy now. So I’d personally say try specific flat pedal shoes if you want to give it a proper crack of the whip.
In terms of getting off the bike in a hurry, I feel my initial instincts were entirely justified. For bailing out on steep terrain, in particular, just sort of stepping/slithering off the back of the bike is a technique I value and can’t imagine working so well clipped in.
In terms of flat pedal injuries front, yes, shin strikes happen when your foot comes off. Generally if you’re “doing it right” this doesn’t happen of course! My worst to date were from trying to figure out bunny hops early in my MTB career. Happily I’ve not hit my shins for a while, which now I’ve said it will lead to stitches next ride…Posted 4 months ago
The bit l struggled with when trying flats was foot placement
With spuds your foot is always in the same place on the pedal. With flats it was really hard to replicate this and because shoes grip so well you can shuffle into the right place I had to lift my foot off the pedal and try again.Posted 4 months ago
Flip side of that is when riding steep technical trails it’s easier to just get a foot back on the pedal and feel relatively secure, trying to clip back in after a dab made for a few twitchy bum moments. Flats have more margin for error than clips where it was all or nothing. I only ever used 520’s which probably aren’t the best for that kind of situation but most half decent flat pedals will give you that margin for error.Posted 4 months ago
GCN did quite a nice lab test that seemed to show that there wasn’t really any difference. Then had to go back out on the road and record another less scientific video to justify the fact that they wanted to carry on using their clipless pedals anyway 🙂
I think they were disappointed that the efficiency myth was proven to be just that 🙂
Personally, I think the whole pulling up thing is a myth (outside of the sort of sprint efforts I’ll never make) and you can pedal circles just as well with decently grippy flats and pedals with pins. Plus it’s a darn sight easier when you get off the bike (whether that’s hike-a-bike or a cafe stop).
The thing is people are focusing on the mechanics of one leg but you have to take both into consideration as that one that you think your pulling up is actually being pushed by the other.(assuming you have both legs)Posted 4 months ago
The thing is people are focusing on the mechanics of one leg but you have to take both into consideration as that one that you think your pulling up is actually being pushed by the other.
Well exactly. The leg that’s pushing down has to both propel you forwards and lift your trailing leg up. So the more you can unweight the trailing leg the more downward power you will recover. Not for free of course but you’re using different muscles to lift a trailing leg.
Most people don’t actually pull the pedals up but they do unweight. And I find I cannot pedal the nice circles I do with SPDs if I am using flats – I do actually unweight my trailing foot to the point where it comes off the pedal.Posted 4 months ago
“Personally, I think the whole pulling up thing is a myth (outside of the sort of sprint efforts I’ll never make) and you can pedal circles just as well with decently grippy flats and pedals with pins.”
Exactly. Clips give a marginal gain for racing where milliseconds count but human anatomy means that the power and efficiency gains from pulling with the trailing leg are mythical.
The only thing that will change that is millennia of evolution caused by people being on bikes all the time and speed helping them survive and breed. Current human legs walk, run and jump – pedalling is a side benefit. Walking, running and jumping requires near zero upward pulling with the legs.Posted 4 months ago
Most people don’t actually pull the pedals up but they do unweight. And I find I cannot pedal the nice circles I do with SPDs if I am using flats – I do actually unweight my trailing foot to the point where it comes off the pedal.
Makes me think of bunny hopping. Flat pedals are advised for learning to bunny hop correctly. When I went from SPDs to flats and tried bunny hopping there were a few times where I literally jumped off the pedals. Watch any bunny hopping how to video and they’ll talk about pedal scoop – but that does apply to both pedals. Haven’t seen any mention of learning to bunny hop with flats and then going on to use SPDs for extra lift.
Wasn’t it shown that all the fastest/high power cyclists don’t have smooth power all they way around the pedal stroke anyway? They mash down. Seems funny to imagine at the head of a race they’re being mindful of smooth pedalling strokes. The only time I go for nice smooth pedalling is on gentle rides where I want to conserve energy.Posted 4 months ago
Seems funny to imagine at the head of a race they’re being mindful of smooth pedalling strokes.
They are pros, they have to think about a lot of stuff.
The only time I go for nice smooth pedalling is on gentle rides where I want to conserve energy.
Like, say, during a stage of a 3 week long endurance event..
The study you are referring to IIRC said that they don’t generate power by pulling up, but they do unweight the pedals more than nor al cyclists do. I may be a freak but if I do my usual smooth pedalling stroke whilst using flats the trailing foot does get a bit loose.
Incidentally the reason that SPDs are bad for pulling up on when bunny hopping is that you rely on the clip retention, and that can let go without warning. If using flats you have no clip force so you have to take that into account, so you won’t get a nasty surprise.Posted 4 months ago
Only thing for sure, is that everyone’s experience is different! The only was H-t-S will find out is by trying it. Get some plastic flats and some shoes in the sales and give it a go.Posted 4 months ago
Molgrips, with respect you’re wrong – the reason that SPDs are bad for pulling up on when bunny hopping is it doesn’t allow for proper weight distribution on any reasonably sized jump. Nothing to do with unclipping. You can still do it properly with clips once you’ve got the technique but you can’t do it on flats without so you have to learn.Posted 4 months ago
Only thing for sure, is that everyone’s experience is different!
This.Posted 4 months ago
just ordered some flats and shoes – will report back but im looking forward to my first non-spd ride since …erm 1990!!Posted 4 months ago
I once tried spd’s on a road bike…. what was i thinking! bike & shoes have gone.Posted 4 months ago
Didn’t like the fact i had to use specific shoes to go for a ride & when my feet became uncomfortable didnt have the option to move them about.
Use Merrell approach goretex shoes most of the time, comfy, waterproof & keep my feet warm. dont like cold feet. Never had a problem with them & even did the London ride 100 in them. was nice to be able to walk around normally at the food stops too.
good in the mud too.
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