Flatties or Clip in for alpine downhill trails?

  • This topic has 28 replies, 25 voices, and was last updated 10 years ago by  GW.
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  • Flatties or Clip in for alpine downhill trails?
  • well?

    and if flatties, who can recommend some trainers, with grippy soles, 5’s are too expensive, spose I’m looking at DC or vans?


    what ever your used to – if both i’d think about flats.

    i bought some o neal shoes from crc – bout £25 – just the ticket.

    i think any half decent skate shoe will do the job.


    Mine shoes were 12 quid from sports world, they’re not going to last forever but at 12 quid I couldn’t care less. My feet never come off the pedals unintentionally either.


    I’ve used both in Morzine and prefer flats.

    You can get the grippy 510 rubber soles retro fitted to any shoe. £35 I think.

    Premier Icon stilltortoise

    I’ve used both but got on best with flats in the alps. I like the lack of float compared to SPDs and my Salomon approach shoes were like s*** on a blanket with the Kona Jack S***s I was using


    Also used both. Also preferred flats. And converted another spd owner while out there.


    Used both, happy with both. However if you’re not used to flats, then stick with the clips. It’s taken me a *long* time to get happy on flats.

    Premier Icon Tracey

    Always used flats but biked in the Alps with friends who clip in and all the guides we have had are clipped in. If you cant aford 5-10s then you can get the same soles fitted to any trainer/shoe/boot for £35 at Rock Boot repairs in Chesterfield

    Had my boots done for winter use and they are as good as my 5-10s


    Feet First do 5.10 resoles too. They are fast and reliable. Used them twice.


    I much prefer flats, but found that on a shorter travel bike (like 5 inches or less travel) you can get bounced around a fair bit, in which case bing clipped in can help keep your feet on the pedals.

    Shoes wise, pretty much any Vans with a waffle sole should do you nicely. Not quite as extremely grippy as 5.10’s, but used with a decent pedal (NOT DMR’s they’re not grippy enough, Easton Flatboys or something like that) you won’t find you need 5.10’s in fairness

    Premier Icon Tracey

    rock boot repairs and feet first are the same company


    Agree very fast and reliable


    Premier Icon Brown

    What do you normally ride for DH? The runs in the Alps are the same as everywhere else, just a little longer…

    (I’ve run both and had fun with both. Personally, if there’s a significant amount of pedaling involved, I’m clipped in. If not, or if I can’t be arsed changing pedals, I’m on flats.)

    I would only run clipless .. guess it’s what you are used to. Loosen the tension on them a bit so can get out easily and if you’re on big Shimano 545’s then there’s loads of room to not clip in anyway but gives you that option.


    I recently got some flats, Some DMR V8s and some old DC skate shoes, i used to ride with flats all the time, however having ridden with spds for about 5 years i don’t like that fact that your feet com eon when your on flats, think unless doing jumps/drops i’m going to stick with Spds.


    what would sam hill do?
    he doesn’t seem to have problems with his feet bouncing off the pedals – even before 5-10 came along (again)


    If you can clip in on a steep narrow trail then stick with SPD’s, if your not too confident clipping in then run flats. Everyone has their own preferences

    I have only just moved to flats after years of SPD’s. The difference is anazing, much faster on the downhills and more confident on berms as I know I can instantly “dab down” if I feel i’m loosing control.
    I got a pair of Nike Whistler off Fleabay for £10!!! brand new. There are lots of deals on ebay and I was watching 3 or 4 pairs of cycling specific shoes before I bought the Whistlers. I will still stay clipped in for XC but once youv’e had flat, you’ll never go back…………..sorry, couldn’t resist.
    I am off back to the Alps again this year and can’t wait. The more used spots, Plenney and Chatell for example now have bad braking bumps from people confusing their wheels for ski’s. I’m a little concerned that the severe bumps might throw my feet off, but like the earlier comment said, if Sam Hill can do what he does on flats I can’t see I will have too much of a problem.
    Go for flats. On balance a better proposition for th Alps, especialy on the runs with a large drop off one side.


    Years ago I always used flats for Freeriding/DJ and trials, then got more into XC and have used clips for a few years.
    Recently I got a pair of wellgo mags and some marzocchi 5.10 shoes.

    It’s odd, because if you put your foot ‘slightly wrong’ onto the pedal, you’re stuck! They’re so grippy you have to lift your foot off, rotate it, then place it back down again! However, when playing around on a few DH runs and decent sized jumps today, I felt much more confident on the flats than spds ever could – for example sticking a leg out in the air if landing ‘slightly off’ – i wouldn’t be able to do that with flats (unclipping in the air that is).
    But…. when climbing in the saddle, over bumps my feet were skipped off a bit.

    So – if you’re going to spend most of the time in the saddle, get spds. If you’re standing most of the time – flats!


    I never undertand why folk have so much trouble unclipping when needed. I never do. I can easily take a dab at any time riding SPDs – you just need to learn the right motion for unclipping


    I think unclipping bit is fine, well for me it it is. It is just clipping back in at speed, that is annoying!

    Premier Icon BillOddie

    Ah see, now then…

    Hardtail or Full Sus?

    All things being equal including rider pref., Hardtail=clips FS=Flats.


    I never undertand why folk have so much trouble unclipping when needed

    Well it’s not ‘so much trouble’, it’s just different being able to just pop a foot out ASAP. I think of myself as pretty quick clipping in/out, and if sliding I can clip out and support myself before i hit the deck, but it just seems even quicker and ‘more natural’ lifting a foot off flats.

    Of course, there are lots of things people will never understand about other people, that’s what makes us human……!



    in flats some people are happy eg Sam Hill
    in spd’s some people are happy eg Steve Peat

    the guys in hospital are the ones who swapped because their mates all told them they were using the wrong pedals

    if you want to swap or try the other do it somewhere small and quiet first

    as for going faster in flats I think it depends on how you rode in spds i dont think it will work for everyone, see loads of people slower than me on flats and at dh races loads who are faster in clips.


    I’m with TJ on this. Clipping in and out just ‘happens’ for me. The only time I struggle is trying to get clipped in and getting going on steep uphills where I need instant drive.
    Having said that I’m 100% comfortable on cliplees or flatties. I can see the best of both worlds and switch easily between the two.
    For the Alps I would suggest sticking with what you’re used to. FFS don’t try flats for the first time out there!
    Learn how to lift the rear of the bike (Bunnyhop) on flatties before you get too technical.

    Also (Having some BMX in my cycling past) I think people place FAR too much emphasis on having just the right pedals and shoes for flats. It really makes no difference to me. Especially when I read stuff like this –

    It’s odd, because if you put your foot ‘slightly wrong’ onto the pedal, you’re stuck! They’re so grippy you have to lift your foot off, rotate it, then place it back down again!

    Again, it should ‘just happen’. If you’re thinking about it, something’s amiss
    I can bunnyhop higer on flats than SPDs, and whilst messing around outside the house I can bunnyhop a bike with 520SPDs on, whilst wearing my slippers!

    There’s no way I’d chuck money at 5:10s, they’re just not worth it IMO
    For the record, I use DMR V8s, and some Shimano AM40s that I got in a sale, mainly because they are white and pimpy. Seems to work fine to me, but then so do waffle sole Vans, trainers or walking boots……


    I’ve been toying with this – used to ride flats when I first started on a hard tail, then got a full suss with SPDs and have used them ever since. Been doing a bit more in terms of jumping and bigger drops etc and off to Megavalanche this year – debating trying flats again to use in the alps but I’m not sure really.

    Premier Icon cynic-al

    POint is TJ if you’re dabbing or just wanting your foot out repeatedly it’s way easier on flats as there is no faff in clipping back in.

    i ran clips when i lived in the alps no problems. But i recently went to stainburn and struggled a couple of times getting in and out of them in time so bought some mallets. Big enough not to clip in but still clip in when i want i think i will use them all the time now the big platform felt great. What ever you decide just make sure you use them plenty before you go to get used to them 🙂

    Premier Icon stevomcd

    I rode clips out here all last season (as I was always a clipped-in rider back in Scotland). Over the autumn/winter I’ve been trying out flats ‘cos I’ve been working hard on some bike skills (manuals, bunny-hops and the like). Liking the flats a lot, but if the lifts and big DH tracks opened again right now, I’d have to put the SPDs (Times actually) back on ‘cos I still can’t jump for sh*t in flats.

    Back in the UK for the next 6 weeks or so, not much to do other than ride bikes so hopefully that’ll have changed by the time I’m back in the Alps…


    Tracy –

    your foot position is all wrong for flats, if you simply loosen up a bit on the bike and drop your heels you wouldn’t even need 5:10 soles. (just sayin 😉 )

    OP – use what you always use, alpine descents are no more difficult than UK descents, just longer!

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