Pedals – clipless vs flats

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  • Pedals – clipless vs flats
  • Euro
    Member

    one of each

    mrmo
    Member

    others will argue this,

    for XC clipless, for DH flats. you will find riders in both camps who are exceptions.

    XC i mean riding from A-B not “playing in the woods”

    robbiew
    Member

    I ride mallets for all my riding (xc/dh) was in les get and morzine last year with them too. You get used to it and your out of them before you even think about it.

    Depends on the bike to a degree. I prefer flats on the big full sus. bike, occasionally clipless for XC. If you can sit down and spin, flats are fine on climbs. Standing up and cranking is much easier on clipless – the singlespeed – always clipless! I used to find my feet bounced off on the hardtail in rocky stuff, so I swapped to clipless there too.

    If you’re worried about smacking a leg, you could get knee and shin pads. I’ve had a few moments with the pedal chewing up my calf, but nothing major, and to be honest, I tend to ride padless these days. Sticky soled shoes help in keeping your feet in place.

    flow
    Member

    Clipless for everything

    emsz
    Member

    SPD’s for everything, but I’ve never been to the Alps, dunno it I’d be using them out there.

    mrmo
    Member

    SPD’s for everything, but I’ve never been to the Alps, dunno it I’d be using them out there.

    I have been to the alps, it is just bigger. You don’t need to think of it any differently to how you normally ride*. The only caveat i would add is that bigger means more fatigue, arm pump, brake fade.

    * unless normal riding is Sherwood in which case it is nothing like that…

    coogan
    Member

    Doesn’t really matter what everyone else thinks, it’s all about what you prefer. I used to use SPD’s but both bikes now have flats. It’s what I prefer, used for XC, long rides, DH, abroad. Try both and see what you like, only way to know which is best for you.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Whichever you prefer. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but for most of us (ie, not serious racers or dirt jumpers) the differences are slim enough that they’ll never override your personal preference.

    Best bet really is to try both (and give them a proper try), no simple answer but both can support you in different ways, both in riding now and in learning.

    And then, once you’ve done that, decide which one you prefer and then join interminable internet arguments about which is better.

    Munqe-chick
    Member

    morzine + SPD + crash =

    if you are going to ride SPDs in the alps get multi release SH55 cleats, ideally you want the SPD/cleat interface to give before your tibia…

    geetee1972
    Member

    My (humble)view on this is that if you’re new to MTB then the best way to approach this is to learn to ride the bike on flats first. That way you learn to actually ‘ride’ the bike rather than be a passenger on it.

    By this I mean you learn how to be a part of the bike without having to rely on a mechanical attachment.

    Then after a year or two learn to ride clipped to the bike. If you find you like it carry on and if not switch back to flats.

    Sadly it seems the golden era of flat pedal (DH) racers seems to be dwindling after only a brief flirtation in the limelight. The only rider that seems to be carrying the torch these days is Sam Hill and he seems to be a bit hit and miss these days. Gee, Peaty, Minnar, they’re all racing clipped in.

    BTW your shins will be fine; it’s almost never your shins that get clobbered by the pins but rather your calves. When you slip a flat pedal it’s typically your calves that get gouged; they bleed profusly and your partner will curse you for bleeding all over the bed sheets, but strangely enough it doesn’t ever hurt.

    Most of the scars I’ve got on my calves were from gouges (gouge really is the right word) I never even knew I’d done.

    aditude
    Member

    I am new to MTB and wanted to get thoughts on which pedals to go for. Jury seems split. I aim to do mainly downhill but as booked on a 3 day tour, likely to have to do some uphill.

    Splitting shins / calves with studs on flat pedals doesn’t sound appealing but then again nor does being attached to the bike downhill when needing to bail but unable to clip out!

    brakes
    Member

    flats for jumping and downhill (I like the safety of getting a foot out on turns), clipless for XC as it makes SO much difference to my pedalling power.

    get multi release SH55 cleats

    as a counter argument to this, NEVER get multi-release cleats as they give you no confidence as to whether you’re clipped in or not – it’s like clipless russian roulette

    Munqe-chick – Member
    morzine + SPD + crash =

    if you are going to ride SPDs in the alps get multi release SH55 cleats, ideally you want the SPD/cleat interface to give before your tibia…
    A friend of mine got the exact same injury from 5:10 shoes on flats in Morzine… It’s your luck really.

    My advice to a starter would be spds whilst you don’t know any better… I had spds on my first bike, and it feels totally natural. I can still use flats when the fancy takes me, but I have never (not once) been stuck to my bike unable to un-clip. (FWIW that’s XC, DH, commute, and road)

    Premier Icon ampthill
    Subscriber

    It really is an endless debate with no answer

    IMHO if your not sure flats. At least to start with. There are clearly benefits to clipping in, but I thinkk while your learning its easier not to. Because

    no need to have worry about cleat set up

    you know you can step off the bike easily when you’re not happy

    if you want to hear a strong opinion in favour of flats listen to this

    http://mtbstrengthcoach.podbean.com/2009/11/20/flats-vs-clipless-pedals/

    I mainly agree with him, but its all opinion

    Final thought with both sorts of pedals you need the right foot wear, its harder to get this wrong with spds as only the correct shoes have to threads. You still need the correct shoes for flats, bendy trainer are not comfortable for me

    flow
    Member

    That dude really doesn’t have a clue what he is going on about

    The small power increase is only worth it at the highest levels. Most riders are not advanced enough to worry about it. You can produce far more power standing than you can sitting and spinning circles with clipless pedals. Spend the time you would have learning how to spin circles getting stronger and increasing your standing endurance and you’ll probably end up faster in the end, despite wearing flats.

    How long can you stand up stamping flats compared to sitting spinning circles? What a load of crap.

    This is a never ending debate though, really it comes down to what you are comfortable with.

    ridingscared
    Member

    Whatever you feel most confident with. I ride clipless on road , flats on Dh and 4x and clipless XC but the XC are the shimano with a big platform so I can unclip when I see a techy bit just in case.

    GW
    Member

    morzine + SPD + crash =

    MC, I smashed my foot and dislocated all the toe bones landing sideways super hard on a flat pedal in Les Gets trying to put a crash into a slide.

    I’d never ride 5:10s

    aditude
    Member

    @ ridingscared: what is the clipless pedals with a big platform? Sounds ideal to be clipped in on the less technical easier parts and clip out when going down technical bits. I guess when going downhill I won’t be pedaling so this sounds like a good idea but imagine for stability the platform needs to be wide with studs for grip? Do others have views on this?

    I think there’s a lot to be said for learning on flats, racing on clips and using whatever you feel like once you have good technique established but aren’t chasing the last tenth of a second uphill or downhill. I’m still in the first stage…

    GW
    Member

    FFS! everyone learns on flats 🙄

    _tom_
    Member

    I’ve always ridden flats and am still getting used to clipless on my road bike. Considering trying out clipless on the mtb as recently I’ve been reading people saying they felt it made them commit more as the bail out option is harder!

    coogan
    Member

    what is the clipless pedals with a big platform?

    Used to use Mallets, last thing I’d want would to be unclipped when going downhill, no where near as grippy as flats.

    TandemJeremy
    Member

    GW – Member

    FFS! everyone learns on flats

    I didn’t – maybe thats why I am shite!

    Actually for learning technique then I did ride flats a bit. Far prefer SPDS thos.

    I would agree really with chiefgrooveguru above

    Rickos
    Member

    I couldn’t imagine using flats on a hardtail – I’d be getting my feet boosted off all the time. On a suspension bike it’s fine, but as said above, if you’re new then learn on flats to start with.

    flow
    Member

    If you are new then flats would probably be a good idea, it will make it more enjoyable and you will be able to concentrate more on riding than worrying about being clipped in.

    Also when learning to jump, drop, hop etc it is better to learn on flats first to learn the correct technique, then transfer it to spd’s.

    Mastering mountain bike skills by Brian Lopes is a good source of information for anything to do with MTB, from basic to pro pretty much covers everything, loads of info in there and you will learn a lot quicker.

    GW
    Member

    TJ – So what pedals did you learn to ride a bike on then?

    nixon_fiend
    Member

    Start with flats, get used to handling the bike, proper technique etc. before worrying about the ‘clipped in’ aspect.

    I used to be all about flats, but since riding SPDs on road, I have gained the confidence to use them off-road and would never go back to flats except for DH or slopestyle/northshore stuff.

    Be under no false impressions – being clipped in is a BIG BOOST to climbing power. The only time I really miss flats is when hammering multiple tight switchbacks at speed – always good to throw a leg out without having to unclip – reclip – swap foot, unclip.

    FYI – After riding a number of clippy-inny pedals – the ONLY ones I’d ride off-road are the SPDs as they are the only type I’ve tried that I can set ‘light’ and feel exactly when I have clipped out

    jedi
    Member

    use the pedals you want to 🙂

    aditude
    Member

    Will go for good flats and 5ten shoes with their sticky sole. Once I get the technique down, may consider clipless.

    Have seen some knee + shin guards which would protect me but want to gauge where on the shin pedal-on-shin injuries usually happen? Reason I ask is because I am trying to decide between full length Fox Launch knee + shin guards or their shorter version? I am 5.5 (165cm) height and length of my shin is 30cm (11.8inch) from the bottom of the knee cap to the top of my foot. Worried the full length shin guard is too long for me and that the shorter version will not save my shins from the pedals?

    TandemJeremy
    Member

    toeclips GW. 😳 right from early on when I started cycling and when I first got into mountainbikes

    GW
    Member

    didn’t you learn as a child? I find it hard to believe any parent would send their kids off on two wheels for the first time strapped to the pedals.. mind you, you did say your mother dropped you and crashed her bike while you were in the womb.. I see a patern forming here. 😉

    TandemJeremy
    Member

    My very first bike did have flats IIRC. when I was about 10. Soon nicked and the second bike had clips

    Premier Icon Bushwacked
    Subscriber

    Flats + heels down = 🙂

    I couldn’t imagine using flats on a hardtail – I’d be getting my feet boosted off all the time. On a suspension bike it’s fine, but as said above, if you’re new then learn on flats to start with.

    I used to have this riding flats on a HT, but it really is just down to technique… And decent shoes make a massive difference too. Good foot position and heels down I’ve not found much I have to slow down on, and then it’s usually me being a fanny rather than any actual grip loss.

    BearBack
    Member

    what is the clipless pedals with a big platform? Sounds ideal to be clipped in on the less technical easier parts and clip out when going down technical bits.

    NOOOO.. its one or the other. clipless pedals regardless of the platform size are not designed to be ridden unclipped.
    Recipe for disaster IMO… you’re either clipped in and riding or clipped out and off the bike.. no half measures.

    Keva
    Member

    I rode with SPDs for the first time last w/end, swapped shoes and bikes with my mate. Rode up a hill along the top and then down the other side. I don’t think they’re as good as everyone makes out, I still prefer flats.

    Kev

    cheers_drive
    Member

    I’ve ridden spds since I started 8 years ago but for the last few months I’ve ridden on flats thinking just to see if I was missing out on anything.
    For me the good points about flats are being able to move about on the bike more and being more dynamic. They also let me tackle sketchy steep stuff with more confidence. I need more time with drops and jumps though as it has highlighted my lack of technique on them. As for pin injuries I’ve only had a few nicks on the calf where ehen stationary rolled the bike forward and therefore the pedals into the back of my leg. It’s amazing how easily the go through the skin!
    Where clipless have the advantage is on steep and technical climbs where you need to leave the sadlle or your feet get bounced off the pedals.
    In summary as others have said I would learn on flats to get your technique correct.

    flow
    Member

    Keva – Member
    I rode with SPDs for the first time last w/end, swapped shoes and bikes with my mate. Rode up a hill along the top and then down the other side. I don’t think they’re as good as everyone makes out, I still prefer flats.

    Kev

    😆

    cheers_drive

    Clipless have the advantage in every situation, its your mind thats the restriction.

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Subscriber

    BTW your shins will be fine; it’s almost never your shins that get clobbered by the pins but rather your calves. When you slip a flat pedal it’s typically your calves that get gouged; they bleed profusly and your partner will curse you for bleeding all over the bed sheets, but strangely enough it doesn’t ever hurt.

    My shins are going to have to disagree with you there:

    That was down to the bone sheath from a V8 when shoe slipped off pedal landing a bunnyhop, and it hurt like hell toothbrushing the dirt out and even more when the infected stitches had to get pulled out.

    I’ve raked my shins a few times but never done my calves, unless you have a very heel orientated foot position I can’t see how you can slip onto your calves.

    Still prefer them to clipless though!

    BearBack
    Member

    For me the good points about flats are being able to move about on the bike more and being more dynamic.

    I’d agree with that as far as shimano spd goes vs flat pedals with any old shoes go. but if you ride flats with 5:10’s I find that i’m not going to be able to move my foot in any direction once i’ve put my foot on the pedal.

    I’ve been riding crankbrothers for the last 5 years after shimano destroyed my knees. The additional float that you get from crankbros pedals is superb. I even swapped my cleats to give me even more float and its amazing just how much lateral movement you get.

    Shimano float ~6 deg, crankbros float upto 20deg. 5:10 on flats float ~zero i reckon 😉

    I’d still recommend spd’s to beginners (riders new to clipless) as the positive in/out feel/noise is great so you know whats going on, but once figured, other systems offer many more benefits imo.

    Van Halen
    Member

    been dabbling with clips for the last year for the first time in 15+years on flats.

    if you want to go back and try and ride that sketchy line a few more times; ‘get ‘er a bit sideways’; or try that riding dodgy woodwork then flats.

    if you dont want to go back and play on fun bits but just want to mile munch then clips are the way forward.

    GiantJaunt
    Member

    I’ve been riding with flats now for my first 2 years of serious off road biking and I think almost all of my pedal related lower leg injuries have been from snagging them on the pedals whilst pushing the bike.

    One thing I’m curious about is do spd’s give you much more power? I sometimes struggle to keep up with friends (who all use spd’s apart from one who’s a super fit single speeder) on longer rides so wondering if it would be worth changing? Are there any stats on how much more efficient spd’s are?

    b17
    Member

    for the people worried about their shins with flats – the biggest shin injury I’ve seen came from spds…

    flow
    Member

    Think about it like this.

    No mater what anyone tells you you can’t spin properly with flat pedals, you can only push. This means you are pretty much only using your quads and a little bit of calf muscle.

    Sit in a chair and push on the floor, see what muscles tense up.

    With spd’s, if you clip one foot in (for arguments sake), you can pedal in a circle using all of your available leg muscles, glutes, calves, hamstrings and quads because you are both pushing and pulling.

    I don’t have the stats but I would say SPD’s are roughly 40% more efficient than flats given the muscle groups utilised.

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