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  1. #1
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    Went from clipless to flats today....

    It requires a different skill set. Stupid me for thinking it would be an automatic switchover

    I bruised my left thigh jumping my bike and landing on the seat instead of my feet. I kept at it and kept getting thrown off. I slowed down a bit and focused on technique. I was getting into it, but ran out of trail. I am going to go back to clipless for now.

  2. #2
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    There's a learning curve, for sure. I dabbed an easy switchback climb my first time out.

    But if you recognize that it requires a different skill set, why are you bailing on it after one (?) ride? I assume you had a reason for trying flats in the first place.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive
    There's a learning curve, for sure. I dabbed an easy switchback climb my first time out.

    But if you recognize that it requires a different skill set, why are you bailing on it after one (?) ride? I assume you had a reason for trying flats in the first place.
    I can jump my bike clipless. I'll stick with that so I can enjoy my rides more for now. I think it more important to get my timing for jumps rather than learn a new pedal technique. I'll get back to it down the road.

  4. #4
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    Flats aren't for everyone. Ride what you feel most confident on. Clipless scare me in the dirt but I like them on the road.
    09 Jamis XCT2 Marzocchi RC3 ti forks, XT/XTR drivetrain, Mavic Crossrides/ Kenda Nevegal DTC=29lbs

  5. #5
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    Even if ultimately you end up preferring clipless, I'd still learn to ride flats. If you are using decent flats and 5:10 shoes, loosing your pedals like this means your technique can be improved on both flats and clipless pedals. If you learn to ride flats, I suspect you will also improve you clipless technique and flow.

  6. #6
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    The transition from clipless to flats will be seamless if the foundation of the skills is solid. It's when 'pulling up your feet' during hops, 'heel pointing up instead of down' and such that makes going to flats hard.

    That being said, I'm still too chicken to try clipless at the moment... :-)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaizer
    The transition from clipless to flats will be seamless if the foundation of the skills is solid. It's when 'pulling up your feet' during hops, 'heel pointing up instead of down' and such that makes going to flats hard.

    That being said, I'm still too chicken to try clipless at the moment... :-)
    I do know I need to get my skills down. I shot this vid trying out the flats. I loose the pedals coming off the lip. I dont pull up, but the jump needs perfect timing, loading and unloading, for the rear squish not to buck off the lip. The first few jumps were the ones i got thrown off. I lost my nerve on the rest

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLGBbYG97ys

  8. #8
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    I've been thinking about this for 6 months and after getting some new shoes and cleats and falling hard because I was stuck in my pedals 3 times in one day on some technical climbs that as far as I know no one has ridden up yet I broke down and ordered some flats. I've been riding clipless off road for over 20 years so it's not that I don't have the skills and basically never got stuck in the pedal until now. It was just that the new shoes and cleats were too tight.

    I tried flats on trails for one day this winter and found that it wasn't has hard to stay on the pedals as I thought but the places where is was hard was lifting the rear wheel and lofting over stuff. I can get the rear tire up a ledge or over a log but it takes a huge amount of whole body energy to do so compared with doing the same thing clipped in, and I'm still afraid to launch over a rough section or launch off of a jump because I'm thinking my feet are not going to be on the pedals when I land. I know that when I ride a motorcycle on really rough terrain if I'm not gripping the bike hard with my knees I fly up and off the footpegs and on a bike you have nothing to grab on to so I'm not sure how you do it.

    I've read the posts and watched the videos about how to bunny hop and stuff and tried the techniques but brother it don't come easy. If I had ridden bmx when I was a kid it would have helped but I didn't so it's starting from scratch.

    But I'm going to give it a try and hope I don't end up hurt even worse.
    Last edited by modifier; 04-12-2011 at 06:18 AM.
    No it never stops hurting, but if you keep at it you can go faster.

  9. #9
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    I personally think you should learn to ride flats before you venture into clipless territory. I myself just chose to never make the trip to the clipless side of the mountain!

  10. #10
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    Why not invest in a good shinguard and practice practice practice? Afterall, once you guys get up to speed on flats, and go back to clipless... You'll fly!

  11. #11
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    I ride cross country, all-mountain, and freeride, all on flats. I never officially made the switch over to clipless for quite a few reasons. Mostly because if I need to get off of the bike, I want to be able to just ditch the bike and jump to safety (or to more safety then I would have stuck on the bike.) I really tend to agree with the arguments put forth for mountain biking by James Wilson (www.bikejames.com) Being that I'm in college for Exercise Science, and understanding the biomechanics behind the efficiency of the leg and thigh as a whole and it's joints, and understanding how potential misuse of clipless pedals can lead to overuse injuries on the bike makes me not want to go to clipless even more.

    The problem that you're describing with coming off of the pedals and the rear suspension of the bike bucking off of the lip of the jump definitely sounds like a form problem. Really what I would recommend doing is learning to ride flats from the ground up before you give up on them. Just like someone beginning mountain biking, or someone just switching to clipless pedals, you wouldn't have them hucking off of jumps their first time out. Same thing switching to flats. Until you learn how to control the rear of your bike while on flats while going through a regular trail first, I wouldn't recommend getting air. Learn to flow with the flats first. Be one with the flats. haha.

    The biggest problem that I've seen in people switching from clipless to flats is that they tend to try and use too much of their legs whether they realise it or not. I understand that a lot of biking is done from the legs, but far too many people neglect to pay attention to what their upper body is doing other then keeping them from launching forward over the handlebars. To be able to keep yourself from getting bucked by the rear suspension, you need to make sure you're not loading all of your weight onto the rear of your bike and then losing your balance to the forward of the bike. To really kind of get the gist of this, I would really really recommend practicing flats on a pump track. You'll develop all the skill you need on flats there. You'll also learn exactly what I'm talking about with the upper body there.

    Other then that, that's all I have to rant about for now. I'm between classes atm and didn't have time to reread what I've said, so if I'm mistaken, please educate me. I loovvveeee learning!

  12. #12
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    If you havent tried clipless, I dont think you can relate to whats going on in the switch. To me, the skill set is different. The timing is different. I know my skills need improvement, but to say flats before clipless is like saying skate board before surfing. I havent given up on flats, far from it. I just dont want to spend the time learning them right now. Clipless works fine for me, so its not a priority.

  13. #13
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    I've used clipless riding road before, and I have played around with it on my buddy's bike... not for me though. I can see certain benefits in it, but in general (not you in particular) it is easy for a lot of people to misuse clipless pedals through the pedal stroke (by bike fit, by forcefully pulling up on the back side of the pedal stroke while in a poor position over the bike, etc.). I just wrote a research paper for kinesiology on the knee in cycling. Through the research I looked through, and from what I've experienced, I can definitely see the pros and the cons to it. I personally see the matter of using flats as being more efficient in the world of freeride/DH, and even all mountain. For cross country (where there is a constant pedal cadence) I can definitely see the advantage for clipless. But at the end of this whole age old discussion/argument/opinion matter, it all comes down to personal preferrence.

  14. #14
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    Comparatively, jumping hard tail and full squish, two different animals.

  15. #15
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    Oh, I couldn't agree more. There's competely different physics involved with every bike, even between the amount of travel there is on a 4" vs a 6" travel bike. Ultimately what it comes down to is learning your machine, and finding what type of "connection" you have with the bike (whether it be flats or clipless, what size handlebars and stem you like, what kind of grips, etc.) And to drive a point home even more, I rode a Diamondback Response Comp (all mountain hardtail) through last season, and I now have the Diamondback Mission 2 (6" travel all mountain bike) and I have ridden both off of jumps, on trail, and I have used both on the pump track. Through my experience riding, I feel that I personally learn more about how I work with my bike and how the bike feels with different components on a pump track. Surprisingly enough, I'm able to keep pace with some pretty skilled individuals on the pump track with my full squish while they're on DJ hardtails. It's just a matter of being in tune with your bike, at least to a point. So, again, I'd recommend slapping some flats on your bike (when you get back to wanting to learn on them) and log some time at a pump track and then take what you learn on the flats there to the trail.

  16. #16
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    Yeah, I wish we had a pump track somewhere near. Its hard to work on practice when the only trail time I get involves pedalling 1.5 hours going up and then going down 25 minutes.

    BTW, I was riding with old M730 flats which are really wide, and a set of Shimano flats shoes. I wonder if going to Five Tens will be much better.

  17. #17
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    Flats are best for obstacles like the 4 inch plank bridge or when you are just balancing your bike high up on some obstacle. Easier to ditch your bike if your front tire slips off or you just sketch. That split second jumping off your bike with flats is appreciated when you avoid hitting your face on the plank or just falling off obstacles and landing on your side attached your bike.

    I would like to see some pedal companies make some really good combo pedals with clipless on one side and flats on the other. I have some from wellgo but they aren't good. Combo pedals would be like the mullet. Business in the front, party in the back. Haha.

  18. #18
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    My flats setupd is a pair of 5.10 Impact Low's and a pair of the Xpedo XMX17AC pedals, and I love it. It is probable that 5.10s and better flats will help, but I say to learn what you can on what flats setup you already have. That way when you get some good flats and 5.10s, you'll be that much better from it.

  19. #19
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    Bing,

    I'm a long time clipless rider (since mid 90s) that uses platforms occasionally. Several years ago I ran half of my bikes with platforms to force myself to work on my platform skills, and while I got better I never got to the same level of comfort I have with clipless. Losing the pedals or getting bucked off on jumps was a big issue for me with platforms, and my platform bunnyhopping skills are very weak. I will say I did better if I would slam the seat.

    But ultimately, I just have a lot more fun riding clipless so I gradually went back to clipless for 90% of my trail riding. I still use platforms on my winter trail bike, on my DJ bike that I play around on, and on my more casual towny bike, but if I want to ride aggressively on trails, I go to clipless.

    It may be due to many years of bad technique using clipless as a crutch, but it is what it is. It ain't easy to change your technique after you've been doing it one way for so many years.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailville
    Bing,

    I'm a long time clipless rider (since mid 90s)
    I hear you. I never thought twice about riding toe clips back in the 80s. And we got away with some serious stuff riding toe clips and full rigid bikes. Hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

    I also think the the CRUTCH argument that a lot of guys push is bunk. Use what you can. Who says thats wrong? If I have a hand saw, I'll use it. If I have a power saw, phuck the hand saw. Ima gonna learn jumping with flats, later.

  21. #21
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    One thing I wanted to clear up was that so far with what I have tried, I can go off of a jump on flats and stay on them.

    What I'm having problems with is a small jump or rough section that if I just ride over it I might fly 6 feet or not at all but if I launch I might fly 10 or 12 feet and avoid some nasty stuff by doing so. With clipless you just fly off like you are skying and pull up on the bars and lift your feet a bit and there you go in a perfect arc.

    So I'm afraid that if I try this on flats after doing it thousands of times clipped in that I will loose the pedal and land feet in the air with only the hope of slamming down on the saddle, at best.

    Maybe this is an unwarranted fear and once I ride flats for a while it won't be a big deal but at the moment it is.
    No it never stops hurting, but if you keep at it you can go faster.

  22. #22
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    Bing, I watched your video and I have some suggestions on some things you can do to improve your confidence with your flats. I think your main problem is that you (and you're not going to like this) are using your clipless as a crutch. You have developed bad habits from trying to jump clipless and as you know you'll need to work to break them.

    Your biggest mistake in the video is that you are basically just riding over the jumps and not jumping off of them. Your front wheel is on the ground before your back wheel is off of the lip. Obviously you need more speed to do that, but you can't do that without confidence. So to build up confidence, go find a curb or a stair or something around your neighborhood. Ride off of it until you can consistently land with both tires hitting the ground at the same time. I would even go so far as to try and land with the back wheel down a bit earlier a couple times to see if you can do it. Once you have that mastered, try and find a bigger drop off, maybe 2 steps or a landscaping ledge. Do that same thing; practice landing both wheels. Then try to jump a bit off of the ledge. It feels stupid, but it makes all the difference in your confidence. Try it with clipless first if you want then go back out and try it with platforms.

    Now it's time to ditch your clipless for jumping. First step here is to learn how to bunny hop. There's an awesome sticky on doing just that, so check it out. Super important to learn this skill with platforms and not clipless. You can just throw on your flat pedals after work some day and go play in the driveway to learn how to do bunny hops, you don't need to commit to "ruining" a trail ride by learning a new skill. But the bunny hop is where you will learn how to keep your feet on the pedals and how to get your bike in the air properly.

    If you're comfortable with your little drop offs and bunny hops, then get your platforms on and go back to your trail and take one of those jumps in your video that is mellow. Check this out for a quick but good set of tips for hitting jumps:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXc1_UF6xXg
    Keep going at it until you can comfortably jump a single one of the jumps at your trails, don't just ride down the mountain messing up jump after jump, that's' no way to learn anything.

    Repetition and patience, you'll get there! And you'll be glad you did; I know I am (15 or so years of clipless pedal riding, made the switch last year and it's great).I'm not going to say there isn't a place for clipless pedals, but I do believe the benefits are greatly exaggerated, especially to beginners.
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  23. #23
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    the crutch arguement is bogus. by those standards suspension, disc breaks, even new compound tires are a crutch.

  24. #24
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    The cruth argument is not bogus, but is very relative. Essentially, any component of a bike can be used as a crutch, or a tool. Some people that either do not know the difference in what they're doing wrong, or do not care and just spend more money on different components to cover up their problems are the people that fall into the "crutch" discussion. My one buddy will ride his 24" BMX with me and a few others on some of the smoother trails we go to. Yes, it may take him a few seconds longer to get through some rough spots, but he is able to do it. Also, look at pro riders. A lot of them can rock a fully rigid bike on the trails (obviously not on WC level DH courses). However, suspension, pedals, bike geometry, etc. are tools of the trade as well, when used by someone who is not using them for a crutch, they make performance of the bike so much more efficient and brings it up to a whole other level.

    Where the crutch argument comes in with this discussion is more so in the fact that in SOME cases, clipless pedals are used as a crutch with jumps. I know plenty of people who can bunny hop clipless but can't even come close on flats. Why? Because they use their legs to pull the rear end of the bike up by relying on the pedals being latched onto their shoes. You can argue that it is a different skill set simply because of different equipment, but whatever. When I hopped on my buddy's bike with his clipless setup, I was able to add at least another 6 inches onto my bunny hop. So if one can move from flats to clipless and use that to perform better or the same on jumps, then someone moving from clipless to flats who cannot bunny hop with flats is using clipless as a crutch. That's my two cents.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul
    the crutch arguement is bogus. by those standards suspension, disc breaks, even new compound tires are a crutch.
    I agree, those are in their own ways a crutch. If you can ride, you can ride rigid cantilever brake bikes with bad tires. Those things make riding easier, maybe that’s a crutch, and maybe it isn’t. I think the distinction comes in that clipless doesn't actually provide any benefit to someone that is learning to jump; this makes it a crutch in my opinion. I am basing this whole discussion on learning to jump, as it was prominently featured in the OP’s post. Watch the video, clipless pedals for the OP are a "crutch" holding back the ability to properly jump. The OP has decided that they are not ready yet to spend the time needed to refine the skills needed to keep their feet on the pedals while jumping. It's not the pedals that are keeping him from being able to jump it is clearly technique; that's a crutch.

    But no disrespect meant to the OP, you are aware that you will need to work on it in the future and are willing to put the time in. In my opinion that is a fantastic way of going about this. Try telling someone with a broken leg that they're a ***** for using their crutches; a crutch is an aid until you are able to progress past the need to said crutch. Doesn't mean you need to ditch clipless pedals forever.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

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