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  1. #1
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    Try Clipless on the cheap, or stick with flats?

    I need to find a pedal/shoe solution, and I want to try clipless. If this experiment is a fail I will move it over to my spin bike and go back to platforms.

    I have a budget around $175 for both, and will probably be buying from performance bike as I have a gift card from there and they are having a pretty nice looking sale right now.

    So do we split the $$ equally, or weight towards pedals or shoes?

    i.e. we could go with some Crank Bro's Candy 2 + something like Shimano M077s OR we could buy the house brand Forte pedal for 35$ and step the shoes up to something like the M162s. Or go for something like the M785 pedals, and dig some shoes out of the bargin bin?

    Any Arizona specific thoughts here for lower-intermediate level trails in and around phoenix?
    2013 Rockhopper Pro 29er

  2. #2
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    I like the M520 pedals. Not high speed, but they're cheap and they work okay. Shoes, get what's comfortable. If you're not to clipless, get Shimano M cleats. They'll release from any direction and you won't get stuck in them and tip over. I'd never ride clipless without M cleats.

  3. #3
    EDR
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    I personally would never recommend CB pedals for beginners, as that is what I started on and never really jived with them.

    For the cheap I recommend starting with Shimano M520 pedals. They have the same mechanism as the higher end Shimano pedals but can be found online for as little as $35. Shimano pedals are also very easy to adjust the tension, also good for the learning phase.

    Shoes? Highly subjective as fit is most important. I suggest something with a walk-able rubber sole as opposed to racer-type hard as nails, plastic or cf soles. Those things suck for HAB'ing or walking on rocks here in AZ. I personally have been using Lake MX165's for years. They are heavy but plenty stiff and with a Vibram sole are great for HAB'ing.
    Go try some shoes on, many like the Pearl Izumi X-Alps. Shimano also has decent offerings in the sub $100 range. I think the 77's would be a good choice if they feel good.

  4. #4
    EDR
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    Wow, M520's even cheaper.
    Shimano M520L Mountain Pedals - Normal Shipping Ground

    These are M520L. Not sure how they differ from the M520's I had, if at all.

  5. #5
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    Why do you need clipless set up again?

  6. #6
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    At least give these a read before making your decision.

    http://www.bikejames.com/strength/fl...ipless-pedals/
    http://www.bikejames.com/strength/im...o-flat-pedals/
    http://www.bikejames.com/strength/th...h-flat-pedals/

    I would never reccomend clipless to a beginner (or advanced rider). I know I am the minority, and I know this is an unpopular position. I tried clipless and HATED it. Riding Diety Decoy flats, and 5.10 sticky rubber shoes and never looking back. I guess someday if I feel they are holding me back I MAY switch, but I really do not see that day ever coming.

    By the way, stock pedals and tennis shoes does not = riding flats. You must invest nearly the same amount in shoes/pedals as you would with clipless to get the full benefit. And don't let them scare you with the "thats going to hurt when those pedals whack your shins" argument. In 2+ years of riding flats, I have never slipped a pedal, but I have seen tons of riders wreck because they could not "get unclipped".

    Just my two cents, take it for what it is worth, just putting it out there. Not looking to get into a flats vs. clipless argument.

  7. #7
    Ride 'Til Your Knees Hurt
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    Can you hear me now?

  8. #8
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    Flats suck! Go clipless!

    Kidding.

    If you do decide to go clipless, though, I also recommend Shimano. They are adjustable, very important to a beginner. Also, do a road ride or 2 on the mountain bike to get used to it. If you do decide flats, get ones with replaceable pins. We have a few rocks here, as I'm sure you've noticed. Sticky shoes do help prevent your shins from looking like my shins.
    “Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.”
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  9. #9
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    Gonna echo what MTBDennis said. I tried it on the MTB, and couldn't stand it. It's more of a mental thing for me. I was always worried about not being able to get unclipped - so much so that it dominated my thought process on the trail whenever it got the slightest bit of tech. No matter what I couldn't get over that and I wasn't having fun at all. So I switched to flats and 510's and all that stuff went away and I was having fun again. So now I only ride clipless on the road bike.

  10. #10
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    I have some shimano pedals lying around that I do not use and some Specialized shoes (9.5 i believe) that you can have for free to try out. All I ask is if you do not use tham to pass them on to someone else.

  11. #11
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    I use shimano M535 pedals. These are old pedals that are similar to today M520. You don't need fancy XT pedals out here, but do need durable ones. Pedals are a place where I will add some weight to get durability. I have had many pedal strikes on my M535 over many miles and they still work fine. I had used some lighter SPD pedals only have then break when had a pedal strike on a rock.

    Now when you try these pedal remember that they some time to the muscle memory down. So the first few rides will feel odd and you may fall when you come to a stop. Once you get familiar with them you can get out of them very quickly even in tough terrain.

    If your rides see you pedal for 75% or more of the ride then clipless are good. If you rides are constantly working really tough obstacles where you on the pedals and off every couple minutes then clipless can be a pain. For me a good ride means not putting a foot down for miles at time.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  12. #12
    It ain't easy being Green
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    Shoes are much more important than pedals; you might get lucky and find something like a Mavic Razr on sale for <$100 (I did, bought two pairs). I'm an eggbeater fan, I use them on my mountain and road bikes so I can use the same shoes for both; eggbeater 2 is my preference. However, SPD or Time ATAC work pretty good too. Bear in mind that if you haven't ridden clipless before it's a painful learning curve! You will forget to unclip and fall over, often. However, once it becomes "muscle memory" you will never look back.

  13. #13
    kAZ
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    Shimano 505s (?) came on my bike. I have beat the crap out of them for 10 years and they still work great.

    However, when I took the bike home I knew almost nothing about riding and the shop adjusted the tension to whatever it was, which was too tight. My first ride was harrowing. I had a classic fall on my side when I whiffed stopping and grabbing a fencepost. Hurt.

    I figured out the tension adjustment and dialed it down as far as it would go. It was basically cake to get up to speed on clipless after that. I never increased the tension.

    So whatever is the cheap Deore type quality Shimano get my recommendation.

    And the vibram hike-capable shoes are, imho, the way to go for a beginner and for just enjoyment trail riding.

  14. #14
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    Try Clipless on the cheap, or stick with flats?

    M520s. Same as the xt/xtr pedals except for heavier - and therefor way cheaper. Can't go wrong - have them on all my bikes (even road!)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eazy_E View Post
    I like the M520 pedals. Not high speed, but they're cheap and they work okay. Shoes, get what's comfortable. If you're not to clipless, get Shimano M cleats. They'll release from any direction and you won't get stuck in them and tip over. I'd never ride clipless without M cleats.
    This. The mechanism is the same as shimano's high end XTR pedals, clears mud much better than previous versions, has adjustable tension, and they are rock solid (also lighter than the previous generation). I may have been doing 15-20 doubles and downhilling on them last weekend on them ;P These things literally go forever with no maintenance of any kind. Crank Brother's is hit and miss, the AZ rocks tend to kill them very fast, or the mechanism will just fall off the pedal like some of mine did...

    Also, don't go riding your favorite trail after installing the pedals, find a grassy field to practice, to take a few falls, to get the patterns down.

    Some kids asked me how I can do the big jumps at the resort on Saturday, because they were renting bikes and told that you can only ride downhill on flats, haha. It's really about what you are comfortable on and you can do it both ways. Neither is right or wrong and plenty of people do both. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  16. #16
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    Find the shoes that you find to be the most comfortable, and spend the rest on pedals. I think the only real difference between cheap and expensive pedals is weight, where as there are tons of variables on the shoes.
    Personally I like Shimano shoes for a wide toe box and Crankbro pedals just because its what I've always used, and change is bad
    I agree with Jayem, practice clipping and unclipping before hitting the trail.
    good luck!

  17. #17
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    I like the M540 pedal and Specialized Tahoe shoes. If you shop around you should be able to get both for ~$120. The Tahoe is more of a sport shoe and is very comfortable than most out there because it is a lace up. I also own a pair of Specialized Comp MTB shoes but have only wore them a couple of times because I like the Tahoes better. The Tahoe is also great if you ever need to walk your bike as they have a rubber sole versus plastic. The M540 pedal is serviceable and you can buy new bearings fairly cheap from places like boca bearings. I have 3 sets of pedals and go about 1K miles before servicing. They are tuff as hell as I pedal strike all the time.
    Killing it with close inspection.

  18. #18
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    Another vote for Shimano pedals and shoes. I have Shimano pedals from 10 years ago that still work like a champ. Easy to adjust and service. Just make sure you practice the first few rides on grass, you will fall down a couple times until you get the hang of twisting out of the pedal. And don't let that worry you, it quickly becomes second nature.
    "Bicycling...is the nearest approximation I know to the flight of birds." Louis Halle

  19. #19
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    just putting this out there but when i started biking more and actually got a decent bike and wanted to try clipless so i went with forte campus pedals and shimano m-087 basically like most said i rode clipped in alot on roads and canal paths to get to trails. rode light trails clipped in and easy not tech stuff. On the harder sections i used the platform side on my left foot just in case i wasn't sure about unclipping i could still easily put my left foot down easy. as i rode more and more clipped in i noticed i was riding clipped in 100% of my trail rides and unclipping when necessary with out thinking about it all the time. just got the shimano pd-m520 last week and like clips on my fs 26. on my ht 29er however i swapped my campus pedals on that and mainly used the platform side since i only use it every once in a while to ride around with my wife around town and my shoes are normally not with me .

  20. #20
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    I am currently evaluating the Crank Brothers Mallet 3. It seems like a good compromise between both worlds.

  21. #21
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    I recommend the Shimano 520's also, just loosen them up...learn to kick out! After awhile you'll feel insecure not being secured to your bike! If you decide to go flat peddles, I'll make you a great deal on a pair of low top 5/10's size 10 or a pair of 5/10 high tops size 91/2 both worn twice...I'll even throw in a set of Kona flat peddles!
    Last edited by Ram-On; 09-01-2013 at 07:31 AM.

  22. #22
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Licketysplit View Post

    I am currently evaluating the Crank Brothers Mallet 3. It seems like a good compromise between both worlds.
    It's not. That's not what those pedals are for. Those pedals are wide with cages so you can use the outside and inside of your foot to influence the pedal and in turn the bike, it gives you more control, similar to flat pedals. What those pedals are not for is unclipping and riding technical sections "unclipped". That is basically guaranteeing you'll crash because you don't have the skills to be riding said section in the first place. When you try to do this the mechanism is protruding up above the cage surface, which means if you have a regular flat shoe, you have this protrusion you are balancing on, NOT the pedal cage, and if you are using it with clipless shoes, you have even more problems as the metal cleat interferes, gets caught on edges, causes you to "balance" on an even smaller metal part of the mechanism, etc. By unclipping or riding unclipped, you're taking away the ability to influence the edges and riding with far less control and security.

    They are good for beginners because the big platform makes clipping back in a cinch usually, and if you "miss" clipping in, it's easier to get back in the 2nd time, but I suggest the shimano 545 and 647 for that, they are spectacular due to the 30 degree "cant" of the mechanism. This really makes clipping in easy, as you can kind of just put your foot down and it naturally "finds" the mechanism. In the worst situations, you'll find that big platform is nice when you just can't get clipped back in (maybe super steep climb, etc). This is rare though.

    Learning clipless pedals is important. Learning to do it on a soft grassy surface is important. You don't "need" the all-mountain/freeride/downhill type pedals as a beginner, but they are easier to use and get used to. Learn confidence, learn how to handle a bike and not lock the brakes at the first sign of trouble, all those types of things will make your usage of clipless pedals smoother.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  23. #23
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    Yeah, I should have worded that differently. The benefit that I saw was when trying to get going while stopped on an incline, having a larger surface to mash on then clipping in. But your right, I am on the edge of the beginner stage.

  24. #24
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    Re: Try Clipless on the cheap, or stick with flats?

    I'm a flat person myself atm at least. Haven't tried clipless yet cause I'm not where clipless will benefit me at all. I have studded platforms and nice soft sole skater shoes and never have an issue. And that whole shin shredding arguement is bs! I have one mark on my shin from a pedal all season, but why is because didn't duck low enough under a downed tree, pedal caught my leg when I hit the dirt. Not even bad scrape, little blood didn't even notice till I got back to trailhead.

    Pedals are preferance, anyone that argues that saying one is better than the other is wrong. Clipless have their upside and downside as do flats, and niether one is going to magically make u a better faster rider. I will say hard not to laugh when a rider tips over at low speed on slick corner cause they couldn't unclip fast enough. I always check them first then chuckle thinking "and that's why I like my flats". I have nothing against clipless intend to try them as its very rare I need to put a foot down now and clipless supposably help improve climbing. Basically they make the technique of proper pedaling not as important and easier. Plus the occasional pedal strike kicking my foot off does get annoying.

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  25. #25
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    Re: Try Clipless on the cheap, or stick with flats?

    Ran shimano clipless for years and now it's Crank Bros Candy 2's on the cyclocrosser and eggbeaters on the MTB.
    You can clip out with your full weight on the pedal, no problem.
    I'm much more efficient clipped in than on flats.
    My totally unscientific test says 10-15% less calories burned and 2-3min quicker on a 45 min loop.

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