1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #76
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    My preference...

    Not the stickiest soles but they make me feel pretty

    clipless vs platforms-20120813-bra2409-r1-016-6a.jpg
    Quote Originally Posted by CannondaleF9 View Post
    You see, I don't have a single brand name in my signature because I know most bike brands and component brands 99%.

  2. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayseakay View Post
    ...I'll never ride without clips again. It's a preference.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rod View Post
    ...There's no turning back for me either unless I thought I was going to be riding crazy stuff where I would need to bail in a moments notice.
    I learned on toe clips, moved on to clipless and stayed there for around 10 years. Bought a DJ bike and rode Ray's a few times, started to realize just how much I relied on the pedals to do a lot of the work. I'd ride the DJ bike around and practiced the skills I was lacking, eventually I could take those skills over to my trail bike. I kept the flats on the DJ and clipless on my hardtail for a few years then I got a long travel full suspension bike which is my every-day workhorse now. Put flats on it exclusively and haven't looked back. It's impossible to describe but they make riding a bike more fun. I would imagine I'll ride clipless again, maybe when I build myself a new [650?] hardtail, but it's been quite a beneficial experience to learn so much after feeling pretty confident in my skill set.

    So watch saying you'll never go back, just remember that there's a lot to learn from either pedal and that getting stagnate in your skill set stagnates your progress on trail.

    My objection to these threads is the boast that one is inherently better than the other and that's simply not true. Back in the time where toe-clips were the norm, clipless was a reasonable suggestion to improve one's life on the bike. Today with insanely grippy shoes and wide, flat, and pinned pedals the gap has closed. No longer do you have to choose between getting stuck in a toe clip tightened down enough to hold your foot or riding clipless. Technology has changed and it's time that baseless statements about pulling pedals and efficiency are put to rest.
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  3. #78
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    As a side note... I hate that clipless pedals are called that. It sounds dumb. You freaking clip in and clip out. And yet...clipless.

  4. #79
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    clipless vs platforms

    Quote Originally Posted by jayseakay View Post
    As a side note... I hate that clipless pedals are called that. It sounds dumb. You freaking clip in and clip out. And yet...clipless.
    Well a clip was the reference to the toe clip pedals, the cleats retention type pedals like shimano spd no longer need the toe clip, hence the term clipless. Now you know.


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  5. #80
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    Plenty of people still use toe clips. I have a set on my commuter, in fact. So that name is occupied, and you can't have it for your pedals that don't actually have toe clips on them anyway.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  6. #81
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    Yeah no I know the origin. Just sounds stupid lol.

  7. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    My objection to these threads is the boast that one is inherently better than the other and that's simply not true. Technology has changed and it's time that baseless statements about pulling pedals and efficiency are put to rest.

    Better is subjective, efficiency isn't.

    Please don't view this statement as me beating the war drum, I am only trying to learn. I keep hearing about clipless pedals having 0% efficiency advantage on this forum and I can find no studies to confirm or deny this. Maybe "pulling" is the wrong word but I hardly think the opinion of thousands of pro racers is "baseless statements".

    I will gladly eat crow if I am proven wrong.

  8. #83
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    Re: clipless vs platforms

    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Better is subjective, efficiency isn't.

    Please don't view this statement as me beating the war drum, I am only trying to learn. I keep hearing about clipless pedals having 0% efficiency advantage on this forum and I can find no studies to confirm or deny this. Maybe "pulling" is the wrong word but I hardly think the opinion of thousands of pro racers is "baseless statements".

    I will gladly eat crow if I am proven wrong.
    I dont know why this efficiency discussion continues. If i want to be fast and efficient i would be on my road bike. Im trying to figure out what will serve me best on the technical stuff and tight twisty stuff. Where I ride we dont have this flowy fire roady stuff

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  9. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpfitness View Post
    I dont know why this efficiency discussion continues.

    Should have read the whole thread, sorry for the drift.

  10. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Better is subjective, efficiency isn't.

    Please don't view this statement as me beating the war drum, I am only trying to learn. I keep hearing about clipless pedals having 0% efficiency advantage on this forum and I can find no studies to confirm or deny this. Maybe "pulling" is the wrong word but I hardly think the opinion of thousands of pro racers is "baseless statements".

    I will gladly eat crow if I am proven wrong.
    First off, stop comparing yourself to pro racers. If you had any idea what it takes to ride a bike at that level you would understand that what you do has nothing to do with what they do with the vague exception that they are also on a human powered machine rolling on two wheels. As soon as you spend every day with a cycling trainer with the goal of shaving thousandths off of a time then you can start pulling the "well the pros do it" card.

    Even very serious rec riding will not be impacted by the inherent efficiency difference between one system or the other. Let's say we find a study that shows a 2% difference between a clipless system and a flat pedal system, so what? What does 2% mean? How does 2% affect your leg fatigue or your distance capability? It's not a 100% transfer from the efficiency of a part of a bicycle to the performance of a bicycle. I think the studies relating pedaling efficiency are focused on the power application to the pedals. Anytime someone says that pulling on pedals is an efficient cycling movement it's been proven incorrect through a few studies.

    Quote Originally Posted by cpfitness View Post
    I dont know why this efficiency discussion continues. If i want to be fast and efficient i would be on my road bike. Im trying to figure out what will serve me best on the technical stuff and tight twisty stuff. Where I ride we dont have this flowy fire roady stuff

    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2
    Make sure you try to search the forum for your answers before posting a question. It will keep you from posting one of the handful of grenades like "clipless vs flats" or "26 vs 29" which are destined to turn your topic into a constantly downward spiraling flame war of misinformation.

    To directly answer your question once again:
    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    I recommend anyone who is new to off road cycling, no matter their comfort level with clipless pedals from any other type of cycling, learn to ride off road with [good] flat pedals. Of course, since you are familiar with the mechanism you will probably be fine if you just run them straight away but I find that it is one less thing to hamper your skill development since you're not worried if you'll come out of the pedals or not.
    The biggest hurdle to skill development is fear and fear can be as innocuous as that little voice in the back of your head that asks if your feet will hit the ground first if you tip over. Many people can get over this quickly, but it is my opinion that if everyone starts on flats that they have the best chance of developing skills without worrying about the falling due to pedals issue. If you would rather run clipless straight away, you'll probably be fine but I always suggest that people run flats first.
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  11. #86
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    I don't think you need to be some elite level road racer to gain some efficiency from clip-less. I'm an average rider and I can tell the difference. Is it huge? No, but it's there. However, it is a small enough difference that if I felt like flats were an advantage to me from a technical standpoint (or if clipless were a hindrance), I'd run them. But for me, they are not.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  12. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post


    Make sure you try to search the forum for your answers before posting a question. It will keep you from posting one of the handful of grenades like "clipless vs flats" or "26 vs 29" which are destined to turn your topic into a constantly downward spiraling flame war of misinformation.
    When I find a forum that has a working search feature, I will gladly use it. I understand my topic is vague, but my question was fairly specific, everyone just assumes that clipless vs flats is an efficiency discussion when I never said anything of the sort. I'm not mad about it, I like spirited discussions, I'm just trying to keep it germane to the actual question.

    Totally agree with you on the fear element, my first couple times out I was very fearless, then I went into a muddy turn and the front tire washed out and I was on my ass in no time flat. then I was climbing in a rocky area and fell over. so on and so forth, 2nd time out, I had a lot less confidence as I thought about how little I wanted to fall and bust my ass and as a result, I wasn't bold enough to try much of anything.

  13. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpfitness View Post
    When I find a forum that has a working search feature, I will gladly use it. I understand my topic is vague, but my question was fairly specific, everyone just assumes that clipless vs flats is an efficiency discussion when I never said anything of the sort. I'm not mad about it, I like spirited discussions, I'm just trying to keep it germane to the actual question.

    Totally agree with you on the fear element, my first couple times out I was very fearless, then I went into a muddy turn and the front tire washed out and I was on my ass in no time flat. then I was climbing in a rocky area and fell over. so on and so forth, 2nd time out, I had a lot less confidence as I thought about how little I wanted to fall and bust my ass and as a result, I wasn't bold enough to try much of anything.
    All I meant is that if you've ever seen one of the near weekly discussions on the topic of clipless vs flats you would know that no matter the intent of the topic they always devolve into exactly what you've seen here. People pulling threads off topic presenting opinions as facts then others spiraling out of control while they try to set what is and is not accurate. It's a problem throughout a lot of the beginner's forum, really.

    There's a lot of things you can do to cope with being in an uncomfortable situation as it pertains to mountain biking. Obviously, picking a pedal you are comfortable with is one of those things. As a road cyclist, I would venture to guess your saddle is up high in an efficient position for pedaling; may I suggest lowering it as you learn? Most of us off road riders are pretty used to constantly changing saddle height depending on the terrain we are riding or expecting. The prevalence of dropper seatposts is testament to that. But as someone just getting comfortable, I would suggest playing with your saddle height. Drop it down 2" and go for a ride. It'll probably feel awful when you're climbing but for flat and downhill terrain it will be an eye opener. Then play with it, maybe an inch down is good for now, maybe 1.5" inches. Maybe there's a tricky section (a rock garden or a steep hill) where you would want to slam that thing to the top tube; well go for it. Eventually you might get into the habit of adjusting your saddle at the tops and bottoms of hills. Around here we climb for several miles then descend for several miles so it's easy to put the saddle up for pedaling and down for downhills. I think the best thing we did for my wife's biking (she picked up mountain biking for the first time a few years back) was to get her a dropper seatpost. With that one upgrade, she can nearly instantly get the saddle down when a tricky spot pops up and still be able to ride up hill without having to get off and stop (which can be very frustrating). It's an expensive upgrade but it is a serious tool for all riders if they want to need to get the saddle down. I've been riding a long time so I'm used to bouncing the saddle off my chest as I hang off the back of the bike, but I will be purchasing the Thomson dropper post when they release it because it is an amazing tool for all riders.
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  14. #89
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    If you're using a proper pedal stroke, clipless pedals are extremely helpful if not mandatory if efficiency is what you're after. The proper pedal stroke consists of firing your legs using four different muscle groups in sequential timing similar to how a four cylinder engine works. You fire glutes from 2-5, hamstrings from 5-9, hip flexors from 9-11:30 and quads from 11:30 to 2. This is a very loose range of designations for how you should pedal and there is some overlap between the groups (the use of hip flexors to quads in the stroke may be blurred a bit).

    If you're doing more stunty type of riding, or working on skills such as a true bunny hop or other ways to get your rear wheel off the ground without pulling up on your heels, flat pedals are very helpful.

    They each have different qualities and neither one is better than the other. I don't think there's really a clear threshold. If I was going to do a century of singletrack, I'd definitely want clipless. When I'm simply doing technique practice/drills, flats are what I prefer... 95% of my riding is on clipless though and I think they add some confidence when bombing down hills. I have the pedals set to release pretty easily and can pup out of them extremely quickly.

  15. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpfitness View Post
    When I find a forum that has a working search feature, I will gladly use it.
    Every forum has a working search feature.

    Google.

    add "site:forums.mtbr.com" to the search box to restrict your search to MTBR.

    Although it doesn't hurt to also bump into stuff like the Bikejames and Grant Peterson articles.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  16. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    First off, stop comparing yourself to pro racers. If you had any idea what it takes to ride a bike at that level you would understand that what you do has nothing to do with what they do with the vague exception that they are also on a human powered machine rolling on two wheels. As soon as you spend every day with a cycling trainer with the goal of shaving thousandths off of a time then you can start pulling the "well the pros do it" card.



    I was trying to ask a legit question, why the need to be demeaning? I didn't compare myself to a pro (though I'm not sure how you know of my past career), however I have been friends with a few though and I definitely learned a thing or two from them. I already apologized for the thread drift and I was only asking because despite reading past threads on the subject I haven't really learned much because for some reason people get in a huff and throw out spiteful responses instead of actually contributing.

  17. #92
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    I started out on flats, like most beginners do. After a couple of years riding flats, it was recommended that I give clipless pedals a try because it would improve my efficiency and climbing ability. I did notice a difference in how much more power I felt on my pedal strokes and for some applications, it was great. After a couple of years on them, though, I found that I was not progressing the way I felt I should. Rather than use good technique on going over log piles or other obstacles, I was instead relying on the fact that my pedals, and hence my bike, were attached to my feet and I was basically pulling it along. But, then I had some hard falls going over things that I was just unable to unclip in time. It happens. I had a lot of experience unclipping. I've written about this on other threads. Sometimes things just "happen". Clipless pedals need to be properly maintained in order to make sure the spring is working properly. Cleats wear out and make it more difficult to unclip. I grew frustrated with the fact that I was becoming less confident despite gaining more experience.

    Last summer I enrolled in a clinic. I decided to put flats back on. And this time, when learning about unweighting the bike to go over things, I was using the right technique to do it, instead of dragging my bike with me. And believe me, it was hard at first! It felt like I had developed a lot of "bad" habits along the way. There are definitely different techniques employed when using flat pedals. However, my confidence increased tremendously. Just knowing I could put a foot down easily was huge. Look at all of the trails riders out there and what they can do - without their feet clipped in. It's technique. Now, if you're doing a lot of cross-country riding that doesn't get into much techy stuff, and you feel comfortable with them, go for it! I'm not saying one type of pedal is more "right" than the other. Do what is "right" for you! I still use clipless pedals on my singlespeed 29er xc bike. Fine. But my other bikes all now sport flats and I couldn't be happier. I try a lot more and my confidence has increased. I get people who tell me I should really try clipless. I tell them, I have, I prefer flats. Nothing "wrong" with that. I can still climb. I can do any of the things they can with their clipless pedals.

    If you are happier and more confident on flats - ride them! After all, it's all about fun, and getting out there and riding...right?

  18. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtdan View Post
    If you're using a proper pedal stroke, clipless pedals are extremely helpful if not mandatory if efficiency is what you're after. The proper pedal stroke consists of firing your legs using four different muscle groups in sequential timing similar to how a four cylinder engine works. You fire glutes from 2-5, hamstrings from 5-9, hip flexors from 9-11:30 and quads from 11:30 to 2. This is a very loose range of designations for how you should pedal and there is some overlap between the groups (the use of hip flexors to quads in the stroke may be blurred a bit).

    If you're doing more stunty type of riding, or working on skills such as a true bunny hop or other ways to get your rear wheel off the ground without pulling up on your heels, flat pedals are very helpful.

    They each have different qualities and neither one is better than the other. I don't think there's really a clear threshold. If I was going to do a century of singletrack, I'd definitely want clipless. When I'm simply doing technique practice/drills, flats are what I prefer... 95% of my riding is on clipless though and I think they add some confidence when bombing down hills. I have the pedals set to release pretty easily and can pup out of them extremely quickly.
    See, this is exactly what I'm talking about. Have you actually done any reading on the research which has been done on cycling? While you have simplified the pedal stroke, I'm not going to argue that you have identified the major muscle groups in each segment pretty well I will point out there there is a lot more muscle overlap then you are implying. The upward stroke is not applying force to the pedal when you're pedaling properly, it is simply lifting the weight of the leg and foot. This means that no matter what pedal you are using you are capable of pedaling with a proper cycling movement. The hip flexors are much weaker and much more easily injured than the much larger muscle groups which are meant for body weight bearing and movement. Using the hip flexors as they are intended is a much more efficient way of pedaling than attempting to pull upward on a pedal.

    The misunderstanding of the phrase "pedaling circles" is probably one of the most destructive forces in rec cycling. Pedaling circles does not mean applying equal force to the pedal in all positions, it simply means smoothing the stabbing motion most people ride with from the outset.

    Now like I said there are plenty of good reasons to ride clipless like for you, adding confidence to your riding. And I will concede that during a 100 mile ride, any level of improved efficiency will become noticeable and will be welcome; but for the rec riding weekend warrior there is not enough difference to supersede the need for people to be comfortable with their equipment above all else.

    Perhaps it's important to note that I'm not against clipless pedals, I'm simply against misinformation. I have clipless pedals on my singlespeed (which I am too weak to ride most of the time) and am generally comfortable riding them in any terrain. Maybe next I'll jump over and rain on a thread about why global warming is a myth because January has been colder than average!
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  19. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpfitness View Post
    I dont know why this efficiency discussion continues. If i want to be fast and efficient i would be on my road bike. Im trying to figure out what will serve me best on the technical stuff and tight twisty stuff. Where I ride we dont have this flowy fire roady stuff

    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2
    I would say it depends. If the technical stuff is so sketchy that you are scared to do it clipped in then use platforms. Once you feel comfortable, clipless works to help generate that little bit of extra power that might help you to clear more features.

  20. #95
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    See, this is exactly what I'm talking about. Have you actually done any reading on the research which has been done on cycling? While you have simplified the pedal stroke, I'm not going to argue that you have identified the major muscle groups in each segment pretty well I will point out there there is a lot more muscle overlap then you are implying. The upward stroke is not applying force to the pedal when you're pedaling properly, it is simply lifting the weight of the leg and foot. This means that no matter what pedal you are using you are capable of pedaling with a proper cycling movement. The hip flexors are much weaker and much more easily injured than the much larger muscle groups which are meant for body weight bearing and movement. Using the hip flexors as they are intended is a much more efficient way of pedaling than attempting to pull upward on a pedal.

    The misunderstanding of the phrase "pedaling circles" is probably one of the most destructive forces in rec cycling. Pedaling circles does not mean applying equal force to the pedal in all positions, it simply means smoothing the stabbing motion most people ride with from the outset.

    Now like I said there are plenty of good reasons to ride clipless like for you, adding confidence to your riding. And I will concede that during a 100 mile ride, any level of improved efficiency will become noticeable and will be welcome; but for the rec riding weekend warrior there is not enough difference to supersede the need for people to be comfortable with their equipment above all else.

    Perhaps it's important to note that I'm not against clipless pedals, I'm simply against misinformation. I have clipless pedals on my singlespeed (which I am too weak to ride most of the time) and am generally comfortable riding them in any terrain. Maybe next I'll jump over and rain on a thread about why global warming is a myth because January has been colder than average!
    I actually stated that my over simplification was in fact an over simplification. And yes, I've done reading, studied etc., but the best instruction I've received is from monster riders who sit on their bike tied in to a computer to analyze their efficiency and see that they have a near 100% efficient pedal stroke. I've seen my own pedaling efficiency increase greatly by isolating those muscles and working only on them. I work my hip flexors by doing single pedal strokes on my trainer where I actually do pull up to help get the pedal over the top to exaggerate the movement. On the bike outside, I agree that pedaling I'm not using any real force at this moment upward, it's the transition into the push from the quad at this point that gives sprinting speed, etc...
    While I agree it's not applicable to the weekend warrior, I still say it's accurate that clipless pedals are more efficient. I wouldn't call anything I've said as misinformation as you accuse, but you're of course entitled to your opinion.

  21. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtdan View Post
    If you're using a proper pedal stroke, clipless pedals are extremely helpful if not mandatory if efficiency is what you're after.

    If you're doing more stunty type of riding, or working on skills such as a true bunny hop or other ways to get your rear wheel off the ground without pulling up on your heels, flat pedals are very helpful.

    They each have different qualities and neither one is better than the other.



    This is almost exactly what I posted and I got railed for it. After reading yours though I think it would be more accurate to say that one is better for one type of riding and the other is better for other types, which is what I was trying to clarify. Depending on your goals there sometimes is an optimum choice.
    Last edited by J.B. Weld; 01-31-2013 at 11:57 AM.

  22. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post

    The misunderstanding of the phrase "pedaling circles" is probably one of the most destructive forces in rec cycling.

    Perhaps it's important to note that I'm not against clipless pedals, I'm simply against misinformation.

    Speaking of misinformation, "one of the most destructive forces in rec cycling" ? I mean I know it's not exactly accurate but I still think it can be a decent basic visual for a newbie, but I suppose since I've never picked up a book before it's probably common knowledge for most that it causes your knees to explode.

  23. #98
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    Here's some study I found, I wish I can find the one where the study shows the watts and difference on the 3 types of stroke/pedals. I'll do some more digging. I know it's there, I wish I had my iPad when I read that the first time, it would have been easy to just put it on my reading list

    Some reading, but basically the same clipless more efficient? Yes, but...you need proper technique to draw it out. Now ask yourself, are you that person.






    Bike and Body: Clipless versus platform pedals


    Effects of pedal type and pull-up action du... [Int J Sports Med. 2008] - PubMed - NCBI

    BetterRide Mountain Bike Skills Tips
    Flats vs. Clipless: Please prove me wrong & why I won
    Effect of pedaling technique on mechanical effectiveness and efficiency in cyclists. - Abstract - Europe PubMed Central

  24. #99
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    Thanks mimi, that's what I was looking for!

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    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

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