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. #151
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    You can only make an informed decision if you've used both. It's amazing the amount of people who talk like they know what they're talking about but have only ever ridden flats.

  2. #152
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    I'll just leave this here:

    bikejames xxx/strength/the-flat-pedal-revolution-manifesto-how-to-improve-your-riding-with-flat-pedals/]The Flat Pedal Revolution Manifesto: How to Improve Your Riding With Flat Pedals | Mountain Bike Training Programs


    cant post links so the x's are . calm of course

  3. #153
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    bikejames got beat up by a pair of clipless pedals when he was a kid.

  4. #154
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    Flats are fun. Clipless are fun. Going fast is fun. Jumping is fun. Riding bikes is fun. To each his own. I ride both, but prefer clipless because I said so.

  5. #155
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    Yeah, that's one guy's opinion. I've read most of that, and it's really just many of the most common theories you see bounced around stated as fact. He is just one more person that feels that since something worked better for him, it must be that way for everyone. There is nothing new or insightful in that article.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  6. #156
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    I've done and liked both. Am doing the Barn Burner 104 in Flagstaff this year, and decided that some SPD shoes and pedals (AM45 shoes and PD-M647 pedals) are the way to go for something that long.

    I like that I can ride those pedals with those shoes and not be clipped in if it's sketchy or I am trying to get back on the bike uphill etc...

  7. #157
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hogdog View Post
    You can only make an informed decision if you've used both. It's amazing the amount of people who talk like they know what they're talking about but have only ever ridden flats.
    im surprised after reading threads on MTBR the amount of people who have never tried flats! not saying they are posting on this thread (shame if they are). i would always recommend a beginner start with flats.

  8. #158
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    Surely everyone learned to ride a bike on flats?

  9. #159
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hogdog View Post
    You can only make an informed decision if you've used both. It's amazing the amount of people who talk like they know what they're talking about but have only ever ridden flats.

    This is the problem I have with Mr. Bjames, he preaches the virtues of flat pedals as if it were gospel yet it seems he has never really given clipless a go. I have read some of his stuff and a lot of what he advocates is solid, time proven (though not revolutionary) advice but he just can't seem to let go of his anger towards clipless pedals. In one sentence he'll say he has nothing against them and in the next he will infer that they are pure evil.

  10. #160
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    Both bikejames and Rivendell make exceptions for racing cyclists; Rivendell says something about "racer-like." I think the bikejames observation, something you can see in people's posts (especially the more rabid clipless advocates!) is that many mountain bikers never learn to manipulate their bikes very well because they can pull up on their clipless pedals, and never learn to pedal that well because clipless pedals will guide a rider's foot in a circle, whether his technique is good or not.

    I think a lot of people go to clipless pedals too early, regardless of which system they end up on most of the time long-term. Certainly I did. I'm sure I've said this on other page - this thread is going to monster lengths - but I'm not sure if the big, pinned, concave-surfaced flat pedals that people who ride them on purpose choose were even available when I was in college, and learning to ride mountain bikes. So it was caged pedals that aren't that stable, caged pedals with toe clips, or clipless. Not very hard to make a blanket statement like "clipless are better" with that as a basis for comparison.

    My attitude is that it's to everyone's benefit to learn both, and at that point, I don't need to tell them (nor do I presume to be able to predict) what to choose.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  11. #161
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post

    My attitude is that it's to everyone's benefit to learn both, and at that point, I don't need to tell them (nor do I presume to be able to predict) what to choose.
    That's kind of how I feel. Being Very new to all this and having used cages on a road bike when I wasnt quite old enough to drive... then clipless on a road bike, I just assumed clipless was the way to go. But as I'm learning about the actual skill necessary to maneuver a bike around a trail, I want to build those skills on platforms first.

    As a Very newbie example... doing a bunny hop is something I want to master, and it has to be SO much easier with your feet attached to the pedals, but the challenge of figuring it out on my own is attractive to me.


    as a point to the article I posted- the thing that stuck out the most to me was the data related to pedaling, esp in re to "pedaling in a circle"... I posted the article for that very reason, as several people made reference to that idea in their posts.

  12. #162
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post

    I think a lot of people go to clipless pedals too early, regardless of which system they end up on most of the time long-term. Certainly I did. I'm sure I've said this on other page - this thread is going to monster lengths - but I'm not sure if the big, pinned, concave-surfaced flat pedals that people who ride them on purpose choose were even available when I was in college, and learning to ride mountain bikes. So it was caged pedals that aren't that stable, caged pedals with toe clips, or clipless. Not very hard to make a blanket statement like "clipless are better" with that as a basis for comparison.
    This is a good point. When I was learning I had the cheapest, crappiest pair of flat pedals ever. They were horrible. I also rode in tennis shoes. Naturally the switch to clipless (while painful for a couple of rides) was like night and day to what I started with. It hurt trying to figure it out at first yeah...but compared to the crap I was riding on before it was a 100 times better. If I had known of really good flat pedals and better shoes I might have tried that first.

  13. #163
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I think the bikejames observation, something you can see in people's posts (especially the more rabid clipless advocates!) is that many mountain bikers never learn to manipulate their bikes very well because they can pull up on their clipless pedals, and never learn to pedal that well because clipless pedals will guide a rider's foot in a circle, whether his technique is good or not.
    I never really understood this viewpoint (not yours, AndrwSwitch, but the one you're talking about). Both pedal systems offer unique possibilities for manipulating your bike, and there's nothing wrong with giving a quick pull up on clipless pedals to clear small obstacles or move the back of the bike around. It's almost like some folks believe that your development as a mountain biker will forever be stunted because clipless pedals let you "cheat." Whether I'm on flats on a trials bike, or clipless on the trail, I'll use whatever options are available with each pedal system.

  14. #164
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthonyk View Post
    I never really understood this viewpoint (not yours, AndrwSwitch, but the one you're talking about). Both pedal systems offer unique possibilities for manipulating your bike, and there's nothing wrong with giving a quick pull up on clipless pedals to clear small obstacles or move the back of the bike around. It's almost like some folks believe that your development as a mountain biker will forever be stunted because clipless pedals let you "cheat." Whether I'm on flats on a trials bike, or clipless on the trail, I'll use whatever options are available with each pedal system.
    LOL. It's my viewpoint too.

    I went from toe clips to clipless back when I was in college. I did all sorts of things with pulling up on the pedals. I also preloaded my suspension. I could negotiate trails okay, but I was relying on a lot of upper body strength and leg muscles that aren't the Prime Movers.

    When I started racing, one of the things I noticed really fast was that the fast guys flow over everything in their path with very little apparent effort or energy expenditure. I had to notice it fast because they weren't doing it near me anymore after the first lap... So I thought about how I was negotiating the same obstacles, did some reading, and resolved to learn to bunny hop, manual and wheelie, on flat pedals.

    I feel like I drive things much more from my core and legs now. I do prefer clipless pedals and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I do things better on clipless pedals - I do still cheat, some, and I don't need to put a lot of effort into staying attached to the bike, which I prefer.

    Similar to drilling cadence and then letting selected cadence fall where it may, I'm comfortable with drilling on the correct way to do a lot of these skills and then doing them how I do them. I feel I've seen a big improvement. I feel I work a lot less hard at handling my bike. As a side benefit, I don't have to do nearly as much to prepare for an obstacle, so I don't lose as much speed in technical sections, especially on trails I don't know.

    If you ride trials, I imagine you already do all of this stuff a lot better than me. And, I imagine that whatever "cheating" you self-select on clipless is just spending less effort, rather than practicing a slow and inefficient way to do things. So like I said earlier - I'm not that interested in which pedals you choose, I'm just advocating on both.

    I also don't think that having learned on clipless first has stunted my development (or would stunt someone else's) in particular. After all, I was able to just go back and practice on flats for a while. And, I think I came into that period with a lot more comfort and confidence on my bike - I don't think that what I learned before bolting on the flats was useless or counterproductive. At least, not mostly. (So I guess I don't think people can be forever stunted by anything they do on a bike, unless it's breaking a vertebra or something.)

    One might compare a clipless-dependent technique to a skiing technique requiring pivoting and skidding, vs. one that's all about edge control and carving. Pivoting and skidding can both be good tools for a strong skier, but they're a terrible thing to base one's technique on.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  15. #165
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeveW8 View Post
    That's kind of how I feel. Being Very new to all this and having used cages on a road bike when I wasnt quite old enough to drive... then clipless on a road bike, I just assumed clipless was the way to go. But as I'm learning about the actual skill necessary to maneuver a bike around a trail, I want to build those skills on platforms first.
    You and me both, brother. I went clipless first (and defied common sense in more ways than I'm yet prepared to share here), and one broken wrist/surgery/metal plate and screws/7 weeks off my bike later, I've got a pair of Azonics due to arrive today. (I'm back on the bike, btw, but sticking to stuff I'm capable of handling, nothing even *remotely* technical until I get those flats on. Once burned, twice shy, and all that.)

    It's experiences like this that make me appreciate just how much his mountain biking background likely contributed to someone like Peter Sagan's mad handling skills.

  16. #166
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    to new riders take a look at trials riders. They are doing amazing feats, climbing boulders etc all on flats.

    Flats definitely are used by advanced riders. I personally am more interestednin trials type riding over racing so practice a lot with flats.

  17. #167
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodmojo View Post
    to new riders take a look at trials riders. They are doing amazing feats, climbing boulders etc all on flats.

    Flats definitely are used by advanced riders. I personally am more interestednin trials type riding over racing so practice a lot with flats.
    I'll chime in from a noob's point of view..well I use to ride 15+yrs ago..then was flats "beartraps" with toeclips loosely straped...now I start a-new era for me on pinned platforms that stick to my shoe... love it.
    I like sliding around corners and the ability to drag a foot if I want..or even ride to the market and pick up a 12er..I just like the freedom of the platform pedel...any pair of shoes I own will work :-)
    Ride MORE = Live Longer
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  18. #168
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    LOL. It's my viewpoint too.
    Ha, touché. I see what you're saying, and I'm probably just caught up with my objection to the term "cheating." It makes it sound like pulling up on the pedals isn't part of proper mountain biking technique. It's a really useful skill to have, but like you said, it shouldn't be the only thing you know how to do. All riders (new and experienced) ought to commit to learning good techniques, whatever pedals they're riding. Flats are a good tool to help, but aren't critical. (Much like riding rigid can help you learn to flow over obstacles, but you can learn that fully suspended, too.)

  19. #169
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthonyk View Post
    Ha, touché. I see what you're saying, and I'm probably just caught up with my objection to the term "cheating." It makes it sound like pulling up on the pedals isn't part of proper mountain biking technique.
    I agree.

    If clipless is "cheating" then so are gears, suspension forks, dropper posts, tubeless tires, handlebars, etc. For whatever reason a lot of people are extremely opinionated and righteous on this issue but really they are just another tool that some riders choose to use to their advantage. Riding a bike with suspension is a lot different than riding a ridged frame and it requires a different riding style to take full advantage of it, yet I never seem to hear anyone saying that it is "cheating" or that it creates "bad habits".


    For most of my adult life I have ridden with clips and straps and then clipless pedals until feet issues forced me onto flats about 7 or 8 years ago. It was different, and I felt I didn't have quite the same power on the hills as I did with clipless but I experienced none of the dreaded "bad habits" that I've been warned about here. Even with crappy plastic pedals that had no pins and a ridged frame and fork my feet stayed firmly planted on the very rough and rocky AZ. trails on my 1st ride with them, and I didn't seem to need to un-learn any of the "bad habits" I'd developed from riding clipless. If anything I would say that clipless can help form good habits.

  20. #170
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    Actually, I think people also form bad habits riding with gears and suspension.

    I still use them. I like being able to choose my gear ratio and and there's a certain point where I just can't be loose enough to absorb all the rattling.

    But I think we've all seen people who insist on shifting for every little grade reversal, and people who sit their bikes like corpses and plow into everything.

    Just as it's instructive for those of us on clipless to get some practice time on flats, I think that it's instructive for people to get some practice time off-road without suspension, without gears, and even on skinny little racing slicks. Not all at once, probably. I think a lot of people would be surprised at what they can still do on a rigid, singlespeed, or road bike, and I think it's also good for an appreciation of how much bigger the handling envelope is on a mountain bike, and how much more stable and forgiving mountain bikes are. Taking away some equipment capability can also point out spots where one is overly reliant on the equipment, and maybe point out some spots where one is even doing something self-defeating.

    tl;dr - ride more, different, maybe even inappropriate bikes off-road, get to be a faster, smoother mountain biker.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  21. #171
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Actually, I think people also form bad habits riding with gears and suspension.

    I still use them. I like being able to choose my gear ratio and and there's a certain point where I just can't be loose enough to absorb all the rattling.

    But I think we've all seen people who insist on shifting for every little grade reversal, and people who sit their bikes like corpses and plow into everything.

    Just as it's instructive for those of us on clipless to get some practice time on flats, I think that it's instructive for people to get some practice time off-road without suspension, without gears, and even on skinny little racing slicks. Not all at once, probably. I think a lot of people would be surprised at what they can still do on a rigid, singlespeed, or road bike, and I think it's also good for an appreciation of how much bigger the handling envelope is on a mountain bike, and how much more stable and forgiving mountain bikes are. Taking away some equipment capability can also point out spots where one is overly reliant on the equipment, and maybe point out some spots where one is even doing something self-defeating.

    tl;dr - ride more, different, maybe even inappropriate bikes off-road, get to be a faster, smoother mountain biker.
    I coudn't agree more with you... I have friends have who give me crap for riding singlespeed, and I have friends who try and convince me FS is the only way to go. I actually met these guys at the top of a descent, both had 6" travel full suspension bikes, with me on my steel hardtail. When I saw them at the bottom 3-4 minutes after I got there they were like "dude are you rattled, how do you ride a hardtail that fast". I just said I'm working on picking the smoothest lines, rather than the suspension plowing over everything. For some reason they just shook their heads...

  22. #172
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    "Skillz, yo."

    "Everybody else is getting more travel. I'm just getting more rad."
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  23. #173
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Actually, I think people also form bad habits riding with gears and suspension.
    Agreed. I'm a cup half full kind of guy though and believe there are also lots of riders (beginners included) who strive to improve their technique and use gears and suspension to their advantage, which in turn can make them faster (if that's what they want) and enhance the ride experience.

    I'm not trying to be contrary, I agree with much of what you post and think you contribute a lot to this forum, your suggestion to ride inappropriate bikes sometimes to improve your form is a great example. I'm only trying to counterpoint the claim that things like pedals, suspension and gears will undoubtedly cause bad habits- or good ones.

  24. #174
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    Well, I like to think that I form efficiencies and not bad habits by riding bikes with a bit more tech to help me out. I did say right in the post that I use suspension and gears myself.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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