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  1. #1
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    New question here. Platforms or Clips

    Ive done alot of road riding with clip-ins and im still new but getting into mnt biking .. and was wondering what would be best for a starter..

    I am interested in doing trail riding atm, and when I purchased the bike, the guys at the store suggested to do platforms for awhile.

    What type of shoe are recommended for either or type Platforms/Clip-ins

    Any feedback is greatly appreciated thanks!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mest22 View Post
    Ive done alot of road riding with clip-ins and im still new but getting into mnt biking .. and was wondering what would be best for a starter..

    I am interested in doing trail riding atm, and when I purchased the bike, the guys at the store suggested to do platforms for awhile.
    If you're talking jumps/drops/etc. you might want to go platforms; but considering you're used to clipless, I'd stick with them. Unless you're just DH/freeriding, you're probably going to want to run clipless eventually anyways so you might as well start now.

    Quote Originally Posted by mest22 View Post
    What type of shoe are recommended for either or type Platforms/Clip-ins

    Any feedback is greatly appreciated thanks!
    It mostly depends on how much you want to spend.

    For clipless, my Sidi dominators have served me well. They're stiff; but comfortable, and they've last way longer than I would have expected. I've heard that they can be tight if you've got wider feet, though.

    For platform, fivetens are the sh*t, IMHO. I've got a three-year-old pair of impact high-tops that won't quit, even after heavy abuse and lots of trailwork. They're cushy for the drops, and the soles are super-sticky.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
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    As far as I'm concerned, if you can't bunny hop with platforms, you can't bunny hop. If your stock pedals are the awful plastic ones, either pedal will be a big improvement. I went clipless early on and then went back to flats for a while to tidy up my skills. I think that everyone can benefit from some time on both systems. It's up to you to figure out which order you want to do it in and how much you want to spend on the different systems - I just have $18 flats, still a lot better than stock, that I ride with running shoes when I'm doing that, while I've spent a lot more on my preferred system.

    If your road system is a SPD-compatible system, it doesn't have to cost you very much to try clipless on the MTB.

    I do think there's something to be said for spending a decent amount of time and developing some decent skill at some of the handling tricks before going to clipless. But at the end of the day, I don't think it's terribly important one way or the other.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    As far as I'm concerned, if you can't bunny hop with platforms, you can't bunny hop. If your stock pedals are the awful plastic ones, either pedal will be a big improvement. I went clipless early on and then went back to flats for a while to tidy up my skills. I think that everyone can benefit from some time on both systems. It's up to you to figure out which order you want to do it in and how much you want to spend on the different systems - I just have $18 flats, still a lot better than stock, that I ride with running shoes when I'm doing that, while I've spent a lot more on my preferred system.

    If your road system is a SPD-compatible system, it doesn't have to cost you very much to try clipless on the MTB.

    I do think there's something to be said for spending a decent amount of time and developing some decent skill at some of the handling tricks before going to clipless. But at the end of the day, I don't think it's terribly important one way or the other.

    So your saying going with clip-ins in the beginning is better off ? vs flats ?

    Edit: read that wrong lol .. so going flat first is what your saying

  5. #5
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    LOL, sorry. Yeah - the tl;dr version is go with flats first. Just don't spend an arm on a leg on them if they're not where you see yourself in a year.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    LOL I figured thats what you meant, my bike came with some pretty decent wide flats, they should do until I find something I like .. now gotta get a pair of fivetens, and other gear, and finding trails lol

    thank you again for your time

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    Check these skills videos. Once you learn the low heels technique for riding flats any good trailrunner or skate shoe will be very sticky.
    Straight Lines with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    And this one for cornering-
    .Cornering with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    Practice the slaloming technique on paved flat areas then on paved hills and then on grass hills with braking thrown in at the end. A bit more of a learn curve than the low heels technique.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    Check these skills videos. Once you learn the low heels technique for riding flats any good trailrunner or skate shoe will be very sticky.
    Straight Lines with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    And this one for cornering-
    .Cornering with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    Practice the slaloming technique on paved flat areas then on paved hills and then on grass hills with braking thrown in at the end. A bit more of a learn curve than the low heels technique.
    Awesome thanks! Still trying to put together some gear n I will be good to go next season, cause gets cold out here in NY don't think much riding going on.

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  9. #9
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    Its personal preference. There are different schools of thought and both have their good points. I've ridden both and currently run flats mostly on my bikes. Do what makes you comfortable.

    Comfort and fit is key for shoes. As far as flats go, if the pegs on the pedals are good any good skate shoe will be sticky enough. I wear 5.10's but I have a pair of etnies that really lock on so good that it's hard to shift my foot around on the pedal.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mest22 View Post
    Awesome thanks! Still trying to put together some gear n I will be good to go next season, cause gets cold out here in NY don't think much riding going on.
    It's the same in MI but the trail can still be very ridable on regular tires if dry or frozen. Dress right and no problem, it's too warm for snowmobiles. Take it easy at first.

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    Thanks a lot for all the advise if money,gear,time permit I might get out sooner than later...

    Especially the NY weather lately feels like spring lol

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    to avoid future confusion, this is a pedal with "clips"


    this is a platform pedal


    this is a "clipless" pedal (it's clip-less because it does not have a toe clip to attach your foot to the pedal.)

  13. #13
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    Mack-

    Thanks for that !

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    You'd probably be fine due to your familiarity with clipless but I would suggest that anyone new to off road biking should start on platforms.

    As far as most people are concerned, the pedals that come with a bike are disposable and are attached only because the bike needs something on it for people to test ride in parking lots. Look for a pedal with removable pins for traction; there are so many options out there but it's hard to go wrong if you stick with that single buying point.

    As far as shoes go, anything with a flat sole will do. A skate shoe can be found in the discount section of nearly any chain footwear store and provide adequate grip with a decent pedal. If you want to get crazy, buy a cycling specific platform pedal shoe like the 5.10 Impact or similar.

    It has been my experience that spending money on a good pedal is more worthwhile than spending money on shoes. A good pedal will grip with most any shoe while a poor pedal may have traction issues even with the best shoes. I am riding Straitline pedals with 5.10 Impact shoes and the grip is insane. The Straitlines had great grip even with a pair of cheap DC skate shoes though; it's all about the pedal.

    If you choose clipless, I'd stick with SPD for a while. You get adjustable tension and you can run the very beginner friendly "multi release" cleats. Shoes are something with a stiff sole that fits your feet very well. I would suggest getting assessed for insoles and staying away from the hiking boot or sandal style shoes.
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  15. #15
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    Thank you for the info

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  16. #16
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    I like both.. I started on these, went full out clipless, then actually came back to them.. allows me to do what ever, where ever, any time I want...



    nice and strong to so if you are in a rocky area and like me bash them pretty regular they will out last basic clipless...

    I would recommend starting the first few real rides on flats, as most RR's don't understand the whole body movement thing right off, I took my brother out a few times who's a road racer, he clipped right in but went over the bars and took a few other falls because he didn't learn the get out of the seat thing quick enough... all were minor but made worse because he was clipped in...

    dual sided is best of both worlds...
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    I would recommend starting with clipless first. The reason being is that you are going to start with beginner trails and the learning curve of clipless + beginner trails isnt too bad. Then move to flats after 6 months once you are doing more technical stuff and the clipless start holding you back (due to fear). Platforms are really helpful for learning things like wheelies, manuals and hucks which you need to do drops. Platforms will also force you to properly do bunny hops.

    Once you have the technical stuff conquered (mentally) move back to clipless to regain the efficiency.

    If you start with platforms on the easy stuff, then progress to challenging trails, when it comes time to switch to clipless it will be a much bigger gap because you have the full clipless learning curve on technical trails. You might need to drop to less technical boring trails for months to safely make the transition.

    If you start with clipless on the easy trails, you get the clipless learning curve out of the way while you are being challneged by beginner trails.

  18. #18
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    If you looking to ride Platforms for a little while, look at a cheap set of Primos, little heavy but very large surface area, tough and cheap.

  19. #19
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    With Clipless, a lot of the system is in the shoe.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by thomllama View Post
    I like both.. I started on these, went full out clipless, then actually came back to them.. allows me to do what ever, where ever, any time I want...



    nice and strong to so if you are in a rocky area and like me bash them pretty regular they will out last basic clipless...

    dual sided is best of both worlds...
    I got these on my bike atm. Almost never use the platform side, but I can if and when I want too and it's nice to have both options. I can get my foot off the pedal easier on the clipless side though due to the screws on the platform side (makes me have to lift up my foot first) compared to just swinging my heel out.
    I was gonna remove the screws, but they work geat in the snow, so I left them in. I dread the day when my leg runs down those screws though lol!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bataivah View Post
    I got these on my bike atm. Almost never use the platform side, but I can if and when I want too and it's nice to have both options. I can get my foot off the pedal easier on the clipless side though due to the screws on the platform side (makes me have to lift up my foot first) compared to just swinging my heel out.
    I was gonna remove the screws, but they work geat in the snow, so I left them in. I dread the day when my leg runs down those screws though lol!
    ya, and they are so friggin cheap... and just work great... easy to rebuild if bearings get gunky... just all round nice pedals for general use.
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  22. #22
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    Yea, with clips on both sides it's easy to smash the side your not useing on rocks also. They're not the lightest but so heavy duty you cant beat them. I got 2 years on mine and the spindals are'nt even broke in yet. I was going to use them till I got used to clipless, then switch to my dual sided clipless
    ultra-lights and never have used the ultra-lights yet. They do clog with ice and snow in the winter but
    in snow and ice I use the platform side so it's no problem.

  23. #23
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    Start with flats. The reason is that on the trails you want to worry about the terrain, not getting stuck in the pedals. Sure you know how clip less work, but you want to have the confidence to get out fast and not fall over. This confidence is a key for mtb riding.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodmojo View Post
    I would recommend starting with clipless first. The reason being is that you are going to start with beginner trails and the learning curve of clipless + beginner trails isnt too bad. Then move to flats after 6 months once you are doing more technical stuff and the clipless start holding you back (due to fear). Platforms are really helpful for learning things like wheelies, manuals and hucks which you need to do drops. Platforms will also force you to properly do bunny hops.

    Once you have the technical stuff conquered (mentally) move back to clipless to regain the efficiency.

    If you start with platforms on the easy stuff, then progress to challenging trails, when it comes time to switch to clipless it will be a much bigger gap because you have the full clipless learning curve on technical trails. You might need to drop to less technical boring trails for months to safely make the transition.

    If you start with clipless on the easy trails, you get the clipless learning curve out of the way while you are being challneged by beginner trails.
    I agree with everything here, except I think if a rider started on clipless he would build his skill over the 6 months and they wouldn't hold him back, but who knows. Very good post.
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  25. #25
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    This really depends on your technical ability. If you are very comfortable on a bike starting on clipless wouldn't be a problem at all, especially since you're use to them. You just have to make sure your bike is in the correct gear so you don't spin out and don't attempt to conquer a really hard trail. Ride around some parks, going over curbs, and finding other obstacles and try a beginner trail. If I were in your shoes, I would go clipless, but if you go platforms it is no big deal. There is extra safety that way because you can just hop off your bike anytime you're not comfortable or if you have to toss the bike.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

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    I appreciate everyone's info here thank you.

    A part of me feels I should go platforms due to I'm used to riding bmx bikes just puttin around town, the the other part of me is very used to clipless from cycling side.. but since I haven't done much trail riding or xc on the Mnt bike I guess trial and error need to come into play...


    Thanks again for all the info.

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  27. #27
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    I use these:

    They're sweet. The color selection is terrible (see: non existent), but I wanted to try out platforms and didn't want to spend a bunch. They were $40. I love them, and I don't have to clip in to ride on the canal or roads around here.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rod View Post
    I agree with everything here, except I think if a rider started on clipless he would build his skill over the 6 months and they wouldn't hold him back, but who knows. Very good post.
    Here's my argument for using flat pedals, at least for a while, at least at some point in one's development as a rider. Or rather, here's my "bla bla bla me" illustrative story.

    I don't know if there were good flats available for MTB when I started, back in 2000. Probably, it's not like it was the dark ages or something, but I hadn't run into them and my MTB friend was all "clipless" this and "clipless" that. Anyway, platforms with toe clips, while a less sucky pedal than platforms designed to be used with toe clips but with the clips omitted, are a pretty crappy pedal for MTB. All the things people freak out about with clipless pedals? Actually a lot worse with that setup. So I went to clipless pedals fairly early in my development as a rider.

    It's really easy to do what I amuse myself calling a "cheater hop" with clipless pedals. Jump straight up in the air, pull your feet up. The bike comes up. Some. The thing about pulling up on the pedals to generate more power, while still bogus and inefficient, is at least possible with clipless pedals. So I learned a cheater hop and rode my bike a lot.

    Fast forward a couple of years. I've put down MTB and picked it up again. I've started racing. I've recognized that while my bike handling abilities might play fine when I'm on my own or with other rec. riders, contrary to popular belief, XC racers actually handle bikes pretty well. So I put flats back on my bike and learned to loft my front end better and then to bunny hop from there, without having to pull up on the pedals. It turns out it's more fluid, it's faster - no preload - and it costs less energy. I'm not sure how many other ways I can say "better," but the only thing that's worse about it is that it did take me a little time and application to learn.

    I don't regret going clipless early. Like I said, I don't know if I really had a viable choice (although probably) and I made the best decision I could with what I knew at the time, and it's not like I lost the confidence of all those hours of riding. When I learned to bunny hop better, manual better, pedal-up better, etc., that was all stuff I could integrate into my existing riding.

    If I could travel back in time to my earlier self, though, I guess I'd do a few things. Take that earlier self some non-sucky platforms and tell him to learn to use them before switching to clipless. Fit that earlier self to my road bike better, give him some fancy insoles, and tell him to back off on the volume increase that messed up our knees. And tell him that getting back together with the girl he'll be seeing when he decides to pick up MTB again is stupid. Go out with her for six months or however long it lasted the first time, and then stay away.
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  29. #29
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    Clipless

    They help position your foot better for more efficient peddling.

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    This isn't road biking. On a smooth surface small changes add up to increase your output. Efficiency moves down the priority list as the terrain becomes more rocky and rooty. Once you pickup the skill of keeping your heels low on your pedals clipless isn't a benefit to staying on the bike on bumpy trails and jumps. It is great to be able to get off fast when safety is a concern. It is useful to get your foot down in some curves for stability or for a quick recovery move. Develop the low heels riding skill and you will not change from platforms as your skills progress. your pedals will be gone as an issue.

  31. #31
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    For those wanting to hit harder and more technical terrain, I truly think clipless pedals are a detriment. Even with multirelease clips I found myself worried about getting "stuck". I will still use them for the flat XC rides around here but not for the techincal ones. Flats make you a better rider all around IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoban View Post
    For those wanting to hit harder and more technical terrain, I truly think clipless pedals are a detriment. Even with multirelease clips I found myself worried about getting "stuck". I will still use them for the flat XC rides around here but not for the techincal ones. Flats make you a better rider all around IMO.
    I agree with this. I started with clipless but they started to hold me back when I started to do more technical trails. I switched to platforms which let me hit the tough stuff. Im switching back to clipless because the efficiency is definitely better. Also there are some climbs that having that little extra bit of power means clearing vs. not clearing - or at least giving you more margin for error.

    Im only 6 months in and run clipless on trails im familiar with, but will ride platforms if it is a new and very technical trail.
    Last edited by goodmojo; 12-11-2012 at 11:00 AM.

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    I'm a roadie and clipless is the only way to go...on the road! My first few tries on a mountain bike, I would have certainly tipped over a time or two. I was on platforms thankfully. I certainly agree that had I been clipless I would have been able to power through those tough sections of climbing, but there were a few times that no amount of force would have brought me over those humps. Going less than 5 mph at times I'm not so sure I could have had the awareness to pop out in time before possibly tipping over. I'm a great road biker but its nothing like mountain biking.

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    Build some real skills on the flats and then move to clipless if so compelled. I went straight to clipless on my first MTB stint 8yrs ago.Returning now still a beginner i opted for flats...You will be a better rounded rider for it IMHO
    Good flats (I ride HT AE01's) and shoes (510's or tevas) make all the difference.

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    Platform pedals..they look cooler. The clipless pedals look kinda of scary to be putting your foot near it.

  36. #36
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    Two sets of pedals was the best solution for me.
    Let's make like a Bike and get the Huck outta here...

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoban View Post
    For those wanting to hit harder and more technical terrain, I truly think clipless pedals are a detriment. Even with multirelease clips I found myself worried about getting "stuck". I will still use them for the flat XC rides around here but not for the techincal ones. Flats make you a better rider all around IMO.
    Ok, I've bit my tounge long enough. There is a lot of hyperbole and misinformed opinion (Hoban, not just your post so try not to stress about it) being disguised as actual information here. There's also a lot of one sided opinion being thrown around as fact. As someone who has been riding both types of pedals let me assure two things:

    1. If you can ride a bike, you can ride it in any terrain with any pedal.
    2. Pedaling efficiency (at the scale of us rec riders, you're not a pro level sponsored athlete so don't bring them up as examples) does not change depending on what pedal you choose as long as you know how to pedal properly.

    Those are myths, get them out of your head. I can ride DH with my clipless (and have) and can ride XC with my flats on my 7" travel bike (I do regularly).

    Now for my clipless vs flats notes:
    1. Beginners should always ride [good] flats.
    2. Intermediate riders should try clipless and ride whatever they like best. You should also switch back and forth occasionally so you don't get stagnant in your skills.
    3. Experts will ride whatever they want because they know better than to bicker about which one is the absolute best.
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    Zeb,

    Well said thank you!

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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    1. If you can ride a bike, you can ride it in any terrain with any pedal.
    2. Pedaling efficiency (at the scale of us rec riders, you're not a pro level sponsored athlete so don't bring them up as examples) does not change depending on what pedal you choose as long as you know how to pedal properly.
    Was going to +rep you and leave it at that, but MTBR seems to have figured out who I usually +rep.
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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Ok, I've bit my tounge long enough. There is a lot of hyperbole and misinformed opinion (Hoban, not just your post so try not to stress about it) being disguised as actual information here. There's also a lot of one sided opinion being thrown around as fact. As someone who has been riding both types of pedals let me assure two things:

    1. If you can ride a bike, you can ride it in any terrain with any pedal.
    2. Pedaling efficiency (at the scale of us rec riders, you're not a pro level sponsored athlete so don't bring them up as examples) does not change depending on what pedal you choose as long as you know how to pedal properly.
    .
    1) maybe theoretically you can, but psychologically *I* have an easier time with flats on technical terrain that Im not sure about.

    2) That caveat is the whole point.. You could restate it as "pedaling efficiency is the same as long as you know how to have the same pedaling efficiency". It is much easier for me to generate more power with clipless because I can use both legs simultaneously. I spread out the load to different muscles which reduces the fatigue on my quads. I personally feel a pretty big difference in energy expenditure on climbs. If this means I dont know how to pedal on flats - I can buy that.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Was going to +rep you and leave it at that, but MTBR seems to have figured out who I usually +rep.
    Yeah, I get that message a lot. For example: on your posts.

    Quote Originally Posted by goodmojo View Post
    1) maybe theoretically you can, but psychologically *I* have an easier time with flats on technical terrain that Im not sure about.

    2) That caveat is the whole point.. You could restate it as "pedaling efficiency is the same as long as you know how to have the same pedaling efficiency". It is much easier for me to generate more power with clipless because I can use both legs simultaneously. I spread out the load to different muscles which reduces the fatigue on my quads. I personally feel a pretty big difference in energy expenditure on climbs. If this means I dont know how to pedal on flats - I can buy that.
    Everyone is going to have their own personal experiences and that's absolutely fine. Remember that many beginners or recently graduated beginners post in this forum along side people with many years of experience; this means that some items may start to look like consensus when in reality it's just the bulk of responses someone is getting due to the nature of the beginner forum which is that there are a lot of beginners.

    I do, actually, have an easier time in technical terrain on flats. I've been riding flats almost exclusively for the past 3 years and prior to that I spent around 10 years on clipless. I can ride anything on either pedal, I am just far more comfortable mentally on flats when the going gets tough. Which is why I always suggest that beginners ride flat pedals: get comfortable with handling a bike then you can mix in some crazy device that keeps you attached to the bike for some reason.

    I'm not sure that your caveat is appropriate. The assumption is always that flat pedals are less efficient but that is not accurate, well at least not accurate at the levels of non-pro riding. The perceived lack of efficiency comes from misunderstanding of proper pedaling stroke and the perception that somehow the mechanical attachment of foot to pedal is somehow much stronger in power transfer. Proper pedaling technique is a wild and debated topic of which there is a lot of information out there. The synopsis is that pulling up on the pedals is not an efficient use of muscle. The mechanical attachment benefit is also overstated, you will gain some efficiency in stiffness and flex reduction, but not enough to make a fuss over.

    One of the great things that you learn when riding clipless pedals is smoothing out your pedal stroke (not pulling up on the pedals, don't make me start another rant!) and getting a nice strong pedal stroke on all terrain. When someone says that they can't ride efficiently on flats it says to me that they haven't quite worked out all the kinks in their pedal stroke. In the end, a pedal stroke is literally just moving power from legs to a crank. A mechanical attachment isn't required to pedal a bike but it can make it easier for a lot of people for one reason or another. Pedaling on flats means that you learn to create angles in your feet so you can draw your pedal through the bottom of the stroke and mimic what you would do on clipless; it's all technique and anyone can do it so long as they know it's something you can do. Same as learning to bunny hop on flats, you can't just pull up on the pedals like you would with clipless pedals. You have to learn to pull against the flats so that you can draw the bike up with you (you also have to learn how to jump properly and that it's not just a two wheel straight up motion, but that's yet another story).

    There's a lot of ways to ride a bike and they're all better than not riding a bike. Trying clipless should be encouraged for intermediate riders just like all riders who have been riding for a while should be encouraged to ride flats now and again. My original point was simply that if someone thinks they can't do something on one pedal or another then it's their skill deficiency rather than a deficiency of the equipment. Doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you, it just means you have something new to work on if you wanted.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  42. #42
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    That was just too long to read lol

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    Rode clipless for the first time today... I was tentative on the down hills but it was all fine. On the up hills it was a big advantage. Not very good at a full circle pedal yet but it was good to pull every once and a while to give my legs a break.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rightguard View Post
    Rode clipless for the first time today... I was tentative on the down hills but it was all fine. On the up hills it was a big advantage. Not very good at a full circle pedal yet but it was good to pull every once and a while to give my legs a break.
    Yup. Once you get used to them you'll see the all round advantage of them. They will force you to be a better rider over time. My first time or 2 I did a few Benny Hills if you know what those are.

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    depends on the riding your doing but id prefer platforms, a lot of racers will use clips to get a stringer pedal stroke..

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    Thanks for posting pictures.

    this is a helpful thread for me too..

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    Soooo how often do we see a new platforms vs clips thread?

    I have been riding flats ever since I started mountain biking (2 years), and im about to ride clip-less for the first time tomorrow morning. I took a couple laps around my neighborhood this evening with the clip-less pedals. A couple things I noticed:

    1. They are way too easy to "un-clip" so I do not see how this could discourage anyone.

    2. It takes ZERO form to bunny hop. Which is cool for me, bunny hopping is not my strong suit.

  49. #49
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    How was your ride?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bataivah View Post
    That was just too long to read lol

    It's a shame b/c it was one of the most informative posts in this thread. There are a lot of long posts on these forums that I don't read either.

    In my experience though, Zebraham and Andrew's (among others) are two that I always take the time to read through. Their delivery and attention to detail are second to none.

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