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. #26
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    Hi, all. Brand new rider here (as in I-bought-my-first-MTB-bike-two-days-ago kind of new). Anyway, I just bought new pedals for my bike that are the split clipless/platform design, and I'm wondering if this was a bad idea or not (I can always take them back).

    Anyway, my thought process was that, since I don't have the shoes yet (spent more on my bike than I intended), but would like better pedals, I would go 50/50 for now and eventually go full clipless once I progressed to that level.

    Is this doable or a mistake? Thanks in advance for the input!

  3. #28
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    Clorox - I'd recommend you return those and get a decent set of flats. Wellgo makes several (some of which are also boxed under other brand names) for under $40. IMO the split pedals are OK for around-town use but not MTB riding - they end up being more difficult to use than either flats or clipless, since you always have to hunt for the correct side of the pedal.
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  4. #29
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    Like others have mentioned, it isn't like "going clipless" is an irreversible decision. If you don't like it, switch back. Don't let anyone feel like you're a lesser rider because of it.

    I screwed around with clipless for about 5 years. Switched back, haven't hardly missed them at all. I would prefer clipless on a long XC'ish ride where I'm spinning for extended periods of time, but otherwise, I'm happier on good platforms. I do ride clipless on the road, and would probably put clipless pedals on an XC bike if I had one.

    I think too many people go clipless too early, fall too much or hurt themselves as a result, and get burned out on riding. The alleged benefits (marginal increase in power and efficiency) certainly don't outweigh falling, getting hurt, and not wanting to ride anymore, which seems to be happening to the OP.
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  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by burnedthetoast View Post
    Clorox - I'd recommend you return those and get a decent set of flats. Wellgo makes several (some of which are also boxed under other brand names) for under $40. IMO the split pedals are OK for around-town use but not MTB riding - they end up being more difficult to use than either flats or clipless, since you always have to hunt for the correct side of the pedal.
    Thanks for the input. I guess I'm a bit torn because this is my only bike currently and figured I'd use it for quick trips and getting around a bit too. But maybe I'll just end up keeping platforms on in general and switching to clipless before I hit the trails.

  6. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clorox View Post
    Hi, all. Brand new rider here (as in I-bought-my-first-MTB-bike-two-days-ago kind of new). Anyway, I just bought new pedals for my bike that are the split clipless/platform design, and I'm wondering if this was a bad idea or not (I can always take them back).

    Anyway, my thought process was that, since I don't have the shoes yet (spent more on my bike than I intended), but would like better pedals, I would go 50/50 for now and eventually go full clipless once I progressed to that level.

    Is this doable or a mistake? Thanks in advance for the input!
    Well I suspect that you actually have a dual sided clipless pedal with the "test ride" platforms installed. Which are little plastic platforms that actually attach to the clipless mechanism so you can take a bike out at your LBS for a spin. They are not meant for trail usage and will come off as soon as you start riding with them. They look like this (random external image, don't fail me now):



    If they are truly dual sided pedals then you can probably give them a try and make your own decision. I find them to make me furious because they are never the proper side up, but if I had them on a bike, I'd at least give it a try before I went and spent money. If you get serious about riding, ditch those for a decent set of either type of pedal. Pedals are easy enough to swap that it doesn't make sense that you should need to compromise on the most important part of your contact to the bike.

    As a beginner, I would suggest getting some good platfom pedals and put the clipless pedals in a drawer for now until you get more comfortable with riding. Once you can handle all the sections of your local trail with no problem then you can bring the clipless back out for a trial. Good platform pedals to get would have a metal body and pins for traction. The metal body will last much longer than (most) plastics and the pins provide much better traction than a molded in or stamped feature of the less expensive pedals. Also be aware of your shoe choice; running shoes are not idea and if you have a flat soled shoe it will grip much better on pinned pedals than a featured sole like a hiking boot or running shoe.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clorox View Post
    Thanks for the input. I guess I'm a bit torn because this is my only bike currently and figured I'd use it for quick trips and getting around a bit too. But maybe I'll just end up keeping platforms on in general and switching to clipless before I hit the trails.
    The problem with two sided pedals cleats and flats.....is one side is always a little heavier than the other so it is always ready to go....

    Normally the flat side will be up....so clipping in can be difficult...and that kinda makes getting gonning on a steep hill tough...

    So if you want flats and cleats then two pedal sets is better.

    Heck if you don't feel like changing just put on the other pair of shoes.

    I rode the little plastic flats for a couple of weeks then went cleated all the time.

  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    A bunch of useful info.
    Thanks for the tips. The pedals I had decided to give a shot are the Wellgo WPD M-17C's. (can't link due to post count)

    It's kind of sounding like they may not work out too well, but we'll see...

  9. #34
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    I started out on flats, tried clipless for about 5 months, then, for s***s & giggles tried flats again. I actually crashed the very first jump I did on my return to flats. I guess I just got used to cheating jumps with clips. IMO riding flats makes you a better rider, so flats I will stay.
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  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clorox View Post
    Thanks for the tips. The pedals I had decided to give a shot are the Wellgo WPD M-17C's. (can't link due to post count)

    It's kind of sounding like they may not work out too well, but we'll see...
    Oh man, those are the worst of both worlds (I don't mean to offend). The platform side is one of the worst types of pedals you can have and the dual sided function means that they are more difficult to use than either a dual clipless or standard platform. I would do your best to take them back if you can and swap them for a platform pedal. I'm not quite sure how much those cost but you should easily be able to find a Wellgo MG-1 or DMR V8 pedal for approximately the same price.
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  11. #36
    burnedthetoast
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clorox View Post
    Thanks for the tips. The pedals I had decided to give a shot are the Wellgo WPD M-17C's. (can't link due to post count)
    It says it right in the product name... TOURING pedal. Not MTB awesomeness pedal. You need MTB awesomeness pedals.
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  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by burnedthetoast View Post
    It says it right in the product name... TOURING pedal. Not MTB awesomeness pedal. You need MTB awesomeness pedals.
    Haha, I'll see what I can find with a product search. Yeah, I was curious about that, but when I was looking up reviews, I found a fair amount that said they use them for MTB. Well, live and learn I guess. Now I just need to figure out if I should go clipless and gain a few of the added benefits and efficiency, or platform and work on developing the right technique I suppose. I kind of wish I could skip the process of being such a noob at this.

  13. #38
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    Now I just need to figure out if I should go clipless and gain a few of the added benefits and efficiency, or platform and work on developing the right technique I suppose.
    If you don't know how to pedal/bike well in the first place, you won't gain much from clipless (except maybe scars in funny places). But I'm basically repeating what others have already said...
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  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clorox View Post
    Haha, I'll see what I can find with a product search. Yeah, I was curious about that, but when I was looking up reviews, I found a fair amount that said they use them for MTB. Well, live and learn I guess. Now I just need to figure out if I should go clipless and gain a few of the added benefits and efficiency, or platform and work on developing the right technique I suppose. I kind of wish I could skip the process of being such a noob at this.
    You got a bunch of people that like flats here....

    Cleats work just fine and you can become a much better rider with cleats as well...

    You will develop better trackstands and pedalling technique...you will learn how to commit to a climb....you will learn how to pull up and use much higher gearing to fly over hills etc...

    Choice is yours....both have pluses and minuses...

    Just last weekend I rode with two guys who have been on flats for years....both bailed early on climbs up short sections they could have easily made if they had learned to ride slower and more in control.....the just jumped off and waddled up the top....

    I was able to pull up more and get the torque to top out, I was also able to go slower almost trackstand to wait until they got out of the way...

    On the downhills we all cleaned it....

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    You got a bunch of people that like flats here....

    Cleats work just fine and you can become a much better rider with cleats as well...

    You will develop better trackstands and pedalling technique...you will learn how to commit to a climb....you will learn how to pull up and use much higher gearing to fly over hills etc...

    Choice is yours....both have pluses and minuses...

    Just last weekend I rode with two guys who have been on flats for years....both bailed early on climbs up short sections they could have easily made if they had learned to ride slower and more in control.....the just jumped off and waddled up the top....

    I was able to pull up more and get the torque to top out, I was also able to go slower almost trackstand to wait until they got out of the way...

    On the downhills we all cleaned it....
    Don't confuse technique with equipment. Proper pedaling technique can be achieved using any type of pedal. Pulling up is an inefficient method of pedaling and not considered to be proper pedaling technique. It can get you out of a jam and provide a burst when you need one, but as far as efficient pedaling goes pulling up is not an efficient movement. It's been shown since studies with (I believe) the 7-11 team in the 70s that pulling up is an inefficient movement and pulling on the pedals is a misnomer when people talk about pedaling movements. What they really mean is that you lift the weight of your leg on the upstroke, not pull against the pedal which can be done no matter what pedal you use.
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  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Don't confuse technique with equipment.I didn't Proper pedaling technique can be achieved using any type of pedal.Not all styles can be acheieved with flats Pulling up is an inefficient method of pedaling and not considered to be proper pedaling technique.Oh yes it is It can get you out of a jam and provide a burst when you need one, but as far as efficient pedaling goes pulling up is not an efficient movement. It's been shown since studies with (I believe) the 7-11 team in the 70s that pulling up is an inefficient movement and pulling on the pedals is a misnomer when people talk about pedaling movements. What they really mean is that you lift the weight of your leg on the upstroke, not pull against the pedal which can be done no matter what pedal you use.
    Well I pull up and it works very well....it gets you over the top of lots of things fast and efficiently...

    Out on the flat run pulling up does work (the extent that you pull up can be over done)....the best technique is to imagine your knees flashing up.....

    You know you have it right when the bike smooths out......and yes if you are sensitive you can feel a ridgid bike bouncing if you don't pedal in circles....

    The above techniques are not achievable to any extent with flats....

    The above techniques provide extra power.....so why do pro XC riders ride exclusively cleats....

    And downhillers exclusively flats.....hmmmm pedal power???? ease of bailing at the top of a jump gone wrong.....

    Probably.

  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    Well I pull up and it works very well....it gets you over the top of lots of things fast and efficiently...

    Out on the flat run pulling up does work (the extent that you pull up can be over done)....the best technique is to imagine your knees flashing up.....

    You know you have it right when the bike smooths out......and yes if you are sensitive you can feel a ridgid bike bouncing if you don't pedal in circles....

    The above techniques are not achievable to any extent with flats....

    The above techniques provide extra power.....so why do pro XC riders ride exclusively cleats....

    And downhillers exclusively flats.....hmmmm pedal power???? ease of bailing at the top of a jump gone wrong.....

    Probably.
    Ok, time for you to do some research:

    Perfect Pedaling Technique [BIKE/SPLIT]
    Which muscles are really used during the pedal stroke? | Mountain Bike Training Programs
    The science behind Barefoot Pedaling | Mountain Bike Training Programs

    This subject has been under research for decades and the conclusion is always the same; pulling up is not an efficient pedaling movement which means that to reach optimal pedaling efficiency you can use any pedal that you wish. It is easier to learn to spin the pedals using clipless pedals but it doesn't mean that it's the only way to achieve spin.

    And as I mentioned, pulling up is a useful tool to have when you need that extra boost; there are a lot of hills I couldn't have climbed on my SS without pulling on the pedals. If you read the studies though, you will find that the extra power generated in the pulling pedal stroke expends much more energy than a push stroke meaning that if you are pulling the pedals you are less efficient than you could be.

    Your response was absolutely in line with all people who haven't done any research on the topic and who haven't spent any time lately on flats; "why don't XC racers use flats then?". I think the most important thing you should be asking is "why do I compare myself to XC racers?". When you go shopping for a high end clipless shoe, what do you shop for? Any idea? Maybe I'll help because I have high end clipless shoes for this very reason; you shop for the stiffest soled shoe. The answer to the question as to why XC racers use clipless and not flats is based around the fact that in a pro XC race the difference between winning and loosing is often in the tenths of percentage points of energy expenditure. A tiny difference in stiffness of soles translates directly into power transfer. So combine the small spindle lengths, stiff metal bodies and light weight of pedals, incredibly stiff shoe soles and you get why XC racers choose clipless; those absolutely minuscule efficiency differences. If there truly was some magical massive efficiency gain then I assure you we wouldn't be having these discussions. I'm sure they also want to be able to provide the pull stroke kick when needed (like when you're totally thrashed at the top of a climb but you see that one place in front of you, time to dig out every trick in the book).

    You can use the word "technique" all you want, but it doesn't indicate efficiency and it doesn't indicate good technique. You could call driving your car with the brake pedal half depressed at all times a technique but it doesn't make it a good way to drive a car and it doesn't indicate efficiency. For too long people have been misled into thinking that clipless is the only way and that flat pedals are somehow inferior. Now, more than ever, flat pedals are sticky and strong and shoes are sticky and stiff (not light). The gap is closing and there is a good reason why more people are going back to flats than ever before.

    Stop badgering people with misinformation and half-truths. Clipless and flats both have benefits and both have every right to be in every person's arsenal. To suggest that one is inferior to another is misleading and unfair. Some people will always like one better than the other and that's the way it should be. I just think it's time that people stop getting browbeaten into thinking that if they're not riding clipless they're somehow less of a rider. I will admit that I've been one of those "must clipless" people in the past, but that was when your choices were bear traps (holy shin death, Batman), clipless, or toe-clips. The obvious winner there was clipless; today the lines have blurred.

    Beginners should always ride (good) flats.
    Intermediate riders should give both a try.
    Experts don't care what you think because they've already chosen and probably know people killing it on both types of pedals.
    Toe clip pedals suck.
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  18. #43
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    I have had great luck with super cheap Well-go platforms and cheap skate board shoes. I was using the stock pedals on my Rush with tennis shoes and I hated it. I was slipping off all the time. Now with the cheap BMX style pedals and skate board shoes I rarely slip off.

    I may get some Wellgo MG-1s and a set of Teva or 5.10 biking shoes. There have been a few occasions where I wish I was clipped in, but many more where I was glad I wasn't.

  19. #44
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    Just to balance it out a little some of the best riders I see at my local trails are riding flats these days. It's mainly b/c there is a free ride area now and they just simply don't want to change shoes ( I am guessing here).

    Trust me there aren't any hill that these guys aren't bailing on any short hils lol. One of them did the 4 mile loop in 16 minutes and trust me that is flat out flying on this particular trail.

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    I'm fairly new to mountain biking in general, but went clipless early because I found some really good deals. I don't regret it but I've noticed I'm more scared to commit to really technical sections in fear of falling over, but I'm sure with seat time that will all change.

  21. #46
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    It's a good issue to discuss. Personally, I think everyone should have both if you are only on one type you would not know what's the hype is about. I agree with Zebrahum about the shoes stiffness and especially SS. When you are grinding up the hill with big gear doing 30rpm you'd need all the help you can get Also I wish I switch or add flat pedals sooner.

    Many newbies view clipless as "the right of passage" it can be a big deal to them but really for most of us who's been using the clipless for a while it's not a big deal we get used to them pretty quickly and it become second nature, we may get our heart rate up when we first encounter the gnarly section but once you cleaned it, it's no big deal. So there's no issue there.

    Efficiency? Hmmmm!! It's hard to tell especially for the avg riders the difference between clipless and flat. The correct pedaling stroke takes lots of practice and you gotta to do it right all the time for it to stick. One of my buddies is very OCD about the pedaling stroke and practice it all the time. It's a pretty hard work to correctly work your muscle in order to gain a few extra watts. Many of us don't have that kind of mentality, and we do get sloppy sometime, oh yeah we do.

    Next time you are climbing the tech climb try to unclip and see how much your shoes came off the pedal it's not supposed to be cause the scraping motion is not lifting/pulling, I know it's PITA but like I mentioned earlier serious riders and racers can squeeze extra power out of the pedaling. For an avg clipless user a flat would help with the pedaling a whole lot, smoother power delivery and more awareness of a good pedaling stroke. There's no hiding with flats if you have flaw it would show.

    One thing that clipless function better than flats is the fact that you don't have to think about your feet on the pedal and keeping the pedal going round, it does that automatically. You can also choose to be light or heavy on the pedal, can't do that with flats.

    Most riders go thru this phrase must do clipless, must upgrade, and must have lighter parts, but once you've "been there and done that" you'd start using the right tool for the right job. One of my favorite thing to do when we do group ride with newbies is when some would suggest to me to go clipless and how far superior it is over flat pedals, yeah

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    What about those of you have have more technical AM trails? I can totally see the benefit on smooth, dirt trails, but on rocky and technical trails I get nervous at the though of being clipped in. See my pic to the left, I think that would have been worse clipped in...but I have been wrong before . =)

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    It's not the pedals you need to be confident and chose better lines is what it sounds like. Keep at it and you will find yourself wondering why you didn't switch to clipless sooner.

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    Kind of surprised seeing this come back up, but yes since I started the thread clipless has grown on me quit a bit. I don't fall much any more and I'm still gaining confidence with it.

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    I started on BMX in the 80s so I'm used to flats. Got into MTBing in 2001 and got clipless because that's what I was supposed to do. Rode those until this year when I got an all mountain style bike and it came with flats. I forgot how good I ws on flats and only have them on my hardtail now. I love me some flats.

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