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. #1
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    Single track clipless tip-overs

    What am I doing wrong???

    I ride a lot of asphalt and double-track - no problems. Occasionally, I get onto some hilly single-track/trails and always end up with a tip over because I can't get out of pedals quickly enough. It's always the really slow climb section when momentum drops to zero for some reason - rear wheel spin due to rocks/shale, front washes due to sand, can't quite get over the rock obstacle, etc... Yesterday my forearm landed in a cactus and I'm still digging out the thorns. Makes me mad!!

    I've started thinking that I need to switch to platform pedals when the plan is for this type of single-track - at least until I am "really good" and no longer have a need to ever put my feet down. Is that what you guys do or am I just too slow at getting out of the pedals???

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    If you are using Shimano SPD pedals, consider getting the multiple-release SH-56 cleats. They really work for me much better than the SH-51 single-release cleats.

  3. #3
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    Ask yourself: why am I riding clipless pedals?

    If your answer is "I'm racing a lot and I want to be as fast as possible", then cary on.

    If your answer is anything else, then consider switching. The benefits of clipless pedals are grossly overstated especially for beginners.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Ask yourself: why am I riding clipless pedals?

    If your answer is "I'm racing a lot and I want to be as fast as possible", then cary on.

    If your answer is anything else, then consider switching. The benefits of clipless pedals are grossly overstated especially for beginners.
    100% agree clipless pedals=racing, nothing else...

  5. #5
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    I disagree about the clipless being racing only. I have them and do not race, also would be considered a beginner mountain biker.... I bought them the first time I was on a rocky rooty downhill section and my foot slipped off the pedal, and down i went... Got clipless, haven't had that problem yet... I would just ride around a little and practice getting your feet in and out of those pedals in a hurry...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDNM View Post
    What am I doing wrong???

    I ride a lot of asphalt and double-track - no problems. Occasionally, I get onto some hilly single-track/trails and always end up with a tip over because I can't get out of pedals quickly enough. It's always the really slow climb section when momentum drops to zero for some reason - rear wheel spin due to rocks/shale, front washes due to sand, can't quite get over the rock obstacle, etc... Yesterday my forearm landed in a cactus and I'm still digging out the thorns. Makes me mad!!

    I've started thinking that I need to switch to platform pedals when the plan is for this type of single-track - at least until I am "really good" and no longer have a need to ever put my feet down. Is that what you guys do or am I just too slow at getting out of the pedals???

    Thanks!
    These same sections youre putting a foot down with clipless.. have you ridden those same sections with platforms and been able to complete them without putting your foot down.

    If youre still at the point youre putting your foot down on sections, my opinion is you shouldnt be riding clipless yet.

  7. #7
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    Platforms are not free from problems as JH above related. Many beginners have a foot slip or pop off when in rocks or roots and are freaked into clipless.
    The real solution is technique development of the low heels riding position on the pedals. You also need the proper height and thickness of pins on your pedals to match with the shoes you want to wear. Trailrunners take short thin pins or fatter pins. 5.10s that longer pins.
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  8. #8
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    I am driving myself crazy with the amount of thought I,m putting into this, is its time for me to try CLIPLESS ? Been riding mountain bikes for three years and always pic people's brains about tips and or thoughts about ways to improve or evolve into a better rider and almost all say that's its time to get away from the flats. I feel I miss out on some power when going up steep climbs that now I fall short on getting to the top of. I also here them say I will become "one w the bike" being clipped in. Easier hopping over logs being able to lift my bike with my legs attached ? Better balance? Makes sense to me. I don't mind taking chances. One thing I cant help thinking of, is that it Seems like Its possible to snap a bone in half if I don't get my foot out. Help !!
    "do it in the dirt "

  9. #9
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    I have the same problem. I love them on my road only MTB, not so fond of them on my trail bike. I sometimes fall about half a dozen times per ride because of them. On fast singletrack I would like them, but I rarely do that kind of riding. Usually slower, technical stuff. Fear of falling has me a little afraid to try obstacles I'm not certain I can clear, since when I'm falling over it's usually into a thorn bush or rock garden..

    I haven't been out in the woods yet this season, but before I do I'm switching back platforms. I've never ridden them before (at least since my little kid BMX days), before I went clipless it was clips & straps - I never had a problem with those. But clipless has been hard on me, maybe I just have poor balance. It's a tough learning curve offroad with them - I literally have the scars to prove it.

    I'm looking into getting a CX bike soon, and the SPD's from my trail bike will be going on it.

  10. #10
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    Single track clipless tip-overs

    I like riding clip less a lot better than platform pedals. I smashed my shin one to many times from my BMX days, so I jumped at the chance to switch to clip less. Do they make pedals with adjustable retention? That helped me immensely. I cut my teeth on a set of Onza pedals in the mid 90s that had adjustable retention via different stiffness rubber inserts. As I got more used to it, I increased the stiffness. Don't get me wrong, I had my fair share of tip overs in slow technical terrain, but eventually got used to it. The one thing that helped me a lot is to practice rotating your foot out at a 45 degree angle when you aren't in panic mode, about to fall. It will eventually become second nature.


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  11. #11
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    Single track clipless tip-overs

    Quote Originally Posted by StuntmanMike View Post
    I have the same problem. I love them on my road only MTB, not so fond of them on my trail bike. I sometimes fall about half a dozen times per ride because of them. On fast singletrack I would like them, but I rarely do that kind of riding. Usually slower, technical stuff. Fear of falling has me a little afraid to try obstacles I'm not certain I can clear, since when I'm falling over it's usually into a thorn bush or rock garden..

    I haven't been out in the woods yet this season, but before I do I'm switching back platforms. I've never ridden them before (at least since my little kid BMX days), before I went clipless it was clips & straps - I never had a problem with those. But clipless has been hard on me, maybe I just have poor balance. It's a tough learning curve offroad with them - I literally have the scars to prove it.

    I'm looking into getting a CX bike soon, and the SPD's from my trail bike will be going on it.
    I'm the same way, I like slow, technical trail features. Don't take offense to this: it sounds like you ought to work on your balance and track stand skills. Either that or reconsider your pedal/cleat options as mentioned above.

  12. #12
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    No offense taken, you're absolutely right. All the other guys I ride with are on clipless, and they do fine.

    Of course my HT 26'er gets stopped by things that their FS 29'ers just walk over, lol.

    I used to be really good at technical stuff, but up until this past Aug I was out of MTB for about 12 years.

  13. #13
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    Practice track stands in your lawn while clipped in. Try to stay up as long as possible and then catch yourself at the last second. This will get you faster at un-clipping and improve your low speed balance for those techy spots.

  14. #14
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    It drives me insane when every thread like this ends up with "hey, just toughen up".

    Why should a beginner with problems crashing on trail stick with the exact, easily changed, thing that is causing said problems? What possible reason is there except for avoiding spending money? Avoiding spending money isn't a terrible reason to stick with the clipless and the multi-release cleats; of course, it's not a good reason, but it's not terrible.

    There is no reason to ride clipless pedals, there is nothing you can do on clipless pedals that you can not do on flats. It is well beyond time that the unreasonable fixation on needing clipless pedals is put to rest.

    Ride clipless if you want. Ride flats if you want. It doesn't make you less or more of a rider. Stop this forced guilt that everyone needs to ride clipless pedals because someone told you that you need to do it. It is absolute crap to suggest that there is a natural progression which requires a mechanical attachment of feet to bike.

    There is nothing wrong with being uncomfortable with your feet attached to the bike especially if you are a beginner. There is no reason to tell someone to toughen up and risk additional crashes in this case. Let people get comfortable on the bike and make their own decisions.
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  15. #15
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    I can do decent track stands on flat ground, what trips me up is if my front sprocket gets hung up on a big rock or log and I stop suddenly while in an offbalance state. My movement pretty much just carries me right over while still attached to the bike. Once I start tipping over in either direction, I find it just about impossble to get my foot unclipped in time to catch myself.

    That happens quite a bit actually, I really want to convert my front triple to a double.

    Or another situation is a rough, rocky, steep, rooted climb. I was almost to the top, when I spun out on a wet root and the bike shot out sideways under me and I went down like a ton of bricks while still clipped in.

    Or one time, and this is a total noob mistake, I came to a complete stop in a clearing at the end of the trail and just forgot I was clipped in. I teetered for a moment, then fell over. Of course I landed on the only rock in the whole clearing. The guys I was riding with got a kick out of that one.

    I actually practiced in the yard with them for quite a while before getting on the trail with them, but there are just so many wierd situations on the trail to make it that simple.

  16. #16
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    What kind of pedals do you have? Do they have any adjustments? Loosen them up all the way maybe spray a little lube. Get on your bick and lean on something for balance then practice in/out in/out over and over until your confident. Now practice balancing your bike and clip in and out again. There is no secrfet really just practice until its second nature. You'll get it

  17. #17
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    If you can't get your foot unclipped fast enough to catch yourself (same as you would with platforms) then either your pedal tension is set too high or you haven't trained yourself to unclip properly. There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to get a foot down when you need to as quickly as you can when using platform pedals. (Of course there are situations when you will not be fast enough for either type of pedal.) If your tension is set light enough then even fairly uncoordinated foot motions (as in panic induced) that aren't directly up or down will result in unclipping.

    I find clipless pedals much less forgiving on steep hill starts or very technical starts when I wish I could focus on the bike rather than getting my second foot clipped in.

  18. #18
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    I will un-clip a foot to prepare for a nasty spot, sometimes both feet... after a few rides I did the same areas clipped in. My pedals have small platforms that help when un-clipped.



    Quote Originally Posted by JDNM View Post
    What am I doing wrong???

    I ride a lot of asphalt and double-track - no problems. Occasionally, I get onto some hilly single-track/trails and always end up with a tip over because I can't get out of pedals quickly enough. It's always the really slow climb section when momentum drops to zero for some reason - rear wheel spin due to rocks/shale, front washes due to sand, can't quite get over the rock obstacle, etc... Yesterday my forearm landed in a cactus and I'm still digging out the thorns. Makes me mad!!

    I've started thinking that I need to switch to platform pedals when the plan is for this type of single-track - at least until I am "really good" and no longer have a need to ever put my feet down. Is that what you guys do or am I just too slow at getting out of the pedals???

    Thanks!

  19. #19
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    @JDNM,

    I tried clipless for a year or so and found that it wasn't for me so I switched to five tens and flat pedals (especially because I was trying to ride a slippery downhill race track on my hardtail). The climbs during trail rides were better clipped-in but I wasn't in a hurry to get to the top anyway, I would just sit and spin away while enjoying the scenery. You don't have to ride clipped-in if it just results in a miserable riding experience for you. If you want to stick with clipless start with low pedal tension as suggested above, multi-release cleats help but sometimes they can disengage when you jump.

  20. #20
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    Single track clipless tip-overs

    Zebrahum, fact is, clipless pedals have a learning curve and require practice. Platform pedals also have a learning curve and require practice to ride them most effectively.

    And for a new rider, you need to work on the skills and strength to avoid stalling on steeps and anticipate the need to dab a foot. This is part of the learning curve of clipless that platforms don't have. But platforms have aspects of their learning curve that aren't a consideration for clipless, like how to stay attached to the pedal for the full crank rotation.

    If you are having issues with either one, you need to suck it up and practice your technique. You can throw money at the problem to switch pedal systems and riding shoes but unless you are already highly proficient at them you are not going to fix the problem that way.

    The way I think people need to think of it is that if you want to learn to ride with a particular pedal system, especially as a new rider, then you should go all in with that system. Commit to putting the time in to learn it. If you want to learn and use both, then you have to commit to that, also.

    Yeah, it might mean you will start on a trainer, leaning against a wall, or riding around your backyard for awhile until you get the basics. I went through that progression. Now I ride techy stuff clipped in.

    I consider myself proficient with clipless pedals. I do not race and I don't feel like they are unnecessary. They complement the way I ride. I started using them when the only people using flats had toe cages or power straps. I have been thinking about platforms for awhile. I haven't put them on my mtb because I am not sure I am willing to commit to learning.

    There seems to be a lot of regionalization for pedal use that seems to mirror the types of riding that folks tend to do where they live. Platforms are more popular in areas where folks do more gravity riding. Clipless are more popular in areas where xc riding is more popular. I am in an xc location. Not a lot of folks riding platforms here. Some do, but on my local trails, you will rarely see high end platforms and 5.10's.

  21. #21
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    Clipless pedals allow you to pull back through the bottom of the stroke while pushing down with the other. If you feel no need to do that, ride flats. If you feel a need to do that, ride clipless. If you're stressing over it, you're better off on flats. It's not worth losing sleep over it.
    Last edited by MSU Alum; 04-08-2013 at 09:17 AM.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    Zebrahum, fact is, clipless pedals have a learning curve and require practice. Platform pedals also have a learning curve and require practice to ride them most effectively.

    And for a new rider, you need to work on the skills and strength to avoid stalling on steeps and anticipate the need to dab a foot. This is part of the learning curve of clipless that platforms don't have. But platforms have aspects of their learning curve that aren't a consideration for clipless, like how to stay attached to the pedal for the full crank rotation.

    If you are having issues with either one, you need to suck it up and practice your technique. You can throw money at the problem to switch pedal systems and riding shoes but unless you are already highly proficient at them you are not going to fix the problem that way.

    The way I think people need to think of it is that if you want to learn to ride with a particular pedal system, especially as a new rider, then you should go all in with that system. Commit to putting the time in to learn it. If you want to learn and use both, then you have to commit to that, also.

    Yeah, it might mean you will start on a trainer, leaning against a wall, or riding around your backyard for awhile until you get the basics. I went through that progression. Now I ride techy stuff clipped in.

    I consider myself proficient with clipless pedals. I do not race and I don't feel like they are unnecessary. They complement the way I ride. I started using them when the only people using flats had toe cages or power straps. I have been thinking about platforms for awhile. I haven't put them on my mtb because I am not sure I am willing to commit to learning.

    There seems to be a lot of regionalization for pedal use that seems to mirror the types of riding that folks tend to do where they live. Platforms are more popular in areas where folks do more gravity riding. Clipless are more popular in areas where xc riding is more popular. I am in an xc location. Not a lot of folks riding platforms here. Some do, but on my local trails, you will rarely see high end platforms and 5.10's.
    I have a fundamental problem with your explanation, it assumes that clipless pedals are the "correct" way to ride a bike. That is absolutely not true. Yes, it is true that flat pedals have a learning curve; I would argue however that the learning curve is less steep and very much less dangerous. I've explained this many times over but here I go again, I suppose...

    Not terribly long ago, probably within the last 10 years for sure, the only perceived decent choices in pedals were toe-clip pedals, clipless, and bear trap. Bear traps where the platform pedal choice and they were simultaneously dangerous and not all that grippy leaving you with two options. So for anyone who wanted better performance then going clipless was the only option. This is no longer the case even though everyone holds on to the assumption that clipless is superior.

    PULLING UP ON PEDALS IS WRONG. Did that get your attention? If not, I'll happily type it again and again until it does. Proper cycling technique has nothing to do with pulling up against the pedals. Proper cycling technique involves lifting the mass of your leg to aid the upward return of the crank arm so it can be pressed downward again. You should not be applying force to the upward side of the pedaling stroke because your body is not designed to do that and it will lead to stress injuries. The muscles in the leg are designed for walking and jumping, not for weight bearing closing of the hip flexors. This means, that even with clipless pedals or toe-clip pedals or flat pedals that ANYONE CAN PEDAL A BIKE EFFICIENTLY AND PROPERLY REGARDLESS OF PEDAL CHOICE.

    Do you see what you all made me do? My damn caps lock button had to be employed. I hope you're all happy!

    I can't blame anyone for this defense of clipless, it's not like there's anything wrong with them. Bike shops and magazines are still stuck in the loop of pushing clipless because that's what they've been doing for decades. Clipless can be fun, efficient, and mask skill deficiencies... what's not to like? They also can help teach you a smoother pedal stroke, and when you're sweating blood trying to crest that last steep climb on your single speed, you can employ the emergency "pull" stroke to get you over the top of the hill. But don't ever fool yourself into thinking that you're doing something better or more right than those people riding flat pedals because you aren't. The only people who run their mouths about how much better clipless pedals are than flats are the people who don't know enough to know better.

    This is the damn beginner's forum, people; get your heads out of your asses and think about what you're trying to tell people. "Oh it's ok that you fall a whole bunch because your feet won't come off the pedals, just keep getting hurt because you need to ride these pedals because someone told me I need to ride these pedals." Are you kidding me?

    Why is is unacceptable for someone to ride flat pedals?
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  23. #23
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    Zebrahum, calm down man. I agree that nobody should be pressured into riding clipless most of all beginners. I found that with some practice I could pedal efficiently on flat pedals as well.

  24. #24
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    Everyone has their own opinions on this, obviously. I don't race but I ride clipless, always have and by chance that goes back to my BMX racing days in the late 90's when all of a sudden all the fastest kids in my age/class went clipless and I basically had to in order to remain competitive and among the fastest. Not sure if that was mental or what but it sure didn't seem so at the time or looking back now.

    Anyways, I just like being connected with my bike; climbing or descending I feel they are beneficial for my style of riding. My feet are always in the correct position and I don't have bloody shins after every ride. Have to agree with Zebra's thoughts on pulling with clipless -- it is a bad habit to get into, for sure. And it is very beneficial to learn how to bunny hop etc on flats.

    OP -- if you like riding clipless everywhere but those slow ST climbs I'd say just keep working at it and eventually you will get there. Everyone falls a bunch when getting the hang of it. And hell, you can always go to flats.
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  25. #25
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    I think it's not a matter of which type of pedal is right or wrong but a matter of which one is right or wrong for you. But if a clipless rider has problems unclipping in time to avoid falling over then I don't think that the rider has given clipless enough time to decide whether it is better or worse than platform. That doesn't mean that if you are brand-new to biking or mountain-biking that starting off clipless is appropriate -- I am assuming basic biking skills are present.
    Two questions to the platform advocates: Does you riding technique involve moving a foot off the pedal during normal controlled riding -- either flagging a foot or dragging it on the ground? How do you lift/hop your rear wheel over an unavoidable obstacle if your feet aren't attached to the pedals -- can that be done with platform pedals?

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