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  1. #1
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    Flats or Clipless Pedals?

    Do anyone have a strong opinions about using flats, Wellgo MG1s, instead of SPDs for a 7 day hut to hut from Telluride to Moab?

    I'm leaning towards wearing flats for comfort and so i can save space and bring only bring one pair of shoes.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by mappable View Post
    Do anyone have a strong opinions about using flats, Wellgo MG1s, instead of SPDs for a 7 day hut to hut from Telluride to Moab?

    I'm leaning towards wearing flats for comfort and so i can save space and bring only bring one pair of shoes.
    I was about to lament the fact that their are wayyyy too many of these threads thinking it was a beginner asking which was better for general riding. Good thing I read before I posted

    I have no experience in 7 day rides, but I would imagine flats would be the way to go. Space/weight/packing all would be reduced and regular shoes would be more comfortable over the span of a week. (IMO)

  3. #3
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    Flat tend to make me less racer boy for whatever reason. Something to consider I'd you have trouble pacing yourself for the epics.

  4. #4
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    Considering a 7 days trip myself... Asking myself the same question...

  5. #5
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    FWIW, I'm getting ready to do 7 days or so on the Ozark Trail (MO) in October. I'll be using flats for all the reasons tangaroo mentioned - one less thing to haul, better for hike-a-biking, less fiddly, etc. Still haven't decided between a pair of low-rise light hikers or my Keen sandals. Both work well.

    IMHO the pedaling efficiency of flats vs clipless is minimal - nowhere near enough to make the difference between finishing strong & bonking.

  6. #6
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    I've been riding clipless pedals for 10.5 years and honestly feel a bit naked with flats... don't get me wrong they are great for riding the cruiser with flip flops on the way to the bar, but for any kind of even halfway serious riding I choose clipless. I like to wear some insulated Crocs or house slippers around camp, they don't weigh much (less than 3/4's of a pound) and they squish down flat in your bag/pack.

    Just sayin'
    Last edited by Hellcat405; 08-21-2012 at 07:16 AM. Reason: they don't way much!?!??! FIXED IT!

  7. #7
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    My personal preference is clipless. There are lots of clipless shoes that are great for hiking and walking around camp, so two pairs of shoes aren't really necessary. Check out the Pearl Izumi X-Alps series, or some of the Shimano mountain-bike touring shoes.

  8. #8
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    I'd consider more comfortable clipless shoes for the walking sections if they were available in wide sizes.

    I've only been able to find sidi mega dominators that are wide enough to wear comfortably. They suck to walk in though with the hard plastic soles on the sidi's.

  9. #9
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    I have been riding/racing multi day with both for years, and I like flats better mainly for hikeabike. But each rider should also consider their riding background as well. I rode both ways for years before bikepacking, developing good technical skills in both.

    Also, pedal thickness plays a big role in flat pedal choice. The thinner, new nylon pedals absolutely rule over thicker versions like the Wellgo MG-1. Closer to the axle means much more efficiency. Here is my pedal choice the the recent CTR:

    Amazon.com: Black-Ops Nylo-Pro Pedals - 9/16", Black: Sports & Outdoors

    They are great pedals. The bearings are smooth and the pedals dont spin but sit in place (nice for tricks at the dj's). They are still money after 500 miles of abuse. No painful metal to ankle hits whilst hikeabiking either. Rocks just seem to take shavings off these pedals, not hunks of metal like alloy versions.

    To the OP- your choice of pedals will suit you fine if you dont want to shell out another 40 bucks. Thick alloy pedals still work great- Jefe Branham won the 2010 AZT 300 on Shimano DX's, the thickest pedal ever.

  10. #10
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    Flats for me...

    ...but then I ride everything with flats, including Motos... LOL

  11. #11
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    I ride flats 99% of the time and never want to go back to my clipped in days.

    Having said that I wouldn't make a switch right before a multi-day trip. I'd ride what you normally ride at home. If you normally clip in I'd stick with that or start the transition on shorter trips close to home so you can see how you like riding flats.
    Safe riding,

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  12. #12
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    I've gotten so used to clipless I couldn't imagine riding without them. I'd go clipless and bring along a pair of Sanuk Sidewalk Surfers. The Sanuks are light and roll up small.

  13. #13
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    I don't know if I'd be happy peddling that long without clip less peddles, but I need a lot of ankle support when hiking.

    If I were going on that long of a trek with one pair of shoes I'd go with one of these two:

    Mavic Alpine XL
    Shimano MT-91

    I have not owned either, but they are the pair I see recommended time after time through dozens of similar MTBR threads.

    e.g.
    Burliest SPD compatible shoes, 3/4 height?

  14. #14
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    divide on flats and keen saddles this summer, i dig em, seems less hard on the knees as well.

    just my .02
    Read my BLOG!

    just a guy who loves bikes and exploring

  15. #15
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    For those that ride flats, what types of shoes do y'all normally wear?

  16. #16
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    For me, bikepacking is about exploration. Both on the bike and off. I'm usually not in much of a hurry when bikepacking. Although I wouldn't think of going for a trail ride in flats, when I'm bikepacking that is what I bring. I'm not an endurance racer so losing a little efficiency is not a big deal. The trade off is the ability to go explore a ridge or canyon whenever you feel like it. Granted there are clip in shoes out there that are decent for hike-a-bike but the reality is, if you are clipped in you tend to just keep riding if you happen to see something cool to explore. Whereas if you have a pair of sticky approach shoes on flats and you see a cool area to check out, you will do it. Ever since I was a little kid my habit has been to get to a camp, drop the pack, kayak, truck, whatever and go exploring. I like to do the same thing bikepacking. So for me, having a good pair of shoes for cruising supersedes the more efficient and connected feel of clipless pedals and shoes. That said, there are times when I would bring clipless on a bikepacking trip. If I had a lot of miles to cover, or road time etc. As usual it's not black and white, It's all about bringing the right tool, at the right time, for the right job.

  17. #17
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    I'd wear flats for this trip. Clipless shoes will offer little advantage for your ride and may only hinder you in hike-a-bike or when you want to explore off of the trail/path you are taking.
    Free people must travel the road to productive social relations at the speed of a bicycle.- Ivan Illich

  18. #18
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    Here's what I use. Flats w/ toe clips. Requires some DIY but offers the best of both worlds. Regular "toe clip & strap pedals are usually too small and narrow to really work well "out in the field". Larger "platform" flats put the straps out wide enough so the tread from your boots/shoes has less tendency to get caught on the straps going in and out. Plus you can tie them up upside down and have an "open" flat. The traction pins on SOME platforms are the same threads as SOME derailleur adjustment screws, which I used here to attach the toe clip to the pedal using existing pin holes. I simply cut stock flange off of the toe clip and positioned them to fit my riding shoes/boots. Plastic toe clips can be re-shaped to fit the shape of different boots as well. Using the pedal as a handle, dip the toe clip into boiling water to heat it up, then (with a glove on) you can bend and re-shape the toe clip.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/51222326@N04/5205481754/" title="FILE0041 by wardee61, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4126/5205481754_9c0e359a80_z.jpg" width="640" height="480" alt="FILE0041"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/51222326@N04/5204881197/" title="FILE0038 by wardee61, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4154/5204881197_00129e127d_z.jpg" width="640" height="480" alt="FILE0038"></a>

    I modified my old Lake's for adventure riding as well. Took them to the local shoe repair shop and they put some cool Vibram's on with a little more heel as well. Dang good for hiking... Awesome for pedaling.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/51222326@N04/7485016670/" title="S1190004 by wardee61, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8009/7485016670_540cb46ae3_z.jpg" width="640" height="427" alt="S1190004"></a>

    Happy Trails!
    Last edited by ward; 08-22-2012 at 10:29 AM.

  19. #19
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    I have dual pedals installed on mine. I love them! I'm not a hardcore trail rider though.

  20. #20
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    Azonic 420s, under $100 and work flawlessly with shoes/sandals/boots with Vibram soles.

  21. #21
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    I just did a 2 week ride across the mountains and trashed my SPD shoes carrying up to the high cols.. If you anticipate any hiking / pushing on the route, go with flats and sturdy but light boots. I also would have felt more sensible over the rocky carry sections in trail boots i/o SPD shoes. Cleats on rocks aren't that great.

  22. #22
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    My last tour was 14 days long and I used Wellgo MG-1 pedals with my favorite running shoes. I get off the bike way too much to have any kind of clips under my shoes. It probably depends a lot on the way you ride when on a tour. I tend to take many photos, so I stop every 20 minutes or so, often for animals. To get a good photo, many times I have to put the bike down and walk a bit/climb up rocks/hop over fences.
    Also, with all the luggage on the bike, I want to make sure I can get my foot on the ground quickly whenever I lose balance. It's even less fun to fall onto the side when you can't unclip when you have 50 pounds of bags attached to the bike.

  23. #23
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    Sometimes I miss the control and power of my SPDs when on hills but there is a whole lot of comfort - summer or winter - with the flats (Blackspire's) when I take my loaded Fatback on multiday backcountry mountain tours. Different story with my hardtail - stick with the SPD's.

  24. #24
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    Flats with 510 shoes, they stick to slick rock like glue.

  25. #25
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    I will probably replace my SPD pedals (which I use for normal riding) with flats and use my Merrell hiking shoes for bikepacking. This is what I used before I went to SPDs.

    That customized toe-clip idea looks interesting.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by random walk View Post
    I will probably replace my SPD pedals (which I use for normal riding) with flats and use my Merrell hiking shoes for bikepacking. This is what I used before I went to SPDs.

    That customized toe-clip idea looks interesting.
    I truly love them! Been doing this since SPD's first came out. I've owned and tried many SPD's over the years... never got used to them. Funny thing is, even on fast "club" rides, I keep up just fine and lead plenty. And more often than not, when the going gets "sketchy" and my partners are clipping out and walking, I turn 'em upside down & pedal on through. There's something about a platform... gives you some "space" to work with. And, I truly believe they're easier on my beat up old knees!

    The only time I'd use SPD's is if I was racing.

  27. #27
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    This is quite dilemma for me. I'm a long time clipless user (Time). However I'm more and more using my bike to commuting and daily riding. I got a pair of Time Z Freerides a week ago, in the hope that they worked well clipped and with regular shoes. Great clipless pedals, but worthless with normal footwear, almost the same as my Aliums, quite disapointing.

    My girlfriend uses a pair of Superstar Nano Thru Pins, which are amazing flats from what she says and I read on the webs. I've tried them with Salomon approach shoes and wasn't too pleased with the grip, but I recon the shoes were still new and the rubber still too firm

    Last edited by Ze_Zaskar; 09-03-2012 at 12:44 PM. Reason: Added a picture of the said approach shoes

  28. #28
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    Two days ago I had to do a quick trip to the grocery store. While I was trying to find my walking friendly spd shoes, I thought to myself that I had to give flat pedals another try.
    I had the idea of trying longer pins for my girlfriend's SS Nanos, which come with 8mm thru bolts. The next day I bought 50 M4x10 bolts for 2€ on my favorite hardware store.
    After the intalation I gave them a quick try around the neighborhood, same approach shoes, same pedals, 2mm longer pins.
    One word: WOW.

    My feet where glued, but i a very good way. Pedalling was really efficient, the pedal's low profile means that I could pedal in circles. Never felt so safe and connected without clipless pedals. This can be a turning point to me. I can totally see myself doing long distances with this setup, just need to try it out.

    To all wondering about flat pedals, do yourself a favor and try some with this new generation's low profiles
    Last edited by Ze_Zaskar; 09-07-2012 at 01:32 PM.

  29. #29
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    I'm new to this but just went clipless and could not imagine riding without them. Obviously not needed for casual riding but if you're climbing over rocks or climbing in general they give you so much power and make you feel like you're part of the bike instead of shuffling your feet all the time. After going clipless I realized how much focus I was wasting on keeping my feet on the pedals.

  30. #30
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    I used to think like that, but now with SS Nano pedals and also Five Ten Spitfire shoes I can't see the need of clipless, even climbing.
    Mind that there's an HUGE difference between old and new flat pedals, as well as between good and bad ones. Shoes are also fundamental

  31. #31
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    But what about the pull up ability you have being clipped in? I don't see how flat pedals allow that ability.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrekStang View Post
    But what about the pull up ability you have being clipped in? I don't see how flat pedals allow that ability.
    Flats do not give you that ability, but the argument is that most people don't pull up while riding clipless anyway, and flats give you more options.

    I would definitely ride clipless for most any bike packing/touring trip just because of the way I ride and because I ultimately prefer them to flats for distance riding. If there was a great deal of hike-a-bike and/or slow-techy sections, then my choice would probably change to flats.

  33. #33
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    The pulling thing is only really usefull on strong acelerations or very step climbs. Also, is not really that healthy for your legs, as they are really designed for pushing.

    The interesting thing is that really good flat pedals and shoes can actually let you pedal in circles. There's an area after you pass the 6h position where you can point your foot down and pull the pedal up, with your hamstrings. You just need to train this a little to make it instinctive. Not as powerfull as a clipless pull, but healthier to your knees and enought to give that extra zip for step climbs or acelerations

  34. #34
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    I've had really good luck on steep climbs with roots and rocks since my feet don't get bounced off the pedals. I'll try some good flats a try also as the ones my bike came with were terrible and sometimes it does get sketchy when you can't get unclipped when you need to throw a leg out for balance.

  35. #35
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    I really recommend everyone to try a pair of quality flat pedals. The formula is a large area (at least 100x100mm or so), concave and thin profile. Good shoes are also a big part of the equation. I was using approach shoes and happy with that, but now I'm with Five Tens and can't really look back. They are really THAT good.

    Not trying to be a flat pedal promoter or something like that, pedals are like saddles. I just belive people need to make an informed choice, which is hard when clipless is viewed as the "serious" choice

  36. #36
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    I prefer flats and Five Ten Impact Low (what I MTB with regularly).

    For my last bikepack I switched out the big, extra-thin flats for my venerable DMR Mag V12s because a wide pedal will get in your way more during HAB. Losing some thinness made no appreciable difference.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  37. #37
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    Lately I've been commuting with old XT flats with toe clips/straps. Usually wearing Vans Authentic's (or my trail runners if it's wet) and I've been pretty happy. This is on a road bike...on pavement, but I could see the set up working well for bike packing/touring off road if the terrain isn't too technical. I definitely feel that the classic toe clip/strap set up works well even though it's outdated to most people. Definitely an option to consider if you want to feel "clipped in" but don't want to ride clipless pedals/shoes.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleAddict View Post
    Lately I've been commuting with old XT flats with toe clips/straps. Usually wearing Vans Authentic's (or my trail runners if it's wet) and I've been pretty happy. This is on a road bike...on pavement, but I could see the set up working well for bike packing/touring off road if the terrain isn't too technical. I definitely feel that the classic toe clip/strap set up works well even though it's outdated to most people. Definitely an option to consider if you want to feel "clipped in" but don't want to ride clipless pedals/shoes.
    +1 CycleAddict!! See my post on the 1st page of this thread. Toe clips served cyclists well for like 70 or 80 years and then got "forgotten about"... why? Smart marketing? Cyclists(and other consumers) hunger for the "new"? My problems with toe clip set-ups that are currently available "over the counter" is that the platform (actually usually a "cage" type pedal) is too narrow causing the tread at the edge's of the shoe/boot to get caught iup in the strap when going in and out. Modifying toe clips for use with wider "platforms" solved that problem for me. I have them on all my bikes. Super thin Kona Wah Wah's on my CX for ground clearence. Traditional Toe Clip and Strap set ups are THE most versitile way to pedal a bicycle!! You can crank them down snug for plenty of power and efficiency; loosen them a little when things get techy; and tie them up to the pedal upside down (to get them out of the way) and pedal on the flats like "a kid on a bike" when applicable. They also allow you to pedal a bike with almost any type of foot wear. I have several pairs of SPD's (all sitting in a box currently)... I've gone back to them several times due to other cyclists comments & etc. The just don't give my the performance and versitility I'm looking for in a pedal. Yes, that's right, I said performance! I like having a "platform" with some area under and suporting my foot rather than a tiny spot and the structure of the shoe being completely responsable for supporting the rest of my body against the crank and the rest of the bike. I think it's time for traditional toe clips to make a come back... and adventure cycling is the place for it!

  39. #39
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    Flat pedals FTW. I trail ride with my 5.10's and road tour with my Chacos. So depending on your terrain you're bikepacking over, you might want a full shoe, might not.

    To everyone saying you've ridden so long with clipless you can't imagine switching now...that's BS. Give yourself three rides on flats and you will be smiling like a kid who just learned how to pedal again. Also, you'll realize how dependent you became on being clipped in!

  40. #40
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    I'm not sure that i could have replicated all the different types of pedaling strokes i tried out on my Telluride to Moab trip with flats.

    Before my trip I purchased a new pair of Specialized Tahoe Sport bike shoes to use instead of the Sidi Mega Dominator shoes that i normally wear.

    The Tahoe sport bike shoes were better for the hike a bike parts of the trip and for wearing as casual shoes.

    The Tahoe shoes were not as wide and comfortable as my Sidi shoes, but they made the walking portions of the trip a lot easier to deal with than the hard plastic soled Sidi shoes.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Flats or Clipless Pedals?-specialized-bicycle-components-tahoe-sport.png  


  41. #41
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    Anyone using Power Grips?

    I'm a clipless user (Egg Beaters or more recently M520's along with Specialized Shoes) and I really do struggle keeping a XC pace for racing in flats. It just doesn't happen. I also have a hard time keeping my feet on decents at speed when on flats (granted I ride rigid).

    All that being said. I'm planning on building up a more bikepacking specific bike this summer and it will probably be spec'ed with flat pedals, and gears, and a rear rack. Good for recovery days where the idea isn't to set speed records (freaking strava I hate you sometimes) and stop and smell the roses, and take a picture, and explore that cliff side that my plastic clad feet never would dare to go near.

    After my injuries (due to training) this year I'm looking for otherways to make my riding experience fun. Bikepacking will hopefully fill that niche . . .

  42. #42
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    To the responses stating inability to stay on the pedals using flats: what of the bmx/bmx race/downhill/freeride/trials folks who do unbelievable things on their bikes with flats?

    I learned to ride on a bmx bike at 3yrs and rode only bmx until sometime in late highschool. I never thought I didnt have enough connection to my pedals. Thats probably why I feel so much more comfortable still on flats. Your feet and ankles get used to pulling/pushing/stabilizing on flats.

    Thus I never worry myself over loss of efficiency. Mostly because that argument implies that the only goal is to pedal in circles the whole time. I could argue that flats are more efficient for the way I ride.

    I will not however try to persuade someone to switch just for the sake of switching. All pedals have their place. And all people have unique physiologies and preferences that make their prefered choices valid. There are some arguments for and against each pedal type that I think are unfounded. In the end, ride what you like and don't let any of us forum jockeys tell you otherwise.

  43. #43
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    I normally ride with crank bros pedals clipped, but do like flats on long trips. Good flats with the right shoe give ample stability. As the guys above say though, look around. For flats I use DMRs - great pins to shoe stability.

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