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  1. #1
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    A fresh perspective on Flats vs. Clips

    .

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  3. #3
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    so flats are faster into the turns, you tend to keep your heels lower, and ride more in the bike? i have such a hard time understanding those english accents...
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by singlesprocket View Post
    so flats are faster into the turns, you tend to keep your heels lower, and ride more in the bike? i have such a hard time understanding those english accents...
    His English needs subtitling for the North American market... I got that flats riders have their weight back with heels down, better contact with the pedals, can dab easier, enter a turn with inside leg outstretched, and can get a tighter line. The clips riders are more evenly weighted front to back and can exit the turn more quickly, pedal more efficiently, and can be more aggressive about rough stuff that might buck a rider off their flats.

  5. #5
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    There was also a little bit about flat pedals require softer soles vs. a clipped-in rider, thus enhancing "feel".

    Good video. Not once did I consider that weight distribution was different for different pedals. Hmm...

    Great - now I have something else to think about when I'm out riding!
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by garage monster View Post
    Good video. Not once did I consider that weight distribution was different for different pedals. Hmm...
    It's something I noted in a previous clipless vs. flats thread; with clipless there's a mechanical connection to the bike which allows the rider to completely unweight the pedals & the rear end of the bike if required without getting bounced off the bike. With platforms, the pedals have to be weighted to some extent to keep the feet on them, and the best way to do that is the heel down method which requires the rider to be further back on the bike to make the force vectors work out (pushing straight down doesn't stick your feet to the pedals as well as pushing forward and down).

    As a hardtail rider, the weight distribution makes a huge difference in the way I ride downhills. With clipless, I can stay closer to the attack position and let the fork do its job at soaking up bumps while the rear stays light and floats over most things. With platforms I need to position myself further back and a bit more upright to weight the pedals and avoid being bounced off. This results in the rear wheel bashing into obstacles a bit harder so I can't ride the trails as fast as I can when clipped in. I'm riding more defensively instead of anticipating and attacking the trail.

    With corners I don't notice much of a difference since I rarely take them close to the limit unless it's a turn that I've done a bunch of times and totally dialed in. In which case I have a slight preference for flats just in case I push it a bit too far and mess up.

  7. #7
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    To un-weight the rear with flats, I point my toes slightly downward and yank my heels towards my butt and with decent shoes (Vans or 5.10s), it seems to do about as good a job as clipless. Not sure if that's DIR or DIW but I get by!
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    I'm not sure either, but I do find that while it is possible to unweight the rear with flats, I can't keep it unweighted like I can do with clipless. Comes in handy for riding rock gardens or stuff like this. I can do it with flats but it's definitely more work.

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    So Single Sprocket is correct?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by garage monster View Post
    To un-weight the rear with flats, I point my toes slightly downward and yank my heels towards my butt and with decent shoes (Vans or 5.10s), it seems to do about as good a job as clipless. Not sure if that's DIR or DIW but I get by!
    That is the technique discussed in the book sand videos I have watched. To clarify, the heels down thing is usually for descending, heels up is for jumping, pivoting, and unweighting.

  11. #11
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    Interesting perspective!

    I was surprised that a lot of the DHers doing the dual slalom at Blue had clips and there was talk about how they made you faster. There are definitely costs and benefits to both. I ride flats at Joyride; clips on XC trails.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerdgirl View Post
    Interesting perspective!

    I was surprised that a lot of the DHers doing the dual slalom at Blue had clips and there was talk about how they made you faster. There are definitely costs and benefits to both. I ride flats at Joyride; clips on XC trails.
    Brian Lopes rides clips for certain events and flats for others. He also rides the same frame in different sizes depending on the application.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by raganwald View Post
    Brian Lopes rides clips for certain events and flats for others. He also rides the same frame in different sizes depending on the application.
    When I grow up, I want to be just like Brian Lopes.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by garage monster View Post
    When I grow up, I want to be just like Brian Lopes.
    Son, you have to choose, you can’t do both.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lwhicker View Post
    So Single Sprocket is correct?
    yes it would seem so lol...

    about unweighting the rear end, it's more about technique then spd's, a little bit of front brake, getting your weight forward of the cog, pushing back on the pedals, etc. the trials guys do this really well and i see it done at blue also in full dh mode. i've never had a problems keeping my feet on the pedals in the rough stuff on platforms at blue (squeaker, sleaze, etc) or at mt saint anne. i took out a member of the bmbc who just picked up a dh bike to get used to the rig last night. since the person has ridden spds for a long time there was alot of relearning to be done. the trying to pick up the bike with pedals flat was one of the worst culprits and caused a few crashes on the jumps. as well as being in a to easy gear and just spinning your feet off the pedals. if you are in the right gear coming out of a berm or anything else it makes a huge difference in keeping your feet on the pedals.
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    Quote Originally Posted by singlesprocket View Post
    the trying to pick up the bike with pedals flat was one of the worst culprits and caused a few crashes on the jumps. as well as being in a to easy gear and just spinning your feet off the pedals. if you are in the right gear coming out of a berm or anything else it makes a huge difference in keeping your feet on the pedals.
    Every single experienced person I have spoken to has said that it is fine to ride Freeride & DH with clips, but essential to learn the proper habits with flats. Even when using pedals with clips, the experts are pointing their toes down and scumming the pedals to control the rear end, not pulling with the clips.

    As for gearing... I rode DH two weeks ago at Blue with my 32-19 singlespeed and flats. It could be that I was spending too much time coasting, but I’ve also learned through practice to spin in flats. If someone has learned in clips, they may need to adjust their style, but I suspect they can learn to handle any gear with flats.

    JM2C, I am learning myself.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by raganwald View Post
    As for gearing... I rode DH two weeks ago at Blue with my 32-19 singlespeed and flats.
    That must have been some crazy cadence!
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  18. #18
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    Aaron Gwin 2011

    1st place, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
    5th place, Fort William, Scotland
    1st place, Leogang, Austria
    1st place, Mont Sainte-Anne, Quebec
    1st place, Windham, USA
    3rd place, La Bresse, FRA
    1st place, Val di Sole, ITA

    Clipped in.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by garage monster View Post
    That must have been some crazy cadence!
    As posted in Eastern Canada before, I did some of my best work at very low speed with little pedalling at all. And yes, there are at least three places where I hop the rear wheel with my toes pointed down:



    p.s. Spot the dab

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by shirk View Post
    Aaron Gwin 2011

    1st place, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
    5th place, Fort William, Scotland
    1st place, Leogang, Austria
    1st place, Mont Sainte-Anne, Quebec
    1st place, Windham, USA
    3rd place, La Bresse, FRA
    1st place, Val di Sole, ITA

    Clipped in.
    Platforms.

    So, what are you trying to say?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by raganwald View Post
    the experts are pointing their toes down and scumming the pedals to control the rear end, not pulling with the clips.
    Could you please describe how the experts do this pedal scumming?

  22. #22
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    maybe that the new generation

    of DHers could be faster clipped in... his data is all 2011, yours is kinda outdated...

    what do i know... just trying to help...

    i am just hanging for dear life and let the bike do the work while clipped in...



    Quote Originally Posted by raganwald View Post
    Platforms.

    So, what are you trying to say?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve View Post
    Could you please describe how the experts do this pedal scumming?
    I'm going to take a stab at this based solely on the description. Let's see how it goes...

    Using platform pedals, to get the same use out of your hamstrings and hip flexors as you might from clipless pedals, envision yourself "scraping" dog poo off the bottom of your shoe as you pedal past 6 o'clock.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilinsteve View Post
    Could you please describe how the experts do this pedal scumming?
    I am not an expert, so you are best advised to watch some of the videos from The West Coast School of Mountain Biking, or perhaps the Fabien Barel All-Mountain Video, or read Lopes & McCormick’s book. But for entertainment purposes only, here is my explanation of what I do:

    I have level cranks, chocolate foot forward. I am out of the saddle. I point both toes down and press backwards with my feet. I push forward on the bars and use body tension, which keeps my feet on the pedals and pressure on them. I’m wearing soft/sticky shoes (5.10s) and I have pins on the pedals to help.

    If I lean forward over the front wheel, I can pick the bike’s rear end up and move it somewhere else. Although you can’t see it from my POV in the video above, there were a few corners on the skinny that were too tight to ride, so I turned the corner with my front wheel, stopped, leaned forward, and hopped the rear wheel over in line so I could continue forward.

    Likewise when going off jumps and drops in flats, the same technique is used to keep myself in control of the entire bike. If I fail to point toes down on a jump or drop, I invariably come off the bike in the air or when it hits the ground, causing me to jounce off and take a chunk out of my shin with a pedal.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by raganwald View Post

    As for gearing... I rode DH two weeks ago at Blue with my 32-19 singlespeed and flats. It could be that I was spending too much time coasting, but I’ve also learned through practice to spin in flats. If someone has learned in clips, they may need to adjust their style, but I suspect they can learn to handle any gear with flats.

    JM2C, I am learning myself.
    Not to hijack the thread but I find that ever since I started riding my Fixed Gear bikes (which happen to have flat pedals to keep on topic) I find I pedal more often on any bike in any terrain than before...

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by raganwald View Post
    Son, you have to choose, you can’t do both.
    I normally just try to forget that the rep system even exists, but for this post I feel compelled to make an exception.

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    Quote Originally Posted by raganwald View Post
    Platforms.

    So, what are you trying to say?
    Gwin's domination of the WC this year is on a level even above Hill's previous good years.

    If we were do a matrix of the top 3 riders at each WC DH event for the last 5 years we'd see that clips outnumber the flats.

    Hill is a anomaly.

  28. #28
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    here's what one guide said...

    "Can you ride those trails on clipless pedals?

    Sure, but it’s no advantage. I will carry a spare set of pedals and shoes when people show up with clipless set ups. To date, only one person used them for more than one lap, and he admitted that he was “just making a point.”

    For maximum enjoyment, you should get a cheapo pair of flats and go out and do three or four hours on them at least before you get here. It’s always better to have the option available and not use it than the other way around."

    the advice was spot on, and while i rode with him i was a diehard clip in fan.
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Circlip View Post
    I normally just try to forget that the rep system even exists, but for this post I feel compelled to make an exception.
    Ditto but I did it for the skinny video.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by osokolo View Post
    of DHers could be faster clipped in... his data is all 2011, yours is kinda outdated...
    My ****’s all retarded? What!?

    Just kidding!!! DHers could be faster clipped in. Gwin could be the first of an unbroken line of riders dominating in clips. Maybe not, maybe the next dominating rider will be in platforms. Right now it seems safe to say that clips don’t make you lose, but no matter how dominating he seems this year, we don’t have enough data to say anything statistically significant. It’s not like teh top ten spots at every DH race are taken by clipped in riders. Yet.

    Whereas in XC, there is no doubt. None of the riders on the WC circuit ride platforms, ever.

    Personally, I think we are waiting for someone to revolutionize technique. Someone may invent a new kind of dab or shoe that gives them a marked and obvious advantage, such that when we watch them race, it’s not just that they win but everyone can see that they win because of their platforms.

    Or someone may come up with something revolutionary with clips, such that again it’s obvious that what they’re doing could never be done with platforms. Gwin is winning, but it looks like he could beat everyone with platforms, he’s just riding their pants off!

    JM2C. FWIW, I think there’s a lot of room for innovation in the AM/DH/Freeride pedal area, especially when it comes to putting feet back on the pedals while jouncing down a difficult bit of technical rockery.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by garage monster View Post
    Ditto but I did it for the skinny video.
    Self-admission by rider of wild dab fail makes the skinny ride vid inadmissable for rep.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Circlip View Post
    Self-admission by rider of wild dab fail makes the skinny ride vid inadmissable for rep.
    I did it to prove a point about platforms.

    (ducks!)

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by raganwald View Post
    I did it to prove a point about platforms.

    (ducks!)
    Point taken.

    BTW, with my pseudo ADHD I probably would have lost concentration after the first 12" of the skinny and bailed.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by raganwald View Post
    My ****’s all retarded?
    How the heck did you get that by the MTBR auto-censor. Hmm...

    ****! <- See!
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by garage monster View Post
    How the heck did you get that by the MTBR auto-censor. Hmm...

    ****! <- See!
    Maybe raganwald's account has been tagged by the moderators as being worthy of responsible use of **** so as to bypass the filters, as opposed to hacks like yourself who cannot apply it in the proper context?

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by garage monster View Post
    How the heck did you get that by the MTBR auto-censor. Hmm...

    ****! <- See!
    Getting shìt past the censor is pretty easy if you ask me...

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by aerius View Post
    Getting shìt past the censor is pretty easy if you ask me...
    Aha, I see the use of the special character set now. So simple it's ingenious.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Circlip View Post
    Point taken.

    BTW, with my pseudo ADHD I probably would have lost concentration after the first 12" of the skinny and bailed.
    Well, to move this back in the direction of “how things are different” rather than “which one is better,” As I’ve gained experience, the need to dab has gone markedly down. The one remaining reason I prefer platforms for dangerous stuff like high skinnies (the one in the video is lawyer-friendly) is to perform the “West Coast Bail:”



    Jumping straight up to bail off a bike with level cranks is impossible while using the clipless pedals I’ve seen. You’d need to twist to unclip and then jump off a moment later. This has nothing to do with DH but is significant when riding skinnies, logs, tough ride-overs and other low-speed but treacherous features.

    So honestly, I’m quite comfortable riding in either my Crank Brothers Candys or my Mallets. In fact, I had planned to put the mallets on for Blue, but decided to stick with platforms to work the skinny on Shotglass.

    Although I ride platforms nearly all of the time, I’m not religious about them being better. I believe that I learn better technique practising with platforms, but that is not the same thing as saying that I would be faster riding DH using them, or that I would not be able to ride the skinnies on Dr. Quads with mallets.

    (Okay, I admit that my heart would be pounding when facing a fall of four to six feet if I couldn’t jump off my bike with both feet.)

  39. #39
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    Lol!!

    i ain't even trying. i'd be in banana land in no time...

    still waiting for Circlip to present the matrix... until then no one is having the last word on this...

    not even shirk...



    Quote Originally Posted by aerius View Post
    Getting shìt past the censor is pretty easy if you ask me...

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    Not that I profess to have any sort of advanced skinny skillz, but I can offer up that you may be surprised at the level of efficiency that can be achieved with a "west coast bail" using clipless pedals. Like the basic use of clipless pedals, a mix of practice/familiarity/confidence in the move makes for seamless execution on a subconscious level, to the point where it doesn't matter much if there's a quick twist involved instead of straight up and off. I'm not claiming it's 100% as easy or reliable, only that the difference may not be as much as one would think. YMMV.

    P.S. Using Eggbeaters.

    Quote Originally Posted by raganwald View Post
    Well, to move this back in the direction of “how things are different” rather than “which one is better,” As I’ve gained experience, the need to dab has gone markedly down. The one remaining reason I prefer platforms for dangerous stuff like high skinnies (the one in the video is lawyer-friendly) is to perform the “West Coast Bail:”

    Jumping straight up to bail off a bike with level cranks is impossible while using the clipless pedals I’ve seen. You’d need to twist to unclip and then jump off a moment later. This has nothing to do with DH but is significant when riding skinnies, logs, tough ride-overs and other low-speed but treacherous features.

    So honestly, I’m quite comfortable riding in either my Crank Brothers Candys or my Mallets. In fact, I had planned to put the mallets on for Blue, but decided to stick with platforms to work the skinny on Shotglass.

    Although I ride platforms nearly all of the time, I’m not religious about them being better. I believe that I learn better technique practising with platforms, but that is not the same thing as saying that I would be faster riding DH using them, or that I would not be able to ride the skinnies on Dr. Quads with mallets.

    (Okay, I admit that my heart would be pounding when facing a fall of four to six feet if I couldn’t jump off my bike with both feet.)

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by osokolo View Post
    still waiting for circlip to present the matrix
    what...is..the...matrix??? (best said in deep Larry Fishburne tones for maximum effect)

  42. #42
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    the ... matrix

    Quote Originally Posted by Circlip View Post
    what...is..the...matrix??? (best said in deep Larry Fishburne tones for maximum effect)
    you asked for it...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A fresh perspective on Flats vs. Clips-matrix_in.jpg  


  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by osokolo View Post
    you asked for it...
    Post makes no sense. I cannot tell if they are using flats or clipless.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Circlip View Post
    Larry Fishburne tones
    LIke these?


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    Quote Originally Posted by raganwald View Post
    Although I ride platforms nearly all of the time, I’m not religious about them being better. I believe that I learn better technique practising with platforms, but that is not the same thing as saying that I would be faster riding DH using them, or that I would not be able to ride the skinnies on Dr. Quads with mallets.
    I think this is something that gets lost every time we get a clipless vs. flats or whatever debate on here. There are trade-offs inherent to both types of pedals, the question is which ones work better for a person's style of riding and what he feels more comfortable and has more fun on. It's really that simple.

    I don't ride the same stuff nor have the same riding style as my riding partner, nor do I have his level of risk tolerance. Why the heck should I use the same pedals as him? That's like me saying everyone should ride the World Cup DH course at MSA clipped in on an XC hardtail just because I did it and it worked for me.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by shirk View Post
    Gwin's domination of the WC this year is on a level even above Hill's previous good years.

    If we were do a matrix of the top 3 riders at each WC DH event for the last 5 years we'd see that clips outnumber the flats.

    Hill is a anomaly.
    You're saying clipless are more popular at, but not necessary to win WC DH events. All other implications are void.

    Also i'm wondering if anybody has checked out the correlation of broken collar-bones and AC joints to clipless. Pretty hard to tuck and roll with a bicycle still attached to a leg.

    About hopping - Constant abrupt "pulling up" with your clipless will give you a really sore lower-back. Not to mention that doing that requries more tension on the spring or you'll be in a pickle, but then you're in a pickle anyways because you've got the tension cranked up on the spring and will have a tougher time getting out!

  47. #47
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    actually this is something most clipped

    riders emphasize all the time... it is not which one is better, period! it is which one is better for any given type of riding...

    there was another debate a while ago on this subject which turned into a beating the dead horse after a few posts...

    i ride exclusively clipless, but don't really care what everyone else is riding as long as they are comfortable with it... clipless work for me, but i am not saying that they are better for everything else.

    there were a few that tried to conclude one is better than the other, period. coincidence or not, most of them were platform riders

    Quote Originally Posted by aerius View Post
    I think this is something that gets lost every time we get a clipless vs. flats or whatever debate on here. There are trade-offs inherent to both types of pedals, the question is which ones work better for a person's style of riding and what he feels more comfortable and has more fun on. It's really that simple.

    I don't ride the same stuff nor have the same riding style as my riding partner, nor do I have his level of risk tolerance. Why the heck should I use the same pedals as him? That's like me saying everyone should ride the World Cup DH course at MSA clipped in on an XC hardtail just because I did it and it worked for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aerius View Post
    There are trade-offs inherent to both types of pedals, the question is which ones work better for a person's style of riding and what he feels more comfortable and has more fun on.
    And what trail you are riding. I recently bought platforms/shoes to add to my Time clipless/shoes, and I have no doubt I will be using both set ups depending on the terrain for the day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Circlip View Post
    Not that I profess to have any sort of advanced skinny skillz, but I can offer up that you may be surprised at the level of efficiency that can be achieved with a "west coast bail" using clipless pedals. Like the basic use of clipless pedals, a mix of practice/familiarity/confidence in the move makes for seamless execution on a subconscious level, to the point where it doesn't matter much if there's a quick twist involved instead of straight up and off. I'm not claiming it's 100% as easy or reliable, only that the difference may not be as much as one would think. YMMV.

    P.S. Using Eggbeaters.
    Very true. I don't un-clip and then put my foot down, I just put my foot down. I've had over the bar crashes where I end up literally jumping over the bars and landing on my feet on the ground (one time also with my bike on my shoulders). I don't have to think about un-clipping from the pedals, it just happens.

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    My observation is that unless someone has a very specific goal, the debate is meaningless for them. Most riders don’t have a specific goal. They can’t name a trail that they want to ride without dabs by the end of the season, or a race they want to win, or an amount of weight they want to lose or anything else. They simply want to ride and enjoy themselves. For such riders, the most important thing is that their bike fits and that they learn how to use whatever equipment is on their bike competently.

    Now if someone has a nice tight goal, it does make sense to look into whether their current equipment is going to get them there, and if so, what they have to learn to make it work for them. I don’t worry about Gwin vs. Hill because I don’t race DH. I do trials-y moves, so I use trials-y techniques and—surprise, surprise—the same style of pedals used by every. single. world cup. trials. rider.

    Only sometimes my goal is to ride with a pack of geared riders on a hilly course. Then I pull out the candys and stand by to crank up the hills. Again, I have a specific goal on the day.

    Without those goals, I could just ride whatever pair of pedals happen to be on the bike from the last time I had a goal. Pedals go round, bike goes forward, smile appears on face. Simple.

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