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  1. #1
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    Flats vs Clipless

    Hey folks. I grew up riding xc with clips, but got into moto, and since returning to biking have been riding flats for the last 5 years. After some long hard thought, and noticing that the majority upper level riders, XC to DH, clip in; the gears began turning.

    Any of you guys mind letting me know what you ride, and why you feel it's better for your riding style, local trails, etc?

    I know there are some things I could gain by clipping in; and I've read a ton about it, but before investing $150+ in the setup to try it, just wanted to pick some local brains.

  2. #2
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    Good question, never been asked before.

    Well dmbass, I ride flats on my mountain bikes and clipless on my road bike.
    However I see people that ride flats, clipless and toe clips on all types of bikes.
    I hope that answers your question.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  3. #3
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    dmbass? Hope that was a typo

    Just looking for what advantages and disadvantages people feel they gain around here and why… I know, I know, there are tons of threads on the subject. Just figured someone out there wouldn't mind enlightening me

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmbass View Post
    dmbass? Hope that was a typo
    Oops.

    Maybe this will help

    Beginners: Pros and cons of flat vs clipless pedals for mountain biking | Total Women's Cycling

    And no, the womens cycling thing was not a jab. It was just an article that popped up on a google search.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  5. #5
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    https://www.bikejames.com/strength/t...h-flat-pedals/

    I've been on a clipless since '95. After a few years of family induced non-riding I got back on the saddle last spring, with persistent knee pain. Some searching yieldied the link above, so I gave flats a shot with a cheap set. After a year (and a much better set of flats), I've never thought "gee, I wish I was clipped in for this". never looked back is a good way to describe it. I have more fun on flats, and that's the name of the game for me, I'm not a racer. Most of my riding is Bent Creek.

    Borrow a set of shoes/clips or get a cheap set and ride them for a month, see what you think. Since you used to ride clipped in, the learning curve won't be as steep.

    and noticing that the majority upper level riders, XC to DH, clip in; the gears began turning.
    Are you in, or desire to be in, the upper echelon or are you a weekend warrior? Just because it works for them doesn't mean it's the right thing for you.

  6. #6
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    I have been riding clip less since the start on my AM bike, better power transfer and you don't have to worry about slipping a foot off for technical bits.

    After racing DH for two years, I made the switch to clip less for that too. I was tired of having my feet bounced off a pedal in rocky sections, hitting the larger flat pedals on things when taking tight lines, and the "search" for that "just right" foot position after you get bumped.

  7. #7
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    Flats vs Clipless

    I've gone back and forth. Started (in earnest) on clipless when most of my riding was XC, then progressed to flats as the travel of my bikes increased, feeling the need to have free feet as the technical challenges got more and more difficult. Now I'm on the cusp of a 6" 29er and will be going back to clipless, for no other reason than seeing almost the entire pro DH and Enduro scene on clipless as well. My balance on slow tech is much better these days and I could use the extra power at the top of the stroke from time to time. The points Idaho makes in his 2nd para are valid for me, too. We will see!

  8. #8
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    I rode flats forever, but just recently tried clips (clipless) again. I mainly decided to try clips again because I have the tendency to take my foot off of the pedals in turns when I really don't need to (moto style). I'm basically using clips to force myself to learn good technique in the turns. Yes there are situations where foot off is the best/only way through a corner. In my case I would have bad technique, say not putting enough weight on the front tire, which would cause it to slip and I would throw a foot out. If I had done it the proper way I would not have had a issue. So clips force this issue.
    Another big reason that the most of the DH guys use clips is to not have to worry about keeping pressure on the pedals through the chunky stuff. It is pretty damn close to cheating in those sections. Much easier to get light on those parts if you aren't needing to put pressure on your pedals to keep your feet on.
    I also like the control that clips give for jumping, pumping and bunny hopping. It is much easier to pick up/move around the rear end with clips.
    The Bike James article is really good and if you know how to pedal flats you really aren't gaining much, if any pedal power from clips.
    I still haven't tried it on the DH bike, but once I get some mallets I think I'll give it a go.

  9. #9
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    It should be added that a good set of flats with good traction is a must. I think sometimes people start off on crappy pedal/shoe combinations and slip a lot. Then they determine that flats suck and go straight to clipless without every trying good flat pedals.

    Also I can see professional down hill riders going to clipless. I mean those guys are going all out and putting it on the line in every run. There is no reason they would ever need to pull their foot off the pedal and have the skill to do it. I personally could see myself trying a lot less if I was clipped in.

    Again though, it is all personal preference but just make sure your equipment is good either way.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  10. #10
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    I swap back and forth. Flats if I know there will be lots of hike a bike or tech stuff where I need to dab a lot. Clips for less technical, long climbs, etc.
    But I have to admit, the more time goes on the less I want the clips. I am used to flats and the shoes are more comfortable and better for walking, and I don't notice much loss of efficiency.

  11. #11
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    Flats vs Clipless

    I enjoy clipless pedals more. I've never owned super nice flats, and shoes for them though. I feel there's certainly less issue with feet coming off the pedals on super bumpy and rocky sections, especially if you're a light rider like myself. I use spd style ones and adjust them to unclip fairly easily for tech sections.

  12. #12
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    Flats vs Clipless

    Once you get used to clipless, they work great. You can get more power and speed by pulling up on the pedals. The off road pedals are double sided unlike the road pedals. My two bits? No need to spend big bucks on pedals. You can get the Performance Forte brand. They are cheap ($40) work great and light 250g. I have three sets of 'em. One on Cx bike, two on mtb's

  13. #13
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    Flats vs Clipless

    I go back and forth for variety every 3-4 months. When I'm in training mode, clipped in. Fun mode, flats.

    Clipped in is great if you've had a proper bike fit to make sure seat/cleat positions are right. It will do a number on you if not.

    Flats are awesome for working on pedal technique and getting how your body flows with the bike dialed in.

    There's a DH pro (Kevin Aiello) in the May issue of MBAction talking about how much he likes is HT KA01 flats.

    This is definitely a to each their own personal preference thing.

    Kind of like Android vs iOS. Now those interwebz "conversations" are hilarious!!!


    So back to which one is the better of the two? The one you'll have the most fun riding!




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  14. #14
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    Flats vs Clipless

    Tried flats once.. Foot slipped and the pins dug into shin and calf muscle. Yowza! Pain city. No way no how am I ever going to use Em again.

  15. #15
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    Both here. Flats on trail, clipped on road. I ride Pisgah and Charlotte area trail mostly. Flats are better on trail for me because i dont have to find the cleat to clip in on steep sections. Hike a bikes are much easier, Plus you can dab anytime-anywhere. I also like the confidence they give when jumping or riding really technical stuff. I don't think clips give a "power" advantage at all. I can show you a dozen riders who can climb anything and ride everything on flats. A good pedal/shoe combo is a must. Im on Diety Compoind pedals and Vans and im happy with that setup.

    On the road i ride clipless mostly because im not having to dismount or ride really technical stuff. I could easily ride flats on the road too and not feel disadvantaged. Its just more comfortable road riding with clips. IMO

    Theres no "ones better than the other". Ride what feels comfortable.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by SloRider1 View Post
    Tried flats once.. Foot slipped and the pins dug into shin and calf muscle. Yowza! Pain city. No way no how am I ever going to use Em again.
    I have a few shin scars from my SPD's. Just because one attempt failed doesn't mean they don't/won't work. There is a learning curve for flats just like the first time you tried clipless, but not as steep since most kids learn to ride a bike on flats.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by SloRider1 View Post
    Tried flats once.. Foot slipped and the pins dug into shin and calf muscle. Yowza! Pain city. No way no how am I ever going to use Em again.
    Fell over once in the middle town in front of all sorts of pedestrian traffic because I didn't get clipped out in time. Still ride clipless on my road bike even though I know that would have never happened with flats.

    I guess some people take pain better than others.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  18. #18
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    With flats it is like kjlued said, you need good pedals (check pins often) and shoes. I have the canfield pedals and 5.10 shoes for my flats setup. I don't really have any issues with feet slipping.
    Much easier to get injured on clips, which was the point of the bike james article. You get injured because you can't unclip and because you might become unclipped at the wrong time. I got a nasty bruise/cut on my calf from my eggbeaters because I came unclipped while trying to whip off a jump. Still landed it though. Moved the release point to the 20 degree setting after that and have no issues.
    One of my DH buddies rides clips and couldn't unclip before he hit a tree. The bike and his foot went on one side of the tree and he went on the other. Nice ankle tweaking there.
    Also clips are one more thing to check pre-ride to make sure the cleats are tight and haven't moved from your setting preference. If they move it can change your (dis)engagement point.

  19. #19
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    I ride flats and have never tried clipless. Think about trying it all the time, but in the end, when I see my buddy falling to the side when we are at a dead stop because he cant get unclipped, tells me I have made the right choice in sticking with flats.

    Maybe he isnt sufficient enough for them, none the less, its funny and I dont like to fall for no reason.

  20. #20
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    I ride both, but i think i prefer clipless. i like how being clipped in makes you feel like part of the bike. i could care less about any pedaling efficiency it gives over flats. for me its just not having to worry about slipping of when riding through rock gardens and roots

  21. #21
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    What is all this feet slipping off flat pedals that people talk about? Sure glad I don't experience that.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  22. #22
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    Yeah my five tens with the canfield crampons provide almost too much grip. If I place my foot down wrong and need to readjust, I have to pick my foot up a little to move it. I cannot side it at all. But with that being said, you still have to make sure you are applying pressure on the pedals through the gnar, but for most of us that is second nature by now. It becomes tricky when you want to get light over an rough section, yet still keep some pressure on the pedals. With clips it is straight cheating, no thought involved. Jumping is the other aspect. If you need to pop off of the jump you need to actively bunny hop the rear end up with flats, again if you have been jumping with flats for a while that is second nature. With clips, again nothing to it. What is tricky here is when riding clips for a while and then riding flats. I did this a few weeks ago and couldn't figure out why I was dropping like a stone off the end of a ramp. I was so use to the little effort I needed with clips to get crazy high, that I wasn't hopping the back. But after two or three jumps on flats I was almost to my clipped height.

    I just picked up a pair of mallet DHs for snowshoe this weekend. First time riding DH in clips, so we will see if I come back sans a foot or something.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by matty22c View Post
    Yeah my five tens with the canfield crampons provide almost too much grip.
    Same setup here Crampons and 510's.. I have used clipless in the past but now I just prefer flats. I can get the same type of power transfer as I did clipless. I went down some slick wet spots on Kitsuma and I had know problem keeping my feet on the gas and jumps. To each his own whatever works for you..

  24. #24
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    I switched to flats a while ago because of knee pain, last week I threw my SPD's back on, I still had the 10deg float cleats on my shoes, by the middle of the ride my knee was killing me so back to flats. ride this morning I had no issues and didn't miss the clipless

  25. #25
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    Flats vs Clipless

    On Thu riding Crampon Ultimates I broke a two year old pr I set while clipped in. It's only a little over two mins but it's got a decent climb a the end where a high cadence helps a ton.

    Funny thing is, as soon as I switched to flats, I picked up :15 right away. And I had a Retul fit clipped in so all the numbers were dialed in.

    I will be riding my flats for a lot longer!


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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by shupack View Post
    I switched to flats a while ago because of knee pain, last week I threw my SPD's back on, I still had the 10deg float cleats on my shoes, by the middle of the ride my knee was killing me so back to flats. ride this morning I had no issues and didn't miss the clipless
    Same kind of deal for me too. When I went back to flats a couple of months ago no more burning on the outside of my knee.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by shupack View Post
    I switched to flats a while ago because of knee pain, last week I threw my SPD's back on, I still had the 10deg float cleats on my shoes, by the middle of the ride my knee was killing me so back to flats. ride this morning I had no issues and didn't miss the clipless
    Why do you suppose being clipped in gives you knee pain? 10 degrees of float is a lot more than I get on my flats!

  28. #28
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    I don't know the exact mechanics of why the clipless hurt my knee, I rode clipless for a long time with no issues, so it may be age related (39). I took a 10 year family-building hiatus, just got back on the bike 18 months ago. Once I got my legs under me and started riding > 5 miles at a time my knee started bugging me. Messed with cleat position, saddle height/tilt/setback-forward etc but nothing helped. Right knee only. Sometimes a sharp pain on the outer edge, just behind the kneecap, sometimes a dull ache through the entire knee. Tried flats and it never appeared, first ride, and the post-ride foot-aches went away too.

    While researching knee pain I came across this, which convinced me to give flats a try:

    http://www.bikejames.com/wp-content/...withLinks2.pdf

    It actually doesn't mention knee pain specifically, it does talk about the mechanics of pedaling, and how a poor pedal stroke and the unnatural interface of clipless pedals can lead to long-term problems, it does fit into this discussion.

    Either way, I could still ride just fine with my clipless, didn't feel faster or slower. It was a little more to think about during the ride but didn't cause any problems. Main difference was my knee hurt during and after the ride, and my feet hurt during the ride, not just after the ride, which was new.

    Like he reiterates in the article, I'm not "anti" clipless, just prefer flats now,

  29. #29
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    Another thing with flats is you can change your foot position frequently during a ride. Even though there is no float, you don't have your foot in the exact same position the whole time like you do with clipless.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by shupack View Post
    While researching knee pain I came across this, which convinced me to give flats a try:

    http://www.bikejames.com/wp-content/...withLinks2.pdf
    it might bear mentioning that james is an admitted self-professed expert on all things bike (and many things non-bike); and that many of his "expert" conclusions are nothing more than his unfounded or poorly "researched" opinions. opinions, it also bears mentioning, which squarely contradict known and repeatedly proven science, bio-mechanics, and research. his self-contradictory diatribe on cleat float in his "flat pedal revolution manifesto", for example, is but one. this manifesto is further packed with profound ignorance of anatomy, physiology, bio-mechanics and kinetics.

    untold millions of dollars have been spent on research and development in the area of shoes/cleats/pedals but james (an admitted layman) dismisses all of this as, and i quote: "some man made mish-mash of crap". really? uh... ok, pal.

    in fact, he proudly states that he goes against well known, tried, and researched foundational principles of cycling. he further states that he gives most of his information for free. know why? because YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

    just so we understand his position let me repeat that the people that actually know they're talking about (based on decades of experience and untold millions of $$$ of r&d) and can back it up with world/national championships and years of proven results are the ones that james dismisses as buffoons.

    james repeatedly states this reasoning as to why he is anti-clipless: "I tried clipless, fell over at a stop sign and realized that if I couldn’t get out of them on the road when I knew I was stopping I was going to be screwed on the trail."

    in other words, he tried clipless and fell over ONCE so he ditched them and has become vehemently anti-clipless (even though he claims he is not) and gratuitously pro-flats. all you have to do is read his articles and responses to them to see he is vociferously and ardently anti-clipless - again based on his ONE failed attempt at using them.

    many people had a hard time learning to ride a bike, but stuck with it and became very proficient where they were once unsteady and wobbly. many, when getting into mountain biking, were also wobbly and unsteady but stuck with it and their skills/balance/ability grew with persistence and logging miles on the trail.

    SAME WITH CLIPLESS.

    i'm sure when james was initially learning to ride a bike he fell over more than once and yet got right back up and tried it again until he became proficient at riding a bike. then tried clipless once, fell over, and through his tears swore them off forever dismissing them as nothing more than something to be reserved for race day only (if that).

    so in short, regarding clipless pedals james is little more than a sniveling quitter who has gained quite a following of people who also either failed once and gave up, are too scared to try them, or have used clipless pedal systems WITHOUT bothering to get them properly fitted; something which can and does result in pain or even injury.

    speaking of which, sometimes the pain that results from initially using clipless pedals is due to muscles being used that were not previously brought into motion, and will go away once some endurance is built up and the muscles become accustomed to the use. other times the pain is due to BAD HABITS being corrected resultant to the muscles being used PROPERLY after adopting clipless.

    lots of people will, like james, say "i tried clipless once and will never do it again" but i submit this is coming from an insufficient base of experience. without actually using properly setup clipless pedals/cleats/shoes for at least 6-12 months one really hasn't afforded themselves a chance to become familiar/comfortable/proficient on and with them.

    when moving to a clipless system it is good to get a pedal with adjustable tension (like spd) and set the tension at low. then, either on a trainer or sitting still and holding onto something, practice clipping in and unclipping. then go out and ride on a flat area and practice clipping in and out.

    after all of this THEN hit the trails instead of installing clipless pedals and immediately hitting the trails and having a horrible outcome. (the latter a common experience)

    opinions are one thing, but the fact remains that if flats were better we'd see xc world championships being won on them. but we don't. let that sink in.

    my personal experience from being involved in the sport for decades as a rider, racer, shop employee, skills coach, trained bike fitter, and a medical professional working toward a grad degree in kinesiology/physiology is that very, very, very few people i know of that have moved from flats to clipless PROPERLY have regretted it in the long run.

    that all being said... regarding clips vs. flats: ride what you want. just RIDE! but don't justify EITHER choice with bovine residue from abject ignoramuses.
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

  31. #31
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    Wow! You have major WOOD for bikejames.


    Quote Originally Posted by monogod View Post
    it might bear mentioning that james is an admitted self-professed expert on all things bike (and many things non-bike); and that many of his "expert" conclusions are nothing more than his unfounded or poorly "researched" opinions. opinions, it also bears mentioning, which squarely contradict known and repeatedly proven science, bio-mechanics, and research. his self-contradictory diatribe on cleat float in his "flat pedal revolution manifesto", for example, is but one. this manifesto is further packed with profound ignorance of anatomy, physiology, bio-mechanics and kinetics.

    untold millions of dollars have been spent on research and development in the area of shoes/cleats/pedals but james (an admitted layman) dismisses all of this as, and i quote: "some man made mish-mash of crap". really? uh... ok, pal.

    in fact, he proudly states that he goes against well known, tried, and researched foundational principles of cycling. he further states that he gives most of his information for free. know why? because YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

    just so we understand his position let me repeat that the people that actually know they're talking about (based on decades of experience and untold millions of $$$ of r&d) and can back it up with world/national championships and years of proven results are the ones that james dismisses as buffoons.

    james repeatedly states this reasoning as to why he is anti-clipless: "I tried clipless, fell over at a stop sign and realized that if I couldn’t get out of them on the road when I knew I was stopping I was going to be screwed on the trail."

    in other words, he tried clipless and fell over ONCE so he ditched them and has become vehemently anti-clipless (even though he claims he is not) and gratuitously pro-flats. all you have to do is read his articles and responses to them to see he is vociferously and ardently anti-clipless - again based on his ONE failed attempt at using them.

    many people had a hard time learning to ride a bike, but stuck with it and became very proficient where they were once unsteady and wobbly. many, when getting into mountain biking, were also wobbly and unsteady but stuck with it and their skills/balance/ability grew with persistence and logging miles on the trail.

    SAME WITH CLIPLESS.

    i'm sure when james was initially learning to ride a bike he fell over more than once and yet got right back up and tried it again until he became proficient at riding a bike. then tried clipless once, fell over, and through his tears swore them off forever dismissing them as nothing more than something to be reserved for race day only (if that).

    so in short, regarding clipless pedals james is little more than a sniveling quitter who has gained quite a following of people who also either failed once and gave up, are too scared to try them, or have used clipless pedal systems WITHOUT bothering to get them properly fitted; something which can and does result in pain or even injury.

    speaking of which, sometimes the pain that results from initially using clipless pedals is due to muscles being used that were not previously brought into motion, and will go away once some endurance is built up and the muscles become accustomed to the use. other times the pain is due to BAD HABITS being corrected resultant to the muscles being used PROPERLY after adopting clipless.

    lots of people will, like james, say "i tried clipless once and will never do it again" but i submit this is coming from an insufficient base of experience. without actually using properly setup clipless pedals/cleats/shoes for at least 6-12 months one really hasn't afforded themselves a chance to become familiar/comfortable/proficient on and with them.

    when moving to a clipless system it is good to get a pedal with adjustable tension (like spd) and set the tension at low. then, either on a trainer or sitting still and holding onto something, practice clipping in and unclipping. then go out and ride on a flat area and practice clipping in and out.

    after all of this THEN hit the trails instead of installing clipless pedals and immediately hitting the trails and having a horrible outcome. (the latter a common experience)

    opinions are one thing, but the fact remains that if flats were better we'd see xc world championships being won on them. but we don't. let that sink in.

    my personal experience from being involved in the sport for decades as a rider, racer, shop employee, skills coach, trained bike fitter, and a medical professional working toward a grad degree in kinesiology/physiology is that very, very, very few people i know of that have moved from flats to clipless PROPERLY have regretted it in the long run.

    that all being said... regarding clips vs. flats: ride what you want. just RIDE! but don't justify EITHER choice with bovine residue from abject ignoramuses.

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    wow, struck a nerve, sorry...

    I'm not saying I bought into everything he said (and yes, I did notice some of his self-contradicting theories) but it was the last link in the chain of convincing me (I wasn't very clear earlier) to try something different. I've been on clipless since 1996 (I think), and it wasn't till recently that I started having knee pain, which I attribute more to age than to the SPD's specifically. His manifesto convinced me it was OK to "take a step backwards" and try flats again. I found I had more fun (I think I was just less serious while riding), and the stress of clipping in/out that I'd never really noticed before, was gone. Not saying I won't look back, but I've not missed being clipped in. I'm not a racer, not even close.

    I put the SPD's back on a couple weeks ago, took me a second to become re-accustomed to the "standing on a frozen golf-ball" feeling. by 1/2 way through my knee was hurting, and it hurt long after the ride too. It could be the setup, but I've had these pedals for about 15 years (shimano 757) with several sets of shoes and have the 10deg float cleats (new). I've moved the cleats all over the shoe and nothing helped. Yes, following free internet suggestions on how to best setup cleat position.

    I have noticed significantly more rock-strikes on flats, and just yesterday destroyed my cheap chinese pedals on a hard strike, so there's ups and downs.

    I do feel more in-tune with my bike, as I have to do things "right" to get through: I had to learn how to stay in balance over jumps, where before the SPD's would keep the bike under me.

  33. #33
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    Got back into my clipless Times all of a sudden. I'v been loving flats, but now I got some new shoes, MT 53 Shimanos, and I like them a lot. I never realized how much my old shoes were the cause of my negativity about clipless. Now I have shoes that are comfortable, good for walking, and don't slip at the heel, and it makes it so much better I don't really crave my 5-10's any more. I rode yesterday with a lot of walking sections and didn't really think about my shoes, which is a good sign.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by shupack View Post
    wow, struck a nerve, sorry...
    no worries, it's a discussion and we're discussing. so thanks for the additional info.

    the nerve you hit was not about james in particular, per se, but rather about the paradigm of an "expert" spewing pseudo-scientific cognitive diarrhea which is lapped up like caviar by myopic, gullible, nescient sheeple who then go around bleating it as messianic gospel. a cult of personality doesn't equate to expertise/validity. (what an awesome place to fulfill godwin's law! lol)

    in the modern age of the interwebs it's easy to find "facts" to back up just about ANY position/opinion. however, opinion and fact are not obligatorily synonymous - and this is a perfect case in point.

    when i worked for dell computer as a telephone support tech in the inspiron laptop division i would have customers call and describe a problem. recognizing the problem and knowing precisely how to solve it i would tell them to do certain things. on more occasions than you'd believe the customer would say, "that's not going to work" or "what good's that going to do". i finally started responding with, "fair enough, what do you suggest?" only to have them reply, "how should i know?!?!? that's why i called you!"

    BOOM!

    working with people as a skills coach and doing bike fits i've had the exact same scenario play out as well. usually qualified with, "the other day i googled...."

    Quote Originally Posted by shupack
    His manifesto convinced me it was OK to "take a step backwards" and try flats again. I found I had more fun (I think I was just less serious while riding), and the stress of clipping in/out that I'd never really noticed before, was gone. Not saying I won't look back, but I've not missed being clipped in.
    will all due respect, if you need someone eructing vacuous bovine excrement to convince you to do anything there are deeper issues at work that need addressing. do what you want and own it.

    as i said before, i'm a huge proponent of riding what you want. want to ride flats? ride them. want to ride clipless? ride them. but i say don't refuse to ride clipless based on the steaming pile of canine residue known as "the flat pedal revolution manifesto".

    the issue is when specious pablum is used as expert justification for one's choices.

    something to consider: if you're still stressing about clipping in/out perhaps that is a specific issue that should be addressed?

    when going over the bars or needing to get away from the bike quickly in a wreck or needing to plant a foot in a sketchy situation i unclip virtually subconsciously, and i'm not in the minority. when on a gnarly uphill that i stall on and need to restart i can clip in instantly as well. and again i'm not alone here. why?

    like anything else we do repetitively the more it's done the more it becomes second nature. you don't have to watch your feet when you walk, do you? or when you go up stairs? or when you get in/out of a car? or when you step up or off a curb? why is that? simple... PRACTICE.

    same with clipping in/out. too often people just throw on clipless pedals and hit the trails and despite years of riding with them never become proficient at clipping in/out. not saying this is you, just sharing an observation.

    what i can say is that people who are proficient at clipping in/out don't stress about it on the trail anymore than people who are proficient at walking don't stress when approaching a curb or flight of stairs.

    it amazes me that people will not become proficient at clipping in/out before locking their feet to the pedals and hitting the trails. then when they cannot get unclipped and have a wreck (or fall over at a stop sign like james did) they blame the pedals rather than their lack of skills. tsk, tsk, tsk....

    Quote Originally Posted by shupack
    I'm not a racer, not even close.
    unless riding an entry level bike, i personally find this argument for flats to be self-contradictory since riders clamor to use other equipment, parts, tools, etc. that benefit racers. that is... until it comes to clipless.

    likewise, and contrary to james' insistence, clipless pedals are not for racers and/or for race day only.

    Quote Originally Posted by shupack
    I put the SPD's back on a couple weeks ago, took me a second to become re-accustomed to the "standing on a frozen golf-ball" feeling. by 1/2 way through my knee was hurting, and it hurt long after the ride too. It could be the setup, but I've had these pedals for about 15 years (shimano 757) with several sets of shoes and have the 10deg float cleats (new).
    the length of time has nothing to do with it. no amount of time will "make right" a setup that has been wrong all along.

    also, if feeling like one is standing on a frozen golf ball i would suggest the soles of the shoes are too soft/flexible. one should not be able to actually feel the size or shape of the pedal under their shoe. if they can, stiffer soled shoes are needed.

    again, this appears to be inadequate equipment rather than an inherent flaw in the clipless platform.

    Quote Originally Posted by shupack
    I've moved the cleats all over the shoe and nothing helped. Yes, following free internet suggestions on how to best setup cleat position.
    often times internet advice on how to set up cleats is adequate, but frequently a bike fit is required to make it all come together as there is MUCH more to bike fit than simply getting cleats in the right position. seat height, cockpit length, stem length, bar width, saddle width, cleat shims, varus/valgus insole inserts, etc. all come into play. simply googling "cleat placement" does NOTHING to address any of these other facets of proper bike fit.

    millions of dollars have been spent in the r&d of bike fit, clipless pedals, chamois, nutrition, and so forth. clipless pedals that are PROPERLY set up keep feet in optimal anatomical position to most efficiently utilize the series of levers that comprise the leg/foot/cranks. they correct anatomical defects/variances such as leg length discrepancy, hip issues, varus/valgus issues with the knee/ankle/foot, and much more.

    flats allow one to move around on the pedals to somewhat correct or compromise for otherwise improper fit, physiological defects, and poor biomechanics. so once the feet are locked into a certain position on the pedals pain can result in many areas of the body due to exacerbating anatomical defects by being "locked in" to an incorrect bike fit.

    often times pain will result from incorrect habits/posture/fit being corrected. the muscles are accustomed to one repetitive movement and are now being required to do something very different.

    that all being said, ride what you want and own it like a boss.

    fun is why we started riding bikes to begin with, and that should be the result of our ride at the end of the day. i just think it's tragic that people deprive themselves of even MORE fun due to the proliferation of ignorance passed off as wisdom on the internet.
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

  35. #35
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    Loved the mallets at snowshoe. Not hard to unclip when I needed to, but clipping back in on steep tech from a stop was interesting at times. Really nice on the high speed chossy sections like on Ball n Jack and bottom of Skline/others. I personally feel more connected, one with the bike, on clips. Especially with the backend. Seems like you use less muscles when hopping the bike on clips. So I can actually hop over, absorb, and pump more stuff and still not be as tired at the bottom (legs anyway, arms were feeling it)

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    what I meant (and should've written) was he helped me get past the BS line of thinking of:

    "I'm not a beginner, downhiller, or a dirt-jumper, so I have to ride clipless", which is exactly what you propose, getting past BS stereotypes etc. I'm far from refusing to ride clipless, put them back on this morning because I smashed my cheap Chinese flats on a rock on Saturday. Funny enough, hit my SPD's on the same rock

    "Oh look, there's my pedal chunks! THUNK...oops", they didn't even bat an eye.

    I had no knee pain today, didn't change anything on the shoes or pedals. My legs are much stronger from riding 3-4x a week, that probably has something to do with it. Also, I'm standing to climb more (side effect/benefit of getting my legs back under me), so seat position isn't as big a factor.

    I did have a couple stupid tip-overs from not getting unclipped, but I am out of practice. I wasn't consciously stressing over clipping in/out, but when I switched to flats I noticed it went away. I did learn initially by riding around in the grass for a week, 19 years ago...ugh...

    by "frozen golf ball" I meant the slippery/twisty feeling, the cleats don't push up into my foot, at least noticeably. My shoes arn't the greatest, so maybe that's my next purchase. I felt stronger on the climbs, and slower/ less in control on the descents, but guess where I PR'd... the descents, with a couple 2nd &3rds on climbs, and my fastest time overall for the entire loop.

    I think the big benefit is I'm more in tune with my bike, I'm paying more attention to what's going on and what I'm doing. I don't think I have a preference, clipless/flats, maybe I'll ride one of each and switch sides weekly, that'd be fun

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by shupack View Post
    what I meant (and should've written) was he helped me get past the BS line of thinking of:

    "I'm not a beginner, downhiller, or a dirt-jumper, so I have to ride clipless", which is exactly what you propose, getting past BS stereotypes etc.
    then good for both of you!

    let me be clear that i don't disagree with him across the board, and my disagreement is with his many speciously founded opinions rather than from a personal basis. he seems like a great guy, and i'd ride with him any day. to give credit where it's due he does help people "get past the BS lines of thinking" regarding clipless vs. flats; despite the fact that he does so with profound ignorance and disinformation rather than just encouraging people to ride what they want and own it like a boss.

    to a certain extent stereotypes exist because they're true. however, i totally agree that one doesn't HAVE to ride clipless to have fun or to be a "real" mountain biker. does each have something to offer the other doesn't? certainly. is clipless the best choice across all mtn disciplines? absolutely not.

    as far as the loose feeling you describe i'd suggest getting a pair of m520 or m540 pedals. they're very affordable and don't have anywhere near as much float as you describe - something that i would absolutely dislike as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by shupack
    i I don't think I have a preference, clipless/flats, maybe I'll ride one of each and switch sides weekly, that'd be fun
    then go forth and do so, cuz fun is the name of the game!!!
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

  38. #38
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    I ain't reading all that sh!t and I am surprised somebody actually took the time to write that long of a post that appears to be an internet rant.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  39. #39
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    "where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise." ~ thomas gray
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by monogod View Post
    "where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise." ~ thomas gray
    Maybe so, or maybe I can just find better things to do. It shouldn't be too hard.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by alberta View Post
    Yes go find better things to do,grown-ups are talking in here.
    I love having my own little personal troll following me around.
    Obviously you have daddy issues.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by monogod View Post
    .... skills coach, trained bike fitter....

    still coaching? I've been considering attending a clinic.

  43. #43
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    indeed i am.
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

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    PM me info? I'll request a class for my birthday present.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by shupack View Post
    PM me info? I'll request a class for my birthday present.
    sorry, missed this. PM sent.
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by monogod View Post
    it might bear mentioning that james is an admitted self-professed expert on all things bike (and many things non-bike); and that many of his "expert" conclusions are nothing more than his unfounded or poorly "researched" opinions. opinions, it also bears mentioning, which squarely contradict known and repeatedly proven science, bio-mechanics, and research. his self-contradictory diatribe on cleat float in his "flat pedal revolution manifesto", for example, is but one. this manifesto is further packed with profound ignorance of anatomy, physiology, bio-mechanics and kinetics.

    untold millions of dollars have been spent on research and development in the area of shoes/cleats/pedals but james (an admitted layman) dismisses all of this as, and i quote: "some man made mish-mash of crap". really? uh... ok, pal.

    in fact, he proudly states that he goes against well known, tried, and researched foundational principles of cycling. he further states that he gives most of his information for free. know why? because YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

    just so we understand his position let me repeat that the people that actually know they're talking about (based on decades of experience and untold millions of $$$ of r&d) and can back it up with world/national championships and years of proven results are the ones that james dismisses as buffoons.

    james repeatedly states this reasoning as to why he is anti-clipless: "I tried clipless, fell over at a stop sign and realized that if I couldn’t get out of them on the road when I knew I was stopping I was going to be screwed on the trail."

    in other words, he tried clipless and fell over ONCE so he ditched them and has become vehemently anti-clipless (even though he claims he is not) and gratuitously pro-flats. all you have to do is read his articles and responses to them to see he is vociferously and ardently anti-clipless - again based on his ONE failed attempt at using them.

    many people had a hard time learning to ride a bike, but stuck with it and became very proficient where they were once unsteady and wobbly. many, when getting into mountain biking, were also wobbly and unsteady but stuck with it and their skills/balance/ability grew with persistence and logging miles on the trail.

    SAME WITH CLIPLESS.

    i'm sure when james was initially learning to ride a bike he fell over more than once and yet got right back up and tried it again until he became proficient at riding a bike. then tried clipless once, fell over, and through his tears swore them off forever dismissing them as nothing more than something to be reserved for race day only (if that).

    so in short, regarding clipless pedals james is little more than a sniveling quitter who has gained quite a following of people who also either failed once and gave up, are too scared to try them, or have used clipless pedal systems WITHOUT bothering to get them properly fitted; something which can and does result in pain or even injury.

    speaking of which, sometimes the pain that results from initially using clipless pedals is due to muscles being used that were not previously brought into motion, and will go away once some endurance is built up and the muscles become accustomed to the use. other times the pain is due to BAD HABITS being corrected resultant to the muscles being used PROPERLY after adopting clipless.

    lots of people will, like james, say "i tried clipless once and will never do it again" but i submit this is coming from an insufficient base of experience. without actually using properly setup clipless pedals/cleats/shoes for at least 6-12 months one really hasn't afforded themselves a chance to become familiar/comfortable/proficient on and with them.

    when moving to a clipless system it is good to get a pedal with adjustable tension (like spd) and set the tension at low. then, either on a trainer or sitting still and holding onto something, practice clipping in and unclipping. then go out and ride on a flat area and practice clipping in and out.

    after all of this THEN hit the trails instead of installing clipless pedals and immediately hitting the trails and having a horrible outcome. (the latter a common experience)

    opinions are one thing, but the fact remains that if flats were better we'd see xc world championships being won on them. but we don't. let that sink in.

    my personal experience from being involved in the sport for decades as a rider, racer, shop employee, skills coach, trained bike fitter, and a medical professional working toward a grad degree in kinesiology/physiology is that very, very, very few people i know of that have moved from flats to clipless PROPERLY have regretted it in the long run.

    that all being said... regarding clips vs. flats: ride what you want. just RIDE! but don't justify EITHER choice with bovine residue from abject ignoramuses.
    dozens and dozens of studies show exactly what you're saying. PowerCranks and scientific studies
    Stupid, but sometimes witty. Occasionally brilliant. Slow and fat though.

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