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  1. #1
    Don't worry, be happy!
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    More on clips to flats

    I finally got it together to switch out my pedals to my new Wellgo MG-1s and try out my new flat/sticky shoes. I warned DH that I anticipated a learning curve,( ie, stupid futzing around with new setup) especially since our chosen ride had several miles of single track climbing.

    Big surprise, I wouldn't consider there to be a learning curve at all! I had basically zero slippage on the pedaling climbs... in fact, I felt very secure right out the gate.
    I felt very stuck to the pedal... the thought that I might gash my shin by popping my foot off never even crossed my mind. Probably the only item that falls under "learning curve" is getting started on the trail heading up. I've been riding with clips for 15+ years, and the motion of clipping in with a little power stroke to get momentum going up is pretty ingrained. It's definitely different not having a clip, and I haven't quite figured it out.

    Here's what really blew me away and I'm still trying to get my head around what I felt and if I'm possibly psyching myself ( in a good way). The trails we rode feature lots of nicely bermed tight corners and perfectly just rideable rounded switchbacks on the descent. Now, I've been a pretty good technical rider for a very long long time, but on those tight round corners there's always an element of mental work to make sure I've got the right line, best body position, exit steering all sighted blah blah. Somehow, with this new setup, it all just came easier. A lot easier. A lot more flow, a lot less mind. The only thing I can possibly think of is that being free of clips my feet are placed more perfectly natural for wherever it is they need to be. It was rather mind blowing, actually.... am I imagining this, or has anyone else experienced this? I've never run across it in the dozens of bike/shoe/flats discussion I've been following in various fora.

    Short version, I'm sold.


  2. #2
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    Awesome.... You may have just convinced me to give it a try!

  3. #3
    pin it
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    I bought a pair of Tevas for trail riding.
    I like them as well
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  4. #4
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    Here's what really blew me away and I'm still trying to get my head around what I felt and if I'm possibly psyching myself ( in a good way). The trails we rode feature lots of nicely bermed tight corners and perfectly just rideable rounded switchbacks on the descent. Now, I've been a pretty good technical rider for a very long long time, but on those tight round corners there's always an element of mental work to make sure I've got the right line, best body position, exit steering all sighted blah blah. Somehow, with this new setup, it all just came easier. A lot easier. A lot more flow, a lot less mind. The only thing I can possibly think of is that being free of clips my feet are placed more perfectly natural for wherever it is they need to be. It was rather mind blowing, actually.... am I imagining this, or has anyone else experienced this? I've never run across it in the dozens of bike/shoe/flats discussion I've been following in various fora.

    Short version, I'm sold.


    *I don't think you're imagining it - I have had a similar experience. I switched from clipless back to flats this year for many reasons. I felt like the clipless pedals were inhibiting me a bit, in that I had quite a number of falls where I would attempt to go over a feature, stall out and fail to unclip before going over. I also felt a bit like it was cheating, in a way, especially when going over something and trying to hop. I knew I was using the fact that my feet were attached to the pedals rather than using the right technique. So I thought, why not see how I do with flats?

    I have always had a problem with cornering and switchbacks. Downhill switchbacks in particular really challenged me. I have to add, though, that I also recently went from a xc bike with a 71* head angle to a more trail-oriented Trance X29er with a 69* head angle. I think between the stability I feel with the bike and the fact that I'm not clipped in has helped me immensely. I agree with you - I find myself almost unconsciously adjusting my feet before the turns. I feel so much more in control and my confidence is starting to return. I have consistently made several switchbacks that I previously could not do. It's a great feeling!

  5. #5
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    That's awesome. I know personally, I've had experiences in the past where I accidentally unclipped while cornering hard and even though it's pretty rare, if I'm riding clipless I think in the back of my mind I know that can happen and it makes me hold back. On flats, no such thing so I can relax and really go with it. Getting started is the only thing that takes a hair more effort to get the pedals where you want them on flats, but eventually you pick up angling your foot to "pull" that front pedal up to a power position. (If you're standing over the top, you basically drop your heel, push the pedal forward as far as you can, then point your toe, claw the pedal and drag it back and up. It's not 100% because you can be standing at an odd angle on the terrain, but that gets easier with time.)

    The other thing is super bumpy terrain, and in that case you generally want to let your ankles and knees flex a tiny bit more so it helps absorb the jostling and you don't get bounced off the pedals. How much you need to worry about this probably depends on how you were riding before too - some people "cheat" more than others when they're clipped in.

    But I'm with you - I switched fully to flats several years ago, even on XC rides and love them.

  6. #6
    Dudette
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    Quote Originally Posted by connie View Post
    That's awesome. I know personally, I've had experiences in the past where I accidentally unclipped while cornering hard and even though it's pretty rare, if I'm riding clipless I think in the back of my mind I know that can happen and it makes me hold back. On flats, no such thing so I can relax and really go with it. Getting started is the only thing that takes a hair more effort to get the pedals where you want them on flats, but eventually you pick up angling your foot to "pull" that front pedal up to a power position. (If you're standing over the top, you basically drop your heel, push the pedal forward as far as you can, then point your toe, claw the pedal and drag it back and up. It's not 100% because you can be standing at an odd angle on the terrain, but that gets easier with time.)

    The other thing is super bumpy terrain, and in that case you generally want to let your ankles and knees flex a tiny bit more so it helps absorb the jostling and you don't get bounced off the pedals. How much you need to worry about this probably depends on how you were riding before too - some people "cheat" more than others when they're clipped in.

    But I'm with you - I switched fully to flats several years ago, even on XC rides and love them.

    Everyone knows you can't climb in flats, tsk tsk If I had a nickel every time I heard that, I'd buy myself a fat bike!

  7. #7
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    having spent a lot of time on both, i realized that it all came down to fatigue. it takes more energy to keep your feet tilted the right way on flats, and i find that i stand and coast more, rather than just spin. But that's the thing. i know for a fact clipless has made me a bit lazy. i can be in a lighter gear because i never worry about unweighting the pedals. Flats made me stronger all around, and a BETTER rider. Had i not kept them on my bike so long, i know i would be about a year behind on skills right now.

    However, since i've been riding much longer rides, with fast people, i keep the clipless setup so i dont burn out.
    there is a technique to flats, mostly the heel-down positition to keep yourself from bouncing, also, to "pull" on the pins when going up over obstacles. Same way you would bunny hop.

    Another thing i liked about flats is that i like the feeling of a solid platform under my feet, and i feel like i can lean and stand more "stable" than the feeling of skating on a peg (clipless). So yeah, i get what you mean, as far as leaning and putting weight down on your foot. it feels more balanced on a flat (to me anyway)

    i'm still mostly a clipped in rider, but flats are fun! esepecially on nasty technical stuff. no fumbling with clipping/unclipping. you can just jump right on the bike even if the terrain is super uneven.
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  8. #8
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    I think if your feet weren't in a good position with clipless pedals, you had the cleats positioned incorrectly.

    For the record I ride flats and clipless and see pros and cons in each choice.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    Another thing i liked about flats is that i like the feeling of a solid platform under my feet, and i feel like i can lean and stand more "stable" than the feeling of skating on a peg (clipless). So yeah, i get what you mean, as far as leaning and putting weight down on your foot. it feels more balanced on a flat (to me anyway)
    This is what has me stay in flats after last year.

    Prior to that, I was going back and forth between clipless and flats for a few years, and before that, I was 100% clipless. Now, for over 2 years, I'm 100% flats and won't go back. I have a lot more real control in flats over clipless. There's a lot of people who don't feel comfortable going over technical stuff in flats after coming out of clipless or jumping without being clipped, but that shows deficiencies in skills more than anything else.

    My confidence has improved so much since I've gotten into flats, and I've been able to wheelie now, and so much of my riding has improved. Don't think I'll ever go back to clipess.

    But even with flats, you still have to find a pedal you like and shoes you like. Love my Straitline Defactos (tall pins, centre pins, concave with relatively narrow profile, and purty colors )--rocking those on all my bikes now (AM, DH, and DJ), but I might try the Teva midtops and the 5.10 carvers. I have the 5.10 impact highs, but I keep having to stop to clean trail trash out of my shoes.
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  10. #10
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    oops double post

  11. #11
    Don't worry, be happy!
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    I wonder how much of my positive transition is due to the fact that standing on the pedal not being clipped in is how I rode a lot of stuff anyway. For years, I used a platform/spd combo ( not the single sided ones but the dual sided ones) that have a nice big platform that you can just stand on if you aren't clipped in. Granted, it's not super secure, but it sure beats being clipped in in high consequence areas, rock gardens, gnarly descents or wherever else you might like to NOT be clipped in.

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