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  1. #1
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    having a hard time adjusting to flats from clipless

    Hey all, I've been reading a few of the threads here regarding clipless vs. flats because I have been riding flats and am having a hard time keeping feet on the pedals. Here is a bit of history:

    I rode bikes as a child, mix of road and BMX. Road bikes always had clips, BMX had flats. I would say I was a more proficient roadie than BMXer back in the day. I started riding MTB when they first started to get popular in the late '80's (I was in my late teens) and always rode clips. If I recall, most (at least higher-end) MTB's in those days came with clips and most of my riding buddies removed them immediately. I did a little XC racing, but preferred technical and flowy singletrack, which required climbing (usually in FS and logging roads) before descending the singletrack. I was known as a fast climber back then and as I look back, I can attribute a lot of that to being one of the few that rode clipped in. I remember that riding singletrack while being clipped in (old-school clips) was a bit scary at first, but I adapted and soon felt very secure, locked-in and very much "at one" with my bike while clipped in.

    As happens to some of us when we marry and start families, I drifted away from MTB for 25 years. Fast-forward to 2020 and now that the nest is empty, I have started riding again. First, I pulled my 30-year-old Cannondale Red Shred (rigid 26er with cantilever rim brakes and old-school geo) out of the closet (only about 6 weeks ago) and started riding the neighborhood, then some gravel roads, which led me to all the wonderful trails in my backyard (Galbraith Mtn and Lookout Mtn). I know the Red Shred like the back of my hand, and felt locked in (albeit completely out of shape!) and one with the bike and the clips immediately. I am surrounded by very technical blue and mostly black trails (and is what I actually prefer to ride) and have felt fairly comfortable, but have no problem dismounting and walking some of the gnarly drops and janky sections because I have not fully regained my conditioning, am mostly riding these trails for the first time, am riding solo, and am not as young and resilient as I once was (I am now 52).

    As I started riding, I naturally found these forums and have been reading and watching videos and found myself lusting after all the new tech goodness that is available now, soo.....I ordered up a carbon YT Jeffsy 29er!!! As everything is back-ordered, it is not scheduled to be delivered until mid July (although I suspect it will be delayed further out than that) so, being impatient and dreaming of a bad-ass, FS carbon bike with hydro brakes that can actually stop you, I picked up a 2011 Stumpjumper FSR 29er. WOW! makes the Red Shred feel like a model T!

    Anyway, the Stumpy has flats and I picked up a pair of RC Livewire shoes and figured I would be good to go. Well, I am having a really hard time getting used to not being clipped in to the pedals. My feet bounce off through the janky stuff, I find it hard to place my feet properly after they bounce off or I dab, the soles are very sticky, so if I DO place my foot on the pedal wrong on a technical part of the trail, it is difficult to re-position properly without really slowing down or stopping which is not always possible if it is very steep or techy! I also find that when it gets techy and janky, that I pull a foot instead of committing, which always ends badly! I have even had my foot come off the pedal a couple of times just while upshifting when I am putting down a lot of torque. I also find that I don't feel like I can jump/bunny hop as well, or that I don't have as much control over the rear of the bike as I did with clips. I assume this is just due to habit and the fact that ALL of my previous MTB experience is with clips and that I need to re-learn those techniques as they apply to flats?

    I've probably only logged a total of 50-60 miles on the flats vs. all of the years I rode clipped, but I am not seeing all of the virtues of flats that I have read about on the forums.

    I'd like to pose a couple of questions to those that have endured my long post so far and that have spent a significant amount of time on both flats and clips/clipless:

    - so far I see ZERO value in flats over clipless but I've read numerous times how die-hard proponents of flats emphatically say they are better, but they don't explain "better". Can someone cite specific examples of "better"? (For instance, I can kinda see how being able to move your feet forward or back on the pedals depending on terrain MIGHT be an advantage)
    - I realize that I am adapting to a LOT of changes from my old rigid to a more modern bike (29 vs 26, FS vs rigid, modern-ish geo vs old-school, hydro brakes vs rim brakes), and that virtually ALL of my previous MTB experience is on clips, but how long is long enough to try and adapt to the flats? How long has it taken others to truly adapt and feel at home and in control with flats?

    I'm about ready to pull the trigger on clipless pedals and clipless shoes, but I want to give flats an honest try. I know if I order a clipless setup, that I will probably ditch the flats immediately and never go back, so all of your feedback will be beneficial to me right now!

    Thanks in advance for all of your insight!

  2. #2
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    I gave flats a month. I like clipless pedals better. I'm totally good with it and don't feel like I'm missing anything.

    It's so much nicer not having to worry about being kicked off the pedals in chunk.

  3. #3
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    Flats do require a different technique. It will take some learning, but I’d wager it would be good to learn even if you eventually go back to clipless.

    I rode clipless only for about 5 years(mostly commuting, but some trail riding as well), and moved to flats for mountain biking when I started mountain biking in earnest almost 2 years ago. So not the most experienced with either compared to some riders, but enough to be comfortable on both.

    I mostly switched to make sure I was learning correct technique for things like bunnyhops. I found with clipless I was cheating a bit, and using the direct connection to just pull up.

    At first, I had the most issues with “floating” my feet while pedaling hard. Ie, I was trying to pull up on the upstroke, while keeping my feet/ankle flat. And unlike with clipless... on flats that does nothing.

    I also had a bit of the “feels sketchy like I’m about to slip off sensation at times (partly from old pedals with rounded pins, and bad shoes though).

    Both of those are completely gone now, as I have the technique down. Basically, you’re not using your feet angle correctly/enough.

    With my “hovering” problem, I had to adjust and “paw” more at my pedals more (more angle, toe dipped further).

    For the rough bits, I found I was staying on too toe low/heel high. Aka, I was having my feet angled the same as, or even more “downhill” than the trail was. In other words, I was about to fall off.

    Proper flat technique on the downs includes dropping your heels a lot, which takes thre most getting used to imo. But heels down makes the pedals angle towards you, making each bounce/bump make hem press harder and harder into your foot. I’ve not dropped a pedal in the rough stuff actually (knock on wood).

    The reason I say that may be useful to learn either way, is the heels down approach helps lower your center or gravity, making you more stable no matter what pedaL you’re on.

    Go watch some of the videos of Sam Hill that are floating around on the internet. He is the flat pedal master. Watch his feet/ankle movement and you’ll see what I’m taking about.

    But, end of the day... if it’s not for you, it’s not for you. It’s pretty much proven that clipless is faster for almost everyone (other than Sam Hill, is who is apparently an outlier). But I’d also wager that most of the truly fast pros out there on clipless have pretty good technique for things like manuals/bunnyhops/etc, and don’t need the flats to help them learn it better (which was my reason for swapping).

  4. #4
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    Screw the flats. Ride what you're comfortable with. Flats are fine for people who like them, and clips are great for those of us who prefer clips. If you've been around the bike world for a while, you will have endured a series of battles over equipment and stylistic choices that seem life or death at the time, but which mostly turn out to be matters of preference. Fixies. Sunglasses. Gloves vs no gloves. baggies vs lycra. 26 vs 29. Flats vs clips is one of these religious topics that will never be settled. Make your own personal choice and be at peace.

  5. #5
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    Just get the clips They make them for a reason, you can always go back

  6. #6
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    It took me a couple of months to get really comfortable on flats

    But

    It improved my uphill tech climbing, and downhill, mainly because i was willing to wait a bit more before putting a foot down.

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  7. #7
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    The reason flats are "better" is that they only work with good technique. You can get away with lots of poor technique when you are clipped to the pedal.

    The pros have good technique with flats, then add some incremental gains by using clips. Some top-level coaches have suggested using clips in summer, and flats in winter so that you can bail off easier in tricky conditions, and practice good technique.

    I use clips on the XC hardtail for efficiency on longer, gentler efforts, and flats on the trail and enduro bikes for confidence. I don't have any less control using either type of pedal. Each has their pros and cons.

  8. #8
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    Another benefit of cleat pedals is theyare less prone to cause pedal strikes. Smaller in both width and length, and non or less studs to catch on rocks and roots
    .
    Also less risk of tearing up you legs. So on flats I preferre full length leg protectors. But with cleats I'm happy with just knee protectors or nothing if going for less then charging rides..

    An interesting alternativ is the Mag Ped. Thers a few pretty fast rides around using them. Personally I prefer the fully locked in but "elastic" release feeling of my HT pedals. My girlfriend are on Magpeds to but struggled to adjust. I think the metal plates might be be a bit to long and should be shortened to center here shoes more on the pedals..

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  9. #9
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    Good stiff, grippy flat shoes and although it may seem counter intuitive, long grub screw type pins and you'll be right...

    Like said earlier, pro's n cons with either.

    If you come unclipped in janky terrain, there ain't a hope in hell of getting clipped back in.

    At least w/ flats you'll get some rubber on metal.

    I find clipless better when I'm really in oxygen debt. I don't have to think about foot position.

    Dropping your heels on steep descents is easier on flats. As you're keeping centre of gravity lower, you'll have more control and grip.

    I ride both.

    I see the benefits of both.

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by targnik View Post
    >>>>>>>

    Dropping your heels on steep descents is easier on flats. As you're keeping centre of gravity lower, you'll have more control and grip.
    Why is that you think? If adjusting the cleats to same exact position and (duck) feet angle as when riding flats it should not be much different if at all.

    In fact for me it's the other way around since you never have to fight to stay in the pedals on cleats as on flats when you sometimes will slide off if not actively maintaining an even preassure against the pedals.
    But I suppose that comes naturally if ridding flats only which I have not done very mych of for over 20years since I tend to get sore knees from using flats since feet can not twist and tilt a bit as on cleats. And that's the main reason I went from flats to cleats. No knee pain at all as long as having some float.
    That's also why I went from SPD to HT pedals since they are a bit more floaty and elastic in the release

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  11. #11
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    After riding clipless for decades, I got flats for some lift served and to use sometimes when I ride with my pleasure unit. Anything that requires 2 or more of my synapses to connect, at my age, is a good thing. It did motivate me to slide the cleats aft to more closely simulate that "flats" position and that helped my biking. Flats are kinda fun, but I usually ride clipless.

  12. #12
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    OP, I had the same experience you did. I also “cheat” with clipless pedals... which is about the only niggle in the back of my mind about giving flats another shot. That thought comes and goes though - the memory of cheese grating my shin quickly puts to rest the desire to try flats again.

  13. #13
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    It took me a couple of years to adapt to flats after 20+ years of clipless. It's much easier to go the other way.
    What, me worry?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by paramount3 View Post
    Screw the flats. Ride what you're comfortable with. Flats are fine for people who like them, and clips are great for those of us who prefer clips. If you've been around the bike world for a while, you will have endured a series of battles over equipment and stylistic choices that seem life or death at the time, but which mostly turn out to be matters of preference. Fixies. Sunglasses. Gloves vs no gloves. baggies vs lycra. 26 vs 29. Flats vs clips is one of these religious topics that will never be settled. Make your own personal choice and be at peace.
    I wasn't really asking which one is better like most of the other threads I have read, I explained that most of my experience is on clipless and I read that there is some value to flats, but I have not heard enough specifics to convince me.

    Most of what I was looking for was, 1) others' experience of how long it took them before they learned flats after riding clipless and, 2) specific BENEFITS of flats over clipless.

    So far, I haven't really seen any specific benefits of flats over clipless.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by targnik View Post
    Good stiff, grippy flat shoes and although it may seem counter intuitive, long grub screw type pins and you'll be right.
    I have Ride Concepts shoes. Are they not stiff/grippy enough?

    Quote Originally Posted by targnik
    If you come unclipped in janky terrain, there ain't a hope in hell of getting clipped back in.

    At least w/ flats you'll get some rubber on metal.
    So I guess I should clarify. Most of my time on MTB was using old-school toe clips, I've never really used a true clipless setup, but the clipless pedals like the Shimano XT M8120 that I was looking at, do have a bit of a platform and many of the SPD MTB shoes look to be relatively flat on the bottom, with the cleats recessed, so it kinda looked like there WOULD be a chance of getting some rubber back on the pedal in the jank, especially since (with flats) I have not really been able to get my foot properly placed on the pedal when it comes off in the jank, either! Please don't misunderstand me, I don't want to come off as ignoring or discounting your advice, I really am at what I consider a bit of a turning point with my MTB'ing. I am willing to learn to adapt to flats right now if there is a compelling reason(s) to do so (such as it allowing me to get rid of "lazy" or "bad" habits learned years ago), but not willing to retrain this old dog if there are no compelling reasons. In other words, if adapting to flats allows me to learn better technique that will benefit my cornering, jumping, braking, etc., than it will be for a worthy cause.

    Quote Originally Posted by targnik
    I don't have to think about foot position.
    That is one thing I noticed about flats right away. I don't EVER get them back in the same spot on the pedals, and it is hard to move them to where I like with the aggressive pins and grippy soles and all...

    Quote Originally Posted by targnik
    Dropping your heels on steep descents is easier on flats.
    I'm not understanding how it is easier to drop your heels with flats vs. clipless? Am I missing something? Can you please explain?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post
    It took me a couple of months to get really comfortable on flats

    But

    It improved my uphill tech climbing, and downhill, mainly because i was willing to wait a bit more before putting a foot down.
    Again, I am not understanding this.....

    HOW did flats improve your uphill tech climbing? and WHY were you willing to wait a bit more before putting a foot down?

    Sounds like this is less of a difference between flats and clips, and more of a mental/learning/trust thing?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikemoto885 View Post
    The reason flats are "better" is that they only work with good technique. You can get away with lots of poor technique when you are clipped to the pedal.
    Translation: advantage step-in pedals.
    =sParty

    P.S. Notice I called them “step-in” pedals rather than the inappropriate but universally misapplied “clipless.” Step-in pedals aren’t clipless — they absolutely have clips (perhaps more accurately, cleats.) It’s flat pedals that don’t have clips. The word “clips” comes from bygone days when off-road cyclists actually used toe clips and straps (like roadies employed pre-1980ish), before step-in pedals were introduced. The phrase “clipless” is arcane and should be eradicated. It differentiates nothing between platform pedals and step-in pedals as neither employ toe clips so they’re both “clipless” — platform* pedals being slightly more clipless than step-in pedals due to the step-in’s cleat. As for kicking the term “clipless” to the curb, I seem to be on a one-man mission to accomplish this monumental task. I’m not so naive as to believe it’ll ever come to fruition; regardless I continue my quest.

    *As long as we’re on the subject of naming pedals, “platform” is preferred over “flat.” A flat is something we get with tubed tires.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    Anyway, the Stumpy has flats
    What flats? Good, large, metal pinned ones, or small, cheapo, all plastic, throwaway ones?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    After riding clipless for decades, I got flats for some lift served and to use sometimes when I ride with my pleasure unit.
    I have read others say flats for lift served and bike parks, but WHY? It looks to me like the new SPD-compatible shoes are quite hike-a-bike and walk around, have a burger and beer after the ride friendly, so what makes the flats better in these situations?

    Again, I'm not trying to be obstinate, I just really want to wrap my head around this issue for me and make a decision one way or the other.

    I really do appreciate all of the feedback!

    Regards

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by looks easy from here View Post
    What flats? Good, large, metal pinned ones, or small, cheapo, all plastic, throwaway ones?
    Well, good is somewhat subjective, especially considering there are literally HUNDREDS of flats to choose from these days!!

    The pedals on the SJ are what I would consider at least decent; they are metal, large, and they have metal pins. With that said, There are certainly larger pedals with larger pins out there....

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparticus View Post
    Translation: advantage step-in pedals.
    =sParty

    P.S. Notice I called them “step-in” pedals rather than the inappropriate but universally misapplied “clipless.” Step-in pedals aren’t clipless — they absolutely have clips (perhaps more accurately, cleats.) It’s flat pedals that don’t have clips. The word “clips” comes from bygone days when off-road cyclists actually used toe clips and straps (like roadies employed pre-1980ish), before step-in pedals were introduced. The phrase “clipless” is arcane and should be eradicated. It differentiates nothing between platform pedals and step-in pedals as neither employ toe clips so they’re both “clipless” — platform* pedals being slightly more clipless than step-in pedals due to the step-in’s cleat. As for kicking the term “clipless” to the curb, I seem to be on a one-man mission to accomplish this monumental task. I’m not so naive as to believe it’ll ever come to fruition; regardless I continue my quest.

    *As long as we’re on the subject of naming pedals, “platform” is preferred over “flat.” A flat is something we get with tubed tires.
    "Clips" are just that....toe clips..
    "clipless" (as counter-intuitive as it may sound) actually have cleats and are also referred to as cleats. (Yes, I know you know this!).

    As you mentioned, these are all commonly accepted terms that are used regularly in the biking community, and are not likely to change any time soon! The clip/clipless thing used to bug me to no end, until I just accepted it and moved on!

    As far as "platform" vs "flats", now you're starting to sound a little AR...roadie background?

  22. #22
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    It might be worth the $25-50 investments to try out a new pair of modern flat pedal with fresh, unworn pins. There are a few models in that range that are consistently well regarded. If you end up loving them they're easy to swap to the YT once it comes in, and if you end up deciding they're not for you you're not out a lot.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    Again, I am not understanding this.....

    HOW did flats improve your uphill tech climbing? and WHY were you willing to wait a bit more before putting a foot down?

    Sounds like this is less of a difference between flats and clips, and more of a mental/learning/trust thing?
    Well, I'm less afraid of falling because i couldn't get my foot out fast enough.

    Primarily on the uphill.

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  24. #24
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    I feel like that question has been asked and answered a few times here.

    You can’t cheat with flat pedals, so they force you to ride more correctly. There is no reason you can’t also drop your heels with clipped pedals. But you also don’t have to do it with clueless pedals, which in my case made my muscle memory “lazy”.

    The fact that you describe your riding through the techy sections as feeling so sketchy, seems to indicate to me that you’ve been relying more on the mechanical connection to the bike to control it, rather than good technique. Mostly the parts about feet siding/bouncing off, which sound potentially like the combination of heels up, and “light feet”.

    And I think a lot of people like flats for park riding, because usually they let you bail easier than clipless. Not a big deal most of the time, but useful when you’re specifically trying to progress (which is often a big reason people go to bike parks).

    Anyway, again, it’s not a big deal to do one over the other. But I think those two reasons cover why a huge number of people choose to ride them.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    I have read others say flats for lift served and bike parks, but WHY? It looks to me like the new SPD-compatible shoes are quite hike-a-bike and walk around, have a burger and beer after the ride friendly, so what makes the flats better in these situations?

    Again, I'm not trying to be obstinate, I just really want to wrap my head around this issue for me and make a decision one way or the other.

    I really do appreciate all of the feedback!

    Regards
    I'm not talking flow trails. I'm referring more to very steep, droppy old school technical riding (such as I have in my area) where I may be having to get a foot off and on more often. For flow, I'm perfectly happy to ride clipped in.

    I enjoy the different challenge presented by using flats. There are different skill sets involved and I enjoy being pushed into learning by choosing to do things that require learning.

    "You can give a person every necessity in life, except necessity."

    Of course, when I say clipped in, I mean clipped in via cleats.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by ocnLogan View Post
    The fact that you describe your riding through the techy sections as feeling so sketchy, seems to indicate to me that you’ve been relying more on the mechanical connection to the bike to control it, rather than good technique. Mostly the parts about feet siding/bouncing off, which sound potentially like the combination of heels up, and “light feet”.
    I think you are probably right, but may have more to do with coming from a 26" rigid! HAD to ride light, or get the crap beat outta me!

    That is all part of my learning curve right now. I think I will go ahead and purchase some clipless pedals and shoes, as well as a new pair of flat pedals and I can swap them back and forth between the Jeffsy and SJ for comparison.

    Quote Originally Posted by ocnLogan
    And I think a lot of people like flats for park riding, because usually they let you bail easier than clipless. Not a big deal most of the time, but useful when you’re specifically trying to progress (which is often a big reason people go to bike parks).
    Now THAT I can wrap my head around!

    See, I have never been to a bike park, so to me, bike parks are where you go to show off and enjoy the skills you have attained by grinding countless hours on your home trails, not a place to pay to learn new skills.......but I am weird that way!!

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    I'm not talking flow trails. I'm referring more to very steep, droppy old school technical riding (such as I have in my area) where I may be having to get a foot off and on more often. For flow, I'm perfectly happy to ride clipped in.
    Thanks for clarifying that!

    Again, I tend to think differently than most, and If clipless affords a better connection to my bike, I would rather learn to clip in and out with ease and confidence, rather than switch to flats.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    "Clips" are just that....toe clips..
    "clipless" (as counter-intuitive as it may sound) actually have cleats and are also referred to as cleats. (Yes, I know you know this!).

    As you mentioned, these are all commonly accepted terms that are used regularly in the biking community, and are not likely to change any time soon! The clip/clipless thing used to bug me to no end, until I just accepted it and moved on!

    As far as "platform" vs "flats", now you're starting to sound a little AR...roadie background?
    If it’s a bike, I ride it.
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    Thanks for clarifying that!

    Again, I tend to think differently than most, and If clipless affords a better connection to my bike, I would rather learn to clip in and out with ease and confidence, rather than switch to flats.
    The problem is that sometimes, when you jump, you unclip by mistake, pretty awful results sometimes.

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  30. #30
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    If you don't want to be bounced off in the rough you can try two things.
    Put weight on the pedals by getting off the seat.
    Lower your heels.
    When the bike bounces the angle you create with your heels down requires the pedal pins to drag across the tread of your shoes to bounce you off. It can't happen.
    Your weight using the suspension of your legs and arms can help absorb the movement.

    Watch this vid at 1:50 for the stance with weight and low heels when you're going through rocks/roots.



    You can use any shoe with an open tread pattern that can catch the pins.
    You don't need or even want long sharp pins. Those are needed to work with 5.10s and other rubber soled shoes without an open tread pattern. That combo works for seated dh riding where you aren't putting a lot of weight on the pedals. You also need shin guards for that setup. The sharp pins cut up the soles of running shoes.

    Use these pedals with short fatter pins meant to work with any running or trailrunning shoe. They also won't cut up your shins. You don't need shin guards.
    https://www.amazon.com/Wellgo-Bicycl...36BNQCVN2BXTNP
    https://www.amazon.com/Wellgo-Megnes...HPVZ7WQ5GCY7ZV
    When you look at pedals look at the type of pin.

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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    I wasn't really asking which one is better like most of the other threads I have read, I explained that most of my experience is on clipless and I read that there is some value to flats, but I have not heard enough specifics to convince me.

    Most of what I was looking for was, 1) others' experience of how long it took them before they learned flats after riding clipless and, 2) specific BENEFITS of flats over clipless.

    So far, I haven't really seen any specific benefits of flats over clipless.
    Quote Originally Posted by ocnLogan View Post
    I feel like that question has been asked and answered a few times here.

    You can’t cheat with flat pedals, so they force you to ride more correctly. There is no reason you can’t also drop your heels with clipped pedals. But you also don’t have to do it with clueless pedals, which in my case made my muscle memory “lazy”.

    The fact that you describe your riding through the techy sections as feeling so sketchy, seems to indicate to me that you’ve been relying more on the mechanical connection to the bike to control it, rather than good technique. Mostly the parts about feet siding/bouncing off, which sound potentially like the combination of heels up, and “light feet”.

    And I think a lot of people like flats for park riding, because usually they let you bail easier than clipless. Not a big deal most of the time, but useful when you’re specifically trying to progress (which is often a big reason people go to bike parks).

    Anyway, again, it’s not a big deal to do one over the other. But I think those two reasons cover why a huge number of people choose to ride them.
    I rode clipless pedals exclusively for 14yrs before trying platform pedals. There was some adjustment as I had to improve my technique.

    Learning to ride platform pedals well improves other aspects of riding, too. many skills are easier or even safer to learn with platforms. skills learned on platforms can pretty much ALL transfer over to clipless pedals, which reduces the cheating you'll do and improves your overall bike handling. The ease of cheating with clipless pedals can make it difficult to learn certain skills correctly. For some it might not matter because in the end you're getting the same result, but in other cases, the specific actions you do when you cheat with clipless pedals can actively prevent you from doing the skill.

    Platform pedals will expose your gaps in technique really fast and force you to correct them. Yes, it might be harder to learn after you've spent decades on clipless and toe clips. But acknowledge that the equipment is only illustrating a fact that won't go away if you go back to clipless. You have gaps in your technique. Address those, and become a better rider.

    In the process, you can't really just go ride all the hardest stuff that you used to ride while you learn. You need to dial back the technical difficulty so you can focus on the technique. Get the technique, then go back to the hard trails. Working on my own technique and closing skill gaps has allowed me to ride much more difficult trails than I used to. I had definitely stagnated in my riding. The pedals weren't the only factor, but they were one factor.

    For me, I stayed with platform pedals for mtb riding because they just suit me better. The biggest being that lace-up shoes for platform pedals fit me better and are more comfortable than any clipless shoe I've ever owned. I never used one of those hybrid shoes because the soles are more flexible and flexible soles tend to result in pressure points at the cleat. I had that problem with cheap clipless shoes in the past.

    I'm a more casual pace rider, anyway, and I ride in a place where there are some nasty, extended hike-a-bikes. Shoes for platform pedals usually work better here (an exception being slippery, greasy mud).

    I still own and use clipless pedals, but they tend to be more specific-case uses for me. I'll use them on the road, especially for really long rides. I'll also use them on the mtb if I happen to decide to race (which I don't do often).

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    Thanks for clarifying that!

    Again, I tend to think differently than most, and If clipless affords a better connection to my bike, I would rather learn to clip in and out with ease and confidence, rather than switch to flats.
    I already know how to clip in and out with confidence.
    I'm just not perfect.

    If you can't, concentrate on learning that, by all means.

    Now I want to be able to ride flats.
    They're not mutually exclusive.

    I skied alpine for 40 years. Then took up telemark. I can still ski alpine.

    There's one final step climb out of a gully at the end of Porcupine ST that I hurt myself on trying clipless. I'd be more comfortable trying it on flats....if I could ride flats.
    Sort of like, "If we had ham, we could have a ham and cheese sandwich...if we had cheese!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    If you don't want to be bounced off in the rough you can try two things.
    Put weight on the pedals by getting off the seat.
    Lower your heels.
    When the bike bounces the angle you create with your heels down requires the pedal pins to drag across the tread of your shoes to bounce you off. It can't happen.
    Your weight using the suspension of your legs and arms can help absorb the movement.

    Watch this vid at 1:50 for the stance with weight and low heels when you're going through rocks/roots.
    I get the heels down and stance thing. This seems to be more of a "fix" for riding flats, rather than a "pro" of riding flats, no? I mean, can't I maintain a heels-down stance just as well with clipless?

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post
    The problem is that sometimes, when you jump, you unclip by mistake, pretty awful results
    I’ve done that, it is indeed terrifying.
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    I get the heels down and stance thing. This seems to be more of a "fix" for riding flats, rather than a "pro" of riding flats, no? I mean, can't I maintain a heels-down stance just as well with clipless?
    You SHOULD be riding heels down on your clipless pedals, too. This is one of the cheats that clipless lets people get away with, and it's probably the most harmful. There are legit physics reasons behind it. heels down means that when you ride your mtb over technical terrain, the bumps push the bike into your feet and make you more planted, giving you better control.

    But it's also overly simplistic, because heels down isn't the ONLY foot position that you should be using. there are times where you will want to be toes down on one or both feet, too.

    The feedback you get from platform pedals when you aren't doing it right makes it obvious when you need to work on your technique. You don't get that with clipless, so a LOT of riders who have only ever ridden clipless go a long time without ever knowing that their technique is lacking. This absolutely does hold back their riding.

    You CAN learn these skills with clipless pedals, but little to no feedback when you're doing it wrong will most likely mean it'll take longer to learn.

    Why the resistance to making an effort to learn?

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I rode clipless pedals exclusively for 14yrs before trying platform pedals. There was some adjustment as I had to improve my technique.

    Learning to ride platform pedals well improves other aspects of riding, too. many skills are easier or even safer to learn with platforms. skills learned on platforms can pretty much ALL transfer over to clipless pedals, which reduces the cheating you'll do and improves your overall bike handling. The ease of cheating with clipless pedals can make it difficult to learn certain skills correctly. For some it might not matter because in the end you're getting the same result, but in other cases, the specific actions you do when you cheat with clipless pedals can actively prevent you from doing the skill.
    Thank-You! You were able to explain it better than I was! I definitely want to progress my skills and don't want to mask a lack of skills by riding cliplesss. I think that was my real question; is my lack of being able to adapt to, and the apparent awkwardness of flats, a lack of skills on my part, or just that they are different.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold
    Platform pedals will expose your gaps in technique really fast and force you to correct them. Yes, it might be harder to learn after you've spent decades on clipless and toe clips. But acknowledge that the equipment is only illustrating a fact that won't go away if you go back to clipless. You have gaps in your technique. Address those, and become a better rider.
    YES!! I want to become a better MTB'er, and I think you have hit the nail on the head for me, and answered my question! I think I will stick with flats until the awkwardness goes away and I learn ride to the proficiency and comfort level I once had with the clips. At that point, I may choose to return to being locked in, as I suspect there ARE advantages and efficiencies afforded by going clipless, but that cannot be determined beyond a doubt until I am sure I have conquered proper technique.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold
    In the process, you can't really just go ride all the hardest stuff that you used to ride while you learn. You need to dial back the technical difficulty so you can focus on the technique. Get the technique, then go back to the hard trails. Working on my own technique and closing skill gaps has allowed me to ride much more difficult trails than I used to. I had definitely stagnated in my riding. The pedals weren't the only factor, but they were one factor.
    Again, Thank-You! I needed that reminder! It is hard to do, as the brain says, "go for it, you used to do trails like that!"

    As I only have so much discretionary time to ride, this will allow me to tailor that time to the proper trails and allow me to ride not only for fun, but with specific purpose and goals in order that I can eventually progress to the level I want.

    Now that I am typing it out here, it seems so elementary, but you all have helped me hit that, "AHA" moment that I am sure will help not only keep me out of the ER, but will further my skills and enjoyment!

    Thanks!


    Quote Originally Posted by Harold
    I still own and use clipless pedals, but they tend to be more specific-case uses for me. I'll use them on the road, especially for really long rides. I'll also use them on the mtb if I happen to decide to race (which I don't do often).
    I think this is partially where my mental block came from. I am 100% convicted that clipless is THE way to go for anything and everything right up to the Gnar and big air, just wasn't sure if there was a compelling reason for one or the other when it came to those aspects.

    Here's my plan: I will put clipless on the Stumpjumper (it will be the less aggressive bike in the stable), and put a good pair of flats on the Jeffsy (it will be my ride of choice) for now, and will ride until I am comfortable and proficient. At that point, I will consider whether or not I want to use clipless all the time.

  37. #37
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    No matter flats or cleats...When starting to focus on heels-down its pretty obvious to most that it both lowers the center of gravity AND gives your legs more travel that makes it possible to keep your CG traveling in a straighter line then tour bike that will follow the contours of the terrain more. And most knows that straighter in general means both faster and/or more energy efficient.

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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    I get the heels down and stance thing. This seems to be more of a "fix" for riding flats, rather than a "pro" of riding flats, no? I mean, can't I maintain a heels-down stance just as well with clipless?
    It gets you into a position to use more of your body dynamically to absorb and respond to the trail features. More offense.
    You can do that with clips.
    When you know how locked in to the pedal you'll be with that position on flats you're free to do whatever else you want. Take your feet off, move them around, one foot off to kick something or someone. Pop off to hike a quick segment.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    Here's my plan: I will put clipless on the Stumpjumper (it will be the less aggressive bike in the stable), and put a good pair of flats on the Jeffsy (it will be my ride of choice) for now, and will ride until I am comfortable and proficient. At that point, I will consider whether or not I want to use clipless all the time.
    For me, it was better to go all-in on platform pedals until I ironed out the learning curve. I had some on another bike for a couple of years that I noodled around on for awhile, but didn't really learn much in that process because I kept going back to clipless before I had really solidified anything.

    Focused practice might help speed the process.

    https://learn.ryanleech.com/the-flat-pedal-challenge

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    For me, it was better to go all-in on platform pedals until I ironed out the learning curve. I had some on another bike for a couple of years that I noodled around on for awhile, but didn't really learn much in that process because I kept going back to clipless before I had really solidified anything.

    Focused practice might help speed the process.

    https://learn.ryanleech.com/the-flat-pedal-challenge
    Yeah, if you currently have no particular preference, go all in on platforms. Going from platforms to clipless is easy. Going from clipless to platforms isn't.

    As you correctly observed:
    "I'm about ready to pull the trigger on clipless pedals and clipless shoes, but I want to give flats an honest try. I know if I order a clipless setup, that I will probably ditch the flats immediately and never go back, so all of your feedback will be beneficial to me right now!"

    This is just one of many perspectives:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UJv...index=5&t=243s

    I disagree with the claim that clipless allows you to pull up on a pedal....it does allow it, but it's rare anyone would consistently do that. It does, however, allow you to have almost no pressure on the rising pedal.

    Time 1:47 was where I wished I'd had (and could ride) platforms!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    I disagree with the claim that clipless allows you to pull up on a pedal....it does allow it, but it's rare anyone would consistently do that. It does, however, allow you to have almost no pressure on the rising pedal.
    Another thing I am getting used to is round chainrings. I've only ever ridden (MTB) oval. I can say that with the oval chainrings I definitely pull on the upstroke. It is not so much a concerted, massive pull, but it is there and I believe it makes a difference. I would also say that the data shows there is an advantage to clips/clipless (at least for experienced riders), so there must be SOMETHING to that.

    I am also debating whether or not to go oval on the chainrings. Again, I definitely notice the difference between the round and oval, and as of right now, I prefer the oval, but that is all I have experienced in the past, so I want to try and give the round ones a fair shake.

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    Another perspective with pretty much the same conclusions!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vk2nBV0yq1Q

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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    Another perspective with pretty much the same conclusions!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vk2nBV0yq1Q
    What Jeff says there pretty much mirrors my experience. Get proficient with both and you'll be pretty well-rounded.

    One thing he didn't mention as an advantage of clipless pedals is that keeping your feet positioned where you need them on platform pedals does take some mental bandwidth. He sorta talked about needing to be on your a-game for technical climbing situations and that's true, but I think it extends a little farther than that. It's the reason I pull out the clipless pedals for races (and extremely long endurance rides). I don't have to think about where my feet are very frequently (and adjust them when they aren't just right). Clipless allows me to stay locked into the pedals and then pay attention to other important things when I'm pushing to my limits and my focus starts to fall apart.

    He also didn't really mention that platforms have a pretty gradual learning curve to enter. You can hone your technique a little at a time as you improve and push yourself. The technique simply to begin using clipless pedals has a pretty steep learning curve. If you can't clip in/out, then you're not riding. You HAVE to practice in a stationary environment one way or another to get that technique figured out and get comfortable with it. And once you get to the point where you're ready to start riding, pretty much EVERYBODY has a story about tipping over because they couldn't get out of their pedals. I've got one from about 20yrs ago, when I did it at a stoplight in traffic.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    pretty much EVERYBODY has a story about tipping over because they couldn't get out of their pedals. I've got one from about 20yrs ago, when I did it at a stoplight in traffic.
    Hell, I've done it with toe clips! Usually happens in slow motion.......just can't seem to pull that foot out in time! LOL!

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    OP -you state you have 50 to 60 miles on flat pedals.

    Does that mean you have given flats a try forabout 5 rides? Or 10 really short rides? Three really long rides.

    You should go back to clips if you want. You haven't been on flats long enough to be an expert rider yet, as you feel you should be. If these few rides are your 'growing period', then maybe flats aren't right for you if you don't want to give them a chance.

    Nothing wrong with either pedal choice whatsoever.

  46. #46
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    I’ve been running both for pretty much my entire mountain biking history. Ran toeclips when they were a thing too — those were death traps.

    I am just as fast climbing and descending on flats, and on full suspension bikes, they’re my preference.

    I still run clipless on my hardtail, because even with proper technique, in the rowdy terrain that I like, I occasionally come off a pedal. On easy flow trails there’s no need to be clipped in though, and I actually really don’t like to jump clipped in.

    On my full suspension bike, I only run flats, and it is basically impossible to come off the pedals. I really couldn’t even tell you what I do when riding flats. Some people say “drop your heels”; maybe that’s part of what I do. For me, it’s more about getting a bit lower in an attack stance and riding dynamically/letting the bike come up and then pushing it back down with arms and legs. If you’re ever riding clipped in and find yourself “pulling” the bike around with your feet in any way, then that’s a habit I’d recommend breaking even if you stay with clipless. There should ALWAYS be at least some weight on your pedals. To get the bike to lift, you should start by pushing down with your feet, get ready to spring with your legs, and pull up with your hands while you jump. Your hands should be pulling the bike up to your feet, maintaining positive contact. It’s a bit like walking on stilts. If you’re pulling with your feet, you’re gonna step right off the stilts.

    Bunny hopping with flats is a good drill to develop the technique you’ll need in all other situations. If you can jump a foot off the ground with flats consistently, you’re on the way. I think it takes YEARS to master the subtleties though.

    Clipless have their place too. In nasty terrain, I worry more about popping OUT of those pedals unexpectedly than being ABLE to get out. I set my tension pretty high to minimize the chance of that happening. It happened to me in a DH race one time on the most murderous part of the course. I rode on one foot for about 150 feet because I couldn’t get back in. Ridiculous — I’m lucky to have lived through that. That was the last time I ran clipless for DH racing or any sort of park riding.

    On technical climbs, there are still times where I crash because I can’t unclip in time. You try to clear an obstacle,one pedal is up/at a weird angle, and it can happen to anyone— it’s just a matter of time.

    One advantage to clipless, though, is they’re smaller and less likely to hit trail obstacles. This can mean more available pedal strokes and faster times in some cases.

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    Thanks for all the feedback everybody!

    I am going to give flats a chance. I believe my skills will develop by riding through this discomfort. rewards only come by putting in the work, there are no easy ways to truly get good. I'll master flats (someday!) and THEN I'll decide which ne is best for me.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    Thanks for all the feedback everybody!

    I am going to give flats a chance. I believe my skills will develop by riding through this discomfort. rewards only come by putting in the work, there are no easy ways to truly get good. I'll master flats (someday!) and THEN I'll decide which ne is best for me.
    Good decision. It took me three months to get used to flats and I was told that it would take that long by a skills coach. I prefer clipless, although I’m not really faster. I’m going back to flats which I hope will help reduce my heel spur pain.


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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    I wasn't really asking which one is better like most of the other threads I have read, I explained that most of my experience is on clipless and I read that there is some value to flats, but I have not heard enough specifics to convince me.

    Most of what I was looking for was, 1) others' experience of how long it took them before they learned flats after riding clipless and, 2) specific BENEFITS of flats over clipless.

    So far, I haven't really seen any specific benefits of flats over clipless.
    1) My experience... years on SPD clipless (like since they were invented), tried flats on and off throughout the years. Always come back to clipless. Just never attained the same confidence and efficiency on flats as I experience on SPDs.

    2) I never felt any benefit from going with flats. Again, my experience. Especially on climbs. That added ability to pull up for extra power or alternating push/pull for extra stamina, just isn't possible on flats. Heck, I've inured a leg on rides where I could ride out using one leg (pushing and pulling). If I had been on flats, I'd have been limping alog pushing the bike. But more importantly, I think a person's riding style dictates pedal preference. For me, when things are fast and rough, I like to use a lot of body suspension (a lot of arm and leg movement). With flats riding like this, I find it difficult to maintain enough foot pressure to stay planted while using my body the way I want to. With SPD's, I don't waste a single nanosecond thinking about my foot to pedal connection.

    I'm as guilty as anyone. I see and buy the latest cool looking flat pedals that catch my eye thinking, yup, time to switch. But after some reality checks, I reinstall my beat up worn out SPD's. I do, however, use SPD/flat combo's (currently Funn Rippers). So, I can switch on the fly just by wearing different shoes. Makes it easy to jump on the bike for a casual ride without changing shoes. For me, combo pedals are the best solution.

    Anyway, sorry, you were asking about specific benefits to flats. I can't provide any from my experience.
    You didn't quit riding because you're old, you're old because you quit riding.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post

    Most of what I was looking for was, 1) others' experience of how long it took them before they learned flats after riding clipless and, 2) specific BENEFITS of flats over clipless.

    So far, I haven't really seen any specific benefits of flats over clipless.
    Trying to keep this short as I have talked about my recent switch from 15 years of spd to flats in other posts.

    Took me all of 2 or 4 months to feel like I've been riding flats for years. I did put in a lot of effort to learn though. Watched vids. Learned how to do a (very minor) bunny hops, manuals and some other basic skills like wheelies that got me very comfortable. Things I could never practice with clips, just too sketchy to fall of the back like that. I can bail on flats and land on my feet, at least mostly, lol.

    Benefits)
    1) Freedom. The freedom to move my feet just a little bit allows for a better foot position when either bombing down the chunky downhills or climbing. I have found these are usually slightly different foot positions now that I'm not locked in one place. Being able to use a mid-foot position is sooooo much more confidence inspiring in the chunk and downhill sections. It's easier to keep the weight down near the BB (heals low, feet heavy, hands light). You do this with clipless as well but not to the extent imo b/c your riding on the balls of your feet and keeping heels low less natural. This is why many people are constantly searching for clipless shoes that allow the cleats to be positioned further back, to give them a more mid-foot position. This position is also FAR better for landing drops and jumps. I've done both for years clipped in and never thought is was an issue but flats are better for this imo, no contest. On some really steep punchy climbs I also find I use an even more exaggerated mid-foot position to hammer down on the pedals, but that might just be me.

    2) Cornering. I was surprised and how much more confidence I had right away with high speed cornering. Not being clipped in allows me to shift my hips just a little bit in the direction of the turn which helps me lean the bike heavily while maintaining a neutral body position over the bike. I had never given this any thought but noticed it right away once I was comfy on flats.

    3) Bombing chunk. Never had a problem with clipless, bombed down Porcupine Rim many times with them and TWE. Flats are better imo once you learn HOW to keep your feet on the pedals. More confidence for me since I have freedom of foot position as needed.

    4) dismounting. This is really no biggie to me either way but....it's nice to just step off. Seems like most of my falls relating to not be able to unclip always come at a standstill or near standstill. It's just stupid but it happens.

    Cons for me:
    1) uphill seated climbing to a bit to get used to. Never realized how much I actually pull up on my pedals sometimes.
    2) uphill rocky climbs. If you bash your shoes on a rock you'll likely slip the pedal. When clipped in you just keep on truck'n, usually. Not too much of a problem so far but it takes getting used to.
    3) Effort. I noticed right away how it took more and different leg strength to tackle the steeps. Since I can no longer use the pedal in the upstroke everything is on the downstroke. My quads were KILLING me after my first difficult climbing day. You have to re-learn how to pedal a bike to some degree. It was discouraging the first 2-4 weeks or so. After that I think I just got used to it and it's no longer something I even think about.
    4) Speed. If you ride a lot of flat miles or uphill I think clipless is true advantage. You are just faster, longer. Me, I don't care about that. I still have my XT trail spd's and I'll throw them on for long days in the Arizona high country forest this summer. For techie stuff, I'm digging the flats.

    Good luck. My advice is to commit if you want to give them a go. Take the time to learn to use them or it will just be an exercise in futility and frustration. And LEARN TO JUMP, even it's just a little bit. This is super important b/c if you can do this you have learned how to leave the ground and keep the pedals on your feet. Can't stress how important this was for me and it's why I think I'm so at ease already. I can't jump more than a several feet, but I do it (mostly) with the feet staying on the pedals and that's all I need to get a little air or bomb a super rocky section and know I'll stay on my bike.

    I've only been on flats for a few months, SPD's since 2005 until the switch for reference.
    Just me personal experience.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    I have read others say flats for lift served and bike parks, but WHY? It looks to me like the new SPD-compatible shoes are quite hike-a-bike and walk around, have a burger and beer after the ride friendly, so what makes the flats better in these situations?

    Again, I'm not trying to be obstinate, I just really want to wrap my head around this issue for me and make a decision one way or the other.

    I really do appreciate all of the feedback!

    Regards
    Hmm, I assume with PNW that you ride in my region. I ride very steep and technical terrain in WA with clips and like how I don't get bounced off when I'm careening down a root-littered drop. So, I haven't found any real disadvantage to riding in clips here.

    Lot of people, including my son, ride the same stuff with flats without issue. I guess it comes down to what you're most comfortable with.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  52. #52
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    So I recently bought a new bike. Every box checked in terms of new geometry etc. Two weeks in I did a stupid thing on my part, complacent really. I went over the bars, why? Because I was on a new unfamiliar trail. I had stopped to rest then took off. I was fumbling with my left foot [btw I’ve ridden clipless exclusively for 25 years] to get clipped in, just as I was about to clip in the trail dropped off into a short rocky section, over I went. Not just because of not clipped in on one side but also because my seat post was fully extended up. My cleats are worn is why I couldn’t get clipped in and because of this crash I’ve ordered new cleats. Problem now is I’ve got a friend harping on me to switch to flats. I’ve always been comfortable on clipless. I don’t want to deal with the learning curve of switching to flats. After reading this thread and others I think I’m sticking to clipless even though this friend seems relentless in getting me to switch to flats. I just love the feel of being connected to the bike. I don’t have issues unclipping in emergency situations, in fact it’s comes natural to me. Which seems to be the main reason people don’t like clipless. Take note of my crash described above, I had issues clipping one foot in, hence worn out cleats. To each their own. Signed: comfortable on clipless and sticking with it.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  53. #53
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    I've been almost exclusive clipless, I've done flats a few times in the winter and a few times doing DH stuff, like at Trestle, but interestingly there my foot slipped off the flat pedal on a landing and kind of got "crushed" under the pedal, probably contributing to the ankle problems I'm having now. I always have problems with the feet staying in the same position on flats in that kind of terrain, no matter the shoes, pedals or foot position (yes, there is a lot of information on these subjects). I can make it work for the most part, but these inevitably keep happening. On the other hand, I've been DHing with clipless for years, totally comfortable in the nastiest terrain, and so on. I learned how to wheelie recently and there was a big thing on almost all of the videos about how you "shouldn't learn on clipless because it's much harder". So as I'm learning, I tried flats a few times. Once I learned, I went back and tried flats again. Nope, not easier. I think this just goes to what you are comfortable with and all the guys making the videos were not clipless riders.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  54. #54
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    It will take a while, but you will get used to flats.

    You will feel as planted in flats as you do now on clips.

    And you will try a lot more stuff in technical tricky terrain.

    No matter how used you are in unclipping, you will still step off a lot faster on flats

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  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post

    And you will try a lot more stuff in technical tricky terrain.
    I say bullshit. You have no idea how I or anyone else rides.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I say bullshit. You have no idea how I or anyone else rides.
    LOL!

    And no, I'm most certainly not laughing at you. Your statement just rings so true to me.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    LOL!

    And no, I'm most certainly not laughing at you. Your statement just rings so true to me.
    Yep, he's projecting his fear of DHing with clipless. Some of us don't have that fear. Just like I have problems with my feet staying in the same place on flats, I know for other people that is not a problem/issue. *cue the inevitable: but you just aren't trying the right flats yet!-comment*
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  58. #58
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    I'll agree with you guys above.

    15 years riding clipless, although I'm riding flats now but I had no problem bombing down the rockiest nastiest sections in Phoenix and Moab and the likes while clipped in. I rarely if ever thought it was holding me back. The rare exception to this for me was riding very slow super chunk. Think goat camp downhill in Phoenix. In fact in many ways being clipped in is reassuring the chunk.

    However I do find flats provide a little bit more freedom (obviously), that's all. I'm not really talking about being able to unclip or put a foot down, more about being able to adjust my foot position to suit the moment. Neither is perfect.

  59. #59
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    I was fine on Goat Camp, but I only rode it maybe twice and would have liked more practice on the jackhammer. For me, riding with flats is akin to riding with really loose ski bindings. The only thing I don't want clipless for are high skinnies, which are very rare with most riding. I'm not talking about high platforms, because if it's wide then there's no problem, but if it's truly skinny and high, then yeah, I'd want to be able to bail. That situation is so infrequently encountered though. I remember one high skinny at Keystone where I was riding clipless and it really had me puckered because it got higher and higher, but did just fine and clipless there was real nice for the big chunk at speed.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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    Boy, this one has got me stumped at the moment! LOL

    I can totally relate to the die-hard clipless guys, because that is how I feel right at this moment, but I have never really ridden on flats enough to give them a fair assessment.

    Sooo, My new bike showed up yesterday and I bought a pair of ANVL TILT pedals (hopefully, these are "quality" enough platforms to satisfy the purists!) and I will give them a fair shake. I will ride them at least for the rest of this season before really making up my mind.

    As of right now, I can see going clipless on the Stumpjumper as it will be relegated largely to climbing and blue trail stuff, and the new YT Jeffsy will be used for the gnarlier stuff.

    Only time and perseverance will tell for sure!

  61. #61
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    @PNW MTB rather than just riding around, consider getting either some coaching or a good book about mtb skills.

    "Mastering Mountain Bike Skills" by Brian Lopes is a good one.

    Will make a world of difference rather than just listening to us interwebs experts.

  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I was fine on Goat Camp, but I only rode it maybe twice and would have liked more practice on the jackhammer. For me, riding with flats is akin to riding with really loose ski bindings. The only thing I don't want clipless for are high skinnies, which are very rare with most riding. I'm not talking about high platforms, because if it's wide then there's no problem, but if it's truly skinny and high, then yeah, I'd want to be able to bail. That situation is so infrequently encountered though. I remember one high skinny at Keystone where I was riding clipless and it really had me puckered because it got higher and higher, but did just fine and clipless there was real nice for the big chunk at speed.
    I agree 100%.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    Boy, this one has got me stumped at the moment! LOL

    I can totally relate to the die-hard clipless guys, because that is how I feel right at this moment, but I have never really ridden on flats enough to give them a fair assessment.

    Sooo, My new bike showed up yesterday and I bought a pair of ANVL TILT pedals (hopefully, these are "quality" enough platforms to satisfy the purists!) and I will give them a fair shake. I will ride them at least for the rest of this season before really making up my mind.

    As of right now, I can see going clipless on the Stumpjumper as it will be relegated largely to climbing and blue trail stuff, and the new YT Jeffsy will be used for the gnarlier stuff.

    Only time and perseverance will tell for sure!
    Congrats on the new bike! Be sure to post some pictures for us.

    Happy Independence Day!
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  64. #64
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    Flats take time to learn no matter what. And time to develope muscle memory for foot placement.

    Biggest thing if your feet are coming loose, get off your saddle a little. Your unweighting your feet so that's how they come loose.

    Sent from my SM-N975U using Tapatalk

  65. #65
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    When I go downhill skiing, I use telemark skis. You have to have good technique to do this. If you use downhill skis and bindings, you become dependent on the bindings and you are using the wrong technique. On a snowboard, I don't use bindings either, just like on a skateboard. Using bindings makes you dependent on them, and you develop bad techniques that only work with bindings. Likewise, when I go skydiving, I don't like to have the parachute pack strapped to my back. I want to be able to release easily. So I just stand on the parachute pack while wearing MTB shoes. If you strap the pack to your back, you develop bad techniques that only work when the pack is strapped to you.

  66. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by paramount3 View Post
    When I go downhill skiing, I use telemark skis. You have to have good technique to do this. If you use downhill skis and bindings, you become dependent on the bindings and you are using the wrong technique. On a snowboard, I don't use bindings either, just like on a skateboard. Using bindings makes you dependent on them, and you develop bad techniques that only work with bindings. Likewise, when I go skydiving, I don't like to have the parachute pack strapped to my back. I want to be able to release easily. So I just stand on the parachute pack while wearing MTB shoes. If you strap the pack to your back, you develop bad techniques that only work when the pack is strapped to you.
    And when I play bass guitar, I play fretless. Playing with frets lets you cheat and develop bad technique. When I ride bikes on the road, I ride fixed gear. Riding with a freewheel lets you coast and that give you bad technique. And when i go camping, and I need to start a fire, I always rub two sticks together. You need to have good technique to do this. If you use matches, you don't develop the right stick rubbing technique.

  67. #67
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    I have been on flats for about 4 years, and am strongly considering switching back to eggbeaters. I still use eggbeaters on my road bike, so I am not out of practice. I miss having my foot always in the right position, and I have been developing hot spots on my feet towards the end of my rides, and I think it has to do with the flex in flat shoes vs my clip shoes.

  68. #68
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    I've been riding about 65 years. Of course, as a child, I used flat pedals.

    Moving on to road bikes in my teens, I used and hated clips. I never, ever, learned to like them but all the "cool kids" used them so I stuck with it until clipless came out.

    Its hard to remember exactly when I switched to clipless but 30 years ago is a good guess. For a while I used Shimano them switched to Times because they were supposed to be easier to get in and out of and could shed mud better then SPD. That's what those same "cool kids" said so I believed them.

    For a while I stuck with Times on my road bike too but eventually moved on to real road bike clipless - Look Keos. Not because the "cool kids" used them but because they were supposed to be easier to use then other clipless road pedals. I still use them.

    About 10 days ago, I got Raceface Chester flats and Five Ten shoes for my birthday for my MTB. I asked for them after riding my older son's bike that had them. I also used flats whenever I rented a bike so I didn't have to carry pedals and shoes when I traveled and never found any reason not to like them.

    Its too late to say "long story short" but I've used the flats on ten technical rides in those ten days and see no reason to ever go back to clipless. The value to me is I can bail anywhere and anytime I want. Period. Last season I ended up in the ER after failing to get out of my clipless. Rare, yes, but I just totally enjoy the freedom of flats.

    How long did it take to adapt? About an hour. My foot popped off twice on my first ride but I quickly learned how to prevent that. Having the Five Ten shoes made a big difference.

    Benefits: Ease of escape when you really need to bail fast.

    I still have the Look's on my road bike and see no reason to change them.
    Last edited by Rev Bubba; 1 Week Ago at 02:42 PM. Reason: The usual - The best things are not written, they are rewritten. GBS

  69. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikemoto885 View Post
    @PNW MTB rather than just riding around, consider getting either some coaching or a good book about mtb skills.

    "Mastering Mountain Bike Skills" by Brian Lopes is a good one.

    Will make a world of difference rather than just listening to us interwebs experts.
    I'm not sure what you mean by, "just riding around"? It's not like I am new to MTB, it's just that ALL of my experience is on a rigid 26er with old-school geo and toe clips.

    As I stated, I will give flats a fair shake by forcing myself to, "just ride around" on them, even though it is foreign to me. It's not like this is rocket science, I will learn to adapt and then I will make up my mind which one I prefer.

    My original question was not which one is better, it was, "What do platforms afford a rider that clipless do not".

  70. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by tigris99 View Post
    Flats take time to learn no matter what. And time to develope muscle memory for foot placement.

    Biggest thing if your feet are coming loose, get off your saddle a little. Your unweighting your feet so that's how they come loose.

    Sent from my SM-N975U using Tapatalk
    Don't take this the wrong way, but I think that may be an advantage that clipless has over platforms then. I know when I want to sit and when I want to stand. If there are times I want to sit but platforms don't allow for it at that time, wouldn't that be a "pro" for riding clipless and a "con" for platforms?

  71. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    Congrats on the new bike! Be sure to post some pictures for us.

    Happy Independence Day!
    Thanks Curve!

    Ask and you shall receive...

    having a hard time adjusting to flats from clipless-img_2526-002-.jpg

    having a hard time adjusting to flats from clipless-first-ride-3-july-4-2020.jpg

    So, first ride on Jeffsy with platforms......I definitely noticed an improvement with the ANVL pedals. Still don't have muscle memory to get feet back in same spot each time, and once my foot is placed, it takes a concerted effort to re-position it! Pins are grippy, as are the soles on the Ride Concept shoes!

    Didn't feel like I was getting bounced off on the higher-speed, rocky and rooty tech, so that was a plus!

    Biggest challenge I faced on today's ride was on steep, rooty, techy ups. I am so accustomed to pulling UP to keep constant torque to the ground, as well as lifting the back wheel over the roots a bit in order to not spin out on them. With clips, it is almost like I could give a couple of quick pedal strokes BEFORE the up techy section and pull UP on the bars and pedals (all while pedaling) and kind of unweight the bike to "float" over the rooty, rocky stuff in a short burst. With the platforms, I found that the front wheel was more weighted and would get hung up on the roots and then I would lose the momentum of my pedal stroke and have to dab.

    It was quite frustrating and I will have to focus on learning a technique for those quick little, rooty UPS. Any tips out there?

    Couple more pics from today's ride:

    having a hard time adjusting to flats from clipless-jack-bridge.jpg

    having a hard time adjusting to flats from clipless-daisies-3.jpg

    having a hard time adjusting to flats from clipless-pigs-sign.jpg

  72. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    I'm not sure what you mean by, "just riding around"? It's not like I am new to MTB, it's just that ALL of my experience is on a rigid 26er with old-school geo and toe clips.
    I mean get some guidance from a professional coach to focus your efforts more rapidly on correct technique.

  73. #73
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    I have been riding "clipped" for 15+ years. Dirt, commuting, everything.

    Late least year I went to flats. This year I have not used clipped once.

    Only issue I have with flats - on tech climbs my feet can come off, and the first few times I got air, my feet came off the pedals entirely and I almost lost my nuts on the top tube. All that has since been corrected.

    Lovin the flats. I have a brand new pair of S-Works shoes that I may never use now.
    2020 Kona Unit
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  74. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    I'm not sure what you mean by, "just riding around"? It's not like I am new to MTB, it's just that ALL of my experience is on a rigid 26er with old-school geo and toe clips.

    As I stated, I will give flats a fair shake by forcing myself to, "just ride around" on them, even though it is foreign to me. It's not like this is rocket science, I will learn to adapt and then I will make up my mind which one I prefer.

    My original question was not which one is better, it was, "What do platforms afford a rider that clipless do not".
    He means specific and directed practice. There are probably things you will miss by just going out and riding. Maybe you won't miss them, but they'll take longer to learn/figure out on your own. If you have a coach who says, "do this" and "use this method" it has a tendency to speed the learning process. Of course, you have to be coachable. Lots of people who have been riding for decades tend to be stubborn, set in their ways, and fairly uncoachable.

    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    Don't take this the wrong way, but I think that may be an advantage that clipless has over platforms then. I know when I want to sit and when I want to stand. If there are times I want to sit but platforms don't allow for it at that time, wouldn't that be a "pro" for riding clipless and a "con" for platforms?
    Not the way you think. It doesn't matter what type of pedal you have, you're not supposed to plant your butt in the saddle to unweight the pedals. It CAN be an advantage (but not always) that clipless allows you to forget about foot placement once you get them in place. But it's also an advantage of platforms that you are shown really quickly when your technique is sloppy. You CAN be seated and still keep enough pressure on your pedals to avoid being bounced off of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    Biggest challenge I faced on today's ride was on steep, rooty, techy ups. I am so accustomed to pulling UP to keep constant torque to the ground, as well as lifting the back wheel over the roots a bit in order to not spin out on them. With clips, it is almost like I could give a couple of quick pedal strokes BEFORE the up techy section and pull UP on the bars and pedals (all while pedaling) and kind of unweight the bike to "float" over the rooty, rocky stuff in a short burst. With the platforms, I found that the front wheel was more weighted and would get hung up on the roots and then I would lose the momentum of my pedal stroke and have to dab.

    It was quite frustrating and I will have to focus on learning a technique for those quick little, rooty UPS. Any tips out there?
    There's a lot to unpack here. In short, think about your pedal motions at the top and bottom of the stroke. Obviously you can neither push down nor pull up in those spots. Think about sliding your foot forward and backward in those positions. The sticky rubber gripping the pedal pins will allow you to do this, but also the angle of your ankle will assist. At the bottom of the crank rotation, point your toe a little bit as you slide it back (as though you're wiping dog crap off your shoe). You can continue this motion on the upstroke to get a bit of pull, too. At the top of the rotation when you're sliding forward, drop your heel a little bit and continue that through the downstroke.

    Be VERY light on the saddle when climbing techy stuff (or maybe even drop the saddle completely out of the way and stand if it's rough enough). You're going to need to be able to slide fore/aft as needed to keep your weight centered between the wheels so you avoid getting too far forward or backward. Keep in mind that you are also adjusting to a new geometry bike as compared to your 30yr old Cannondale and that will put your body in a different position than you're used to. The pedals aren't a factor in how forward your body feels. The bike's geometry is doing that.
    Last edited by Harold; 1 Week Ago at 10:07 AM.

  75. #75
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    Half of my riding consists of rides with my two little boys (3 and 5). So I opted to ditch the clipless for flats. My first day on them I ripped up my shin pretty bad after getting whacked by the pedal. First couple times jumping also was kinda scary when my feet came off. That learning curve has passed now and I'm just as confident on flats as I was clipped. I think they have made me a better rider.

  76. #76
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    I really think the flats vs clipless subject is so mundane. Without going into my personal preference, i will say this. I rode flats for past 10 years and just weeks ago, i am trying clipless again (mallet e). They both have pros and cons for EACH individual rider which varies between everyone. Now, i have experience on both and my decision what I’m going to do is based on my experiences On both.
    So, try flats for some time to learn how to ride them. Then base your decision on what you feel comfortable with.

  77. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNW MTB View Post
    Thanks Curve!

    Ask and you shall receive...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    So, first ride on Jeffsy with platforms......I definitely noticed an improvement with the ANVL pedals. Still don't have muscle memory to get feet back in same spot each time, and once my foot is placed, it takes a concerted effort to re-position it! Pins are grippy, as are the soles on the Ride Concept shoes!

    Didn't feel like I was getting bounced off on the higher-speed, rocky and rooty tech, so that was a plus!

    Biggest challenge I faced on today's ride was on steep, rooty, techy ups. I am so accustomed to pulling UP to keep constant torque to the ground, as well as lifting the back wheel over the roots a bit in order to not spin out on them. With clips, it is almost like I could give a couple of quick pedal strokes BEFORE the up techy section and pull UP on the bars and pedals (all while pedaling) and kind of unweight the bike to "float" over the rooty, rocky stuff in a short burst. With the platforms, I found that the front wheel was more weighted and would get hung up on the roots and then I would lose the momentum of my pedal stroke and have to dab.

    It was quite frustrating and I will have to focus on learning a technique for those quick little, rooty UPS. Any tips out there?

    Couple more pics from today's ride:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Great pics. One thing I find helps with flats on techy climbs is an oval chainring. Helps smooth out the pedal rotation. The other thing I did when first transitioning was to focus on engaging my core to really connect my body to the pedals. Now I don't think, just ride. Perfect.

  78. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by panchosdad View Post
    Great pics. One thing I find helps with flats on techy climbs is an oval chainring. Helps smooth out the pedal rotation. The other thing I did when first transitioning was to focus on engaging my core to really connect my body to the pedals. Now I don't think, just ride. Perfect.
    Thanks!

    I had ovals on my old bike and liked them, I think I will give them a try on the Jeffsy.

  79. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkrmike View Post
    I have been riding "clipped" for 15+ years. Dirt, commuting, everything.

    Late least year I went to flats. This year I have not used clipped once.

    Only issue I have with flats - on tech climbs my feet can come off, and the first few times I got air, my feet came off the pedals entirely and I almost lost my nuts on the top tube. All that has since been corrected.

    Lovin the flats. I have a brand new pair of S-Works shoes that I may never use now.
    Yeah. The first time I got 7" (yeah, INCHES!) of air on flats I thought I was going into orbit.

  80. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by paramount3 View Post
    And when I play bass guitar, I play fretless. Playing with frets lets you cheat and develop bad technique.
    LOL! I just broke out my fretless again a couple of days ago. I need to get rid of my bad technique...
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

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