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  1. #1
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    Flats for long distance XC racing?

    Hey guys Iíve been running flat pedals for about the past 6 months. I recently signed up for the pisgah 111k which is a technical 70 mile bike race in Pisgah Forest. Iím going to start training for it soon and am wondering if itís worth it to switch back to clipless for this big race. Clipless will be more efficient, but sketchier and less comfortable on hike a bike sections. Iím used to the flats and comfortable on them but am worried about the loss in climbing efficiently over the course of this race. What do you guys think? Have any of you guys done any 50+ mile races on flats, if so what are your thoughts?

  2. #2
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    I find clipless to be the opposite, more confident in sketchy terrain due to foot not flying off the pedal. I'm used to riding them and charging through tech sections, drops, chutes, etc., from XC to DH races. But, you said you are used to flats. If that's where you feel confident, then go with flats. They will not be as efficient, but riding a tech section slower than required or without confidence almost always guarantees a crash. The people that "unclip" for technical sections are specifically at greater risk for crashing, this basically gives you the worst of both worlds, a crappy pedal interface if you are just trying to "rest" your shoe on it, it'll side off easy, etc. 60 miles in, you don't want to crash and your body will no doubt be as fresh and your decisions not as good. Almost no racer trying to be competitive and place high would choose flats on such a ride, but if you are riding more to complete it and again, you are much more confident on flats, it's hard to go wrong.
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    I don't exactly know how to ride with clipless, in terms of the "draw a circle" mentality. Yes I can do it, but I need to think about it. In doing so, I get too tired.

    One thing I do not quite understand is why people say it is more efficient. I'm a smart guy. I ride road bike clipless. I'm not sure what I should do different on the road bike, even when I think I'm pedaling "properly" to make myself feel more efficient.

    I'm not asking for an answer as this isn't the thread for that.
    I guess though a question to the OP is do you seriously feel you are more efficient on climbing with clipless.

    If yes, then you should consider what the ratio is between efficient climbing vs. uncomfortable downhill technical.

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    I think it depends. If you want to do your absolute best and/or are serious about a podium then clipless might potentially give you an edge, otherwise I'd go with what's most comfortable and have fun.
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    Plenty of mid-stiff and soft soled clipless shoes out there with soft rubber lugs for hiking. Given what you said that's the route I'd go.
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    I ride about 50/50 on flats and clips.

    I love my flat pedal / 510 shoe combination and don't feel I lose any efficiency. The pure riding feel and adaptability of foot placement make up for what negatives there might be.

    For CX and XC racing I choose clips though because when I'm dead ass tired it's easy to slip a pedal from a mis-shift or having to spin up climbs or rocks or whatever. I usually use the SH56 cleats and can still easily dab a foot when needed.

  8. #8
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    After 26 years on clipless, riding them is second nature to me. I prefer second nature late in an endurance event when I am tired and can't think as clearly.

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    Don't draw circles, just pedal.
    Circles are not more efficient.

    Flats are for learning to wheelie, everything else, clipless.

  10. #10
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    Can't imagine doing an event like that on flats, way too much climbing I'd expect and way too much pedaling. As Jayem said, I feel much more confident knowing my foot is attached to the bike and won't bounce off so easily on the rough stuff, un-clipping is second nature.
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    Iíd go clipless personally. Unless there is a lot of hike a bike, Iíd also consider carbon sole shoes as well. By adding clipless pedals and a carbon sole the efficiency has to be much better. Expecially when you consider the duration of your event that efficiency will add up. How much more efficient? Who knows.

    Fine Iíll say it, youíll be 17% more efficient, gaining 21 more watts on average and cut your time by a minimum of 27.3334 minutes 🤓.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forest Rider View Post
    I don't exactly know how to ride with clipless, in terms of the "draw a circle" mentality. Yes I can do it, but I need to think about it. In doing so, I get too tired.

    One thing I do not quite understand is why people say it is more efficient. I'm a smart guy. I ride road bike clipless. I'm not sure what I should do different on the road bike, even when I think I'm pedaling "properly" to make myself feel more efficient.
    I think the circle thing has been proven as bunk.

    I think the main advantage of clipless in terms of power/efficiency is that you can unweight the pedal a little over 100% (~105%) vs maybe only 90% with flats. I think you are using a little different muscle for that so you can gain overall power that way.

    When I go back to flats I have difficulty keeping my feet on the pedals at first. Additionally in steep, technical terrain, being able to pull up does come into play.

    There is going to be some hysteresis loss with less stiff shoes, but thatís really a marginal thing.

  13. #13
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    My flats have no traction for HAB sections. The sole is designed to grab the pins in my pedals.

    I race XC clipped in, trail ride in flats. In the very least the flats are heavier shoes and more flexible, so that is wasted energy.

  14. #14
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    Surely this is a pisstake? any sort of pedalling clipless is the way and the light.
    Period!

    Maybe find some clipless shoes that are more comfortable for the hiking sections.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by litany View Post
    I think the circle thing has been proven as bunk.

    I think the main advantage of clipless in terms of power/efficiency is that you can unweight the pedal a little over 100% (~105%) vs maybe only 90% with flats. I think you are using a little different muscle for that so you can gain overall power that way.

    When I go back to flats I have difficulty keeping my feet on the pedals at first. Additionally in steep, technical terrain, being able to pull up does come into play.

    There is going to be some hysteresis loss with less stiff shoes, but thatís really a marginal thing.
    i know when it gets steep and technical I'm using "more" of the stroke on the clipless pedals to lay down power and keep it coming, as in not stalling out and keeping my self moving forward. While I can get over obstacles with flats, the goal in a race is to go forward as fast as possible, so a bunch of body english to get on something vs. just hopping with my legs is also wasted energy. Then when I'm pedaling very fast, I have doubts my feet would even be able to stay on flats. You don't pedal "that' fast all the time, but there are times where you do.

    The guy that said it's what you are used to and not making a mistake far in the race when you are exhausted is spot on though. If you prefer flats because you don't have the technical skills for clipless, flats are going to be a better choice because you'll be less likely when exhausted to crash and take yourself out of the race.

    If you have to push your bike/hike, it's generally easier with clipless. They are still in the way, but generally not as much as a big secure flat pedal.

    Depending on your fitness and speed, the hard-sole XC race clipless comptable shoes may not be the best for an endurance race. The higher your speed and fitness, the more appropriate these are (but even then there are no absolutes).
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    For XC you don't need the long sharp pins and 5.10s designed to hold your feet for big jumps and DH speeds just like you won't be using a long travel bike. You can use stubby pin flats with trailrunners of other shoes with good tread for hab. Low heels with weight on the pedals and you'll never bounce off.
    Your object is to choose the setup that gives you the fastest overall time. Do some timed runs and pick the fastest or the funnest.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    Low heels with weight on the pedals and you'll never bounce off.
    I've found that to be untrue. I've found that low heels and correct position helps a lot and minimizes it, but you still encounter situations where the G-forces are not maintained and you do get bounced off or the position changes. It's an absolute like saying clipless is better all the time because it holds you more secure. There are times, like on a high skinny, where that would be extremely detrimental.
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  18. #18
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    I think some of you are missing a point: some folks are more comfortable and happier pedaling flats. I donít have clipless pedals on any of my bikes, not any of my familyís bikes (seven bikes and six adult riders). None of us want clipless, though Iíd swap out pedals for them if they wanted them.

    Is clipless more efficient? Perhaps, but many folks arenít in it for the efficiency, some of us are doing it for fun. Perhaps itís my telemark or muni experience, but Iím just not only bondage bindings, my doin is quite round and rarely go I have problems keeping my feet in the pedals.

    All in all this is a one of those annual discussions we engage in during the winter when thereís not much riding; boredom breeds conflict?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I've found that to be untrue. I've found that low heels and correct position helps a lot and minimizes it, but you still encounter situations where the G-forces are not maintained and you do get bounced off or the position changes. It's an absolute like saying clipless is better all the time because it holds you more secure. There are times, like on a high skinny, where that would be extremely detrimental.
    My statement was directed at the OP in the XC conditions he'd outlined. Not as a general absolute.
    On a hardtail standing to handle rocks, roots and medium jumps with offroad tread running shoes I've never been bounced. It's been because of the angle from correctly weighted low heels. The pins can't go through the raised tread on my shoe bottoms.
    You may ride with a different technique.

  20. #20
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    If you feel more comfortable on flats than stick with flats. The whole clipless is more efficient than flats thing has been proven false quite a few times now. I did a little test myself a few years ago on my road bike to see how true it was. I rode a hard place on the same hilly 30 mile route and there was no real difference in pace between flats and clipless for me. Did the same on my mountain bike on a 10 mile course with the same results.

    Even top road cycling pros keep some downward pressure on the pedal during the up stroke and they're all riding clipless. When you pull up it's using small weak muscles that don't generate any real amount of power. It only serves to wear you out quicker.

    For a long endurance ride like that you probably won't be charging the downhills where getting bucked off the pedals might be a concern. If you get bucked off a good set of flats with proper shoes I can also promise it isn't the pedaling platforms fault.

    Only thing I found useful with clipless pedals is pedaling while standing. Especially for sprinting. Never put any real effort into figuring out why. One other usefull thing about clipless is you have more pedal clearance.

    In the end you'll always do best riding what you find comfortable and confident on.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fajita Dave View Post
    If you feel more comfortable on flats than stick with flats. The whole clipless is more efficient than flats thing has been proven false quite a few times now. I did a little test myself a few years ago on my road bike to see how true it was. I rode a hard place on the same hilly 30 mile route and there was no real difference in pace between flats and clipless for me. Did the same on my mountain bike on a 10 mile course with the same results.


    That's crazy talk, and your test isn't exactly science. The difference may be margional but it's there, tests have shown clipless is significantly better for sprinting. A lot of unquantifiable things too, like which is better when you're completely hypoxic and can't think straight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    That's crazy talk, and your test isn't exactly science. The difference may be margional but it's there, tests have shown clipless is significantly better for sprinting. A lot of unquantifiable things too, like which is better when you're completely hypoxic and can't think straight.

    Anyway, merry f@*#ing Christmas
    There have been scientific tests looking at the riders VO2 and HR while maintaining the same power throughout the test on both sets of pedals. Global Cycling Network did one and there was no statistical difference. I think he used less oxygen with flats but heart rate was slightly higher and the difference was extremely small anyway.

    My test was for me and me alone. I put out the same power at the same HR whether I'm on flats or clips. There is a definite advantage to clipless with sprinting but I don't think the OP is going to need that in a 111k race. If the OP is more comfortable on flats he'll be quicker even with extreme fatigue.

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    Interestingly enough, there is zero science on pedaling efficiency for mountain biking with flat versus clipless pedals. For the laboratory tests, riding clipless is more efficient, meaning that the riders can do more mechanical work for the same amount of oxygen when using clipless pedals.

    But there is a catch! And that catch is cadence. In the lab you will generally ride at a higher cadence than when climbing on a mountain bike (and that's what they did in the studies). Also, none of these studies were done while actually riding uphill outside, which indicates limitations in terms of the body posture of the participants [and whether or not this might change the mechanics]

    And there is another catch! This doesn't take in to account descending on actual trails. And some people are just more confident descending with flats.

    I am setting up to do this experiment now. Maybe even add some braking measurement?

    My suggestion would be to just use whatever you feel like using. But not to use it as an excuse if the race doesn't go well
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    I think some of you are missing a point: some folks are more comfortable and happier pedaling flats. I donít have clipless pedals on any of my bikes, not any of my familyís bikes (seven bikes and six adult riders). None of us want clipless, though Iíd swap out pedals for them if they wanted them.

    Is clipless more efficient? Perhaps, but many folks arenít in it for the efficiency, some of us are doing it for fun. Perhaps itís my telemark or muni experience, but Iím just not only bondage bindings, my doin is quite round and rarely go I have problems keeping my feet in the pedals.

    All in all this is a one of those annual discussions we engage in during the winter when thereís not much riding; boredom breeds conflict?

    I've ridden five of the past six days
    You realize this discussion is about racing right? Your comments don't really indicate your speaking about your experience in Endurance Racing. You've commented in other racing threads about things that have nothing to do with racing.

    Just curious how much you race or how much experience you have racing endurance?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtb_phd View Post
    Interestingly enough, there is zero science on pedaling efficiency for mountain biking with flat versus clipless pedals. For the laboratory tests, riding clipless is more efficient, meaning that the riders can do more mechanical work for the same amount of oxygen when using clipless pedals.

    But there is a catch! And that catch is cadence. In the lab you will generally ride at a higher cadence than when climbing on a mountain bike (and that's what they did in the studies). Also, none of these studies were done while actually riding uphill outside, which indicates limitations in terms of the body posture of the participants [and whether or not this might change the mechanics]

    And there is another catch! This doesn't take in to account descending on actual trails. And some people are just more confident descending with flats.

    I am setting up to do this experiment now. Maybe even add some braking measurement?

    My suggestion would be to just use whatever you feel like using. But not to use it as an excuse if the race doesn't go well

    I can't believe that people believe there is a lack of evidence towards clipless pedals being more efficient. WTF? To me the evidence is significant and over whelming.


    All forms or bicycle racing that requires pedalling are dominated by clips.
    There are occasional anomlies (Sam Hill) in descent orientated races where rider skill requirements well exceeds pedal efficiency needs where flat pedals occasionally win. Every endurance/ aerobic race is won on clipless pedals. Every single one! Do you not think that every race team has done there own in house scientific testing?

    Doing a 110km race will op be faster on clips. Hell yes. (unless he has zero clipless experience) It could be signifcant in a race of that distance 30 minutes maybe? and hour perhaps?

  26. #26
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    Most of those who "race" won't find that flat pedals are keeping them off of the podium. Just sayin.
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    Quote Originally Posted by life behind bars View Post
    Most of those who "race" won't find that flat pedals are keeping them off of the podium. Just sayin.
    If it's a "ride"-- fine do whatever. But for me and my posse, "race" has always meant doing your best no matter where in the hierarchy it lands you. If your definition of "race" doesn't include going as fast as you possibly can, then fine, do whatever. I'm not podium material, but as far as I can tell I've never been beaten in an endurance race (Leadville, Steamboat Stinger, Laramie Enduro, Durango MTB 100, Gunnison Growler) or even an XC race by someone sporting flats -- hence, my vote for clipless pedals. YMMV.
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    Quote Originally Posted by life behind bars View Post
    Most of those who "race" won't find that flat pedals are keeping them off of the podium. Just sayin.
    If you've competed at the high levels, you know that you try to set up every little detail in your favor and consistency eventually pays off. You can't control everything, but you try to control as many things as you can, setting up your bike for maximum advantage, your suspension, your tires, your pressure, your pedals (yes!), the right foods before the race, your electrolyte mix, and on and on. One of these things could absolutely keep you from the podium. When you get these all nailed down they allow you to perform at your physical best and at those highest levels of competition, the racers are all so even that only seconds separate them over 50 miles or more. I've gotten 2nd by .1 of a second, it was a fun format where you had to go out and do 2 laps and they let the racers go every minute or something rather than a mass start, which was fun because you got to race "yourself" more than anything, but even over longer and mass-start races I have either passed or chased someone the entire race just seconds away from them the entire time over dozens of miles to the finish. Small details do matter.

    I concede your point though, "most who race" isn't the high experts and pros, it's who makes up the masses and at those levels, the pedals typically aren't the biggest thing holding them back. The same logic still applies though, they'd have their best times when everything is set up in their favor.

    Most of the time, clipless are undoubtedly faster, there's no comparison. When it comes to DH racing (not riding a DH during an endurance race), it's split pretty evenly. Lots of pros ride clipless and are very fast. Lots of pros ride flats and are very fast. Pedaling your butt off is still hugely important in DH every chance you get, but on true gnarly DH tracks, it's a wash and comes down mainly to preference and experience. When someone wins TDF or XC WC on flats, let me know
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ptor View Post
    I'm not podium material, but as far as I can tell I've never been beaten in an endurance race (Leadville, Steamboat Stinger, Laramie Enduro, Durango MTB 100, Gunnison Growler) or even an XC race by someone sporting flats -- hence, my vote for clipless pedals. YMMV.
    Good point, haha
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Most of the time, clipless are undoubtedly faster, there's no comparison.

    I disagree. Clipless is a margional gain for sure and margional gains can win races at high competition levels but that said I know a few guys who ride flats that don't seem at all handicapped by them on fast group rides or races. I believe other factors like training and nutrition are much more significant than pedal choice but as mentioned I do think it's importance increases as the competition level rises. It's hard to imagine a pro winning an xc race on flats.
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    It's hard to imagine a pro winning an xc race on flats.
    At my local race series, the only one winning an xc race on flats is in the beginner category.

    At our local race series, people toe-the-line on bikes equipped with flats in the intermediate and advanced categories (but never seemingly in the open category) -- and they're not near the front at the end. Maybe this observation is peculiar to my local race series...but I'd bet otherwise. Yeah, I know -- everyone has that "friend" or are themselves someone who crushes it with some sort of esoteric equipment choice (flats in this case) that contradicts a general rule or empirical data set -- I don't care. But have a Happy New Year anyway!
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    I exclusively ride flats in Pisgah. Rode flats for PMBAR, and the SM100 this year. I could see myself going clipless for the SM100... but would not ever entertain the thought of riding clipless in Pisgah. The comfort in hike a biking alone is enough to continuously sway me towards flats.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MudderNutter View Post
    I exclusively ride flats in Pisgah. Rode flats for PMBAR, and the SM100 this year. I could see myself going clipless for the SM100... but would not ever entertain the thought of riding clipless in Pisgah. The comfort in hike a biking alone is enough to continuously sway me towards flats.
    How'd you do on the SM100? I wanted to race it this year but I strained some ligaments in my knee early in the year. Still nursing my knee now. Some of those rocky climbs are tough on flats if you're grinding slow but no problem if you can carry momentum.

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    Flats for long distance XC racing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fajita Dave View Post
    How'd you do on the SM100? I wanted to race it this year but I strained some ligaments in my knee early in the year. Still nursing my knee now. Some of those rocky climbs are tough on flats if you're grinding slow but no problem if you can carry momentum.
    I had a blast! It was my first time doing the event, and riding any of those trails. It also was super muddy... and awesome, haha. I really didnít have a problem on the tech sections with flats. For me itís more the road sections and grinds that I think clipless could be helpful.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    When it comes to DH racing (not riding a DH during an endurance race), it's split pretty evenly.
    It's not though.

    The only reason to ride flats is in thick mud, or if you're going to be moving on the bike in a way that would cause you to unclip...or if you're uncomfortable in clipless pedals.

    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I disagree. Clipless is a margional gain for sure and margional gains can win races at high competition levels but that said I know a few guys who ride flats that don't seem at all handicapped by them on fast group rides or races. I believe other factors like training and nutrition are much more significant than pedal choice but as mentioned I do think it's importance increases as the competition level rises. It's hard to imagine a pro winning an xc race on flats.
    This is like the whole "I know a guy with a singlespeed that beats everyone around so therefore singlespeeds are just as fast as geared bikes." What you're observing is their skill level, not the wisdom and universal usefulness of their choices.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MudderNutter View Post
    I had a blast! It was my first time doing the event, and riding any of those trails. It also was super muddy... and awesome, haha. I really didnít have a problem on the tech sections with flats. For me itís more the road sections and grinds that I think clipless could be helpful.


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    We have a few fun trails don't we?

    I wish there were more ways to connect the trails in that area without using roads for casual rides but it is nice to have the break too. I haven't ridden the SM100 yet so don't know the exact route but I've ridden every trail is uses. There are one or two climbs in the area that I have a hard time cleaning with flats. If my rear tire hangs up on a rock I find it a little easier get "unstuck" and keep moving with clipless. But I'm a slow climber regardless of what pedals I use. If I had the engine to keep more momentum it would be much easier on flats.

    I'd like to see all the nay sayers in here try flats on a hard training route that they're familiar with. Compare it to your usual times. Clipless has some mild advantages but nowhere near what everyone seems to think. Pedaling efficiency is the same; advantages to clipless is ground clearance, sprinting and in some situations they can help on technical trails.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fajita Dave View Post

    I'd like to see all the nay sayers in here try flats on a hard training route that they're familiar with. Compare it to your usual times. Clipless has some mild advantages but nowhere near what everyone seems to think. Pedaling efficiency is the same; advantages to clipless is ground clearance, sprinting and in some situations they can help on technical trails.
    If that is true, why aren't the pro XCers and experts winning consistently on flats?
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    Quote Originally Posted by richde View Post

    This is like the whole "I know a guy with a singlespeed that beats everyone around so therefore singlespeeds are just as fast as geared bikes." What you're observing is their skill level, not the wisdom and universal usefulness of their choices.


    Actually I know several guys who crush it on single speeds, one of them on flats too. You may say they do that in spite of their equipment but I disagree.

    I've said several times that I think clipless is faster but just disagree as to how much, I'm guessing 5 or 10 watts would probably more than make up for it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    If that is true, why aren't the pro XCers and experts winning consistently on flats?
    For pro mtb it's more of a sprint format. The advantages I listed at the bottom are worth some time and the competition is extremely tight between riders. They make good use of marginal gains and short race times exaggerate the importance marginal gains. Besides that comparing even CAT1 to Pro atheletes is totally useless. If you put Nino Schurter on flat pedals he's still going to beat any CAT1 along with 98% (or more) of the pro field.

    In a long endurance race at the amateur level you're going to be fastest on whatever makes you feel best. If you feel great on flats you'll have a better attitude throughout the 5+ hours of racing which will lead to better results. Especially if it's something like the SM100 where over half the field will be pushing their bikes up hills for the last 30 miles. Much easier to hike fast in shoes designed for platform pedals than clipless. It seems like the OP will be doing a lot of hiking in their race too.

    If you can spare the $150 for flats and proper shoes try them for yourself. I bought them for trials skills practice and tried them for my general riding to see if there was any performance advantage. For me there was no difference in power output relative to effort. Only difference is I couldn't sprint as quick and I am more of a sprinter than anything.

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    Haven't done Pisgah 111k but did ORAMM in Pisgah back when it was ~100k and 14k+ climbing. Wouldn't even consider flats, clipless 100%.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkpowa View Post
    Haven't done Pisgah 111k but did ORAMM in Pisgah back when it was ~100k and 14k+ climbing. Wouldn't even consider flats, clipless 100%.
    Apples and oranges. Very different races.

    But seriously, just ride what youíre more comfortable in. Neither is going to change the outcome of your race... except if your not comfortable on clipless and fall down a cliff or something.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Fajita Dave View Post
    For pro mtb it's more of a sprint format. .
    I'm not sure what that even means. I ride with a few pros. I don't think they would know either. So if you want to go fast, you use clipless?
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Actually I know several guys who crush it on single speeds, one of them on flats too. You may say they do that in spite of their equipment but I disagree.

    I've said several times that I think clipless is faster but just disagree as to how much, I'm guessing 5 or 10 watts would probably more than make up for it.
    You just contradicted yourself.

    If you make an extra, or give up, 5-10w over any real amount of time, that makes a big difference. This thread IS about long distance XC racing, after all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by richde View Post
    You just contradicted yourself.

    If you make an extra, or give up, 5-10w over any real amount of time, that makes a big difference. This thread IS about long distance XC racing, after all.


    5 watts is about the equivalent of a dirty chain, worth a couple minutes over 50 miles. Anyway, I have no idea of the actual number, it would be interesting to see the results of a well thought out experiment.
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    5 watts is about the equivalent of a dirty chain, worth a couple minutes over 50 miles. Anyway, I have no idea of the actual number, it would be interesting to see the results of a well thought out experiment.
    It's probably a couple minutes per hour, which at the end of a 50 mile race is a big difference.

    The difference shrinks as your base power grows, so it's one of those things like aerodynamics that actually makes a bigger difference when your speed is more moderate. As in...if you're on a road bike just crushing it and cruising on the flats, in the wind, at 25mph, it's going to take a whole lot more power (or a lot more aerodynamic benefits) to go 26mph than it would if the not-as-strong-you was putting out the same relative effort level to improve from 18mph to 19mph. If you can maintain 150w for the duration of the 50 miles, that 5-10w is a bigger proportion of your power than if you're going for the podium and averaging 250+w.

    That's on top of the fact that for the same RPE, races are actually harder for the slower guys than for fast and strong guys. So that little difference is boning you pretty hard because it's not only slower, but in the end, it's going to take longer for the same effort level.

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    Quote Originally Posted by richde View Post
    The difference shrinks as your base power grows, so it's one of those things like aerodynamics that actually makes a bigger difference when your speed is more moderate. As in...if you're on a road bike just crushing it and cruising on the flats, in the wind, at 25mph, it's going to take a whole lot more power (or a lot more aerodynamic benefits) to go 26mph than it would if the not-as-strong-you was putting out the same relative effort level to improve from 18mph to 19mph. If you can maintain 150w for the duration of the 50 miles, that 5-10w is a bigger proportion of your power than if you're going for the podium and averaging 250+w.


    You're right about the power differences, that's just a matter of percentages, but you lost me on the aerodynamics. The higher the speed the more important aerodynamics become.

    GCN did a sort of scientific test and found that the only significant power difference between flats and clipless is during sprinting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    You're right about the power differences, that's just a matter of percentages, but you lost me on the aerodynamics. The higher the speed the more important aerodynamics become.

    GCN did a sort of scientific test and found that the only significant power difference between flats and clipless is during sprinting.
    It takes more power to overcome the increase in drag going from 25 to 26mph than it does from 15 to 16mph, around twice as much. So those small differences matter, and it's easy to overlook the fact that those differences hurt even more as the rider's power decreases because the time spent exercising increases. Who had a harder day, the pro that finished Leadville in 6 hours, or the age grouper that finished in 11?

    Are you claiming there's no difference after claiming a 5-10w difference? When the professional pedalers stop using clipless pedals, I'll stop...and it probably has more to do with fatigue and comfort over time than the ability to push the pedals at a given power for a few minutes in a lab.

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    Quote Originally Posted by richde View Post

    Are you claiming there's no difference after claiming a 5-10w difference? When the professional pedalers stop using clipless pedals, I'll stop...and it probably has more to do with fatigue and comfort over time than the ability to push the pedals at a given power for a few minutes in a lab.


    I never claimed there was no difference, and even if pros do start using flats I'm sticking with clipless because I like them better. The same would hold true if it were vice versa.


    Anyway, the 5-10 watt thing was only a vague guestimate that I pulled out of my @ss (of course) but certainly no less accurate then your "research". If I had a power meter I'd love to do a few experiments just to satisfy my own curiosity. I haven't seen any yet that I would consider real thorough but the ones I have seen suggest that you the difference is less than I previously thought it was.
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