Clipless pedals or flats for winter riding?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Clipless pedals or flats for winter riding?

    Hi guys.
    I had my first real winter trail ride yesterday and thought it would be a good idea to try my old Shimano clipless pedals. They are the M520s so no real platform on them.

    Well, it didn't turn out that good for me. I spent half the time trying to get/stay clipped in which I would have spent just pedaling. The conditions were a bit slippery so I felt it almost would have been better riding flats.

    The only thing is that I love having clipless when climbing and for the few short climbs I faced, I was in my element. The rest of the time I wasn't.

    What do other people do for pedaling in the winter? Ride clipless with better pedals (ones that have platforms)? Just ride flats and learn to climb without them?

    I also got pedal straps (the wellgo ones with Velcro) but I've found I'm not enjoying those either as if I get my foot out once, it's hard to put it back into the strap while pedaling.

    Definitely up for advice. I've got a race on the 31st that I'm training for and I'd appreciate your experience for the most efficient pedaling in winter.

  2. #2
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    Clipless, much better power, control and ability to lift over things at slow speed. Downside is it's much harder to keep feet warm with a metal cleat close to your foot connected to a metal pedal(heat sink). No problems jamming with the newer style shimano pedals, snow just pushes out. I like to race, but I do go back to flats when it's around -10F. Some people have troubles in warmer temps with snow packing around the cleats, not a problem in the cold for me.
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  3. #3
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    I ran clipless all summer and fall, but put platforms on when it started to snow. I haven't felt like I'm losing any efficiency in the snow to be honest, and up hills especially don't seem to be an issue, but maybe I'm a bit of a masher anyway? I'm really happy to be on platforms when things get sketchy on an icy section or when I lean into a loose corner.

    Pretty easy to just swap back and forth when seasons or conditions change.
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  4. #4
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    For me,

    Clipless non-winter and on groomed stuff where you're not in and out a ton - faster and more efficient by a bunch. Flat definitely for tough or extreme cold conditions, and absolutely when you're working your way along ski/snowshoe tracks or breaking trail w/ deep powder all around. You'll fall or bail a lot and it's just much easier to get started (and you can have huge warm snow boots on!).

  5. #5
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    Flats, all year.

    Make this a poll.

  6. #6
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    It's been at least a week since the last thread on this topic!

    My answer is still the same - flats.
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

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    Eggbeater 3's all year. First year riding Fat but I have been using them for so long I can't ride flats anymore. I have been enjoying being clipped in, in both packed and deep snow. Personal preference for sure. Next winter I may try flats again. I raced BMX as a kid so I know that the ability to ride flats is buried somewhere deep in my past(my shins have the scars to prove it). I have been having so much fun this winter riding in the snow I don't want to mess with a new system.

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  9. #9
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    Thanks guys.
    If this is already a topic, I apologize. Mod can please feel free to close the thread.

    Just tried going flats for this ride and I'm really liking flats for winter, won't go back to clipless until all the snow is gone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerfisher11 View Post
    Thanks guys.
    If this is already a topic, I apologize. Mod can please feel free to close the thread.

    Just tried going flats for this ride and I'm really liking flats for winter, won't go back to clipless until all the snow is gone.
    I ride Fyxation flats with LL Bean Wildcat boots. My feet never get cold when my buddies with cleats have numb feet.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyvt View Post
    I ride Fyxation flats with LL Bean Wildcat boots. My feet never get cold when my buddies with cleats have numb feet.
    What model fyxation do you ride? Would like to give those a try as I've just got some beater flats from a few years back on the KHS currently.

  12. #12
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    Hey, a pedal thread, how unusual

    I ride flats year round, rode clipless for years, not going back, the benefits of clipless have been debunked

    I always liked that word, deee bunked, like getting kicked outta bed, but with a longer fall

    I have four sets of "Fyxation", they're a Taiwan made pedal marketed by many brands (Nukeproof, etc), get the ones that have allen head spikes, and you're good. They will chew up your shins.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    Hey, a pedal thread, how unusual

    I ride flats year round, rode clipless for years, not going back, the benefits of clipless have been debunked

    I always liked that word, deee bunked, like getting kicked outta bed, but with a longer fall

    I have four sets of "Fyxation", they're a Taiwan made pedal marketed by many brands (Nukeproof, etc), get the ones that have allen head spikes, and you're good. They will chew up your shins.

    An individual on a trials bike with clipless = a $500,000 hospital bill if they are lucky!
    I wanna see a clipless user do balance checks riding skinnies, it's not in the cards.

    back to playing with my bikes I go...

    Mr. Ben, my trials bike uses my shins for a clawing post to keep his pedal pins sharp and mark territory...
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  14. #14
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    I do Crank Brothers Mallets on my fat bike with Lake 303 boots clipless. I just like it. My feet stay warm.
    I like turtles

  15. #15
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    I run flats in the summer on my Yeti with DMR Vault pedals and 5-10 shoes. But on my fatbike, with wolvhammer boots, i was originally planning to run flats also (with some Saint pedals). Didn't feel reassuring. The wolvhammer have cleat capable sole, so put some on and pulled out an old pair of M540 SPD's. MUCH better!

    So I'm a little opposite of what many are doing, but for me, seemed like clips was better in winter, as I tend to sit and spin. Being clipped in felt more efficient and more stable too. During summer, I'm riding more technical stuff and gravity oriented. So flats is way more fun then.

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bansheerune View Post
    mr. Ben, my trials bike uses my shins for a clawing post to keep his pedal pins sharp and mark territory...
    Lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerfisher11 View Post
    What model fyxation do you ride? Would like to give those a try as I've just got some beater flats from a few years back on the KHS currently.
    I use the Mesa MP's which were recommended to me here at MTBR last winter.
    Mesa MP Platform Pedal with Replaceable Pins | Fyxation

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyvt View Post
    I use the Mesa MP's which were recommended to me here at MTBR last winter.
    Mesa MP Platform Pedal with Replaceable Pins | Fyxation
    I like the Mesa MPs as well.
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

  19. #19
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    Shinkers, the damn thing won't let me rep ya till I spread some more around! o.O

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  20. #20
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    Read this and laugh : I'm so used to riding clipped in (25+ years) that when I put flats on my fatbike last year, I fell over at the first dismount. I'm so conditioned to kick my eel out that my foot just stuck in the pins. With that said, I rode on flats all last winter and it wasnt that bad, but got myself some Wolvhammers this year and switched to Shimano 540s. I always bring the flats in the car so if I expect to do a lot of walking / trail packing, I put those on. For everthing else, I prefer clipless. No freezing cleat problem with the 45Nrth boots. I just spray some silicone drylube in the cleat area to prevent snow from sticking in.

  21. #21
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    I would say try a flat on one side and a clipless on the other. Go for a ride and see which one works better for your needs.
    :thumbsup:It doesn't matter what I ride as long as I ride it Rubber Side Down●~●.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockyJo1 View Post
    I would say try a flat on one side and a clipless on the other. Go for a ride and see which one works better for your needs.
    That sounds terrible.

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    Oh no, it doesn't: Wellgo wam d10 Wellgo WAM-D10 Pedal Reviews - Mtbr.com

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by new8812 View Post
    Oh no, it doesn't: Wellgo wam d10 Wellgo WAM-D10 Pedal Reviews - Mtbr.com

    Best of both world...
    Typically those are poor executions of both designs, one issue is the cleat interferes with the flat pedal, and the clipless side has no pins. Have you tried to ride a shoe with a cleat on flat pedals or had to ride the other side with no pins? A key feature of clipless are the double/two-sided entry, because you don't always choose what side is "up". Even for a short time this is usually terrible, as most executions of this idea have been.
    "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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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Typically those are poor executions of both designs, one issue is the cleat interferes with the flat pedal, and the clipless side has no pins. Have you tried to ride a shoe with a cleat on flat pedals or had to ride the other side with no pins? Even for a short time this is usually terrible, as most executions of this idea have been.
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  26. #26
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    combination pedals are usually the worst of both worlds and give you a poor experience either way.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by BansheeRune View Post
    An individual on a trials bike with clipless = a $500,000 hospital bill if they are lucky!
    I wanna see a clipless user do balance checks riding skinnies, it's not in the cards.

    back to playing with my bikes I go...

    Mr. Ben, my trials bike uses my shins for a clawing post to keep his pedal pins sharp and mark territory...
    This is hilarious!!! "clawing post.. and mark territory..." I can relate! Flats, fer shure.

  28. #28
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    I started on the Crank Brothers DH Mallet pedals. I've used some clipless shoes a couple times, but ultimately will use flats when winter ridding.

    When the conditions call for my 5 inch tires on the ICT, flats will also be on the bike. When conditions call for the 29+ wheelset, I'll through egg-beaters on the bike.

    I have a couple reasons:
    1. There's not much tame, groomed terrain around here. Lots of steep climbs and fairly technical single track. It's nice to be able to through a leg out and swing the bike around a tree and also have the ability to use your leg for balance when needed.
    2. Snow biking requires quite a bit more body English...ability to move your foot around on a flat helps get your weight where you need it.
    3. I've got my light-weight X-C shoes for racing when clipped in. With flats, I don't need a MTB specific shoe...just a good winter hiking boot (which I'll also use when hunting). I'll also use the bike a bit for commuting and hunting, so I like the flats.
    4. I actually haven't noticed a whole lot of loss of efficiency (if any) with flats at fat-bike speeds, and if anything, I've improved my skills over obstacles by learning how to maneuver the bike over without being mechanically attached to it.

    Now if I were to drop into a race where I knew I was on 80" wide groomed corduroy (the width of X-C ski areas around here)...I'd through egg beaters on with my shoe covers...maybe toe warmer in-sole, and give it hell, but I haven't had that opportunity thus far.

  29. #29
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    Clipless for summer, flats for snow riding.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotHead View Post
    This is hilarious!!! "clawing post.. and mark territory..." I can relate! Flats, fer shure.
    A bike has to show it's ownership of a rider, ya know!
    Platforms keep me outta the hospital especially riding trials...
    Inability to balance check is a deal breaker, period.
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Typically those are poor executions of both designs, one issue is the cleat interferes with the flat pedal, and the clipless side has no pins. Have you tried to ride a shoe with a cleat on flat pedals or had to ride the other side with no pins? A key feature of clipless are the double/two-sided entry, because you don't always choose what side is "up". Even for a short time this is usually terrible, as most executions of this idea have been.
    These are very well made, no interference of the cleat on the flat side but effectively, you'll have to sometime turn your pedal, but with my Wolvies, it's a go on any side... What i like the most about those, it's the fact that when it get too techie or scary, i can get on the flat side easily.

  32. #32
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    I've just gotten into fat biking this season, and stuck with clipless pedals, as that's my preference for most riding (even DH as of recently, with the lone exception of DJ/Street). I ride CB Candy pedals. I've only been able to get 1 snow ride in because the weather has been so uncharacteristically warm this year in NY.

    Personally I feel for trail riding (at least in the NE), you can't beat clipless. The added power and control on climbs is vital to keeping up your flow, and not having to worry about foot placement all the time makes riding less annoying, and my banged up shins are always thankful for them.

    That being said... that's if you can get clipped in. Here in lies the conundrum. I don't really have a problem in nice conditions, so I didn't really anticipate how easily my cleats/shoes (Giro Gauge) would get caked with snow/ice every time I put a foot down, which does indeed happen more frequently while riding in snowy conditions. As my ride went on, I got better at knocking the snow off my shoes before trying to clip in, but it admittedly adds a lot of stress into what otherwise is usually a simple process. A number of times I thought I was clipped in, only to have my foot come free when attempting to shift around on my bike.

    If you've been riding clipless for a long time, it's unlikely you'll want to go back. But just be aware that if you're riding in the high 20s/lower 30s, that you will likely want to pick a shoe with good clearance around the cleat, and pedals which work well in muck (perhaps egg beaters would be better than Candies as far as CB is concerned, or you could go the other way and try Mallets for the bigger platform. Candy/Acid may be the worst choice, as a matter of fact).

  33. #33
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    Toe clips

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by AC/BC View Post
    Toe clips
    Oh god no.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by new8812 View Post
    These are very well made, no interference of the cleat on the flat side but effectively, you'll have to sometime turn your pedal, but with my Wolvies, it's a go on any side... What i like the most about those, it's the fact that when it get too techie or scary, i can get on the flat side easily.
    If you are the type that unclips for "tech sections", the time when you need the most control and should stay clipped in, it usually means you lack the confidence to clean a section, trying to ride said section on one-sided pedals is a recipe for disaster and means that you are usually not going to clean it or at worst, crash, due to the lack of confidence and skill, compounded by making your pedal/foot interface worse. In these situations, I recommend flats on both sides, or walking until you have the confidence and skills. "Un-clipping for tech" is a bad idea and gets people into trouble attempting sections with less control than if they had stayed in.
    "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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  36. #36
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