Flats or Clipless for 2018?- Mtbr.com

Poll: Flats or Clipless for 2018

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  1. #1
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    Flats or Clipless for 2018?

    Curious what people are running this season, and why. For me, I switched to flats about 2 years ago and probably will not switch back to clipless anytime soon. My riding now is more exploratory, taking pictures, off piste, sessioning obstacles, etc, so flat pedals suit my style of riding better, for now.

  2. #2
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    Flats so I can swap bikes with friends for giggles and keep my dreams of sweet double can-can's alive. I like that I have to change my riding style to match, it keeps things interesting.

    SPD's so I can feel like a cyborg and monster truck rough trails without slowly edging my way off the sides of my pedals until I'm only holding on with two pins and a prayer. It's harder to convince myself that going fast doesn't matter with SPD's :-/

    Prob 80/20, so voted Flats only.

  3. #3
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    I switched to flats at the beginning of the year. My riding buddies were making fun of my "goofy xc" style. Riding has been more fun ever since the switch.


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  4. #4
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    I just got some light flats for singletrack/technical after riding clipless for decades. First ride at Tamarancho last weekend- I liked them a lot and didn't feel like I missed much power on climbing. I'll probably pick the pedal for the terrain for while until I get a second bike that is more all mountain and less XC.

  5. #5
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    I have been on SPDs for years but...

    Out of the blue I decided I wanted to learn manuals and wheelie's so I got some cheap Chinese platforms and a set of 510 shoes that were on sale.

    It's been fun, on the trails I don't miss the SPDs maybe I won't ever go back.

    It's way more convenient, and I don't have to change shoes if I want to go for food after a ride

  6. #6
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    i am contemplating flats for sure. i am attempting more technical climbs now. i think a less extravagant exit strategy when i start that slow crash would be a good thing.
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  7. #7
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    I rode clipless for 20 years back when it was pretty much 'required'. Then 5 years ago, I switched to flats because I wanted to learn how to control the bike without being locked in. Also, I wanted the safety since I was traveling a lot to exotic bike destinations. Had some knee pain too.

    I knew it could be done since I always rode with my kid who could jump the bike wearing slippers.


    Here's my kid at 5 years old and I could NOT do the same. Zero chance.

    I asked him "how do you do that?" I asked my kid.

    "Do what dad?" he wondered.

    "How do you not pull your feet out of the pedals?" I explained.

    "Why would I want to do that dad?. Was his reply.

    He never learned to pull up with his feet. He never learned wrong and he just used physics to stay glued to the bike. This was my start in the quest to ride flats well.

    Anyway, the longer you ride clipped, and the more aggressive you want to descend, I think the longer it takes to learn flats proficiently and start progressing.

    In my case, IT TOOK ME ONE YEAR to start getting better. The key is to go all flats, not switch around. Old habits die hard.

    But it's been great. I've progressed and become more playful on the bike. It's saved me from crashing about 20 times. And I've forgotten my shoes or I just ride around the block or town and really feel comfortable with the bike.

    My big fear with flats is that it would be sooo inefficient climbing. When you first start, it feels like 30-50% worse climbing. But in the end it's just a little bit off, maybe 1-2%. So if you're xc racing, that's a big deal. But if not, it hardly makes a difference.

    I can ride both now, no issues.
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  8. #8
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    Went clipless 10 years ago and just switched to flats this winter. Just like others here, I wanted to work on manuals and wheelies, wanted to work on jumping technique, and it bothered me that I was hopping the wrong way. I don't see myself switching back either, unless I try another XC race.

  9. #9
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    I like clipless most of the time. The only place I like flats is for obstacles like skinnies so you can ditch the bike. Freaks me out thinking about being high on a skinny and falling with your bike clipped in because you can't unclip.

  10. #10
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    Been riding flats since i started with dirt jump/bmx. tried spd's last year with xc shoes and couldn't really get it right, the small q-factor made it difficult for me to descend comfortably.
    Definitely got some clipless curiosity though, been looking into the Crankbros Mallet E's as they are supposed to have a wider q-factor and larger platform that might be easier to transition with. I'm on Deity Tmac's now and they're great but i do often wonder about whether id be faster on some trails with clipless...

  11. #11
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    I ride clips on my trail bike and they feel great in all situations for me. I mostly ride in SC these days but mix in Carlmont & Pacifica too. I do run flats on my DJ bike. My son who is twelve raced BMX for 5 years rides clips only whether it's DH, trail or DJ's. He has no issues running flats at the DJ's but prefers running clips. I took him out to Lake Cunningham and he hit all the big sets clipped with no issue. Overall I think it's safer to run flats but there is something to be said for riding what you're most comfortable with.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by sosburn View Post
    Been riding flats since i started with dirt jump/bmx. tried spd's last year with xc shoes and couldn't really get it right, the small q-factor made it difficult for me to descend comfortably.
    Definitely got some clipless curiosity though, been looking into the Crankbros Mallet E's as they are supposed to have a wider q-factor and larger platform that might be easier to transition with. I'm on Deity Tmac's now and they're great but i do often wonder about whether id be faster on some trails with clipless...
    Q(uack) Factor! That's a blast from the past, I remember when Grant Petersen came out with that concept.

  13. #13
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    I ride a mix and have for years. What I've found that seems counterintuitive is that I get knee pain from being so locked in...to my flat pedals. I've heard others say the same. So I have way more float in my SPDs. Bummer with SPDs for me is calves getting tired on long descents from not being centered on the pedals.

  14. #14
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    One of the chief complaints with flats is getting mauled by the pedal. Why not put the spikes on the shoes and make the pedal platform a replaceable hard rubber?

  15. #15
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    I voted for 50/50. Having ridden clipped in for over 30 years, I decided a couple weeks ago to get a set of Raceface Chester platforms and try this platform thing out. I have great respect for people who can climb up technical sh°t on platforms, it really requires so much more quad power; clipped in a rider can rely on getting power on the pedal upstroke. Iíve done four trail rides on the flatforms so far, and other than totally eating sh°t when attempting to bunnyhop over a gravelly waterbar at 20MPH (my kids got to witness this) which caused a cheesegrater like effect to the left side of my body (leg, torso, arm) since I had FORGOTTEN THAT I WAS NOT CLIPPED IN ó I am getting the hang of using different muscles. Itís nice to be able to put a foot out/down through a corner for a little bit more confidence, and Iíve managed to bag some PRs on downhill technical sections with the platforms. So it is a goal of mine to get better on platforms this year, and NOT FORGET what type of pedals I am using when I am on platforms.
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  16. #16
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    You would have to remove your shoes to walk anywhere.

  17. #17
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    Rode BMX and MX as a kid. Switched to mountain biking in college and began conforming to the clipped in mantra (also wearing 80s leotards!). When I switched back to flat pedals (and regular clothes!) a few years ago I was amazed in technical sections how much I was letting the bike work me, instead of letting the bike do the work.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by cassieno View Post
    You would have to remove your shoes to walk anywhere.
    The "spikes" don't need to be sharp if the rubber is textured.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boomchakabowwow View Post
    i am contemplating flats for sure. i am attempting more technical climbs now. i think a less extravagant exit strategy when i start that slow crash would be a good thing.
    less drama exit strategy
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    One of the chief complaints with flats is getting mauled by the pedal. Why not put the spikes on the shoes and make the pedal platform a replaceable hard rubber?
    Plastic pedals or shin guards work well for this concern.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Svahn View Post
    I ride a mix and have for years. What I've found that seems counterintuitive is that I get knee pain from being so locked in...to my flat pedals. I've heard others say the same. So I have way more float in my SPDs. Bummer with SPDs for me is calves getting tired on long descents from not being centered on the pedals.
    I've heard this before. On flats, when you settle in, there is zero float, unlike most clipless pedals. So one has to actively lift and set one's feet if a different foot angle is wanted. I find that I do this. Angle the feet, feet centered on the pedal, then more standard position. Rotate through my spots as needed.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    Plastic pedals or shin guards work well for this concern.
    But why resort to these if you could fix the problem with a (in theory) superior design? I don't want to ride plastic pedals or shin guards on an epic multi day ride.

    I may have to contract with my son's robotics team to prototype some! Who's going to be a guinea pig for these?!!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    But why resort to these if you could fix the problem with a (in theory) superior design? I don't want to ride plastic pedals or shin guards on an epic multi day ride.

    I may have to contract with my son's robotics team to prototype some! Who's going to be a guinea pig for these?!!
    I'll try em. I have tons of scars on my legs from failed crank flips and the like. Sounds like a great idea, especially considering that the shoes will have much better grip when hike-a-bike-ing. i find that my fivetens have no grip whatsoever when it comes to scoping out lines and the like.

    I think the only issue here is that on trails with a lot of boulders, having a rock strike with a rubberized pedal could potentially be a ride-ending affair, so they'd have to be pretty strong.

    edit; i have some five ten maltese falcons that i've pretty much shredded to bits using on flats (the harder midsole provides ultimate stiffness with a wide flat pedal, try it!) I could drill some pokey inserts into the hard midsole that has the cleat holes and test

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by sosburn View Post
    I'll try em. I have tons of scars on my legs from failed crank flips and the like. Sounds like a great idea, especially considering that the shoes will have much better grip when hike-a-bike-ing. i find that my fivetens have no grip whatsoever when it comes to scoping out lines and the like.

    I think the only issue here is that on trails with a lot of boulders, having a rock strike with a rubberized pedal could potentially be a ride-ending affair, so they'd have to be pretty strong.
    We have a test pilot! What could possibly go wrong?!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    One of the chief complaints with flats is getting mauled by the pedal.
    When I first started mountain biking I got some bad shins scrapes from my beartrap pedals. When I switched to clipless that same year... I still got some painful shin bumps and scrapes from the SPDs. But 10 years later I can't remember the last time I hit my shin with a pedal, and switching back to flats hasn't suddenly made my shins attracted to the pedals! But thanks to this thread I'm already visualizing it and practicing the screams of pain in my head for when it does happen

    I think it's a combination of experience, body awareness and the types of crashes you tend to have. Dabbing is when it can easily happen too. But for anything that hurts that badly, you will eventually consciously or subconsciously learn how to avoid much of it

  26. #26
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    I've been on clipless since I started mountain biking. I used to ride BMX so somewhere, deep down inside, there's correct technique, but it's long gone. Flat curious, because I know I've developed bad habits. I want to get better at jumping also.

    But it's hard to justify a new set of shoes and pedals when I already have really nice ones..
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  27. #27
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    I made the switch to flats on a bike trip to Whistler. I could not figure out why I was flying off the bike going over every jump on b-line. Somehow figured it out it was awesome and I started doing really well.

    Broke my thumb the next day and had to just hang out in the Village for the rest of the trip.

  28. #28
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    Switched to flats last year after 18 years of clipless pedals, and plan on keeping it that way. I still use CB Candy pedals on the gravel grinder.

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  29. #29
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    Been on clips since the beginning.
    Tried going to flats 3-5 years ago when it became trendy.
    Dropped $300 on pedals and shoes.
    Hated every minute of it.
    For me, flat pedals are good for going to the grocery store, gym, friend's house, or commuting to work.
    They don't have a place in my MTB life.
    If it's going to take a year to start really enjoying them, to me that's a year of wasted rides.

    Give both a shot, then ride what you like.

  30. #30
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    Rode flats all last summer and fall on a full-susp bike but found the rigid bike bucks me off the pedals on rocky descents so started riding it with clipless. Found that my feet and lower legs get less tired climbing w/ clipless. I'll stick to clipless with that bike and do part-time clipless on the full-susp bike.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boomchakabowwow View Post
    i am contemplating flats for sure. i am attempting more technical climbs now. i think a less extravagant exit strategy when i start that slow crash would be a good thing.
    Exactly!! I rode SPD's for 25 years and started to sample flats last September. I switched back and forth for a couple months until a trip to SW Utah. I was on a climb with a rock ledge at the top and I was going to be one pedal stroke short and started to fall backwards. Because I was riding flats, I just pushed the bike away and landed safely on my feet. The added benefit of riding super comfy shoes (5-10 Freerider Pro's) with rubber soles for safely walking on slick rock was icing on the cake. Haven't ridden clipless since that incident.
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by sosburn View Post
    i find that my fivetens have no grip whatsoever
    This made me laugh - You know that 5.10 is a first and foremost a rock climbing shoe company and are considered the grippiest rock climbing shoes made, right?

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by skyno View Post
    This made me laugh - You know that 5.10 is a first and foremost a rock climbing shoe company and are considered the grippiest rock climbing shoes made, right?
    I think maybe he's saying 5.10's don't have great grip on common steep trail surfaces, like the wet clay type soil and leafy surfaces we see around here. But then again, not many shoes are grippy on those types of surfaces. 5.10's are very grippy on rocks!

  34. #34
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    Best of all worlds: flats on my dirt jumper and Nomad, Clipless on my SJer for CC style riding. Either way works

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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    I think maybe he's saying 5.10's don't have great grip on common steep trail surfaces, like the wet clay type soil and leafy surfaces we see around here. But then again, not many shoes are grippy on those types of surfaces. 5.10's are very grippy on rocks!
    Yeah that makes sense, but Iíd still rather have 5.10s than pretty much any other riding shoes if Iím walking!


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  36. #36
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    I find that rock crawling is a bit harder in flats as feet tend to bounce off. Could be my lack of technique.

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  37. #37
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    Flats 100%. Safety was the primary motivation but the switch really taught me how to handle the bike much better. It took a while to get totally comfortable but it was worth the time spent.

  38. #38
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    Once you go flat, you never go back.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by skyno View Post
    Yeah that makes sense, but Iíd still rather have 5.10s than pretty much any other riding shoes if Iím walking!


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    Yeah me too. But, wait till you try my newly designed spikey pedaling shoes! LOL!

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by zorg View Post
    I find that rock crawling is a bit harder in flats as feet tend to bounce off. Could be my lack of technique.

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    Yes, I've found that high speed pedal strikes can be brutal with flat pedals.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by zorg View Post
    I find that rock crawling is a bit harder in flats as feet tend to bounce off. Could be my lack of technique.

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    It is harder.

    Two reasons I can think of:
    The platform pedals are much bigger and can hit or stall on rocks easier.

    The shoe is not locked so when the bike or the pedals hit rocks, that jolt can knock the feet off the pedals.

    Big solution is to: HEEL DOWN. Point your heels down as you power through rocks. Thus when your feet get jolted forward, they are driven back to the pedal.

    Dropper posts help as you can drop the saddle a bit allow you more room to drop your hips and heel down. You're not as high on flats as if on stilts.

    Other tips are: thinner pedals, smaller pedals and shorter cranks. Grippier pedals too.
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  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    It is harder.

    Two reasons I can think of:
    The platform pedals are much bigger and can hit or stall on rocks easier.

    The shoe is not locked so when the bike or the pedals hit rocks, that jolt can knock the feet off the pedals.

    Big solution is to: HEEL DOWN. Point your heels down as you power through rocks. Thus when your feet get jolted forward, they are driven back to the pedal.

    Dropper posts help as you can drop the saddle a bit allow you more room to drop your hips and heel down. You're not as high on flats as if on stilts.

    Other tips are: thinner pedals, smaller pedals and shorter cranks. Grippier pedals too.
    Another thing I do is run a slightly harder (higher) gear through rock garden climbs or flat rock gardens. This allows for more pressure on the pedals and slower cadence, so the foot is less likely to pop off the pedal.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by d-bug View Post
    Been on clips since the beginning.
    Tried going to flats 3-5 years ago when it became trendy.
    Dropped $300 on pedals and shoes.
    Hated every minute of it.
    For me, flat pedals are good for going to the grocery store, gym, friend's house, or commuting to work.
    They don't have a place in my MTB life.
    If it's going to take a year to start really enjoying them, to me that's a year of wasted rides.

    Give both a shot, then ride what you like.
    Right on. I'm not going to try to change your mind but some advice for others who are thinking about it...

    Some of the finest pedals today are under $50. OneUp Composite and Raceface Chester. Shoes... you can use Vans or any supportive shoe. Or another $50 and you should be good to start.

    Take lessons, watch videos, seek advice. Riding flats has a very specific technique with heel positioning and pointing so if it's not coming naturally, some pointers will go a longggg way.

    If you are OLD school clipless like me and others, the first month is tough but after that, you start having fun. To get back to your old jedi level, might take longer. To really improve, longer still. Jumping and very rough descents is the hard part. There has to be some level of commitment though to unlearn the pulling up.
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  44. #44
    fc
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    Quote Originally Posted by cassieno View Post
    I made the switch to flats on a bike trip to Whistler. I could not figure out why I was flying off the bike going over every jump on b-line. Somehow figured it out it was awesome and I started doing really well.

    Broke my thumb the next day and had to just hang out in the Village for the rest of the trip.
    I too switched first time I went to Whistler a couple decades ago. Biggest mistake... ever. It's not instant coffee so I was handicapped that trip.
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  45. #45
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    I rode flats on bmx and when I started mtbing, but switched to spd's way back when...and i'm not going back, best thing I ever did (for me).
    All the gear and no idea.

  46. #46
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    I've only ridden on flats and have had no desire to try anything else yet as they seem to work for me for the most part.

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  47. #47
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    I don't really get what this "new trend" is about, it seems every magazine/blogger/youtuber wants you to ride flats.
    The riders wanting to ride flats and explaining why other riders should try them, I can understand. Now, every one else just seems to try to ride the bandwagon and sincerely it's almost like the "flat mafia" is paying them to pray the flat gospel.
    Don't get me wrong, I like to ride flats, I know flats are good pedals and why riders like them, I just don't like chunks of flesh being ripped off my legs, that's the only reason I don't ride flats despite owning a pair, except for mild rides.
    Two years from now every magazine/blogger/youtuber will be trying to convince you that you should ride clipless and that flats is hindering in some way your ride .

  48. #48
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    I like my SPD's!

  49. #49
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    Depends on my mood, what season it is, whether if feel like hammering or playing around, etc, etc, etc.

  50. #50
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    I prefer clipless.
    Have you guys tried the Shimano SM-SH56 Cleats? The ďMĒ ones?
    It is a lot easier to unclip with them than the regular SM-SH51 model.

  51. #51
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    When I got back into MTB last year I rode clipless cause that is what my buddy had and figured that is what most people did, had my fair share or clipless related crashes as well lol. It was making me apprehensive on the trail. Ditched the clips and got some chesters and 510's this year and been loving it! I'm not scared to try things as I know I can bail out easily if needed.
    I do think clipless might have been a better choice for a recent XC race I did, but I probably would have sucked just as much with them haha.
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  52. #52
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    I've ridden (and ride) both. I would describe 98% of my riding as "trail." I tend to prefer clipless.

    In some people's minds it's almost like a stigma or scarlet letter, but in my simple mind I can absolutely see advantages to being attached to the bike that I don't consider cheating or causing inferior bike handling skills. It's understanding the method you are employing and using it to your advantage. But maybe that's just a cheater's warped mind rationalizing his lack of skill.

  53. #53
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    Flats Only.

    So that I can spend my entire ride hearing about how much faster clipless is from both the guys in front AND the guys behind me.

  54. #54
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    Started riding less than a year ago. Initially, whatever crappy flats that came with my Novara Bonanza (REI 26in HT.)

    Coughed up what seemed like an obscene sum of money for some Raceface Chesters and loved them. They followed me to my next bike, a specialized camber 29er. A few months later, Shimano XT 8020 pedals went on, and I was in clipless land and basically have been ever since.

    So far I only swap out on super rare occasions, such as this past weekend in Sedona where some of the terrain is techie enough to shake my confidence in unclipping fast enough to avoid excessive pain =)

    Also started finally trying to learn some bunnyhopping while at camp and was running the Chesters for that as well.

    If I end up going apeshit on some of the more technical stuff in town, I may use the flats for that as well, but mostly I'm either putting in the miles on rough XC type trails, or bombing down rock gardens, and for both of those I much prefer being clipped in.

  55. #55
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    20+ years on clipless. I'm going to try both this year after picking up a pair of Kona Wah Wah 2s. That said, I also just picked up a pair of S-Works shoes so clipless will still remain in the mix.

  56. #56
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    Flats for Life! Never tried clipless, and my friends insist that I switch, but I like the ability to bail, I fall often, very often.

    I even have Chesters on my gravel/road bike.
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  57. #57
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    Flats curious.

    Been riding clipless on road and touring for about a decade. Flats on all the commuter bikes. When i picked up MTBing a few years ago went clipless immediately.

    My flat curiosity is because I want to work on skills in more technical terrain and in the air. Once I get better and build confidence not sure if I'll stay with flats or go back to clipless.

    I like the float of clipless, i like not banging up shins, and I like the consistent foot placement. I dislike the consistent foot placement too if somethings bothering me, and I dislike not being able to bail as easily or hike techy terrain--especially when I need to session something to clear it.

    Just ordered some composite flats from Amazon that are Chester rip offs. I'll pair them with some 5.10 approach shoes I've got hanging around for some rides this summer. Figure flats at the bike park, on shorter trail rides, and around town working on skills.

  58. #58
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    been riding "Flats" since 1977 on my BMX. I could never, ever, feel comfortable or safe being permanently attached to the bike. And I know that you can "click out", but that split second of time and effort for me is sometimes the difference between bail and FAIL.

    Never really noticed ,or cared about the "extra power" you get from being clipped in since I never raced, or kept time for when I ride. I like me feet to be moveable and flexible when they need to be

    The hamburger shins were always just part of riding..and even a hero badge when we were younger...and even now for realz...
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  59. #59
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    I just moved my cleats all the way back. its life changing.. been riding with them in the wrong position, front under the ball of my foot for the last 18 years!!... in all that time I never even thought to experiment with position.

    I think cleats back with a more platform pedal, shimano dx or mallets.. probably best of both worlds. with my cleats back feel more like a flat pedal stance.

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    Another thing I do is run a slightly harder (higher) gear through rock garden climbs or flat rock gardens. This allows for more pressure on the pedals and slower cadence, so the foot is less likely to pop off the pedal.

    ^^^When someone ask for advice on clearing a techy rock section, I always say, whatever gear you think you should be in, go one harder.

    Flats forever. I have been on flats for well over 10 years. Could never go back. I do remember about a 4 month learning curve where I would roll a pedal in slow techy sections. I don't think I had any skin on my shins for those 4 months.
    And after calming me down with some orange slices and fetal spooning, ET revealed to me my singular purpose.

  61. #61
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    was riding flats so far but decided to try clipless this year.

    on the first ride I was able to clear short steep climb that I was failing all the time on flats. maybe it was because I was too afraid of stalling when clipped in plus all previous attempts on flats.

    so definitely I will continue riding clipless for some time and try to decide whats best for me. flats for winter for sure.

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  62. #62
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    I've ridden clipless pretty much since I started, but last year started experimenting with flats on my old hard tail. Every time I try flats, it feels really scary on anything technical with feet bouncing around and such, and I have to concentrate a lot more on my feet, dropping heels, etc. But it's fun and certainly makes trails that had become boring a lot more interesting.

    I don't see myself moving exclusively to flats as I feel that there's less margin for error with them. If I hit a techy section at speed and lose my footing with flats, I'm screwed. I know people who have broken ankles that way.

    I have no fear being clipped in, as I've been doing it so long that unclipping in an emergency is automatic. Even riding skinnies or whatever, I have no trouble unclipping and putting a foot down, so there's not much downside for me to clipless.

    So I've taken to riding flats whenever I ride less challenging terrain, especially with newer riders. It keeps things interesting for me, at least, and hopefully I'm improving my technique.

  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by seamarsh View Post
    I just moved my cleats all the way back. its life changing.. been riding with them in the wrong position, front under the ball of my foot for the last 18 years!!... in all that time I never even thought to experiment with position.

    I think cleats back with a more platform pedal, shimano dx or mallets.. probably best of both worlds. with my cleats back feel more like a flat pedal stance.
    Yep, makes it far easier to drop your heels.
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  64. #64
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    I seem to turn better on flats and like the fact that I can commit to some harder tech climbing and dab at the last sec with flats. Manuals and such are easier with flats. So the trails I need to do stuff like that i tend to use flats. But I'm faster and longer smoother climbs I like to be clipped in. If I did chunky lift service rides I'd like to be clipped in.

  65. #65
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    After riding exclusively clipless for 15+ years, I found it way harder to learn flats that it was when I first went clipless.

    (clips are those metal cages you stick you toe into)
    Do the math.

  66. #66
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    All clipless all the time on all the bikes.

    Flats or Clipless for 2018?-0530181452a.jpg

    I rode flat pedals 1984-1986 and have ridden them off and on since, but don't really care for them except for winter riding in heavy boots.
    I loved to ride with super tight toe clips 1987-1992, but there were disadvantages.
    After 26 years on clipless, releasing is second nature and I find very few trail situations to be intimidating (except the Notch on Porcupine Rim - I walked that a couple times in the past month).
    Last edited by sgltrak; 05-30-2018 at 02:23 PM. Reason: typo - fat thumbs & small phone

  67. #67
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    I laugh because I ride clipless on my mtb, flats on my road bike. I like the feeling of having more control with clipless, some say it doesnt matter clipless or flats you have the same control. however most dont wear size 17.
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  68. #68
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    No reason to be clipped in. Flats all day!

  69. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by boomn View Post
    Went clipless 10 years ago and just switched to flats this winter. Just like others here, I wanted to work on manuals and wheelies, wanted to work on jumping technique, and it bothered me that I was hopping the wrong way. I don't see myself switching back either, unless I try another XC race.
    I don't understand this thinking, and it's pretty prevalent. Why is it considered the wrong way when you use clipless pedals? It's just a different style, not wrong. Different equipment necessitates a different skill set. No right or wrong. No better or worse. Just different.

  70. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctxcrossx View Post
    I don't understand this thinking, and it's pretty prevalent. Why is it considered the wrong way when you use clipless pedals? It's just a different style, not wrong. Different equipment necessitates a different skill set. No right or wrong. No better or worse. Just different.
    Agreed. Many flats riders criticize clipless riders for using a crutch to make riding easier, and then in the next breath claim everyone should use a dropper because it makes riding easier.

  71. #71
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    Clipless on the mountain bike, switched to flats on the gravel and road bikes.
    "These things are very fancy commuter bikes or really bad dirt bikes, but they are not mountain bikes." - J. Mac

  72. #72
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    I always wonder what roadies think when I show up with 510s and Chesters, on a gravel bike when I do group road rides, which is very rare btw. 85% of the time, I'm alone when I ride road/gravel.

    Not that I care, obviously.

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  73. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcd46 View Post
    I always wonder what roadies think when I show up with 510s and Chesters, on a gravel bike when I do group road rides, which is very rare btw. 85% of the time, I'm alone when I ride road/gravel.

    Not that I care, obviously.

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    I have flats on my road bike. Thereís always a few that look at me with a weird smirk when I do large group rides. But I wipe that smirk offf their faces on the climbs

  74. #74
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    Ive switched back and forth and just prefer flats. With my clipless pedals I feel like I'm standing on a bottle cap with no support... a set of pedals with some platforms may help but with fiddling with cleat position, angle, having to switch shoes, switching pedals to work on bunny hops and manuals and wheelies, etc I'm just honestly sick of fiddling around with them.

    The onlyl time flats piss me off is on rocky or rooty climbs when every now and then my foot will bounce off and ruin my flow!

  75. #75
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    clipless for 6 years, swapped to flats recently. have some nice gouges in my shins now. going to stay with flats and review my jump technique. I like being able to get on a pedal easier, but find it a little odd - clipless you are either not in or in the right spot. Flats you can be on but not right and you need to lift clear of the pedal to reset it

  76. #76
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    Ride flats & clips (not at same time)...

    Pluses & minuses for both.

    'Born to ride!'
    "Mountain biking: the under-rated and drug-free antidepressant"

  77. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by SikeMo View Post
    Once you go flat, you never go back.
    I went flat and went back. For me it's about pedaling. As has been mentioned, positioning your feet precisely and consistently the same on flats was a problem, and once they were in position, they don't move. This hurts my knees and makes for crappy pedaling.

  78. #78
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    Positioning your feet precisely and consistently on flats is a skill, and once in position, they don't move if you have the skill to keep enough pressure on the pedals so that they don't. For me, this was the hard part of transitioning to flats after 15+ years of clipless. Riding flats has saved or mitigated innumerable falls and possible injuries over clips.
    Do the math.

  79. #79
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    Well i voted 50/50 cause that was the closest category the suited my.

    85% Clipless.
    15% flats.

    Clipless is on the trail bike and flats on the rig and street hard tail.
    When its stupid muddy and steel ill bust the flats on the trail bike. Or if im going to punt some big lines for the first time.

  80. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctxcrossx View Post
    I don't understand this thinking, and it's pretty prevalent. Why is it considered the wrong way when you use clipless pedals? It's just a different style, not wrong. Different equipment necessitates a different skill set. No right or wrong. No better or worse. Just different.
    Iíve always thought the same. Itís like how people used to say that full suspension is a crutch that lets you bomb through technical sections rather than learn how to properly pick your way through them on a rigid bike.

    Dropping your heels is a modification to allow you to keep your feet on the pedals. If your feet are clipped in then why would it be necessary to drop your heels?

  81. #81
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    I'm a xc guy so clipless always and forever. I do admire riders who are adept at flats.
    The only important thing these days, is rhythm and melody. Rhythm...and melody.

  82. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    Iíve always thought the same. Itís like how people used to say that full suspension is a crutch that lets you bomb through technical sections rather than learn how to properly pick your way through them on a rigid bike.

    Dropping your heels is a modification to allow you to keep your feet on the pedals. If your feet are clipped in then why would it be necessary to drop your heels?
    My 2c as a clipless rider who is going to start flirting with flats time to time.

    Flats force you to learn certain things you might not have to with clipless, mostly how to pressure your bike more actively with counterpressure between arms/body/feet. Clipless I've been able to just fake around that with the connection.

    I see it similar as to why it is fun and a good learning experience to hop on a rigid or hardtail occasionally. It makes you think in a different way, encourages you to think about different skills/lines etc. For me, flats are more of a learning aid than anything else.

  83. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    Positioning your feet precisely and consistently on flats is a skill, and once in position, they don't move if you have the skill to keep enough pressure on the pedals so that they don't. For me, this was the hard part of transitioning to flats after 15+ years of clipless. Riding flats has saved or mitigated innumerable falls and possible injuries over clips.
    That perfect position is definitely a challenge. Especially if you haven't spent much time tweaking the spikeyness of your pedals, got the right shoes, etc. I jumped into clipless before getting too invested in flats (raceface chesters and whatever pair of Vans I didn't mind beating up on trail) and one thing that always drove me batshit was trying to get my feet into just the right position. I probably had a little too much grip in the pairing (maybe file/turn down the spikes a bit) but it was like once my foot touched the pedal, that was the position it was gonna be in, and it'd take half a dozen revolutions before I could incrementally adjust the position to be where I wanted it.

    No such issues with clipless, and I really came to appreciate that this weekend when I swapped back to flats for some trails in Sedona where I knew clips would be my death (or at least injury, or at LEAST frustration with constant stops and clipping in/out.)

    I'm sure I'll have a nice pair of Five Tens to pair with my flats some day though.

  84. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmeb View Post
    Flats force you to learn certain things you might not have to with clipless, mostly how to pressure your bike more actively with counterpressure between arms/body/feet. Clipless I've been able to just fake around that with the connection.
    You're missing the point. If you don't need to do something given the equipment you have then why is it wrong if it works?

  85. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    You're missing the point. If you don't need to do something given the equipment you have then why is it wrong if it works?
    It's not wrong. I think people who believe that are tossers.

    But flats force you to learn new techniques. If you want to learn new techniques so you have a wider arsenal, flats can be useful in learning to do that.

  86. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmeb View Post
    It's not wrong. I think people who believe that are tossers.

    But flats force you to learn new techniques. If you want to learn new techniques so you have a wider arsenal, flats can be useful in learning to do that.
    Okay, I'll buy that.

  87. #87
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    Baskets (toe clips) for the first 25+ years. Flats for the last 5-6. Tried clipless for a couple months but never warmed up to them.

  88. #88
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    Clipless for life, why stop now.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  89. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmeb View Post
    It's not wrong. I think people who believe that are tossers.

    But flats force you to learn new techniques. If you want to learn new techniques so you have a wider arsenal, flats can be useful in learning to do that.
    You can still use the same technique as with flats, it's just easier.

    This argument depends on the idea that people riding flats have superior skills, which is false.

  90. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    Dropping your heels is a modification to allow you to keep your feet on the pedals. If your feet are clipped in then why would it be necessary to drop your heels?
    Dropping your heels, both heels, doesn't help you stick to flat pedals, it transfers forward momentum to the pedals instead of the bars.

    It's good technique regardless of pedal type.

    To stick to flat pedals, you drop the heel of the forward foot, raise the heel of the back foot and press into the pedals. You're still pulling up on the bike to do a bunny hop with flat pedals.

  91. #91
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    Flats all day....everyday! I personally never want to be tethered to my bike in any way! I like to play too much when I ride and have grown up on flats so it's just natural to me. Right now I'm rocking some Chesters with an old school pair of vans that never slip and are more than 1/2 the price of 510's.

    I think the power gain/loss by riding clipless or not is negligible. There are world class, championship riders that ride on both clipless and on flats....it's purely a personal choice in my eyes!

  92. #92
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    This idea that flat pedal riding is "correct" technique wise or requires super awesome endurbro skilz is a bunch of crap.
    If you like them then good for you, and I am happy for you, but it isn't correct or more skillful it's just different.
    If you don't have super awesome spinning skilz enough to see how bad they are for pedaling then fine....
    See what I did there? See how dickish it is?

  93. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by richde View Post
    Dropping your heels, both heels, doesn't help you stick to flat pedals, it transfers forward momentum to the pedals instead of the bars.

    It's good technique regardless of pedal type.
    I'm unconvinced. You know what definitely transfers forward momentum? Pedaling with both feet.

  94. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    One of the chief complaints with flats is getting mauled by the pedal. Why not put the spikes on the shoes and make the pedal platform a replaceable hard rubber?
    Prototype

    https://www.amazon.com/xc-spikes/s?p...%3Axc%20spikes
    https://www.amazon.com/XLC-Rubber-Pe.../dp/B003UQ4EO4

    20?? Tantrum Meltown
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  95. #95
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    Ha ha! I bet those would be great for a hike-a-bike on rock.

  96. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    I'm unconvinced. You know what definitely transfers forward momentum? Pedaling with both feet.
    Forward momentum when the bike is slowed by an obstacle.

    If you're on your toes, your foot rotates up and forward, leaving your arms to absorb it by pushing the bars. Heels down, a portion of that is transferred into the pedals and general BB area. It's also easier to have your calves relaxed.

    Give it a shot.

  97. #97
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    I've been trying to keep my heels down when descending in general. What I've found is that it reduces the feeling of being flung forward. It really helps when I start to get skiddish in loose or real sketchy sections. Moving the cleats back on my shoes helped a lot.

  98. #98
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    FS trail bike and dirt jumper get flat pedals for taking risks.

    XC, CX, Road, and BMX get clip pedals for going fast.

  99. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by richde View Post
    Forward momentum when the bike is slowed by an obstacle.

    If you're on your toes, your foot rotates up and forward, leaving your arms to absorb it by pushing the bars. Heels down, a portion of that is transferred into the pedals and general BB area. It's also easier to have your calves relaxed.

    Give it a shot.
    Why is it that the only other option you're offering to "heels down" is "on your toes?" You're picking the two ends of the range of motion. You can be in ankle joint neutral too.

    FYI I'm comfortable on both flats and clipless so I've "given it a shot." Putting heels down doesn't magically squirt you forward.

  100. #100
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    Quote Originally Posted by richde View Post
    Heels down, a portion of that is transferred into the pedals and general BB area. It's also easier to have your calves relaxed.

    Give it a shot.
    Agreed, and I do find it helps unload your hands and keeps you more centered in the bike. For me cleats back, heels dropped is just a more powerful/stable stance. Easier to load the bike with hips/thighs through the pedal spindle and manipulate the bike in a more controlled powerful manner.

    With that said I do think pulling directly up on your pedals clipped in to gain loft is an impediment to better technique for newer riders. I know guys that never bmx'd etc. that went directly to clips on mtb. Many years on they still can't pop, bunny hop, or jump for shit.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

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