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  1. #1
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    just switch to SPD pedals from flats for AM riding... looking for advice

    I have a 150mm travel bike and ride what I consider aggressive trail/a;; mountain, have always used flats. I've only taken one mellow ride with them so far, I have the SPD M520 pedals and SH-MT5 shoes.

    On flats I would normally get up on the balls of my feet to grind out climbs but I felt myself wanting to center my shoe up on the pedal a little more for descents.

    I positioned the cleat as far back on the shoe as it goes, so as close to centered on the pedal as it will let me, but it still feels like a lot of my foot is hanging off the back.. which feels like more work for my ankles as I absorb hits , technical descents, pulling manuals... the times when I want my toes more pointed up and feeling planted on the pedal.

    Is this something you get used to/adjust technique or is this why some SPD pedals have the extra platform on them? Maybe some shoes have a more centered cleat area?

  2. #2
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    They are not designed to be placed in the middle of your foot like flats.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbourne84 View Post

    Is this something you get used to/adjust technique or is this why some SPD pedals have the extra platform on them? Maybe some shoes have a more centered cleat area?
    You learn that you don't have to weight your feet quite the same, and also your ankles/calves adapt. Learning a different pedal takes a while; usually the hangup is that you gotta have enough crashes on spds to realize they're not an issue... until then they're a mental hangup, you ride conservatively, and you don't have any offs to correct it.

    If you want to become capable with clipless it takes a solid half-season of riding with it exclusively. It's the same going the other way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottzg View Post
    You learn that you don't have to weight your feet quite the same, and also your ankles/calves adapt. Learning a different pedal takes a while; usually the hangup is that you gotta have enough crashes on spds to realize they're not an issue... until then they're a mental hangup, you ride conservatively, and you don't have any offs to correct it.

    If you want to become capable with clipless it takes a solid half-season of riding with it exclusively. It's the same going the other way.
    Oddly enough, I was totally comfortable on SPDs right from the start. I'm not sure why, but I never had any learning curve with them.
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  5. #5
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    How stiff is the sole on those shoes?

    Tiny spd pedals like that, you need a really stiff sole to properly support your foot/weight. Like barely any flex in the sole, like an XC race shoe. Otherwise your arches get killed, as your foot wants to fold over, which sounds like the issue you're having.

    I'd swap to a pedal with wider platform to support the shoe better, something like the xt trail pedal or even wider like saint pedals.... or get stiffer soled shoes.

  6. #6
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    You dont need to point your toes up with spd. I think its a much more stable foot position. If you've been riding flats and dropping your heel forever, its going to take some time to get used to not needing to do that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    Oddly enough, I was totally comfortable on SPDs right from the start. I'm not sure why, but I never had any learning curve with them.
    I started with toe straps in middle school. Clipless were an absolute dream once I upgraded a number of years later.
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    I rode toe clips switching to clipless in the mid '90s. Switched to flats a couple of years ago. It was a way steeper learning curve. Clipless is a no-brainer by comparison. The main things are being deliberate clipping in rather than anxiously stabbing at the pedal, and remembering to clip out sooner rather than later.
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  9. #9
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    I like the cleats further back than some shoes allow and have modified (drilled) them to get the cleats back a little more. I drop my heels with clipless and do feel more planted that way over the rough stuff.
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I like the cleats further back than some shoes allow and have modified (drilled) them to get the cleats back a little more. I drop my heels with clipless and do feel more planted that way over the rough stuff.
    Thanks for the idea, I'm reading about some "enduro" shoes that supposedly have more room to slide the cleat further back for exactly this (for like twice the price)... what shoes do you have that you're modifying?

    I notice on mine that if i custom drill some holes the cleat might start running into the rubber tread surrounding the cleat area, do you cut this out of the way at all?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbourne84 View Post
    what shoes do you have that you're modifying?
    I've done a few pairs, nothing severe though. Pretty much I just drill a ~1/4" hole just behind each slot and file it smooth so the slots ends up being s little longer. And yes, I've also had to grind away a little material on the soles so the cleats would clear.

    Some brands allow for a little more rearward adjustment than others, don't know about the Shimano's.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbourne84 View Post
    Thanks for the idea, I'm reading about some "enduro" shoes that supposedly have more room to slide the cleat further back for exactly this (for like twice the price)... what shoes do you have that you're modifying?

    I notice on mine that if i custom drill some holes the cleat might start running into the rubber tread surrounding the cleat area, do you cut this out of the way at all?
    I see you didn't like the answers here so you asked in the AM forum.

    The answer is still no, SPD pedals are designed so the cleat rotates closer to around the ball of your foot, for entry and exit. I'm not sure what you think you are gaining by trying to defeat this, but they are not designed for the foot position you are talking about. I've DHed with SPDs for years and I do DH and enduro races on them, I have also rocked flats in places like Trestle for the big jumps, but the way flats and clipless work is completely different.
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  13. #13
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    I run xt trail spd on my slash. This season is my first on them so I found some giro shoes for about 50$ on sale because I didn’t know how it would go. I slammed the cleats as far as I could to my heel after about a month and it helped climbing. When I first switched I was told the proper way to pedal is like scrapping dog crap off your foot. On the bottom of that stroke scrape back. Like others have said after half a season you don’t even think about it. For a cheap shoe and a good pedal I’m very happy and comfortable in that department for my riding style. Up and down very happy over flats But I still have them in the bin


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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I've done a few pairs, nothing severe though. Pretty much I just drill a ~1/4" hole just behind each slot and file it smooth so the slots ends up being s little longer. And yes, I've also had to grind away a little material on the soles so the cleats would clear.

    Some brands allow for a little more rearward adjustment than others, don't know about the Shimano's.
    I've done this with a couple pairs of my road shoes and really love the mid-foot position.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I see you didn't like the answers here so you asked in the AM forum.
    I asked a related, but different question (shoe recommendations) for AM spd with further cleat setbacks.... which exist btw

    But I see you preached against the “set back cleats” over there too. If you want I can start a “can I mount cleats under my heels??” thread so you can lose your shit all in one place.

    some people like to try different things

  16. #16
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    In my opinion stiff soled shoes are a must with clipless. It's one of the few downsides to them because the shoes aren't comfortable unless you're on the bike.
    I have never tried the platform type clipless but I bet those would work better with more normal soled shoes that you could walk in ok.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    Oddly enough, I was totally comfortable on SPDs right from the start. I'm not sure why, but I never had any learning curve with them.
    Same here, but I went from toe straps to SPDs. I can't ride flats.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbourne84 View Post
    I asked a related, but different question (shoe recommendations) for AM spd with further cleat setbacks.... which exist btw

    But I see you preached against the “set back cleats” over there too. If you want I can start a “can I mount cleats under my heels??” thread so you can lose your shit all in one place.

    some people like to try different things
    hahahaha

    I wonder if this could be one of those instances where the inclination is to fix a perceived problem, but the fix (while an improvement in the short term) is actually counterproductive in the long run.

    I think most riders who are similarly capable with both clipless and flats don't push the cleats back much. My mtb clipless shoes have the cleats pushed back more than my road shoes, but only like 5mm. More feels worse to me. The float is in the wrong spot and the support doesn't feel right.



    I don't know which shoes allow you to move the cleats super far back because i don't tend to slam them back on regular shoes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottzg View Post
    I wonder if this could be one of those instances where the inclination is to fix a perceived problem, but the fix (while an improvement in the short term) is actually counterproductive in the long run.
    sounds like it might be, which is sort of what i was looking to clarify with this thread; whether this was an experience others had and how they delt with it... did they change anything or just get used to it. Sounds like a bit of both. To me it just makes sense though, that the foot position on your pedal when leaning your weight back and absorbing technical terrain would want to be different than when grinding out a climb.

    I'll prob just stick with them and see how it goes though

  20. #20
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    I posted this on the thread in the all mountain forum

    http://forums.mtbr.com/all-mountain/...l#post13769828


    I hope it helps

  21. #21
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    Whyd you go spd? If your style leans aggresive AM, why not stay platform. I ride both but have pretty much switched completely platform for trail for past two years. I do place my foot further back on climbs and grinds, make better use of calves. But have flexibility to shift foot to center for more hairy stuff.
    Used to ride lots of trials too, so platforms feel pretty natural. Riding trials with SPDs does not last long!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taroroot View Post
    Whyd you go spd? If your style leans aggresive AM, why not stay platform. I ride both but have pretty much switched completely platform for trail for past two years. I do place my foot further back on climbs and grinds, make better use of calves. But have flexibility to shift foot to center for more hairy stuff.
    Used to ride lots of trials too, so platforms feel pretty natural. Riding trials with SPDs does not last long!
    What happens where does it go? Is the spd float and minimal adjustment end up being to restrictive the harder you start to ride?


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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taroroot View Post
    Whyd you go spd? If your style leans aggresive AM, why not stay platform. I ride both but have pretty much switched completely platform for trail for past two years. I do place my foot further back on climbs and grinds, make better use of calves. But have flexibility to shift foot to center for more hairy stuff.
    Used to ride lots of trials too, so platforms feel pretty natural. Riding trials with SPDs does not last long!
    I learned spd first.


    Spd lets me run a slightly lower BB and be a little sloppy. There's no downside until i'm hitting properly big doubles, which i'm kinda scared of and avoid anyway. When i use flats i after a long period of spd i notice i step up off the pedal when i'm cranking hard.

    Flats totally suck for hardtails, and i like riding hardtails a lot. Adapting to HT-> FS is enough of a challenge without having to adapt to new pedals, so it's easier to mostly ride spd.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taroroot View Post
    If your style leans aggresive AM, why not stay platform.
    I fail to see the logic in this.
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    Hell, I'll stay on platforms for the simple reason of better-fitting shoes. Clipless shoes have never fit me well, and always pinch my feet somewhere. Still, they're better sometimes and I still use 'em. But I've never run a cleat position anywhere approaching what I use when I'm wearing flats with platform pedals. It felt quite odd when a bike fitter moved my cleats back on my clipless shoes for road riding, even.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Hell, I'll stay on platforms for the simple reason of better-fitting shoes. Clipless shoes have never fit me well, and always pinch my feet somewhere. Still, they're better sometimes and I still use 'em. But I've never run a cleat position anywhere approaching what I use when I'm wearing flats with platform pedals. It felt quite odd when a bike fitter moved my cleats back on my clipless shoes for road riding, even.
    I just got some Five Ten Hellcats and they're the best SPD shoes i've tried. Funnily enough the reason for that is because they resemble normal street shoes the most. They're just comfortable skate shoes with a stiff sole and a place to mount a cleat.

  27. #27
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    I've run SPD's since day one (20+ years?) and all I ride is tech singletrack. The knarlier it gets the more I appreciate being clipped in. But when it gets real cold (below freezing) I put flats on so I can wear warmer shoes. I feel like a spaz at first but after a few rides I kind of get used to them. With snow and ice on the trails I tend to take fewer chances so I manage. Flats vs clipped in is a personal preference...both require ride time to get acclimated. There's no right or wrong.

    Regarding the foot position question, I never had an issue with 'stress' on my ankles in tougher terrain. It's just normal for my knees, ankles, hips, shoulders, arms to work together as part of the 'biometric suspension' of my body absorbing the terrain. Sounds like OP may be in the opposite camp where he is so used to flats that it feels foreign once clipped in to a set foot position. I'm thinking more ride time will help with getting used to the foot position.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbourne84 View Post
    sounds like it might be, which is sort of what i was looking to clarify with this thread; whether this was an experience others had and how they delt with it... did they change anything or just get used to it. Sounds like a bit of both. To me it just makes sense though, that the foot position on your pedal when leaning your weight back and absorbing technical terrain would want to be different than when grinding out a climb.

    I'll prob just stick with them and see how it goes though
    Just to interject my personal experience here. I started riding MTB when toe-clips were still a thing, and at the same time I was also a major BMX grommet. My BMX bikes were always flats and my Mt bikes were always toe-clips/clipless, with the exception of my hardtail dirtjumper, which I ran flats on. I've never had an issue going from flats to clips, and I've never felt the need to move my cleat back in the shoe. I run my cleats under the balls of my feet and I let my heels hang low when navigating technical terrain or descents.

    Personally, I'd recommend getting rid of the SPDs and moving on to a pair of Times (or even, ugh, Crankbrothers). The extra float makes a world of difference once you get used to it.
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I see you didn't like the answers here so you asked in the AM forum.

    The answer is still no, SPD pedals are designed so the cleat rotates closer to around the ball of your foot, for entry and exit. I'm not sure what you think you are gaining by trying to defeat this, but they are not designed for the foot position you are talking about. I've DHed with SPDs for years and I do DH and enduro races on them, I have also rocked flats in places like Trestle for the big jumps, but the way flats and clipless work is completely different.
    Bad info...lots of guys that race enduro run their cleats as far back as possible, or modify shoes. Even Rude...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Streetdoctor View Post
    Bad info...lots of guys that race enduro run their cleats as far back as possible, or modify shoes. Even Rude...
    Which is nowhere near flat-pedal territory for most of the experts and pros running them.
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  32. #32
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    I tried SPD's and ended up having knee pain during and after rides. My toes naturally like to point a little outward during pedaling on flats. I tried every adjustment on the shoes and the pedals to alleviate this pain with no luck. Over the years I have barely slipped a pedal on flats. Especially now riding in 5 10s and on Deity Bladerunners. I thought at the time a benefit to clipless was on the up stroke of pedaling. Essentially pulling the crank up while pushing down on the other side. Can anyone attest to this, or are clipless mainly to not slip a pedal?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock Surf View Post
    I tried SPD's and ended up having knee pain during and after rides. My toes naturally like to point a little outward during pedaling on flats. I tried every adjustment on the shoes and the pedals to alleviate this pain with no luck. Over the years I have barely slipped a pedal on flats. Especially now riding in 5 10s and on Deity Bladerunners. I thought at the time a benefit to clipless was on the up stroke of pedaling. Essentially pulling the crank up while pushing down on the other side. Can anyone attest to this, or are clipless mainly to not slip a pedal?
    The lack of float on an SPD pedal can be an issue. I actually have issues with my heels rubbing through the carbon on my seatstays so I can relate. Yes, one of the primary benefits is being able to pull up as well as push down, allowing you to "rotate" your muscle groups, or use both at once. However it does offer a bit more control over really rough stuff as well.
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    I'm riding on 5ten shoes and Vtwin peddals. The cleats can be pushed back and the pedal feel of a flat shoe is still there.

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    You need to right tools for the job, stuff made for XC isnt going to feel right for AM. For that kind of riding I would get Crank Bros Mallets, definitely not SPD-M520. The platform stops the cleat from wiggling around or coming undone and should provide a little increased support for the calves since theres not as much flex. Im guessing the shoes arent really designed for downhill either.

    If your calves are getting murdered and the cleat is as far back as they go then the shoes arent the right fit.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock Surf View Post
    I tried SPD's and ended up having knee pain during and after rides. My toes naturally like to point a little outward during pedaling on flats. ...Essentially pulling the crank up while pushing down on the other side. Can anyone attest to this, or are clipless mainly to not slip a pedal?
    1. your toes should point straight forward. whether you want to address this or ignore it is up to you, but a medical professional could probably better explain how bone structures ought to operate without toes pointing out. mine do the same and I am working on that. check out Katy Bowman's work.


    2. pulling up on pedals for a little extra power when you needed it is nice, but 99% of riders only do that 1% of the time. when I ride clipped in, I can do this. it comes in handy once in a while. I can also manage just fine on flats if I am riding strong.

    if you're a prodigy of a rider who has made this action habitual, that's awesome. most of us end up reverting to just pushing down when we are not making a conscious effort to pull up. if you don't believe me, try a set of Power Cranks on your bike and see how long you can unconsciously do that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by idividebyzero View Post
    You need to right tools for the job, stuff made for XC isnt going to feel right for AM.
    Or maybe you can buy some skills?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Or maybe you can buy some skills?

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    If the shoes are comfortable. You can try moding them for the cleat to move back more. Or just see if you get used to it.

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