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  1. #1
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    steep, sustained climbs

    I started singlespeeding last year and am still having difficulty with a few climbs in my area. Some of them are quite steep and rocky. This is Appalachian terrain with ridges, steep grades, and lots of rocks. Are some climbs just not possible with a singlespeed? I find myself walking most of the climbs by the halfway point. Would clipless pedals help? I would consider myself in decent shape. Does singlespeed require extensive time before you become a "superman" and can clean any section?

  2. #2
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    You're probably strong enough - a lot of it is technique.

    Instead of walking try taking a brief stop and then getting back on. That way you'll know you can "do" the entire climb and it's just a matter of eventually eliminating the stops.

    That said, there's always a bit that's too steep
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  3. #3
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    Clipless pedal would probably help to some degree, but technique and gearing can be factors as well.
    You want to stay low and use your upper-body to help keep things going. Sort of the "singlespeed row".
    But there will always be a hill too steep or long.
    Singlespeeds teach humility.

  4. #4
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    It's all relative: terrain, strength, gearing. Gear to what you usually ride. Personally I'd rather spin out on the downhills and even the flats than blow my legs off the tougher climbs where I usually ride, so I gear low (32:17 on my 26'er). So you might want to try another tooth or two on your cog.

    And yes, clipless helps a lot on climbs because you can pull up and not just the push down, especially when you're standing. Also make sure you have a wide bar for leverage.

    P.S. Most everybody has to get off and carry or push at SOME point.
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

  5. #5
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    + 1 on clipless. Singlespeed is all about momentum. Use it to your advantage, gain as much as you can before you enter the hill, stand and try to keep as much speed as possible. You have to find the sweet spot in your body position, forward enough to use as much leverage as possible but not enough to lose traction. Don't let your ego get bruised if you have to walk, the more you ride, the greater likelihood of cleaning sections you have walked before. If you don't make it the first time, no shame in walking back down and attempting it again. Yeah, everyone walks a section now and then.

  6. #6
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    Try to use the whole trail. Easy enough on steep fire roads but harder on tight single track. By going across even a very narrow trail briefly with a sharp stalled turn, accellerating across then sharp again upward you would be surprised how much momentum you can build. Probably not the best description. I'd rather walk the steepest grades personally then give up more gear for the other 95%, which is 32x18 on a 29er in the PNW.

  7. #7
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    Clipless seems to help me a lot when it is power that makes or breaks it. Picking up some speed before the tougher spots can also make a difference (and take it easy when there's an opportunity).

    The biggest climb I usually do is a piece of dirt road (connecting trail sections). I generally prove to myself that I can do it, a couple of times a year. The rest of the time I walk a part of it.

  8. #8
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    Try a slightly easier gear to start with and as you improve, move to a taller one. I started with a 32/20 on my 29er. Now I generally run either a 19 or 18 in the rear depending on where I am headed. You will be surprised at what clipless pedels can do to improve you climbing ability as well.

  9. #9
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    Clipless helps for sure. You want to have as complete power throughout your pedal stroke as you can. You should be driving up and over the top with one leg while digging and pulling around the bottom with the other. You'll also want to be using your upper body a lot.

    I can clean more technical climbs on my rigid SS 29er than I can on my FS 26'er... same climbs.

  10. #10
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    As others have said, clipless helps a ton - the ability to push and pull on the pedals makes a huge difference. I don't find momentum has any bearing on steep sustained climbs. Even if I come into the bottom of a hill at 10 mph, that's only going to carry me up the slope for 5, maybe 10 yards. What about the next 100, 200 or 1000 yards of climbing? It's about power and torque, and being able to deliver them effectively. I will happily spin out on the descents in order to be able to make most climbs, so I gear pretty low. Not low enough to spin up the steep stuff, but low enough to not stall out when standing. As always, YMMV.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for all the advice. I have used clipless for years on my road bike but have always been a little nervous for mtb. The trails around here have alot and i mean ALOT of rocks and technical climbs. I always lose my momentum because i have to navigate massive rock gardens or fallen trees. Guess it just takes practice. We'll give clipless a try

  12. #12
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    +1 on clipless. if you are worried about clipless on mtb i would recommend crank bros. pedals. i like eggbeaters but any of them use the same spring-type tensioning. you can do it on a budget as well. i started ssing with a 32x16 ratio but am building a new bike and will go 32x18 for the same reason. i know i will still have to walk occasionally but hopefully will not feel like i am forced to ride as hard as i have been. my local trails are pretty technical and hilly so i'm hoping for some relief. going to meet my friend/bike mechanic this afternoon to finish my build!

  13. #13
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    -1 on clipless.
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  14. #14
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    Clipless helps, but isn't necessary. I rode ss for around 8 years on flat pedals. when I switched to clipless, I noticed an immediate increase in speed uphill, and a similar immediate increase in awkwardly falling over when trying to dab. That eventually goes away though. The stiffness of the shoes and being connected to the bike help more than the ability to pull up I find. With flats, you need to devote some of your leg strength to gripping the pedals in technical terrain. With clipless, you can devote all of your leg strength to powering over and through, and the stiffness of the shoes helps immensely with transferring that power to the pedals.

    As everyone said though, some hills will need to be walked. The guys that insist on grinding their ss up EVERY hill, no matter how steep, are usually the ones who end up with knee problems, from what I've seen.

    When it get's really steep, get your chest low and your elbows down.

  15. #15
    rigid bruce
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    -1 on clipless too. No clicky or bouncy bits needed.

    bruce b. As little bike as possible (Velobike)

  16. #16
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    Clipless for sure, I do 8-10 races a year, usually finish in top 5 of Sport, always ride single speed 29er. Many are amazed to see that I typically run a 32 ring, and a 23 rear, thats right folks 23 rear, I keep a fast cadence, this gearing seems to be fast enough for this 50 year old guy, yes i do spin out on the fire roads and flats, but I easiliy make up for it on the hills, as long as the course is technical this combo works great. Place second on a 2 man team, 12 hour race, 10 mile course, both of us using 23 rear, guys we beat were all running much higher gears, 18 and below, but bleqw their legs apart eary !!!!

  17. #17
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    + 1 for clipless

    Clipless would absolutely help. Especially once you learn how to use the clipless pedals to your advantage.

    Go clipless and go make those hills your Biatch.
    Sometimes, with a very strenuous effort, I will fatigue.

  18. #18
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    I have found that many of my failures in steep, techy climbs have been because I simply gave up too quickly. Keep going. Just an extra second can make the difference in tricky bits. Deep breath. Push just a little harder.
    And then again, sometimes I fall over when I do this. But when it works it's the kind of stuff that make my geared brethren think I am superhuman.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_MurdocChongo
    Thanks for all the advice. I have used clipless for years on my road bike but have always been a little nervous for mtb. The trails around here have alot and i mean ALOT of rocks and technical climbs. I always lose my momentum because i have to navigate massive rock gardens or fallen trees. Guess it just takes practice. We'll give clipless a try
    Just to change to reason to go clipless, I especially like clipless in the real nasty and tricky descends. The question of dabbing is (usually) a non issue with clipless... its time to hold on and ride; let the leverage of being clipped in help control the bike and pulling out should usually not even be an option. Save that brain power for some other decision.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean salach
    ... being connected to the bike help more than the ability to pull up I find. With flats, you need to devote some of your leg strength to gripping the pedals in technical terrain. With clipless, you can devote all of your leg strength to powering over and through...
    +1

    I found as I rode more SS that the clipless helps more with being connected to the bike than with the ability to pull up. Pulling up does help, but now I can concentrate fully on guiding my bike up the trail and not divert attention to keeping my feet on the pedals.

    I found that as you fatigue more on that long, sustained climb, your focus will shift from keeping proper technique to "gotta keep pedaling one push at a time to reach over that crest in the hill." In that fatigue, I find my feet pulling much more off the defined circular path of the pedals — so the clipless helps me keep my feet on the pedals.

    I was in your position not too long ago. I have this one area where there is nothing but long, sustained climbs. I moved quickly from 32:23 — where I had to stop several times to catch my breath — to 32:18 in the span of 3 months.

    Like others have said, keep your gearing low enough, but not too low to spin on climbs. I've found that a higher gear was better for me to clear rocky climbs by allowing me to keep my balance better and maintain my pedals at ready positions for small bursts of power to clear obstacles.

    Just keep at it. Admit defeat when you can't clear the hill in one go, but don't give up. Eventually, you will have the "superman" fitness you seek to clean those climbs.

  21. #21
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    Lot of good points. Just do what works for you. Even before clipless, I rode with toe clips. Flat pedals just did not do it for me. I'm able to climb a lot of extended hills at 33:20. There are some parts that I'm still struggling with, so I bought myself a 22t to see how that will work. Good gearing for the particular trail will help tremendously.

  22. #22
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    With the exception of legit downhill/freeride and possibly cost, there's no good reason to not go clipless and plenty of reasons why you should. If your tension is set properly, clippng out is effortless. When I crash, I don't even think about clipping out. It just happens.

    As far as steep sustained climbs go, there's been some good advice here already. For really tough climbs, I try to pace myself and focus on my breathing. Breathe as deep as possible and exhale strongly. The more air you exhale, the more you can suck back in. Also, you use a lot of upper body strength when climbing on an SS, so bar ends can add a bit of leverage in that respect. My Cane Creek ergo's really help me out on the climbs, or at least it feels that way.

  23. #23
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    If my riding was restricted to trail parks I would consider clipless because it does get you that extra few % of effort that you can't get from ankling. However I often ride a long way into the mountains and I am a believer in dressing for the mountain rather than the bike.

    A 15 to 20 miles hike is no problem if you have the correct footwear. I'd hate to have to try it with cycling shoes.
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  24. #24
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    +1 for clipless.

    One ther thing I like for long climbs is REALLY wide handle bars. The longer bars give more leverage for out of the saddle 'rowing' while climbing. I pull up on the bar on the same side as the down stroking pedal. When done right, this allows for more than just body weight to be thrust down into the pedal stroke.
    I find after a long steep climb, my upper back is feeling the pump more than my legs.
    For bar set up, I run lock up grips at the ends of the bars for climbing, then some regular grips cut down to just a few inches, inboard of the lock-ons, for regular riding.
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  25. #25
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike
    If my riding was restricted to trail parks I would consider clipless ...
    ...
    ... I often ride a long way into the mountains and I am a believer in dressing for the mountain rather than the bike.
    I can see your rationale there. But it is all about where you ride. Not about how to top that climb.

    There's no such thing as a trail park here, but I am rarely far from civilization during my rides, either.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Mac
    Clipless for sure, I do 8-10 races a year, usually finish in top 5 of Sport, always ride single speed 29er. Many are amazed to see that I typically run a 32 ring, and a 23 rear, thats right folks 23 rear, I keep a fast cadence, this gearing seems to be fast enough for this 50 year old guy, yes i do spin out on the fire roads and flats, but I easiliy make up for it on the hills, as long as the course is technical this combo works great. Place second on a 2 man team, 12 hour race, 10 mile course, both of us using 23 rear, guys we beat were all running much higher gears, 18 and below, but bleqw their legs apart eary !!!!
    Finally someone who gears like I do! My normal ratio is 34:24, and it works for my technical steep east coast trails. For a flatter race I will switch to a 22t, but rarely below that.

    Plenty of goos advice already, but I will add a couple of things:

    Definately go clipless for the reasons mentioned, but there is another reason. For very technical trails, clipless allows you to lunge the bike up when you stall to make it onto a log/rock during the climb. There are those sections that are just too steep to pedal up, and when you stall, you kind of throw the bike up onto the obstacle and then keep pedaling. Kind of hard to explain, but works well, and clipless helps with this technique.

    Second, during long climbs, try to rest when possible. You can usually find a flatter section or two during the climb, and I sit down and pedal as slow as possible without falling over. Lets your body rest a bit before the next big effort.

    Mark

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike
    If my riding was restricted to trail parks I would consider clipless because it does get you that extra few % of effort that you can't get from ankling. However I often ride a long way into the mountains and I am a believer in dressing for the mountain rather than the bike.

    A 15 to 20 miles hike is no problem if you have the correct footwear. I'd hate to have to try it with cycling shoes.
    I'm a believer in clipless pedals/shoes to the point that I would sort out a way to carry my "hiking" boots/footwear along for my ride if I were in your "shoes". (pun intended)

  28. #28
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    Lots of good advice here. The wide bar advice is particularly good. SS is humbling; there are going to be climbs -- particularly technical ones -- that you just won't make. At least that's my experience.

    I do disagree on the wonders of clipless.

    I rode clipless for years. I completely bought into the "upstroke" theory. I found the perfect pedals for me (Time Atac) and, eventually, great shoes that were comfy (Shimano AM50). I never had any issue getting out of the pedals.

    However, about six months ago I started turning toward far more technical riding on my FS 26er. I decided to give flats a shot just on a whim. After years of riding clipless, it was a tough transition. After about a month, though, I discovered that the flats really freed me up to think about other things. The pedalling technique is different, but I've noticed absolutely no difference in power output. I liked it so much I put flats on my SS29er, too.

    Again, no difference. Stuff I could make in clips I can make on flats. But, for me, the flats allow a more focused attack on technical sections. I personally believe the "power upstroke" is a myth.

    Good shoes (5.10) and good pedals (super-skinny like Deitys or Kona Wah-Wah) make a difference.

    Not being argumentative. If clipless works for you and makes you perform better, that's great. However, for the OP, I don't believe popping on a set of pedals is going to make one iota of difference in making the type of climbs he's talking about.

  29. #29
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    Change your setup

    Yes clipless will help, they allow you to use the full pedal stroke instead of just the downstroke. As others have said technique is important, weighting the bike is a ballancing act where you have to keep the front wheel down and the rear wheel locked to the ground to put the power down.

    One thing to consider is that you, like me may not be able to handle the 2:1 ratio, or whatever ratio you're using on you're trails; goin with a 32:20 has allowed me to ride some long climbs that wore me out on my geared bikes.

    Bike fit has proven more important on SS than geared bike IMHO. I had a chance to buy a near new Ventana El Toro for $500 from a freind who developed knee issues on the Toro. He loaned it to me for a few weeks and I couldn't make any of the tough climbs that I had been making on my 1fg, turns out the top tube was slightly too long (1/4 " longer than my geared bikes) and the seat angle was a few degrees off of what I was use to. I picked up a frame 1/2" shorter than the Toro and I've been making climbs I couldn't make on even my 1fg; so fit might be an issue.
    I'd suggest clipless pedals, lower gearing, at least until you build the stamina and technique required to keep you on the bike most of the time and check out how different the geometry is from what you were use to. Good luck.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flat Ark
    I'm a believer in clipless pedals/shoes to the point that I would sort out a way to carry my "hiking" boots/footwear along for my ride if I were in your "shoes". (pun intended)
    Too bulky to be anywhere but on my feet

    There's only limited space in a backpack so I would have to leave behind something important, such as spare clothing, first aid kit etc. Cycling shoes are the non-essential in this sort of case.

    I think I'll continue to dress for the mountain.

    I believe the improvement from cycling shoes and clipless is only a few %. Important if you're racing, but not recreational riding.
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike
    Too bulky to be anywhere but on my feet
    I'll try to translate a saying I heard in hiker circles...

    "the more comforts you carry with you, the less comfortable you'll be carrying it."

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike
    Too bulky to be anywhere but on my feet

    There's only limited space in a backpack so I would have to leave behind something important, such as spare clothing, first aid kit etc. Cycling shoes are the non-essential in this sort of case.

    I think I'll continue to dress for the mountain.

    I believe the improvement from cycling shoes and clipless is only a few %. Important if you're racing, but not recreational riding.

    We ride the Eastern Rockies and are often many 10 of kilometers away from the trailhead.

    We all ride cleats, I would suggest you have a look at some of the shoes available, they will easily walk you out, just as well as any other shoe or boot would. In fact some of our rides include kilometers of hike a bike over the mountain tops.

    The improvement from platforms to cleats is on the order of 25% to 35% extra torque available for the climb...From clips not sure what the gain would be. I would think significant since I tend to pull up with a relaxed foot and ankle that would pull the shoe out of a clip.

    When the hill gets too long, simply stop track stand and catch your breath, then keep on going...

    You simply would not believe what is ridable....single speed or geared.

  33. #33
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    clipless does help me climbing the technical stuff....

    but what really helps is 'grabbing' recovery time in between the rough bits....even if it's only a few feet....roll slow...track stand....get your HR down a few beats before that required burst of energy/power...

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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    We ride the Eastern Rockies and are often many 10 of kilometers away from the trailhead.

    We all ride cleats, I would suggest you have a look at some of the shoes available, they will easily walk you out, just as well as any other shoe or boot would. In fact some of our rides include kilometers of hike a bike over the mountain tops.

    The improvement from platforms to cleats is on the order of 25% to 35% extra torque available for the climb...From clips not sure what the gain would be. I would think significant since I tend to pull up with a relaxed foot and ankle that would pull the shoe out of a clip.

    When the hill gets too long, simply stop track stand and catch your breath, then keep on going...

    You simply would not believe what is ridable....single speed or geared.
    I bought a single speed before winter, but I only got a few easy rides in on it. I am about to start riding again. I was just wondering, as I was e-riding a few extended climbs I plan on riding, do you ever zig zag up steeps?

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by [email protected]
    I bought a single speed before winter, but I only got a few easy rides in on it. I am about to start riding again. I was just wondering, as I was e-riding a few extended climbs I plan on riding, do you ever zig zag up steeps?

    Of course, really around here though we call that picking a line,

    The line you pick is for the best traction easiest way over the obstacles etc....

    If the line allows a zig zag and you need one then of course...

    Even going around switchbacks you can use the trail to best advantage.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Of course, really around here though we call that picking a line,

    The line you pick is for the best traction easiest way over the obstacles etc....

    If the line allows a zig zag and you need one then of course...

    Even going around switchbacks you can use the trail to best advantage.
    I remember zig zaging a couple of road climbs on my road bike ... due to the grade. I was just wondering about it on mtb, since I am exclusively SSing for the next few months. With gears, i can spin up almost anything. We shall see how this goes. I can track stand alright so I will try the TS rest technique as well.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike
    If my riding was restricted to trail parks I would consider clipless because it does get you that extra few % of effort that you can't get from ankling. However I often ride a long way into the mountains and I am a believer in dressing for the mountain rather than the bike.

    A 15 to 20 miles hike is no problem if you have the correct footwear. I'd hate to have to try it with cycling shoes.

    It's really not that bad at all. Myself and plenty of other people have walked further than 20 miles in cycling shoes before.

  38. #38
    rigid bruce
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    Pedals are a contact point and you have to discover what works for you.

    >>Yes clipless will help, they allow you to use the full pedal stroke instead of just the downstroke.<<
    This isn't true. If you have good flats and shoes (I like 5/10's or Vans) you can use more of the stroke. With the right setup and good technique it pretty much feels like you're attached to the pedals.

    I switched between flats and foot retention for years before I went 100% flats. I read all the stuff about how much more efficient clipless is and it was hard to accept that I was just as fast and could climb as well with flats. I did tons of group rides both ways and hundreds of rides by myself and it never made a difference for me. For me, when I go on group rides I'm not struggling to make climbs that others are clearing, in fact I'm usually one of the stronger climbers even though I'm usually the only one on flats. I do think it takes a lot of miles riding offroad hard on flats before you get really good at it. It's not like clipless where you need almost no technique to stay on the pedals and spin smoothly.

    There's a group of guys in Salida that ride flats on their Don bikes so I don't think the Rockies are a problem.

    Another reason I switched to flats is I want to ride hard offroad until at least my mid 80's. I'm in my fifties now and think a lot more than I used to about how to make this a lifetime sport. This is an important part of riding flats for me. They are a lot safer and easier on the knees. You can move your foot around on the pedal and significantly change the stresses on your knees and legs. For me this clearly reduces the stress on my knees and legs. As far as crashing of course flats are far safer in every way and in addition you can sometimes avoid going down with flats because you can instantly get a foot down.

    bruce b...... if clipless is a 25% to 35% improvement than I must be Lance Armstrong.

  39. #39
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    Rigid, are you saying that the upward stroke has the same power output with either clipless or flats?

  40. #40
    rigid bruce
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    >>Rigid, are you saying that the upward stroke has the same power output with either clipless or flats?<<

    Yes, for me. There's a study out there where a bunch of olympic level cyclists were tested and none of them, zero, pulled up with their off leg. Actually, all I'm saying is that *for me* I can't notice any difference when climbing.

    Most people say they do notice a difference so I'd guess for most people it does make a difference. I'm usually the only person on rides around here on flats.

    bruce b.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    >>Rigid, are you saying that the upward stroke has the same power output with either clipless or flats?<<

    Yes, for me. There's a study out there where a bunch of olympic level cyclists were tested and none of them, zero, pulled up with their off leg. Actually, all I'm saying is that *for me* I can't notice any difference when climbing.

    Most people say they do notice a difference so I'd guess for most people it does make a difference. I'm usually the only person on rides around here on flats.

    bruce b.
    Somehow I get the feeling that study used olympic lever road cyclists. That does not translate into SS mountainbiking. When you are totally stalled out on a steep climb I am always pulling up on the pedals to get any extra power possible to the ground. There is absolutely no way you can do that with flats.

    Are you able to ride just as well with flats? probably. Could you be better with clipless? Probably. Maybe you never learned or mastered the pull up technique, but it makes a big difference!

    Mark

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    >>Rigid, are you saying that the upward stroke has the same power output with either clipless or flats?<<

    Yes, for me. There's a study out there where a bunch of olympic level cyclists were tested and none of them, zero, pulled up with their off leg. Actually, all I'm saying is that *for me* I can't notice any difference when climbing.

    Most people say they do notice a difference so I'd guess for most people it does make a difference. I'm usually the only person on rides around here on flats.

    bruce b.
    Road
    , MTB, or both types of cyclists? Powertaps seem to show some up force in most pedal strokes.

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    I know that you can have SOME pull up force on platforms, as you can point down with the toes, push back and up, but still trying to wrap my head around the force being equal.

    Interesting about the Olympic athletes. Were they track cyclists? (ss/fg)

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    Clipless helps, I switch back and forth periodically and there's a perceptible difference on my ss and on my squishy geared bike. I have a nice pair of 510s and some nice magnesium platforms with big 'n sticky shin busting pins. Yes, SPD shoes *are* a pain to walk in, but the question was if they'd help with climbing, not if they'd be better or worse to hike 15-20 miles in.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    >>Rigid, are you saying that the upward stroke has the same power output with either clipless or flats?<<

    Yes, for me. There's a study out there where a bunch of olympic level cyclists were tested and none of them, zero, pulled up with their off leg. Actually, all I'm saying is that *for me* I can't notice any difference when climbing.

    Most people say they do notice a difference so I'd guess for most people it does make a difference. I'm usually the only person on rides around here on flats.

    bruce b.
    There are many studies that have measured the effective average pedalling force. They are typically associated with "pinwheel" diagrams that show the load on the pedal at various points in the pedal stroke. Almost all of these studies take place in a lab, with elite cyclists on stationary bikes. For the most part, the results indicate that a cyclist pedalling at 90-120 rpm will not generate net upward forces at the pedal. But wait! I referred to net upward forces. What makes up that net force? It's a combination of the force gravity exerts on your leg, and whatever muscular force you can generate. Clipless pedals allow you to pull up, it's just that you typically don't overcome the force of gravity.

    Further, the amount of upward "pull" increases as cadence decreases [related to the force/velocity curve for muscle contractions]. Since we're talking about steep, sustained SS climbs, this becomes a more important factor. Pedalling at 60 rpm under a heavy load would likely result in a significant amount of "pull" up on the pedals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    >>Rigid, are you saying that the upward stroke has the same power output with either clipless or flats?<<

    Yes, for me. There's a study out there where a bunch of olympic level cyclists were tested and none of them, zero, pulled up with their off leg.
    That study you mention Rigid was actually on road cyclist and one interesting fact with that study is that cyclist with the mtb backgrounds were more efficient in regards to pedal stroke when compared to the pure roadies. One theory was that the mtb riders were acustomed to using more of the pedal stroke to elimnate the dead spot at the bottom and top of the stroke. A good study, indeed Rigid.

    This doesn't prove a point, I only bring it up because the study wasn't on mtb cyclist. Personally, when I'm on my road bike during a hard effort, flats or climbs, up stroke plays a very insignificant role. However, when I'm on my SS 29er mtb during long/hard/tech climbs I'm using everything I can to maintain as much spin and momentum as possible; wide bars, up stroke on the pedal, weight distribution, etc. It all depends on what type of rider you are and how you like to ride. Try it all, but give it a fair shake!!

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike
    A 15 to 20 miles hike is no problem if you have the correct footwear. I'd hate to have to try it with cycling shoes.
    You can purchase decent hiking boots that are SPD compatible.... here's one pair, there are many others....
    http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/catego...ing-boot-10540
    I'm unique, just like everyone else....

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by BunnV
    You can purchase decent hiking boots that are SPD compatible.... here's one pair, there are many others....
    http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/catego...ing-boot-10540
    I very much doubt they are "decent hiking boots", decent boots maybe. Would you really pick them for a long hike over a pair of proper hiking boots?

    There's other reasons I don't wear spds.
    1. reduced risk in an accident - important when you're out on your own - I've seen too many people have nasty crashes still attached to their bikes. I'd probably be one of them because I no longer have lightning fast reflexes
    2. less delicate mechanical bits in the mud
    3. I believe my existing setup is giving me almost all the advantages of spds.

    This setup is old style track pedals (not flats) and boots with lugs that engage with them - sometimes helped by a bit of sole carving so that the boots line up with the pedals. Using the old-fashioned ankling technique I can pull up to about 2 o'clock if on the seat, but in reality I'm not in the seat much but chucking my weight around where it will do the most good.

    Maybe with gears and a seated climb, but I can't comment on that.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  49. #49
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    The question isn't *if* you can pull up with clipless on a singlespeed, but does it help? I don't know about you guys but I never climb steep sustained climbs, or even short steep climbs in the saddle. Max SS climbing efforts are always out of the saddle for me. That's exactly where you can't effectively pull up with your off leg. It's roadies who might be able to use the technique when staying in the saddle...... perhaps.

    I personally doubt it's a good idea for anyone to do this and I know it didn't help for me. I've done many of the same climbs here since I first started mountain biking. There are climbs I usually can't quite clear in my normal gearing but can consistently make if I just go up one tooth on the freewheel. On these same climbs I didn't notice a difference when I changed pedals. I played around with this for years.

    If you like clipless use em, almost everyone does. I don't get a climbing advantage, but I do think foot retention helps with hopping over stuff since I can't bunny hop very well. I think the comfort and safety of flats far outweighs this for me.

    I personally *hate* stiff soles on any shoe and won't wear them anymore. This alone rules out clipless for me. For hiking regular shoes are far more comfortable than clipless shoes. It's not even close.

    bruce b.

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    "Max SS climbing efforts are always out of the saddle for me. That's exactly where you can't effectively pull up with your off leg."

    You maybe, but others beg to differ. I have found at lower cadences, with practice, it is possible and beneficial.

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    The whole "ability to pull up" thing is completely BS. That's not the advantage. The advantage is in control, efficiency, and powerful stiff soles.
    The other myth is that you'll get stuck in the pedals and fall over. Also not true. Yes... That happens whm you first start out. There is a learning curve. But that is true for everything. The right pedals for conditions also matter. SPDs in mud are usually a disaster. But with practice and a little time... I never even think about gettng out of my pedals. It's completely automatic.

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    The question isn't *if* you can pull up with clipless on a singlespeed, but does it help? I don't know about you guys but I never climb steep sustained climbs, or even short steep climbs in the saddle. Max SS climbing efforts are always out of the saddle for me. That's exactly where you can't effectively pull up with your off leg. It's roadies who might be able to use the technique when staying in the saddle...... perhaps.
    I disagree. I ride off road geared, off road SS and on road. As somebody posted above, the slower the cadence, the more the "pull" effect from the up stroke and a "round" pedaling motion can be felt. This obviously comes into play while climbing.

    If you have low gears, it's easier to climb seated. If you are, say, on a geared bike at Slick Rock climbing one of those near vertical pitches, you are seated and you are trying to push AND pull with your pedal stroke. Yeah, the push stroke has much more power, but the pull stroke helps, and helps a lot. Next time you are a few feet from the top of one of these pitches, wondering what will happen if you stall out, you can prove it to yourself.

    If you have high gears - a road bike typically is not geared near as low as a geared Mtn. bike - you often stand to climb, when you reach the point where staying seated would blow your knees and quads to hell. On a SS, of course, that is most of the time while climbing. Standing, I find the effect of the up stroke even MORE noticeable than while seated.

    I proved that to myself this summer when I put my flat pedals on the SS to practice wheelies. The difference was HUGE. Hills I normally breezed up were simply NOT climbable. In fact, the flat pedals sucked so bad for my riding style (the kind where bunny hopping with flat pedals is a total mystery), I gave up on the wheelies and still can't hold one for more than a few pedal strokes. But that is another thread.
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

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    I don't know...... On my fixed gear road bike, when I hit some steep climbs, I'm out of the saddle, but I definitely benefit from being able to pull up. I know I would have had to stop if I were not clipped in. The pulling up force wasn't much, but it was enough to help to complete the rotation of the downward stroke.

    EDIT: dwt explained it better.

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    I ride platforms. Initially I started using them because spd's hurt my back, or, more specifically, the pulling motion did.

    The advantage is in control, efficiency, and powerful stiff soles.
    Control? When going from spd's to platforms, you may indeed feel you've lost a lot of control over the bike. After some time, however, that feeling completely disappears, at least it did for me. Now I feel way more in control and, paradoxically, connected to the bike and the terrain with platforms. I think it's because I actually feel the pedal. With spd's, you don't feel anything, you just power along. I can compare it to a freewheeled and a fixed gear bike. Spd's = freewheel. You don't feel what the rear tyre is doing. Platforms = fixed gear. There's more awareness of what is going on down there.

    Efficiency? I agree that the pulling motion helps when doing standing climbs, if you consciously pay attention to it. It took me a while before I could climb the same hills as well with platforms as with spd's. Now, however, I can't tell the difference anymore. It takes a while before pedalling with platforms becomes as intuitive as pedalling spd's. You can't just power away at will. There's a sense of control over your leg movements that needs to be re-learned.

    Powerful stiff soles? A big myth. Your legs provide power, and that's it. The reason cycling soles are so stiff is because spd pedals are so tiny. A flexible sole would go to pieces (and the sole of your foot as well) because all your power is concentrated in one small spot. Your foot would fold around the pedal. Eggbeaters are an example of especially small pedals. I've heard from various people that they ruin cycling shoes faster with those pedals, because the force exerted on one spot of the sole is so big.
    Not convinced? Install a pair of big platform pedals. Ride up a hill in "normal" shoes. Then ride up the same hill, on platforms, wearing stiff cycling shoes (warning: try not to slip from the pedals). See if it makes any difference. I bet it won't.

    If I sound like a certain man from Rivendell bicycles, it's because I have read his notes on pedals and shoes, but, essentially, I've come to the same conclusions.

    Whew. Thanks for all the input so far, people. Ride what you like.

  55. #55
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    I think it's mostly personal choice and some marketing. I remember when clipless was introduced in the BMX world and everyone (me included) jumped over. Same with MTB.

    I'd been riding clipless for years when I transitioned to flats this past summer. I feel far more in control on flats, connected to the bike and absolutely ZERO difference in power output (after I got used to them).

    The thing with flats is you really have to relearn how to ride on them. That natural motion you had as a child disappears from years of clipless use. I almost gave up on the flats a dozen times before my pedalling technique came around.

    Now, I wouldn't think of going back.

    Like everything else in MTB, it's personal. If the clipless works for you, great. If you're thinking about giving flats a try, I say go for it.

  56. #56
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    i take my dog to a local trail quite a bit, and sometimes don't wear my spd shoes. the difference feels like night and day in the power i can put down, even on relatively mellow climbs.

    i couldn't imagine going out on a challenging trail, or a sustained steep climb with flat pedals.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    The question isn't *if* you can pull up with clipless on a singlespeed, but does it help? I don't know about you guys but I never climb steep sustained climbs, or even short steep climbs in the saddle. Max SS climbing efforts are always out of the saddle for me. That's exactly where you can't effectively pull up with your off leg. It's roadies who might be able to use the technique when staying in the saddle...... perhaps.
    false.
    i pull up all the time when going up steep terrain. the only place where it's not effective is over small loose stuff, where the pulling motion has a tendency to take weight off the rear tire causing it to spin out. but even then there's rarely a trail that's 100% loose stuff....so you can typically find cleaner lines where there is traction and use that technique.

    Quote Originally Posted by pinkrobe
    As others have said, clipless helps a ton - the ability to push and pull on the pedals makes a huge difference. I don't find momentum has any bearing on steep sustained climbs. Even if I come into the bottom of a hill at 10 mph, that's only going to carry me up the slope for 5, maybe 10 yards. What about the next 100, 200 or 1000 yards of climbing? It's about power and torque, and being able to deliver them effectively.
    counter point is that in the 1000 yards....the terrain and grade is never fully consistent. you gotta use the sections of easy 5% grade to build momentum for the upcoming 12% grade with the rock garden in the middle.

  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    The question isn't *if* you can pull up with clipless on a singlespeed, but does it help? I don't know about you guys but I never climb steep sustained climbs, or even short steep climbs in the saddle. Max SS climbing efforts are always out of the saddle for me. That's exactly where you can't effectively pull up with your off leg. It's roadies who might be able to use the technique when staying in the saddle...... perhaps.

    I personally doubt it's a good idea for anyone to do this and I know it didn't help for me. I've done many of the same climbs here since I first started mountain biking. There are climbs I usually can't quite clear in my normal gearing but can consistently make if I just go up one tooth on the freewheel. On these same climbs I didn't notice a difference when I changed pedals. I played around with this for years.

    If you like clipless use em, almost everyone does. I don't get a climbing advantage, but I do think foot retention helps with hopping over stuff since I can't bunny hop very well. I think the comfort and safety of flats far outweighs this for me.

    I personally *hate* stiff soles on any shoe and won't wear them anymore. This alone rules out clipless for me. For hiking regular shoes are far more comfortable than clipless shoes. It's not even close.

    bruce b.
    This is the great thing about cycling - there's a huge spectrum of likes and dislikes, preferences and opinions.

    Clipless pedals give me a substantial increase in climbing ability, both on and off road. Being able to pull up with one leg while pushing down with the other during a standing climb is sometimes the only thing that keeps me from walking up the hills. It definitely takes practice, but it really helps. For seated riding, it's far less of a contributor, although on long road rides I'll use a bit more hamstring to give my quads a rest.

    I love a stiff sole in my shoes. If I have to ride any distance, I find that my feet get tired without some support. I wouldn't hike in mtn bike shoes either, but if I have to walk out from a ride they're fine.

    As always, YMMV...

  58. #58
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    >>Like everything else in MTB, it's personal. If the clipless works for you, great. If you're thinking about giving flats a try, I say go for it.<<

    True. If you're happy with what you're riding and an experienced rider there's no reason to change. Pedals are like the other contact points (bars and saddle), you have to figure out for yourself what works.

    One possibility is that there is enough variation in anatomy and pedaling style between individuals that some people (and clearly the minority) are just as powerful and efficient with flats as with retention while others function better connected. This isn't a radical idea or anything.

    Hey, do other people dramatically rock back and forth (front to rear of the bike) instead of mostly up and down when it gets really steep? This is what I do on flats and I can climb very steep hills this way but if I do it too much I'll injure my knees. I've gotten very good at knowing how far to take it. It's pretty amazing what I can climb with this technique. It seems like a lot of the other SS's (clipless) I see rock more up and down on climbs. Could it be a technique difference between retention and none?

    bruce b.

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomit
    counter point is that in the 1000 yards....the terrain and grade is never fully consistent. you gotta use the sections of easy 5% grade to build momentum for the upcoming 12% grade with the rock garden in the middle.
    Yes, if your easy bits lead into the steep bits, you can carry some speed in, and it's great when the terrain allows for that. That's my favourite type of SS riding for sure. We don't have much in terms of rolling terrain here. You just start grunting away and then 15-60 minutes later you're at the top.

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    Hey, do other people dramatically rock back and forth (front to rear of the bike) instead of mostly up and down when it gets really steep? This is what I do on flats and I can climb very steep hills this way but if I do it too much I'll injure my knees. I've gotten very good at knowing how far to take it. It's pretty amazing what I can climb with this technique. It seems like a lot of the other SS's (clipless) I see rock more up and down on climbs. Could it be a technique difference between retention and none?

    bruce b.
    I do this as well, but usually only when I can feel myself losing traction in the rear. It helps a lot when going up icy slopes.

  61. #61
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    True. If you're happy with what you're riding and an experienced rider there's no reason to change. Pedals are like the other contact points (bars and saddle), you have to figure out for yourself what works.
    yes....
    try riding a bike without gripping the bar....no thumbs or curled fingers allowed. just lay your hands on it. let me know how it works out.

  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    >
    Hey, do other people dramatically rock back and forth (front to rear of the bike) instead of mostly up and down when it gets really steep?
    Back and forth and side to side. It almost feels like rowing. Strong arms, shoulders and a solid core are needed for SS, almost as much as beefy legs. Push ups, chin ups, crunches, weights, whatever floats your boat. Helps me anyway..
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomit
    yes....
    try riding a bike without gripping the bar....no thumbs or curled fingers allowed. just lay your hands on it. let me know how it works out.
    Knew it was only a matter of time before someone turned a rational discussion into a "hey, look how clever I am ... and my way is the only way" discussion. Congratulations.

    Please keep riding your pedals and allow the rest of us to make our own choices. Thanks.

  64. #64
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    >>yes....try riding a bike without gripping the bar....no thumbs or curled fingers allowed. just lay your hands on it. let me know how it works out.<<

    I understand you're being facetious here but you bring up a good comparison. You don't clip in your hands or your ass to the bike so why should you with your feet? I'm wouldn't want to carry this too far but your idea does support using flats to a degree. If you somehow clipped in your hands you'd kill your ulnar nerve in no time and have permanently numb fingers. I always try to ride with a loose grip when I can and often unhook my thumbs and move my hands around. I use Jones H-bars which have lots of positions and Ergon grips which allow me to lightly rest my hands on them except in rough stuff. Exact same concept as no foot retention.

    I do the same with my feet on flats. I move around and sometimes place my midfoot right over the spindle to engage my rear chain more. Can't do that with clipless. I'm a little surprised how many people do ride with flats. Encouraging.

    bruce b.

  65. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUM
    clipless does help me climbing the technical stuff....

    but what really helps is 'grabbing' recovery time in between the rough bits....even if it's only a few feet....roll slow...track stand....get your HR down a few beats before that required burst of energy/power...

    my .02
    Along this vein, while momentum is your friend, it falls short on longer climbs. Don't think you have to charge full steam up all hills. Throttle it back a little and finesse some of the climb.

  66. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    >. I'm a little surprised how many people do ride with flats. Encouraging.
    Encouraging for you, maybe, and downhillers and freeriders with 8 inches or travel, but the guy who started this thread was having trouble climbing on a SS. Riding with flat pedals is pretty much the last thing I would recommend to somebody learning how to get up a steep hill on a SS, for the reasons that a lot of us have explained in this thread.

    Yeah, yeah, preferences and all that. The neighborhood kids where I live can climb up walls and bunny hop over benches with flat pedals on 35+ lbs freeride bikes, and make me look like a dork.

    But I'll go out on a limb and guess that flat pedals are a tiny minority in the SS world because they are a huge handicap going in the upward direction. The last thing you need with one gear is something that makes climbing MORE difficult.
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    Again, that's YOUR take. It's not wrong, obviously, because it works for YOU. A couple folks in this thread, with substantial experience on both pedal types, have a different opinion.

    I find nearly all aspects of MTB -- with the exception of bunny hopping -- to be easier with flats. That's my opinion, but an opinion I've come to after a lot of experimentation.

    I believe you're correct that SSers with flats would be a small minority. I will say that I've seen a vast jump in the number or riders running flats here in the Phoenix area in the last year or so. In fact, out of a loose, revolving group of folks that I ride with regularly, only a couple use clipless.

    Bottom line, clipless may be the right choice for the OP. But the overwhelming suggestion that swapping pedals is going to make a real difference in his ability to clean steep technical climbs is unlikely to play out in reality.

  68. #68
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    Shoes

    I ride SPD and love it. In answer to Velobike assertion that cycling shoes are less than ideal - I agree to a point. Racing mountain bike shoes are mediocre at hiking and I use them only on the road (I have spd on my cross bike). Cheaper and softer "casual" MTB shoes are a blessing, especially for SS where you WILL hike. An example would be
    http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...00_20000_67501
    on sale now for $24.95. And they hike fabulously. I have some all leather Shimano shoes without mesh and they are awesome for winter.

    Daryl

  69. #69
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    Most abandon clipless after a few good crashes... it's a mental thing. Clipless + elevated skinnies were hard on me.. at least a couple ac separations in a year. That never made me want flats again though. Flats are used mainly by downhill, and bmx. For good reason... where is the climbing in downill and bmx and dirt jumping? The right tools for the right job. Get clipless for ss riding... the uphills with ocks, and roots will be more satisfying.
    The only regrets in life, are the risks you didn't take.

  70. #70
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    [QUOTE=Blatant]Again, that's YOUR take. It's not wrong, obviously, because it works for YOU. A couple folks in this thread, with substantial experience on both pedal types, have a different opinion./QUOTE]

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but no one is entitled to their own facts. You can't escape mechanics and physics. Sorry. Clipless pedals are more efficient for climbing, on a SS, on a geared bike, on a road bike. Pushing down and pulling up at a slow climbing cadence gives more power than just pushing down. Fact, not opinion. And pretty basic. Not rocket science.
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

  71. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    The question isn't *if* you can pull up with clipless on a singlespeed, but does it help? I don't know about you guys but I never climb steep sustained climbs, or even short steep climbs in the saddle. Max SS climbing efforts are always out of the saddle for me. That's exactly where you can't effectively pull up with your off leg. It's roadies who might be able to use the technique when staying in the saddle...... perhaps.

    bruce b.
    Since I've pulled my foot out of my clipless pedal on steep climbs before, I'd say that suggests you can pull up while standing.

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    I understand you're being facetious here but you bring up a good comparison. You don't clip in your hands or your ass to the bike so why should you with your feet?
    because unfortunately i don't have chimpanzee feet....and i'm incapable of gripping a pedal with my toes to pull it up. so i use technology to do it for me, thus making me more efficient.

    sort of like how we as riders use a technological advancement (a bicycle) to move more efficiently over the ground. i can still run to move myself over the ground, and run at a decent clip, for a pretty long ways...and have some fun doing it...but it doesn't make it as efficient as riding a bicycle.

    Knew it was only a matter of time before someone turned a rational discussion into a "hey, look how clever I am ... and my way is the only way" discussion. Congratulations.
    welcome to the internet. enjoy your stay.
    Last edited by Timon; 02-02-2010 at 04:34 PM.

  73. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB2
    Since I've pulled my foot out of my clipless pedal on steep climbs before, I'd say that suggests you can pull up while standing.
    Yeah, get on a spin bike, dial up the resistance and then take one foot out of the pedals. If the resistance is high enough, you can not do a full revolution without pulling up.

  74. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant
    ......

    I find nearly all aspects of MTB -- with the exception of bunny hopping -- to be easier with flats. That's my opinion, but an opinion I've come to after a lot of experimentation.
    My experience has been the exact opposite. Coming from a BMX and Trials background, I find bunny hopping to be easier, safer and more consistent with flat pedals. Climbing, spinning, downhill and tech have all been much, much easier since switching to clipless.


    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant
    .......But the overwhelming suggestion that swapping pedals is going to make a real difference in his ability to clean steep technical climbs is unlikely to play out in reality.
    I'm going to completely disagree with that statement. I'm of the opinion that it will make a real, noticeable difference. In technical sections, flats will help you dab. That's it. they enable you to put a foot down or dismount the bike more quickly. Clipless will allow you to shift the bike from side to side more easily, and I find the ability to pull up makes a huge difference in tech. On skinnies, with clipless, no matter where you are in the revolution of the pedal, you can remove one foot to hang a leg out for balance and keep pedaling without awkward weight shifts. Continuing to pedal while lunging is easier for me with clipless as well.

    If you feel like barreling through a rock garden, clipless is almost mandatory. Just get you weight back, stay loose and pedal for all you're worth.

  75. #75
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    Strangely enough I recently forgot my SPD shoes and rode SPDs with tennies shoes on a 14 mile ride. I got foot cramps from the tiny pedals, but the trip up really wasn't all that bad. I might try out a pair of platforms this summer and see what happens.

    I was a BMX kid FWIW but haven't ridden flats in 20 years I'd guess.

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    clipless do help

    I've pulled my foot out of worn out shoes, pulled cleats off of worn out shoes and pulled the plates off of worn out Frog pedals. All of these things indicate to me that a proper pedal stroke can contribute alot to the power you put down. If you're just a masher and you don't use the full pedal stroke you may not feel clipless is worth the stiff shoes and ice skate feeling of walking on hard serfaces, but most of us don't buy bike shoes for walking. Another reason to use the stiffer shoes that can be minimized by riding platforms as well is that small clipless pedals and softer souled shoes can damage the arch of your feet; I had this happen to me after riding more flexible souled shoues for 15 years and a switch to stiff souls allowed the foot healed.
    As others have said ride what you want, but don't tell people that shoes can grip platform pedals as well as clipless pedals can be gripped by cleats unless you can hold your bike off the ground as long as a person with a clipless system

  77. #77
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    >>As others have said ride what you want, but don't tell people that shoes can grip platform pedals as well as clipless pedals can be gripped by cleats unless you can hold your bike off the ground as long as a person with a clipless system<<

    But slowrider, no one has said that.

  78. #78
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    To answer your original question, I will tell you what a riding buddy told me when I first started riding SS.
    "There are two types of Single Speeders, those who sometimes walk, and those who lie."
    As for the pedals:
    I ride SS mtb and road and I can assure you that I do "pull up" on climbs, sitting and standing. On long sustained climbs that do not require standing, I often focus on pulling up to utilize the different muscles. I have found this especially helpful during endurance rides/races when my quadriceps are plain tired or maybe have begun cramping from the pedal down force or "mashing" (and lack of electrolytes). This is always in a cadence below 60rpm.
    As far as an advantage using clipless? I do not know why this is even debatable. You CAN achieve a more efficient pedal stroke with clipless (or clip-in as I like to call them). That does not mean you will. The correct technique takes practice. A tip from an actual coach (road riding) was to unclip on a stretch of road and practice your crank rotation with only one foot. This will help teach you the proper technique (or give you confidence riding if you ever loose one of your feet). I ride with guys who are mashers and they never focus on an upstroke, thus they are not receiving the full benefit of the pedals. I would also agree that you are more likely to gain a benefit on the road than on the trail due to the more consistent cadence and terrain that allow one to focus on crank rotation. Still, I enjoy them on the trails, especially long rides and my opinion is that they are advantageous.
    So after all that...just do whatever feels right to you. Remember, opinions are like A-holes, everybody has one.
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    Thank you all for the advice i think i have too much. I guess maybe I will first try a shoe with a stiffer sole and see how that works, maybe try clipless later. I don't know if wider handlebars would be a good choice for me (though I agree it would help immensely) for the simple reason of some sections are just too tight. Here in the foothills of appalachia, the terrain is largely glacial till, lots of rocks, tight trees, roots galore, and pretty steep climbs. This terrain is probably very similar to many others so you can relate to my dilemna. I am really impressed at the response i got on this forum. Never got this on the 29er forum ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by IMHO
    A tip from an actual coach (road riding) was to unclip on a stretch of road and practice your crank rotation with only one foot. This will help teach you the proper technique (or give you confidence riding if you ever loose one of your feet). I ride with guys who are mashers and they never focus on an upstroke, thus they are not receiving the full benefit of the pedals. I would also agree that you are more likely to gain a benefit on the road than on the trail due to the more consistent cadence and terrain that allow one to focus on crank rotation. Still, I enjoy them on the trails, especially long rides and my opinion is that they are advantageous.
    this gets discussed a bunch over at RBR. consensus seems to be that there's not much to be gained by 'pulling up' because its not a sustainable way to pedal. apparently if you study the pros, all they're doing is lifting the dead leg weight off their 'up' foot, which helps....because the other quad isn't forced to push it around, but its not all that significant.

    i do think the upstroke becomes more advantageous in slow cadence climbing situations though....which is what there is plenty of on a SS.

  81. #81
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    Long steep climbs are good walking exercise.
    roccowt.
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  82. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant
    I personally believe the "power upstroke" is a myth.

    Not being argumentative. If clipless works for you and makes you perform better, that's great. However, for the OP, I don't believe popping on a set of pedals is going to make one iota of difference in making the type of climbs he's talking about.
    You are part right, but the part you get wrong is key. Here is a good article on the subject where facts instead of "personal beliefs" come into play.

    http://www.roadcycling.com/training/...echnique.shtml

    The issue in this thread is climbing on a singlespeed, not cruising the flats, not doing tricks, not descending, not technical riding. In each of those situations, pedal choice is personal preference, and maybe a platform pedal is better, maybe not.

    Climbing is a different animal. The cadence is slow. You are NOT spinning a low gear where the downstroke is mostly what is making the bike go. On a SS you are standing and pulling on the bars. Absolutely there is an upstroke that is doing work- maybe a little, maybe a lot - in this situation. Absolutely fastening your foot to the pedal will give you more power as you go up.

    Good grief, why were clipless pedals invented in the first place? First there were platform pedals. Then they figured out that fastening the foot to the pedal with a toe clip, strap and cleat made the pedaling more efficient. Then they figured out that since it was hard to get your foot out out of the toe clip when necessary, fastening the cleat to a spring/release mechanism without a clip was the way to go. Voila. Clipless pedals.

    Not believing in facts might be your personal choice, but it won't help the guy who is having trouble climbing steep grades on his SS with flat pedals. It's like telling the guy who is learning to huck that you believe gravity is a myth.
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

  83. #83
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    >>You are part right, but the part you get wrong is key. Here is a good article on the subject where facts instead of "personal beliefs" come into play.

    http://www.roadcycling.com/training/pedalingtechnique.shtml<<

    Ummm, I hate to tell you but this is exactly what I said.

    Here's the exact quote,"The power of the down stroke is so great that it negates the opposite leg's capacity to produce any power during the upstroke. The best a cyclist can do is unweight the upstroke leg, or try to get it out of the way of the pedal coming up at it."

    What part of this isn't clear??? You can get your leg out of the way just as well with flats as with clipless, in fact riding without retention is the best way to teach yourself to pedal smoothly offroad because if you don't your foot will come off the pedal.

    My primary point that I've already said many times is that *for me*, get it, for me, I don't get any improvement when climbing steep hills with clipless pedals. Flats work just as well, I notice no difference and I tested this a ton of times. I agree that for other people and perhaps most people they might make a difference, even though the study we both quoted supports that pulling up is *not* a factor.

    Why can't you accept that for some people it might not make a difference. Sheesh!

    bruce b.

  84. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomit
    there's not much to be gained by 'pulling up' because its not a sustainable way to pedal.
    Not sustainable, but it may get you over the tough spot.

    Pulling up might not be good for knees either, so I strictly reserve it for the spots where I am running out of power.

  85. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    Here's the exact quote,"The power of the down stroke is so great that it negates the opposite leg's capacity to produce any power during the upstroke. The best a cyclist can do is unweight the upstroke leg, or try to get it out of the way of the pedal coming up at it."

    What part of this isn't clear???
    We, several on this thread, are directly contradicting and denying this is true.

    If adding power with the upstroke is possible, then a rider is better off learning how to do it.

  86. #86
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    Ummm, hate to tell you but I keep pointing out we are talking about CLIMBING, not spinning.

    Spinning the upstroke is close to zero.

    Climbing is different.

    Quote from Carmichael:

    The way to improve mechanical efficiency is to learn to apply force through as much of the pedal stroke as possible, especially through the top and bottom. Overgeared, high-power, low-cadence workouts are essential. Climbing hills, seated, in a big gear forces George to keep force flowing to the pedals over the top and through the bottom of the stroke. It is the only way he can maintain enough momentum to keep the bike moving forward. Later on we add sprints up steep hills, again in a big gear and with slow, rolling starts. During these workouts, George has to accelerate through increasing resistance. In races like the Tour of Flanders, with 16 steep slippery cobblestone climbs, poor pedaling economy results in a spinning rear wheel, followed immediately by a dismount and a run in equally slippery cycling shoes.

    One interesting note: Mountain bike racers were the most biomechanically efficient pedalers in the tests from the US Olympic Training Center. Their efficiency comes from having to apply high force in a 360-degree manner so the rear wheel won't break loose in steep, loose terrain.


    Why can't you admit that you are wrong and that your advice to the guy who is having trouble climbing on his SS that clipless pedals make no difference is complete BS.
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

  87. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    >>You are part right, but the part you get wrong is key. Here is a good article on the subject where facts instead of "personal beliefs" come into play.

    http://www.roadcycling.com/training/pedalingtechnique.shtml<<

    Ummm, I hate to tell you but this is exactly what I said.

    Here's the exact quote,"The power of the down stroke is so great that it negates the opposite leg's capacity to produce any power during the upstroke. The best a cyclist can do is unweight the upstroke leg, or try to get it out of the way of the pedal coming up at it."

    What part of this isn't clear??? You can get your leg out of the way just as well with flats as with clipless, in fact riding without retention is the best way to teach yourself to pedal smoothly offroad because if you don't your foot will come off the pedal.Sorry buddy we are talking about steep climbs not road riding

    My primary point that I've already said many times is that *for me*, get it, for me, I don't get any improvement when climbing steep hills with clipless pedals. Flats work just as well, I notice no difference and I tested this a ton of times. I agree that for other people and perhaps most people they might make a difference, even though the study we both quoted supports that pulling up is *not* a factor.If this is the case then you have no clue how to use cleated pedals

    Why can't you accept that for some people it might not make a difference. Sheesh!

    bruce b.ride whatever you want
    One interesting note: Mountain bike racers were the most biomechanically efficient pedalers in the tests from the US Olympic Training Center. Their efficiency comes from having to apply high force in a 360-degree manner so the rear wheel won't break loose in steep, loose terrain.

    From the same article Sheesh Geez MTB is different than roady.

    Look to say that no power is gained on the upstroke during a steep climb is ridculous, hell I have pulled the cleat off the pedal on an up stroke. There have been sections were my hamstring and calf cramp I have been pulling so hard.....cause you can't do it doesn't mean it doesn't work.
    Last edited by jeffscott; 02-03-2010 at 09:04 AM.

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    It is true unless you are talking about high torque, slow cadence: like CLIMBING.

    Anybody who actually rides a lot and knows how to - SS, geared bike, road bike - knows that an upstroke while climbing is: a) real; and b) important.

    Which is why virtually EVERY cyclist who spends a lot of time going UP uses clipless pedals. As opposed to going down, doing tricks, etc.
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

  89. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    Not sustainable, but it may get you over the tough spot.

    Pulling up might not be good for knees either, so I strictly reserve it for the spots where I am running out of power.

    Hah I rode for a month standing only (about 400km) (for strange reasons not neccessary to know here)....

    I got extremely tight IT bands, I got a really sore lower left back....

    I got much stronger.....

    Took about a month of stretching, to get back to normal (shoulda been stretching more when I was doing it).

  90. #90
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    >>One interesting note: Mountain bike racers were the most biomechanically efficient pedalers in the tests from the US Olympic Training Center. Their efficiency comes from having to apply high force in a 360-degree manner so the rear wheel won't break loose in steep, loose terrain.<<

    You guys need to think things through before you post. As has been said many times before, with pinned BMX flats and good shoes you can apply power just as easily at the top of the stroke as you can with clipless and smooth out your stroke. BTW, if you used the upstroke to apply power you'd be doing it at the exact time as you're in the power phase of the downstroke. Instead of smoothing out your power over 360 degrees you'd be doing the opposite. I hadn't thought of that before, let me say it again. If you somehow did pull up with the off leg you'd be doing it when you are already generating peak power so the effect would be the opposite of what you claim, you'd make your pedal stroke more choppy and have a huge pulse of power for a small part of the stroke. You'd make it more likely you'd break traction with your rear wheel and not clear the climb.

    Ok I changed my opinion on this as I didn't think this point through. In theory, DO NOT attempt to use your off leg to apply power on the upstroke on offroad steep climbs (personally, I don't think it's possible to get more power this way anyway) as you'll increase the possibility of spinning your rear tire and breaking traction. In practice, knock yourself out as you're not going to get any more power to the ground that way. How's that?

    bruce b.
    Last edited by Rigid; 02-03-2010 at 11:32 AM.

  91. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    >>One interesting note: Mountain bike racers were the most biomechanically efficient pedalers in the tests from the US Olympic Training Center. Their efficiency comes from having to apply high force in a 360-degree manner so the rear wheel won't break loose in steep, loose terrain.<<

    You guys need to think things through before you post. As has been said many times before, with pinned BMX flats and good shoes you can apply power just as easily at the top of the stroke as you can with clipless and smooth out your stroke. BTW, if you used the upstroke to apply power you'd be doing it at the exact time as you're in the power phase of the downstroke. Instead of smoothing out your power over 360 degrees you'd be doing the opposite. I hadn't thought of that before, let me say it again. If you somehow did pull up with the off leg you'd be doing it when you are already generating peak power so the effect would be the opposite of what you claim, you'd make your pedal stroke more choppy and have a huge pulse of power for a small part of the stroke. You'd make it more likely you'd break traction with your rear wheel and not clear the climb.

    Ok I changed my opinion on this as I didn't think this point through. In theory, DO NOT attempt use your off leg to apply power on the upstroke on offroad steep climbs (personally, I don't think it's possible to get more power this way anyway) as you'll increase the possibility of spinning your rear tire and breaking traction. In practice, knock yourself out as you're not going to get any more power to the ground that way. How's that?

    bruce b.
    Ridculous, look fact is I clear more climbs pulling up hard than not doing so....Yeah gotta worry about traction, yeah gotta remember to weight the rear wheel, yeah feel the bike frame and bars bend....

    But still over the top is over the top......

  92. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    >>You are part right, but the part you get wrong is key. Here is a good article on the subject where facts instead of "personal beliefs" come into play.

    http://www.roadcycling.com/training/pedalingtechnique.shtml<<

    Ummm, I hate to tell you but this is exactly what I said.

    Here's the exact quote,"The power of the down stroke is so great that it negates the opposite leg's capacity to produce any power during the upstroke. The best a cyclist can do is unweight the upstroke leg, or try to get it out of the way of the pedal coming up at it."

    What part of this isn't clear??? You can get your leg out of the way just as well with flats as with clipless, in fact riding without retention is the best way to teach yourself to pedal smoothly offroad because if you don't your foot will come off the pedal.

    My primary point that I've already said many times is that *for me*, get it, for me, I don't get any improvement when climbing steep hills with clipless pedals. Flats work just as well, I notice no difference and I tested this a ton of times. I agree that for other people and perhaps most people they might make a difference, even though the study we both quoted supports that pulling up is *not* a factor.

    Why can't you accept that for some people it might not make a difference. Sheesh!

    bruce b.
    If you believe all these studies, maybe you should be riding a road bike! I'm not sure what you don't understand about everyone else's argument. You keep talking about studies done on road cyclists who pedal at high RPMs. Those studies do not translate AT ALL to climbing a steep hill on a SS.

    2 other points. If you believe your above study, then you are robbing yourself of some power. With flat pedals, you cannot completely unweight the foot that is coming up, because then it would loose contact with the pedal, and bad things will happen. So you always have to be pushing on the up pedal a little bit, robbing some of the power from you other leg.

    Second, I will post another quote from the article you linked to:

    "Mountain bike racers were the most biomechanically efficient pedalers in the tests from the US Olympic Training Center. Their efficiency comes from having to apply high force in a 360-degree manner so the rear wheel won't break loose in steep, loose terrain"

    There you have it, mountain bikers can in fact make power all the way around the pedal stroke!


    Just because 'you' couldn't pull up on the pedals with clipless, doesn't mean nobody can! In the situation the OP is asking about, it makes a big difference! But you have to know how to do it, and think about doing it!

    Mark

  93. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Ridculous, look fact is I clear more climbs pulling up hard than not doing so....Yeah gotta worry about traction, yeah gotta remember to weight the rear wheel, yeah feel the bike frame and bars bend....

    But still over the top is over the top......
    Yep. Message to OP, if you are willing to learn how to riding clipless, then do it. Clipless will allow you to engage different muscles and apply more power on lower RPM climbs.

  94. #94
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    As I've said to you evangelists several times in this thread, clearly trying to relay MY experience: Ride what you like. If it works for you, awesome. If it doesn't, try something else.

    Unclear to me why everything has to be this battle of wills. It's a bike. Either go ride it or don't.

    Here's something to consider (or to argue further about if you're so inclined): How many of you folks in this thread have actually spent any time at all riding flat pedals on a single speed mountain bike? If you haven't, I can't see how you're qualified to make such extensive commentary.

    Six months ago, I probably would've chanted right along with you. Until I actually tried flats and found them to be better in most every way ... FOR ME.

    To the OP: Try to borrow some pedals and shoes from someone and see what happens. If that's the magic bullet, cool.

    Folks spend a lot of time arguing and agonizing over gear. The best thing I've found to get better at SS is just go ride. A lot. With whatever gear you have. You'll get better. Time to go load up the truck ...

  95. #95
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    This purported loss of traction on climbs with flats - presumably this is only a problem for cyclists with only one crank on their bike?

    On my bike, as one leg is rising, the other is pushing down because luckily I fitted a crank to each side of the bike and arranged them at 180 degrees to each other . The dead spot at the top is handled by shifting my weight, but I may get an oval chainring soon.

    Using track pedals I have been able to generate enough torque to twist one BB, rip a chainring of its spider, and twist 2 cranks in the last year. Getting power down isn't a problem for me. Stopping my heartrate going too high is my limitation (old bloke here)

    SPDs are just another piece of excess technology to me that also requires you to have special shoes. Leave that sort of stuff to our geared friends. SPDs do work but I maintain the difference is minimal once you have mastered the ancient technique of ankling.
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  96. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    >>One interesting note: Mountain bike racers were the most biomechanically efficient pedalers in the tests from the US Olympic Training Center. Their efficiency comes from having to apply high force in a 360-degree manner so the rear wheel won't break loose in steep, loose terrain.<<

    You guys need to think things through before you post. As has been said many times before, with pinned BMX flats and good shoes you can apply power just as easily at the top of the stroke as you can with clipless and smooth out your stroke. BTW, if you used the upstroke to apply power you'd be doing it at the exact time as you're in the power phase of the downstroke. Instead of smoothing out your power over 360 degrees you'd be doing the opposite. I hadn't thought of that before, let me say it again. If you somehow did pull up with the off leg you'd be doing it when you are already generating peak power so the effect would be the opposite of what you claim, you'd make your pedal stroke more choppy and have a huge pulse of power for a small part of the stroke. You'd make it more likely you'd break traction with your rear wheel and not clear the climb.

    Ok I changed my opinion on this as I didn't think this point through. In theory, DO NOT attempt use your off leg to apply power on the upstroke on offroad steep climbs (personally, I don't think it's possible to get more power this way anyway) as you'll increase the possibility of spinning your rear tire and breaking traction. In practice, knock yourself out as you're not going to get any more power to the ground that way. How's that?

    bruce b.
    Really not sure how you came to that conclusion. Maybe you were trying for sarcastic, but all I read it as was hairbrained... If all that you had been doing all along was stating your opinion, as you claim to be, noone would have really given you any flack, but you and at least one other poster are simply making up what you call 'facts' and presenting them as truths.

    Being attached to the pedals allows a person to more easily control them at any point in the revolution of the cranks. Upstroke, Downstroke, Top and Bottom. The whole thing. With flats, you HAVE to devote some of your leg strength to wrapping your foot around the pedal if you want to maximize the efficiency of that type of pedal. This uses strength that could be applied to actually generating power.


    The only reason to not use clipless, in my opinion, is if your particular riding style or discipline requires you to frequently remove one or both feet from the pedal.

  97. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant
    .....
    Here's something to consider (or to argue further about if you're so inclined): How many of you folks in this thread have actually spent any time at all riding flat pedals on a single speed mountain bike? If you haven't, I can't see how you're qualified to make such extensive commentary......

    Do you really think that you're the only person in mountain biking who has tried both pedal types?

    In reverse order:
    4.5 yrs ss xc, touring, commuting on clipless(some of that time on flat pedals)
    7 yrs ss xc, touring, trials, bmx, commuting, messengering on flats(some of that time one of my bikes had power grips)
    5 yrs trials, xc on flats
    4 yrs xc in toe clips, then (horrible)clipless

    Crap... has it really been that long?!?!?

  98. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean salach
    ...
    In reverse order:
    4.5 yrs ss xc, touring, commuting on clipless(some of that time on flat pedals)
    7 yrs ss xc, touring, trials, bmx, commuting, messengering on flats(some of that time one of my bikes had power grips)
    5 yrs trials, xc on flats
    4 yrs xc in toe clips, then (horrible)clipless

    Crap... has it really been that long?!?!?
    dude...you're old...like hella old.....what are ya?...like 33

    damn know-it-all fossils...

    next thing ya know it's 'GET OFF MY LAWN!!'....



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  99. #99
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    Typical misquote/out of context.

    Clearly I don't think I'm the only one who has used both and never stated such. And you cut off the end of the quote where I stated I believed it to be wrong to draw conclusions without direct experience.

    That said, according to your post, you have experience on both. Great. I bet you picked the one that works best for you. Great. I did, too. Flats. Have a nice day.

  100. #100
    rigid bruce
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    >> Maybe you were trying for sarcastic, but all I read it as was hairbrained...<<

    Sean, so now you're going to reduce this thread to calling people names? It's clearly jumped the shark and I'm done.

    The part about making up *facts* and presenting them as truths is insulting. Everyone is voicing their own opinions here based on their experience. If you look at my past posts it should be completely obvious I was being sarcastic (in the last paragraph) with the last one.

    I've just said all along that this is my experience, for me, there wasn't a difference in what I could climb with either type of pedal. I didn't ever claim this applies to anyone else. How is that making up *facts*. Are saying I'm lying when I state that was my experience? Seriously, please answer that. After meeting and riding with you when you were back in NJ I wouldn't have expected you to say that.

    bruce, the guy with flats on a Karate Monkey on the ride from Saffin Pond

  101. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    >> Maybe you were trying for sarcastic, but all I read it as was hairbrained...<<

    Sean, so now you're going to reduce this thread to calling people names? It's clearly jumped the shark and I'm done.

    The part about making up *facts* and presenting them as truths is insulting. Everyone is voicing their own opinions here based on their experience. If you look at my past posts it should be completely obvious I was being sarcastic (in the last paragraph) with the last one.

    I've just said all along that this is my experience, for me, there wasn't a difference in what I could climb with either type of pedal. I didn't ever claim this applies to anyone else. How is that making up *facts*. Are saying I'm lying when I state that was my experience? Seriously, please answer that. After meeting and riding with you when you were back in NJ I wouldn't have expected you to say that.

    bruce, the guy with flats on a Karate Monkey on the ride from Saffin Pond

    Bruce, didn't realize it was you. Being from dirty jerz you should have thicker skin than that. If you had said what you typed(which really didn't read to me as total sarcasm), while we were hanging out in person, I probably would have phrased it more like 'completely f#@kin hairbrained'. No offense.

    Stuff rarely reads the way it was intended over the interwebs. Stating your experience does not mean that you're lying, and I never said that. Stating your atypical experience and presenting it like it makes total sense and has a serious chance of actually being the same for more than a handful of people is misleading. A lot of my personal experiences with riding fall into a similar ilk. There's a lot of stuff that works great for me, but not for the vast majority of people. You wont see me arguing that everyone should try them though.

  102. #102
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    I Was just wondering what a steep, sustained climb is 6% for a mile 11% for two what are we talking about here. I just put on 32 by 18 and know that i will need a 22 or even 24 for to be spinning enough for most of the climbs up here in the san jacinto. I bet I could really grind though on the 18 tooth but but I would rather not.

  103. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean salach
    The only reason to not use clipless, in my opinion, is if your particular riding style or discipline requires you to frequently remove one or both feet from the pedal.
    I obviously agree.

    This thread started as "how do to ride steep sustained climbs on a SS", and degenerated into an argument about which pedals to use and whether an upstroke exists or not.

    To settle the argument - at least as far as this thread is concerned - the original poster could ditch his platforms, install clipless, see if it helps his climbing (or not), and then report back.

    If he climbs better, the platform people have to buy the rest of us a beer. If not, we owe them a beer.

    I'll settle for anything on tap at Moab Brewery (where I will NOT be riding my rigid SS and where I will be riding a Blur LT with clipless pedals).

    Fair enough?
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

  104. #104
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUM

    next thing ya know it's 'GET OFF MY LAWN!!'....



    perhaps the best and most helpful statement I received in this thread

  105. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_MurdocChongo
    perhaps the best and most helpful statement I received in this thread

    Then you have really failed to have an open mind, and will likely to continue in your on self defined ethic, which you admit is limiting you....

    Not an uncommon place to be.

  106. #106
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    Hey Sean, no problem, I obviously didn't make myself clear since more than one person took what I said wrong. I guess I need to write more clearly.

    I tried to say several times that this was just my experience and that even I thought it was a minority opinion. I'm totally open to the idea that clipless is more efficient, better, whatever, for others and even for most other riders. I actually believe it to be true..... but not for everyone 100%. None of this sort of stuff is ever true for everyone, people vary too much for that. I still don't understand why this is so difficult for others to accept as it seems self evident to me, but perhaps I'm just expressing the idea in an unclear way, I donno. On the other hand, I've been riding tons of miles offroad since 1983 and I'm pretty darn sure that there is no difference climbing *for me*. Back in the day when I raced people used to tell me all the time to shift to a higher gear because I was spinning too much. I'd often be a gear or two lower than everyone else. I would try riding in higher gears for a while but I couldn't maintain it. Maybe they are connected in some way?

    Anyway, yeah, I should have a thicker skin, I was just letting my frustration with this thread get to me. The other thing that happened today that really put me in a bad mood was I went for a ride at Splitrock in perfect snow conditions and stupidly screwed up my bike. I was on my 1994 Fat City Ti Fat with nice period Mavic cranks, and somehow the spindle bolt came loose and I rode until the crank was loose. I didn't have anything with to fit the bolt and carefully banged the crank back on with a rock and hand tightened it, but I ended up trashing up the crank arm apparently. Shortly after I got home I read your post. Yeah, I was pissed off at what you wrote, but I was ready to be pissed at almost anything, so I took it wrong. I apologize if what I wrote in response inflamed the situation.

    Yeah, if we were talking face to face I would have just laughed and responded in kind to whatever you said. It would have been fun.

    I'm done with this thread because I'm taking it too personally and not doing a good enough job of explaining myself.

    bruce b.

  107. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rigid
    ....
    Anyway, yeah, I should have a thicker skin, I was just letting my frustration with this thread get to me. The other thing that happened today that really put me in a bad mood was I went for a ride at Splitrock in perfect snow conditions and stupidly screwed up my bike. I was on my 1994 Fat City Ti Fat with nice period Mavic cranks, and somehow the spindle bolt came loose and I rode until the crank was loose. I didn't have anything with to fit the bolt and carefully banged the crank back on with a rock and hand tightened it, but I ended up trashing up the crank arm apparently. Shortly after I got home I read your post. Yeah, I was pissed off at what you wrote, but I was ready to be pissed at almost anything, so I took it wrong. I apologize if what I wrote in response inflamed the situation.

    Yeah, if we were talking face to face I would have just laughed and responded in kind to whatever you said. It would have been fun.

    I'm done with this thread because I'm taking it too personally and not doing a good enough job of explaining myself.

    bruce b.

    In an effort to drift the topic even more...

    If those cranks are square taper, and the trashed part is the taper, you can fix it with aluminum foil, of all things. Just roll up a few little pieces of it, and align them with the mushroomed sections while tightening the crank down. Use blue loctite and snug it up really good. Remove the crank a year later, and you'll have a very hard time seperating the aluminum foil from the crank. It worked for me on a pair of Kooka cranks I mushroomed back in the day.

  108. #108
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    Try lots of Kegel exercises. Worked wonders for my sustained hill climbing.

  109. #109
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean salach
    Clipless helps...The stiffness of the shoes and being connected to the bike help more than the ability to pull up I find. With flats, you need to devote some of your leg strength to gripping the pedals in technical terrain. With clipless, you can devote all of your leg strength to powering over and through, and the stiffness of the shoes helps immensely with transferring that power to the pedals.
    I don’t get this. I cannot see clipless “connecting’ me to the bike in any way other than pedaling efficiency. While it does enhance circular pedaling motion, it does not remove any strength requirement (gripping the pedals). In fact, it adds to bike/rider disconnect through the mechanical connection and shoe stiffness. I have a similar history to you – BMX, Trials, XC, now SS – and I just can’t see it.

    When riding really difficult terrain, and facing non-circular pedaling challenges – extreme weight shifts fore/aft and side-to-side, brakeless ratcheting, bunny hopping to save your life, or dumping into a trail feature that's make it or break it – you need to “feel” your bike. The ability to alter your foot position on the pedal - twist your foot axis, shift pedal contact around your soles, or squeeze the crank/chainstay with your feet – is what establishes “feel” and enhances your connection with the bike. Human bio-mechanics are severely limited when clipped in. You just can’t alter the foot pedal relationship outside the limits of the clipless foot/pedal plane.

    On my SS I like to push myself on fun trails. I would throttle back a LOT sooner if I couldn’t feel with my feet, i.e. clipped in stiff-soled shoes. Flats, on the other hand, let me climb around on the pedals yet remain connected to the bike. This provides one more control feedback. My feet play the pedals just like my hands hold the grips – I don’t even have think about it, I just do it.

    Did that make any sense?

    Tom P.

  110. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by one piece crank
    I don’t get this. I cannot see clipless “connecting’ me to the bike in any way other than pedaling efficiency. While it does enhance circular pedaling motion, it does not remove any strength requirement (gripping the pedals). In fact, it adds to bike/rider disconnect through the mechanical connection and shoe stiffness. I have a similar history to you – BMX, Trials, XC, now SS – and I just can’t see it.

    When riding really difficult terrain, and facing non-circular pedaling challenges – extreme weight shifts fore/aft and side-to-side, brakeless ratcheting, bunny hopping to save your life, or dumping into a trail feature that's make it or break it – you need to “feel” your bike. The ability to alter your foot position on the pedal - twist your foot axis, shift pedal contact around your soles, or squeeze the crank/chainstay with your feet – is what establishes “feel” and enhances your connection with the bike. Human bio-mechanics are severely limited when clipped in. You just can’t alter the foot pedal relationship outside the limits of the clipless foot/pedal plane.

    On my SS I like to push myself on fun trails. I would throttle back a LOT sooner if I couldn’t feel with my feet, i.e. clipped in stiff-soled shoes. Flats, on the other hand, let me climb around on the pedals yet remain connected to the bike. This provides one more control feedback. My feet play the pedals just like my hands hold the grips – I don’t even have think about it, I just do it.

    Did that make any sense?

    Tom P.

    What you're saying makes perfect sense.

    What I was getting at could be summed up in an easy example. Rocking your bike from front to back wheel in place of(or in addition to a) trackstand. I find it to require less thought, and be physically easier to move the back end around with clipless. I was hardcore anti clipless for a looong time. If I still rode a bunch of trials, I probably still would be, just for safety reasons. For me, and most of the people in this thread, clipless remove not only the ability, but the actual need to feel your feet. You simply don't need to think about how your feet are gripping the pedals, because they are. Chunky(in xc terms) downhills can be taken with almost reckless abandon because as long as you can hold the bar and stay loose, keep your weight in the right place, you'll probably make it through. They remove gripping the pedals with your feet and trying to find the right foot position from the equation. Basically what you said, except I find it to be a positive while you find it to be a negative.

  111. #111
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    new suggestion

    wow.. what a long thread, did not make it to the end but i don't think i saw this suggestion yet,
    i raced motorcycles before getting into mtbiking and noticed miles on the machine make the difference in both. I noticed balance on both got better only with time in the saddle. if you want to be better on the steep sections with a bit of technical stuff in them, practice steep slopes on a geared bike until it is obvious you've made progress. you'll then be able to make sections on the SS you could not.

    If you're interested in the why of this it has to do with the ability to use minute adjustments of body english and the application of minor muscle adjustments you simply cannot do until you put a lot of hours in. The other half is the ability to make these adjustments based on very small amounts of input from the bike and terrain. This is what makes professionals make it look easy.

    Also I second the idea that you have to try at least a bit farther than you could last time, it's like lifting weights, all the improvement comes in the last little bit you try.

    I can't understand all this religious ranting about pedals, though. You guys must live in caves without contact for long periods with other humans.

  112. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Then you have really failed to have an open mind, and will likely to continue in your on self defined ethic, which you admit is limiting you....

    Not an uncommon place to be.
    I don't know what you mean by this statement. I was remarking on the statement made by another member and pointing out the humor i found in it. I am not rejecting your's or anybody else's 2 cent opinions. Why else would i post a question on here?

  113. #113
    dwt
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    Quote Originally Posted by crankspd
    I can't understand all this religious ranting about pedals, though. You guys must live in caves without contact for long periods with other humans.
    Actually no. If there's any religion involved it's the religion of riding bikes - a lot. And I've never heard of riding any bike without pedals.
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

  114. #114
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwt
    Actually no. If there's any religion involved it's the religion of riding bikes - a lot. And I've never heard of riding any bike without pedals.
    All you lot using pedals are wooses. Real men get a titanium pin surgically embedded in their foot and put that through the hole in the crank.

    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

  115. #115
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike
    All you lot using pedals are wooses. Real men get a titanium pin surgically embedded in their foot and put that through the hole in the crank.

    Pfffft. I upgraded to a carbon pin with ceramic bushings. Lighter, less chance of rejection.



  116. #116
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkrobe
    Pfffft. I upgraded to a carbon pin with ceramic bushings. Lighter, less chance of rejection.
    I hope for your guys sake that the upstroke is not a myth
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

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