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Back of the pack fat guy
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Need the 411, the scoop, the down and dirty, and the werd about going from clipless pedals to flat. I've been exclusively riding clipless for about 15 years, but have noticed more and more people making the switch over to flat, especially the gravity-oriented crowd. I'm not an overly aggressive rider, but not skeered to get a little air and tackle technical downhill sections. Currently building up what you could potentially call an "all mountain hardtail" and I've noticed that a lot of that subset of a subset of a subset sort of bike seem to commonly share a couple of commonalities, one of which is flat pedals as opposed to clipless.

I have to admit that other than the "instant bailout" capability of flats, I'm having a hard time seeing any advantage to them. I have to think that climbing with them (and 95% of my riding usually features 2,000+ feet of climbing) would, well, suck, and I do use my pedals as a "control point" for the downhills. Absent the clipless, it would seem that your only real contact point would be your hands on the bars. Which sounds a little sketchy.

However, it does look like a fair number of folks dig the platform/flat pedal set up. Any long-time clipless riders make the move to flats? If so, what was your experience and learning curve?
 

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The Unaffiliated
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I run flats on my all mountain bike for more technical trails. With 5.10 shoes and good pedals the only time my feet slip is when I am spinning hard up a hill and forget I am not clipped. Through rock gardens and while airborne I never have issues. I originally purchased my platforms because I had several bad crashes in a short time while clipped BECAUSE I was clipped. One I had a lot of time try to kick out while I slowly toppled over and fell into an arroyo (a small ravine filled with cactus...) Very frustrating. I switched to platforms to get back some confidence and liked them.

I still put my SPD's on for climbing intensive rides, but I have been using them less and less. Sure I am more efficient, but I also have just a little less fun, which is no good.

EDIT: I use Canfield Crampons and I am one of the people who love them (they seem to be a love/hate pedal). Expensive, but I have beaten the crap out of them on rocks and carrying my 200lbs for over a year and they work as if brand new except for the scratches, which are purely cosmetic. I took them apart the other day for the first time just out of curiosity, they didn't need servicing.
 

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I used toe clips/strap from 85 til a few years ago. I tried many clipless pedals, and always had trouble getting out, so kept going back.

Tried 5/10 shoes with flats a few years ago and liked them on the downhills, but for me they sucked for climbing. Not so much on gentle grades, but on technical climbs. I had trouble keeping my feet in place when lunging up and over rock steps.

I then tried Shimano M-647 pedals and used the SH-56 Multi-Release cleat.:thumbsup:

This combo works excellent for me. I get the pull up that clipless, or toe clips/straps give me, but I can dab almost as easy as on a platform pedal. There is no learning curve with this combo. Just ride, and put your food down when you need to. It is that simple.

Ease of entrance is also really easy. For me it is the best combo of entrance ease, power, connection, and ease of exit.

I run them with the MT-52 Shimano shoe, and they really go together well. The shoe has good grip for hike-a-bike sections, and a roomy toe box, as well as being cheap.
 

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my church is the woods
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check this out:
http://www.bikejames.com/podcasts/mtb-scp-36-clearing-up-myths-about-the-pedal-stroke/

I ran flats when I rode BMX/street from age 11-22. Been running clipless since I started mt. biking 16 years ago. I actually switched over to flats on my commuter bike 2 weeks ago, it's a single speed cross bike I ride 34 miles round trip. I did this because my spd non-winter shoes with booties were causing way to much freezing toes. I wanted to wear my (wallyworld) warm winter boots, not have to shell out $200 for winter SPD shoes. I thought pedaling would suck, but it's actually more fun and I don't notice it being any harder effort. In fact, my knee pains are no longer their.

The occasion I tried flats on the mtn bike, I found that the only issue I had was while climbing, I'm used to pulling the back wheel up over things while sitting and spinning; with flats, my foot just comes off the pedal. There is a different technique used for this, and I'll have to work on that. 5Ten shoes are the way to go for DH, insane grip.
 

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If it ain't broken......don't fix/change it! In all sense, if clipless has been working for you for so long why would you change? Flat provide provide less stability through technical descents and increase the difficulty in technical climbs. It is true that there are special techniques that you could acquire to get around these issues...however we must never forget that these techniques came from making something that didn't work well in the first place to work better.

The only reasons to why I would want to switch back to platforms again would to increase my smoothness/flow on the descents. It's essentially the main thing as to why I have switched back before. Platforms requires you to be much more cautious of your lines and terrain. Another reason would be dirt jumping and you wish to progress into tricks other then tail whips.

As for downhillers switching back to platform....are we talking about recreational downhillers or the guys who race? To my knowledge more and more of the guys who race are switching to clipless over in my area.
 

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meow meow
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i agree with 2clue but i have been thinking of trying out some nice flats just because loads of people seem to be digging them.
 

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Ok, here's my (long) story: I was a hardcore MTB'er for about 8 years in the mid-late 90's and early 00's, and switched from toe clips (fastened loosely so i could pull out with ease) to clipless (Time ATAC) in the latter part of that period. I was an anti-clipless holdout, but everybody and their sister was going clipless, so I finally went along. My riding consisted mostly of twisty, hilly, technical eastern singletrack. Give me lots of burly, rocky climbs and descents and 12" - 30" log hops, and I was in heaven. Now when you're riding terrain like that and challenging your limits, you're gonna have to bail from time to time. With the loose toe clips, I could always get out immediately and without thinking. And so I was willing to try anything. But after a few mishaps with the clipless pedals, I found that I became much more timid about approaching highly technical terrain. Rather than banzai through it with confidence that I could bail if something went wrong, I'd go more slowly and hesitantly. I'd panic and clip out in situations where I could have recovered with my old pedals. Over time, some of the joy went out of mtb'ing, and combined with commitments with work and family, the bike was put aside and only ridden a few times each year, and usually on the road.

Then last August my wife and I were vacationing in Whistler for some mountain air and hiking, and it just happened to be the week of Crankworx. With thousands of bikes around one thing I noticed was that a huge number of them had flat pedals. I was surprised, because I simply hadn't seen that back home on the east coast. So on a whim I signed up for a 1/2 day guided downhill session. With flat pedals, of course. And I had the most fun I had ever had on a bike.

Soon after, I bought flat pedals and a pair of 5.10 shoes, and started riding again. And loving it. The hesitancy is gone, and I can take on the technical sections again without worry. The 5.10s are super grippy and I rarely slip a pedal. On those few occasions when I sketch and have to get off the pedal, I can get off and back on quickly, often so quickly that I maintain momentum. But mostly it's simply the confidence of knowing I can easily get out of the pedal that has brought the fun back. So now I'm fully back into mtb'ing, just bought a new bike, and am anxiously waiting for the ice and snow to melt.

But I missed about 7 years of mtb'ing, and my experience with clipless pedals was a big factor. For whatever reason, it never occurred to me to go back to flat pedals. I guess I just assumed they were obsolete. My background before mountain biking was BMX, so I had a lot of years invested in riding flats and loose toe clips before I went clipless. So I guess it was so ingrained in me that I just never got accustomed to clipless. Many other folks who went clipless from the start I'm sure have a completely different experience and love them. I totally understand. I'm probably an oddball.

But even still, I've recovered from situations in my flats that I would not have recovered from on clipless pedals no matter how competent I was on them. Like putting in so much body english that my foot turns 90 degrees on the pedal. Or pulling up off the pedal entirely to maintain balance, and then getting back on quickly for the next pedal stroke without dabbing the ground. Nothing better than a dabless recovery.

The downsides of flats? Occasionally, maybe once or twice in a 2-hour ride, a foot is jarred off the pedal. No big deal, I can always get right back on. Also, pedaling efficiency is compromised, but only slightly and probably a lot less than most people think. You cannot power the pedal 360 degrees through the stroke, but with grippy shoes you can power through probably 270+ degrees. This just has not been a big deal for me. I'm not doing XC races where a few seconds in a 10 mile race is the difference between winning and losing. I'm out there to have fun.

So that's my clipless-->flats story. My advice to anyone who feels a twinge of hesitation because of their clipless pedals when approaching a technical challenge: switch to flats. The clipless pedals are cutting into the fun.
 

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don't have problems climbing sustained climbs at all with flats as long as my saddle height is right and any steep techy sections your skill set kicks in. If stalls, balance, and momentum were an issue trials would've been clippin in too but they don't. you can notice that flat pedal skills will enhance your clipped riding but not so much the other way. I have friends who can't do a simple bunny hop or j hop if they aren't clipped in. they think picking up both wheels at the same time is a hop and that's sad (for numerous reasons)haha. give them a try and i think you'll be able to see your skills in a different light.
 

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Curiously I had just posted something about trying to bunny hop without being clipped in.

I ride flats on my commuter bike and for that they seem ok but other than wanting to do it so I can wear street shoes I'm still not on board. One thing I find is I'm always moving my feet just a bit to keep the pointed the same way or the right way and that's on pavement.

Another concern not having tried them in rough terrain is when I ride a dirtbike off road I'm often launched off of the pegs and the only thing that keeps me on them is gripping the tank and seat with my legs which you can't do on a bicycle. I know that the majority of people doing DH, trials, dirtjump and street ride flats but I just don't see how they keep their feet on the pedals.

Also as I mentioned in the other thread I can get the back tire up a decent sized curb with the flats but it takes a lot of effort where with clipless it's seamless. Granted I'm not good at it but still.

Releasing from clipless has become so second nature I never have trouble being locked in.
 

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modifier said:
Also as I mentioned in the other thread I can get the back tire up a decent sized curb with the flats but it takes a lot of effort where with clipless it's seamless. Granted I'm not good at it but still.
That's because flats require much more energy to bunnyhop then clipless. With clipless you simply lift up your legs and along comes the wheel. With flats, if you tried that you would look like Napoleon Dynamite. In flats you end up using most of your upper body to get the bike into a bunnyhop, pulling up and pushing forward.
 

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Spanish rider
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Earthpig said:
.However, it does look like a fair number of folks dig the platform/flat pedal set up. Any long-time clipless riders make the move to flats? If so, what was your experience and learning curve?
Let's see if I caught the idea:

You've been using clipless pedals and you're happy with them. You're building a new AM HT and you're wondering if you should switch to flat pedals just because it's trendy among HT riders :madman: Am I right?

IMO trying things because they're trendy generally leads to insatisfaction.

However, there are decent flat pedals for cheap, try and see for yourself. :thumbsup:
 

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Still using dork disk.
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trenchDiggr said:
Ok, here's my (long) story: I was a hardcore MTB'er for about 8 years in the mid-late 90's and early 00's, and switched from toe clips (fastened loosely so i could pull out with ease) to clipless (Time ATAC) in the latter part of that period. I was an anti-clipless holdout, but everybody and their sister was going clipless, so I finally went along. My riding consisted mostly of twisty, hilly, technical eastern singletrack. Give me lots of burly, rocky climbs and descents and 12" - 30" log hops, and I was in heaven. Now when you're riding terrain like that and challenging your limits, you're gonna have to bail from time to time. With the loose toe clips, I could always get out immediately and without thinking. And so I was willing to try anything. But after a few mishaps with the clipless pedals, I found that I became much more timid about approaching highly technical terrain. Rather than banzai through it with confidence that I could bail if something went wrong, I'd go more slowly and hesitantly. I'd panic and clip out in situations where I could have recovered with my old pedals. Over time, some of the joy went out of mtb'ing, and combined with commitments with work and family, the bike was put aside and only ridden a few times each year, and usually on the road.

Then last August my wife and I were vacationing in Whistler for some mountain air and hiking, and it just happened to be the week of Crankworx. With thousands of bikes around one thing I noticed was that a huge number of them had flat pedals. I was surprised, because I simply hadn't seen that back home on the east coast. So on a whim I signed up for a 1/2 day guided downhill session. With flat pedals, of course. And I had the most fun I had ever had on a bike.

Soon after, I bought flat pedals and a pair of 5.10 shoes, and started riding again. And loving it. The hesitancy is gone, and I can take on the technical sections again without worry. The 5.10s are super grippy and I rarely slip a pedal. On those few occasions when I sketch and have to get off the pedal, I can get off and back on quickly, often so quickly that I maintain momentum. But mostly it's simply the confidence of knowing I can easily get out of the pedal that has brought the fun back. So now I'm fully back into mtb'ing, just bought a new bike, and am anxiously waiting for the ice and snow to melt.

But I missed about 7 years of mtb'ing, and my experience with clipless pedals was a big factor. For whatever reason, it never occurred to me to go back to flat pedals. I guess I just assumed they were obsolete. My background before mountain biking was BMX, so I had a lot of years invested in riding flats and loose toe clips before I went clipless. So I guess it was so ingrained in me that I just never got accustomed to clipless. Many other folks who went clipless from the start I'm sure have a completely different experience and love them. I totally understand. I'm probably an oddball.

But even still, I've recovered from situations in my flats that I would not have recovered from on clipless pedals no matter how competent I was on them. Like putting in so much body english that my foot turns 90 degrees on the pedal. Or pulling up off the pedal entirely to maintain balance, and then getting back on quickly for the next pedal stroke without dabbing the ground. Nothing better than a dabless recovery.

The downsides of flats? Occasionally, maybe once or twice in a 2-hour ride, a foot is jarred off the pedal. No big deal, I can always get right back on. Also, pedaling efficiency is compromised, but only slightly and probably a lot less than most people think. You cannot power the pedal 360 degrees through the stroke, but with grippy shoes you can power through probably 270+ degrees. This just has not been a big deal for me. I'm not doing XC races where a few seconds in a 10 mile race is the difference between winning and losing. I'm out there to have fun.

So that's my clipless-->flats story. My advice to anyone who feels a twinge of hesitation because of their clipless pedals when approaching a technical challenge: switch to flats. The clipless pedals are cutting into the fun.
Very similar to my experience! Clipless, for me, were getting in the way of fun and contributing to my injury. Now I just ride my damn bike.

Ryan
 

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@modifier- look into some bmx how-to vids for simple tips to get the proper technique. pulling up high enough and then hopping the back up are the two steps that you could practice seperately & then sync 'em up. The vids or a skilled rider to watch will help you alot. don't give up! keep practicing young jedi!
 

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You can get some really decent flat pedals for not much $, buy a cheap set just to try it out, I'm a convert my riding has improved greatly since I switched out of clipless (previously been clipless for 15 years as well)
 

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Earthpig said:
a lot of that subset of a subset of a subset sort of bike seem to commonly share a couple of commonalities, one of which is flat pedals as opposed to clipless.

However, it does look like a fair number of folks dig the platform/flat pedal set up. Any long-time clipless riders make the move to flats? If so, what was your experience and learning curve?
Haha, I'm in a subset of a subset, I feel like I should grow my hair and start listening to Indy bands.

Free bail outs are the biggest advantage to flats. I rode SPDs from starting biking at pre-teen age to when my feet hit size 52 and precisely no brands of shoe other than Vans actually fit on my feet without causing pain.

Climbing is worse, especially long fire road types. Tech climbing isn't so bad, the technique is different, more a trials hop than the rear wheel pulling you do on SPDs. Once you've got it learned you lose nothing over clipped, it's a pain learning to pedal again though.

Cornering with a foot out is a simple joy, it never gets old. You'll have to re-learn descending though, most of the control is from the hips and shoulders, you can't just push/pull with your feet like on clips.

As for shoes and pedals.

Shoes: 5:10s are the obvious ones. Also the various mtb shoes with Vibram soles (like shimano's various AM shoes) are a match for the 5:10s. I'm using Vans resoled with Stealth and have been for a while, the sole is the same a 5:10 but uppers on Vans sports shoes are better made, my Skinks are holding up nicely.

Pedals: DMR V12s for cheap-ish. The various HTi pedal brands (Superstar, Nuke Proof, Kona Wah Wah and many, many more) all the same pedal with a different sticker, get the cheapest. Have some bling Point Ones as well, can't say they're noticeably better than the HT pedals, very nice, but they aren't making my rides any better.
 

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Hey I was in your shoes (no pun intended) I was on Shimano SPD for 10 years. I am fairly competent riding technical trails in clipless. Then I started dabbling in flats when I started hitting the big jumps, log rides, and extremely technical obstacles where not being able to unclip would mean death (switchbacks along 100 foot cliffs, etc.)

I went with 5.10 style shoes and Free-ride type platforms. It works quite well (sometimes too well) because sometimes your foot will stick to the pedal at the wrong angle.

It will be harder climbing, but that's mostly because you have to consciously think about foot/placement and technique. It also is less forgiving if you get sloppy with your pedaling or when you get tired. I think it requires different muscles, so it will seem hard at first.

Its awesome for trails where there is a lot of hike a bike anyway because the shoes are more comfortable.

So now I mix it up, sometimes I ride SPDs sometimes the flats. When I go with flats, I wear shin protection. Because the screws on the flats are efficient meat tenderizers.
 

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T.W.O.
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I've switched, or add flats to the rotation. Come to think of it I've been on SPD for almost 10 years( I thought it was shorter, time flys:D ) I don't have any problem riding technical stuff with clipless, getting in and out was not the issue for me and the kind of riding I did.

Then I wanted to learn more skills, so I add flats and 5.10 to my inventory, it force me to learn the correct way to weight and unweight bike and pedal. It's more fun to incorporate new skills while riding. First few ride required me to relearn some of the basic pedaling skills 360 pedaling not just push and pull, yeah clipless riders have that bad habits. The power delivery is significantly smoother.

If you've been on clipless for the last decade and a half there's a few bad habits that you can improve. You'll notice the lifting/pulling on the first steep climb or tech sections, also not weighting the pedal enough on the descend. I think it's best to do both, going back and forth makes me a better rider overall.

Many people think that it's a trend that people go to flats, but it's the shoe technology and trail riding. When I started riding the type of bikes are limited either DH or XC, even full suspension are XC compare to today standard. Now FS trail bike weight 25lbs and has the same travel as the same capability of earlier DH bike.

Riders now are riding more aggressive than before. So the trend is not just the pedal it's the trail bike design and the riders that can do more on the trail. It's not for everybody it took my riding buddy about 2 years to be convinced testing out flats, now he owns 2 flats pedal and a 5.10 and loving it. His initial reaction and comments is flat is for inexperience riders, it does not look cool or it's for DH riders. In addition it's a whole new set of shoes and pedal to buy. I recalled thinking the same, but now I'm a convert.:thumbsup:
 

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53119 said:
@modifier- look into some bmx how-to vids for simple tips to get the proper technique. pulling up high enough and then hopping the back up are the two steps that you could practice seperately & then sync 'em up. The vids or a skilled rider to watch will help you alot. don't give up! keep practicing young jedi!
Young Jedi...lol...young at 50. Ha ;)

But yeah I did watch some vids and the main thing I got out of them that I wasn't doing was to lift the front wheel up higher than you need first then point your toes down and pull up on the pedals in a J type move while pushing the bars forward.

What I was doing, like I was clipped in, is to put the front wheel on the curb then lift the rear wheel up which is kind of hard to do with your front wheel on the curb, I think.

So anyway I'll try the other way and see if I can get the hang of it.

For most everything I do clipless is fine but if I ever get out to Whistler or any other DH park running flats might be the way to go. Flats and DH seem to be what most run for some reason. Also if I ever learn push trials they use flats too.

I think I'll ask the guys on the DH forum if clipless is gaining any momentum on flats.
 

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I ran flats when I first started serious biking, I honestly could never go back after committing clipless. Granted, I am not a downhiller, but for everything else I can see no good reason to go back to flats. Sure, there are moments where I think damn it would be nice to not have to clip in right now, but on the larger scope of all things considered-- I would rather be clipped.
 

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Flat pedals just yield one more excuse for dabbing, which I can understand makes them more popular. However, off the front, we don't see anyone running flats.
 
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