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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
1st post. After a long time not cycling due to wrecked knee, I have purchase an eMTB bike, which I need to keep cadence up in all circumstances. 15 years ago I had clip in pedals. The bike I just purchased has Specialized Dirt pedals - no clip in. There is pretty good dirty riding around here. Having no recent experience I'm wondering whether I ought to get clip in pedals or just use what is on the bike, and if I get new pedals, what should they be.
A related issue is what shoes to get given my high arch and widish foot.
Appreciate any feedback.
Mark
 

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1st post. After a long time not cycling due to wrecked knee, I have purchase an eMTB bike, which I need to keep cadence up in all circumstances. 15 years ago I had clip in pedals. The bike I just purchased has Specialized Dirt pedals - no clip in. There is pretty good dirty riding around here. Having no recent experience I'm wondering whether I ought to get clip in pedals or just use what is on the bike, and if I get new pedals, what should they be.
A related issue is what shoes to get given my high arch and widish foot.
Appreciate any feedback.
Mark
It's your choice, really.

You can replace the flat pedals that came stock with more aggressive flat pedals (have pins that shoes will cling to).
Or if you prefer clipless, seek out your favorite set of clipless.

Flat pedal technology has advanced a bit in 15 years if I had to guess (I wasn't riding 15 years ago).

I should ask the question:
When you say 'clip in' pedals I'm wondering if you mean with a toe strap (cage your toes slip into) or actual clipless (click to engage, twist to disengage).

Keep in mind, the debate between flat and clips is ongoing with a 50% agreeable answer. Some about about to tell you that clipless is the way to go or you aren't a real bike rider while others will tell you flats are awesome.
 

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Good flat pedals with pins and good flat pedal shoes is the way to go IMO. I rode clipless for over 20 years but switched to flats on the mtb ~3 years ago. It was a steep learning curve and it took me a while to get proficient with them, but I really prefer them for mtb.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I meant click to engage and not toe clips. I'm thinking it might be best to use what is there, and make sure I get shoes that work well will flat pedals, and if I'm not happy with those I can go to click to engage?
 

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I think the only real answer is try both. Otherwise it just turns into an argument with people defending what they ride. I ride RaceFace Chester flat pedals with Five Ten Freerider shoes and I think they work great. My buddies bug me to try clipless, and they’re right some day I should, but I’m just super happy with the flats and have other things to spend money on right now.
 

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If I'm reading your original post right, and you haven't ridden in 15 years, I'd get used to riding again before deciding what to do next for pedals. If it has been that a long, a lot has changed in bike design. Plus, you're going from pedal only power to pedal assist. At that point, it's personal preference.
 

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1st post. After a long time not cycling due to wrecked knee, I have purchase an eMTB bike, which I need to keep cadence up in all circumstances. 15 years ago I had clip in pedals. The bike I just purchased has Specialized Dirt pedals - no clip in. There is pretty good dirty riding around here. Having no recent experience I'm wondering whether I ought to get clip in pedals or just use what is on the bike, and if I get new pedals, what should they be.
A related issue is what shoes to get given my high arch and widish foot.
Appreciate any feedback.
Mark
I have had issues finding wide flat shoes frankly. Depending on your width you might be out of luck for flat pedals. However wide clipless shoes exist and are available from many manufacturers. I have a 3E width foot and have found nothing that fits particularly comfortable. I also have a high volume upper due to higher arches. I ride in Vans as the only option that fits. With laces practically to the toes they can run wide and be reasonably comfortable minus arch support but that is where insoles come in.

For arches you might want to try insoles to get what you need. Based on your requirement for high cadence you might be best suited to clipless pedals, that way you have retention and don't have to focus on keeping your foot planted on the pedal, maintaining cadence, and clearing obstacles, etc.

I would opt for shimano pedals if you go this way, due to shoe availability or cadence issues.
 

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I have had issues finding wide flat shoes frankly. Depending on your width you might be out of luck for flat pedals. However wide clipless shoes exist and are available from many manufacturers. I have a 3E width foot and have found nothing that fits particularly comfortable. I also have a high volume upper due to higher arches. I ride in Vans as the only option that fits. With laces practically to the toes they can run wide and be reasonably comfortable minus arch support but that is where insoles come in.

For arches you might want to try insoles to get what you need. Based on your requirement for high cadence you might be best suited to clipless pedals, that way you have retention and don't have to focus on keeping your foot planted on the pedal, maintaining cadence, and clearing obstacles, etc.

I would opt for shimano pedals if you go this way, due to shoe availability or cadence issues.
Any clipless shoe should work with any brand pedal, as long as were talking mtb so you donr have to limit to shimano. I e run shimano pedals for decades, with numerous brand shoes, and have no reason to switch, but buddy likes his Times.
You mentioned knee problems, you should be cautious with clipless (actually click-in, but due to convention called clipless). It makes higher cadence easier to do, but locks your foot position so you need to make sure its positioned right or it could give knee problems. Some brands feature "float" where foot position can move a certain amount.
High arch, i would also recommend an aftermarket insole. Just about all insole that come with shoes ive found are inadequate. I use Sole brand, pick desired thickness, and use the heatforming ability to mold it to your foot.
 

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All of this is highly subjective but based on what you describe, I would recommend to use flat pedals for the time being. One, it will just make overall initial learning curve easier to get back into riding. Two, you mention knee issues, so have to assume that flexible foot positioning that you can alternate at any time would be at a premium, which flat pedals do support. Three, more freedom of movement to bail and abandon your bike at any time without having to focus and learning on disengaging from clipless pedals. I'd say, give it a whirl with flats for at least 3-6 months. After that, if you feel the urge, try out clipless pedals to see what you like better. For beginners or riders getting back into MTB after long hiatus, I'd strongly recommend flats first. Unfortunately, there is not much out there in terms of high quality sticky flat pedal shoes for us folks with high volume wide feet. The only one I can think of from personal experience is the Impact VXI from Fiveten, but unfortunately it's no longer in production, though you may be able to find it on the interwebs. The Flatline shoe from Bontrager works also pretty well for me, but you may have to size up by one size make it work for a really wide foot.
 

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I'm gonna say riding flats is more difficult than clipless. With flats, you have to learn to keep your feet on the pedals and keep applying torque in many changing situations, when the rear wheel bounces or slips, when you're unweighted during jumps, etc. And, of course, you pay for ineptitude with lacerated shins. With clipless, you just need to learn to clip in and out. Like I said earlier, I rode exclusively clipless for 20+ years before switching to flats on the mtb.
 

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I'm gonna say riding flats well is more difficult than clipless. With flats, you have to learn to keep your feet on the pedals and keep applying torque in many changing situations, when the rear wheel bounces or slips, when you're unweighted during jumps, etc. And, of course, you pay for ineptitude with lacerated shins. With clipless, you just need to learn to clip in and out. Like I said earlier, I rode exclusively clipless for 20+ years before switching to flats on the mtb.
FIFY, and I agree.

The learning curves are different. With clipless, the main learning curve is RIGHT UP FRONT. But with platform pedals, any moron can put their foot on the pedal and make the bike go. The learning curve occurs while you're riding and amounts to a bunch of different little things you have to address to keep your feet on in varying conditions. Both have painful consequences for ineptitude. Just different ones.

I rode clipless for probably 14yrs before switching to platforms on my mtb's (at least outside of racing), so I had that same learning curve. I'm honestly a better rider overall since I've gone through it and many of the skills I improved upon or learned for the first time on platform pedals are absolutely transferable to clipless pedals and make me a better rider on clipless pedals, too.

As for what the OP should do, I don't have a concrete answer. It all comes down to what you're comfortable with. At 15yrs off the bike, either way will involve a learning curve.
 

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Totally agree that either way will involve a learning curve. However, I believe that learning to ride with flats without any prior riding exposure (or 15 year hiatus) is much easier (and better in terms of good riding technique) than switching to flats after many years of riding only clipless. I rode MTB clipless for at least 15 years before switching to flats 7 years ago and that transition was a *****. It took me at least 3 months until I felt somewhat confident on flats and probably a full 6 months to fully unlearn a lot of the bad riding technique habits I had developed using clipless exclusively for so many years. All for the better though and I never looked back. Just my personal experience. I am sure others feel differently about this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I have had issues finding wide flat shoes frankly. Depending on your width you might be out of luck for flat pedals. However wide clipless shoes exist and are available from many manufacturers. I have a 3E width foot and have found nothing that fits particularly comfortable. I also have a high volume upper due to higher arches. I ride in Vans as the only option that fits. With laces practically to the toes they can run wide and be reasonably comfortable minus arch support but that is where insoles come in.

For arches you might want to try insoles to get what you need. Based on your requirement for high cadence you might be best suited to clipless pedals, that way you have retention and don't have to focus on keeping your foot planted on the pedal, maintaining cadence, and clearing obstacles, etc.

I would opt for shimano pedals if you go this way, due to shoe availability or cadence issues.
A wider than average foot and high arch is my problem also. Just tried on Freerider Pros but they were too tight around my toes and not quite wide enough. Would prefer to start with flats. It is probably the toe box rather than the width that is the main problem. The guy in the shop said that Bontrager shoes will not be any better than the Freeriders.
Has anyone got a recommendation?
 

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...It took me at least 3 months until I felt somewhat confident on flats and probably a full 6 months to fully unlearn a lot of the bad riding technique habits I had developed using clipless exclusively for so many years. All for the better though and I never looked back...
Took me a lot longer to learn flats. I continue to ride clipless on road/gravel and am considering going back to clipless for some mtbing.
 

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A wider than average foot and high arch is my problem also. Just tried on Freerider Pros but they were too tight around my toes and not quite wide enough. Would prefer to start with flats. It is probably the toe box rather than the width that is the main problem. The guy in the shop said that Bontrager shoes will not be any better than the Freeriders.
Has anyone got a recommendation?
Shimano. Their shoes have a slightly larger toe box than Bontrager. I've had 3 pairs of GR700s, and I have skinny feet, but a fairly wide forefoot (my toes tend to splay out from wearing flip-flops for years). I use Pedag high-arch insoles in my shoes, as well--they have hard plastic support, and a metatarsal pad, since I have nerve issues related to that.
 

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Another vote for a good combo of flats and flat shoes. One of those things that you will be thankful for down the road.

Other portion to think about from the kinesthetic side of things is that not all clipless pedals have an adequate amount of float in the mechanism. What this means is that they hold your foot, ankle, knee is a specific position without much deviation to the motion thus not allowing your body to move naturally (especially for those with compromised motion due to injury). Some pedals and clipless shoes will allow for the change in adjustment of mechanism to some degree, allowing the toe/heel to point inward or outward, to help with this but you would probably be better off with flats depending on how much compensation is needed in these areas.

Like many have said, this is an incredibly personal items especially when your body has been compromised. If your knee is wrecked enough to necessitate the usage of an e-bike then I would probably do everything possible to allow said knee as free a motion as possible.
 

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Shimano. Their shoes have a slightly larger toe box than Bontrager. I've had 3 pairs of GR700s, and I have skinny feet, but a fairly wide forefoot (my toes tend to splay out from wearing flip-flops for years). I use Pedag high-arch insoles in my shoes, as well--they have hard plastic support, and a metatarsal pad, since I have nerve issues related to that.
I tried the Gr7 from shimano and found it too narrow mid foot, there was an edge that fit under my arch that i figured would bother me on the bike. I ended up sending them back without riding them, knowing that that edge would eventually bother me. I use shimano road and spd shoes for commuting without a problem, seem to be reasonably wide and reasonably high volume, especially in shoe laced versions of their shoes. But for flat pedals there needs to be nothing that touches my foot in weird or uncomfortable way.
 
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