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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,
I recently started mountain biking back in the spring, with my bf training me (he's a xc racer). I've been doing alright but I've been having a problem with my feet on the pedals. They keep dodging off the pedals here and there as I'm going along. And he says I can't seem to keep my feet centered on the pedals at all and he's not sure why. I'm a dancer so the whole balance and using the balls of my feet thing isn't an issue to me - but they just won't stay on the pedals! The only thing he could think of is that maybe it's something to do with how small my feet are, or something - but no clue. I just wear my old pair of cross trainers when I'm riding. I'm trying to learn without clipless but I have a biking friend who is telling me I should just start to learn on them anyways, get used to them, and solve my pedal problem with that. The bf, however, does not want me in clipless yet and says I'll just kill myself at this point with them. Does anyone have any suggestions? Or has someone else been through this?

All of the major problems I've had with riding have something to do with my size, too. It took forever to find a light/small enough frame that was still high-end to build a bike for me because of my size. My riding improved quickly but I struggled with fast mounting and dismounting. And the brakes are exhausting to cover because my fingers just barely reach them.
Anyone have small-people advice or stories on that note? haha.
btw, I'm new to the boards, cheers!
 

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Your boyfriend is probably right - if you're just starting out, stick with platforms for a while. Something that might help is to make sure the bottom of your shoes are as flat as possible. The more tread the worse. A flat shoe allows the pins which stick up out of your pedal to grip the bottom of your shoe as much as possible.

Your brakes may have adjustable levers allowing you to bring them in closer. What kind are they?

Also, what frame did you end up with?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hmm I'm not sure, I don't have my bike with me since I'm back at home for the long weekend. But the frame is a 2000 Jamis Durango SX.

I will try to get a pair of flat shoes, that just might do it
 

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aka red
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i second the advice for shoes with a flat sole (like a skateboard shoe).

another consideration is that when riding with flats, your feet will be in a slightly different position on the pedal vs. when you're clipped in. with flats, the pedal should sit centered under your foot; with clipless it will under the ball of your feet.

when descending, you can also help stick to your pedals by using your feet as a "wedge". drop the heel of your forward foot slightly and drop the toe of your rear foot slightly.

good luck and have fun!
pd
 

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local trails rider
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Do you have some background on a bike, like this is not your first year riding at all?

(oops, I am a guy in the women's area now)
Do I understand correctly that you keep falling off the pedals? You can find a good position for your foot when it is on the pedal?

I have been using bikes for transportation and exercise for ages and moving to clipless was not hard after a few months on a mountain bike. It made riding easier in some ways but I also ran into some mental blocks about crossing the more rocky sections of trail. That put me back on flat pedals for a couple of weeks.

Flat pedals are not all equal either. Some have pretty nasty spikes for traction (works well with skateboard style shoes). Sometimes those spikes can do nasty things to your shins if you fall off them in an unlucky way.

mtb_mud_honey said:
with flats, the pedal should sit centered under your foot; with clipless it will under the ball of your feet.
I do not agree. With flat pedals, the pedal should still be near the ball of the foot.
 

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Don't worry, be happy!
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Me three. You'll get arch fatigue by pedalling with the arch of your foot instead of letting the ball of your foot support you ( skeletal vs soft tissue support) Also, if you want to use your feet to bunny hop, manual lift the rear of the bike, or just support yourself out of the saddle by wieghting the pedals it's going to be much easier to weight the pedals with the ball of your foot.

formica
 

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Just how small ARE your feet? What's your shoe size? Are we talking a 7 or a 4? Or maybe kids shoes?

I'd have to know how aggressive a rider you are trying to be before I can answer honestly - I became a MUCH different rider when I went clipless. I became much more agressive when I converted years ago because I wasn't coming off the pedals all the time and it's now at the point where I consider clipless pedals the same as my helmet - don't ride dirt without 'em. I went from a bumbling fool to a controlled fool. I fogot my shoes once earlier this year - I was a mess and went back to the car after a mere 100 yards of riding. :nono:

Also, if your feet are coming off the pedals, would it not make some sense to be on clipless to help prevent this? New rider or not there is validity to this. There IS a possibility that by staying on platforms you're selling yourself short (as I pionted out above).

I've got a pair of oooooooold Shimano's with adjustable tension, work perfect - if you wanna get some shoes and try them? Ultimately it's the only way you'll know. I can bring them when we ride and you can try them whenever you get shoes.
 

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AndrewTO said:
Just how small ARE your feet? What's your shoe size? Are we talking a 7 or a 4? Or maybe kids shoes?

I'd have to know how aggressive a rider you are trying to be before I can answer honestly - I became a MUCH different rider when I went clipless. I became much more agressive when I converted years ago because I wasn't coming off the pedals all the time and it's now at the point where I consider clipless pedals the same as my helmet - don't ride dirt without 'em. I went from a bumbling fool to a controlled fool. I fogot my shoes once earlier this year - I was a mess and went back to the car after a mere 100 yards of riding. :nono:

Also, if your feet are coming off the pedals, would it not make some sense to be on clipless to help prevent this? New rider or not there is validity to this. There IS a possibility that by staying on platforms you're selling yourself short (as I pionted out above).

I've got a pair of oooooooold Shimano's with adjustable tension, work perfect - if you wanna get some shoes and try them? Ultimately it's the only way you'll know. I can bring them when we ride and you can try them whenever you get shoes.
Some people rely very heavily on clipless, and come to think that it is the only way to go. I was late switching myself, but i still did some good riding, and even a few races on flats. Clipless IMO IS better, but one can still ride quite well on flats. You do lose a little speed in the end, and steep climbs are tougher, but i am just trying to say that flats can be ridden pretty well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm 5 foot and my shoe size is about 5. Sometimes 6, depending on the make.
I can still buy kids shoes...

I'm completely new to riding. I didn't ride a bike very much as a kid. So I don't have any old habits.

Hmmm Okay, I think I'll buy a pair of flat sole shoes first, see how that works out. Then I'll get clipless - as soon as I don't seem like a tragic accident waiting to happen. I'm just wondering if clipless might help me improve faster, like suggested, especially when I think about how I learn. I usually get the harder stuff and am completely hopeless with the easier stuff. So while it might be thought that I can't control myself without clipless, it's not to assume that I'd kill myself with clipless, and in theory, I could potentially rock on with them.
 

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aka red
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rkj__ said:
I don't either.
On a climb, or mellow trail, yes, ball of your foot will work fine. In fact, yes, this is nice if you have a smooth mellow climb, as you'll get more power with each pedal stroke.

Just a little clarification, I didn't say "in the arch", I said "centered"...so a little behind the ball of your foot, but slightly forward of the arch. With the axle of the pedal centered on the ball of your foot you won't be able to grip the pedal very well, and its also potentially hard on your achilles tendon.

If you slide your feet forward a bit, you'll have a greater surface area of your foot on the pedal - a greater contact area will mean more traction, and hopefully less bouncing off the pedals (and when needed on a bumpy section of trail or in the air, you can curl your foot a bit around the pedal).

Also, take a look at any trials rider...Ryan Leech for example:

https://www.banffcentre.ca/mountainculture/images/fest04/leech.jpg

You shouldn't get arch fatigue with good supportive shoes or risk foot damage (yikes, I wouldn't be able to walk if that were the case!). :eekster:

One other consideration is the type of flat pedals you're using. The nasty looking ones with lots of spikes are definitely more grippy, though best worn with shin pads as someone else hinted at. :)

pd

(I've been coaching mtb skills for 6 years, including teaching manuals, rear wheel lifts, etc...)
 

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mtb_mud_honey said:
You shouldn't get arch fatigue with good supportive shoes
Yes. Shoes that do not bend much are a must really, whatever the pedal style. If I ride for more than 15 minutes in soft shoes, my feet start aching.
 

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I started 17 new teen riders this year

after 2 months they were ALL on clipless pedals. Start on easy paths with these pedals and move to the more challenging stuff as you become more confident.

Note; you are obliged to have at least one or two embarrassing falls, generally in front of lots of people at rediculously low speeds where you lean the wrong way with your foot still clipped in. This is an SPD fall; a rite of passage.
 

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Terrified!

I was VERY anxious about going to clipless pedals. Got some used Shimano SPDs and all went well.
SPD's are very adjustable, and you can set them to a VERY easy retention setting, just like the bindings on skis can be set to release easily for beginners. You can be out in a flash. If you are hesitant to use them, you may want to get some old-style toe clips or
Power Grips toe straps might be a good, low-tech compromise; cheap, too:
http://www.performancebike.com/shop/profile.cfm?SKU=1401&subcategory_ID=10045
 

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I started with those toe clips where you just slip your foot in. That worked for a while until I started riding in more rocky areas. (racked myself BAD and that was it for non-clipless)
Then when I got clipless...I went WAY backward in my technical riding because I was nervous.

I suggest you get clipless now and get comfortable with them as you learn your skills.

Maybe get the pedals that are flat on one side and clip in on the other. (???)
Not sure what company makes them.

Stripes knows...maybe she'll post here.
 

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Maybe get the pedals that are flat on one side and clip in on the other.
Mmm, maybe not. The problem with the single sided pedals is that they are unbalanced, and tend to rotate. It's a given that which ever side you want to be on, the OTHER side will be up and you'll need to take a few sec to flip it around with your toe. Just like how toe clips unbalance the pedals.

But, there are some good clip flat combos that have a clip on both sides, and a wide enough platform that you can just stand on if you want.

~formica
 

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formica said:
Mmm, maybe not. The problem with the single sided pedals is that they are unbalanced, and tend to rotate. It's a given that which ever side you want to be on, the OTHER side will be up and you'll need to take a few sec to flip it around with your toe. Just like how toe clips unbalance the pedals.

But, there are some good clip flat combos that have a clip on both sides, and a wide enough platform that you can just stand on if you want.

~formica
Agreed - I would NOT want those. Get something with a nice platform around the clipless pedal and you can ride no problem if you're not clipped in. It's not very difficult at all to get unclipped when you need to - clipping back in is the trickier part. Why make it worse with an unbalanced pedal that you have to mess with to get it on to the right side?

Mallet C's are my personal preference, but there are plenty of SPD clipless platforms out there too.

I'd go clipless early. I don't see any reason why not to - it's a pretty quick transition and you might as well learn while clipped in! The performance benefit while climbing is really pretty dramatic, and I think they are much safer than any power strap system that you could get stuck in.
 

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Ther are lots of ways to transition slowly.

And most people hesitate as the mechanical attachment of feet to a machine you may have to leave behind is counter-intuitive. It all ends up working, though. I would skip the platform SPDs. They are a mental crutch but that in itself may be useful to you. Once you find where your feet need to go you never need a platform.

I just did an exercise with a few of my riders where we did starts on a very steep and loose grade. I realized that this is something that we don't often do except as the result of a disappointing dab or crash so it has bad connotations. As such, riders are often horrible at this. So we did this all the way up a 400 foot climb. Riders tend to make certain kinds of mistakes and it just takes it all out of you, just as missing a move or dabbing on a patch of ground repeatedly does when you try it for the 4th or 5th time.

Anyhow, the most prevalent mistake is that, while one starts with the power foot clipped at the 2 o'clock position, after the first push and 1/2 stroke there is an obsession with getting the other footclipped in. There is lots of looking down at the foot, struggling, wiggling and clattering around the pedal, or that vacant concentrated, consternated look you have when you try to do something behind your back, neither of which serves success. Unless one is very lucky or very good, it is generally missed and any momentum is lost and you dab.

The solution is to push off, put in your 1/2 power stroke and land you other foot on the other pedal just about anywhere, arch, toe, heel, enough to get some push on that half of the stroke, keeping momentum. By that time your power foot has its' second turn imparting more momentum and then comes the unclipped foot. Usually by the first full cycle or the second you are moving well and upright and have a spin going and your unclipped foot has the feel for the spin and will soon find the pedal/clip naturally. What is done here is to seperate and prioritize the two functions of getting going and getting clipped in. Doing the former is simplest and facilitates the latter.

It was cool to see some of the kids look up and smile. They thought you had to be all clipped in right away, like it was some kinda law. We are all often trapped by assumptions we make. The funny thing is that for this kind of start you don't need a platform. In fact you could do this on a bare spindle and still get going; you hit the target with the middle of your foot, how hard is that? The platform is a mental crutch. One wonders where we get these ideas but, well, there they are until we realize we can toss them aside.

I ride with about 50-60 different mtb'ers and platform SPD is used by a handfull. Many of them come from BMX or Downhill and some just learn on them and never give them up. It works for them in spite of their additional weight and mud-gathering ability. Whichever you choose, start gradually on reliable terrain and practice. It will take your riding to another level.
 

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Berkeley Mike said:
I ride with about 50-60 different mtb'ers and platform SPD is used by a handfull. Many of them come from BMX or Downhill and some just learn on them and never give them up. It works for them in spite of their additional weight and mud-gathering ability. Whichever you choose, start gradually on reliable terrain and practice. It will take your riding to another level.
Well that's true. I race DH and can't see using anything other than a platform clipless type pedal unless I was going to try XC racing or something. It would be too much of a hassle to switch pedals ride to ride to something smaller for the non-technical rides that I do - plus we don't have any mud here and I use a 7" travel bike for XC, so pedal weight isn't much of a concern.

I think part of it depends on where you want to go with your riding. If you're aiming towards XC, racing, etc. - then a regular clipless pedal is fine. If you're interested in more technical riding, go with a clipless platform pedal. Either way you can always switch - once you're used to the release mechanism, I don't think switching pedal to pedal (platform clipless to regular clipless) is difficult at all - it would only be an issue if you're on terrain that you're not comfortable on.
 
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