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That is the question. So I got these nifty new shoes/pedals for Christmas, I pretty much exclusively ride National and surrounding trails and I know I'm going to want them pedaling up but I'm a little hesitant to try staying in them going down, especially now that I'm getting more confident and doing more fun (stupid) stuff.

So what do I do? Stay in them going down and hope for the best? Take both sets of pedals and switch them out at the top? What do people do?
 

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Swamp Thaang Groupie
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629 Posts
I came from a time of plastic clips and had no problems getting out of them. I had some of my wost spills when I went clipless. Most of the time at a stand still tiring to get out. I almost threw them away, but hung in there.

Run them loose at first so you can easily get out. Wear all your pads, you will need them. Practice makes perfect!
 

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Monocog Masher
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Practice clipping in and out on benign trails and once you build up your confidence take them on more difficult trails. If you build muscle memory you shouldn't have too many problems clicking out on slow speed tip-overs.
 

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Why bother? Flats are perfect for National. Of course you can run clipped, I did and many still do, but riding is so much more dynamic on flats.
 

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Just Joshin' ya!
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Flats are great for shuttling, but I cannot stand them for trail riding, and that includes national for me. When I first started riding, I was a total pedal masher but as I learned to be kind to my knees and be more smooth in general, I developed a nice spinning cadence and that is impossible on flats. There is no spinning on flats, only mashing!
 

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As pretty much everyone has stated, you'll take a little beating for a couple weeks. But withing a couple it will all of a sudden be natural thing. You'll find there's several things that can be done much better clipped in as well. And yes things not as well. But I think the trade off favors the clips.
 

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Team Tortuga
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I to had this quandry a while back. I rode clipped in for a while. Great for Prescott riding, XC trails, and some all mountain but they did limit me on what I was willing to try and ride when it came to the tech and gnar. I now switch between flats and clipless when riding depending on where I am riding and what type of ride I am looking for. As far as National goes I loved being clipped in when climbing. I was able to grunt up some maneuvers that I had not made on my flats. But coming down I was not willing to risk any big moves, I save that for my flats. I think it has everything to do with skill level and experience. For me it is about enjoying the ride so I will continue to switch as necessary.
 

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Downhill Spokesmodel
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Clips All The Time (Almost)

I have been riding clips for so long that unclipping is second nature. I have only had a couple of instances in recent memory that I was unable to unclip and that was usually due to equipment misadjustment (clips set too tight or loose cleat on the shoe).
When I ride DH and really like being clipped in through the rough and gnar. I feel that I can hit rockgardens at mach speed and not worry about a foot flying off the pedals. On jumps/drops/hucks, I find being connected to the bike not only helps me pick up the rear end, but I know the bike will stay under me. I have seen/heard of many people riding flats saying that a foot came off the pedals in the air and when they landed a crash or near crash ensued, not to mention the shin gouging doled out by flat pedals.
As others have said, riding XC and climbing are where you really can take advantage of clips by developing a more circular pedaling motion. On a hard climb I really try to pull up on the pedals to maximize power.
The only bike I don't ride clipped is the PT bike. I am trying to learn to jump that w/o clips, and am getting better.
As was noted before, wear pads when learning to clip/unclip (I wear some type of protection most of the time anyway), stick to less technical trails at first (or better yet ride around somewhere really easy like a bike path/canal/or park and keep clipping in and out). It is just building up the muscle memory for clipping/unclipping and it takes time.
Good luck and have fun out there.
 

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Pivotal figure
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I ran clips for years and did lots of weird stuff, even rode trials with 'em for a while (!). I switched to flats exclusively about 3 years ago, mainly because I got tired of breaking expensive pedals and needing special shoes. Learning to climb with flats took a few months but I don't even notice it anymore, even on spots like the waterfall on Nat'l. Basically, if you're patient enough you can learn to ride well with either pedal. Just take it easy during that learning phase, I had some funny but very painful crashes getting the hang of it.
 

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I agree with what everyone says it takes pratice just like abcnorte said make sure to wear your pads especially you knee pads so if you cannot unclip and fall over your knees are protected.
 

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Monocog Masher
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I think the terms of "clip" pedals and "clipless" pedals are confusing, especially for riders who have never ridden with toe clips. Most people I run into think "clipless" means platform/flat pedals. The confusion is is understanding since we commonly use the term "clip-in" or get "unclipped". Funny.
 

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ok so i have some used shimano pd-m505...are the good?? will i kill myself?? never clipped before..also i'm getting some used crank brother sl and i hear talk of float and degree and e=mc2 so what is all this jargon?? and are they a good buy?? i'm paying 60 but will try to negosh.
 

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SamuraiBunnyGuy
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its 10x safer to get used to unclipping during a street ride... on the minus side,, it's 10x more embarrassing to come to a stop at an intersection full of cars and just plain fall over cause you can't get out...
 

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longhairmike said:
its 10x safer to get used to unclipping during a street ride... on the minus side,, it's 10x more embarrassing to come to a stop at an intersection full of cars and just plain fall over cause you can't get out...
Riding a wheelie across an intersection and falling backward on your arse is 10x more embarrassing than that. :eekster:
 

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I use the "campus" style pedals, with SPD on one side and flat on the other.
On rough trails like the National, I clip in on the uphills and use the flat side on
downhills and waterafalls. Fewer spills that way.
 

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Pivotal figure
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It's especially embarrassing when the bike is still stuck to you after that failed wheelie. Everyone gets a good laugh watching the inverted turtle :eek:
 

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kenbentit said:
It's especially embarrassing when the bike is still stuck to you after that failed wheelie. Everyone gets a good laugh watching the inverted turtle :eek:
in the middle of a crosswalk on mill ave as left turn traffic rolls on by...not that i've ever witnessed such an event.
 
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