Clipless or Flats for technical riding.

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Clipless or Flats for technical riding.


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    • #72404

      Lets us know what type of riding you do with what type of pedals.

      I use clipless because I feel that I have a lot more power but there are time that I will not try technical areas because if I start to fall I may not be able to clip out of my pedals and rocks hurt. It also keeps me from riding some of the wooden bridges on some local trails.

    • #72405

      I ride both. My C’bros Mallets allow me to ride unclipped but still secure on my pedals because of their generous platform.

      I understand your reservations about riding techy stuff and not being able to unass your ride in a hurry. I was like that too, at one point…. But not any more. I’m so used to my pedals that I can unclip in an instant without even thinking about it, so technical sections don’t bother me in that regard. In fact, I hate riding really difficult sections without being locked onto my pedals, as I lose that much control over my bike.

      If you’re still sketchy on being clipped-in, lighten up your float a bit. I’ve even seen guys that have their pedals so dialed that in an emergency, they can unclip just by jerking their foot upwards hard.

    • #72406

      I’ve only been in clips for a few months now. Stirrups were my training wheels, I guess. So, I am still a newbie with the clips and I have the bruises to prove it. After so long in the stirrups, its tough training the mind to tell the feet to go out to the side instead of out and back. I feel, though, that I can tap the power more easily in clips because my feet are more stable. I will vote clips on this one.


    • #72407

      I just mounted Shimano M520s’ on my ride. I practiced on my lawn for four hours before heading out to some easy singletrack to get some experience. Once I got up off the ground I got real comfortable them, 😆

    • #72408

      I just made the move to cleats this year. I put Shimano 540s on my old and new bike. I still struggle with creek crossings, switchbacks and fast downhills. Little by little it has become more comfortable to stay cleated in longer. I do really like the extra power going uphill. Still have that occasional "I can’t get out and I’m going to crash" panic, although I usually get out just in time. Probably can’t go back to flat peddling now, but sometimes I do miss it.

    • #72409

      I love clipless pedals. I remember when I first started out riding, most of the other guys were getting their clipless pedals at about the same time too, OMG was this ever good for a few belly laughs during the ride, you would look ahead and see your buddy stop his bike and just fall over, the next time it would be you…good times, gooood times. 😃

    • #72410

      hairer the trail the more I want to be clipped in, to lean pull and yank without worry about my feet

      Riding is life all else is waiting

    • #72411

      i am using flats.mainly cause i rode bmx as a kid and its what i know.theres no reason to think that i couldnt get some clipless,i think it is more of being old school on this one.the biggest problem ive found is that when i come to a rock garden and it is steeper than the previous trail and i dive into the rock garden and attack it,at one point or another one of my feet comes flying off the pedal from inurtia(how do you spell that word?haha)and everthing stops and i gotta put a foot down and go back and try does bug me somtimes that i miss some extra power by not having clipless.i like being able to ride old school too i guess its up to the gods whether i change or not.

    • #72412

      I used to prefer flats over clipless for technical trails but I recently started using pads for rough trails – if I am wearing some armor I can ride clipped in and not then just lean onto my elbow if I lose balance. I find this to be the best way because I feel more control clipped in.

    • #72413

      I ride clipless all the time now. It took a little time to get used to getting out of them in an instant, I was a master at getting out of the way of my bike on the way down with flat pedals. But probably 95% of the time, if I’m going down I still manage to get unclipped before making a harsh landing.

    • #72414

      i like being clipped for climbing and general singletrack, but i like flats for new stuff or highly technical terrain, so i use the shimano M324. they’re clipless on one side, flat on the other. best of both worlds

    • #72415

      Clipless is the way to go but it doesn’t hurt to have a little platform, too, for riding skinnies and anything else that is a little hairy where you might need to put a foot down really quick.

    • #72416

      I’ve always had clipless pedals (roadie). I took my friends hardtail for a test ride and it had flat pedals. It was pretty funny , I kept pulling my feet off the pedals 😆 . I think i’ll stick with my M540’s.

    • #72417

      my first year or so I rode in flats and could not even imagine riding without the ability to put my foot down and resisted the suggestions from the mechanics at the bike store to switch to clip ins.

      One of my buddies finally did it and the rest of us followed. It was frustrating at first and I swore the name of whoever invented these tortuous mechanical demons! Bastards, their killing me. The learning curve was a painful period, I would topple over at stops, crash on my knees still connected to the bike.

      Once I finally got to where I could clip out quickly, there was no turning back. I’ve got a hard tail with my old flats on it and I ride it once and a while when we do trail maintenance and have to park the bikes in the woods.

      It is amazingly scary now to ride flats because I don’t feel connected to the bike. Clip ins are much more efficient, keep you and the bike as one.

    • #72418

      I rode with flats for a while but I recently purchased some hybrid clip pedals. i have really enjoyed these and would not go out to the tail without being clipped in. the hybrid makes it great if you want to just mess around and not worry about your shoes. but now going through those technical sections you don’t have to worry about your feet slipping. i would highly recommend going clippless if you have not yet, but make sure you practice before hitting the trails.

    • #72419

      I just made the switch to clipless this season and I love it. Riding technical and rocky sections is far easier and I feel that my riding has instantly improved. The only down side is that I am still learning the pedals and definitely have taken a few spills when coming to a stop like a clumsy oaf. D’oh. I only have two clipless rides under my belt and still worry at times about not being able to get a foot out if I’m about to go down. I can’t wait until I get completely comfortable with them.

    • #72420

      I have been riding clipless for about a year now and I have gotten used to them even on technical areas and really have no problem getting out unless I have ridden for so long my legs have turned to mush. Occasionally I still have mishaps and fall over during technical sections where I do not have the power to get through. Those times can really be embarassing. On the other hand I do see some of the seasoned riders have their mishaps too. So I guess there always that chance of not being able to clip out in time to catch yourself before disaster strikes.

    • #72421

      I have been riding clipless for about five years now, and they have become second nature. The main thing you need to do is ride them everywhere to get comfortable. I used to ride them in the neighborhood, to the store, and many trails to get to that comfort level. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Another thing is to practice your trackstands in your new pedals. This will help you make it out of those sketchy technical areas of the trail.

    • #72422

      I’ve actually been working on my track stands in the yard. I’m getting a little better at those and yes, using the technique definately helps out on the trails. I would say that it would be one of the first things I would learn if I was just getting into mountain biking.

    • #72423

      So I just started trail riding again since I was a kid and chose to go clipless because that is how I ride my hybrid on the road.

      It does take some practice from the road to the trail and your should expect to bit it a few times but once you get the hang of it you will become more comfortable and start to hanle the tech stuff a little better because I seen my self either grow bigger balls or get better in just a full weekend on the trails.

    • #72424

      I started mountain biking with toe-clips then went to straps, but when I went clipless it was like a whole new world of riding opened up. I mounted M520’s on my new ride (Scott Scale 50) and love them. Yes, I’ve applied my share of Neosporin and bandaids and put up with many bruises because I don’t always get out on a technical crash, but it’s worth it!! I climb so much better with the clipless and they just help me feel like an extension of the bike. Or vice versa, or whatever.

    • #72425

      I just purchased a new bike that came with clipless pedals so I figured this is the time to make the switch. First trail going clipless…Slickrock. I did however make it with no major spills, just a few embarrasing "fall overs" when coming to a stop and forgetting my feet were still attached to the bike. Man that southeastern Utah rock is hard 😃 . My worst spill was the day before we departed to Moab in my own driveway. My advice, stick to grassy surfaces for a while.

      Here is where I could use some advice. I love the clipless pedals but now I sometimes do not atteempt dicey situations with the clipless. Previously, with the platforms i would not even give it a second thought and would just go for it. I hope unclipping will someday become instinctual as now it costs me that split second I need to get that foot down without incurring a nice case of rock rash or a good bruise.

    • #72426

      If you’re like I was your confidence in your skill level will return very quickly and you will learn to have more confidence because of the better control. I will never consider going back to flats. I firmly agree with your "grass" advice, I wish I had followed that good advice when I first went clipless. It would have saved a good bit of trail rash.

    • #72427

      I just left platforms about 8 months ago, in my third year of riding. I did not take to it nearly as easily as many do. Not so much the crashing (did some of that too), but unclipping in technical stuff and riding on top of the pedals. Slowly, I am building more confidence with clipless. It has taken a while and I still ride on top the pedals a lot – but less than I used to. I have just really started to notice a big improvement with climbing cleated in and that extra pump on the upstroke. Helps in thick leaves too. I don’t think I can go back to platforms, but I do really miss them sometimes.

    • #72428

      i come unclipped when trying small hucks (2′ or less). any suggestions?

    • #72429

      Hey BB, Welcome to Single Tracks. What type of pedals do you have? I know Shimano pedals have an adjustment that allows you to tighten or lossen the grip on the cleat. Check it out and see if your’s has an adjustment screw.

    • #72430

      I have always ridden egg beaters C pedals. While not necessarily the lightest, the functionality and design are second to none. Try them, they are cheap and work really well.

    • #72431

      "bbonds" wrote

      i come unclipped when trying small hucks (2′ or less). any suggestions?

      If you’re running times are crank bros pedals, your cleats might be worn. When I ran clipless for more progressive riding, they needed to go after a season. By buddy ran time Zs and I ran Crank Bros Mallets. It’s part of the reason he went to flats.

      It’s important that you stick with proper "pedal discipline" rather your riding clipless or flats. i.e. point your toes or drop you heals when necessary. Especially when you cleats are worn.

    • #72432

      I use Crank Brothers Mallet C’s. Best of both worlds, IMO. Clip in when needed, clip out when needed.

    • #72433

      Rode flat for a long time, and just recently switched to clipless and i love it. I understand what you mean by not riding more technical areas because of fear of falling, however, i’m found that uncliping myself and still "pushin" the pedal with the middle of my feet works ok enough for some technical climbs… for the rest, i’m always clipped on.

    • #72434

      I have been riding for a very long time and i hit the clipless band wagon when they were first introduced way back in 85 and haven’t looked back i do however change to my flats when i know i am going to do jumps or stunts.

    • #72435

      I admit it: I cheat. I love my CB Candy SL clipless pedals for the feel of power transfer, but if it looks like it’s going to get too rough (I’m still relatively new to off road), I unclip and modify my foot position so I don’t reclip while pedaling. I sacrifice a little pedaling efficiency for peace of mind that I can touch down in a hurry. My goal for next season is to improve my off road skill set, mind set and confidence so I can stay clipped in more.

    • #72436

      I had a bad experience with Clipless back in my BMX days (resulting in my worse injuries ever) so i’m riding these gigantic wellgo magnesiums

    • #72437

      Flats would not have helped me tonight. I hit a steep 5 or 6 foot climb and at the top you have to manuever between tow trees. It a little rooty in this section and I lost my balance and decided to unclip and put my foot down. I had forgotten that theres a drop off of about ten foot to my left and thats the foot that I put down. Damn, nothing there I slid down the hill with the bike on top of me. Nothing hurt though and I came through it without a scratch also. Thats the pitfalls of night riding sometimes but it really makes it exciting. Get a light and get out on the trails. It thte perfect time of the year for night riding.

    • #72438

      😳 Man do I feel OLD, I ride beartrap platforms with the old style "Christopher METAL Half-Clips", I like the idea that I have some help to push harder on the uphills but I can "instantly" pull my foot out if I get into the narly stuff!

      LOL, that doesn’t take much for my feeble and VERY slowly returning MTB riding skills 😆 I couldn’t even handle the old style full clips with straps going off road, the 1/2 clips seem a lot tougher, they do bend but never break and don’t seem to "pinch" my toes like all the new age "plastic" 1/2 clips do??

      I doubt I’d ever have the nerve to go to clipless after seeing some of my friends really beating themselves up while learning those things, unless I purchased a LOT of armor first! 😉

    • #72439

      Hey, BJ, don’t despair! I got my first set of clipless pedals not too long ago. It took maybe an hour or so fumbling around in my backyard before I felt competent enough to take it on the road. After my second road adventure, I began some mild off road. Since then, only one incident where I could not unclip fast enough and it was not too bad. More hurt pride than anything really hurt 😆

      Like you, I’m reentering cycling. I still unclip before entering any potentially rough passages if I’m unsure of my terrain, but so far I’m making progress. The season change means my time on the trail will be more limited, but I expect to be doing some of the more interesting trails come spring. Like any other skill, keep at it.

      I have found that there are benefits to the clipless systems, mostly relating to power transfer. Think of your half clips vs naked pedals (no, not <i>naked pedaling</i> 😆 ) and take that power transfer again plus a little bit. They are not going to make you a super hill climber if were not one before or cut your times dramatically, but you will notice the difference.

      One last thing that might help you decide . . . With some of the other sports I do, I have real problems with my knees if I twist them wrong. Since going clipless I find that being locked into my foot position allows me to cycle worry free as far as my knees go. <i><b>BIG DISCLAIMER: </b> This is not medical advice and may apply only to me. <b>YMMV</b></i> Once you get the proper foot position, clipless systems will keep you in that ideal position better than other systems will. That’s where the power transfer comes from.

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