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larlev

Put on some flats yesterday. Wasnt pretty

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So I just got back into riding. Started in Onza pedals then rode eggbeaters for years.  Figured I'd try SPD's now with the multi release cleat.
I also bought some Chester flats just because.
Ok, so yesterday decided to install the flats and put on a new pair of Van's. Tooled around the neighborhood practicing manuals. Its was an interesting experience.  These flats are sticky as hell. Riding flats isn't easy at all after spending all your time with clipless. I ate shit multiple times. 
Thing that screwed me up is with flats you have to lift foot, with SPD's ( at least with multi release cleats) you can just move your foot sideways. I'm really interested to see what riding flats are like. After yesterday it's going to be a complete redo of the motion required.
Pretty damn funny laying on my backside. 

I've been reading about the pedaling innovations pedal. I wonder if what he is saying is true. I've always had the thought that clipless resulted in more power, better climbing ability.  Seems that isn't the case after all.

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You may want to consider some shin and calf protection, at least during the familiarization phase. Those pins will eat flesh and bone at the slightest provocation. Like while stopping and putting a foot down, walking the bike through a section that stopped you, etc.

Early on after moving to flats I had an endo and was able to easily step over the bars and walk on down the trail as the bike crashed behind me. After that I realized I would have added another OverTheBarScarClub scar had I been using clipless. That sold me on flats. Still getting the hang of jumps, hops, etc with them. Too many habits left from being attached that just don't work with flats.

 

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Just now, Ridenfool said:

You may want to consider some shin and calf protection, at least during the familiarization phase. Those pins will eat flesh and bone at the slightest provocation. Like while stopping and putting a foot down, walking the bike through a section that stopped you, etc.

Early on after moving to flats I had an endo and was able to easily step over the bars and walk on down the trail as the bike crashed behind me. After that I realized I would have added another OverTheBarScarClub scar had I been using clipless. That sold me on flats. Still getting the hang of jumps, hops, etc with them. Too many habits left from being attached that just don't work with flats.

 

Good idea. Honestly, a little scared of the pins. Was very cautious yesterday. 

I honestly didn't think it would have been harder to get off the flats than it is clipless. I'm guessing over the years the motion to release just gets engrained into your head.

I'm going to at least give them a try.  Going to get a pair of flat shoes and keep them on. Very curious how they will be climbing, techy sections.

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the main area where I think clipless are better is when you need to generate that last bit of extra power to get over a feature.  For me that happens all the time. 

 

If you are riding on the road they also help you to use different muscles as you pedal.

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I tried flats after reading a thread on Mojo long ago, and have been on them since, on mountain bikes. I use SPD on my gravel bike.

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Been thinking of flats... Maybe starting with shoes that are a bit less sticky would help in getting your feet off the pedals more quickly. Then as you get use to it you can move to the sticky-soled shoes. 

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Just now, RidingAgain said:

Been thinking of flats... Maybe starting with shoes that are a bit less sticky would help in getting your feet off the pedals more quickly. Then as you get use to it you can move to the sticky-soled shoes. 

I'm not sure it was the shoes or the pins. Haha. I did order some five tens. I may lower the pins down a little. 

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45 minutes ago, crazyt said:

the main area where I think clipless are better is when you need to generate that last bit of extra power to get over a feature.  For me that happens all the time.

For me this aspect of "better" was more a matter of developing technique than anything else. The more I ride the flats the less I miss clipless.

I like the analogy of skateboard vs. skates to paint the picture of flats vs. clipless. I always preferred riding skateboard because in a pinch I could step off, and I couldn't get detached from the skates in a moment. Granted, clipless is better than toe clips, but flats with the combination of pins and the right shoes seem to be more grippy, offer a larger platform for my foot, and provide that critical "I gotta get off this thing RIGHT NOW!" option that wasn't always there for me with clipless.

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I do miss clipless when trying to clear a climb over "stuff". It seemed to give me that little bit extra. That's it though.

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I switched to flats about a year ago. Five Tens or Adidas Terrex shoes work well. it takes a few rides to get used to it if you've been clipped in for a number of years. I rode BMX (street, park, etc) for about 15 years before getting on a mountain bike, so the transition to SPDs was rough! switching back to flats was easy, even after ten years clipped in, because of all those years of experience and the shin scars to show for it.

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Lower the pins for now. You may raise them as you get used to it.

I had to switch to flats for the instructor certification class. I was STUNNED that I did not lose as much as I thought I would. The two areas where I prefer clips are like crazyt said when I need that last little push to get over something or a short run at a climb where I need to generate power quickly.

The other place is when bouncing thru a rock garden or bumpy downhill. Clips held my feet on the pedals while my bike and body bounced around. On flats I keep bouncing off the pedals. And yes, I recognized this is problem with poor rider skill.

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Also, you'll be amazed at how much doing this helps your riding overall, in addition to making it 10x easier to stay on the pedals through rough stuff.

 

drop heels.jpg

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I was taught to drop my heels when braking. But "claw" the pedals to stay on the pedals everywhere else. (Claw = drop my toes, push back on the pedals and forward on the bars and wedge myself between the handlebars and the pedals.)

Did I misunderstand that?

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Posted (edited)
49 minutes ago, cxagent said:

Lower the pins for now. You may raise them as you get used to it.

I had to switch to flats for the instructor certification class. I was STUNNED that I did not lose as much as I thought I would. The two areas where I prefer clips are like crazyt said when I need that last little push to get over something or a short run at a climb where I need to generate power quickly.

The other place is when bouncing thru a rock garden or bumpy downhill. Clips held my feet on the pedals while my bike and body bounced around. On flats I keep bouncing off the pedals. And yes, I recognized this is problem with poor rider skill.

I alway feel like I'd like to ride flats, but all of the "the only places" people seem to miss being clipped in comprise like 90% of my riding. 

Seriously, in this thread alone, we have listed rocky uphills, rocky downhills, jumps, drops, quick bursts of power, and the road. 

Edited by notyal
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I also just switched to flats and have only two rides on them but generally like the experience.  However, on the second ride in the middle of a log pile crossing the pedal body detached from the spindle.  Second ride.  That does not inspire confidence.  I can think of a lot of places where that would have been catastrophic.  Anyone else have that happen.  These were VP pedals.  

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29 minutes ago, notyal said:

I alway feel like I'd like to ride flats, but all of the "the only places" people seem to miss being clipped in comprise like 90% of my riding. 

Seriously, in this thread alone, we have listed rocky uphills, rocky downhills, jumps, drops, and quick bursts of power.

So much of this subject is dependent personal preference.  Many people can make most anything 'work' for them.  It just depends on what you like or not.

My experience is this:  Even though I too rode a lot of BMX when I was a kid, I'm a FULL-ON clipless pedal rider.  So much so that years ago when I went to AF to do the 12hr Red Bull Final Descent event, I was somewhat confident I'd stick with clipless even on the lift-serve stuff.  But all it took was one practice run down the mountain to realize that there was no way that was going to work for me.  So thankfully, I'd brought flats just in case.  I immediately made the switch and had no problems for the next 2 days.  I think in summary, for me I tend to run clipless on all but the most extreme of use-cases.  And I'm sure the same could be said in inverse for "mainly" flat pedal riders too.

Later, CJB

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34 minutes ago, notyal said:

I alway feel like I'd like to ride flats, but all of the "the only places" people seem to miss being clipped in comprise like 90% of my riding. 

Seriously, in this thread alone, we have listed rocky uphills, rocky downhills, jumps, drops, quick bursts of power, and the road. 

I've tried flats and didn't meld with them very well. I also had a ton more pedal strikes since my bike has a fairly low bottom bracket. 

Along the lines of "the only places" where people miss being clipped in, I'm wondering the opposite. When you ride clipped in, where do you miss having flats? 

The only time that I want flats is when I'm practicing wheelies and manuals. Also when I am practicing proper technique for bunny hopping. So, skills development.

I don't see myself jumping over the bars when endoing since I am either fairly committed to a line when I attempt it and any endo will happen so quickly that I wouldn't be able to spring forward OR I'm thinking that I may need to hit the eject button and therefore I'm already prepared to unclip if I need to. 

I've ridden some nasty narrow bench cut technical singletrack with exposure and always felt like I was able to unclip when I needed to. I know some folks like having flats in those situations but for me it would just increase the likelihood of ever needing to get off the bike since I feel more likely to catch a pedal.

 

So, for those that have switched to flats, what is the benefit for you?

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My confidence in sketchy shit went up considerably with the ability to get off the bike no matter what. I've had too many instances with clipless where I wish I could have unclipped, but the circumstances didn't allow it. These usually ended with my spilling blood or otherwise experiencing pain. It made me less likely to try something. Instead, I'd unclip, stop, and walk it in many cases, rather than play the odds.

The realization of how this latent concern about getting unclipped gets in the way of developing skills, for me, was the most significant reason for moving to flats.

I broke a wrist ten or so years ago because I was unable to get out of the pedals and fell down slope. Not something I want to repeat.

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, Ridenfool said:

My confidence in sketchy shit went up considerably with the ability to get off the bike no matter what. I've had too many instances with clipless where I wish I could have unclipped, but the circumstances didn't allow it. These usually ended with my spilling blood or otherwise experiencing pain. It made me less likely to try something. Instead, I'd unclip, stop, and walk it in many cases, rather than play the odds.

The realization of how this latent concern about getting unclipped gets in the way of developing skills, for me, was the most significant reason for moving to flats.

I broke a wrist ten or so years ago because I was unable to get out of the pedals and fell down slope. Not something I want to repeat.

I was really surprised how easy it is to get out of the "multi release" cleats.  You dont have to twist your heel like egg beaters, reg. SPD's.

 

It's going to be a tough change IMO. I'm not used to lifting my foot, vs kicking it out to the side. 

 

Edited by larlev

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1 minute ago, larlev said:

I was really surprised how easy it is to get out of the "multi release" cleats.  You dont have to twist your heel like egg beaters, reg. SPD's.

 

I didn't know there were such a thing. 'bout time!

Still, I'm diggin' the flats, and seeing videos of riders doing the things I like to do, or want to do, while riding flats tells me that it is only me holding me back and not the pedals. :classic_smile:

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Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, Anita Handle said:

Along the lines of "the only places" where people miss being clipped in, I'm wondering the opposite. When you ride clipped in, where do you miss having flats? 

The only time that I want flats is when I'm practicing wheelies and manuals. Also when I am practicing proper technique for bunny hopping. So, skills development.

...

So, for those that have switched to flats, what is the benefit for you?

Your comment above matches mine. I prefer clips almost everywhere, all the time. Even riding downhill at Angle Fire - I put my SPD's back on. ( I rode up with SPDs and liked that feeling better than flats when I took the lift up.)

I went back to clips because I like them better than flats. I probably like them better because that is what I am used to riding. Yes - it is a circular argument.

This is how I look at it - I ride for fun. So I do what I enjoy most. Everybody else should do what they enjoy most. I promise I won't make fun of your preference if you don't make fun of mine.

ETA - I can ride my SPD pedals unclipped. I cannot ride my flat pedals clipped in.  YMMV.

Edited by cxagent
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I agree with cxagent, run the pedals that make biking more enjoyable for you. I know there is intrinsic value with flats in some aspects, like, "if you can j-hop with flats, you're probably doing it the right way". But I found that the learning curve wasn't justified by whatever general riding benefit flats were supposed to have. For others, this may not be the case. I definitely don't agree with the way Bike James overhypes flats but I don't doubt that he can do more than I can with him on flats and me on anything.

 

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Posted (edited)

The main problem with flats is that people don't take time to adapt. You can't ride anything just once and declare that it sucks. It takes a few rides and a consious effort to unlearn some old habits. The results are worth it IME.

I thought the term "j-hop" went out with "gooseneck." If you hop front wheel first, that's just a skillful bunnyhop that can get some height. Hopping with both wheels at the same time is just a lousy bunnyhop.

Edited by mack_turtle
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I think I’m happiest with flats because I’m more familiar with them. I switched to clipless recently when I found my old Nike Poohbahs, after a brief previous switch to clipless, quite a while ago. It’s been fine on trails I know, but I’ve recently tried some new-to-me trails on clipless, then on flats, and I’m much happier on flats if I don’t know what’s round the next corner. The only answer is that we should all go back to toe clips.

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