Flats or clips: What's your poison

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Cunningstunts Cunningstunts
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Flats or clips: What's your poison

I have a set of each and I often switch back and forth.  Over the past few years of having flats in the mix, I can say I've come to some conclusions of what makes them better and what doesn't.  Sure, sure... this discussion is old and played out and I've read a number of things about it, but none really mention some of the stuff I've noticed.  Some of it is obvious but I'll put it there anyway.  Some of it is subjective, but I'll mention it too.

Flats:

Flats really teach you how to ride a bike.  There's no cheating.  You can't pull or push, especially when in the air.  You can scoop the bike by pointing your toes and stay on by dropping your heels when descending, but clips let you bypass this and perhaps create some bad habits.

The big thing I never hear mention of is this:  Flats force you to keep your pedals weighted.  Why is that a good thing?
 Because if you don't, you are likely putting too much weight on the bars putting yourself in a possible OTB situation, especially in rough stuff.  Learning when and when not to pressure the front wheel becomes a lot more obvious with flats.

Another huge advantage is you have a huge platform that your foot rests on.  This give you a lot of control when cornering or pumping the bike.  The disadvantage to this is rather obvious - you have a wide pedal to catch on stuff.  And yes, you will if you are sloppy.

One thing I don't hear talked about too much is getting your foot on the pedal with flats.  It gives you the advantage of putting your foot in different locations, but that's as much a disadvantage.  Especially with sticky rubber shoes and sharp pins, when you put your foot down, it's down, and you have to lift off of the pedal to reposition.

There's the obvious disadvatage of being bounced off of flats or slipping a pedal.  Modern pedals and shoes almost never slip, but hit something wrong that catches you off guard and you can easily bounce right off.

Climbing efficiency.  There's some disadvantage here as well, but it's not as big as some might think.  With good pedaling technique you can do well with both.  The issue sometimes becomes pedal timing and strikes on technical climbs.

And lastly, there's the obvious advantage of being able to put a foot down easily when you want and disconnecting from the bike in a crash.

Clips:

I covered most of the stuff above because what's perhaps a disadvantage on clips is reversed on flats.  Quick summary:

Pros:
- Your foot always goes in the same spot
- Easier to get a smooth pedal stroke for climbing
- Usually smaller package which means more clearance
- Hard to get bounced off the bike in tech
- Can use the pedals to "cheat" and pull up in the air
- Usually lighter weight

Cons:
- Harder to put a foot out or down and disconnect from the bike in a crash
- Can be hard to get clipped back in
- Smaller platform can cause pressure points in the foot, harder to control the bike in corners
- Can teach bad technique for hopping and weighting the pedals
- Requires special shoes


There are also wider, DH pedals which have a large platform and a binding mechanism.  This gives the advantage of being clipped in without the pressure points on the feet and the ability to control the bike better.
JasonWx JasonWx
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Re: Flats or clips: What's your poison

Flats!!!
I'm a shitty, reckless rider, I can't imagine going OTB with clips..

but plenty of people swear by clips...totally personal
"Peace and Love"
tjf1967 tjf1967
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Re: Flats or clips: What's your poison

I don't use flats.  Have but those little carbide pegs are just the devil.  My shins were bloody more times than not after a ride.  
I like being able to pull with the clip ins as well, they do become problematic when you are going up a techy steep section and peddle until you cant peddle any longer.  
campgottagopee campgottagopee
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Re: Flats or clips: What's your poison

Flats for me

I just know I'd tomahawk into a tree if I was locked it. I like the idea of being able to jump.
raisingarizona raisingarizona
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Re: Flats or clips: What's your poison

Flats. For me it's more about the comfort.
Cunningstunts Cunningstunts
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Re: Flats or clips: What's your poison

In reply to this post by tjf1967
JasonWx wrote
Flats!!!
I'm a shitty, reckless rider, I can't imagine going OTB with clips..
Haha - yeah, I could see getting off the bike could be a plus for that style.  I try to be smooth and calculated, and when I get reckless I usually pull the reigns.

I don't go OTB much, and usually it's at slow speeds but with flats I just jump over the bars and can land on my feet.

tjf1967 wrote
I don't use flats.  Have but those little carbide pegs are just the devil.  My shins were bloody more times than not after a ride.  
I like being able to pull with the clip ins as well, they do become problematic when you are going up a techy steep section and peddle until you cant peddle any longer.
I've not had much issue with the pins.  A few times I've been bounced off they got me, but nothing too serious.  No worse that rock rash.  I think the sharper they are and the more gummy the shoes, the less likely this will happen.

campgottagopee wrote
Flats for me

I just know I'd tomahawk into a tree if I was locked it. I like the idea of being able to jump.
Hahaha!

raisingarizona wrote
Flats. For me it's more about the comfort.
Comfort of the foot or from getting away from the bike.

My feet definitely hurt with clips on long descents when I'm not pedaling.
JasonWx JasonWx
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Re: Flats or clips: What's your poison

In reply to this post by Cunningstunts
Do you use a multi directional release?
"Peace and Love"
Cunningstunts Cunningstunts
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Re: Flats or clips: What's your poison

JasonWx wrote
Do you use a multi directional release?
No, just straight up Shimano SPDs.

Maybe you read wrong, but when I have went OTB with these, the bike came with.  Flats I just jump off.

The flats I use are Spike Spanks.
JasonWx JasonWx
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Re: Flats or clips: What's your poison

yikes

use Raceface Chesters
"Peace and Love"
nepa nepa
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Re: Flats or clips: What's your poison

In reply to this post by Cunningstunts
100% clips for me.  Most of my riding is XC oriented.  I can't remember the last time I was on a bike without my feet attached to pedals.  My stroke is pretty efficient.  I'm not sure how my endurance would be effected without any upstroke assistance.

My wife has both.  She recently developed a passion for the park.  It was only a matter of time before she decided to free her feet.  Until recently, I was a skeptic.    I have been lovingly giving her shit for quite some time as I really don't enjoy park oriented riding.  That said, I now totally see the logic behind foot freedom while decending.  

We were out yesterday, and she chose to go with the flats.  We rode a familiar single-track loop with a couple medium sized non-technical climbs, coupled with moderately technical, well designed descents.  She struggled on the climbs (4k total over 12 miles) but smoked my ass on the descents.  For her, the advantages are quite evident.  The foot freedom has made her posture and position on the bike much more fluid.  Almost like a skater that positions their foot on the deck slightly different depending on the targeted feature and trick, I noticed she was able keep her upper body loose while making lower body adjustments effortlessly on the fly.  The progression is really cool to watch.  We've been riding together for about 10 years.  Until this year, on descents, I was the one waiting for her... now, I lead on the ascents, and take a backseat on the descents.

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