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Going from clipless to flat pedals

Old 06-23-19, 04:27 PM
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Jonah305
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Going from clipless to flat pedals

I've recently started to ride with flat pedals on all my bikes - road, gravel, vintage, etc. - and discovered that because I'm much more confident not being clipped in, I end up enjoying my rides a lot more. I've been riding clipless for over five years but never quite got over the fear of not being able to unclip fast enough in an emergency. I always felt a little on edge being clipped in.

Am I off for feeling this way? It seems that every "real" cyclist I see uses clipless with no worries. Certainly every cyclist in our local group rides seems confident in them. Are there really any major disadvantages to riding with flat pedals?
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Old 06-23-19, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Jonah305 View Post
I've recently started to ride with flat pedals on all my bikes - road, gravel, vintage, etc. - and discovered that because I'm much more confident not being clipped in, I end up enjoying my rides a lot more. I've been riding clipless for over five years but never quite got over the fear of not being able to unclip fast enough in an emergency. I always felt a little on edge being clipped in.

Am I off for feeling this way? It seems that every "real" cyclist I see uses clipless with no worries. Certainly every cyclist in our local group rides seems confident in them. Are there really any major disadvantages to riding with flat pedals?
To me, the only time clipless is a bit concerning are those times when you have to slow way down to a crawl and risk losing your balance, enough to where you need the feet coming off the pedals fast. But, I've learned when I see a situation like that possibly happening, I unclip at least one foot and rest it on top of the pedal. Helps with confidence and obviously balance if you need it. Experience dictates how proficient you become in those particular situations.
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Old 06-23-19, 05:20 PM
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I do the same thing, unclip one foot as I approach a potential stop. If you're able to keep moving, you can straighten your foot and clip it back in with a very small movement.
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Old 06-23-19, 05:21 PM
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platform peds are the best when riding in uncertain conditions, even when riding in areas that are usually predictable, but may also pose other sudden situations.
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Old 06-23-19, 05:25 PM
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There was a fair amount of discussion about this a few years ago when Grant P of Rivendell began promoting flat pedals. If you are more comfortable and can still do the rides you like, why not? If you decide you miss some part of being clipped in you can always change back.
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Old 06-23-19, 05:36 PM
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On one bicycle I have Crankbros Double Shots.

I don't like having to check my foot position on the pedal; sometimes I catch my heel on the crank arm.

When I have to hammer some, I feel more secure on the clip in side.

Road bikes always clipped in.

Beater was only flats.

I don't think there's any advantage to using the flats side except I don't have to put on my bicycle shoes.
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Old 06-23-19, 06:17 PM
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If you feel better on the flats, ride with the flats. If there were really disadvantages to using them, would you have to ask the question? No one should tell you how to ride.

I've ridden 225 miles this weekend on Raceface Chesters, I wasn't racing, but I felt "serious" enough .
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Old 06-23-19, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Jonah305 View Post
Are there really any major disadvantages to riding with flat pedals?
The only disadvantage I've noticed is when hammering hard and banging gears. Then my feet tend to move around on the pedals. Not dangerously, but I find it mildly annoying.

But flat pedals have advantages too. Riding in any shoes is a big one. I run flats on my road bike all winter, since it means I can wear warmer shoes. Instant, thoughtless foot removal is another advantage. That's why my mountain bikes only run flats... it makes "emergency dismount" more common than "crash".

I'm pretty sure studies have shown little or no performance advantage to clipless, which agrees with my experience. Still, I like them for the secure attachment in some situations. Like fast road rides, or any fixed gear riding.
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Old 06-23-19, 09:30 PM
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Wow you used clipless pedals for over five years and you were insecure about getting out of them. How about a picture or a description of what clipless pedals you were using.

I'm pretty sure studies have shown little or no performance advantage to clipless, which agrees with my experience. Still, I like them for the secure attachment in some situations. Like fast road rides, or any fixed gear riding.

Studies are like surveys, they are very selective in what they study. Pedal force in the down stroke is the same clipped in or not. There is more to it than this. On flat pedals you can't hold the proper foot position on the pedal constantly. This becomes even harder when you use more muscles by pulling and pushing through most of the pedal stroke. Also when you are on a rough road. The bicycle shoes are also designed to allow you to ride and not fatigue your feet. So if you don't use clipless pedals a good pare of properly fitted bicycle shoes can help. I like clipless pedals for all the riding I do.
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Old 06-23-19, 10:14 PM
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Do whatever feels right for you. Don't listen to random people on the internet.
They're doing what feels right for them. Or is every rider giving in to peer
pressure of using clipless?

Started commuting 10 years ago. After 6 months; gave clipless pedals a try.
I find that I ride better with them and this is what works for me.
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Old 06-23-19, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick View Post
Pedal force in the down stroke is the same clipped in or not. There is more to it than this. On flat pedals you can't hold the proper foot position on the pedal constantly. This becomes even harder when you use more muscles by pulling and pushing through most of the pedal stroke.
Even the pros spend little time "pulling up".

Like I posted above, being clipped in offers some benefits. Performance is low on the list, because as you correctly say, Pedal force in the down stroke is the same clipped in or not.
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Old 06-23-19, 11:55 PM
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Clipless makes sense if you wanna be super efficient (or win a race or something). Otherwise platform pedals are a good choice. Even for a „real cyclist“ .
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Old 06-24-19, 02:29 AM
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I'm more relaxed without clipless. Sometimes I'll take the road bikes out for a spin around the neighborhood and just wear walking shoes with the Look and Shimano SPD-SL pedals. It's uncomfortable to mash hard wearing soft sole shoes with those pedals, but that suits my mood on those casual rides.

My hybrids are strictly platforms. I don't like clipless for city riding -- commutes, errands, casual group rides. I don't worry about forgetting to unclip. I'm more like Matt Stephens on the old GCN shows -- takes me forever to get clipped in. When I'm in traffic -- and I usually take the lane -- I don't want to be fumbling to clip in. With platforms I'm often across the intersection before the cars after a red light.

I'm thinking about switching one road bike to those two-sided pedals, with clipless on one side and platform on the other. A couple of friends have those and like 'em.

The GCN fellows (Simon and Matt) did a clipless vs platform test a couple of years ago, both indoors and outdoors. They found very little measurable difference. Both said it felt different. But that didn't translate to significant differences in speed and power.

If anything the test was a bit flawed because neither Matt nor Simon had done much riding with platform pedals, so their pedal strokes looked a bit awkward. Chances are with more practice they'd have narrowed the differences even more between clipless and platform pedals.

But for longer and harder rides I prefer foot retention, mostly for the arch support. I've always had problems with foot cramps, since I was a kid. Rigid soles and good arch support, and consistent foot positioning, help minimize problems with cramps in my arches, calves and thighs. But that's only an issue on hard rides, so I don't need clipless or toe clips on my hybrids.

When I got my first road bike in 30+ years, back in summer 2017, I started out with platform pedals for six months. Some of my fastest times were still from back then. Switching to clipless in January 2018 didn't improve my overall speed, segment speed or ... anything. It's just more comfortable on longer rides at harder efforts. Getting more fit improved my speed, but the pedals and shoes made no difference.

I would have thought there'd be some advantage to spinning faster, but I tend to pedal like a metronome at 90 rpm, clipless or platform. The only time clipless is an advantage for spinning is on fast downhills where I can reach 130 rpm. But if I had taller gears I could mash and ride platforms at the same speed -- which I do on my hybrid. Some of my fastest downhill runs are still on the hybrid, with 50T chainring and 11T small cog. With 13T small cogs on my road bikes, it helps to have foot retention to spin faster. But that's only on downhills. Doesn't matter much elsewhere.
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Old 06-24-19, 07:27 AM
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I've got double sided pedals (Deore XT T8000, https://www.rei.com/product/116154/s...000-spd-pedals). They work awesome, let me do whatever I want. Both clipped in, both not clipped in, often times on MUPs I'll clip in on the left and ride platform on the right.

But in general, too many people worry about being a "real" cyclist. Stop doing that, you'll enjoy it a lot more. You seem to want to ride flats, ride flats and don;t worry about what others think, its not their bike. I love the RaceFace Chesters on my fat bike.
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Old 06-24-19, 09:12 AM
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All have their place. Slow riding in town I can see flat pedals. Also, snow riding and anywhere where slips are more likely and you are less confident about stability.

For my on the road though, clipless offers more confidence as my feet never move around on the pedals over rough terrain or bumps. Of course I'll go many miles without even thinking about needing to unclip on my rides.
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Old 06-24-19, 04:12 PM
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Last year I switched from clipless to flat pedals on my long distance commuter bike. It was great up until fall when my knees started to ache in a severe way. Changed back to clipless and the pain went away on the first ride.

Still use flats on the short distance commuter/errand bike, but for anything beyond 10 miles round trip it is clipless.
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Old 06-24-19, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
Last year I switched from clipless to flat pedals on my long distance commuter bike. It was great up until fall when my knees started to ache in a severe way. Changed back to clipless and the pain went away on the first ride.

Still use flats on the short distance commuter/errand bike, but for anything beyond 10 miles round trip it is clipless.


I literally ride hundreds of miles on flats with no knee problems. What you post kind of confirms what I thought-- if you are going to have problems, you'll know it. Things involving the feet and legs are generally not subtle.

clipless works better for your knees, while the way my feet work, not being able to move them around would be disastrous.

oP seems to have found a clear preference, but shouldn't worry about whether the cool kids would approve.
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Old 06-24-19, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Jonah305 View Post
I've recently started to ride with flat pedals on all my bikes - road, gravel, vintage, etc. - and discovered that because I'm much more confident not being clipped in, I end up enjoying my rides a lot more. I've been riding clipless for over five years but never quite got over the fear of not being able to unclip fast enough in an emergency. I always felt a little on edge being clipped in.

Am I off for feeling this way? It seems that every "real" cyclist I see uses clipless with no worries. Certainly every cyclist in our local group rides seems confident in them. Are there really any major disadvantages to riding with flat pedals?
I like flats because:
You can move your feet around. After a few hours of riding, the same position can be annoying.
With wide platform pedals you can use any footwear you want, even flip flops
Good quality flat pedals are cheaper than clipless
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Old 06-25-19, 05:12 AM
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Old 06-25-19, 05:49 AM
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I only rode mtn.bikes for decades before owning a road bike. Tried clipless and never did get used to being clipped in. Riding BMX style platforms with pins on the road and mtn.bike now. Ride what feels good to you and helps make your ride more enjoyable.
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Old 06-25-19, 07:13 AM
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my only concern is that after riding clip less for a couple of years, I have two pairs of sidi shoes, one for MB and on set for the road
when I try flat pedals after a half hour my feet hurt because of the softer soles.
what shoes do you wear for flat pedals that give you good support and spread the load out on the sole of your foot.
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Old 06-25-19, 11:27 AM
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Being clipped in will prevent shoe to crank arm rub.
A shoe width can allow the sides to rub & cause a squeak when moving about.
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Old 06-25-19, 12:42 PM
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The thing I miss most when I ride with platform pedals is ability to pull up on the crank while climbing a curb: you ride up along-side the curb (curb-side pedal up!), clip out on the curb-side foot, step onto the curb and lift/swing the front wheel up and over the curb, while pulling up on the street-side pedal. By the time the front wheel is pointed away from the street, the clipped-in foot is in position to push. The rear wheel climbs the curb and the bike shoots away. It's pretty smooth and quick.


This is handy when you need to exit the roadway efficiently, and is much less dramatic than trying to bunny-hop up onto the curb.
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Old 06-25-19, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom L View Post
when I try flat pedals after a half hour my feet hurt because of the softer soles.
what shoes do you wear for flat pedals.
Good point. I wear the same shoes with clipless and with platform: some old MTB shoes similar to Shimano AM5 (one velcro strap over the top). But I've wondered if someone would make "bicycling footbeds," shoe footbeds which have a stiff carbon-fiber or plastic bottom layer, to stiffen-up non-bicycling shoes.

Last edited by specialgreen; 06-25-19 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 06-25-19, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by freeranger View Post
Riding BMX style platforms with pins on the road and mtn.bike now. Ride what feels good to you and helps make your ride more enjoyable.
I have 2 MTBs with those pedals and they are tops for me. I can wear nearly any shoe and stick to the pedal. I also use toe clips and straps on my old road bikes, but that limits my shoe selection.
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