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Clipless or flat pedals on your gravel bike?

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Clipless or flat pedals on your gravel bike?

Old 07-27-18, 09:01 AM
  #26  
jfoobar
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Originally Posted by Riveting View Post
Flats won't feel "convenient" when your foot slips off the pedal in the rain while you're crossing a busy road from a stop.
I'm gonna have to go the other way on this. Last weekend I did a metric century, the last half of which was in a torrential rainstorm. Just recently switched my bike from generic touring flats to Saint MX-80s (with the cleats in the lower, less aggressive position). Never had a foot slip the entire ride wearing generic Asics tennis shoes. However, I did have a front flat while on gravely, wet chipseal that didn't turn into a wreck because I was able to quickly slap a foot down at the right moment. In clipless, I am quite confident that would have been a spill.
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Old 07-27-18, 09:09 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
I'm gonna have to go the other way on this. Last weekend I did a metric century, the last half of which was in a torrential rainstorm. Just recently switched my bike from generic touring flats to Saint MX-80s (with the cleats in the lower, less aggressive position). Never had a foot slip the entire ride wearing generic Asics tennis shoes. However, I did have a front flat while on gravely, wet chipseal that didn't turn into a wreck because I was able to quickly slap a foot down at the right moment. In clipless, I am quite confident that would have been a spill.
People use clipless pedals on mountain bikes and ride technical terrain, much more technical than gravel. You can slap a foot down just as quickly. After you ride clips for a while kicking your heel will be a reflex. In an emergency situation you won't try to pull up, you will automatically kick your heel and voilá you're out.
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Old 07-27-18, 10:36 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Facanh View Post
People use clipless pedals on mountain bikes and ride technical terrain, much more technical than gravel. You can slap a foot down just as quickly. After you ride clips for a while kicking your heel will be a reflex. In an emergency situation you won't try to pull up, you will automatically kick your heel and voilá you're out.
No doubt they do, once they have been doing it long enough to truly develop the muscle memory. Had I been riding clipless for a long time, I might also have avoided that wreck (although I am not convinced of that), but I am quite confident that it would have been a wreck had I made the switch recently. That said, I was responding to the misleading comment suggesting that feet slip off of wet pedals was an inherent problem with flats.
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Old 07-27-18, 11:17 AM
  #29  
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If you get a decent set of flat pedals with pins, your feet aren't going to slip off...at least not easily.

I used to use spd on the mtbs for years but I wanted to switch to flats because I wanted to try more technical stuff and get good at wheelies/manuals. I found that going to flats helped me with confidence when negotiating more technical stuff just because I knew it was easier to get my feet off the pedals if I needed to and I couldn't really see a downside to them. I've had a lot of low speed crashes trying to get my feet unclipped when, say, climbing but just losing momentum enough to topple over. I couldn't even tell you how often that happened. I don't think the movement to swing the ankle out is natural for me when I realize I am no longer going forward and losing balance, so inevitably I can't get unclipped and fall over.
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Old 07-27-18, 11:26 AM
  #30  
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I use the PD-T400 which are part of the Click'r line, aimed at newbies and commuters because they're easier to unclip than regular SPD. I like them a lot, in an emergency I can release my foot easily (haven't fall due to being stuck on the pedals) but they're firm enough not to unclip accidentally mid-ride.

I actually like clipless for gravel, I find I don't have to think that much about keeping my feet on the pedals so I just concentrate on keep pedaling when the ride gets hard. And no accidental slips.
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Old 07-27-18, 11:28 AM
  #31  
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Depends. If I were racing gravel I'd SPD for sure. If bikepacking or just having fun on a gravel rig I'd probably put flats on. Currently I have SPDs on the multispeed gravel bike and flats on the singlespeed gravel bike.
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Old 07-27-18, 11:39 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by RJM View Post
If you get a decent set of flat pedals with pins, your feet aren't going to slip off...at least not easily.
Indeed. I've got a set of Crank Bros Stamp 7s on my MTB that I'm going to try out on the gravel bike. I've got Saint MX80s on all of my other bikes. The Stamps are in a completely different league.

I tend not to cycle in mud or rain so losing grip is slightly less of an issue.

However, in the back of my mind is my previous failed attempt at going clipless and it's something I want to conquer eventually.
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Old 07-27-18, 12:47 PM
  #33  
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Clipless. I have Speedplay Frogs on my Motobecane Omni Strada Comp.
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Old 07-27-18, 07:40 PM
  #34  
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For me unclipping without ever having to think (never falling over) is more important than anything else about pedals.

My first clipless pedals on a gravel bike were road pedals and I fell over too often. I replaced those with Time ATAC XS pedals but I still fell over occasionally. Finally I put on Shimano XTR SPD's and my problem was solved. I've never been stuck and never pulled out accidently.

When my reflexes want my foot off the pedal it comes off every time.
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Old 07-28-18, 09:14 AM
  #35  
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Clipless on everything. Look or SPD. Both work. I tried platforms again a few years back. My feet were coming off the pedals over washboard and bumps. I went back to clipless.
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Old 07-29-18, 10:45 AM
  #36  
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Clipless. Currently using Shimano PD R540 SPD-SL light action pedals (which go back and forth between my gravel bike and single speed).

At some point, I want to pick up mountain shoes and go to regular SPD for gravel. Not because unclipping is an issue, but because mud/dirt/snow/walking are really inconvenient with SPD-SL.
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Old 07-29-18, 11:04 AM
  #37  
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I use mostly XTR trail pedals (2-bolt SPDs with a cage). Sometimes I unclip from one of them in tricky terrain.

I also have some 5/10s and spikey pedals (black ops), but I have found I get less float than with SPDs, because the shoes adhere so tenaciously to the pedals.

I do wonder if I should try something else at some point. (I used the 5/10s for a year or so after breaking my ankle, but went back to the SPDs for the added sense of security, especially when climbing out of the saddle, and enforcement of proper foot position on the pedals.)
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Old 07-30-18, 07:51 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Facanh View Post
You can get clipless sandals, skate style shoes, hiking boots, or even winter boots.
Absolutely no interest. Why put myself in a situation where I need to buy more stuff than to use the existing stuff I have simply by switching to spiked pedals? Also, I just installed and used the spiked pedals I purchased from Amazon the other day and they made a world of difference. Also I was wearing Keens.
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Old 07-31-18, 04:06 PM
  #39  
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Considering the amount of people here who think they will wreck because of clipless pedals, maybe this thread should be moved to the beginners forum?
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Old 07-31-18, 04:21 PM
  #40  
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I've been riding with cleats since about 1987. First with Look, now SPD. Before Look cleats, I used toe clips (cages), so I've been using foot retention since 1975. I ride about six days a week. On weekdays, I commute between home and work by bike, on SPD pedals. Clearly, I like them, but they're not for everyone.
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Old 07-31-18, 09:04 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by rosefarts View Post
Considering the amount of people here who think they will wreck because of clipless pedals, maybe this thread should be moved to the beginners forum?
Same goes for people who can't keep their feet on flats.
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Old 08-01-18, 04:50 AM
  #42  
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A few years ago, I think I transitioned too early to clipless and went the whole hog to Ultegra 6800 SPD-SL pedals. Way out of my league at the time!

Which clipless system do people recommend to get used to being in clipless pedals and ease of getting your foot out in an emergency? Essentially, I'm after a clipless system that inspires confidence (i.e. for beginners). SPD has been mentioned, but there are others out there too, each with their own pros and cons, I presume.
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Old 08-01-18, 05:09 AM
  #43  
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I'd vote for SPD with the spring tension turned all the way down. Or if you want to be super safe multi release cleats.

But really it's not a big deal. Everyone falls over once, but after that you'll get used to the heel kick. Don't overthink it. If you're thinking "OMG when i'm gonna fall over" the whole time when riding your bike then you'll definitely fall over. Tons of people ride clipless, it's nothing special.
You probably fell over when you were learning how to ride a bike, but I guess you don't fall over now. Same thing with clipless.

Last edited by Facanh; 08-01-18 at 05:23 AM.
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Old 08-01-18, 05:47 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Facanh View Post
I'd vote for SPD with the spring tension turned all the way down. Or if you want to be super safe multi release cleats.

But really it's not a big deal. Everyone falls over once, but after that you'll get used to the heel kick. Don't overthink it. If you're thinking "OMG when i'm gonna fall over" the whole time when riding your bike then you'll definitely fall over. Tons of people ride clipless, it's nothing special.
You probably fell over when you were learning how to ride a bike, but I guess you don't fall over now. Same thing with clipless.
Yes, it's mostly a psychological thing.
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Old 08-01-18, 06:07 AM
  #45  
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Quality platform pedals with pins for me. I don't have slipping issues when paired with good shoes (makes a hell of a difference) and being able to normally stop, walk, etc is just very convenient. While I can see myself clipped in on the road, on gravel / macadame / etc, I just don't like the idea of being clipped in. Especially since riding a drop bar tourer with wide slicks offroad means that sometimes you have to put the foot down and walk the bike a bit until you get to a spot where you have traction to get going again. Wet macadame / gravel uphill is particularly problematic.
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Old 08-01-18, 06:43 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Branko D View Post
Quality platform pedals with pins for me. I don't have slipping issues when paired with good shoes (makes a hell of a difference) and being able to normally stop, walk, etc is just very convenient. While I can see myself clipped in on the road, on gravel / macadame / etc, I just don't like the idea of being clipped in. Especially since riding a drop bar tourer with wide slicks offroad means that sometimes you have to put the foot down and walk the bike a bit until you get to a spot where you have traction to get going again. Wet macadame / gravel uphill is particularly problematic.
The type of soles that most XC style shoes have are much much better in mud and wet offroad conditions than most flat pedal shoes. You can even put spikes on them. They clear mud super easily and have awesome traction. With SPD you can clip in even if your shoe has more mud on it than shoe. Crankbros are even better in this regard.
I can happily hike-a-bike in my SPD shoes. You're probably not walking for hours, unless you get something with zero padding and the stiffest sole known to man it's not a problem at all.

The stopping part... I feel like people that think unclipping is some big deal never used SPDs. After you ride SPDs for a while it's a reflex. You don't think about unclipping, you just do it. There is nothing "not normal" about it.
About to fall over when climbing rocky singletrack? Heel kick, foot straight down. Just as fast as platforms.

I'm not defending SPD to death (even though it might seem like it) but I feel like most people here that talk negatively about it never actually tried them and/or used them long enough to get used to them.

Also, what about overshoes? Can you use them on flat pedals and regular shoes?

Last edited by Facanh; 08-01-18 at 07:57 AM.
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Old 08-01-18, 07:52 AM
  #47  
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I've tried SPD-SL but not for long enough. I guess I gave up because it was initially outside my comfort zone and I had one big, slow motion fall in front of lots of shoppers on a High Street in the UK and that just knocked my confidence. I should have persisted and will look at SPD + shoes soon.
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Old 08-01-18, 08:14 AM
  #48  
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@taz777, Shimano have a line of pedals called Click'R. It uses regular SPD cleats but it's even easier to get into and out of than regular SPD pedals. My friend showed me. He put his foot down, and he was in, and I didn't hear a click. If I remember right, he could get out without twisting. And if you "miss" you still have a nice platform for your foot. So this sounds ideal for a beginner.

As I said, my progression was from toe clips to Look to SPD. The old Look design was similar to SPD-SL, which takes a lot of energy to get out of. Comparing the three, I would say that SPD is easier to get into than toe clips, which can be surprising. Toe clips don't hold your feet as still, but you have to flip the pedal over to get in, and it often takes a few tries. SPD can take a few tries, but not as many.

SPD shoes come in a huge variety of shoe styles. I have some that seem like tennis shoes, a pair that are like running shoes, a pair of SPD sandals, and my favorite are my mountain racing shoes, even though I don't ride a mountain bike. This shoe is good for hiking in mud, and the sole is super stiff, which helps with a medical problem with my feet. The stiffness doesn't bother me for walking, but it might bother some. You should go to a bike shop or sporting goods store to try on various shoes.

This is one kind of thing where visiting a shop is better than buying online.
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Old 08-01-18, 08:24 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by Facanh View Post

I'm not defending SPD to death (even though it might seem like it) but I feel like most people here that talk negatively about it never actually tried them and/or used them long enough to get used to them.
I'll defend SPD (or any clipless pedal vs flats).

I got my first clipless pedals at 15. I saved up my fast food paychecks and got Onza H.O. Ti's. If you remember those pedals, then you also know that I'll be 40 soon. So yeah, 25 years clipped in. I even clipped in when riding pedicabs, there are shoes that are fine to walk into a bar and get a drink wearing, and not look weird.

I remember one mountain bike ride that I jogged like 5 miles with a non functional bike. The shoes were fine.

I draw the line at free-soloing easy rock climbs along the way, more to preserve the shoes than a safety issue.

I don't buy the whole "I need shoes I can walk in argument". I think you're telling yourself lies if that's the reason to ride without clips.

Aren't gravel rides usually like 50+ miles, even 100+? I can't imagine putting those miles in on flat pedals.

I did spend 2 seasons riding S&M BMX pedals on my Zaskar LE, I never got the dreaded shin gash and I never slipped. The bigger problem was the loss of upward stroke and to a lesser
degree, some loss of connection to the bike. I've done it and could easily do it again, it's not an advantage.
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Old 08-01-18, 08:51 AM
  #50  
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Yup, there are tons of casual looking SPD shoes nowadays. I just bought a pair of Five Ten Hellcats. Skate shoe style, full sole, nice recessed cleat so no click clacking, and they flex enough for hike-a-bikes. Combined with my baggy MTB shorts with liners underneath, other than my helmet I just look like a regular dude. But I can ride in comfort until I collapse. Although nowadays I meet more animals than people on my rides.
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