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Flats vs. Clipless?

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Flats vs. Clipless?

Old 07-27-19, 09:20 PM
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voz
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Flats vs. Clipless?

I am on a tight budget looking to buy a first real road bike to train with when my shins hurt too much after a long run. I was just wondering how much of a difference there is when it comes to clipless vs. flat pedals. Obviously, clipless make you faster and allow you to put more power down, but is it worth the extra $150-$200 CAD when I only have about $1000 to spend on a bike?

Thanks,
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Old 07-27-19, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by voz View Post
Obviously, clipless make you faster and allow you to put more power down, but is it worth the extra $150-$200 CAD when I only have about $1000 to spend on a bike?

Thanks,
voz
The only thing "obvious" is that clipless is a scam.
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Old 07-27-19, 09:37 PM
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It's worth going on kijiji and seeing what you can scrounge. Mtb pedals/shoes work just fine on a road bike too.
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Old 07-28-19, 01:09 AM
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I see clipless as an otherwise inconvienience for everything other than "putting the power down".
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Old 07-28-19, 01:19 AM
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I don't think I've ever seen a study that actually shows if or how much more power you can transfer to the pedals using clipless pedals versus anything else.
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Old 07-28-19, 01:41 AM
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Toeclips. Remember those?
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Old 07-28-19, 01:54 AM
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GCN did a couple of clipless vs flat pedal comparisons and found no significant (for mere mortals) measurable or observable differences in power or speed.

I haven't noticed any difference in my speed over the past couple of years since switching to clipless for my road bikes.

Main difference I notice is clipless feels more efficient over longer distances and elapsed time rides. Fewer problems with muscle cramps in my feet and thighs. Less tiring. Spinning with clipless seems to be more efficient, but not faster.

Pretty much the same thing I noticed back in the 1970s comparing toe clips and straps with cleated shoes, vs platforms. The only difference was on longer rides.
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Old 07-28-19, 02:24 AM
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I prefer clipless for maintaining proper shoe positioning and attachment, especially when climbing out of the saddle.
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Old 07-28-19, 03:53 AM
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Clipless is more comfortable, but pedaling steady state at threshold or below makes no difference to your efficiency. Standing up or sprinting, clipless can provide extra power. For training, it’s not going to improve your the efficiency of your workout. I’d get the best bike you can afford now and add some used clipless pedals later. Once you have them you likely won’t want to go back to riding on flats.
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Old 07-28-19, 05:07 AM
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Shoes are more important. Clipless pedals require cycling shoes which mean stiff soles. If you go with flats, look into getting a shoe with a stiffer sole than your average running shoe. They will help with pedaling efficiency and reduce chance of sore or injured feet on long rides.
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Old 07-28-19, 05:35 AM
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Re, the following -

Originally Posted by Sillyak View Post
It's worth going on kijiji and seeing what you can scrounge. Mtb pedals/shoes work just fine on a road bike too.
After traveling the road shoes and pedals path I agree with the mtb pedals choice. The fact is, the pedals won't know the difference, and the bike won't know the difference. And mtb shoes are typically something you can walk around in without risking a disc in your back...

As an aside, my road bike has gone away in favor of a flat-bar hybrid (the Cannondale PD in my signature).

And I agree here as well -

Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Clipless is more comfortable, but pedaling steady state at threshold or below makes no difference to your efficiency. Standing up or sprinting, clipless can provide extra power. For training, its not going to improve your the efficiency of your workout. Id get the best bike you can afford now and add some used clipless pedals later. Once you have them you likely wont want to go back to riding on flats.
I have Shimano PD A-530 pedals on my mtb. (The same pedal is also referred to as "spd" pedals). Anyway, they have a platform on one side and take cleats on the other. That pedal is still available, but it's pricey. There is a less expensive replacement tagged as the PD EH-500.

The upshot is that about 90% of the time I use the platform side of the SPD's, but they leave me with the option to clip-in if I wish. I do occasionally clip-in when on longer rides, but for tooling around the neighborhood with the wife, the platforms are a genuine convenience.
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Old 07-28-19, 07:49 AM
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Clipless is obviously more comfortable and easier and MTB shoes and pedals are the way to go. However rat-trap pedals and toe clips work perfectly well and do almost the same thing at a much lower cost using shoes you have. Simple.
https://www.ebay.com/b/rat-trap-pedals/bn_7024817821
There's even a pair there complete with straps.
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Old 07-28-19, 07:59 AM
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And if you want a toe clip pedal that's actually sexy, only Shimano ever bothered, and stopped making them around 1990...

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Shimano-Dur...s/333236572294
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Old 07-28-19, 05:40 PM
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The only advantage I found in clipless over toe clips/straps or pinned flats is that acceleration was easier, because I really could pull up with the clipless. I never got the hang of getting out of the SPDs in time to reliably keep from falling.

Clips and straps are great, but when my touring shoes disintegrated, I couldn't find a replacement; every shoe I could find with a stiff sole required clips for the so-called clipless pedals.

I had a knee problem that was mitigated by moving my foot around on the pedal. The pedal that worked best for me was a pinned, flat one.

Especially if cycling is 2ndary for you, I'd recommend pinned flats - no need for shoes with clips, no need for clips, no obsessing about SPD vs road vs SPD-SL vs Speedplay, no worrying about getting out of the damned clips in time to stay safe.... My reco: just buy a cheap pair of pedals and some Five Ten shoes (many of which look like normal shoes) and ride. If you like 'em, then buy a pair of good pedals when you need to replace the cheap ones.
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Old 07-28-19, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by voz View Post
I am on a tight budget looking to buy a first real road bike to train with when my shins hurt too much after a long run. I was just wondering how much of a difference there is when it comes to clipless vs. flat pedals. Obviously, clipless make you faster and allow you to put more power down, but is it worth the extra $150-$200 CAD when I only have about $1000 to spend on a bike?

Thanks,
voz
You can do Shimano SPD 520 pedals for $25, a pair of SPD shoes about $80.

Flat pedals can also be pinned pedals, popular with mt. bikers. The GCN YouTube showed not much difference in efficiency. Maybe a bit of a learning curve keeping your feet on the flat pedal. The size of the pedal means better support, so less need for a really stiff shoe.

I personally like SPD as Ive used them for 30 years, like the feel of my foot engaged when climbing or standing and have no desire to learn how to use flat/pinned.
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Old 07-28-19, 06:52 PM
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Spend the money on the bike. You can always purchase clipless pedals down the road.

Also, you can watch the GCN video as another mentioned. I would agree they don't provide additional power generally. I do like the fact with clipless you won't slip off the pedals or spin off of them, which is why I now prefer them.
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Old 07-28-19, 06:58 PM
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Aye, spend the money on the bike! Enjoy flat for now. I like clipless on a road bike, but love flat on my MTB. Far more important to get the better bike for now. Upgrade later if you like.
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Old 07-29-19, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Clipless is more comfortable, but pedaling steady state at threshold or below makes no difference to your efficiency. Standing up or sprinting, clipless can provide extra power. For training, its not going to improve your the efficiency of your workout. Id get the best bike you can afford now and add some used clipless pedals later. Once you have them you likely wont want to go back to riding on flats.
This.
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Old 07-29-19, 05:13 PM
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I've rode 37,000 miles using a pair of Power Straps.
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Old 07-29-19, 05:31 PM
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Depends on your style of riding.
Clipless allow you to put out more power accelerating, climbing, sprinting. Important to some, not to others.
I also like the option of pulling up a bit on shallower climbs, giving my quads a bit of a break.
I also prefer the "attached" feeling...no worries of feet slipping or moving around.

I agree with others....Get the best bike for you. Worry about clipless later. Perhaps someone local with the same shoe size will let you borrow them for a test ride.
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Old 07-29-19, 05:39 PM
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I had zero intention of ever going clipless when I re-entered the hobby a couple of months ago...but now I won't go back. For many of the reasons have stated.
  • GCN video may have shown little-to-no gain, but that's because GCN riders are pros and are disciplined enough to keep their feet in optimum pedaling position. Me? When I go from my road bike (SPDs) to my hybrid bike (dual platforms) and use normal shoes...I routinely find myself failing to stay in optimum form/position.
  • By going with the SH56 cleats, I've never had an issue unclipping, even in unforeseen, fast dismounts. My first 10-15 minutes with clipping in was slightly shaky, but after I got the hang of it, I don't even think about it. And, even though I was told the 56s might increase accidental unclipping, that also has never happened to me.
  • Related to my first point, I have had my flat shoes slip off of the pedals, something which clipping in eliminates
  • The cleated riding shoe is the only hard-bottomed shoe I own that's suitable for riding. All of my other shoes are either work shoes (which I won't ride in) or athletic shoes with soles that flex and give a lot.
As Canklecat says, I haven't done a scientific A/B (and I'm too lazy to switch out the pedals on my road bike) but even if I could achieve the same overall top speed with flats, it certainly feels easier to pedal and sustain it when I'm clipped in. I'd rather be able to expend a little less energy to maintain the same speed, and be able to ride longer. There's a whole host of reasons my fitness bike is harder to pedal than my road bike (pedals only being one of a half-dozen or more factors) but that's why I'll ride my road bike for hours while I get tired of my fitness after maybe 45 minutes.
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Old 07-29-19, 06:30 PM
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FWIW - I can’t imagine riding a road bike w/o some kind of foot retention. For years I used 1/2 clips look them up they’re great



Started using cleated shoes/pedals last year, & I like them well enough to keep them

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Old 07-29-19, 06:57 PM
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It's not about power or speed, it's safety.

Clippless pedals keep your foot from sliding off the pedal while you're cornering.

They keep your knees aligned properly, so you don't stress them.
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Old 07-29-19, 07:09 PM
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It can also be about power under certain circumstances.
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Old 07-29-19, 09:01 PM
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Clipless is also about endurance. One can spread the pedaling load out over more muscles and thus have less fatigue in any one of them. I've seen exactly one rider using flats on the maybe 1000 group and event rides I've done. That was on a fixed bike operated by a fellow in complete hipster gear who walked the hills. If you're going to walk the hills, might as well use flats. I only spoke with him briefly. One of my little rules of life is that most people are not fools, regardless of how it seems sometimes.

That said, I've seen many riders with toe clips, usually C&V riders. Especially on long summer rides with stiff shoes, they're fine. Not so nice in the city or on MUPs.
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