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Old 09-10-09, 09:18 AM   #1
Trail Jogger
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Do mountain bikers need cleats?

I've searched the forum but need to ask the question in a slightly different manner because I've never ridden with cleats.

I can understand the need for cleats for road bikes because they generally ride in a smooth straight line but can't understand why one needs cleats when mountain biking. My current hardtail has stock Schwinn pedals that don't require cleats but I'll soon be buying a bike for which I'll also need to buy pedals and shoes separately. While cleats may help for speed and jumping, would the release be quick and easy enough to prevent spills?

Another way of asking my question is, if you're riding along a rock ledge where you might need to put your foot down to avoid falling over the edge, would you keep your foot in the cleat or just on top of the pedal?

Thanks in advance for your responses.
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Old 09-10-09, 09:31 AM   #2
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Cross Country is essentially road riding on a trail. It's funny that you mention that cleats may help for speed and jumping, however, those are the two last places in MTB that uses cleats (DH, freeride, urban and dirt jump) - they use platform pedals for the most part.

I have eggbeaters on ALL my bikes (incl. road bikes) and on the tech trails I have no problem getting out of them in an "oh ****" moment. Also, there's sometimes I have to tell myself in a Mr. Miyagi voice, "Baaallance Dion-san"

Last edited by Siu Blue Wind; 09-11-09 at 04:08 PM. Reason: fixed spelling
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Old 09-10-09, 11:29 AM   #3
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I have eggbeaters on ALL my bikes
How's that working out for you for flatland?
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Old 09-10-09, 11:39 AM   #4
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How's that working out for you for flatland?
EXCEPT my Flatland bike and beach cruisers.
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Old 09-10-09, 11:47 AM   #5
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I have SPDs, and there have been several situations that have required to me to clip out quickly when I hit an unexpected root, or my wheel slid out on a berm. Every single time, my foot has come unclipped without even thinking about it. I have them set up very loosely to accomplish this, but I never have problems staying clipped in when I want to be.

It's personal preference, and I prefer to be attached. I find I slide around less, and have better power up hills. But if you prefer platforms, more power to you. Many people on the forum do.
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Old 09-10-09, 01:06 PM   #6
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I hate my SPDs. I seem to stay on the pedals if I'm wearing regular shoes more than with my bike shoes. With my road looks I can't unclip half the time without having my leg fly out violently.
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Old 09-10-09, 09:15 PM   #7
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Cleats help when climbing and pedaling on long trails. The upward stroke provides extra momentum. They also keep your feet in place on rough downhills, where they might normally slip off the pedal. It takes some getting used to though and you will eat it the first few times out. Like learning how to ride a bike, you figure it out eventually.
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Old 09-11-09, 04:06 AM   #8
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Flats for me never got on with cleats off road, it's all down to personal preference... Out of all the guys and girls i ride with the fastest man both up the hills and down them rides flat pedals and a 7 inch travel bike! Go figure!
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Old 09-11-09, 09:46 AM   #9
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Trail Jogger, Just to let you know that if you have nothing going on Saturday night there is racing at Vultures Knob near Wooster. If you havent ridden it the Knob is one fo the best courses in Ohio. The racing is going to be hot and heavy with points going to at least 2 series. N.E ohio Power series and The Grrovy Serieshttp://www.camba.us/pn/index.php?nam...tid=119&page=1
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Old 09-11-09, 06:33 PM   #10
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I've been riding Keos on the road and SPDs on the dirt. I rented a bike and road it without the clipless and I was mess. I was constantly moving around trying to get my feet in the right position and then slight bumps were knocking my feet off. I guess you get used to your cage :-)
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Old 09-13-09, 10:10 PM   #11
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For me, SPD's work well - I find the unclipping happens really instinctively. And it's so nice never slipping off pedals, catching a pedal in the shin etc. Probably good for technique too, as I'm not tempted to hang a leg out on the inside of a sharp turn...
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Old 09-13-09, 11:36 PM   #12
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What is wrong, technique-wise, about putting a foot out on sharp turns?
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Old 09-14-09, 08:09 PM   #13
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It's hard to pedal with one foot What I mean is, you have to push yourself to be a bit less cautious - if you're constantly hanging a leg out in case you slip, you're not learning as fast. Well, that's my take based on similar experience skiing/snowboarding...
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Old 09-14-09, 08:45 PM   #14
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It's hard to pedal with one foot What I mean is, you have to push yourself to be a bit less cautious - if you're constantly hanging a leg out in case you slip, you're not learning as fast. Well, that's my take based on similar experience skiing/snowboarding...
Perhaps my turns are sharper than yours. At some point the turn is so sharp, ie. switchbacks, that you won't be able to pedal anyway.

Add: I think the term is 'tripod'. That's what I do, anyway.
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Old 09-14-09, 09:54 PM   #15
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Does anybody have moto experience?

When you take your foot off the inside turning leg, you're doing a few things:

1) Moving the front foot forward weights the front end, keeping traction tight and lightening up the back end. This allows you to "square" up the turn when coming in hot. Watch MX riders hit a berm, and you will see what I'm talking about.

2) In case the back end looses traction, the foot out allows you to correct/control the slide.

In off-road moto and SuperMoto, we actually push the bike down as opposed to leaning the bike. This make the rider get "on top" of the bike and control the traction loss at those high speed lean angles.

I would guess the same principle could apply to high speed MTB cross action in some cases.





Me on a SuperMoto



And then me applying the "tripod" to my race bike

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Old 09-14-09, 10:50 PM   #16
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None of those pictures even vaguely looks like MY technique. I'm more like dabbing and skimming using foot for inside balance and weight. I wouldn't be nearly as graceful looking as you.

You are a bike wrangler, sir.
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Old 09-14-09, 11:19 PM   #17
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None of those pictures even vaguely looks like MY technique. I'm more like dabbing and skimming using foot for inside balance and weight. I wouldn't be nearly as graceful looking as you.

You are a bike wrangler, sir.
Thanks Ken. Now if I can just get rid of this "job" thing, I could ride more.

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Old 09-27-09, 12:46 AM   #18
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After many years of road riding, and some mild trails, I did my first somewhat technical MTB ride today. I'm really used to being clipped in, and despite all my co-riders today using straight platform pedals, I opted for some combination Wellgo platform/SPD pedals (has the clip on one side, straight platform on the other).

My co-riders stated they didn't use clipless pedals because they wanted to be able to "get out" quickly; quite the opposite, I found no problem getting out if I needed to (which I anticipated ... I find it very easy to clip out of SPDs) ... my problem was clipping in. It seemed more problematic getting clipped in, and having a cleated shoe on the platform side wasn't great either.

I remembered a friend of mine, who always seemed to be MTB'ing, was a fan of eggbeaters. Are these much easier to get into compared to SPDs? Do a lot of technical MTB'ers use eggbeaters?

Chris
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Old 09-27-09, 03:41 AM   #19
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I have SPD's love them for all types of riding. (granted I've never done any REAL Downhill yet...)
Makes controlling the bike really easy, I can bunny hop and "throw" the bike with ease, and higher than I could without.

I was doing 4-5 drops the other day with my Kona, to test my suspension, (I was jumping rain water run-off ditches and etc.[I had an audiance, so I had to do something half way cool, lol]) My SPD's didn't hamper my performance any way. I almost lost it once, my suspension bounced back to quickly (dang rebound, I can't get it right) and threw my into a catwalk that I could recover from (was going towards a bench) I was able to unclip and put my foot down to stop myself with no problem or extra effort.

bottom line, is I don't see why people make a huge deal out of not being able to unclip, I even have my pedals tension rather snug, and I have 0 problems getting in or out.
The learning curve for me for clipless was painless also. It took a few roots, and a couple curves at the beginning of the trail to adjust to them. In all, only 5-10 minutes and I was set.

-I have no problem hoping a bike with flats either (my trek now has those wierd flats/SPD combo things that came on the Kona.)

I also understand that it's personal preferance as well.
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Old 09-27-09, 10:24 PM   #20
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I agree with Chris about the difficulty of getting clipped in, while on a very technical muddy track. You just don't have that luxury of rolling along for a few seconds while you get sorted out. Best solution: never clip out!
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