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Mountain Bike of Flat pedals

Old 01-30-21, 11:55 AM
  #1  
jsilvia
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Mountain Bike of Flat pedals

I'm new to Mountain Biking, I have been a roadie for the last 10 years. I have a lot to learn, Should I have Mountain Bike pedals or Flat Pedals. I have been watching a lot of videos, Some riders are clipped in and some have flat pedals. I will be mostly riding trails in the woods. Any advice will be helpful,
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Old 01-30-21, 12:04 PM
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wgscott
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Start with flats, and gain skill and confidence first, and then decide if clips are for you.
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Old 01-30-21, 12:25 PM
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100% your choice. I rode SPD for ten years and put flats on with mtb-specific sneakers. Sometimes I put the SPDs back on. I enjoy both, depending on the mood I am in.
The only way to know which one you like better is to try them both. Don't let anyone tell you one is better than the other because it's subjective.
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Old 01-30-21, 05:34 PM
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I use flats with studs but they chew up my shins, then I change to SPD's because I like my shins, then I get sick of special shoes and being stuck, then I go back to flats, then I kill my shins again...
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Old 01-30-21, 05:35 PM
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Just like Mack, I ride on both. I started spd then went to flats. All depends on what kind of trails I'm riding on and what bike I'm riding.
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Old 01-30-21, 07:00 PM
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I'd start with flats. But get ones that don't suck. Too many people discount flats because they've only tried cheap old crappy ones. Get ones with a decent sized platform, and real pins that your shoes will grip on.

Many options out there for not a lot of money. My favorite affordable ones are the Deity Deftrap. Other popular ones are the Race Face Chesters, Kona Wha Wha 2.... too many others to think of. I believe all of these are in the $50-60 range.

Also, use shoes that don't have deep lugs to them. The traction pins get lost between the lugs. They make mtb specific shoes for flat pedals and those are a noticeable improvement, but I have had decent luck with hiking shoes with a worn down tread.

Once you have the hang of handling a mountain bike, try clip-less and see what you think.

Personally, I use both. I used to be 100% clipless, but then I started trying good flat pedals, and then followed that with real mtb shoes made for flat pedals, and now I like them as much as clipless, but for different reasons.
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Old 01-30-21, 09:20 PM
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A good set of flats will grip your feet like they're glued to them. I have replaced the pins mine with longer ones because mud can really mess with them and I couldn't agree with Kapusta more about lugs on your soles and the pins getting lost in them. Also, learn how to use your feet so that you don't slip off the pedals. Of course, there's a difference in trails and some aren't much better than a glorified mup. Good luck and enjoy,
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Old 01-30-21, 10:21 PM
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serious flats

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Old 01-30-21, 11:01 PM
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I've done mountain biking where I was getting bounced all over and happy to be clipped in, and mountain biking where I was glad I wasn't stuck to the pedals and could get a foot down in a hurry - both in the past week! So, depends a lot on the sort of riding you're doing. For a fast bumpy descent it's nice to be attached to the bike; for a steep technical climb, especially in slippery conditions, it might be preferable to have your feet free.
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Old 02-01-21, 06:59 AM
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I'm on the same path as you. Roadie for a long time and just now getting into mountain biking. Like most above, my bike shop advised to going flat until I have more experience. I figure about a year or so and I'll make the switch to clips. Shimano has a great all metal pedal that my bike shop had for only $60. Comes with 2 sizes of washers to help adjust the stud length.

https://bike.shimano.com/en-EU/produ.../PD-GR500.html
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Old 02-01-21, 08:18 AM
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Start with flats,

It limits your speed and helps you learn the balance required for mountainbiking
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Old 02-01-21, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by T.M View Post
Start with flats,

It limits your speed and helps you learn the balance required for mountainbiking
Seriously? Flat pedals limit your speed? The only time my speed is limited is when I ride up the back of other riders, and many of them are clipped in and hanging on for dear life! I guess it's a good thing I don't use clipless, imagine how fast I'd be going then
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Old 02-01-21, 09:02 PM
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Almost 20 years ago most MTB’ers had this notion that you had to make the transition from flats to clipless ASAP. I was told that it allowed for smooth, efficient circles as you pedal. On steeper climbs you would also get the benefit of being to pull on the pedal/crank. I was told by almost everyone back then that it would make a big difference on my riding. This was on the rocky, jagged trails of Phoenix, AZ so the whole thing about going clipless made me quite nervous. In the beginning, the required ankle movement to unclip felt very unnatural.

I think in the last decade flats have evolved and it has become a pure personal choice to go either way. Flats have indeed their own benefits.

If you do decide that you would like to give clipless a chance, one tip that worked really well for me was to start by having only one foot clipped. You can install the cleat on the other shoe as you gain more confidence. In my case, it took about a month after riding 3-4 times a week but YMMV. There are many clipless pedals that also have a platform/flat surface on the other side for this purpose, so those might be good for you to consider.

I do all of my riding now on or off-road clipless. If I encounter a very technical section on a trail, I still unclip one pedal just in case. I also find it helps keeping my balance if things get too gnarly.
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Old 02-02-21, 08:27 AM
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I started with, and still ride with flats with "traction pins". A friend that used to ride trails (now road only) tried clipless, and switched to flats for trails. I've ridden with people, some ride flats, some ride clipless. As others have stated, start with flats, and if you want to try clipless (once trail skills develop), try 'em. I just like the option to quickly bail, or catch myself quickly if needed-and I'm not the youngest, so it is needed!
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Old 02-02-21, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by T.M View Post
Start with flats,

It limits your speed and helps you learn the balance required for mountainbiking
that's an interesting theory.
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Old 02-02-21, 01:48 PM
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The one drawback to flats is that even with the best pins and super grippy shoes is that at some point along some trail your feet will come off the pedal and you will take a pedal full of pins to your shin. And it will swell up, bleed and bruise and it hurts.

I switched to clipping in and haven't taken a pedal to the shin yet since I did. Wanting to bail quick was a feature I wanted clipping in so I went with Time Atac Pedals and the 10 degree easy release cleat. To my knowledge, these are the easiest pedals to unclip from.

https://time-sport.us/collections/mountain-bike-pedals

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Old 02-02-21, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
The one drawback to flats is that even with the best pins and super grippy shoes is that at some point along some trail your feet will come off the pedal and you will take a pedal full of pins to your shin. And it will swell up, bleed and bruise and it hurts.

I switched to clipping in and haven't taken a pedal to the shin yet since I did. Wanting to bail quick was a feature I wanted clipping in so I went with Time Atac Pedals and the 10 degree easy release cleat. To my knowledge, these are the easiest pedals to unclip from.

https://time-sport.us/collections/mountain-bike-pedals
For some reason, I get bitten on the back of my calf rather than the front of my shin.
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Old 02-02-21, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
I switched to clipping in and haven't taken a pedal to the shin yet since I did.
I have, there was a rock that the pedal hit hard enough to pop my foot out and still slam me with the pedal on partially crashing. It's happened a couple times trying to navigate rock fields.

Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
For some reason, I get bitten on the back of my calf rather than the front of my shin.
Only time I had that happen there was a tiny stump buried in the leaves and my foot went forward with me while the pedal went back with the little stump and proceeded to get me. I'd never had a problem previously but don't ride that trail often enough to remember it was there once the leaves dropped.

OP, get both. Shimano has an XT pedal that is a platform on one side and clipless on the other. Although I can bunny hop and do minor jumps at slower speeds, when the jumps get bigger and the speeds move up I can't keep my feet on the pedals unless I'm clipped. I often prefer to ride the platforms but when the terrain is really rocky or there's lots of downhill I prefer to clip in so I'm partial to this pedal style. And sometimes I really just want to grab the bike and ride with the kids and not bother looking for shoes.
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Old 02-03-21, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
For some reason, I get bitten on the back of my calf rather than the front of my shin.
Interesting. My shins always took the hits. Never the back of my calf. I still have scar marks from it.
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Old 02-03-21, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
Interesting. My shins always took the hits. Never the back of my calf. I still have scar marks from it.
Guess it depends which way you slide off the pedal. For me it is usually off the front when hitting something unexpected.
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Old 02-03-21, 02:33 PM
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Just looking at that picture above with the pinned pedals makes my shins hurt.
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Old 02-03-21, 02:44 PM
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As a big user of clip in SPD pedals on all my bikes, you might be surprised that I would say to learn and develop your skills on flats and then determine if SPDs are the way you want to go. I think you will be a better rider doing this, like being able to bunny hop properly.
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Old 02-03-21, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
Interesting. My shins always took the hits. Never the back of my calf. I still have scar marks from it.
Same here. Knock on wood, I've never had the back. Both shins have had a few. In fact, just a few weeks ago my right got two punctures.
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Old 02-07-21, 05:53 PM
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Do you use clipless pedals on your road bike? Then using them on the dirt is a no brainer. Just dont overthink it.

i hate to give another “walked uphill both ways in the snow” story but i started using toe clips and straps - talk about being a bear to get out of in a hurry if they were tight enough to be of any use!

modern Real shimano brand SPD’s are rock solid and easy to disengage from. Doesnt seem to matter how expensive or not they are, - the deore level ones work as well as the xt branded ones IMHO

so SPD is good!


aaaaand - flats are good (if youre not worried about going fast - but plenty of folks motor along fine on em too

I had a knee injury that ultimately led to a knee replacement 3 months ago. After the injury but for the months i was sorting out how andwho would pay for the surgery , how to get enough time off work etc., i kept riding a little but switched to flats.
Surprise surprise, i kinda like ‘em for goofing off. Ive been riding on old school Vans and will testify that those stink for real riding though and when i am fully healed i want to get a better flats specific shoe, but i am keeping the flats on my big travel bike. The cross countryish bike though will only wear flats until i am comfortable enough with my knee to switch back to the SPD’s. I cant abide the power transfer losses on a bike i am trying to set PR’s on strava with
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Old 02-07-21, 06:02 PM
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You’ve already gotten used to clipping in on your roadies, it’ll be cake to do the same on an mtb.


The only reason for someone already adjusted to clipless to have flats is to be able to wear regular shoes.

If your trails aren’t that difficult, you could even get by with your road shoes and pedals.
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