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EDITORIAL

Flat Pedal Facts

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Jan 11, 2018

Tired Tropes

Another year has been kicked to the curb and I'm charging hard into 2018. Time to get out in front of all the other test writing hacks and hit a fresh year running with original takes on all the tired tropes. Wheel size, handlebar width, hardtails for beginners, geometry and of course the good old flat pedals vs. clip-in pedal debate... 

...joking, I'm joking. Whatever pedals you like to spin, clip-in, flats, toe-clips or bare axles - I say 'you do you'. 

I've been mainly riding clip-in pedals since I started mountain biking. That's certainly my preference in most cases. But, this fall and winter I've spent more time on flats than the last five years combined and I've come across a handful of unanticipated Flat Pedal Facts.

Header Image: Waki Designs


Small Things Crankworx 2017 AndrewM

Opinions are like underwear and I'm not looking to change yours. Run whatever pedals you like. 

The Reason Matters

It turns out giant anodized pedaling platforms with fresh rock scars-a-shimmering will draw the attention of your riding pals. Whether a long time clip-in rider or a fresh convert they're going to ask what's up with the switch. My reason for switching pedal-shoe interfaces is overly complicated to explain and in hindsight fairly flaky so here's a quick list of pre-approved 'good' reasons I've sourced for running flat pedals. 

  • Sam Hill
  • Improving riding skills
  • Winter is coming
  • Taking the Ryan Leech 12 Ride challenge
  • Re-discovering lost riding skills
  • More options for pretty anodized colors
  • Danny MacAskill 
  • The shoes are way cooler
  • Experimenting with self-flagellation
  • Have big feet and want to try new larger platforms
  • Lost a bet
  • Tattoos are expensive, scars are free
  • Sam Hill

The fact is your friends will ask and a nice packaged response will allow for a quick transition to other more important topics like which post ride beers are best for snow rides. 

Crankbrothers Stamp 3 AndrewM

Introducing the Con-Leche-Comparison method of calculating relative pedal size.  

Crankbrothers Stamp 3 AndrewM

Here we see that the larger Crankbrothers Stamp 3 pedal is 25cm² larger. If you have big feet try big pedals. 

Oval Ring Revolution

My previous experiences with non-round rings on geared bikes were entirely neutral. On my single speed an oval has been my slight preference but if round is the only option I'm not perturbed. That's clipping in.

Oval rings weren't on my radar when last I regularly rode flat pedals and I'm blown away by the difference that going egg shaped makes when climbing with flats - especially out of the saddle. An oval ring reduces the amount of force needed to turn the crankset during the least efficient phase of my pedal stroke. That translates to my flat pedals more quickly returning to a point where I'm applying power again. 

Wolf Tooth Camo Chainring AndrewM

Compared to a good quality aluminum chainring the Wolftooth Camo stainless ring has at least three times the life span in my experience and I fully believe it will get twice that again. 

I notice the difference between a round and oval ring immediately on a geared bike with flat pedals. On my single speed I find the oval is a world of difference any time climbs get technical. Round rings are comparatively unrideable. 

I'd recommend that anyone who rides flat pedals on technical trails with climbs give an oval a shot for their next replacement ring. Keep the tooth count the same and don't look back as you clean sections you haven't been able to make previously. Single speeding with flat pedals? Swap the ring now no matter what condition it's in. 

BlackSpire-Crusher-and-Badger-NSMB-Andrew-M-3.jpg?w=1600

Blackspire's Snaggletooth was my first oval experience on my one speed. Good quality aluminum oval rings for a fair price for anyone looking to experiment. 

More Dropper Post

On a technical trail ride I find I use my dropper post at least twice as much with flat pedals as I do clipped in. It's a complete rethink as my default position on Shore XC rides goes from 'up' when clipped in to 'down' with flats. 

In my pre-dropper years of yore I would regularly pedal my hardtail across technical transitions and up techy climbs, even long ones, with the seat at my preferred descending height. Now, even with a dropper, I often just straight-leg short downs without bothering to hit the remote. I would have previously chalked this up to having more riding experience but now I'm sure it actually comes down to pedal choice. Straight-legging anything technical with my seat up and flat pedals sucks whereas clipped in it isn't so bad.  

XFusion Manic NSMB AndrewM

I've never previously had a want for more than 125mm of dropper post travel. That was before I was back riding flat pedals. 

I am not just riding with my seat down a lot more with flat pedals but when I'm riding down North Shore trails I also want it lower. I'm that guy, who didn't see the need for more than 125mm of travel from a dropper post. I know taller riders who want more travel because "they have long legs" and shorter rides who want more travel because "they have short legs" and it seemed to me that those positions cancel each other out. That was before flat pedals. 

Clipped in I'm still perfectly happy with a 125mm dropper but with my flat pedals installed I'll take the option of 150mm+ of drop on any bike I'm riding thanks. 

Smack That

Aside from the re-learning curve and even comparing similar body sizes, say a Crankbrothers Mallet vs. Stamp 3, I smoke my flat pedals more frequently and harder when riding. It's not generally an issue descending but pedaling through technical terrain I seem to smoke rocks harder and more often.

I definitely see the value in programs like Blackspire's lifetime free* bearing replacement program or the ease of service, relative cheapness, and excellent parts availability of Crankbrothers. 

*Does not include shipping

Return Of The Quick Release

I've been enjoying flat pedals on my hardtail as long as the climbs aren't too steep and sustained. I plan to keep running them all winter with a few exceptions. On full suspension bikes, I've been going back and forth between flats and my Crankbrothers Mallet DH pedals. 

I've been swapping back and forth so often that I find myself lamenting the slow death of the quick release. Swapping between clipping in and flats requires a seat height adjustment every time and even with a measurement to go off of I never seem to get it perfect the first time I tighten the seat clamp. 

chromag_trio.jpg

I wish I still owned an original Chromag quick release with the full brass lever. Best seat QR ever made. 

I have a couple of crappy take-off quick releases kicking around the shop. Ironically they're left over from swaps to bolt-on seat collars that were then sold on with bikes. They enrage me even more than having to fish out my hex key to make minute adjustments. I've always hated how that stupid little plastic or beer-can shim between the clamp and lever disintegrates at the worst possible moment on the trail. 

gs_chromag-2.jpg?resize=624%2C416

They still make the best QR on the market but the brass insert just isn't as good. Care about the weight savings? Run a clamp. 

I'd swear I had a couple of Chromag QRs kicking around in a tool bin but low and behold just my purple one has reared its head. Anyways, I think regularly jumping back and forth between clipping in and flats is a lot friendlier exercise with a quick release seat clamp installed. 

I'm not telling you what to buy but if it isn't a Chromag, or possibly a Hope, I can't promise a lifetime of seat clamp serenity. 

Flat Pedal Facts

Easy to learn and a life time to master, flat pedals remind me of playing the guitar. Sure, I could be sitting around the fire playing Margaritaville tomorrow but that sure as sh*t doesn't make me Jimmy Hendrix. 

At first I found riding flats again exhausting. Climbing uses more core muscles and there are fewer opportunities to zone out than when clipped in. But, I'm riding way more actively these days whether clipped in or riding flats and I'm motivated to keep riding them regularly since it's increased my clipped in downhill speed as well. 

I'll still take my clip-in pedals on any given day of the week but I'll be regularly riding flats from now on. The fact is the best decision is probably to choose both. Whoops, did I just make this about flats vs. clips?! 

What flat pedal facts did I miss?

Comments

jonas-dodd
+2 Cr4w MTBrent Peter Cooper Quinn
Jonas Dodd  - Jan. 10, 2018, 10:54 p.m.

Unassailable Fact #1:

Bunny hopping, step-ups, step-downs, hitting jumps of all sorts and the use of english to control the bike is considerably more difficult on flat pedals, not to mention the additional physical output required when climbing. Therefore flat pedal riders who are confident with these maneuvers are inherently more skilled than those who are clipped in. If you want to push yourself as a rider you are obligated to learn to ride with flat pedals.

Unassailable fact #2:

There is no argument that successfully argues for the use of flat pedals for non-professional riders.

Unassailable fact #3:

Riding flats provides a continual learning curve that allows the rider to gain ever deeper insight into the subtleties of the form.

Reply

craw
+2 Cam McRae AJ Barlas
Cr4w  - Jan. 11, 2018, 7:01 a.m.

Doing those moves with flats isn't more difficult. They just require specific fundamental skills that someone who grew up on clipless probably never learned. What's cool is that those skills totally enhance clipless riding when you switch back.

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:19 a.m.

Yeah. The skills translate one direction, not the other. Its not any harder or easier.

Reply

Brigham_Rupp
+3 cruzss AJ Barlas Cr4w
Brigham_Rupp  - Jan. 11, 2018, 7:40 a.m.

Fact #2. Are you saying flats are only worth it to professionals or am I reading that wrong? I would argue the opposite. I’ll wait for clarification before composing my diatribe...

Reply

craw
+1 DMRDave
Cr4w  - Jan. 11, 2018, 8:39 a.m.

All you need to do is watch a new rider who has always used clipless pedals bunny hop by pulling up on the pedals to see what skills I'm talking about. Learning how to bunnyhop and get on/over obstacles smoothly is a key aspect of riding that you best master using flats - and that skill translates directly to riding clipless.
It's a skill that needs to learned if that rider expects to improve their technical riding. I think we're in agreement that mastering these skills is good for all kinds of riders.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:13 a.m.

This. My riding is much more active with both types of pedals thanks to riding flats. Loading the pedals better at key moments pushing into corners or popping over stuff.

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:19 a.m.

Fact #1 - I don't think any of that is "more difficult" on flats. Its different. You can pick the bike up differently if you're clipped in than you can if you aren't. And if you're going from learning on clips, to flats, that's going to be apparent; techniques learned on flats can be translated to clips, but not necessarily the other way. But its not harder, or easier. There's just more ways to do certain things clipped in. 

Fact #2 - er, what? 

Fact #3 - agree, but see also: Fact #4

Fact #4 - Riding clips provides a continual learning curve that allows the rider to gain ever deeper insight into the subtleties of the form.

Reply

skooks
0
Skooks  - Jan. 12, 2018, 1:59 p.m.

Totally agree with points 1. and 3. I would refute point 2. by saying that riding flats is more fun for me. That's the end of the argument right there.

Reply

goose8
+2 Andrew Major Peter
goose8  - Jan. 11, 2018, 2:48 a.m.

Switched to flats about 8 years ago and it saved my riding. With clipless pedals I was pulling up with my legs too much at the bottom of my stroke, and it was using muscles in funny ways. Curiously they didn't appreciate that much, so my calves and quads were in constant pain. Switched to flats at the suggestion of a PT and the pain vanished. So it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility to add "medical reasons" to your list.

Reply

JVP
+1 Andrew Major
JVP  - Jan. 11, 2018, 10:25 a.m.

Funny thing, I had inflamed Achilles on both legs (from an early season death-march hike-a-bike) that lasted over a year.  Switched to clips for a bit and it finally went away.

I'm mostly flats these days, but ride both in the summer.  Going back and forth on occasion is good for both skills and the body.  Kind of the same as riding a hard tail to keep your style and line choice smooth.

Reply

MTBrent
+3 AlanB Pete Roggeman Mike Anderson
MTBrent  - Jan. 11, 2018, 5:38 a.m.

Fact #whatever:  Flats eliminate the inevitable "hop out of your truck, realize you've forgotten your special clippy shoes for your special clippy pedals, and need to drive back to get them." raises hand

Sidenote: a singlespeed hardtail with a QR rigid post and flat pedals is bliss.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:02 a.m.

So true. Eons ago, I was forced to ride Squamish in Tevas on small SPDs when I made that same mistake. I sucked it up and made it happen, but it wasn't pretty.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 MTBrent
Andrew Major  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:17 a.m.

So many stories of people showing up at the shop at the start of their ride (base of Seymour) without their clipless shoes. I always keep an extra pair in the car just out of paranoia of being that guy.

Reply

Vikb
+2 Sandy James Oates AJ Barlas
Vik Banerjee  - Jan. 11, 2018, 6:06 a.m.

I rode clipless for about 20yrs and then on a lark decided to try flats 10yrs ago. I haven't looked back. There is literally nothing about being clipped in that I miss. I ride with people that ride both systems and some people that swap back and forth. From the saddle I don't observe anything obviously different happening based on the type of pedal people are on.

I do still own a pair of clipless shoes and pedals, which I occasionally put on my road bike/commuter since I feel like I should wear them out. After a couple times where I grab the bike to head to the pub and realize I have to put the "special" shoes on I get fed up and switch back to flats. I'd got speed/time data on lots of commute runs and can't see any difference based on whether I am riding flats or clipless.

Reply

Idaridesayeti
+1 AlanB
Mike Anderson  - Jan. 11, 2018, 6:10 a.m.

Another reason for the switch... knee problems. I rode last year wth a torn ACL before getting it fixed in November. My doc and physio insisted that I dump clipless for last season and the coming one. So after about 15 years on clips I tried a pair of Pedalling Innovations’ huge ass pedals and don’t know if I will ever go back. The science behind them may be black magic but I think I’m a better rider on them. I guess time will tell!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:11 a.m.

Big Feet = Big Pedals. The PIs are fairly narrow for their length but there are a spectrum of pedal sizes now so it’s pretty easy to use numbers to get a good fit.

I know a few folks in the same situation (knees or hips). 

On the other side I know riders who’ve switched to clipping in to get some float due to knee pain.

Reply

cruzss
+1 Andrew Major
cruzss  - Jan. 11, 2018, 11:56 a.m.

I’m one of those who needs float so my knees don’t hurt. Shimano clips have little float and my knees hurt with them. Time ATAC and Crankbrothers clipless pedals have a lot of float and my knees never hurt. I can ride flats for about 15 miles but after that my knees hurt (or on long climbs unless I regularly re-position my feet). I speculate that sticky shoes and spikes on flat pedals lock my feet in just like a clipless pedal with no (or little) float and my knees need my feet to have float. I’ve seen this consistently for me in almost 30 years riding MTB.

Reply

scoleman
0
SColeman  - Jan. 11, 2018, 2:54 p.m.

For me, it's exactly the opposite.  I rode flats for a while, but I could never get my feet to land in exactly the same spot every time, which led to some riding with slightly crooked feet and consequent knee pain.  With clipless, I know that my feet will always be at the exact angle that makes my knees happy.

Reply

litespeed74
+6 cruzss jaydubmah Shrockie Merwinn Andrew Major legbacon
litespeed74  - Jan. 11, 2018, 6:27 a.m.

I"m going back to power grips..yeah..that's the ticket!

Reply

Captain-Snappy
0
Merwinn  - Jan. 11, 2018, 10:57 a.m.

+1 because I remember their ads in MBA way the hell back in the last century.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 11, 2018, 6:27 p.m.

I have heard* that Power Grips is the most profitable (gross & net) division of Mountain Racing Products (MRP).  

Lots of folks riding around in nice clothes not wanting to scuff up their expensive-but-useless-for-pedaling-sans-retention shoes. I also see the Fat version of the straps on messenger bikes frequently. 

*I have zero evidence on hand and am fully prepared to be contradicted but it was from a source I trust.

Reply

Brigham_Rupp
0
Brigham_Rupp  - Jan. 11, 2018, 7:43 a.m.

Nice list of observations. At the end you said we should probably ride both. I’ve been riding fairly seriously for twenty years and do a bit of everything... XC, downhill, dirt jump.... mostly AM.  Somehow in all those years I’ve never clipped in a single time. Would you still argue I should give it a go? I’ve always been curious, but not curious enough to drop the coin. I’ve been especially happy with five tens and Chromag Scarabs for a few years now.

Reply

Cheez1ts
0
Garrett Thibault  - Jan. 11, 2018, 8:22 a.m.

I dropped the coin when I got a CX bike a few years ago. I ended up racing CX on flats and hardly used my clips. 

My issue was that I couldn’t keep my feet warm. I wasn’t willing to shell out more for new warmer clip shoes and flats solved the problem.

I always think one day I’ll try them again, but I hardly make the time to ride. I don’t want to spend the time I do have to learn clips.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 Andrew Major
Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:09 a.m.

Not sure if a compelling enough argument exists to persuade you to switch given that length of time and comfort across so many different types of riding. If you don't feel like you need more stability or traction when going fast over rough sections, there aren't a lot of arguments that should persuade you to drop the money and adapt to something new...unless you were to get into XC racing.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:27 a.m.

Clip-in pedals make a big difference at the very edges of the spectrum. 

There’s a reason every pro XC racer clips in. There’s a reason Sam Hill is an outlier - check out what pedals every other rider who podiumed in WCDH and EWS, both men’s and women’s, last year.

Jerry makes the case for clipping in for DH below. 

For XC it’s noticably faster pedaling through technical sections and it makes a big difference on steep climbs just keeping everything spinning. It also optimizes foot placement. 

That said it really comes down to the Keith Bontrager quote: 

“If you are a pro, you ride the fastest thing you can get. If you aren’t, then you can ride anything that suits you.” 

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:36 a.m.

Riding clipless for a bit will teach you new skills, and bring new perspective to riding bikes. 

So if that's your jam, do it! SPD pedals are pretty dirt cheap these days (I respect that shoes can be less so). 

I'd say if you're going to, commit to it for a good period of time, though. You'll likely kinda hate it for a couple weeks, then dislike it, then.... Give it 3 months. See where you stand.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 11, 2018, 10:33 a.m.

Ryan Leech's flat pedal course specifies 12 rides as a minimum for getting used to them. It'd be at least that many going in the other direction - maybe even more since the clipped-in feeling can be sketchy and takes getting used to if you've never done it.

One argument that doesn't get brought up is that sometimes being clipped in adds to the continuity or flow that gets you through a section that might normally make you pause and dab. Conversely, if you can't get clipped in, it can hurt your flow until you get to the point where you just think f*ck it, I'm tired of getting dropped, and you start barreling down questionably steep sections with one feet clipped in and one perched somewhere on the cage, until you find relief in a flatter, smoother section so you can play go-fish with your cleats again.

Reply

LoamtoHome
+3 Cam McRae Todd Hellinga Andrew Major
Jerry Willows  - Jan. 11, 2018, 8:43 a.m.

Rode flats for 20 plus years but I noticed I was focusing on keeping the feet on the pedals on fast high speed sections.  I have 510's with a grippy pedals.  Tried clips and not looking back now.  I don't need to focus on my feet moving around now and I've noticed less pedal strikes as well.

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:23 a.m.

Especially with current BB heights, pedal strikes are a big driver for me riding clips more often than not right now. I just tend to smash flats into things way more (because I'm a hack, its true), because they're bigger. 

And yeah, there's something really nice about not thinking about your feet while the bike is pin balling around on the fast bits.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:34 a.m.

I just assumed at some point in 20years - especially how much you ride JW - that foot position with flats just becomes natural so that’s interesting. I certainly still have to think about my feet on techy climbs or descents.

Great point re. low BB. I’ve been mainly riding flats on my hardtail because I didn’t enjoy all the bonus pedal strikes on my dual FS Bike.

Reply

AndT
0
AndT  - Jan. 13, 2018, 5:18 a.m.

Always having ridden flats, I have to say not only is foot position not a thought, but I have also saved myself from crashing countless times by pivoting off the ground with my loose foot.  A situation maybe taller, awkward riders will relate to.

Reply

craw
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman
Cr4w  - Jan. 11, 2018, 8:48 a.m.

I was a clipless rider since day 1, when those first SPDs came out in the 90s. But like many of us I switched to flats in the late 90s and through the freeride era. Mostly because SPDs were fully XC-oriented with little platforms and super stiff shoes that forced you to pedal on the balls of your feet. For a solid decade I rode flats happily. But also janky trails, ladder bridges and dorps to falt.

Until the next generation of shoes came out (Shimano AM45!) that allowed you to run your cleats further back, more similar to the type of placement previously only possible on flats. Now suddenly you could get it all: a good technical position while clipped in, big pedals that you could reasonably ride not clipped in and comfortable shoes that had good traction and comfort for walking compared to disco boots and much better climbing because you can use the pull stroke not just the push.

Either way. Do both.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:07 a.m.

I'm an advocate of doing both as well. I ride clipless more often but make sure to ride clipless enough that I can switch back and forth comfortably. Best of both worlds.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:35 a.m.

Wait... you didn’t just drill new cleat positions?!

Don’t let Old Fart Andy hear that!

Reply

andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Jan. 11, 2018, 2:42 p.m.

Hey I did that years ago. Before anyone else that I know of actually. I thought it made sense to place the cleat as far back as possible to ease the stresses on the calf muscles and ankles and then I read up on some Australian bike guru that advocates that for road riders.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 11, 2018, 3:23 p.m.

I know! I knew some ‘bent riders through the shop who did it in the 90s but you’re the first mountain biker I heard of doing it. 

Now of course many shoes have a usable range of positions (where it seems in the past - especially Euro shoes - no one used the front 50% of the sliders.

Reply

zigak
0
ZigaK  - Jan. 11, 2018, 11:15 p.m.

I think the guy is from Austria.

Reply

andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Jan. 12, 2018, 4:42 p.m.

https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/

This is the guy. He’s experimented with arch cleats too.

Reply

legbacon
0
legbacon  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:12 a.m.

Started on bear trap pedals, then tried clips & straps, and got clipless after that folly.  I dabbled in flats a bit until a couple of years ago when sticky snow had my cleats clogging up every time I put a foot down (constantly).  Then I got serious about flats, and it took 12 good rides before I was 100% comfortable on them.  Now I swap back and forth, but use flats exclusively during the winter.  

One thing flats don't have is float, once my foot is on, it's on.  Another issue is that with clipless, my foot is always in the right position, hit and miss with flats.  

I still have seat collar QRs on my bikes because of swapping pedals, and occasionally I like to move the post down 10mm from full roadie if the trail is very techy.  It also confuses people.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:42 a.m.

Re. float, I do find that I can only use Five Ten shoes with some pedals. They are great with Stamps for example but anything with long pins or a more concave shape and I can’t adjust my feet. 

For long rides regardless my knees appreciate being clipped in.

Reply

GladePlayboy
0
Rob Gretchen  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:14 a.m.

I switch between clips and flats...depending on bike, time of year, etc.... I do feel a bit of an improvement when I climb clipped in but nothing extraordinary.   I think everyone should be comfortable in both scenarios...

Oh and yes, Chromag QRs are the ticket... many of these in our shop at ALL times...

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 11, 2018, 10:35 a.m.

Wisdom!

Which shop, Rob? You're allowed a plug when someone else asks! (even if not if you're subtle...)

Reply

GladePlayboy
+2 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae
Rob Gretchen  - Jan. 11, 2018, 6:50 p.m.

Hey Pete.   Cycology Bikes in Castlegar...

Reply

LoamtoHome
+1 Rob Gretchen
Jerry Willows  - Jan. 12, 2018, 8:36 a.m.

Love the 'Gar for riding.  Built a few trails up there back in the day.

Reply

andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:21 a.m.

I do find that when I throw of flats that I lift my feet off the pedal for the first little while when I sprint or pedal really hard up steep pitches. But I get used to that. What I don’t get used to is the knee pain In my slightly wonky left knee that I get from the wider stance that the 5.Ten Carver clodhoppers forced me into. Are there any properly grippy shoes that are less wide?

Reply

GladePlayboy
0
Rob Gretchen  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:35 a.m.

The new FiveTen Freerider Pros....

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 11, 2018, 9:39 a.m.

Love the Shimano GR7. Isn’t Five Ten sticky but then I find I can only run Five Tens with some pedals. 

GR7 is grippier than any non-Five Ten shoe I’ve tried.

Reply

IslandLife
+3 DMRDave Cr4w pedalhound
IslandLife  - Jan. 11, 2018, 10:45 a.m.

Clipless vs flats - to each their own.

But my experience... after riding flats for 15 years, I moved to riding on the island from riding on the shore. So I decided I should switch to clipless because of the more "trail", or "aggressive XC" nature of the trails compared with the shore gnar.  After 5 rides I sold my clipless and went back to flats. I found exactly zero benefit from riding clipless.

I've actually never found a benefit to climbing in clipless, in fact, maybe it's just me, but while climbing technical trail, I like to adjust my foot in ways that clipless doesn't allow.  And since the pedaling innovation studies which showed there is no need to pull up on the backstroke (it's actually worse), I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything.

I also realized I also just love the free feeling flats provide.  I ride with a bunch of different guys, some use clipless, some use flats, after years of riding with them, it's definitely shown me that just because you ride a clipless pedal it doesn't mean your getting to the top faster nor riding through the chunder quicker.

And I definitely don't recommend beginners start out with clipless.  Learning to control and adjust your bike strictly through your pedals and staying on through rough sections only because you're clipped in are very bad habits to learn and will only restrict your ability to become a much better rider in the future.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 11, 2018, 12:04 p.m.

Have you tried an Oval ring? For all the singletrack climbing on the island I have to think it would be extra awesome based on how many trails it makes a difference for locally. 

Taking my single speed to Cumberland in a few months and normally that would be a 100% clip-in experience but I’m only 98% leaning towards clipping in right now.

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IslandLife
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IslandLife  - Jan. 11, 2018, 3:13 p.m.

I've actually been thinking about going oval lately.  I already added a 49t cog to my 1x 11t-42t set-up.  My problem is finding an oval ring that fits my 76 BCD.  May have to upgrade cranks as well...

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Jan. 11, 2018, 5:02 p.m.

If you’re stuck with one the 76 BCD SRAM or Specialized cranks with a fixed spider I think the only option for you is a Rotor Q-ring. The good news is they come in sizes right down to 28t and the quality is high. The bad news is they are expensive for alloy rings.

If your spider is removable then there’s a plethora of options for SRAM 3-bolt mounts.

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IslandLife
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IslandLife  - Jan. 12, 2018, 4:02 p.m.

Spider is not removable... looked at those Rotor Q-rings and you're right, they are way to expensive.  But they're also just so damn ugly.  I wouldn't usually care about the looks of a ring... but it's like they tried to make them horrible.

I'll probably just wait until I upgrade my cranks in a year or so to go with the "oval-ution"

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Jan. 12, 2018, 4:10 p.m.

HA! They are Spanish you know so the fact we both are thinking the same re. appearance probably just means we don’t understand fashion!

May be worth checking out a Blackspire crank package. Not the stiffest on the market if you care but otherwise a great value including one of their narrow wide Snaggletooth rings and a BB with stainless bearings for under $170 CAD.

reviewed the setup last year and was happy with it even on my SS were the cranks weren’t stiff by any means but we’re totally rideable (185lbs).

GladePlayboy
+1 IslandLife
Rob Gretchen  - Jan. 11, 2018, 6:52 p.m.

Oval rings are the business... Been on these for 4 years now.   Convinced a lot of unconvinceable peeps to give them a try.   None have switched back to round.  Nuff said.

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pedalhound
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pedalhound  - Jan. 11, 2018, 11:04 a.m.

I started with the old suntour pedals with specialized cages and straps, then went on clipless as soon as they came out. I moved to Canada in the 90's and the tech and stunts up here were scary as hell in clips. Nothing like being up on a skinny and one of your wheels slips off and you are clipped in...good times. Once I went to flat's my confidence on these trail features went way up! A few years back I decided that since these trail features have all but disappeared I would go back to clipless...and I liked it. I had a bad crash that messed up my ankle so went back to flats as the shoes are way more comfortable and have not looked back. It's the same with wheelsize...pick your favourite and be a dick about it!

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taprider
+1 Pete Roggeman
taprider  - Jan. 11, 2018, 2:18 p.m.

Hey Andrew

how was the Con Leche beer?

does it really have milk in it?

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 11, 2018, 2:23 p.m.

Here we are talking about the article, but taprider gets to the important question! Do tell, Andrew.

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xy9ine
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Perry Schebel  - Jan. 11, 2018, 3:02 p.m.

i've had some. "milk" = lactose = non fermentable sugar = a bit of added sweetness. some cinnamon & vanilla notes on top of a standard milk stout. consensus: not bad / worth trying once, but not mind blowing.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Jan. 11, 2018, 3:30 p.m.

So last year the Con Leche was f***ing amazing. I don’t know anything about making beer but this year it was good (as long as not comparing it in my mind to last year’s) but not close to the level of last year. 

Still worth trying if you haven’t had it but you won’t have to hide it in the back of the fridge for fear of your partner drinking it all.

Same deal with Salty Scot from P49. It’s still okay but as of a couple years back it’s not as good as it used to be.

That’s not just some weird tastebud transition either. Everyone I talked to who was amazed with Con Leche last year said the same.

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taprider
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taprider  - Jan. 12, 2018, 7:12 a.m.

Had the same experience with Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller

last year it was fantastic and this year it was bleah!

I wonder if it's us and not the beer?

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Jan. 12, 2018, 7:56 a.m.

Can’t speak to OCD but in my case it’s a pretty large sample size of people that were preaching Con Leche to each other last year. If all of our taste changed that much I’m wondering who’s been putting what in the water in the GVRD.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Jan. 11, 2018, 10:32 p.m.

I think generally crashes are worse clipped in. And saves percentages are higher on flats. Like the swing the leg behind you on the other side of the bike save I saw Pete make on a loamy drop on Tuesday. 

But maybe I'm just bitter because I've had three relatively hard bails recently because the shoes I'm testing are reluctant to release. The soles are a little too tall so the interface is tight. If I'm trying to pull out at a bad angle, because I'm going down, there is just enough hesitation to give gravity the win. I have bruises in three different places to prove it. 

Of course I could loosen my pedals, which are at max retention, but that seems like sacrilege. And I really like the planted feel produced when there is tension between my foot and the platform (I ride XTR trail pedals). Hopefully I'll get used to it before I break something.

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Lornholio
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Lornholio  - Jan. 12, 2018, 3:37 a.m.

Cam, what shoes are you using that have good sole contact with Shimano Trails?

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cooperquinn
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Cooper Quinn  - Jan. 12, 2018, 7:53 a.m.

Just out of curiosity, why are you running your pedals at max tension? Everyone is different, but I can't even imagine doing that. (possibly I'm just weak).

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 14, 2018, 10:47 a.m.

That save was while riding clipless, but I think you're right - flats give you more options for recoveries.

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cam@nsmb.com
+1 AJ Barlas
Cam McRae  - Jan. 11, 2018, 10:44 p.m.

Is it easier to be a pedal snob if you ride flats or if you ride spds? I almost feel like it's a class distinction between mountain bikers and flats are the pedals of the people, while the ruling class ride clipped in. 

This article got me in a little trouble. 

https://nsmb.com/articles/my_pedals_are_better_than_your_pedals/ 

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fatheadbiker
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fatheadbiker  - Jan. 13, 2018, 12:58 p.m.

I use Flat Pedals for all riding, even XC, the setup I use, I think is very comparable to Clipped In for pedaling efficiency, my setup is:                                                                                                                                                                                                               -Use the high end light weight 510 Shoes                                                                                                                                               -I use the new One Up Pedals, large, light and extremely good grip                                                                                                 -Absolute Black Oval Chainring,                                                                                                                                                                 -Adjust seat post as high as possible, even 1/2" too low kills efficiency.                                                                                               With all these in combination I have no trouble staying with a clipped in rider [XC riding] who is in comparable shape as I am. The one Up Pedals are so grippy I can put power down for 180deg of pedal rotation. The Oval chainring makes flat pedaling much more efficient  and makes climbing much easier.                                                                                                                    Flat pedaling is usually lower crank RPM and higher pedaling torque than comparable Clipped in riding, so that's where the Oval Chainring [most torque applied as the leg is straitening] and the high seat position are very important to this setup.  I have put a lot of thought and years of testing to get the perfect Flat Pedal combo, I am very happy with this setup.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Jan. 14, 2018, 9:06 p.m.

I was thinking about your comment on my (flat pedal) ride today and - pro XC/DH aside - I agree that it is true in many situations that two equally skilled/fit/experienced riders one with flats and one with clips are out riding together. 

Where it does become really noticeable are trails with, or accessed by, really steep climbs where the clip-in pedals win every thing or hammering down chunber with my feets dancing about. 

Cheers,

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fatheadbiker
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fatheadbiker  - Jan. 14, 2018, 10:06 p.m.

Your right about clipless being better on the very steep climbs, pulling up on the pedals really helps in that situation, I have found that the Oval Chain Ring with Flats brings it closer to Clipped in, on steep climbs. I find when it is really steep, it takes less energy and is just as fast, to just get off and push/run with the bike.

I started riding clipless years ago, but had some nasty injuries because I couldn't unclip fast enough when I was going down and I was getting knee pain from my foot being forced into one position.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Jan. 15, 2018, 9:19 a.m.

That’s my exact experience although if I know I’m doing trails with long sustained steep climbs I clip in.

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DMRDave
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DMRDave  - Jan. 15, 2018, 8:55 a.m.

Your oval ring comments have almost been ignored in the responses!  I remember my biopace ovals (hahaha - I know different orientation).  Are there any good chain guides for them?

I have always and will always ride flats on an mtb.  I started clipping in when doing spin classes and and then took tham on to the road with my commuter bike.  I used some oldish Shimano shoes and XT cageless pedals but I wasn't able to put my foot where I wanted to to feel stable, yes perfect for applying power and sustaining a cadence, but I never felt confidently balanced and minimal room for movement (currently on DMR v12 mags's and Superstar mag's with five tens).

I foolishly had toe clips back in the early-mid 90's (teenager) as a get about bike but as I started "mountain biking" it was bear traps then DMR's to lean to jump and downhill - so err bit of "old dog new tricks" scenario for me now!  Oh and to much work makes Dave a dull boy who has minimal time to ride and learn new things :-(

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AndrewMajor
+1 DMRDave
Andrew Major  - Jan. 15, 2018, 9:18 a.m.

The couple comments above yours are both highly Oval-positive re. rings conjoined with flats.

Speaking of tired tropes, there’s actually a rule that anyone who mentions Biopace in a conversation about Oval rings has to kick $15 to their local trail association +$5 for every subsequent mention. Sorry. 

For top guides (retention) I don’t use one. I’ve seen Paul guides in use on Oval+Cross setups and I’ve seen OneUp guides on various Oval+FS setups. So those setups definitely appear to work.

I hope your job figures out you’re twice as productive and improve the disposition of all around you when you’re riding!

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