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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 <span style="-webkit-text-size-adjust: 100%;">that suits you.” </span>
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