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The switch to flats


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I've changed to flats after riding clipped for years.

 

Going uphill took some getting used to, my feet used to shoot off the front when I started, now after a few months they don't move, just a matter of getting used to it.

 

As Grease_Monkey says, clipless give you really bad habits and I noticed this when jumping especially. I'd float off the top which is rather unnerving. I've since put the effort in to improve and my technique has jumped drastically. I now feel super confident to hit any size jump and at speed. It's a matter of practice and a little dedication. I'd say, be conscious of what your feet are going and when you get the hang of it, it almost unlocks a whole new world. Feel my skills are much better now than they every were.

 

As far as rock gardens go I've never really had a problem, heals down and my feet stick, again it's something to be conscious of.

 

Just stick with it and you'll see, over a few months you'll become a much better rider.

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bracing?

 

 

Or dab...

When you put your foot out to catch or stabilise yourself. While this can also be done with cleats, it’s a pain because you the have to clip in again every time.

 

Just imagine if Moto cross riders clipped in....

watch how often they dab or brace with their “inside foot”

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Clips or clip less, doesn't matter what you chose. Learning the correct technique requires coaching and time. There is no silver bullet

For sure, 100% true. The only difference between the two is that clipless pedals allow you to get away with bad technique more than flats do. I don't advocate for flats for everyone - especially marathon and XC (anyone that says flats are just as efficient as clipless is just clueless), but I do think most people would benefit from spending some time on flats when learning skills such as jumping and riding rock gardens.

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Thanks for all the input. Will use my dropper for now to regulate seat height, and give it a few more rides. Will check tomorrow if the Saints’ washers are still in.

 

Hoping to hit Helderberg tomorrow if the rain clears

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For sure, 100% true. The only difference between the two is that clipless pedals allow you to get away with bad technique more than flats do. I don't advocate for flats for everyone - especially marathon and XC (anyone that says flats are just as efficient as clipless is just clueless), but I do think most people would benefit from spending some time on flats when learning skills such as jumping and riding rock gardens.

For sure. There is merit in spending time with flats. If we started cycling as kids then that's what we learned on. The challenge is there are some basic techniques that transfer from flats to clips and there's techniques specific to either.

Foot position influences how we interact with the bike through the pedal. Which brings me to ball over spindle or arch over spindle. I've settled on a halfway house solution which gives a bit of a feeling of flats but the security and drive of clips

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Thanks for all the input. Will use my dropper for now to regulate seat height, and give it a few more rides. Will check tomorrow if the Saints’ washers are still in.

 

Hoping to hit Helderberg tomorrow if the rain clears

 

Have you used the dropper before ?

 

Second time I used the dropper I went into a corner too fast ... with the seat out of the way it was easy to lean the bike way IN, and the next moment the bike oversteered !!  Litterally shot off the inside of the turn !

 

Getting used to a dropper seat post also takes a bit of time, and practice to get used to how the bike now reacts .....

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Why Cleats vs Flats ?

 

I know there are long threads fighting along about the benefits of each ....

 

 

THIS thread is interesting in that many experienced riders seems to be moving back from cleats to flats.  

 

 

It would be interesting to hear :

- for which part of their MTB routes (if not all)

- why would they want to move back to flats

- why would they go back to cleats

 

 

 

PS - I have used the original toe-clips with straps back in the day, on road bikes .... but on a MTB I have only used flats.  

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Have you used the dropper before ?

 

Second time I used the dropper I went into a corner too fast ... with the seat out of the way it was easy to lean the bike way IN, and the next moment the bike oversteered !! Litterally shot off the inside of the turn !

 

Getting used to a dropper seat post also takes a bit of time, and practice to get used to how the bike now reacts .....

Yes, been using the dropper for about 8 months. Don’t think I will ever ride a bike without one again. Makes a huge difference

 

On your post above: I will still use my cleats when doing any races longer than 40kms. My weekly rides are Helderberg and GSpot though, so thought the flats for these rides fits in better with the riding style and if I learn better jump technique while Im busy, why not

 

Also need something to give me a little more confidence to take on that road gap.

Edited by Jako De Wet
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THIS thread is interesting in that many experienced riders seems to be moving back from cleats to flats.

 

 

It would be interesting to hear :

- for which part of their MTB routes (if not all)

- why would they want to move back to flats

- why would they go back to cleats

 

 

I can obviously just answer for myself.

 

I have been riding with cleats for the last 15 years (off and on, took a small hiatus from cycling for a while) - so I am very comfortable with cleats. I am making the move back to flats because a big goal of mine for this year is to go down status quo in Jonkershoek cleanly and then do Kingdom Enduro next year.

 

Status quo is a slow speed, techy (rocky with boulders), and very steep trail. It requires low speed manouveres around some rocks and often a slow roll in to a rock chute or roll. I am not confident on the trail yet, so I find myself cleating out just just too soon, which means the foot is down and I have lost my momentum and nerve. On the flats I can keep my foot on just that half a second longer knowing I can get it off quickly to dab if I have to and not go over the bars or off the side.

 

In general I am still more confortable on the cleats especially in higher speed stuff - but obviously for a race like Kingdom that is highly technical you cannot carry around two pairs of shoes and pedals so I need to master flats on everything else as well.

 

As for the bike - it's only on my long travel enduro bike I will be using flats. I will keep clipless pedals on my XC/trail bike, and will most likely put the clipless pedals back on my enduro bike once I feel my skill level/confidence is high enough to not need the safety dab in places like status quo.

 

I will also use the clipless pedals for all the events I take part in this year - none of them are so technical that I feel I need the benefits of flats I have described above.

 

But anyway, looking back - when I was 13/14yrs old I used to ride a durt jump bike in skate parks and on jumps - obviously with flats - and my skill level was just so much higher than it is now. When I got on flats again for the first time last year I realised just how many bad habbits I had picked up with the clipless pedals. Now obviously not everyone will pick up these bad habbits - if you consiously practice technique and are aware of what you are doing clipless won't give you bad habbits - this just was not the case with me.

 

And obviously clipless is way better when it comes to covering distance and climbing.

Edited by Grease_Monkey
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Why Cleats vs Flats ?

 

I know there are long threads fighting along about the benefits of each ....

 

THIS thread is interesting in that many experienced riders seems to be moving back from cleats to flats.  

 

 

It would be interesting to hear :

- for which part of their MTB routes (if not all)

- why would they want to move back to flats

- why would they go back to cleats

 

snip

Disclaimer - Personal Observation:

 

As with most things in cycling, and although there are certain merits to it sure...it seems the fashion of the day to "go back to flats to improve technique -  because Sam Hill" if you watch a few GMBN videos. 

 

Well guys....just do WTF you want and stop caring about someone's opinion on another continent about what is best for you and what YOU like doing on YOUR bike. Most guys make it sound like they grew up being bike park rats who rode in torn jeans and sleeveless T-shirts and could triple-backflip a non-mountable curb. 

I'm not refuting that there are some super skilled guys out there...but let me let you into a secret, MOST mortals can't and wouldn't even try. (It's an extreme example but you know what i mean)

 

if you really like cleats....don't feel the need to switch to flats just because the current 'endurobro' trend makes you feel inept if you can't clear a 10m gap jump (PSSSS....half them cant either :ph34r: )

 

the reverse is true too...if you feel more comfortable or secure or efficient being clipped in....use them and stop worrying about being branded a this or that. You are falling into a trap of marketing BS. People care way to much about other people's opinions or what the flavor of the day is. ;)

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Jako, stick it out for another while.  the mere fact that you bought flats to me suggests that you would like to improve as a rider, so don't give up on it just yet.  get the seat height correct, it will be different from your cleat setup depending on the thickness of your pedals and soles.  in terms of losing your footing on rocky uphills, you'll learn the technique in time.  standing and pedaling is compromised with flats, but that's the only real disadvantage from a pedal efficiency / technique perspective and on an MTB that's not such a huge requirement anyway.

 

I switched from clipless to flats about 4 years ago.  the first 6 months I felt that I had to "re-learn" how to ride a bike, but gradually my confidence, skill and technique evolved to a level where i far prefer flats whenever things get rough. 

 

some comments:

 

Swissvan:  with cleats it's just not that important to know what the bike is going to do underneath you.  take a drop-off for example, with clipless you can ride it with any mampara technique because your feet and your hands control where the bike goes and it's easy to land.  with flats, you need to maintain contact with the pedals naturally, meaning that you have to throw the bike forward over the edge.  this places you in a much better position when you land which helps a lot with shock absorption.  why is this important?  if you want to ride really big drops (2m+) then you need your technique dialled.  same goes for bunnyhops and jumps, hence flats improve your technique.  i'm a much better rider now than i was 5 years ago, and even though flats isn't the only factor, it surely made a difference

 

ChrisF:  I have a spare set of clipless pedals, initially i thought that i'd use flats for enduro races and clipless for the rest.  I did some (fairly unscientific) comparisons, but these indicated that I really can't measure the difference in pedalling speed.  i enjoy the feeling of flat pedals a lot more so never used the clipless on MTB again and I doubt i ever will.

 

edit:  thought id just add incase my comment might seem like its from some  enduro hipster only into riding gnar with a closet stacked side to side with o'neil and troy-lee gear... i'm an all-rounder and not a proponent for any specific discipline or style.  I've cycled everything from xco, xcm, downhill, enduro, road, ironman, stage races, ultra-endurance races and bike tours. so even though i have personal preferences just like everybody else, i have tested the "flats vs clipless" extensively over a very large variety of terrain and distance and i'm not merely making my pedal choice on the basis that flats & baggies are perceived cooler than cleats & lycra.

Edited by rudi-h
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Well guys....just do WTF you want and stop caring about someone's opinion on another continent about what is best for you and what YOU like doing on YOUR bike.

I don't really think this thread is as much about other's opinions, it's about hearing other's experiences and taking from that what may work for you. I don't really care about what others think of me or what I ride, but I can surely learn alot by hearing other's people's experiences.

 

The reason most people are on clipless pedals is because someone in a bike store sold it to them or they listened to poppular opinion in SA. Might as well take some other opinions/experiences into account and try something new. Some will hate it, some will love it.

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When I start to feel some bad habits creeping in I switch to flats. I also feel so much free on the Bike and move around a lot better as well.

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I am a huge flat pedal advocate. The key technique to everything fun in mtb is the bunnyhop and manual. Cleat only riders never learn to bunnyhop with their arms and body only. You can learn to manual with cleats but looping out is much more scary! I ride cleats at the moment and prefer them for all trails where average speed is high. I don't like them on trails such as status quo but I do just fine if I don't think too much. Most RSA riders who munch miles probably don't need to go to flats as the technique aspect does not appeal to them. To each their own. At the end of the day fitness beats skill on the stopwatch over a long distance.

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