The End of Flat Pedals at World Cup Downhills?

Oct 2, 2012 at 1:09
Oct 2, 2012
by Richard Cunningham  
 
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Before you read this, realize that this article is about World Cup racing and the possibility that flat pedals are not going to win very many of them in the near future. This is NOT a sermon to convince flat pedal riders to switch to clips. If you are happy with flats, then ride happily forever with flats and save your spleen for sprinting. - RC



Bulldog Brook First world cup win and Val D Isere may burn tonight. The Vodka is already on ice at MS Mondraker.

Bulldog Brook's First world cup win and Val D'Isere. The Mondraker rider took his place in the record books in one of the most exciting races of 2012. Fraser Britton photo



In two seasons, only Brook McDonald has won a World Cup Race on flat pedals. The world's best man on flats, Sam Hill, has threatened to put his front tire over the line first a few times, but has yet to make it stick. If one looks at the top-ten results, clipped-in riders are by far the dominant force in professional downhill racing. Those who swear by flats may claim that today's World Cup courses are less technical and more pedally, but this is not the case. There has been no shortage of monster technical sections and horrific weather-induced track conditions in recent history. Also true, however, is that courses as of late are constructed with a better balance of high-speed jumps and corners, and lower-speed technical sections which may have skewed the podium towards clipped-in riders - but the winners have been clipped in nonetheless.

Danny Hart Introduces the New-School Riding Technique at Champéry

Danny Hart and Sam Hill both rocked the DH world with dominating performances down Champéry's challenging track and in horrid weather. Hill, with his flat-pedal signature style and brilliant line choice in 2007 and Hart, the clipped-in-and-forward drifter in 2011. Each rider pushed downhill technique to a new level. Freecaster Video
Watch Hill's 2007 race

What we can be absolutely sure of is that speeds are higher in every case and that finish times are much closer on average than they have ever been. What that indicates is the level of competition within DH racing has finally matured to the point where no single racer has the raw talent to dominate and no bike design has dominant technology. Everything counts. Small improvements garnished from training, riding technique, bike setup and equipment choices now determine a winning (or losing) run.

Aaron Gwin, clipped in and forward, launches into the rocks at Mont Saint Anne. Colin Meagher photo



The Gwin Factor? It can be argued that Aaron Gwin's mega-dominance over the past years can be attributed to two factors: the combination of a super-talented rider who is backed by a highly focused support team that searches relentlessly for ways to save tenths of seconds. Gwin rides clipped in, and I found it interesting that Trek World Racing rider liaison Myles Rockwell made numerous references to the slower pace of flat-pedal riders while he co-announced the Leogang World Championships. Considering how much effort the team puts into timing and photographing each section of a racecourse, I would not be surprised if Trek World Racing has made side-by-side comparison tests of flat vs. clipped-in pedaling.

Perhaps more interesting, is that the top riders in the World Cup are not cut from the same cloth. Danny Hart the wild man, Gwin the team professional, Hill the tactition, Minnaar the scientist, Smith the Maverick, Gee the charger - analyse the top ten riders and you may find ten distinct riding styles. What has affected every rider though, is the migration of the bike's head angle from around 66 degrees to the neighborhood of 62 degrees - a change that began three years ago in earnest and has completely altered the landscape of DH riding. As the steerer-tube angle is made slacker, the front wheel moves forward disproportionately more with each degree, because the angular change is being projected upon a flat plane (the ground). The change from 64 to 62 degrees extends the wheelbase farther than the change from 66 to 64 degrees. The lengthening of the wheelbase forward of the cranks altered the weight bias of the bike - and created the opportunity to learn a new skillset.

Cam Cole back on the podium. Big Horse somehow muscled through this one in the infamous second to last corner.

With slacker head angles, controlled slides have become a popular high-speed cornering technique. Lapierre's Cameron Cole squares off a monster drift two turns before the finish line at Val Di Sole - one of the World Cup's most infamous corners. Fraser Britton photo



As a result, the fastest riders of the moment have been adopting a more low-and-forward position over the bike. The riding style I am writing about is in the transition phase, so the differences may appear to be subtle, but they become more obvious after one watches a number of World Cup videos to make comparisons between racers. Outside the top ten competitors, most riders still use a variation of the rearward position that Sam Hill popularized back when he was spanking everyone. I think a correlation between clipped-in riders, modern frame geometry and a forward riding position can be made.

Hill had a decent run this morning his first real world cup DH run in 3 years. 2 seconds back off of Minnaar and he s looking for seconds walking the course late into the evening.

Sam Hill's heels-down-and-back technique made him the master of steeps. His dominance pushed everyone's technical game, and it could be argued that his insights into bicycle geometry and setup were instrumental in elevating the performance of the DH bike to the point where competitors could attack World Cup courses that were once considered barely rideable. Fraser Britton photo



As one leans forward on the bike, the feet become less secure on the pedals. Of course, one can move back to get a better purchase on the pedals when the steeps arrive, but that requires time and precision. Clips keep the foot secure, enabling the rider to remain in the attack position and that eliminates some of the need to make exaggerated fore/aft movements in order to set the bike up for cornering and jumping. When a rider must make a dramatic move from one position to another in order to jump, corner and handle technical sections, he or she also leaves the door open to be caught out of position and make a mistake.

Fort William World Cup 2012

Greg Minnaar has been clipped in for a decade. That and his super smooth, over-the-front riding style may give reason for his long career at the top of the game. Ian MacLennan photo



The modern DH bike's exaggerated front center ensures that there is enough weight bias to the rear to prevent the front wheel from auguring into a hole and launching the rider - which makes it possible to remain in a more or less neutral position over the bike, and to react more quickly to rapidly changing terrain. Perhaps more important, the clipped in rider can relax and let the bike skim the surface without expending mental or physical effort to remain attached to the bike. By contrast, flat pedal downhill technique is succession of learned exercises intended to keep the rider in contact with the pedals as the acceleration of jumps, impacts, undulating terrain and the bike's suspension work to separate the machine from its rider.

Conscious or not, It's a dance that all flat pedal riders learn. Hill's signature style for staying glued to the bike while descending technical sections is to adopt an exaggerated rearward stance that creates an imaginary line from the rider's center of mass, through the feet, and through the bike's center of gravity so that the bike and rider are aligned with the vector of acceleration created as the bike smacks into bumps or is braking hard. This technique keeps the rider's feet planted on the pedals, the tires biting and it provides a large degree of stability down impossibly rough terrain. Adopting an exaggerated position over the bike, however, may cost precious time when the course offers a number of change-ups. Watch Steve Smith describe the advantages of clips and flats in a recent PB interview (at 5:43)

Steve Smith wins his first World Cup Way to go Stevie Canada is proud. It s been a long long time since I ve heard the Canadian national anthem at a downhill podium. You made us all proud.

Steve Smith at speed in the rocks at Hafjell, Norway. Fraser Britton photo



Without beating up the concept, it is worth mentioning that people pedal faster clipped in. Theorists hold that flats are the equal to clips in a sprint, but that is improbable at the high RPM and watt output that a professional sprinter produces. Visualize the science of what it would take to duplicate a ProTour finish-line sprint over rough, unpaved ground on flat pedals, and the advantages of having your feet attached to the cranks begin to make sense. That cycling began on flat pedals and then evolved to clip-ins over a 150-year time interval, further underscores the logic of conventional cycling wisdom. When everything is on the line, clipped in is the fastest way to pedal a bicycle.

Rachel Atherton on course. Rachel was only 2 seconds up over Emmeline Ragot but on a track this short that will be a hard nut for Emmeline to crack.

Perfect form: Rachael Atherton on fire at Windham, 2012. Colin Meagher photo



Riding styles evolve in the same manner that bicycles do, with longer periods of stable improvement, marked by short periods of rapid change. Downhill racing has been relatively stable for nearly a decade, but presently there seems to be a fresh wind blowing through the sport. Those who refuse to believe that there is a possibility for significant improvements in DH riding technique are asleep at the wheel. Where and how far today's developing skillsets will take the sport is up to the imagination and drive of the emerging crop of new-school athletes. As far as flats vs. clips go, the gap in performance can already be measured in World Cup podiums. The whistle is blowing. I have no doubt that flat pedals will continue win some races, but future pinners aspiring to win a pro ride and to stand on the top shelf of a World Cup Podium may want to jump on the clipped-in boat before it sails.

Josh Bryceland has been switching between clips and flats throughout the 2012 World Cups. Word in the pits is next year may be Bryceland's podium season. Dave Trumpore photo




Clips or flats for Downhill racing?



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290 Comments

  • + 198
 An interesting and thoughtful article on a very controversial subject. Thanks.
  • + 45
 I love it when you guys do articles like this. Keep it coming!
  • + 12
 Yes, I just start riding clipped in but not DH yet. Still not sure if it is worth it. Been on flats since day 1 I ride my bike. This article made me want to give it a go tho....
  • - 2
 Clips are superior, but Flats riders are way better !
  • + 38
 "What that indicates is the level of competition within DH racing has finally matured to the point where no single racer has the raw talent to dominate."

Really , I think a certain god fearing American may contest that
  • + 10
 Hill won Nordkette PRO DH in Innsbruck with 23 seconds on flats
  • + 30
 bigburd: I think the point is that our Yankee chum doesn't dominate on 'raw talent' alone, but rather a mix of talent, dedication, professionalism, divine intervention, Martin Whitely and a very fast bike.
  • + 7
 i will never ride clip pedals... im a freerider its in my blood... xD
  • + 113
 race to win in clips, ride for fun in flats.
  • + 6
 I think it's just that most of the top riders use clips, therefore clipped riders hve more wins.
  • + 2
 Yeah the Professionalism is a massive part of Gwins formula I think , he's one of few guys in interviews who seems to have a smart attitude towards racing.

No doubt his religeon helps in way to , all helps towards his mental approach ( thought the religeon part is not necessary the same metal approach can be achieved with out a book thats been rewritten fk-knows how many times )
  • + 13
 I'm gutted every time Bryceland slips a pedal on flats.
  • + 2
 Yeah me too man , every time I think hes on for a win , some thing goes tits up.
  • + 3
 @bigbluebike...awesome quote....I personally change from clipless to flat, but as the article states, i did the move because I thought the tracks were gnarly so I wanted to be "safe" if I needed the foot to stay on control, as the modern DH have evolve, technical section as as gnarly as you can imagine, but yet, they now have the lung-busting pedalling sections....so, I'm thinking going back to clipless, and just try to train harder to regain the confidence of racing on clipless and, just as bigbluebike said...when I just want to ride with the buddies, go flat....it much more fun... Smile
  • + 16
 Bingo.
Clips are very likely faster for RACING, but for the 99.9% if us regular guys n gals that just want to ride and have FUN on our bikes, flats make more sense. Pure speed...clips. Pure fun...flats
  • + 25
 Yeah, you'll have to excuse my ignorance, but i've never understood why this is such a "controversial" issue. Clips work for some and flats for others. Obviously there are arguments to say that clips breed lazy riders (in terms of technique) but I just think this is such a non-issue. It seems to me to be a similar arguement to the "26 til I die" camp who are obsessed with this idea of purity in this sport with so many different iterations and variations; it just doesn't exist. I think riding clips or flats both demand a different skillset, but if we're all so focussed on making this sport 1-dimensional and retrogressive, why don't we all just ride around on fully rigid 26ers with canti brakes. Oh no wait that's no fun either...

...or I might go out on my bike and stop worrying about it. Do what you want.
  • + 13
 jackclark89 agree! I ride both clips and flats on my bike depending on my mood. Different pedals makes riding very different. Why to lose all the fun and stick to one pedal standard? Learn to use both!
  • + 4
 This article is about racing at the world cup level, not freeriding. Flats are perfect for freeride.
  • + 1
 running flats and loving flats, but clips are better. no question about it.
  • + 1
 I too love articles like this. It gets everyone involved in a big debate! Leads to lots of arguing though... Razz Well structured article too and was a great read, props!
  • + 2
 While I don't agree with everything in the article, it definitely addresses the subject more maturely and intelligently than I've seen anywhere else. Well done Richard and PinkBike. Keep it coming!
  • + 10
 I was preaching the 'stay over your bike and not ride off the back' even in the steeps, way back in 2000. Clipped in is always faster. Its also faster 9/10 times in corners to leave your feet on. You may be able to enter the corner faster by throwing a foot off, but leaving them on means you are exiting faster, and that's really the most important.

You can point out different riders and say "____ won on flats therefore flats are faster" but that's not reality.

What you can do is know that you can ride clipped in the exact same way as if you were on flats. The difference being is that clipped in is far more efficient in pedalling and putting power to the back wheel. Therefore, clipped in will always have an advantage. Its not even arguable.

Flats are more fun though.
  • + 2
 I don't think there is any denying that clips are faster and more efficient , I'll never use them though not brave enough to Big Grin

I wave my feet all over the place when I ride , I would spend more time trying to clip back in than taking advantage of the benefits.
  • + 2
 for sure. I'm talking about those who can use them to their full potential. If you spend time fumbling around trying to clip in then you'll definitely lose those advantages.
  • + 5
 Also those photos you see of riders going over the bars still clipped in scare the crap out of me !
  • + 2
 its rarely happens that way. I have never in my 20 years riding clips ever had my bike come with me in a crash. You adapt and learn to take your feet off.
  • + 2
 I use my bike as transportation, so I ride flats because it is more convenient. I can't sound like a horse walking in school, and two pairs of shoes is too much of a hassle.
  • + 1
 im fairly sure gee swapped to flats for rampage... gp1.pinkbike.org/p4pb5696404/p4pb5696404.jpg
  • + 6
 I rode flats for 10yrs+ straight (DH and trail). Converted to clips 3yrs ago, the reason being my feet kept bouncing off the pedals in rock gardens during races. Now it just doesn't feel right when I'm not clipped in.
  • + 7
 how the heck are they going to nac nac clipped in?
  • + 0
 ^ that would be worth extra points!
  • + 2
 Needles went one footer table on clip ... and, c'mon the article is about World Cup Downhill RACING
  • + 1
 Yes, listen to this guy. Im with ya buddy. Most people never give em both a real try. 1 month on each, and see what's better. Pers I like clips, but I ride flat around on my dj.
  • + 2
 Personally I think clipped in riders are faster but flat pedal riders have an awesome style.
  • + 10
 I use snowboard boots and zip tie them to the pedals. Im pretty sure thats the way of the future.
  • + 3
 i got sugerized to where i have a pedal axle sticking out of my metarsal, simply screw it into cranks and away i go. clipping pedals sucks this way though
  • + 3
 I started out DH clipped in, being totally comfortable with them from my road biking years, and then had the one endo where my XTR SPD pedal refused to unclip in the milisecond that I had to react, tearing the hell out of my knee. Months later I was able to get back on the bike, but this time I rocked flats. My confidence soared, and my skills and speed followed, knowing that I could escape the bike, and dab when needed. I tip my hat to those that feel comfortable clipped in but I'll stick with the flats for confidence and fun.
[Reply]
  • + 130
 nah. I don't agree at all with you rc. Things come in waves in this sport. Years ago when the Misser brothers were killing it on the world cup circuit, everybody (except Michael Pascel and Nico once and a while)was using clips, skinsuits, and visor less helmets and were riding 150/400km a week on the road. Then Shaun Palmer showed up rockin Fox moto gear, flat pedals and vans. Rewrote the book. A few years later a group of young Aussies came over to California racing for Qranc helmets riding old Gt lobos featuring Kris Kovarick and Nathan Rennie. Thanks guys i get to ride wearing Five 10 shoes because of you. The biggest winning margin ever at a world cup was set by Kris at Fort Bill on flats. Hill took over until he started getting injured. He's right there and he's hungry. Aaron Gwin dominated last year and this year. People are desperately searching for speed. Riding the fastest you can down the mountain is about being comfortable with the speed and having control of your bike. Clips have always worked well for this. My crystal ball tells me there will be a new wave of flat pedal riders. There will be a new flat pedal technique that doesn't have anything to do with dropping your heals and is going to work well with shorter cranks(think 162.5 or less). Stop letting people tell you how to ride your bike, find a new way kids.
  • + 27
 I'm with him.
  • + 7
 i agree completely with this. sure clip pedals are great for all aspects of riding, i use them when i race bmx. always have. but i find when i ride downhill im not so wired when im on flat pedals. i have more subtle control with my bike. i sure as hell feel alot more comfortable on flats then i do clipped in when bombing hills. well said @bigmouthahole
  • + 3
 I would not discredit the article. There are some true technical advantages to clipless pedals, I don't know that it is a direct result of slacked out bikes... but, nevertheless. But what you say is true, and I think there is a real psycological aspect to all of these trends. I think that when the top guys are killing it on clips then as a racer you figure, "hell I should be on clips" ...... next thing you know everybody is doing it. All it would take is somebody to be on the podium consistantly with flat pedals on their bike and you would start to see guys running flats. I think the truth... if there is such a thing, is that it is all about preference. It's just that racers tend to prefer what's winning.
  • + 2
 Dude you're like a mountain bike wise-man. Advice taken
  • + 9
 Great points, I also think this article is reading a bit much into the trends. To me it has more to do with the influx of moto talent into the sport (I know that Gwin and Minnar where both highly trained moto riders before getting into DH racing) and moto riders tend to ride more forward on the bike. They are simply applying what they know to the bike, not developing some "new" riding style based on changes to the bike.

Even if clipless pedals do turn out to dominate for the near future, don't forget that any of the top 10 he refers to can still kick your ass on flats. Being able to ride flats at a high level allows them to get the most out of their clipless pedals. If you lose sight of that fact and lose your ability to ride flats relatively well you can actually slow down you development as a rider. Clipless may be faster in a lot of cases but that doesn't make them "better"...
  • + 2
 After reading the article I was left with a couple question/observations...

1. If you are going to make statement like "Considering how much effort the team puts into timing and photographing each section of a racecourse, I would not be surprised if Trek World Racing has made side-by-side comparison tests of flat vs. clipped-in pedaling." Why not actually get them on the record to prove your point? If you're on staff with Pinkbike I'm sure you could at least offer some real insight instead of inferring what teams may or may not be doing.

2. If you are going to say that Sam Hill's style is better for flats does that mean you are also stating that all riders of the Demo bike may benefit on flats as well? Personally, I ride a Demo and the geometry for it in its current state was developed with/by/for Sam Hill. It definitely is extremely low and corners out of the back. With the references you are making it would lead one to believe that the riding position that the PRO/development riders favor and use should be taken into account when choosing a bike.

Interesting article for the most part although hearing people talk pedals every other rider on a DH race broadcast is lame.
  • + 2
 Bigmouth, agree 100%. +1 to you. I rode clips in the 90's (like everyone), and flats in the 00's (like most) and now have switched back to clips for almost all DH. Not because it is a "winning trend" but because I re-discovered a pedal/shoe combo that really works well and I am confident with. Couldn't care less about the "future" of pedals - to me, it sometimes means flats, mostly it's clips.
Never discredit the effect that tech changes will have on anything and everything. Change the crank-position/wheelsize/fork trail, and suddenly everyone will be winning on flats.
  • + 2
 bigmouthahole mentioned Chris Kovarik above and he also stated,

"Riding the fastest you can down the mountain is about being comfortable with the speed and having control of your bike."

Have a look at Chris riding foot-out and flat-out !!

www.pinkbike.com/video/231118

*Personally, my Uzzi AM has clips and my M9 DH has flats, so i can argue the benefits of both.
  • + 1
 Personally, I don't think there is any denying that flat pedals offer better performance for racing. The amount of technology that goes into racing in this sport means that riders wouldn't be on a pedal if it wasn't better, performance wise.

@bigmouthahole: yes, things come in waves, but certain technological advances come and stay (or come and keep advancing) for example, suspension. 20 years ago we were racing on rigid hardtails. Are you saying that this wave will come back around?
Clips are here and most definitely here to stay. There is no denying they are the better pedal to be on if you are racing. Some people might prefer flat pedals, but without doubt, racers prefer drinking alcohol and partying rather than sticking to a strict diet. Some things you have to deal with (even if you don't like it) to win.
You say that a new batch of young, flat pedal riders will come through... I'm failing to see it at a Junior level right now. Loic Bruni, Richie Rude, Phil Atwill and the majority of the Junior WC field are all on clips.
  • + 2
 @Joeypalmer: It's easier said than done than to just "go to Trek and ask them to record their point". If they have spent the time and money to carry out tests to find out which is better, they aren't openly going to release the test results to the general public, and other teams and competitors. People like Trek, (especially) are very secretive of their tests. The windtunnel tests they did (although shown in Dirt) were still pretty secret and no-one really knew the results.
Sam Hills style on flats has nothing to do with the Demo. A bike isn't built around the pedals the rider uses. Troy Brosnan has had the same results on his Demo using clip pedals. What RC was saying is that Sams style (over the back with his heels pointing down) leans to flat pedals. Same for Brendan Fairclough. They both have a very 'over-the-back' style of riding. This lends to flat pedal riding as you push into the pedals to grip, this wouldn't work (or be as efficient) on clip pedals, as you don't need to push into the pedals to grip. You can have a much more central body position. So saying that Sams 'over-the-back' style means that Demo riders need clips is wrong.

Just for the record, I'm a flat pedal rider and probably always will be for Downhill. However, I'm not racing and looking for the tenths of a second these guys need to take the win.
  • + 1
 @timlake : I think you're a little confused as to what I meant. I think its perhaps the way I word things. I'm not under the impression that TWR will release any of their testing data or results. All we needed there was an "on the record" statement that they do test that sort of thing, thus confirming it is the big issue (in terms of physics/engineering/mechanics) RC is declaring and not simply a matter of these guys going so fast that clipping in makes sense for infinitely many other reasons. To further clarify, testing would have to mean the same rider in the same riding position with multiple test tides with both flat and clipless pedals. That gets tricky though because rider fatigue may set in before an accurate sample(s) could be attained. I wonder if that "power meter" on the cranks TWR was using was used in the testing.

Also...I'm not inferring that the Demo is built around pedal selection. I can see why you thought thats what I meant. However I mean to say that an overwhelming amount of testing feedback and results came from Sam Hill when lowering the BB and other slight changes to the Demo geometry. I am merely wondering what percentage of that came from his riding position and where he needs the bike to be balanced out because of his riding position and subsequent pedal selection.
  • + 2
 @Joeypalmer: Ah, I see. You're right. It'd be great to get clarification on whether these tests have indeed been carried out. I can tell you for a fact that riders often do runs at a World Cup with a power measuring device on the crank arm. You've probably seen photos of it. Whether they've done test comparing flats and clips I don't know. But I'd definitely guess it's been done.

Hmm, I can see where you're coming from. But the changes that were made were changes that generally do help the bike to feel more comfortable. A low BB makes cornering faster whether you're over the back end of the bike or not, and a slacker head angle makes the bike easier to control at speed, again making no difference to your position on the bike. The changes that were made were generally in consensus with the changes being applied to other new bikes, for clip pedal riders or not.
  • + 10
 Way of future: magnets
  • + 2
 Yeah with a bar mounted switch, clip in - clip out.
  • + 2
 @ timlake ; the crystal ball says no to hardtails coming back for dh. But seriously we are talking about pedals. The wave that i refer to isn't going to happen next year or the year after because everyone is trying to catch up to Aaron Gwin and soon they will be trying to catch Troy Brosnan(clips). I'm talking aboot some vague point in the infinite abyss of the unknown, unwritten future. If you do it the same as everyone else no one will call you innovative or pioneer. Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge.
  • + 2
 I think that there is a bit of a cycle to the sport, it might not have to do with the riders or the bikes at all, when Sam Hill was killing it many of the courses were very step, rough and techinical and not a lot of pedaling was needed, now the courses have more flat pedaly sections which lend an advantage to a strong pedaler and clips. Bring back some super steep super gnar courses and see what happens to the pedal choice. this might not be true at all, can't remember the race but b-lopes said some thing like sam hill will be at a huge disadvantage in the bottom section of the course because it requires a lot of pedaling and he isn't clipped in and he made up some crazy amount of time! really i think it is personal preferance and like someone else said most of the top pros are riding clips so of course more wins are on clips then flats... i don't think the numbers are that accurate. some one should poll the pros and find out why they are using them? is it becasue they started using them a long time ago because some older rider they looked up to was riding them or told them to ride them and that is what they just stuck with, ei jumped on the band wagon (personal preference)? or have they tried both and they really feel their is advantage...?
  • + 1
 @Bigmouthahole: I seriously don't understand how you think flats will come back around. Sure, trends in clothing come and go, but component trends don't. If a certain part is quicker, even 25 years in the future riders will not go back to a slower part. Sure, they may not be in clips, because there may will be, and probably will be a new, better innovation. But as we are, clips are quickest for racing, which is why all bar 1 World Cup victory in the past 3 years have been on them.
I challenge you to find a component innovation which has reverted back to an older and less succesful part.
  • + 2
 I like where you are going with this but we aren't talking about clothes or anything other than pedals. You are absolutely right there are only a couple of racers on the wc circuit today that are truely competitive on flat pedals. 3 yrs ago was that 2010, the year that Sam Hill got hurt at the beginning of the season and came back to win the world champs at msa (a track you can only win with clips)? My point is there's 8 and 9 year old kids that ride at a higher skill level than a lot of us involved in this discussion and racing down the mountain is about being comfortable with the speed. Some of these kids will grow into racers that will be more comfortable riding flats. I don't think we have seen the end of flats on the world cup.
  • + 1
 every time that brycelan race on flats he chrashed(val di sole,la bresse in 2011 or 2012) what that means? a a cyclist who started to ride clipted, if he change to flats its gonna be more difficult ,what I mean is that, if your are starting DH riding is better to use flats, thats my opinion, anyway flats 4ever Smile
  • + 1
 @timlake: I think you will find looking back through 20 yrs of MTB history, that parts develop, fall off and get re-branded under a new "trend" regularly. 24"/26" wheel combo- new 26/650? Riser bars, down to flat bars, back to risers (see Minaar's setup for instance). Carbon I drive in the 90's, to alum frames, now back to carbon (with similar I drive system). Just a cpl off the top of my head. I agree that refinements stay, but even I have seen plenty of parts get re-hashed in my time on bikes.
  • + 1
 Best sentece: find a new way! That´s what we gonna do!.
[Reply]
  • + 24
 When I got my trail bike this summer, I had never tried clipless pedals before. I went ahead and got some Shimano M647 pedals and some random Shimano SPD shoes off CRC for dirt cheap to try off.

After a few rides, when I was comfortable with them, I went ahead and put them on my DH bike for a couple of days. At first, I didn't really notice a difference with my flats, so I went back to my Straitlines and 510s... Damn was I wrong. It was like I was learning to ride my bike again. My position on the bike didn't feel right, my feet were all over the place when I hit rock gardens... It just felt wrong. With clipless' I don't have to worry about my feet, I can concentrate on the trail ahead and the overall control you get from being clipped-in is a huge benefit.

The only inconvenient of clipless is when you have to come to a stop in some steep techincal sections and have to get back on the bike. It definitely is a pain in the a**, but you get used to it after a while.

In short, I moved to clipless and I'm not looking back! I'm going to get some XT Trail pedals for my trail bike and a new pair of shoes!
  • + 4
 You have seen the light my brother!
  • + 2
 i ride clipless on my xc for the first time this year... i notice the massive amount of control gained on the rear end of the bike + the torque from my legs is more awesome than i tought. The only real reason why i don't ride them on DH is i'm scared as shit to crash clipped-in. i migh give it a try next season..
  • + 3
 Clips are more effective. When i got my am bike I started clipped in. The torque you can get going uphill is unmatched and having your feet glued to the pedals in rooty/rocky section is great.

I switched to flats though because I find them incredibly more fun and I can hardly see myself going back. I'm probably slower and less effective but I couldn't care less as I'm not racing. I'm just riding for fun and flats are more fun to me right now.
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  • + 24
 RC, thanks for spurring this discussion. I posted some thoughts here:

www.leelikesbikes.com/the-end-of-flat-pedals-at-world-cup-downhills.html
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  • + 21
 Love Flats but I feel unfortunately the tracks are becoming less and less suited to a flat pedal rider. Where are the Schladmings original Champerys and steeper courses, not many on the circuit now. If you want to be competitive these days then clips are necessary especially with tracks like MSA, Fort William, Leogang. Hope to see the WC go back the schladming soon!!!!
  • + 3
 i enjoy your videos. Best of luck next year.
  • + 5
 YES wyn, listen uci, listen...
  • + 2
 Wyn can't you get a 2nd job as an official UCI track picker? I miss Schlad, Maribor, Champery (though the last one scares me every time I ride it).

Best of luck in the next year.
  • + 1
 I wish man! Cheers!
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  • + 20
 First off, while appreciate the in-depth perspective of this article rather than the usual speculation, there is a bit more to consider.

1. Looking only at wins narrows the definition of performance and skews the data of flats being better than clips to favor only a single result. Until the final to WC rounds this year only 2 riders had stood on the top step for 2 seasons. And Aaron Gwin won something like 8 out of 11 WC/WChamp rounds in a stretch. What's winning tends to pull riders in that direction. Remember how many guys started going to flats after Sam dominated '07? Also, with exception to some of the new faces sporadically making the podium, the consistent guys who weren't with injury have almost always been clipped in. Anyway, it's imperfect logic, but all of this is speculative as well. I don't have the interest myself, but it would be curious to see the data for the top 10 or so rather than just 'winning.' (keep in mind also that the best 2 flat-pedal riders, Sam and Brendan, have been hurt for the better part of 2 seasons each)

2. For off-the-back, heels-to-the-floor riding see Fairclough. For over the front chest down, long front center, slack angles etc see Sam Hill. The guy popularized the modern geometry of a DH bike. He doesn't look slower to me because of flats, he looks slower because he seems just a touch less aggressive than he used to be. That comes from confidence, not what kind of soles he has on his shoes. Watch his '08 Val de Sol run and Gwin's '12 run. It ain't the pedals.

3. Spot on with the comment about training. This more than anything has compressed the riders in the top 10. I think the reason flats/clips get so much attention is because it is really the only tangible variable we can see. Try quantifying things like suspension set-up, tire pressure, riding style, training, mental prep, etc that is all needed to be at the top.
  • + 3
 I agree 100%. Also the over the front technique has been popular with many riders before the recent changes in geometry. The position also changed with the popularity of wide bars. Have in mind that many of the riders riding more rear heavy have narrower bars (compared to other riders)
  • + 5
 Agree with most points. Hill does NOT have a 'rearward' style of riding dictated by his pedals. That assumption is mistaken. I've been following WC racing before Sam started racing and have been fortunate enough to have watched him Live at 5 world cups, and I'd describe his style as well balanced, and moving front to back depending on the situation, just like ALL riders do. I have no idea where RC gets his info from but using it to back up the clips thesis is inaccurate and easily refutable. Also, Hill was on slacked out (was 62.5 as tested in DIRT back in 2008.) geo back on his Sunday and with rear ends getting shorter and TTs getting longer (Sam was also a pioneer in this regard, as his Sunday was custom made with a longer TT, again, DIRT, 2008.) it dictates the body position to be more centered.

None of these ‘body position’ points actually have anything to do with clips/flats. When pedaling you’re feet are in the same small point of contact. Smith had a very informative point with regards as to why he chose them, and it was to help keep his bike under him in rock gardens so he’d “work less”. Nothing to do with where your upper mass is on a bike.

Evidence for proving Sam has always had a centered position, and not the ‘exaggerated rearward’ bias as claimed.
gp1.pinkbike.org/p4pb1074617/p4pb1074617.jpg
www.sicklines.com/gallery/data/539/SamHill.jpg
iamspecialized.com/media/photos/140f4270c3_f.jpg

-Swapping between Clips and Flats for DH since ’02 (And my body position has never changed).
  • + 2
 Yeah well said general.
  • + 0
 @Atrokz I don't agree wit you on the body position vs pedals. I find it noticeably harder to stay on my pedals if I ride front heavy through the rough. It's not a problem if I ride clipped in
  • + 3
 I also find clipless is easier in the rough, but that's a factor of being attached. I just ballance myself so my weight is at a center of ballance. No one is actually 'front heavy' in the rough,as you can see in the photo of Smith above. It looks exactly how Sam looks in the photos I posted. Everyone needs to ballance themselves regardless of pedal choice and as Smith aluded to, the difference to him comes from more control via a secure contact point that he can control, not body positioning which is what the article tries to claim. If different pedals dictate your positioning forward or back, you may want to adjust suspension settings when switching between the two, because you need to move around on a mountain bike.....

Here's some more photos for comparison. As you can see, regardless of pedal type, the body positioning is similar.

Clipped in, rearward bias
singletrack.competitor.com/files/2011/07/DSC_7950.jpg

Clipped in, rearward bias (for a guy who apparently only rides the front.....)
singletrack.competitor.com/files/2011/07/DSC_7936.jpg

Point is, what you're hitting determines the body language you're going to react/anticipate with. Not pedals.
  • + 5
 Hill's style is brilliant. Fabien Barel is a Sam Hill fan ( as am I). Barel and I were riding recently and he told me that he changed his riding style at the peak of his career after studying Hill, which is a big statement for a man who owns a few World Championship jerseys. He explained that Hill's center of mass is well back when he descends technical sections, but he keeps his body very low and crouched, which places his head and arms farther forward. It makes the transition up to weight the front tire more seamless. BTW, Hill cut his bars pretty short for the present trend this season. Wonder what he's up to now?
  • + 1
 That's exactly what he's doing. He's centering his mass via staying low, and reacting accordingly. Maybe I took what you wrote incorrectly, but Sam has definately always rode well centered on his bike when you factor gravity in (looks rearward, but really is centered due to it being steep, so to say). I think most of the guys ride like this now, as is evident by side by side photos.

Narrower bars may be because of shoulder issues. Just a thought?
  • + 1
 @Atrokz you misunderstood me. If I stay more rearward it is fairly easy to stay on my flats. If I ride front heavy it becomes hard. Yes I know it's not with your chest over the bars but forward enough your feet are at a different angle and there is less weight on the pedals. Yes you need to move around but the picture of Smith you have showed is pretty front heavy in terms of how his feet are angled and weight distribution. A quick google search under Minnaar rockgarden also shows up many vids where clips are obviously beneficial. Just think about it - if your feet are tilted forward on a rough section clips are extremely beneficial so if your riding style means you end up in it much more obviously clips work with your riding position better.
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  • + 17
 Flats= Fun
Clips = Fast(er)
Fullstop
  • + 28
 But, if:

faster = fun, then...

Clips = Flats

My head hurts.
  • + 4
 @ stever - if only i could give multiple props.

well done sir! lol
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  • + 11
 I try to stay proficient in both, use the proper tool for the situation. Shuttle runs with the bros or really muddy DH racing - flats. Smooth park riding and most DH racing - clips. I will say I feel like I ride better clipped in because it gives me a more accurate feeling of what I can accomplish on the bike. I feel more focused and therefore I ride better. But if I'm just out having fun, I feel more relaxed on flats. It really just depends on the riding.
  • + 1
 X2... both have their places and in slower speed, more tech tracks, flat DEF. have their place. On more open/faster tracks and/or more "prdal" tracks clips are gonna have an advantage. It's more about using "all the tools in the tool box" then one being "better" then the other aye. Well put Hypermoto...
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  • + 8
 Racing is racing, sure, but the issue here is where to stop the flow of innovation from racing to regular riding. In my opinion, ultra-slack geometry and a different riding position isn't what the average rider needs, and a big portion of racing is taking the new technologies and bringing them to consumers. This directly relates to the clips/flats issue, everyone loves mimicking racers, but I personally notice that just going for flow on average DH trails, flats lend themselves to a much better flow. Will the racers' transition to more clips possibly lead to an even greater divide between racers and freeriders (you'll never in 100 years see someone on clips at Rampage, but there are racers that do compete there)?
  • - 16
 Pretty sure people have competed and done well at Rampage in clips, but I agree with you that flats and steeper angles are more user friendly for average riders. Cedric won one year, Gee got 2nd another year, but I'm not positive they were clipped in.
  • + 4
 im fairly sure gee swapped to flats for rampage... gp1.pinkbike.org/p4pb5696404/p4pb5696404.jpg
  • + 1
 for rampage sure because if you need to bail you need to do it fast there! rampage isn't about speed, its about style.
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  • + 7
 2 years ago everyone rode flat bars, they were the best thing since sliced bread... now....

Clips are great for racing for sure, you can pedal out of the corners more simply, now that tracks are easier than they were a few years back and bikes are better. Add that riders possibly take it more seriously than before and you have a winning recipe for clips.

Even on Rampage 2 years ago, Gee was clipped in.

Flats for me though most races, I am not good enough to clip in (and I find flats more fun).
  • + 0
 Sorry, but comparing clips to flats is in no way comparable to handlebar rise.
  • + 1
 I'm with you mate, just like most other 'racing technology', they aren't meant for everyone. If you know the track as they do, and ride as hard as they do, then you got the benefit of being clipped in.
  • + 1
 @betsie dont think anyboby would ride clips at rampage !!
  • + 3
 im fairly sure gee swapped to flats for rampage... gp1.pinkbike.org/p4pb5696404/p4pb5696404.jpg
  • + 1
 God spot, I was looking for a pic after savmeisters comment. Gee... letting the disco sliper boys down... lol
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  • + 6
 I rode flats for years. I still love to ride them when I'm just having fun. However since I'm riding road, I migrated to clips for downhill, and the biggest gain I've noticed, isn't really the peddling, It's how smooth the bike is over roots and rough stuff like stones etc.
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  • + 5
 before i got into DH/FR, i was into XC (and even raced back in the day). moving into the dark side, all my friends were on flats and advised me to do so. i gave it a shot. it felt unnatural for me. i would always reposition my feet and put pressure on the pedals just so my feet don't come off. against all odds, i tried shimano M530's and used my XC shoes to see if i am better off with clipless. i rarely crashed compared to when i was using flats, i gained more confidence, i was able to float on the pedals instead of applying pressure just so i don't lose my footing on the pedals, i was able to focus more on the trail instead of repositioning my feet, the difference was night and day.

crashing on clipless? if you're experienced enough, you'll automatically unclip yourself without even thinking about it. besides, during crashes, your feet will be in an awkward position and get you unclipped in a crash anyways.
  • + 2
 i agree, but with crashes your feet do remain attached for that extra milisecond while youre sailing through the air and it does make a difference when you land all tangled up in your bike. totally worth it though!
  • + 1
 I had a really silly crash on a dh bike: lost grip on both wheels while turning and landed on a side and keep sliding until I stopped. Unfortunately I didn't hold my handlebar till the stop so bike went somehow away from me and pulled my leg so badly that I broke my tibia and fibia. I rather stay with flats...
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  • + 4
 Downhill racing is like F1 , when your looking for 0.00001sec you can't give up the clips.
but the quest for those seconds will lead to cancelling moves like whips,drifting! because they waste time! (you don't see F1 cars drifting corners ).

Racing (F1 )= clips .
Fun (NASCAR) = FLATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.
  • + 16
 You deserve neg props just for calling NASCAR "fun". Wink they don't drift either.

You're thinking flat tracking or super moto. Leg out and drift.
  • + 1
 Correct! I like your analogy.
  • + 1
 But sometimes you have to whip because it slows you down when you got too much speed on a jump and also because it's far more fun to do that! It's the same thing for the drift, if you want to go fast in corner on a loose ground, you have to be borderline and lose grip sometime. All that to say I'm not worry for this kind of stuff in WC!
  • + 1
 Flats are more fun, but you can happily drift and whip clipped in. See Danny Harts whip in his world cup winning run and Cam Coles drift. No tables though, you'll unclip mid air as i found out!
  • + 8
 Flats are like WRC IMHO.
  • + 1
 Jscott, I am in no way shape or form a Nascar fan but I have to correct you. I went to a race one time with some co-workers and they do in fact drift those Nascars around corners. It's actually pretty amazing.
  • + 1
 You sir are correct. They drift in f1 too. But I still think flat tracking is a better analogy. Smile
  • + 2
 Speed in racing is all about staying at the limit of the tires. F1 cars are taking corners with some overseer (yaw rate) in order to get the maximum slip angle out to the tire (both front and back!) but no more then that. Nascar is the same otherwise they would crash in to the wall (which they do from time to time).

When mountain biking if you not using all the tire when you can your going slower then you could, but like WRC sometimes it is better to sacrifice speed to keep momentum. Clips will allow you to always gain more from the system because you decouple the position or the rider to the pedal friction needed to stay connected. This when maximized will results in better tire use from the rider/bike combo.

when we have a system that have the benefits of clips without the risk then speeds will increase.
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  • + 7
 Probably near the end of flats at the worlds.... doesn't mean hill can't win another
  • - 45
 clip ons are gay as fuck
  • + 3
 hurm... clip keep on winning nowadays
  • + 25
 "Gay as f*ck"? What is this? YouTube?
  • + 5
 Hill won Nordkette PRO DH in Innsbruck by 23 sec with flats
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  • + 4
 I think clips are better because you have way more control. I ride clips. Once you get over the fear of being stuck to the bike and the ability to get your foot back in once you have taken it off they become a full advantage not just in racing. Riding steep terrain anyone can drop there heels but over bumpy and technical rocks and roots you don't end up riding on your heels or slipping off the pedals witch were my main concerns coming into any rough section when i rode flats, remember Josh Brycland slipping of the pedals at val di sole?

But its your personal opinion i find my self better off on clips, I use to think flats were the only way and i hated clips but once you ride a bit clip in its hard to go back.
I find I can hit corners just as hard in clips and i am able to get my foot out and in just easy but i am able to ride rough stuff more comfortably.
  • + 2
 I couldn’t agree more, but I’ve always ridden flats and probably will for a while longer. My Specialized stumpjumper was a test model so it came with some $2 plastic pedals. I was going to upgrade to some Ritchey V4 2012 pedals but because I’m unused to clipping in and out it would be like gluing myself to the bike. Instead I bought some 2013 Blackspire Sub4’s and they work fine for me at the moment. It’s really a matter of opinion and the way you ride but clips are probably better if you take the time to get used to them.
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  • + 3
 The reason that downhill riding exists as a sport is to showcase the technical abilities of the rider. That's its reason for being, its core premise. When discussing the advantages or disadvantages of a particular product or track or rider I think that this needs to remain in the back of one's mind.

So when this article poses the premise that clips will take over downhill racing, I have to disagree.

The reason I disagree is that I (perhaps naievely) believe that over time downhill will need to accentuate what makes the sport great in order to stay relevent. This means racing on technically challenging tracks where it is the rider's low speed technical abilities and not pedalling or holding their speed in a straight line that will determine the winner.

For such tracks, flats will be king. At the moment race tracks are going through a phase of lame bike-parkiness. Too much pedalling, too much of an emphasis on straight line speed, not enough corners, not enough awkward rocks, etc. The time will come when we'll all realise that the reason we ride is the push our technical skills and then, my friends, flats will return to the fore. I give it 5 years.

The domination of clips at present is a sign that the sport is heading in the wrong direction.
  • + 1
 The reason downhill racing exists as a sport is NOT to showcase the rider,,, it's a marketing activity for the brands...
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  • + 3
 I don't think you can just say 'clips are better', yes they've recently racked up more wins, but everyone considered flats to be better a few years ago, and before that everyone thought clips were better. I think like a lot of things on bikes, from tyre pressures to suspension set up, are very personal. In the wet, some riders will ride better with the grip and stability that a lower tyre pressure gives them, others will opt for a (relatively) higher pressure for a faster rolling bike, then make up for occasional loss of grip with the extra speed they roll with. Just watch the extra features of three minute gaps to see how much variation there is. My point is that yes, bike design and setup makes a huge difference to how it rides but there's no holy grail. It's about finding what you want from the bike and setting up the bike to give you that, because at the end of the day, for 99% of riders the confidence that having a setup that you feel 'right' on makes a lot more difference than any specific benefits to a pedal design
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  • + 2
 At the very top level of racing, clips are superior. Look at bmx racing, does anyone ride flats anymore?

It is a simple fact that being clipped in is better for pedaling. Not having to worry about your feet bouncing off the pedals is also a benefit.

For 99% of riders is it not going to make much difference, but for racers every split second counts. I'd like to see Hill and Brendog run clips and see what happens.

Like it or not downhill racing involves some pedaling. The excuse of 'I'm not much of a pedaler' is going to die out as Minnar, Gee and Gwin have proven that they can win on any track.

DH is still a young sport, but I predict in 10 years you will no longer see any flat pedals on the podium.

I am not anti flats, as I am part of the 99% and run them on all of my bikes Smile Flats are more fun, but clips are faster for the very top DH'ers.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Think a lot of you are missing the point of the article, rc is just saying that clips are dominant and the reasons why, he's not telling you to change read the very first bit, for all you people banging on about Sam Hill flats winning that was 5years ago it's like saying 2strokes are better bubba won the champion in 07 but what's he on now 4stroke if you wanna win clipped end of
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  • + 2
 Wow this one has been beaten to death. Who cares anymore? Go ride both on proper set ups and then decide for yourself. I spent 3 solid months on clips only to find that I PR'd on every segment of my ride (including climbs) my first day back on flats. advantages either way are inconclusive. I just know I crash far less on flats and have waaaayyy more fun and that's a win for me.
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  • + 2
 Can I just come out and say it. Clipless (or "clips" for those of you that don't understand) doesn't lock you to your pedals, you can still dab your foot, you come unclipped in a fall and you don't just fall over when you stop. Well maybe just once you might. But they come undone very easily. You can set them super loose and even a pedal strike can unclip you.

I like clipless because I like my feet to be in the same position all the time. 5:10's are grippy. But they don't remember where my feet were last time. It takes a while sometimes to get your footing. The only annoying thing for me with clipless is getting clipped back in after stopping on a trail. Sometimes I ride down a trail spending 90% of it trying to get the second foot clipped. Wink
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  • + 2
 I do AM/XC a lot...When you ride on the clipped pedals it makes you way more efficient...you save energy much more and you can make your travel much more longer...But still if you having fun on DH course it's better to get flat cause the getaway is much more easier, for me at least.

Clips=More power
Flat=Toying aroundBig Grin
  • + 2
 Totally Agree... Clips.. are more powerfull, and probably the way to go if your competing! Flats for fun and Freeriding... I ride flats, I've tried clips but I felt I was loosing some of the bunny hop, and natural balance skills, because I was reeling on the feet, instead of the technic of weight transfers.
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  • + 2
 3 weeks ago, after using clips for 2 years non stop, i tried again the flats again and there was an astonishing difference. It is harder to pedal because you have to pedalpress with strength your feet into the pedal so you loose a lot, but in turns i was feeling really more confident and it was more easy. I think that both have advantages and disadvantages.
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  • + 2
 Clips may give the extra .001 when it comes to winning a WC by hundreds or even thousands of a second, but they're too clinical for me. Smashing a DH and wrestling a bike down a knar line is all about putting a smile on my face, and flats serve up just that Smile
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  • + 5
 Your pedal choice sucks!!! My pedal choice is superior!!! You're an idiot for being dumb. Gay Slur. I win!!!
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  • + 5
 clip ins will undoubtedly rule racing but they will never rule freeride or amatuers
  • + 2
 clips can help prevent your feet from slipping off on 360s but theres just no room to bail which on the plus side makes you grow balls not to bail. three things will happen, ride flats and bail you crash end of story or stay clipped in and crash or stay clipped in and miraculously pull it off. I have done all three.
  • + 1
 i'm quite happy with my clips and i'm not really a dh rider, nor am i a professional. The advantages of riding with clips are too much to go back to flats, despite their superiority in certain areas
  • + 1
 @KTown, who spins 3s whilst clipped in!? Nobody here is arguing that clips are better for dirt jumping or slopestyle.
  • + 0
 they aren't just saying they would help. I can pull a 180 with them but on flats i cant get my feet to grip without slipping off and shattering my chins. i do however never ride flats off drop offs. people say i'm crazy but too many times my feet have slipped of the back on the landing and I dont like a tire up my bum. And many times on gaps the clipless allowed me to lunge the bike forward a good extra foot when coming up short. Suicide no handers are easier too. the bike never falls from your feet.
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  • + 6
 Clips are superior, still prefer flats though.
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  • + 2
 In the almost 30 years I have been riding MTB I have gone back and forth between clips and flats...each time I switch I think that the one I switched to is the greatest thing ever...both are great, it just depends on your needs at that time.
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  • + 2
 I went from flats to clips and instantly felt the difference... until i went over the bars and the bike came around and raped me. its something you learn eventually, but I can definitely feel that extra edge. especially when you want to place your rear end on a different line, you just instinctively pick up the bike with your feet and move it. or when you want that extra pump you can get more leverage and speed from clip pedals. the only thing i noticed now is that im a major pussy when it comes to loose turns.. gotta work on that
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  • + 1
 I'm a flat pedal guy. I raced BMX and then dual slalom on them and in my prime I never got out sprinted.... ever. Not even on the few occasions I beat sand baggers. But with the way todays courses are laid out, with the capability of todays bikes and with the increased attention and variety of clipped pedals and shoes I think I'd even be making the switch if I was riding in higher levels. You can bring power throughout the pedal path and use the technology you're riding on to your benefit. So I voted clips. I see them increasing for a reason.
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  • + 1
 Interesting article. I used to race downhill many years ago (97 to 02) and I used the Shimano MX pedals (clips). At that time, I was one of the rare ones who used them and took a bit of flack. I remember telling people that I felt there were two advantages. The first advantage is that you can go faster with less energy output and the second advantage was that I felt on the really rough courses I didn't have to worry about my feet bouncing around on (or off) the pedals. I was always sure to adjust the tension screw to its lowest setting so that the forward and back motion of my foot would keep my feet exactly where they needed to be, however when I had to angle my foot to the side in case of a crash or simply having to put my foot out, it was very easy with the tension on its lowest setting.

Now I just ride for fun, and I always ride flats because I hate having too many shoes and when you're not trying to race for the win, I just don't see the point of using them now.
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  • + 1
 I like clipless alot, but definetly alot of disadvantages with having them. Was at a downhill race and saw a guy at the finish fly downlast part that was steep gravel rode and he somehow flew over his bars and slid on his chest for like 30 feet while his bike was in the air as he was still clipped in. ouch lol
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  • + 1
 If you're clipped in it's faster (if you are comfortable riding them) as quite simply anything you can do on flats you can do on clips, Pedaling is easier, we all know, if the rear wheel catches a slippy root you can simply lift the rear wheel up with your legs etc. you don't need to preload the bike and get your body movement going up to jump the square edged bump. It's easier to ride the bumpy bits if you don't have to worry about the bike leaving your feet.
However, if you unclip and can't reclip before hitting a gap queue the horror accident, sure the guys who can clip in and out even in sketchy positions don't have that issue. So clips takes practice (scary practice) to be better then flats.
To me it's obvious clips are faster so hats off to the likes of Sam Hill for being that amazing over technical terrain, as the guys clipped in are finding it easier. I agree with the article.
Do I ride clips? No. I want to get faster and I will try anything to be quicker, but the fun is in the skill of using flats. Can we have a separate flats category?
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  • + 1
 I prefer flats for xc, because of the steep rocky climbs where I tend to lose momentum and fall back down the hill. but dh clips all the way. to much energy wasted trying to keep my feet on otherwise. just being able to hammer it down anything and not worry about my footing means there the only way. That and I can't whip for toffee anyway
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  • + 1
 flats clips flats clips flats clips flat clip fla cli fl cl f braaaawwwwkkk brawk brawk brawk ! screw any and all attitudes for or against ! when you are as old as i am [ turned 69 - a good number :-) in july ] and still ripping 30,000 vertical in a day down Garbo, i am just happy to still be able to get to the bottom in one piece and go back up, on a fricken rocker if i have to; clipped or not at the end of the day it is NOT about who is winning, it is about who is having fun and even clipped in racers are having 'fun' or THEY WOULD NOT DO IT....as for bailing being for 'cowards ' - hmmmmmmm, even Cedric Gracia and a multitude of others who have bigger balls than most of us have bailed at one time or other, so that is a statement from someone who might have big balls but no grey matter - i took a rip down joyride @ Whistler one day and rolled rocks that others were dropping, what a bloody coward i am, and one of the guys bailed on a section that was slippery and saved his ass, and probably his neck - literally - yeah a coward - NOT ! but he had enough brains to know it IS about fun, not stupidity and testosterone that not only gives you big balls but more often also makes you a dickhead. Ok that's my rant and i'm off to ride [ another ] day on flats, with a friend who clips in, and, we will both have fun !
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  • + 1
 Gotta say I ride both and clips are the best. Never have to worry about slipping a pedal or re-positioning ur foot. But it it's wet and slippery I'll always go back to flats. Not because I can't get my foot out but because when there full of mud there a pain to get in. But if ur good enough you dont have to worry about that. Prefer flats for messing around but for racing clips are definitely the way to go.
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  • + 1
 Looks like gwin is that dominent force this article talking about. He happen to be clipped in so now everyone want in. If you racing then worry about this article. Freeriders dont care either way and yes we do go real fast clip in or not, doesnt matter. It is still about bike skills so all this tech compensating bunch of bs.
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  • + 1
 Refreshing article, regardless of head angles and degrees, its cool to read something with some thought behind it. Not that other PB content is thoghtLESS, just cool to see something that is about the latest, gadget, riding spot, or trick Wink Thanks!
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  • + 1
 Went to clip less after riding flats for 12 years. I was a clipless basher and tought that flats were the way. Took some getting used to but no doubt I feel the advantage. Now when I go back to flats I feel so much less connected to the bike. Although I do run flats when freeriding because of the sessioning aspect of it.
Those that say clip less breeds bad technique are full of it. If that was the case then why are most of top guys on clips ? Bad technique ? If anything. I feel my technique and ability has improved clipped in.

Ultimately, to each their own.
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  • + 1
 Relax guys, don't let Cunningham and his technical malarkey and doom saying rattle you. Judging by the depth of research behind his claims I'm fairly sure he'd hastily retreat back into his hole if another rider started to win on flat pedals instead of ONLY being 5th or whatever... I mean ONLY 5th at the world cup this year... That is, like, not even competitive or something huh.

We all know what we'd do in the real world if some random guy stood at the bottom of the lift and started telling everybody about their inefficient, lame pedals and how "you'll never be world champ." with those things. Why is it different on the internet?

I hope we can get a grip here.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I have a very strange feeling that RC desires to hit certain debatable issues so hard that they get blown into the dark hole and are terrified to come back. That is not only a bad thing to do from the point of view of “scientifical contribution to society”, but also completely futile. Dirt TV made a vid on how heavy are the bikes of WC riders, they were above 35lbs, all of them, so the weight of nearly entry level DH bike. Yet people will still be killing themselves if given enough resources to push the bikes under the magic 32lbs!

I wouldn’t be surprised if he was also drawing up an article on superiority of 29ers in XC racing...

You know, I killed that noisy bee, I can go to bed now… with all the respect. If it was few years back when EVERYONE was runing clipless and head angles were already slack as hell, but Sam Hill was kicking it - would you write that article RC? Did it really change that much since then?

The reality is that no matter whether it is a clipless, 29er, dropper post, electronic shifting, electronic controlled suspension, more suspension – we deal with situation of a kid with the knife VS the soldier with the knife. It depends how you use it and how you respect it. You might cut your hand or make it that you survive for weeks in wilderness. From another angle, when kid is given a bazooka of huge, he will throw away the knife, thus die without being able to use the weapon of huge firepower at all. He won't even get to the place where it could be used.

You need knives and flat pedals, what DH soldiers use is none of your interest. You have to first see the edge, then you can look for tools to grab on it. Vast majority of the readers of this article can't even IMAGINE the edge. Their edge is a butter goo between 46th and 43rd on local race, something that they walk on being quite bewildered and clips under their shoes don't help very much in maintaining balance
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  • + 1
 I dont know clips help over rough ground but if you are already a rearward rider then flats are the way, i tried clips didint like them. If your wearing flats and something goes wrong its easier to bail.thats my point of veiw.
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  • + 2
 RC that first caption saved the article! I thought it was another preaching about clips for the average rider before I saw it, thanks for the great article bud, enjoyed reading it!
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  • + 4
 With the current trend of UCI activity, I was half expecting this to be a World Cup 'flat pedal ban' article
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  • + 1
 Looking at the response to the poll at the top, most people have got their heads up their arses. Clearly clips are superior for DH racing, as anyone who has ever used them knows. You can't argue with the stats. People on flats win less than 10% of the races, even flat stalwarts like Miami Bryce are making the switch for the unarguable benefits.

Sam Hill, if you ever want to win another race, you should make the switch too, otherwise you've got no chance!

Clips are more secure, let you put more power down and make it impossible to get bounced off the pedals, even if you're gassing it over the bumps.

Flats make it safer to get loose in corners, but get to the point where you can get that loose on clips and you're killing it!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 i'm waiting for the article that takes an indepth look into why neck braces don't podium. At the current rate of neckbrace ditching, Sam Hill's performance is practically on a self-induced choke-chain. or so it would seem. Gwin, Gee, Rachel, Bulldog.. all dumped their braces.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Things don't die that easily. More choices appear and some choices just seem more preferred than others, according to personal preference and their application.

What's the point in trying to rekindle some controversy? Does it help create more innovation by getting people to think? Do you think it livens up the biking industry? Maybe riders today have enough to think about, between wheel sizes, tubes or no tubes, geometry, carbon vs metal, and even rim widths.

What's next, someone trying to make a point about a saddle and seatpost being dead weight in WC DH racing and building a lighter bike without them, and then further refining things by integrating everything else to save some more weight?

Personally, I think more choice isn't always a good thing, especially for the indecisive folks. They rather have something straight out be said to be superior. They may spend hours, days, months, or years, researching, yet never deciding on what FS bike to buy, going by all the hype on various suspension systems claiming to be the best, or how much travel to get, or waiting for the latest and greatest innovation from a brand that announced things going into production in the near future. With these riders finding reviews saying this is the best, can't go wrong with that, and giving praise for all sorts of stuff, and seeing their favorite riders riding on this or that, and this or that being the most popular on forums, they are finding that their list of things to consider is endless compared to the lists of things they had to consider for choosing their car, college and college major, job openings, voting ballot, and/or whatever.

It's no wonder riders are feeling that things that try to sway their opinions are a being too aggressive, with them thinking that this "nonsense" is being forcibly pounded into them to the point that they rather just block it all out.
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  • + 1
 peronally never tired rinding clipped. But tbh it scares me as im goin through a tree hitting phase and had a few lucky escapes being able to hop the bars or getting catapulted overthem, but making the assumption that cliped in i cant bail or take a foot off to help a slide or keep the bike on line when the front wonders off in a rut i can see my self getting hurt. so id prefere flats. but ive never ridden clips so i dont know if can take a foot off and back of easy enough. as far as clips being faster i just think you learn to ride what you have and your technique will adapt to what you ride. and once you have got the skill to ride what you have, speed comes down to balls.
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  • + 1
 'As far as flats vs. clips go, the gap in performance can already be measured in World Cup podiums. The whistle is blowing. I have no doubt that flat pedals will continue win some races, but future pinners aspiring to win a pro ride and to stand on the top shelf of a World Cup Podium may want to jump on the clipped-in boat before it sails.' That's a rather stupid comment to make, as soon as you're in the top ten of world cups maybe I'll believe you. This is similar to the debate in mx about 2 strokes and 4 strokes, a lot of people jump to different sides without really knowing the real reasons why.
I doubt any of the riders competing at a level as high as the world series have chosen to ride clips because more of the top riders use them than use flats.
How much difference does pedal choice really make? It's just a small variable in the scale of things. What makes mountain biking exciting is the unpredictability, I could list an endless amount of aspects that could make a difference as to which rider can win.
Also Gwin or any other rider is not at a winning level simply because they ride clipless rather than flat pedals or vice versa
I believe there is no right or wrong pedal to choose at any level.
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  • + 1
 Mr. RC - I'm confused about your comment concerning sprinting with flat pedals and the spleen. What are you talking about in this case?
Also, I'd like to add that any good rider worth his salt should be able to ride well clipped in or on flats. Really good XC, DH, or all mountain/enduro riders are proficient at using both, but they usually prefer one or the other for different applications. I can pedal a 20 mile XC loop in flats or clipped in, but I prefer to do it clipped in. I can also rip laps, jumps, berms, and tech in the whistler bike park clipped in, but I prefer to do that on flat pedals. I think the general message to riders should be to practice being proficient at riding both types of pedals. That will make you a better, more well rounded rider.
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  • + 1
 Great article, really well written explans reasoning very well. I personallyuse flats for DH but I'm not racing, I like flats because I do a lot of freeridy stuff so I like the ability to jump off/put a foot down if need be.if I was racing though I would definitely try out clipless pedals, as they do make keeping your feet on.in rock gardens much easier, even compared to my five tens with dmr v12s!
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  • + 1
 I switch between the two, though I tend to stay with clips on the XC bike and flats on the downhill bike, due to me being a sketchy-ass rider. I'm thinking of trying clips on some of the less steep/loamy downhill tracks though.
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  • + 1
 I think to make yourself a more rounded rider, you should be proficient on either. I did a result study on myself over a 2 year period and found that I had more wins and podiums with flats. So now I race mostly on flats and have been much more consistent. There are, however, certain tracks that I will run clipless. Fast and rough.
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  • + 1
 i think wyn had a very relevant point. not to also mention that the "world cup" schedule covers only a fraction of the actual world, it would seem that the same venues will create preferences because of familiarity. it is interesting that alot refer to flats as "fun" and clipped as "racing". I'm unable to ride any dh anymore because of geography(plus age that stops me from sacking up!) but when i get to i need it to be "fun" as well.
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  • + 1
 Clips have been the standard for over a decade.. don't even try to lie to yourself about them not being. few have won or been successful on the toughest dh courses without them. They offer more control then flat's ever can or will. Laynehip has no idea what he is talking about..
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  • + 1
 great article, makes me want to rethink switching back to clips. I primarily switched back to platforms because I had taken a 10 year break from riding and getting back into it I wanted the ability to be able to dab faster in the technical stuff, decision was made after a nasty crash being clipped in, decided it was much safer to crash without bike attached :-)
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  • + 1
 hey i know its not quite the same but i know someone who rode clips but when the cleat wore out on one side he was to tight to replace it so he found an old flat and used that. One foot was clipped in and the other wasnt. He rode like this for months till the other cleat broke and bought a new set .
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  • + 1
 There are always going to be courses that suit one or the other. It cant be denied though that clips often offer more advantages over flats. However World Cups wont be decided on wether a rider is a clips or flats rider, its when a rider can choose which pedal platform suits the track that day. Bike set up makes a huge difference and pedals are just one more factor to consider. Personally I ride flats, because they are more fun. Foot out flat out.
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  • + 1
 I think it's purely personal preference! It's truly whatever makes you more confident, I'm sure that if minaar went to flats in a few weeks worth of Practice he would be right back on it where he is with flats. Same with Gwin and vice versa with hill and McDonald. So I personally say its all preference. Like James Stewart with a Yamaha, baseball players with there bats, and hockey players with there sticks, it's all a matter of taste and preference in my Eyes.
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  • + 1
 Seems like the next change is gonna be the wheel size thing. So if a 650b rolls better (it does for sure, that's physics, but how much I don't know, never tried) can this reduce the impact of clips? Will we see more flats winning? Will it shrink the gap?

Statistically there are also more riders riding clipped-in than flats. And the more we come to the top, the higher the density of clipped-in (except Hill, MacDonald and Fairclough who else rides flats among the top??). Therefore it's clear there are more wins on clips. So it's not only because clips are more efficient that there are more wins on clips.
  • + 1
 How could I forget him?! Unfortunately he did not have a great season this year. Hopefully we get to see his killing style next year closer to the box or even on it!

But I checked and that's 3 riders only in the top 20 riding flats (Flairclough is not in the top 20 this year).
And probably not much more in the top 40 even.
  • + 1
 Yeah he needs to get his sh*t together this year.. he's the only reason I watch DH anymore, his style is so sick!
  • + 1
 Dude, fairclough was killing it, sort of, but he broke his finger so..... No top 20. Otherwise he was for sure in there.
  • + 1
 I don't remember Fairclough standing before Windham. Not fully sure he would have made a top 20. I thinked he scorred really bad in South Africa. Anyway, Blinki-Fairclough are certainly unbeatable in terms of style!
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  • + 1
 I love articles like this, makes you think and rethink you're game when it comes to DH racing, and maybe trying a different angle on pedals or head angles or technical things like that could improve you riding and your over all results. That's what I do i try many different set ups when I read articles like this and stick to what works for me and gets me better results, but also the comfortable factor plays a huge part on DH racing. Great article, keep 'em coming !
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  • + 1
 I think this is a lot like playing golf- if you try to imitate the good players, and listen to your buddy's advice, you tend to play worse. So, like golf, play the way you think works best and get good at it. If you want to try something different, do it and see how it works... Ignore the trends and stick with what works for you!
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  • + 1
 I think that its personal weather you like clips or flats but I would like to see the sport so that it is a mixture of fitness and skill that wins becausw I'm sure that's how it should be I personally couldn't ride the stuff there hitting its way to techy but I think that the tracks for them arnt hard enough for skill to come out on top and that's how I would like it. That's just my opinion
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  • + 1
 I love riding my flats thats all I ride in the off season. It keeps it fun and teaches you new things every now and again. BUT they are definatly slower when you have a good pedal section. I've done timed runs to figure out which ones i'm faster on and its definatly clips!
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  • + 1
 Following a recent race (my second) I've noticed another benefit for some riders when it comes to clips. When I watched other riders hit through sections they remain planted on their pedals and seem to just plow their way through without much effort. I'm a fairly small rider for my age and class. Some riders out there in the field are at times twice or o some occasions thrice my weight.

Is this why im getting kicked around like a mule despite having pretty well tuned suspension? Perhaps....I find myself spending an awful lot of energy just trying to stay on the pedals throughout a run and riding extremely back heavy when i'd really much rather prefer an attack position. So in short, getting clipped in might just be the ticket for us feather weight guys to keep it planted
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  • + 1
 Great writeup RC. I like how it's presented almost as a research article, not just an opinion of a rider. I started riding 4 years ago, started clipped in 3 years ago, and put the SPDs on my gravity bike last year for a scary day at Plattekill. Even though I was terrified at times of wrecking myself, I knew that being clipped in wouldn't be a hassle because eventually you just learn to clip out without thinking. And I know there were plenty of pedal strikes that would have put me on the ground if I wasn't clipped in. Now for days at Mountain Creek that are divided up between techy rock runs and full top to bottom jump lines, I ride clipped in with the tension cranked. Just feels right. Still gotta go flats for days at Ray's though.
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  • + 1
 If you remember, 2006-2009, who was the only moto style rider in the world cup? standing full straight on the handlebars? yep, it was Sam Hill. And oh yeah, his rig was low, long and slack. L size reach, 63 ha, and way lower BB than on production Sundays. So mind you, I think you made a mistake about his style being backwords in the days.
Though, he did changed his style a lot these days, and yep, now he seems to lean back more often. Geometry differs too, and that short chainstay of his Demo is in a play too.

All and all about the subject, I think flats are for fun, and clipless for racing. You'll get lot's of advantages being clipped.
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  • + 1
 Who freaking cares!!!! Wanna ride clipless than do so! Wanna ride flats then do so!!! Wanna ride barefoot then do so! I ride how the freak I wanna ride....the hell with the rest of you....LOL.
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  • + 1
 If you look at motocross bikes starting in the 70's and each decade from then until now, the same change happened both in the bike geometries and the rider's styles. Neat stuff.
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  • + 1
 Rider preference! I timed 3 runs in my clips and 3 runs on flats at Ski Bowl and I was faster on flats. So I switched back to flats, maybe I'll try clips this year...maybe I won't, winter is coming.
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  • + 1
 i ride booth, but the with clips is a dead bike feeling yes on rocky- roots it is easy to ride.. with clips. but i like more flats i am more with the bike, like you feel the bike....
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  • + 0
 I'd say the majority of the mountain biking industry won't be using clips allot in WC s due to the fact that there's only two types of DH clips. spd and egg beaters. If they make a spd pedal with an actual full on platform pedal around it well I'll buy it lol. Cuz I loved my dxs adjustability, but they needed more actual pedal around them. And as for mallets well egg beaters make me feel trapped lol. But that's my take on it.
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  • + 0
 This pissed me off , 99% of people on this site are never gunna reach wc standard , infact anyone who even gets close could still ride as fast as on flats , it makes shit alll difference , just get down that gym and ud notice a bigger difference. Flats are still a solid option !
  • + 12
 i agree but it stated at the top that it was NOT a sermon to convince flat pedal riders to switch to clips. Just an article about the pedal scene in the world cup. But shit im so much better on clips, only swapped over a few months ago after years of flats aswell.
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  • + 0
 started with clips and learnt a few things - great for climbs but my technique and fitness is piss poor anyhow - overall I can see the advantage but you have to be a damn good rider to get the most out of it... another thing don't learn to manual clipped in!! I learn the hard way. Flats - great for noob's and and getting a feel for the bike
  • + 3
 I definitely wouldn't say flats are for noobs. There exists armies of XC die hards that have zero bike handling abilities without their clipless pedals. Give them a set of flats and they couldn't hop a curb if their life depended on it.
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  • + 1
 I don't see a completely fair argument either way. I don't really race, so I ride DH on flat. Racers, sure clips help, I wouldn't say they're superior, if you think they're faster than strap on! Wink
  • + 3
 velcro ON! (joke)
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  • + 4
 i ride clips cant ride without them, my friends think im crazy.
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  • + 1
 Love watching flat pedal riders get absolute buck fricking wild! nothing better than seeing hill or b-mac nail down a track being held on by there big balls getting stuck under the seat!
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  • + 4
 I mean, i thought about it then i just said fuck it and rolled with flats
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  • + 2
 I would agree that clips are an advantage at the pinnacle of world cup level speeds... but for the other 99% of riders hucking it down their local woods, flats are the best!
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  • + 2
 for freeriding and such i,ll stick too flats , for racing i,m gonna run clipless and call it a day i know i ride better with them in a race condition ,
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  • + 1
 I have opinion I don't give a monkeys fudge what any stupide bloody crappy write up says as long as I'm smiling on my bike i could not give a flying shit if i had raleigh burner pedals Smile
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  • + 1
 Master them BOTH. Clipped in through the rough stuff, helps take your mind off foot positioning and you can focus on pinning it. Flats are great for throwing your leg out quickly for that sick drift.
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  • + 1
 Statistically, If more people are riding clips there is a higher probability that a person clipped in will be on top. Personally, i think its clips vs flats is just preference.
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  • + 2
 Isn't riding clips a bit like sex with a condom, it still ok but you can't feel everything:-)
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  • + 1
 I would ride downhill in clips. Only if you paid me. I have riden clips for things like cross country but thats just to help me UP hills. In my opinion, its flats
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  • + 2
 Is it difficult to ditch the bike with clips on something like a botched jump?
  • + 5
 honestly i've pulled off more sketchy jumps clipped in because i didnt have the option to bail. clips put balls between your legs.
  • + 3
 interesting concept.
  • + 0
 Its super easy to bail. Anyone who says otherwise doesn't know what they're talking about and are coming from a background of extremely limited experience. A simple flick of the heels gets you out of the pedals, and can become an instantaneous reaction when you're going down. It's all about being comfortable and a little practice goes a long way. Go out in a grass field and work on "controlled endos" - slow speed, as dumb as it might seem. Pull the front brake, clip out and ditch the bars between your legs. Kind of like leap frog. You should be able to simply run out of it.

While I love clips and will continue to ride and race in them, flats have their benefits, and I would go as far to say that everyone should be comfortable riding with them. For one, they require you to develop proper technique for hopping and general bike handling. I see a lot of people who riding clips who rely on the pedals to help bring the back of the bike up with them when hopping, but if you can do it with flats comfortably then you actually have the proper technique and your riding will be that much better because of it, regardless of which pedals you run.
  • + 1
 and yes they are easy to get out of physiclally but mentally in mid air is another story. And I agree from experience, crash with clipless my feet pop out more than i would have guessed.
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  • + 2
 This is for Superfly (Paton)

Flats are for beginners :0)

Stay clipped in lol
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  • + 2
 Less technical tracks + slacker head angles = faster. The clips are a side show.
  • + 1
 Yea it needs to be brought to attention that tracks truly are getting less technical. Look at pmb... When guys start trying to make there bikes pedal better, it's not technical enough.
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  • + 3
 i now want to go try out some clips :/
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  • - 1
 Here's a thought....
What about MX riders, the don't have pedals, yet they do conquer the all mighty Erzberg every year. I think, that e pedal, designed similarly to a mx peg would have the qualities of a clip and a flat. We do have SPD shoes, why not heeled ones as well.
Liked or not, at least it's worth a shot... We've seen so many pointless inventions here on PB, not necessarily helping the rider, the "seat brake"......
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  • - 1
 Interesting and thought provoking article. But the fact that Brook won a race this year shows flats can be faster, though clips usually rule the podium. And for the average rider with average skills, flats make sense.

There is nothing new about clips being dominant, look at Nico's results in the 90's, and I think the claims of a new riding style being developed are exaggerated. All riders lean over the front and hang off the back in every race, depending upon on what the terrain is. But Hart, Gwin, Minnar, Gee, and Smith are at a consistently faster and are all clipped in.

I still think a new pedal-foot interface might be developed to improve DH, but what? Magnets?
  • + 6
 I was just thinking magnets the other day
  • + 1
 How do magnets work?
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  • + 1
 Flats are much better for your caual rider but if you gona be smashing it like those guys do there's more advantages than dis-advantages.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 ....no single racer has the raw talent to dominate....
(next sentence)
It can be argued that Aaron Gwin's mega-dominance over the past years...

Contradiction much?
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  • + 3
 How about clipped in on a 29er... is that faster?!
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  • + 1
 Wherebouts was that article from a while ago where it showed diagrams about the specific muscles used during a pedal stroke and related it to the efficiancy of an SPD pedal?
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  • + 2
 Clips will all ways be faster over rough dh runs, but flats will be more fun and less risky for everyone else
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  • + 1
 so while we are on the subject of clipless pedals , whats the best design for DH today ?? back in the day i ran the tried and true 636 from Shimano
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Pick the type of pedals YOU want to ride. Not because "oh, minnar uses clips I think I'll sell my flats and get some of those" its
because its about what YOU wantSmile
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Once I put my feet on my Syncross Meat hook, Its nearly impossible to remove it during the run. So.... just try it.
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  • + 1
 no clips on mx bikes...imagine that! hahahaha....Flat pedal freedom....spandex wearers use clips yes
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  • + 3
 Clips ALL THE WAY!
  • + 2
 Clips ARE GAY! jk to each their own
  • + 2
 Is the news on clips really that big it needs such publicity :Z
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  • + 1
 Can't say I could decide I love riding clips at places like fort William but places like whistler are just to fun on flats.
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  • + 2
 Sam Hill never lets clips near his house...
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  • + 1
 uci should ban clips at dh world cups, same as skin suits. would make it much more exciting!
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  • + 2
 Bikers are such nerds!!! go and ride!
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  • + 1
 My two penneth - World Cup racers are a whole lot more skilful than regular mere mortals.
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  • + 1
 Flats just look cool!! sam hills of the back of the bike tec just looks amazing in photos Big Grin
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  • - 2
 Riding clipped in ruined BMX racing. It is about time it got around to ruining Downhill racing. The popularity and obession of downhill racing ruined full suspension bikes (I can't even buy a proper 8 inch bike anymore that doesn't have stupid not-fun-at-all geo), and downhill racing is extremely boring so I for one welcome downhill racing becoming even lamer with the explosion of popularity in clipped in racing. Soon it will become so lame and retarded nobody will want to go anywhere near it and then 8 inch bikes one day may return to fun, flickable machines.
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  • + 0
 I feel that the only advantage of clips are you can pedal easier and your feet do not slip off, but flats dominate every other aspect.
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  • + 1
 Does seem a bit of an odd thing to say just after Brooky Mac wins on flats.
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  • + 1
 very interesting... i don't think i'll be running clips anytime soon but all that you said made sense great article!
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  • + 2
 FLATS FOR FUN, and CLIP IN TO WIN
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  • + 3
 Clips are superior Smile
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  • + 1
 it depends what the rider is feeling... it's basically a coin flip for me everyday before i leave the house
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  • + 1
 My missus thinks we're all losers wasting this much time discussing flats v clip lol..I think she has a point.
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  • + 1
 ! agree in100% with dean, flats if for fun, for freeriding and that's enough for me.
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  • + 1
 Great Piece on all fronts! and another good excuse to watch DH's champery ride!
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  • + 1
 I wish everybody would ride clip in...Then I would be the cool guy on flats. Wink
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  • + 1
 This is all really good stuff, the article and the comments. Really enjoyed reading this.
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  • + 1
 Tough to argue results - The consistently fastest guys in the world are clipped in.
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  • + 1
 That run gives me goose bumps everytime
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  • + 2
 Clipped in? You c**t!
  • + 2
 is steve peat a c*nt as well for being clipped in? what about danny hart?
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  • + 1
 i ride flats, always have.... i still miss MY Spleen, poor little guy
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  • + 1
 Flat for training fun, clips for racing
[Reply]
  • + 1
 can everyone stop busting my balls now
[Reply]
  • + 1
 HOW DOES HE SIT DOWN WITH BALLS THAT BIG!?!? best video ever.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 I'd be ecstatic if clips went the same way as skin suits, I think dh should be all about talent not how fast you can pedal.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Clips for peddling speed, flats for fun!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Switch between clips and flats, I've learned a lot that way.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I iron my feet to the pedals... That's dedication.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Flats will allways be fine for us, amateurs
[Reply]
  • + 1
 best part of this whole shabang is the announcers in the hart video...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Thanks RC, great article!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 How many World Cup racers actually race on bikes with 62* head angles?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 FPF: flat pedals forever!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 great article rc!
  • + 1
 sry. wrong line :S
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Who needs pedals, ride your balls.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Surely it depends on the track too?..
[Reply]
  • - 1
 How the heck am I supposed to do a tailwhip off the gate when I'm clipped in??? duhhh... but really clips suck
  • + 3
 Tell Danny Hart that.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 great article but you forgot to say clips are gay
[Reply]
  • + 1
 One footed drifts or die
  • + 1
 Sure glad we're on a motor bike racing forum
  • + 2
 Sorry, should have referenced it:
Mert Lawwill: MTB HOF
-Made one of the first mountain bikes
-Invented and produced the first four-bar MTB rear suspension (GF RS1)
-designed DH bikes for Schwinn and managed Pro team
-Star of 'On any Sunday' the moto movie that launched BMX
-Multi-time National AMA champion
- Chuck Norris approved
[Reply]
  • - 3
 honestly who cares what pedal/shoe style choice wc riders make lol, bigger fish to fry pb
  • + 10
 Lots of people...
  • + 5
 I don't know, maybe RACERS!
  • + 5
 Loking at the comments here and how in depth people have thought this through.... i would say lots of guys care. It's an interesting topic.
[Reply]
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