Ryan Leech's Flat Pedal Challenge

Dec 16, 2016 at 12:00
Dec 16, 2016
by Pinkbike Staff  
 
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Dear Friends,

Free this holiday season! A drill-filled guide designed to help you discover the technique and style gifts of flat pedals.

Ryan Leech Flat Pedal Course
I'm NOT trying to convert you to flat pedals. Though if you ride clipless, then you're missing out on the refinement that logging time on flats can have on your technique. You can then carry this style back to clipless at any time you like! Following my curriculum will speed up the acquisition of these, dare I say, transformative flat pedal benefits.

By switching from clipless pedals to flat pedals and following this program, you will improve your riding skills more than with any other method I know of it - though not without some challenge and perhaps frustration.

Riding with flat pedals reveals inefficiencies in your riding technique and forces you to learn and relearn skills in the most effective way. Many skills developed while on clipless pedals are compromised and therefore very limiting for long term skill progression. Our bike and body need to move as one cohesive and connected unit, and flat pedals inspire this.

This integrated movement is also related to style - riders who have spent time developing their skills on flat pedals simply look good when mountain biking!

Claim the course for free before the New Year - there is no expiry once you have it - just in case you're too busy playing in the snow.

Learn more about The 12 Ride Flat Pedal Challenge

Ryan Leech Flat Pedal Course

A big thanks to Waki Leaks for the incredible artwork that accompanies this online course.

Happy Holidays!

Sincerely,

Ryan Leech


MENTIONS: @RyanLeech / @WAKIdesigns

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201 Comments

  • + 330
 I like it when you hear people say "I can't bunny hop withput being clipped in" well then you don't actually know how to do it
  • + 18
 Agree, I am on clipless 80% of the time. However, like all kids my first bikes had flats. I also raced BMX did some Freestyle way before clipless caught on.
  • + 26
 So true every one should learn on flats, it's more forgiving when you fall, and you can't cheat your riding techniques.
  • + 3
 @bman33: I am the same way. The only bike that has flats now is my trials bike though.
  • + 5
 So true. After being a noob dumbass and ripping out of both clipless pedals during a poor hop (resulting in a total baunch-buster) I went and learned a little technique with flats. I definitely "didn't actually know how to do it" before that.
  • - 75
flag Gene9810 (Dec 16, 2016 at 13:51) (Below Threshold)
 This is cause when you don't clip in there is pretty much zero grip on the pedals, unless you're on crankbrother's mallets or something
  • + 9
 @larr: I agree and also think the same holds true in regards to suspension. When I started riding everyone was on fully rigid bikes, and it really taught us how our bikes handled on all types of terrain. It was a pretty unforgiving way to progress, "school of hard knocks" style.
  • + 12
 anyone actually do the course and having something to say about it? as opposed to sharing their version on the gospel mtb pedals?
  • + 9
 @WasabiJim: this is no Gospel of Saint James W. (which some may actually need) Ryan even thought about making a 12 ride clipless pedal challenge. You'll find a solid, balanced, experience based opinion that everyone else seems to have trouble providing. I personally don't need to go through the course since I am profficient with both flats and clipless. I change between systems depending on mood swings.
  • + 32
 I haven't been clipped in for 11 years and I am still gonna read and apply the program... Always a student
  • + 5
 As a rider and coach (BMX) its disappointing when you hear, especially kids, want to go on them because they are "faster" or "everyone else has them" and they miss out on learning so many fundamental skills or their techniques are lacking, to where they cannot do 80% of what they do in clips on flats.
Yet, watch those who have mastered skills by switching it up and also riding other disciplines, and you can see how the abilities and skills cross over and make them a better rider. They make it look effortless rather then awkward and forceful.
  • + 7
 I rode BMX for years on flats, and then MTBs. Only SPD for racing cross country. years of DH and FR on flats. Then got back into using SPD for trail riding - efficient pedalling but stilted riding style Back to flats the last few months. Drop the seat, get loose, having fun again! Feeling the feet, putting in body english, much more organic riding style Use SPD-SL every day on my road bike, but can't see going back to SPD on the MTB any time soon.
  • + 16
 @Gene9810: lol, sure, give me a bike with just the pedal axles and I'll bunny hop it. Grip is not the important part in bunny hop, technique is.
  • + 7
 @sabakvavilashvili: only thing you need to grip during a bunnyhop is the handlebars
  • + 1
 After millions of words written in thousand of rants and 16 years of riding with long periods of using many different kinds of flat and clipless pedals and shoes, the only thing I have left to say is that the elaborated debate is freaking stupid. What matters is a quality long term personal experience with many systems, dictating personal preference. The amount of personal half truths spread over bike internet by journos and pros is appalling. Just because Neil Donaghue says on GMBN video that clips let him pedal through rough bits doesn't really mean much to an average specimen of target group of his videos. That is because he has too limited time to show where he pedals and where he pumps through the rough and what sorts of rough. Any idiot can pedal on rocks and roots, very few (like Donny) can effectively carry and grnerate speed through terrain features. Flats force you to learn that. At the same time once you've learned, a suitable clipless system can make you smoother in the end.
  • + 2
 @WasabiJim:
I read all the material and watched all the videos. There's no secrets in there. It's a course for people who can't figure anything out for themselves. I'm glad I didn't pay $12 for it.
To put some background behind that comment. I ride clipless on my road bike and flats on my mountain bike. I ride flats so I can bail out easily and make sure my mountain biking technique is good (not that it matters, thats just my own puritanical BS going on). I guess that's why nothing in the video was a surprise or an inspiration. I already ride flats and pay attention to my technique.
The basis for the video seems flawed to like everyone who is riding clipless didn't start on flats. I'm pretty sure everyone started on flats and moved to clipless for whatever reason. I don't think there's an oppressed race of people with their feet clipped to the pedals who have never known the freedom of not being clipped in. I don't think this video provides any reason to give up clipless. Don't bother, I'm upset with myself for going all the way to the end.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns:
Amen. Riding BMX, Pumptrack / DJ, Cyclocross with or without Flats does way more for improving your bike handling skills. It`s not (entirely) the gear holding back cyclist`s coordinative abilities.

I considered myself a pretty decent rider onroad and offroad for the past 15 years, then started riding cyclocross last year and DJ/pumptracks this year. I have learned more and improved faster since that point than all my full suspension, tubeless, dropper post , aero gear ever did in the last decade. My level of fun on a bike didn`t change a lot but speed and times did.
  • + 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I felt super timid and unbalanced on clips personally. Although I didn't really give myself time to truly adapt to them because I simply threw them on and went on a steep rocky DH run my First time using them. They do give you the option to float and control the bike a bit better I felt. Although there are guys out there racing world cups on flats as well. I do like your inciteful articles. It gives everyone the chance to read and learn about something they may have not tried before. This industry has grown so much since I first started riding in 96 that I think people need to find as much unbiased opinions on things before jumping on the trend train.
  • + 1
 @sydbike: hey gotta love an open mind. i'm all for flats, they do it for me. clipless solves problems i don't really have - well maybe its more problems I don't prioritise as a reflection on personal preference. its just annoying when as WAKI says we get all these half truths thrown around - even when there's actually legitimate peer reviewed academic/research material out there which technically should trump marketing and personal psydo-science positions. but i get it, no one who just dropped $200 on a clipless set-up wants to be told they wasted $$ and should just learn to ride
  • + 1
 @fattyreryder: you wise! I did that about a year ago and loved it. Still on flats because enjoy but keeping my clipless close.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: And yet at the same time you can always swap back to flats to make sure you have retained those skills and still have a good technique.
Went riding at a track (BMX Race) yesterday that has a flat pedals only rule, and found out some of our State and National Champions could not physically Jump or Manual as they had never learnt how to control a bike without having to rely on using a clipped in shoe system.
And yet many others who ride there not only say they feel they have better bike skills, they actually look much smoother when they swap back as they have a much nicer style of control.
  • + 3
 @larr: Yeah learn on flats, then stay on 'em.
  • + 309
 I rode clipless for about 15 years and my life was a mess, I was single, no friends, suffered from anal leakage, I was sick all the time, my breath smelled like shit, I was weak, scored low on IQ tests, rode 26 inch bicycles, I even road biked a little. About 3 years ago I tried flats and my entire life changed. I found a partner, I made an online friend, my sphincter tightened, I am healthy as a vegan with severe iron deficiency, I brushed my teeth, I'm strong on plow, learned how to color in the lines, ride a 650b bike and even quit road biking. I have no desire to go back to my crappy life ever again. I will always ride flats.
  • + 24
 Great success.
  • + 30
 COY contender
  • + 6
 we should get tattoos together! pair of flaming flats dripping blood right on the bicep
  • + 36
 Similar story here, bro I tried flats and never look back... because they made me crash and now I can't turn my head around.
  • + 5
 all sounds good except the 26" hatin'
  • + 2
 I wish there was a way to give more props! Comment of the year here folks!
  • + 3
 "brushed" as in a singular instance?
  • + 2
 love it! I feel the same way!
  • + 6
 I lost it at "strong on plow"
  • + 81
 this isn't the first 12 step program i've been asked to check out...
  • + 18
 Wouldn't be the first one i've been asked to leave either...
  • + 34
 FLATS FOR LIFE, YO!
  • + 27
 Unless you are talking about tyres, in which case... FLATS SUCK BALLS, YO!
  • + 21
 @bigtim: or talking about girls
  • + 8
 Toe clips for life!
  • - 4
flag vistacruiser (Dec 17, 2016 at 17:54) (Below Threshold)
 Alright, alright, alright. There are two types of girls I like. Girls with big titties and girls with great big titties!
  • + 27
 I recently converted to clipless. Took me a while to get used to them, but for riding rough stuff, they are far superior.

I can see other fields where flats would have an advantage, but for riding DH/Enduro, it's clipless all the way for me now.
  • + 10
 I switch back and forth. I think there is real merit to what can be learned with flats. I also agree that clip-less is superior for riding rough technical trails. I prefer to race DH with them, however I free-ride without. I have and ride a dj bike with flats. My trail bike sports clipless pedals most of the time but when I feel myself doing lazy things with them I switch them out for a bit. I just built a new trail bike and I put on flats......after running clipless on my trail bike for a few seasons straight I went on a trail ride with flats and struggled in a couple spots because of them, so I'm due. I think its good practice to stay proficient with both.
  • + 6
 Racing in New England the conditions can be really bad, these situations can warrant flats because coming off line and dabbing is a reality. Its for that reason I like to stay good at them and I do actually like riding jumps with flats although I have become good at them with clips, that's why I don't agree with swearing them off....
  • - 1
 Amen
  • + 2
 @DARKSTAR63: My feelings exactly. Mostly ride clipless, but switch now and then to keep things fresh. Overall I prefer clipless, they're nice to have riding a hardtail on very rough trails. Also love the clearance they offer from the ground, much harder get a pedal strike.

There have been really slippery rides where I was wishing I was riding flats
  • + 1
 I've been back on the bike (short-travel FS trail job) after a ten year absence and have been on flats all along. I'm also new to the West of Ireland and its rough trails, finding myself dabbing and getting pedal strike a lot more than I seem to remember. Some of it surely is loss of fitness, technique old age etc... Do you reckon I might benefit from converting to clipless in this situation?
  • + 5
 @justwan-naride: The clearance is a good point. I like the trail body of the xtr/xt shimano pedals. They hardly get into trouble compared to a wide flat pedal. On my DH bike I like the plastic caged shimano DX pedal. The plastic tends to glide on rocks instead of hanging up. @WeshternAsFook I suspect that clipless pedals would indeed be the pedal of choice where you are. They absolutely rule on techy trails. Also, I also simply find myself too old to take any more shin strikes in wet conditions so that's another huge plus. With that said, be careful not to rely on them. Maybe stick it out a bit longer so that you are confident that you technique is good but the short answer is yes, give them a try. Can always switch back and forth to keep it fresh. Nothing is final !
  • + 4
 @WeshternAsFook: It's wet and slippery a lot of the time in the north west here as well.

When riding clipless and I can't dab as freely as I used to on flats, it just makes me so much more committed to my riding and my lines now.

It's like, you know you're bolted in, so you just have to ride better to accommodate. And you do.

Riding clipless doesn't cost me a thought any more, and I'm far more prepared and confident though sections where I'd previously have lost footing on flats, and had to invest time and thought into getting properly repositioned again.

If I crash, I crash. Happens on flats as well. But I can honestly say clipless has completely changed the way I ride, for the better.
  • + 4
 people are missing out not crankflipping off every fucking thing ever. It's practically the curb hopping of mtb'ing, I could never sacrifice that to go clipless. i'm a manchild.
  • + 3
 @anchoricex: Hahaha yeah gotta love throwing in a little crankflip here an there!
  • + 20
 You can tell a 'flats' rider by looking at their shins - I've had the grub screws stab and scrape my shins so many times that the skin on my lower leg resembles the moon surface. Nothing better to wake you up at the start of the ride when you slip or catch the pedals on a rock or log resulting in the grub screws smashing into your shins - feels goooood...
  • + 1
 Amen brother.. but you know that's why they created shinpads right?
  • + 6
 I admit, it probably makes me a weirdo, but I take pride in my scarred shins. Got a story for every one of those purple divots. Been on Canfield Crampons ever since they were protos. (sadly, they didn't take my suggestion to name them "Manglers")
  • + 1
 check this out - I've had my fair share of shredded shins over the years - to the point where it doesn't really hurt any more!

this also strangely was one of the most pain free cuts yet? thanks to Syncros Mental pedals

ep1.pinkbike.org/p4pb3530623/p4pb3530623.jpg
  • + 3
 @hampsteadbandit: Nice! Wear those scars a badge of honor, I know I do!
  • + 2
 @hampsteadbandit: Be thankful you weren't riding Shinburgers from BMW, you may have lost a limb. Or worse.
  • + 11
 good flat pedals with the right shoe is the best. if you only ever rode wellgos with your skate shoes, then you dont know what a proper flat pedal setup can feel like
  • + 3
 Can it feel like my destroyed hemp Merrell's from Goodwill with the squishy but somewhat stiff sole and my Lixada H5Z9 chinese flats? I get laughed at regularly because both toes have huge holes but they just work.
  • + 1
 @Warburrito: if it works it works right? I am glad you had the model number for your pedals haha
  • + 4
 Honestly I bought 25 dollar wellgos four years ago and the damn things still spin fine and work great. They could be thinner, and they could also be CNC'd and anodized gold, but details. Real flat pedal shoes though... indispensable IMO.
  • + 1
 pretty much any rebuildable pedal and vans does the trick for me. I've had one pair of shoes that actually was slippery, I think it was a pair of janoskis I grabbed last minute because my "riding vans" were wet from stepping in a puddle.
  • + 1
 @adrennan: Yeah, that's one of the parts on my bike I recommend to everyone that asks about them. I get comments on them all the time and for $25 they're incredible...306.3 grams, super thin and wide, take abuse, look good. My frame and fork are matte black so they don't attract attention. I admit...I did insert longer 3mmx10mm pins for extra grip, but the stock ones worked.
  • + 9
 Thank you for this Ryan! I have ridden clips since about '93 or so. Since I'm of the opinion that knowledge is power and you're giving us this for free, I'm going to step WAY out of my (and my shins) comfort zone and give this a go.
  • + 6
 I was in the same boat as you. Clipless since the mid-90's (and clips before that!). Lots of different riding styles, x/c, downhill, all mountain, whatever, as long as I was on my mountain bike. And all of it was on clipless. Over 20 years of 100% clipless mountain riding...

A year ago I bought some 5-10 shoes and a set of Saint flat pedals to give it a shot. I can honestly say, that for the riding I do, I now prefer flats for all the mountain biking I do. I like having my feet on and off the pedals all the time when doing technical riding and would say I am not that much less inefficient when climbing (although I dont really care about that).
Yes my riding is different, but I would say in a good way.

The ONE problem I have with flats (and I am going to continue to work on this) is getting my feet positioned correctly on the pedals. Often, I have to move my foot around a bit to get it where I want it, this requires sitting on the seat briefly and can be difficult when rocks and roots are coming at you quickly. Then I will dab a foot in a sharp turn and have to reset my foot on the pedal. practice I guess.
  • + 3
 @oregonryder: repositioning loose feet puts me off, but then being clipped in and bottling things is just as bad Smile
  • + 1
 @oregonryder: I've always been afraid to use clipless because of crash footage I've seen, but I agree that the constant repositioning of the feet gets annoying.
  • + 2
 @oregonryder: I had that feeling of sometimes not getting my leading foot in the correct position...I found my new Adidas terrex cross trail sl shoes have firmer soles than my freerider canvas....The Adidas soles feel much nicer on my Hope pedals and I don't get that out of position feeling...I think the freerider soles are too soft.
  • + 2
 @silverfish1974: Thanks for the tip mate! I have the 5-10 freerider shoes. Was going to try the Spesh 2FO next, but I will look into the terrex also.
  • + 4
 RAD Vudu, wow, please keep us posted about your experiences. I'm very curious about how it goes for you. It WILL feel like you're taking a step backwards for a while, but stick with it and keep us posted along the way, both the highs and lows from making the switch. Welcome to the challenge!
  • + 7
 Ive ridden flats my whole life, did try clips once, didn't understand the benefits everyone says they have so didn't continue using them, I don't struggle with any of the problems clipped on guys have with flats anyway - does this mean I look stylish when I ride?
  • + 0
 Alright. I've only ridden flats for the last twenty five years.... Who would ever thought that having wide feet and being to cheap to try clipless would make me awesome. I like the things I do so hooray for me, and #*#% you.
  • + 2
 Of course haha!
I've been on flats for over 40 years (BMX in the 1980's through to MTB now). Tried clipless a few years ago - didn't like it one bit. Felt free as a bird when I put flats back on.
  • + 7
 started riding flats again recently after 10 yrs of clipless. super fun, but gadamn techy climbs are a pain in the ass and i'm missin alotta meat on my shin...
  • + 0
 This is why I stopped riding them. Tried for a whole season and it was the uphill that wrecked me. Got sick of constantly repositioning my feet and taking chunks out of my shins in the rough. I was on 5/10's with stealth rubber and pricey pedals. No thanks.
  • + 12
 @brandonj1979: You must be pretty bad
  • + 3
 Reading stuff like that makes me feel like a real weirdo because I crash in clipless on steep the climbs... I fkd up my elbow for life (slightly but still) because I stalled and fell down not being able to clip out of a CB pedal. I can't support myself on table with that elbow without getting an excruciating nerve pain.

I have only tech climbs where I live and I'd rather climb in flats and ride down clipped in
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns:
Climbing well with clipless is a technique/skill I suppose some people just don't have in them...
  • - 2
 @KeithReeder: are you trolling or you serious bro?
  • + 9
 Who cares what ride for life!
  • + 7
 Ramble ramble ramble ramble ramble ramble ramble clipless ramble ramble ramble flat ramble ramble
  • + 5
 I notice I start to get lazy on my foot technique after using nothing but clipless pedals for a while so I like to switch it up and run flats for a few rides every season because the technique benefits really are huge
  • + 1
 Yea I do this too. I ride predominantly clips on my trail bike but I love to chuck my flats on a few times a year for fun.
  • + 3
 Coming from over 15 years riding BMX/Freestyle, I started MTB on flats for a few years, then switched to clipless and rode them for about 6 years. Recently decided to go back to flats to help with foot numbness, and I had a heck of a time on tech climbs. I don't think it was a problem with grip. It seemed to be a muscle memory issue, where I was trying to pull up with my "rear" foot and it would slip off the pedal resulting in some gnarly scrapes on my calves. Anyone else experience this?
  • + 7
 pick a pedal, then be a dick about it.
  • + 3
 I've been riding only flats since I could ride a bike. I DH and trail ride with them and could never see me using clips ever. Now between the new flats that really hold you in and riding shoes you'll be more than fine even for some of the roughest DH around (north Easter usa style)
  • + 6
 Next read: "Rigid bike challenge" ... as if long travel suspensions and/or clipless pedals are about to disappear!
  • + 3
 I put an old set of clips on my bike for a day to give them another chance.... Pulled up to a busy set of traffic lights at red/stop, forgot I was clipped in, toppled to the side and collapsed onto the tarmac. That night I put them in the bin along with the spd shoes. I have been watching CrazyFools hosted by Mr.T ever since that day hoping that no one caught the comedy incident on their dash-cam.
  • + 4
 So you forgot how to ride clipless, and it's the pedals' fault?
  • + 2
 I've ridden clipless on the trail once. On the first berm, my outside foot stayed clipped in, but as I took up the play in the mechanism it felt like I was twisting my foot on a block of ice. 5-10's and proper flats feel more laterally stable to me.
  • + 6
 What's clipless, some newfangled hair do thingy?
  • + 7
 I think it's like strava.
  • + 2
 Road clips for a while but switched back around 2000 and never looked back. I am a firm believer in a rider getting lots of experience riding before trying clipless. Have seen so many nitemares over the years as a guide and coach with people riding clips without the appropriate experience level. All comes down to personal choice though!
  • + 2
 I've been riding with clips for 20 years. But there are definitely times no clips would be better, and I agree it's fun to go back and bunny hop without them... as well as that you cannot possibly consider yourself capable of a bunny hop if you cannot do it without clips. Still, you have to remember you're not clipped in, because I'm so used to being attached I've nearly had some terrible wipeouts when I've forgotten I'm not attached. I'll buy shin guards with my flat peddles!
  • + 1
 Absolutely, thanks for sharing this Grant, sooooo important!
  • + 2
 I still clip in on my XC race bike and my BMX race bike but I went back to flats 4 years ago on my trail bike and I'll never go back. Honestly, more freedom of movement, not so mentally sketched out on the narley stuff and when the tough climbs come, I adapted. Coupled my 15 year old Atom Lab AirCorps with Vans hi-tops and I have a winning hand. I talked my wife into the same set up shortly thereafter and she will never go back either.
  • + 6
 Waki is right handed. I can tell by his shading.
  • + 13
 Knowing Waki, he probably draws with his foot.
  • + 33
 @therealtylerdurden: he can't draw with his foot when it's in his mouth
  • - 4
flag WAKIdesigns (Dec 16, 2016 at 16:48) (Below Threshold)
 Deeerp that thing kadoooonga bhraaaa umpfufu
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Don Martin fan?
  • + 5
 Step one - put feet on pedal Step two - go ride
  • + 1
 I have always ridden flats. Tried SPD's for a while about 14 years ago. A broken hand from going over the bars and a tumble down an embankment over a park bench put me off of clipless pedals for life. I just cannot get out of them. I loosened them as much as possible and I just could not get out of them. I have toe straps on my commuter and rode toe straps for years on a rigid MTB and my road bikes as well. But, for my FS XC bike and our tandem, I ride flats and flat specific shoes; 5/10 and Giro Jackets. Heck, I ride in those same shoes on the commuter.
  • + 5
 Ride both until you like them both. Until then you're missing out.
  • + 3
 This is a GREAT point, so simple and concise, thanks jflb
  • + 1
 I agree 100% with Ryan, and then some. Without being comfortable on flats you can never really be one with the bike (as opposed to just strapped to it). Yes in world-cup racing they're mostly clipped in and thousandths of seconds is the difference between riders, but on for us mere mortals they are a crutch we use to jump over things and stay stuck to the bike (and pedal in circles as apposed to just just pushing down on them).

Proper flat pedal technique is the only path to true bike mastery. It is a difficult journey but it is worth every ounce of effort!
  • + 1
 *Quite a lot* of pretentious, self-serving bollocks you've written there, jrcd...
  • + 1
 @KeithReeder: How so?
  • + 1
 I switch to flats for winter riding, to enable the use of warm goretex light hiking boots with thick wool socks,, and to avoid snow clogged cleats and pedals. That's for a real winter in Alberta, not that pretend PNW one! Takes a few rides to get used to the flats as the clipless obviously make me a bit lazy with pedalling technique, but I don't notice any improvement once I go back to clipless come spring.
  • + 1
 Think I have clipless coming for Christmas see how they go .Been on dmr 's flats for six years and can bunnyhop, have since I was a kid could bunnyhop a trade bike for Christ its not that hard "so let's try the clipless for a bit " change is as good as a rest.
  • + 1
 All my riding buddies kept telling me I need to ride clipless, after numerous attempts and trying Speedplays,Crankbrothers and SPD's I say NAY, I love my flats. Although I need to learn how to bunnyhop I hope this class works.
  • + 1
 There are good reasons to ride flats, but let's not forget the most important...the ability to knock others off their bikes by using a sweet side kick. Anyone who grew up on Road Rash or Chuck Norris knows that limiting yourself to only being able to throw punches really cripples your chances of winning. Ever tried to kick someone else off their bike while riding clipless?...forget it.
  • + 1
 I've been riding on clipless since the late 90's. Did learn on Flats from first bikes, and the skills definitely have stood the test of time. Jumping on a bike with flats now is comfortable, but not as second nature to me as they should be. Thanks for the free course Ryan!
  • + 1
 Like many other commenters, I've been riding for over 25 years, and most of that is clipped in, but also in that time rode lift-accessed and shuttle-access trails solely with flats. Also grew up racing bmx on flats.

Recently I added a hardtail to my quiver and outfitted it with flats just as a different way to keep on progressing. It has been a seriously humbling experience. I had forgotten how much harder technical climbs are on a hardtail, and I think it was magnified for me by ditching both clipless pedals and rear-suspension at the same time. Climbs that I cleaned every single time clipped in on a 5" trail bike were at first making me dab numerous times due to losing rear wheel traction. I've cleaned them on the hardtail since but it required much more precision and timing. Also, I have to bunny hop over a few culverts to get back to my house on local rides which I do almost with my eyes closed clipped in and fully-suspended but even these require serious concentration on flats/hardtail.

So while I probably won't sign up for the course, I am a believer that flats mask some bad habits and once you correct them, clipped-in will be that much better.
  • + 1
 For folks getting a pair of shoes/pedals check out the Specialized 2FO. I had a pair of Giro Jackets and tried Five Tens but they just felt like fancy skate shoes. The 2FOs have a stiffer shank and canting like you get with a clipless shoe. They match up great with Race Face Chester pedals
  • + 5
 How are Five Tens in same bag with... anything mate? It's not being a fan boy here. As far as flat pedal MTB goes there is 5.10 and then trying really hard not to use 5.10. Old style Impacts 2 with S1 sole are the grippiest sht around with the perfect amount of flex and protection. Giro... Giro and Mavic are a half arsed Rapha of MTB. Take away the status and you are left with the void of mediocrity.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: Nice contributions to the article Waki. Merry Christmas
  • - 1
 @dro-cfr: thank you very much Smile
  • + 1
 The only reason I have a bit of interest in this is for jumps. It's easy to rely on them to give you bike lift, which I don't really care about, until my clip releases unexpectedly, which I do care about. I've spent a lot of time thinking with my feet when hitting jumps, but I know I still cheat.
  • + 1
 Always had flat pedals..all these years.. my mind really can't work with clipless..the only time i used the ones with the straps was when i was going long distance on the road..so there were rare stopping.. and they were loose i crashed this last summer and i was LUCKY i had flats with non aggressive thignies sticking because the right pedal did some damage on the back of my right leg..if it woudl have been these ones with the allen screws sticking out..OUCH!!
  • + 1
 Started on flats and was content. I was told I had to learn clipless, hated it but forced myself to learn.. Now I'm supposed to go back? WTF???

All that said, I love clipless now, it was way harder to learn on compared to flats, but no way in hell do I leave clipless unless i turn into a lazy shuttle/lift rider.
  • + 1
 All I know is after years of flats riding, switching to clueless immediately caused me to break all my uphill and downhill PRs on Strava and now I can actually legitimately compete in races. I don't care if it's considered proper riding or not or if my bunny hop cheating is frowned upon by others. What matters is I love it so I'm doing it. The end
  • + 1
 Only tips on fixing issues going the other way? I grew up on flats but have recently switched to clips (past 2 years ) for bike park riding and shuttling. I find that when I ride with clips I need to stiffen the rear (slow down the compression) by 2 -3 clicks otherwise I blow through the travel. I also have to really stiffen the fork to help keep me some what on the bike instead of way to far forward and beyond the point of aggressive with my sternum over the stem not my chin. I keep trying but end up there. Makes me a little nervous on jumps. Thanks for any insight.
  • + 1
 I've switched back and forth since I was 13 or so. Had my right lateral meniscus removed this year so I went from Shimanos to Times to see if the extra float would help my knee out. I was still getting used to the extra amount of rotation required to unclip and had a stupid 0mph tipover on a logover. Tore a ligament in my thumb on that fall. Back to flats. There's not really a lot I CAN'T do with flats that I can with clipless, but some things like unweighting the rear of the bike without jettisoning my feet over rough stuff or quick, multiple hops for rear wheel placement definitely take more physical and mental effort when on flats rather than clipless. I do find that clipless also seem to foster just sitting and zoning out during fireroad climbs and the like.
  • + 1
 Having ridden both, I'm inclined toward clipless but daydream about switching. Only thing is, I ride rocky/rooty technical EC terrain and everybody that I ride with that rides flats is way too quick to dab on hard sections. It's so bad that I consciously notice what someone is riding and refuse to ride behind them, because I know they will put their foot down and stall out.
  • + 1
 Broke my right ankle last year in a freak slide out in pine straw last year when I couldn't un clip due to my toe digging into the trail. After my first 2 rides now on flats/510's, I like them and only have a couple of issues. 1) making sure my shoe is covering the bulk of the pedals for traction (time should fix) 2) Heels occasionally hitting chain stays (once again, time should correct) 3) feet bouncing off pedals. Now #3 is the only issue I am going to have to make more of a conscious effort to improve. Have moved pedal to slightly behind ball of foot and thinking I need to play with toe position or hugging the cranks with my foot arches. I'm sure to figure it out eventually!
  • + 4
 "a big thanks to waki leaks" ... Instant loss of credibility.
  • + 4
 Flat pedals win medals!!!
  • + 29
 Yes, silver and bronze
  • + 3
 @scary1: I like silver more than gold if given the option. Obviously you want to win gold, but aesthetically I prefer silver.
  • + 1
 @Kramz: yeah,obviously. But, usually mtn bike competitions arent ranked on the garishness of the prize medal metal
  • + 2
 Just looking on Google things like boomerangs are won for bike competitions, so what are you going to do?
  • + 4
 Clipless? I'm still rockin' bear traps on one of my bikes.
  • + 0
 Let's face the facts here, people ride clipless because they want to make riding easier: spinning more efficiently, keeping their feet on the pedals, being able to control the rear end and all those things you could do on flats if you put in some effort and practise. Riding clipless is like playing a game on easy mode, it makes you feel like you you're better than you really are. I completely agree with what the author said: flats really show you how much you suck because the feedback is immediate, you won't get away with inefficient technique. But who wants to learn the hard way, when you can skip the learning part and go straight to imitating your favourite enduro rider!?
  • + 0
 "Riding clipless is like playing a game on easy mode, it makes you feel like you you're better than you really are."

Cobblers. Clipless is a skill in its own right, and if you think it makes things "easier", you're deluded - plenty on this thread obviously lack the *skill* to ride clipless.

"More efficient" is not "easier".
  • + 1
 @KeithReeder: Keep on believing mate. It's totally ok to wanna play it easy, lots of folks do it. Clipless just lets you get away with less work and less technique. Or is clipping in your cleats now considered an essential mountain biking skill? Why is it so hard just to admit this? Too hard on the self-esteem? Hell, just tell me why would you even want to have it "more efficient? Why would you not want to push yourself and your technical abilities to their limits as it is? I myself don't give a fork about any results whatsoever, I just wanna have fun goofing and thrashing around the trails. But one thing is for sure: I never wanna have it easy, becacuse it just ain't as fun.
  • + 4
 who gives a shit what type of pedal you ride with.
  • + 2
 what about one flat and one clip less , at least one foot will be secure only kidding . got clip less on my dirt jump bike ,pain in the arse getting clipped in some times
  • + 2
 Am i missing something?
Tried to sign up, but its "free" only assuming you're a site member, which is $20 per month.

Still a nice gesture, but "free"?
  • + 4
 Flats, makes buying shoes easier
  • + 1
 I don't understand the naming convention...

Clipless is clipped in pedals no?

What's the difference between clipless and clipped in pedals?

I guess I don't know because flats yo.
  • + 5
 Pedals and shoes with cleats - Clipless are called so as they are not toe clips. Cheers, Steve
  • + 0
 Some people did not read the article, but it's a great opportunity to shout that something something blah blah blah FOR LIFE !!!
This is usually associated with flat pedals. Is it possible that the flat pedals are related to IQ? I do not want to offend anyone. This is just my observation.
  • + 1
 Contemptuous, obstinate, elitist statements for life!
  • + 1
 @kingsx: So you don't disagree with his observation, then?
  • + 1
 @KeithReeder: Ha, no, I agree. It's weird how much people care what someone else rides or how they ride it.

PB is my FB, in that it's as close to social media as I get, so I don't know how people are with other things but I suspect it's just more of the same.

The ego's a funny, fragile thing.
  • + 2
 Nice try bike industry on trying to get me to buy more pedals, i'm not falling for it this time!
  • - 1
 i can't believe pinkbike staff give a blatantly offensive, self-proclaimed troll like @WAKIdesigns any extra air time. he's like the donald trump of this website--will say anything to get a rise out of people except when it's in his own best interests to play nice.
  • + 1
 Awesome timing thanks! Just about to stick a set of flats on my DH bike and my next ride will be the first time in 8 years I've not been attached to the bike! Time to learn!
  • + 3
 Never tried clipless yet, should I?
  • + 2
 Yes. Both flats and clipless have benefits. You should definitely try. I've found Crank bros give the closest feel to a flat pedal, I think they're a good cross over for a rider coming from flats or regularly switches between the two.
  • + 1
 Don't fix what ain't broke.
  • + 2
 @DJ-24: What he's doing NOW might be "broke" - and fixed by clipless...
  • + 3
 Cue the "why do they call them clipless when they have clips?" thread.
  • + 1
 I seriously still wonder about that.
  • + 3
 5-Tens and flats.....For Life!!!
  • + 1
 Agreed 100?
  • + 1
 Or get those crankbros pedals that are flat on one side/clipless other matched w/510 clipless.
  • + 1
 I rode clipless for 5 five year than went back to flats never going back! Speed/style/performance what else do you need?
  • + 1
 Can we at least admit that this flats/clips discussion is dependant on the style of trail system that you ride!
  • + 5
 This article/program isn't about which is better, only that learning on flats will reveal flaws in one's technique masked by clipless pedals, such as the bunny hop and jumping comments above.
  • + 1
 Again, has anyone here actually signed up?
$20 a month hardly seems free to me. Am i missing anything here?
  • + 3
 Did you click through the PB link to sign up? That's all I did and it let me create a log in and get the flat pedals course for for free.
I rode clipless all through HS and University but I've been on flats for a few years now. I get knocked off here and there so I'm hoping this program helps my technique a bit.
  • + 2
 I logged in with Pinkbike and it let me go through for free. I did my first day today and had a ton of fun. I put a lot of beach cruiser miles on flat but haven't ridden a trail on anything but clips for 20 years. I feel like it will help even if I end up back on clips when I'm done.
  • + 1
 Hey Foxinsocks! Here's a link to my free courses including the 12 Ride Flat Pedal Challenge. No credit card needed for any of these. The $19/mo is for my private membership site where members have access to all my courses which are generally more advanced and in depth than the free ones. Seeya!
learn.ryanleech.com/p/free
  • + 1
 have used clips in the past but prefer flats myself......both are good though but just pick what suits your style/terrain.
  • + 2
 Do what they say clip less...
  • + 0
 I only ride mtb on flats because I get into too many dangerous accidents that would have been a lot worse clipped in. I do see the benefit for road riding though lol
  • + 2
 Those are some Waki Drawings!
  • + 1
 flat pedals win medals. I don't even snowboard, ski, or wakeboard or water ski because it means I have to be "clipped in".
  • + 1
 Nice one Ryan, @wakidesigns Nice illustrations throughout.
  • + 0
 This and James Wilson's FPR Manifesto.....Clips wouldn't suck so much if the cleat could move more mid foot.
  • + 1
 *Grabs popcorn* I just came to watch the show.
  • + 1
 I like the ability to bail on a climb, so flats work just for that
  • + 2
 If only for that reason.
  • + 1
 With clipless you learn how to handle the bike well enough *not* to bail...
  • + 1
 Why do they call pedals WITH clips "clipLESS"?
  • + 1
 New flats pedals satana corporation))))
  • + 1
 It's hard to click a solid flatty in clips.
  • + 1
 Good stuff
  • + 1
 one foot drifts or die
  • + 1
 Sam hill all am saying
  • + 0
 For "Christ sake not him"he didn't need to be there
  • + 1
 #FLATpedalsmater
  • + 1
 Baa-aa-aaa-aaahhhh
  • + 1
 Flats for life.
  • + 0
 Sorry, meant to up prop you. Those dang arrows are too small. Flats for life!
  • + 3
 "For life" is the most ill-considered combination of words. In one group with "never," "always," "everyone" and "no one."
  • + 1
 @irus: Up there with "I promise", "check's in the mail", "I never got your message", and "of course, those jeans don't make you look fat" etc.
  • + 0
 I can get all this info for free else where.
  • - 1
 I went for a ride with flats after not riding for 6 months. So much fun, much more confidence.
  • + 1
 You'd probably get similar benefits from stabilisers...
  • + 1
 #flatsforlife
  • + 1
 clips and flats for lyf
  • - 1
 Decks out for Harambe!
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