Video: In-Depth Analysis of Flat Pedal Efficiency with the Strength Factory

Jun 20, 2020
by Ben Plenge  

Speak to anyone on the trails and they will tell you with certainty that flat pedals are less efficient than clipping in. But is this true, or is it just MTB Bro-Science?

As a committed flat pedal rider and coach, I wanted to find out for sure, so with a sample size of just 1, I conducted an experiment. Take 10 minutes to watch and see the results for yourself.

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  • 114 7
 Just talked to Nino, he has watched this video. He is going flats next year.
  • 23 10
 Send him my number!
  • 23 13
 @MTB-Strength-Factory: He dosen´t need that he is fully convinced after watching this scientific video. You get such a good stroke and power transfer by wearing slippers like 5.10. The rubber is sooo good.
  • 2 1
 no way...
  • 9 1
 @MTB-Strength-Factory: there has been a bit more sciencey approach taken by other folks, but no one has evaluated efficiency over long rides with Vo2 max accounting for the ability to offload to other muscle groups. There's also a bunch of reports that clips let you generate more absolute power when sprinting.
  • 65 10
 Flats work for me in all conditions. Very occasionally I'll wish my feet were more planted but being able to move around on the pedals if needed and being able to position the pedal in the middle of my foot for decents makes them ideal. Tried spds and just didnt like them. Good vid!
  • 11 6
 Thanks mate.
  • 64 2
 I find myself being able to move my foot around more with clips in practice due to the float. Pins + 5.10s have no float and you can't move your foot around at all without lifting your foot up off the pedal. Even if you miss your position just slightly you need to pick your foot back up again to readjust with flats.
  • 41 2
 Flats = My Hardtail & My DH/Park Bike
Clips = My Trail Bike
  • 24 0
 @dthomp325: my exact thoughts. Nothing worse than getting your foot stuck in the wrong position in 5.10s.
  • 21 0
 @jlawie: yes. I love flats and will say that sometimes its like: wrong postion, lift. wrong position, lift agin. shit still wrong...ahh finally found that goood spot, ooh yeahh.
  • 41 17
 The advantages to clipless outweigh the advantages to flats once you learn how to ride clipless without feeling like a dumbass (e.g. falling over while braking at a traffic light). Once that awkwardness is overcome, clipless is faster for sure. Even Stevie Smith said it. There’s a reason almost all racing pros ride clipless. Sam Hill and Fearon are exceptions to the rule, to which they deserve all the respect they are given.
  • 10 0
 I always come back to clips, they mean that I don't get shaken off in rough chattery stuff, I don't get gouged in the shins and I'm able to keep consistent output on loose slippery climbs sitting in the saddle and pushing as well as pulling so that power is constant which massively decreases slip while maintaining traction.
  • 54 2
 Flat pedals = cool
Clips = cooler
Slippers = coolest
Flip flops = legendary
Bare feet = God
  • 14 1
 @thewho07: having your feet replaced with a pedal spindle = CHAD
  • 2 18
flag robatki (Jun 20, 2020 at 15:31) (Below Threshold)
 @dthomp325: the freeride contacts from Five Ten allow similar float to clips with the smooth center of the sole.
  • 3 0
 @MTB-Strength-Factory: Your problems with sprinting isn't because the crank length is different to your MTB is it? Whenever I've changed crank length on my MTB I've lost a bit of stability in a sprint until my muscle memory re-configures itself. It's never a problem on the clipped-in roadie.
  • 13 1
 @thewho07: Nina Hoffman is a demigod for finishing Andorra with one shoe!
  • 12 1
 I went to flat pedals 6 years ago and haven’t looked back since.
  • 3 0
 @thewho07: what about crocs?
  • 2 1
 @landscapeben: Shin gouge being the most important downside to spiked flats.
  • 7 1
 @cuban-b: I'm not a racer. The amount of times I ended up on my feet instead of eating shit thanks to flats outweight any random second that I might be slower or not.
p.s. I used flats for years
  • 2 1
 I agree.

I rode SPD’s many many moons ago before swapping to flats. I’ve dabbled in clips from time to time but can’t get in with them. I think you loose a lot of feedback like in corners when you drop the outside foot. In those situations the float feels unnatural to me.
  • 1 2
 I meant I used clips for years
  • 3 0
 @thewho07: correction...Bare Feet = Trey Jones
  • 1 0
 @E-ROG: See I'm the opposite. I clip in on my hardtail (which serves as more of a trail bike), and flats on my full-squish for more enduro/park days.
  • 1 0

Exactly that.

Feel get blown off on my hardtail. So clips.

Not an issue on a full sus though. So run flats
  • 1 0
 @thewho07: I've shared them before and I'll share them again. The ultimate bike shoe:
  • 2 0
 @jlawie: what about getting you foot knocked out of your spd in a rough section and having to ride another few hundred feet on the arch of your shoe???
  • 1 1
 @unrooted: "knocked out" can't say it's ever happened to me...
  • 52 14
 Clips just feel better to ride in. My hardtail and bmx bikes are on flats, and they're fun, but for climbing and riding fast the feeling of always knowing my feet are securely in the right spot is excellent.
  • 5 6
Here . Hard tail - transition PBJ in long with Kona was wahs , BMX - fit Mike Aitken - with some shitty plastic oddysey ( they suck ) and yeah my big bike - Bronson Large 2019 cleats all the way
  • 21 69
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 6:52) (Below Threshold)
 How do you know your feet are in the right spot? Did you have a professional bike fit using power meter to test that your cleats are in the perfect place? Did you have it recently, since bodies change over time. Doesn't the perfect position change slightly for different terrain or different levels of fatigue?

Besides, it's actually pretty easy to put your foot on a flat pedals in pretty damn close to the same spot every time. It's not accurate to a tenth of a mm, but it's more than perfect enough for most people. And if it's not perfect, or you need to tweak it for _any_ reason, it's just as easy to move your foot slightly if you want to.
  • 18 2
 As with all contact points it's personal preference based on experience.

Sure "clipless" /might/ give you more watts in certain situations, and you may feel more connected and secure. That being said on a mountain bike I've always preferred to be able to move my feet around on the pedal, be it in the air or on the ground. The feeling of being attached to the bike just always felt unnatural to me.
  • 9 0
 @just6979: By placing feet in the "right spot" I believe they mean "confident position." Which can be fairly subjective. Becoming a better cyclist is often about reducing your perceived rate of exertion. The minute you don't have to worry about your feet position you can focus on other aspects of your ride.
  • 23 14
 @just6979: you ride a salsa shut up.
  • 6 1
 This exactly. For me the efficiency benefit of clips comes from having my feet in exactly the best spot for my legs (and body) to put the power down and not having to make minute adjustments to keep em there. In the right scenario the same rings true for descents (racing basically). I ride 90% of the time or more on flats but for defs see the benefits when riding clips.
The rest of my body has 100% of its energy going into the task at hand rather than tryna keep my feet in the right place.
  • 17 3
 There’s a reason most pros in most cycling racing disciplines use clipless. Even BMX racing is 99% on spd
  • 12 5
 This is entirely down to personal preference. One isn't better than the other. Where clips exceed, flats make up where they don't. Unless you are pro, racing at the very top I can't see how one can be 'better' than the other. It's only very rarely I experience a riding situation where I wish I was clipped in. Sam Hill has proved time and time again that clips are not needed to be a world class rider.
  • 18 7
 To add to that it boggles my mind to see so many people clipped in when in reality they'd get on much better learning on flats. IMO, unless you're a decent rider, don't clip in
  • 10 1
 @thewho07: it's true, one cannot really take advantage of the benefits of clipless until they reach a certain skill level. they both have their positives. if you suck, like me, choose one... and be a dick about it Big Grin !
  • 9 1

Exactly. I rode flats for DH for years, found that slightly repositioning each time my feet moved on the bike meant that I could very well come into a section with my foot not quite on the pedal, but still gripping enough that it’s hard to reposition. With clips, either I’m out of the pedal or I’m clipped in and have my foot centred, there’s no halfway option so I can concentrate less on foot position and more on the trail.
  • 3 0
 Flat VS Clipless shouldn't be about pedalling efficiency anymore but more towards foot control. Does rider feel less control or planted on a flat? or how much extra control can clipless provide.
  • 13 2
 @cuban-b: well,I'm not a pro,so don't care. I switched to flats 4 years ago,after about 20 years on spd,haven't looked back.
Im just as fast(slow ;-) ),less cold feet at winter,and most important, I focus more on the basic techniques.
Now I'm waiting for my steel hardtail frame to arrive,to replace my carbon full sus,so that I can be even less effective- and have more fun!
  • 1 2
 @jakketayylor: I can’t believe you aren’t getting kicked off of pb for saying something so mean!!!
  • 31 8
 The problem is the test does not take into account different terrain off-road. This test might be all well and good for a Roadie, but you have to factor stuff like being able to more efficiently pedal over rougher terrain, rocks roots etc for say enduro or XC racing. Oh, and you cannot compare to Sam Hill as he is on another level to most riders anyway.
  • 7 8
 how would you be able to pedal more efficiently with flat pedals because the terrain is different?
  • 24 8
 We all know flats are NOT more efficient, the only debate is "are clipless pedals actually more efficient".
  • 30 2
 Yeah I use both flats and clips. Love both for different reasons. But there’s no denying that I can pedal through rocks/roots/technical stuff on clips that I couldn’t on flats.

Then on flats I notice it keeps you honest in terms of technique and body position. It’s easier to get flow into because you don’t have a choice. May not be able to bail yourself out of lost momentum by pedaling, so don’t give up any speed. Then that translates over to clips as well and makes you better
  • 14 7
 Hey mate, I am very aware that this is not conclusive or representative of MTB, but it is still interesting. I am planning a part 2 out on the trails......
  • 8 21
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 6:55) (Below Threshold)
 @BamaBiscuits: how do you lose the ability to "bail yourself out of lost momentum by pedaling" on flats? There is no situation that you can't pedal on flats that you could somehow magically be able to pedal on clips.
  • 3 0
 @BamaBiscuits: well said. I agree 100%.
  • 18 2
 @MTB-Strength-Factory: That's really where it matters. And I love that you mention most "tests" are done by people that usually ride clipped in.

I rode clipped in for years and switched four years ago to flats for a winter because I was riding around too many features (yup, scared). After about 4-6 rides of adjustment, it was ended up being better for my riding. Very occasionally I will slip a bit on tech climbs (very occasionally). Maybe two or three slips downhill in four years (maybe). There's just no incentive for me to switch back to clipped in. My knees are much happier too.
  • 8 3
 @RonSauce: the advantage to flats that could make it more efficient is the ability to freely position your feet. Next time you are doing squats try standing on blocks or a 2x4. Do you like pushing through the ball or center of the foot? Do you point your feet straight, or toe out? If you had to do it for hours, would you want the freedom to reposition? The biomechanics of everyone is slightly different. The adjustment on most cleats is too limited imo. FWIW I think both have advantages.
  • 4 2
 @speed10: squats should go through the heel, and your feet should never move, because moving is inefficient. You use the squat as an example and basically end with "wouldn't you want to do it wrong and in a manner that could result in injury if you could"? If you try squatting for hours you will answer your own question, you will perfect position and your feet will be in the exact same spot every time.

Comfort and efficiency have nothing to do with eachother.
  • 2 1
 @just6979: i like to know the answer as well.
  • 5 1
 @RonSauce: what your perfect squat looks like may not be the same as what someone else’s perfect squat looks like. Or maybe you need to change your form after an injury. Again IMO cleat/pedals do not allow enough adjustment.

2) Riding a mountain bike is very dynamic, and having the option to change positions depending on what your doing is a good thing. You simply can not change your foot placement clipped in. I count that as a disadvantage. It’s like how road bikers have different hand positions. How could that be a bad thing?

3) comfort and efficiency have nothing to do with each other? How do you figure?
  • 3 1
 @speed10: clipped in you have float, it isnt like your foot is duct taped to the pedal. I dont get all this repositioning you keep talking about, the only time I need to adjust my feet on flats is when my feet move from where they were. Road bikers have different positions because of part 3). It gets uncomfortable staying in an efficient position so you need to move. You bring up road biking and forget, every serious roadie rides clipped in. So is a road bike built for comfort or efficiency?

As for the perfect squat, there is no "perfect" movement ever, but there are definitely wrong ways to do it, and your example was a squat that will give you all sorts of injury and pain over time. You are comparing things you dont know anything about. Ride whatever pedals you want, just keep your feet planted and squat through your heels, knees out, tight core.
  • 3 1
 @RonSauce: I do know about float. I rode clipped in for a long time. Its fore and aft when you have no chance to reposition. I like my foot more centered on the pedal during the descent.
I guess you missed my point on the road bike hand positions, so sorry for my lack of clarity. They drop into the hooks to get more aero, but the hoods are the default, and the flats are more for a comfortable break. What they are doing dictates which position is optimal (and that was my only point). Again riding is dynamic and we climb, descend, stand, sit, corner, jump, and do various other maneuvers. I reject that the same position on the pedal is optimal is all of those very different cases. I also reposition my hands on the grips and my butt on the saddle depending on what I'm doing.>> Being able to reposition on contact points seems like an advantage to me.
I'm not trying to fight that flats are faster, I just wanted to point out they may have advantages. I'll quote myself here: "the advantage to flats that could make it more efficient is the ability to freely position your feet." that was all I was saying.

Finally, you are right that I know nothing about squats. So sorry if that analogy broke down. Get lit, not fit. Come ride and bring both pedals and shoes and we can race, I keep spds around for times like these. Smile thanks for the good discussion.
  • 3 0
 @MTB-Strength-Factory: I think part of it is the shoes. A cycling shoe will be much more rigid and transfer power better then a casual shoe. Like if your muscles are having to stabilize and transfer power one will suffer a little. But if you're not using that extra energy for stabilizing it can be used for power transfer or stored for longer output with reduced fatigue in the long run.
  • 1 2
 @speed10: Hand position and feet position are very different subjects and shouldn't be compared. And the foot has a narrow range to meet efficiently with the pedal. Hence the reason why you see the narrow range of adjustment on clipless shoes. Each pedal brings it's own adjustments as well. Comparing clips to flats is not a direct correlation. I ride SPD on road and Crankbrothers on MTB specifically because of the float each one offers. Clips and Flats both have advantages and disadvantages. But it's up to the rider to decide what best fits their body, skill, and style.
  • 2 0
Cannot compare to Sam Hill is a silly argument. Who knows how many outstanding or even legendary riders (like Sam) would be riding today if everyone wasn't thought same old "clips are better" lie the minute they start riding.
  • 25 1
 I'm surprised to see no one has mentioned so far (that I have seen) one big minus of flats: getting whacked in the shin with a spiked block of aluminum. It really, really sucks, even if it happens rarely.
  • 3 0
 Yup, can't argue with that.
  • 3 34
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 8:21) (Below Threshold)
 And clips aren't a block of aluminum with bits sticking out? I know way more people with shin scars from clips than from flats. Probably because the clips riders rely on them too much and when they unexpectedly release it's even worse.
  • 5 2
 Missing a clip can leave just as big of a mark. I have several to go with my flat pedal shinners.
  • 12 5
 @just6979: aren't you the guy who rides a salsa?
  • 5 8
 @cuban-b: whats wrong with salsa's?
  • 14 6
 @brncr6: nothing - I'm just f*cking around. relax.
  • 3 17
flag brncr6 (Jun 20, 2020 at 19:13) (Below Threshold)
 @cuban-b: your panties all bunched up???? your like a echo.
  • 15 5
 @brncr6: it's "you're". as in, you're welcome Wink
  • 5 17
flag brncr6 (Jun 20, 2020 at 21:09) (Below Threshold)
 @cuban-b: see your good for something, a spell checker
  • 15 7
 @brncr6: again, it's "you're". as in, you're still not getting it.
  • 8 13
flag brncr6 (Jun 20, 2020 at 23:35) (Below Threshold)
 @cuban-b: your right
  • 10 3
 @brncr6: awesome. Glad we could come to an agreement Big Grin
  • 2 1
 @just6979: I won't exclude that a clipless pedal could whack one in the shin, but in approximately equal amounts of time riding offroad on both, I have been whacked in the shin by flats several times, but never by a clipless pedal. Of course, clipless pedals come with their own danger(s?), mainly that you may fail to clip out in time and fall over.
  • 25 6
 Flats are great until fatigue sets in and get so tired technique begins to unravel. With clipless you can just continue minlessly cranking when with flats the added work of adjusting to stay connected is just enough to be detrimental to effeciancy. Not that I care, the upsides for me riding flats have been greater up to that point anyhow.
  • 8 2
 I like flats, but yeah, the fatigue factor of my foot is why I like SPDs. The stiffer soles of spd shoes allow my feet to relax more.
  • 14 39
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 6:58) (Below Threshold)
 If you're so tired you can't pedal right, maybe it's time to call the ride done, because you're probably so tired you're going to get hurt as the rest of your technique falls apart.
  • 6 1
 @Ron-C: Have you tried a stiffer soled DH flat pedal shoe? I ride the Five Ten Impacts for that reason. They are a bit big and clunky but the grip and stiffness are great.
  • 2 0
 @millsr4: I tried Impacts and found I couldn't feel where my feet were on the pedals. Turns out one was too far back. Hit something big and my heel dropped enough the pedal rolled out from under my toes. Three stitches but luckily no broken toes. I *think* I like flats with Freeriders, but I've been undecided on my personal preference for over 20 years. Clips sure are nice for rough DH and having my feet exactly where I like them...
  • 3 0
 So funny- I like flats, but I hate flat pedal shoes (og freeriders) because they are so floppy. Went to 2FO shoes, but they were too stiff, like an spd shoe without cleats - no sensitivity. Five ten freerider pros are supposed to be somewhere in the middle to address this Goldilocks conundrum.
  • 2 0
 @mtbikemccoy: Well to each their own I guess. For me the pedal feel was a little vague at first but now that they have broken in they are perfect. Breaking them in also helped with the ability to reposition my foot without sacrificing much in terms of grip. I get where you are coming from on rough descents though, I spent 4 years riding clipless and that's why I went that route, but I just could never full gel with them. Especially when I was pushing my own personal limits on steeps or big jumps.
  • 4 0
 I agree that over time using more muscle groups with clipless is will be more efficient.
  • 5 6
 @just6979: how can you be downvoted for this...
  • 1 0
 @cuban-b: the last 2fo seems better (my brother use them)
  • 2 0
 @cuban-b: Freerider pros are indeed just right for me as far as sole stiffness. They're also lighter, smaller and dry faster vs Impacts, and still do a good job protecting the foot from rocks. I'm on my 3rd pair and have gone thru MANY different 510 models, these are overall the best imo.

@mtbikemccoy: It takes some time both for the shoe to break in and for you to get used to them, that issue goes away pretty quickly ime.
  • 2 0
 Exactly where I find clips help me on technical climbing and I'm not slipping or rolling a pedal because of fatigue, mental and physical causing my motions or concentration to slip. I ride both flats and clipless, I enjoy riding both for different reasons but as you say mate flats are my main, clipless for when I think I'm going to tire a lot.
  • 61 43
 This clown again? This pseudo "scientific" bullshit opinion piece shouldn't be on Pinkbike. Run a proper study if you want to try to debunk "bro-science". One person with a heavy bias, knowing what tests are being conducted and what results are being looked for is like the guy shilling coconut oil saying it will cure every modern disease. Yes, this pisses me off that much, you're doing absolutely nothing then throwing your own bro-shit at the masses. Go peddle your garbage to someone else.
  • 51 1
 Hey mate, u leave coconut oil out of this. That stuff had revolutionised my happy fun time with the Mrs
  • 6 0
 @Snugs: either too much or not enough said
  • 44 0
 @fracasnoxteam: I smear it on the door knob. Makes it too hard for the kids to open the door
  • 28 7
 When you call someone a clown in public, consider checking whether their results line up with all available science on the subject (his do). You cite no evidence and speak from no position of authority.

The Pedaling Technique of Elite Endurance Cyclists: Changes With Increasing Workload at Constant Cadence was published in the International Journal of Sport Biometrics 7:29-53, 1991. Conclusion: no efficiency gains:

"...while torque during the upstroke did reduce the total positive work required during the downstroke, it did not contribute significantly to the external work done because 98.6% and 96.3% of the total work done at the low and high workloads, respectively, was done during the downstroke."

This is echoed in Physiological and biochemical determinants of elite endurance cycling performance published in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 23:93-107, 1991. There are numerous graphs showing that pedal force is only exerted between the top and bottom of the downstroke, represented by a very sharp parabola spiking at 90 degrees from vertical.
  • 5 0
 Try stretching your arms over your head. Look! You can't be angry when doing that! And your heart rate falls!
  • 1 0
 Maybe he’s gonna come out with massive foot-sized pedals next year Big Grin
  • 12 0
 Why so angry mate? I think the name calling is a bit much, it's not like he's telling everyone they don't need to wear a helmet or something.
  • 13 1
 Opinion pieces are just that. And this was a good opinion piece. It's not scientific, and it wasn't intended to be. It was one dude checking out how well it worked for him, with the methods he wished to employ. He even used language like "for me", not "for you". If you don't like reading opinion pieces in the press, then don't read them and get the f*ck over yourself.
  • 17 0
 Anyone can share the results here? I can't watch the video. I'm curious if he found other things than the real life test I've done.
His test is more isolated so it should be more reliable, but at the same time it doesn't include real life effects.

I've been testing this myself last year on a gravel lap I very regularly ride in the Belgian Ardennes. I rode the same 20km lap once per day for several days in a row, while switching between flat and clip less pedals every day, while always trying to beat my own record.
Worth noting I come from flat pedals and wanted to find out if and how much faster I become by switching to clip less.

What I've noticed on the Strava segments:
- There was no difference in speed on flat segments.
- There was no difference in speed on descents (only on one high speed one with some techy parts where I felt less comfortable being clipped in).
- While sprinting up climbs I was averagely about 15% faster on clipless pedals.

Basically this confirmed other tests I've watched, which mentioned that at a normal pace it doesn't make a difference, only in sprints or climbs as you have a higher maximum power output. The downside of the higher maximum output is of course that it will actually cost you more energy when you climb faster or sprint faster.

In the end I sticked to clipless pedals, as my laps were definitely a bit faster with these. My whole point of riding gravel is touring / exploring new places, so if I gain in average speed it means i can cover more distance in one day.

When I grab my XC bike, I'm back on flats though. I come from a freeride background and I care more about having fun and pushing it to the limits on the technical descents than to be fast on the climbs.
  • 10 2
 This....... I do not believe that there is too much science to this. Just far too much subjectivity. And here is another piece of subjectivity....... Watts are watts. If you can lay them down and compensate with a different technique then who cares. What I'm hearing is that its all the same until it gets rowdy. Even then its only mental discomfort for some- both ways. Clips and flats Efficiency is hard to quantify. It is the use of applied energy. Not who can go faster on which pedals. If you fell your faster have have more fun, then go for it. If you like hard tails, then go ride. IT DOESNT MATTER.
  • 1 1
 Agreed. On my CX I can wheelie off the line with clips from spinning alone, while flats just LOL in my face.. but next to no difference in top speed for me.
  • 8 1
 @enis: 100% agree. But it's way more fun to reinforce our biases with questionable data Wink . literally the manifestation of "pick one and be a dick about it" Facepalm
  • 1 3
 @Driven2madness: flats are on all my bikes, including gravel, these things are fun to wheely
  • 13 1
 I was impressed to see how close the test was! I ride a hardtail, and find that i can ride rocky trails faster when clipping in, because regardless of how much the rear 'kicks' i stay connected. I also feel like i can move the rear end of the bike around more and place it on small features to pump the bike or do tighter turns when going slow if I'm clipped in
  • 5 5
 That is interesting actually mate. My next step is a field test, but hadn't really considered the hardtail angle.
  • 2 0
 I also noticed the difference more on hardtail than fs. When coasting I can just drop my heals on flats and it works great, but my feet just get bounced off while trying to pedal a hardtail through rough terrain with flats. maybe my technique is bad, idk, but I can't keep my heels down and pedal at the same time, doesn't work for me. Clips make my much faster on the hardtail.
  • 5 20
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 7:18) (Below Threshold)
 I think if you're needing clips to move the back of the bike, that's the same terrible habit as using clips to jump. It's gonna backfire someday when the clips unexpectedly release. As for tighter turns, unless you're rocking clips with huge amounts of float or very loose clip-in shoes, you just can't move your hips as much on clips without the risk of accidentally unclipping. And I use my hips and twisting my feet to help make tighter turns, and to place the back of the bike. I'll bet that's why Levy mentioned in the podcast he sometimes comes unclipped midair. He's probably trying to throw some little shapes or just trying to tweak the trajectory and unclips because his foot wants to twist a bit and clips are unforgiving.
  • 1 3
 @dthomp325: think i would die if i rode my hardail clipped in.
  • 1 0
 @just6979: don't worry - i learnt how to jump on a bmx! And when i say tighter turns, i mean at very slow speed on very tight/technical hairpins where you need to pop the rear wheel a bit left or right. Obviously this can be done with flats, but i feel more efficient clipped, i.e. i can maintain my body position, i don't have to readjust to unweight the back wheel as much, and may not have to use the front brake as much, it just all feels more efficient... to me!
  • 10 1
 So an issue with this test: If you primarily ride flats and only ever clip in once in a while, you're likely not going to see the efficiency results that clipless pedal enthusiasts claim. I think the issue is that clipless riding engages your muscles differently, and as a primarily flat pedal rider, you're rarely using those muscles in that way. Like anything, you need to practice to see results.

My perspective on this is that I'm a flat pedal rider who's been riding flats for many years on my mountain bike. I also cross-train road bike, and had been on flats for years there, as well. However, I switched to clipless on my road bike last year during the summer. Initially, I had the same reaction: I noticed very little difference in speed, efficiency, strava times, etc on clipless. However, after riding clipless more and more, I noticed that I got much better at engaging different muscles during the entire crank revolution, and I eventually started to see pretty drastic changes in certain types of pedaling situations.

So yeah, I'd love to see this test performed again by someone who spends equal time with either type of pedal system.
  • 8 0
 It all depends, I rode flats for years and recently gone to clips and the feel so much better through rough stuff and in air. Climbing seems bit easier but not really that much. Big thing iv'e noticed is way less pedal strikes and once you in don't need to mess about getting foot in that perfect possition. Both have pros and cons, right what you like best.
  • 2 1
 Large platform pedals are prone to strikes for sure.
  • 8 21
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 7:47) (Below Threshold)
 If it takes clips to make you feel comfortable in the air, you're inviting disaster. Relying on the clips, instead of technique, for jumps or drops is a terrible habit, and will someday bite you.

My clips (which I don't ride anymore) are much thicker than my flats, so I'm not sure how that would relate to less pedal strikes...

And how do you know the clips put you in the perfect position? Plus its damn useful to be able to sometimes _not_ put your foot in the perfect position.
  • 17 3
 @just6979: we get it dude. Flats are the best and everyone riding clips is a hack. You win. We should all bow to your supreme pedal wisdom and embrace the flats. Someone alert the XC pros they're doing it all wrong. Old 6979 here has got it figured out.
  • 3 15
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 10:22) (Below Threshold)
 @garrisond5: you don't have to embrace the flats. Just stop hyping clips as a no-compromise increase in efficiency. Even if you're strong enough to see that maybe 10% potential gain in sprints on flat ground that some studies have shown, there are a lot of things to consider besides "efficiency" especially for trail riding. But instead, clips are considered by many to be a step after flats, something to strive for, ignoring the deficits they have, blindly touting the perceived benefits to justify the struggle you went through to "earn" your own clips.
  • 7 2
 @just6979: you have a really fragile ego
  • 8 0
 I can ride both, but prefer clipping in. Started in flats, bmx freestyle in the 80's for 8 years. Then when I switched to mtb in 91, I ran toeclips, which were actually not horrible if you ran them loose, you could quickly get out to dab most times. Switched to clipless in 93 or 94. Went back and forth a bit with flats a few years ago, but prefer clips for everyday use. I don't think one is better than the other for everyday trail use, it's what you're comfortable on. Types of riding, DJ, trials, skinnies, I would use flats. As long as you ride, doesn't really matter.
  • 5 27
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 7:22) (Below Threshold)
 Except is does matter because many people only use clips because "everyone does" (as you said, who cares? But many people do and switch to clips just to fit in), or "it makes you faster" (it doesn't and that's been shown many times), or they want to "level up to clips" (that's just silly and is kind of a combo of the previous two).
  • 8 0
 Don't get the sometimes fiery debates about it. I normally ride CB Mallet DH, ride flats on DJ, and last few weeks flats on the 'enduro bike' to mix it up. CB works better for me in rough DH, flats are fun to play around with. Both are tools and to an extent personal preference.
  • 2 0
 For sure. Just run what you are comfortable with.
  • 1 0
 Yeah both are good, I think every experienced mountain biker should spend time on both to see for themselves.
  • 9 0
 Talk about bro science.... you have sample size of 1, and announce your bias, then call results that don't match your bias "disappointing". Hahaha, I think both kinds pedals are great and this video is not.
  • 4 0
 Significant sample, scientific protocol, tons of data. Who needs them anymore?10 Minutes "test" in the backyard and everybody can call themselves a scientist. It's on internet it must be right...right? Smile
  • 8 0
 In-Depth Analysis of Flat Pedal Efficiency" LOL WHAT A JOKE sample of one with a bias rider who only rides flats on a stationary bike. This proves nothing except that this guy is full of shit for trying to pass this off as a real test.
  • 2 0
 Yeah. If he would have title "Personal experience about flat pedals" it would have been much more honest and less prone to criticism.
  • 12 5
 I use to ride with spds because thats what all the kool kids were doing. Then about 3 or 4 years ago i wanted to give flats a try. I really like them and my riding improved plus, I much prefer my foot postion on the flat pedal. I feel very uncomfortable with spds and feel trapped and unbalanced. Occasionally ill throw on some spuds to try them out again but i always go back to flats.
  • 12 10
 Flats for life bro!
  • 7 23
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 7:30) (Below Threshold)
 This! Most people only try clips because someone kool tells them to. Then they suffer with them for a while, enough that when their riding finally does get back close to where it was, the clips will _seem_ just as good. But that is because they spent months trying not to die because of the clips. If they just stuck with flats they'd be that much better because the months of getting used to clips would have been months of just getting better at riding, instead of fighting to get used to something that doesn't actually help anything (for the average athlete).
  • 12 2

Or maybe people have tried flats coz all the cool freeride kids use flats.......

You're going to be a "better" rider if you're mentally comfortable. It really makes no difference in terms of cool.

Guess riding began as a means of transport. None of it is cool....but F$%ck is it fun. It is easily my most favorite thing to do.

Just my 2 cents, if you're happy and confident you're gonna have more gun as opposed to being stressed about your pedal choice
  • 2 1
 Same same. Spd’s for almost 12 yrs before going back to flats. I used to hammer away on the climbs in clipless and gained really bad form. Riding flats learned me better footwork and greater focus on technique. Don’t think I’ll ever go back to clipless.
  • 1 0
 the "I don't feel comfortable" on SPDs cannot be understated, because it can be a symptom of other problems. I've been primarily on flats most of my years riding, though I've dallied with clipless on both road bikes and MTB, sometimes for a few years at a time. and after going and seeing somebody who really knows the biomechanics of pedalling very well for a fitting for my new gravel bike, he pointed out in a very matter of fact way, "your knee pain is because SPDs don't work properly with your hips. your feet splay outwards due to your natural hip angle, SPDs don't have enough float to allow them to sit in your natural position."

flats, especially those with a big platform, allow me to have my feet farther out towards the edges of the pedal, allowing me to get more "toe out, heel in" than i could on almost every clipless pedal on market.
  • 10 3
 I like the safety of easy off if I have issues. I have watched my friends have awkward falls in rock gardens because they could not unclip fast enough when being caught out suddenly. No thanks. I’ll give up some efficiency for piece of mind. Plus when riding free ride type tuff I much prefer the easy bail if needed. I’m 50 so trying not to get hurt. Smile
  • 5 0
 Crank brothers easy release solve this. I had the occasional awkward fall with standard cleats but are now gone. Makes a huge difference and I'm more secure during chunky sections than flats. I probably won't go back for some time.
  • 7 0
 Other side of that is most pro racers you've seen crash were clipped in, and jumped out of the pedals and rolled smoother and faster than any of us on flats.
  • 6 0
 Good video sir. However you too are committing an act of “bro science” here. Sample size is too small obviously along with other factors. Be that as it may I really don’t think that for over 90% of the riders out there the slight degrees of efficiency differences between the two amount to anything significant. I can see flat pedals causing a greater amount of fatigue over time on a ride due to the extra muscle tone needed to maintain connection to the bike. That can’t change regardless of fitness level. However I think it mostly comes down to comfort level. That being said, I’m horrid on flats. Since most of the people I ride with are riding at a pretty advanced level, and riding fairly aggressively switching over to flats would involve me basically going back to square 1. I want to learn flat technique because I’ve no doubt it helps your riding style. But I’m hardly able to switch out my pedals, throw on a pair of free riders, and go hit some double black wit da boys. That would end badly. Any advice for a guy whose only learned on clips?
  • 6 8
 Hey mate, I totally understand that sample size of 1 is a BIG limitation and mention that in the text below the video. I just wanted to see what the case is with me and my riding and the only reason I want to know is that the real bro science is people saying they are less efficient based off of a sample size of zero.
I imagine learning flats later on is really tough. I guess it is only worth the effort if you really want to do it and are motivated to make the switch. Sounds like you are going pretty well clipped in so keep on sending it. Or maybe learn flats in the winter when things are slower and less flat out?
Thanks dude.
  • 1 23
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 8:29) (Below Threshold)
 It's more scientific than most people who just use clips because everyone does, or they think it's time to "level up to clips", or they heard it's faster\more-power (with no concrete evidence, not even a sample size of just themselves doing times runs or a power test).
  • 1 1
 Believe it or not, street riding on a BMX bike is where I got my flat pedal knowledge. Jumping off a flight of stairs, bunny hopping, sprinting to hit a jump and jumping in general. You kinda learn how to hold the bike under you at some point, then it sticks. I would pick a ride with little stunts, small drops, small jumps, skinnies and if you can, play around for a while. Even learning how to bunny hop or doing stupid stuff off a small jump, one footers, turndown, tables, jammin' salmon, with flats will help you "feel" the contact of the pedal. No shame in staying clipped in until you're comfortable with flats. I always find if you make it fun to learn, when it comes down to it, you keep your cool because it's just riding a bike. If that makes sense.
  • 5 0
 @MTB-Strength-Factory: i dare you to tell most pro racers they are victims of "bro science"
  • 2 0
 @just6979: people here don't like you it seems :-) you are actually coming up with arguments,and all they can say is,pros this pros that..are you all riding a copy of Nino s bike?
  • 6 1
 I rode clipped in until my foot position wanted to be where a clip wouldn't go. I like when the ball of my foot is over inside corner and the front of my heel meets the back edge of the pedal. Wish I had a lightweight flat pedal shoe designed for gravel.
  • 2 19
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 7:39) (Below Threshold)
 Yeah, everyone like to say "clips keep my feet in the right position", but the range of cleat positions is simply wrong for most people. Everyone I know that rides clips has their cleat slammed all the way back, and most want a bit more adjustment still. So sure, clips keep your feet in _a position_ (at least until they unclip on their own), but who really knows if it's the _correct position_?
  • 8 3
 Ive flipped between them for the past year on all bikes. Tried good flats, spd and CB. Settled on CB as they do have a flats feel with security of clip.
I dont lose grip on flats but you really can tell the difference when clipped in. Biggest thing (and Rachel Atherton said it on last video) is just the extra control you get. Just feels nice. To me when doing steep climbs clipped in , feels like you an extra gear. I know that's anecdotal.
Two things
People say get good on flats first but thats bollocks its like saying get good on a fully rigid singlespeed first. Its just different no better or worse. Ride what you are comfy with and get good.
Also, when you look at the tech we have at our disposal on a modern mountain bike, its crazy that to solve the pedal slip issue we have to have specific soft rubber shoes and plates of metal with gigantic spikes protruding whereas on the other hand we have neat, elegant solution to the problem in the form of amazingly manufactured SPD or CB pedals and mechanisms.
  • 5 4
 Why wouldn't you want to improve your bike handling skills by riding flats? For that matter ride some jumps, go to the BMX track, learn trials skills and the list goes on. The only thing that's bullocks is thinking you know better.
  • 9 2
 @NotSorry: just giving my opinion. What im saying it you can learn to ride a bike however you want. If you learn on clips or flats its just differnt. I rode flats solely for over twenty years.
I relearnt with clips.
If you only ever ride clips why do you need flat pedal technique? You need clip technique. Learning flats doesnt necessarily translate if you then switch to clips as its such a different feel on the bike.
There is a snobbishness saying you can only learn to ride properly with flats.(i did) but i don't think its true.
And if you're confident on clips jumps , basic trials etc are no prob clipped in. A lot of people are just scared to commit.
Obviously if all you do is ride dirt jumps or trials it doesn't apply
  • 2 18
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 9:10) (Below Threshold)
 You should get good on flats because relying on clips is waiting for disaster. Those "elegant" and "amazingly manufactured" clips _will_ pop free at an unexpected time, and if you never learned how to keep your feet on the pedals, you're going to go down hard. It's not the same as using a hardtail to develop the skills to move the rear wheel around, because when you miss the line on a full suspension, it just adds forgiveness, and won't suddenly fail and revert back to hardtail mode and cause a crash.

Having good pedal skills is huge because you don't want to rely on the clips. You wouldn't tell a new skier to go out with their bindings set to the highest tension. That comes later after then develop technique. So why would you want to start with the least flexible and limiting pedal set up on a bike?

Just because a solution is elegant doesn't mean it's better. Besides, I don't see clips as elegant, I see them as a convoluted solution for a non-existent problem, and causing more deficits (limited foot placement, limited foot movement, over-reliance) than benefits (perceived but not actual efficiency increase).
  • 12 2
 @just6979: maybe people have tried flats and don't like them. People are different. Give it a f*cking rest already. Holy shit dude.
  • 2 19
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 10:10) (Below Threshold)
 @LancaCruz: "clip technique" is dangerous technique. Someday the clips will in expectedly release, and you'll wreck hard. Pulling up for jumps and such puts you in the wrong position to land cleanly. Even just pulling on the upstroke can hurt your back or knees because legs aren't made to pull. "Clip technique" is not a technique, it's a by-product.
  • 7 1
 @just6979: I have used clipless for 23years and that has never happened to me, but I know 2 flat riders that slipped pedals and broke there ankle and leg.
  • 2 0
 I've been riding for 35 years, first bmx then mtb, and have never tried clipped in. I just prefer the convenience of being able to hop on my bike with any regular trainers (although I have 5-10's for serious riding). Really must try spd's at some point, see what all the fuss is about.
@just6979, you're having a bad day dude. Hope tomorrow is better.
  • 2 1
 I have been back and forth for years. I ride flats in Winter and am pretty comfortable with both. I think where I find clips the most useful is in technical climbing, especially loose rock gardens. It doesn't matter where I am at in my pedal stroke, I can immediately get power to the rear wheel. I also like the ability to lift my rear tire over technical obstacles (something Stevie Smith said in an interview when asking why he rides clips). I think technique and familiarity is key to either, if you aren't comfortable in clips, the added benefits aren't worth the sacrifice of confidence. Different strokes for different folks.

@just6979: Seriously man, we need to get you two things: 1) a video series so we can learn from the world's fastest flat pedal rider (Sam Hill would like the tips) and 2) a life so you don't have to spend hours on Pinkbike sending angry messages about clipless pedals.
  • 6 1
 Being a trials rider who also rides MTB I can't imagine being physically attached to the bike, all I can think about is how horrible it must be to crash and not be able to save it with a dab (talking about on the MTB, not trials bike). I might try it one day but it just seems terrifying, like having your hands clamped to the bars
  • 2 2
 Except for its not that way at all. In the same way the muscles in your feet and lower legs keep you attached to the pedals, the muscles in a clipped persons legs automatically know how to get off the pedals. Even with flat pedals, my heals rotate outwards when taking my foot off the pedal. Muscle memory is a wonderful thing.
  • 5 1
 Flat for fun, clip for race. That's my motto.
When I want to try tricks and some trial flat is the answer, but I won't never ever ride my DH bike without clipless.
Plus with the super adjustable last models you can have the best of both worlds.
And by the way, there's no point for another youtube video made in the backyard... I guess there are plenty of scientific studies about power efficiency of flat/clipless pedals for those who are really interested in.
  • 3 6
 The point is that all the other studies and YouTube videos I could find start with a clipped in road or XC racer and get them to ride flats. The results are not representative of someone who rides flats all the time.
  • 2 15
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 9:11) (Below Threshold)
 You never ride your DH bike for fun? That sucks.
  • 3 0
 @just6979: I upgrade my bike to get better performance and in turn make riding more fun. Clipless for me is an upgrade and makes DH riding more stable, safer, and a lot more fun.
  • 3 0
 I ride flats. Everyone now and then I throw the spd’s on.

I love the feeling on downhill, but when doing tech climbs something in my mind freaks out that I can’t unclip in time so I ride those bits unclipped like a chode. I feel a bit more efficient clipped in.
  • 3 12
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 7:34) (Below Threshold)
 That's the key. No matter how good you are at clipping in and out, your brain knows it's slower or takes more work that taking your foot off & on flats, and it'll try to keep you in the current state: whether that's staying clipped in when you should have a foot out for balance or a potential safety dab, or skating around on top of the clips because you're hauling ass and just don't have time to get back back in before the rock garden would be over and past.
  • 7 0
 Levy says flat pedals are for kids
He's my hero

  • 3 0
 After many years on each, my big take away is flats take way more skill to ride. Floating your bike up into you consistently through rock gardens on flat pedals takes full time concentration and years to master. Same rock garden section clipped in with Mallets after a couple of days practice you're not thinking about your feet at all, just concentrating on your line.
  • 3 0
 It is possible to scientifically test flats vs clipless with a subject of one. I did it last winter with 36 trials over three months using heart rate monitor and power meter. I used a two tailed, paired, t-test to detect difference between flats and clipless. If you are interested you can read the write-up at:
  • 1 0
 Thanks, that was a much better analysis, although is 36 rides enough to consider your data parametric? My gut reqction is that you should run non-parametric tests.

Also, I’d like to see the same study of yours but with MTB vs. road, but excellent job anyway!
  • 4 2
 i use 5/10 freerider with nukeproof electron evos and i have to lift to reposition my foot there that grippy anyway.....thats all the grip anyone needs. I did try the e13 lg1 pedals but they were way too grippy with those shoes....had trouble getting my foot of to dab if needed.
  • 2 0
 I ride Shimanos shoes for flats. Thet don’t have that insane amount of grip that 5-10 has and Shimanos is also of better quality. I like to be able to move my feet when riding to make use of the real advatage of riding flats. Lack of grip is really a lack of tecnique... I’m not saying that flats are faster, but when done right it for sure isn’t a disadvatage.
  • 4 0
 Always been riding flats, 5.10s with nukeproof horizon feels grippy AF, but on tougher places I fear pedal's spikes more than falling itself
  • 1 13
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 9:12) (Below Threshold)
 You don't fear the clip mechanism? That's pretty spiky\protuding.
  • 4 0
 Great vid but my god man turn down the intro music! i had the volume up to hear you then the intro dropped and my poor dog nearly died she jumped so hard
  • 1 3
 Haha, I did turn it down after the same feedback last week, but obviously not enough! Sorry bro
  • 2 0
 Please do a test video in the trails!
I'm always clipless: bike park, skatepark, trail, you name it. I did ride flats the other day when I forgot my clipless shoes and it was a tremendous (stability) leg muscle workout. I recommend it for cross-training. There's no exception to the control I feel on clipless. Think about the fact that you hold the bars, you don't rest your hands on top of them. Your videos have a way of hitting home which is good, and I know you said you're new to this visit thing in your last video. I would like to see more key information, (like this test in the trails) and (in the last video reminding people in the flow position to still have a slight bend in their knee) I think you're going to get through to a lot of people brother.
Cheers good job!
  • 1 14
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 8:17) (Below Threshold)
 Think athe fact that your feet don't grasp anything ever (unless you're Houdini and can tie shoes with your toes). Feet aren't made to attach to things (skis are different, and they're not locked to the ground, they're more like really big shoes), they're designed to stand on things, while human hands are designed to hold on to round things.
  • 3 0
 @just6979: exactly why clipless pedals were invented so your feet can grab the pedals. My reference was not a biology thing simply a reference. Both have been around for quite some time, I wonder why majority use clipless. They must be so uninformed!
  • 1 14
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 9:41) (Below Threshold)
 @airspeed: your feet aren't made to grasp, your hands are. If apes had bikes they'd have handlebars and "foot bars" for pedals, because their anatomy (or biology) allows their feet grasp (and monkey bikes would have a 5th bar for the tail). Human feet do not grasp, and so our legs don't have the anatomy designed for pulling with our feet. Making something to make your feet grab is a solution in search of a problem. It's useless without the rest of the chain designed to deal with the grasping.
  • 1 14
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 9:53) (Below Threshold)
 @airspeed: the majority uses them because of marketing. How many bike shops have mostly clipless pedals and shoes, and not much in the way of flat pedals? The sales pitch for a mountain bike almost always includes that someday you'll be ready for clips, and maybe you should just start with them to get the pain over with. That's just silly, and skews the representation, because riders immediately feel they should be striving towards clips since they were presented as better, despite complete lack of actual evidence showing said betterness.

Clips are just an option, and probably not even the best or most appropriate for many riders, but are presented as _the_ next step and something you have to learn and earn (through pain?), while flats are presented as something just for crazy kids doing flips and something for new riders to deal with while they earn their clips (even though learning flats has actual skill benefits and doesn't potentially create any bad habits)
  • 4 2
 Clipless is more efficient because you are using more muscle groups (quads and hamstrings) and over time will more energy efficient and have less fatigue. For training purposes, flat pedals may be good to target building strong quads.
  • 4 0
 This is definitely apparent when doing one-legged drills.
  • 2 0
 Who cares? Ride whatever you like, whether than be flats or clips. If you want to race seriously maybe think harder about clipping in. Even Connor Fearon admitted in a PB interview a few years ago that clips are probably the way to go for racing. And if you bring up your Lord & flats savior Sam Hill I can start naming all all the DH racers who race clipped in... Which is most of them.

Me... I switch back & forth on my Megatower and usually end up riding flats for the winter & clips in the summer. My XC bike is all clips all the time.
  • 2 0
 You talk about how in previous tests, they take roadies who know clips best, and are inefficient at riding flats, which "skews" the results. Then you say that you have been totally committed to flats.... which would mean you are inefficient at clips?? (ie, the ability being clipped in allows different muscle engagement). How is this "test" an accurate portrayal then?
  • 2 0
 I just rode trails clipped in for the 1st time last weekend. The benefit, for me, wasn’t efficiency but some of the ways I was able to manipulate the bike. It felt awesome to be able to move the back end around so precisely. On the down side I was not able to put same force through the pedals when cornering, because my shoes just drifted in the cleats, and I fell over on technical climbs a few times cause I couldn’t get out in time. Fun experiment but sticking with the flats!
  • 2 0
 I clip in on the left and run a flat on the right. Lost half of left foot and found it more comfortable to clip in (made custom shoe with clip at heel area). I find it better to be able to change foot positions on the right side flat pedal, so I have never tried to clip in on that side. I do like a stiff sole shoe on the flat pedal.
  • 2 0
 After 10 years I hit a wall learning more advanced skills, mainly because being clipped in made me nervous about being able to bail in time or clip back in for sketchy sections. I have been “weaning” myself off clips to flats for the last few months and I’m slowly starting to feel a lot more confident in very technical situations. I am still not as accomplished at climbing technical sections compared to with clips though. Overall I have been surprised at how little energy difference there seems to be between the two. When I’ve built a solid base of advanced technical skills I will probably try being clipped in again. For me it’s a mind game.
  • 2 0
 You're showing your bias with comments such as "I'm disappointed" with your flat pedal performance in peak power. Now you're going to consciously try to work on your tecnique so you can deliver the results that sync with your beliefs? What if you work on your clipped in max power? Or will that be cheating?

As well the idea that immediate peak power will slow you down on the trail is a bit questionable. Industry 9 has made immediate response one of their core design features.

You're shooting arrows and painting the bullseyes around them.
  • 2 0
 Flats learn me to ground my feet well on the pedal but I always end up kn clips...yeh you can pick up bad habits on clips, but for me I like my foot in knee place, secure and stable.... Clips win on the power front, not on a static test. Try it on a 4x gate....I suppose its individual preference...find what works for you and stick with it...
  • 7 5
 This guy is full of crap with this test, absolute garbage. He does not mention anything about the efficiency on the down stroke versus the up stroke. In other words you simply cannot pull up with as much power on flat pedals.

I used to be a member at the Peak Center for human performance in Ottawa, Ontario, and they have a special test bike that measures how efficient your pedal stroke is, and whether one leg is stronger than the other, and pretty much every other stat under the sun.

You cannot pull up with as much power on the up stroke with flats versus clip less pedals because there was a group of us that tested that very scenario.

The other thing this guy does not mention, is the fact that I dont care how good you are, you will never get your left & right feet lined up on flat pedals, as far as where your foot is on a flat pedal, impossible. They will always be all over the place which will be hard on your knees in the long run.

Everyone talks about Sam Hill, who rides on flats. People forget that he started out as a down hill Pro racer, who graduated to EWS racing, and just kept the flat pedals along the way. He is a great rider without any doubts, but he is the only one that uses flat pedals. 100% of the Cross country Pro's use clip less, 95% of the down hill Pro's use clip less as well including Aaron Gwyn and all the top racers.
  • 1 0
 i ride both, clips on the hardtail and flats on the fully. riding clipless on the hardtail feels much better in in ruff terrain, like on steep rooty trails. for training riding techniques like wheelies i also prefer flats. therefore i sometimes swicht to flats in the hardtail as well.
  • 2 1
 Sounds good mate. Flat pedal skills translate to clips really well in my opinion.
  • 3 1
 Too many variables, like terrain, bike, rider style, pedal designs, shoe designs, etc. I feel it really comes down to the riders preference. I have super fast friends on both.
  • 4 0
 Arent the 510 freeriders alot more flexy (ineficient) in the sole than those clipless shoes?
  • 1 11
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 10:12) (Below Threshold)
 You have experiments where the efficiency was measured? For trail conditions? Accounting for larger platform of flats?
  • 6 0
 @just6979: no its common sense that a flexier sole will be less efficient hence why road bike shoes have stiff carbon soles
  • 4 0
 @just6979: #insufferable
  • 1 0
 I used clipless pedals on my road and mountain bikes for a decade before I got into riding DH bikes. Of course I threw flats on that bike, but my feet flew off ALL the time. Clipless was just second nature. I put SPDs on the DH rig because that was most comfortable. The funny looks from other riders is amusing. Ride what ever works for you! Bikes are fun
  • 1 0
 Interesting video, I'm wondering if testing a 30 second or 60 second Wingate and looking at fatigue index might also be a reasonable assessment for the flat vs. clip efficiency conversation. Max power is certainly applicable to mountain biking, but I'm thinking that sustained max power (similar to a punchy hill climb) might be valid. Also curious if you have tested your clip vs. flat FTP?
  • 5 0
 Flats for me, use to be clips. Either way I'm still unfit and crap
  • 1 0
 Is the difference in the pedals or in the shoes. What would a test look like with a soft flex shoe vs a very stiff flex shoe? I've heard you can use more muscles with a soft flex shoe, but have much less cramping with a stiff flex shoe. If we are speaking purely power transfer from your legs to your crank arms, then it seems to be more of a question of the stiffness of the soles of your shoes than the interface between your shoes and pedals. Food for thought.
  • 4 0
 This shit never ends! Try both then pick whichever you prefer and go have fun riding your bike.
  • 1 0
 cool experiment! I like flats but im not the guy to test for efficiency, i just ride for fun. The last time i rode clips, Thanks Giving weekend 2015, i broke ribs on a janky blown out corner because i couldn't get my foot down. Months of pain, i do heavy equipment repairs and that winter i was wrestling a bulldozer. Full body workout!
  • 1 0
 MTB-Strength-Factory (2 hours ago)
Hey mate, I am very aware that this is not conclusive or representative of MTB, but it is still interesting. I am planning a part 2 out on the trails......

@MTB-Strength-Factory : This.
Good vid! I was wondering how the flats handle the techy steeps, rocky areas where you need to put power into the bike and float the back end to clear stuff with different weight transfers etc...?
  • 6 1
 Great test for those who care about efficiency on a stationary bike.
  • 3 1
 Five Ten propogate this stuff. They know theres only one choice for footwear for flats All you flat riders try a decent pedalling shoe and youll realise why people ride clips
  • 1 0
 I switch back and forth often enough. Typically, I run flats for downhill (bike parks) and will leave them on out of laziness, which causes me to ride my local trails in flats for a while (until I inevitably switch back to clips) . What I find is, our trails in north east Massachusetts are the epitome of slow tech and there’s simply an advantage with clips. They’re generally relentless (punchy steep climbs and constant root/rock tech). Though I can ride it in flats, I get really tired of my feet getting bounced around, inevitably forcing me into uncomfortable foot position. With clips, I maintain my foot placement and keep the power on. I’m also way less apt to concede a climb or tech section.

The one thing we don’t have on our local trails is long downhill sections. I very much dislike clips for that stuff cuz I like to flat foot my pedals (axle almost at mid foot). It’s less tiring since it takes the strain off your calves, and fires your quads/hammies.

I rode the Whole Enchilada back in October and opted for flats. I would’ve been miserable in clips.

With all this said, there have been a lot of flat pedal riders (from my anecdotal experience) that have started riding our trails and ultimately switched to clips. Clips tend to prevail here.

In the end, I don’t think one is specifically better than the other, but I think pedal style application depend on terrain and activity. If I rode front range CO. or North Van all the time, I’d most certainly run flats, but here, it’s just different.
  • 1 0
 Rode clips for two decades and transitioned to flats a couple of years ago. I feel like if you're going absolute max effort up or down you get an incremental benefit from clips, but they suck compared to flats in cornering, trials-style technical riding and definitely jumping. Since I'm not a pro don't pay my mortgage by riding my bike, I opt for fun and style over pure speed.
  • 1 0
 Flats for me. Always and forever. Bmx. Dj. Trail. Dh. Tooany kinda of bikes to be using a different mount system on each. You do need good shoes and pedals though. $400+ for the set. I've used low budget ones and thrown them out due to grip issues.
What's next anyway. Mx clips? Why don't those guys use them. No climbing obviously but gnarly terrain. They keep their boots on with no stealth rubber or spiked pedals. That's good enough for me. And Sammy obviously. Flattts all the way.
  • 1 0
 Used to ride clipped in for a while but now riding with flats for some years.
Flats are definitely more fun as they make bailing out easier + they kinda force you into some good habits. But where I always felt the clips had a huge advantage was when doing explosive accelerations, there you clearly feel the extra power generated from pushing and pulling on those pedals. Pretty clear imo why probably every bmx racer in the world rides with clips.
  • 1 0
 Flat rider here ,of course you feel less loose on the static bike being clipped in ,its almost like daahhh ,in a mtb bike you have the tires and suspension to absorb that strength you put in the pedals ,clip for road I understand (not for me any way )cause there is almost like no absorption in that bikes ,not even in the tires ,but I understand the real pro in that matter,but a average rider I just don’t get it ,ok if they have twisted foots ,cause I think the clips will do more harm that flats ,and look at roadies and some mtb riders when they get if their bikes with their clip shoes ,it’s just to hilarious to observe :-))))) ,and when it’s wet :-)))))) ,we make bets for who is the first to slip :-))) , but just ride what you want
  • 1 0
 I think this is helpful to a degree but want to see a video or study with a larger number if riders riding the same trails over longer periods of time wearing one of each pedal type.

Compare watts, speed, & biometrics like HR, O2 sat, etc. can also be taken.

  • 1 0
 I rode clips for about 15 years. There is no comparision for fireroad or pavement climbs; clips are just faster; I probably don't know proper flat pedal technique but dropping your heal AND being pulling up on the pedal just let me put down more power while feeling less fatigued. However, after moving to the desert and getting older and slower, I kept having tech climbing crashes where I couldn't unclip fast enough . Which convinced me to try flats and I have saved myself many times by being able to dab faster. Jumping, cornering, descending are even. I'd frequently descend unclipped anyway (learnt clipless riding on Mallets, then ran CB Candies with enough of a platform). If Mallets weren't so heavy they'd be the best of both worlds. Maybe I should stop being a weight weanie....
  • 5 0
 What clipless pedal wronged just6979?
  • 1 0
 Can someone please do a test with a sensor to see how much actual usable continuous contact there is with flat pedals during a real mountain bike ride, maybe an hr long ride, and how much time is spent with less or no pedal pressure. I like riding both ways but I really feel like for continuous pedaling or long rides clips are just so much more efficient over the ride. I have no evidence and I really want to know more about if it’s just perception or not.

Doing this on a stationary bike is useless. This is bro science to the max because you never ever ride like this. There are no controls, the sample size is 1, this is literally meaningless from a scientific perspective.
  • 1 0
 I am committed flat rider for 20+ years now and clips on my roadie. There is no doubt in my mind power wise I am just as efficient. I feel the oval chairing is extremely beneficial as well for flats.

Thanks for the video!
  • 1 0
 I'm all flat pedals on any FS mountain bike except for my hardtails where I use the old strap and cage and clipless pedals on a road bike. The reason I decided to go flats is more for having my foot getting out on gnarly descents and for technical trails. I just feel more confident having the ability to get my foot separated from the pedal without learning to twist out. I have a friend who rides flats and she can beat most people on the long climbs by 1-2kph. She's impressive! On rolling hills, I can give a guy on clipless pedals a run for the money. It definitely took me a good 2 season to get used to going flats. So many painful pedal strikes and scratches from the pins! No, I don't have any hits on my shins but they are pretty scarred up.
  • 1 0
 I ride clipless on road and nothing but flats on mtb. I've timed myself on same sections clipped in and on flats and I'm always faster on flats. For me the efficiency is the negligible but I am way more confident on flats especially in turns. By carrying more corner speed my times are better.
  • 1 0
 Both! Both are great for different applications. I ride singlespeed quite a bit and clips allow for consistent footing = consistent power output / control as well as conservation of energy, especially climbing and sprinting / however I can do the same on flats (my strava times show within seconds on same segments on either). I think the biggest difference I find is mental energy conservation, flats are easier to relax mentally in technical terrain allowing me to ride faster / clips are easier to mentally relax on long endurance rides allowing me to ride longer. However, this is me and is different for other folks. Some folks can crush regardless like Alexandra Houchin crushing the Tour Divide Women’s record on a singlespeed on flat pedals!
  • 1 0
 My experience has been;
Clips are far better in high speed rough terrain, my feet aren't destroyed from my toes naturally trying to curl around the pedals after a hard DH ride on clips,
I am a bit more comfortable leaning the bike further over in flats (appreciating that I normally ride clips now so I'm not very inclined to take my feet off the pedals until I'm actually crashing),
shins are less likely to get wrecked in clips,
clips are a pain the the arse if you want to just go for a hoon then the pub,
repositioning feet constantly is annoying,
I find a set of DX clips and decent Shimano shoes work fine for me, but I need far more expensive flats / shoes (now, used probably be cheaper for flats/shoes) for similar performance.

I have only ridden 5.10 Freeriders impacts recently and would prefer something with less flex, even if it is a bastard to walk around in - that's not why I buy riding shoes. Maybe you can get stiffer soles I feel like I'd be happier on flats with a plastic insert so they almost can't bend then stealth rubber sole.
  • 1 0
 Is there a study of a 5 hour ride in off road conditions between a flat and spd? On a stationary bike, there would be the least amount of difference but when you are pedaling over rocky terrain for hours, I bet there would be a difference. Don't most enduro pro riders ride with clips?

Comparing HR at different watts on a short course on a stationary bike is hardly a valid test. SPD's aren't an advantage for some masher for 5 minutes. If there is an advantage, it would be a few percent but those few percent are the difference between first and 10th in a pro field.

Also, if you ever talk to someone who rides with only one arm (one of my colleagues lost his arm in an accident) they will tell you that SPD's turn your pedals into a second "handlebar."

I like the fact that Ben puts a lot of thought into how to get the most out of your biking but this video certainly has a significant bias. He really seems to want the flats to be just as good. Unfortunately, they probably aren't and that's why most pro's don't use them.
  • 1 0
 Ride SPD's myself but did a year and a half on Flats for technique purposes. Found that I prefer SPD's in chunky tech and tech climbing. Flats it was not consistent in pedal placement, foot blowing off in chunky sections, eating up flat shoe soles and then the occasional smacking my shin with a spiked pedal. Flats good for goofing around and some technique learning but for general riding - SPD's are my go to. Just like a decent platform with the SPD in case I am in a rough section and my shoe separates, I can still use the platform to get through the section before re-clipping and continuing. The main thing with SPD's is just being rehearsed enough in the bailing from them so if you need to bail - you aren't panicking about foot release.
  • 1 0
 Mtb-Strength-Factory best video I've seen on here for a long time. I switched over to flats a few years back and have never looked back teaches you how to ride a bike again. Will defo be looking into your other videos and links. Good job
  • 1 0
 I just switched to flat pedals after having problems with my feet - bunions etc. Couldn’t find clip shoes that didn’t hurt, and most stores around here out of stock due to COVID. The first ride with flat shoes and pedals sucked. Feet bouncing around, slipping off, no control of bike. But slowly am adapting. Able to clean everything on local trails than could on clips. Even tough uphill roots climbs. Is there a difference? Yes. Clips I can get away with being in wrong gear because I can pull crank through stroke. Flats have to pay attention to gear and keep feet moving. I guess there is some lack of power on climbs but I think this is speaks more to different muscle groups being used. Would I go back? If I could find comfortable pair of clip shoes that I could try on before buying them perhaps. But enjoying the flats for now. However noticed that my Giro soles being eaten away after about 7 rides from pins. At this rate will need new shoes by end of season. In end I am just happy I can keep riding.
  • 1 0
 I ride clipless and love it. Good pedals make a big difference and to how much float you want. I never have an issue with release when i need out and straight back in. Tried flats once, briefly, and did not like it. Its all about what works best for you and your personal riding style. Like lever position, handlebars, etc. I liked the Vid and second one I have seen from you. They are great and I find them geniune and informative.....thanks
  • 1 0
 Imagine if someone came out with a pair of grips that resembled flat pedals, and a pair of gloves that resembled 5-10s and tried to convince everyone it was just as useful as essentially being attached to your bars until you don't want to be.
  • 1 0
 I feel like this is a "my dad is stronger than your dad" type of situation. You can be efficient on either it just takes training and everyone has their own opinion. I've used both and I honestly have been riding clipless so long now I can't remember what riding flats was like. I will say I feel like my bunny hop technique has probably suffered since going to clipless but that's just because I got lazy and cheat a little bit.
  • 1 0
 Commit a month to each type of pedal on your local trails that you are familiar with. After a month on each, pick whichever you prefer. Terrain and riding styles will make big differences per person. Its also a good idea to check back in with your less preferred option every year or so, just to see if you are missing something. Being able to go back and forth between clips and flats is a pretty good skill to have. I personally ride SPD's for being able to put less mental thought into extra pedal strokes in really rough sections of trail. But do appreciate flats at times also. The one thing that irritates me is people who try spds with soft/flexy soled SPD shoes. Floppy shoes on SPD's are miserable. Stiff shoes for SPD's and conforming grippy shoes for flats please!
  • 1 0
 Fun video. I like folks that question things.

I rode spd’s for decades.

Then I became the 50-something guy that is out there on a 20-something-year-old bike in road kit, thinking he knew something that the young punks didn’t.

I was wrong.

I saw I was headed for Curmudgeon status and said F that.

Upgraded my whole scene. Enduro bike, baggies, full face helmet, pads, Fanny Pack (OK I had one on the 90’s like everybody else), and yes, flats.

Just rode a 20-mile 3200’ gain singletrack loop on a bike that I know weighs over 30 pounds, but I don’t know exactly because I swore I would never weigh it, because THATS NOT THE POINT, and it took about 3:38, because for some reason I still care about time.

Felt no ‘loss of efficiency.’

If anything flats are MORE efficient, simply because there’s less faffing about. Get on, get off, no big deal.

Fun to see my thoughts echoed by someone else.
  • 1 0
 Seems like the efficiency may just be darn close to the same. Preference is the key here. Clips offer a locked on feel that helps with techy stuff. You can get off the saddle in clips, stay locked into the bike, and let your legs act as a rear suspension, with flats you have to keep legs stiffer and it alters the way you ride over stuff. At the end of the day personal preference. For a hardtail though I think clips are a HUGE advantage on the trail.
  • 1 0
 Awesome video! I run both, Spd's and Yoshimura flats. Torn between the two as a Enduro racer. In a nutshell I think it's good for the brain switching between the two. And even better to train the younguns on flats first! Have an awesome day thanks for the rad vid!!
  • 1 0
 Low cadence and high torque is were clips are far superior. As soon as the cadence goes up you loose the ability to "multi task" the muscle recruitment and you just push down. This is why sprinting is so much faster on clips, you dont stand up and sprint with a high cadence.

For downhill I would argue that if you do 100 runs on both types and have been ridng both extensively and dont feel scared or hampered by either you most likely will find that

1 Flats have the biggest variance in times but most likely the fastest run.

2 Clips have very consistent fast times but not that "super run".

So Clips are good for racing since there you need to not only lay down a fast run but it has to be "that" run. So Clips with a more consistent average will be better to get "that" run as fast as possible.

It also depends alot on if you ride a hardtail or fs, smaller chatter really gets annoying on a hardtail if you ride flats. When you are knackered and need to pedal through some rocks Clips are way way more easy to just continue pedaling with.

The overall difference between the types for the average Joe is probably negible compared to him actually praticing more on one type and improve his overall ability.
  • 1 0
 Who rides clipless because of efficiency? Those who don't know the mathematic meaning of the word efficiency.
Torque * RPM = Power
Power out / Power in = efficiency

I ride clipless because of usefulness: stability and acceleration. As mentioned during the video, power build-up is faster on clipless. When climbing steep technical stuff, this is what you need.: higher torque at lower RPM. You get more power so more acceleration. And sometimes an heart attack.
  • 1 0
 clips are scary on gnarly stuff (to me) I don't care about efficiency, I'll get to the top when I get to the top.. I just want to have fun descending and not having to think about maybe crashing and not being able to unclip fast enough, or bailing mid air on a jump or drop.. I used to ride clips and had a couple of crashes were I wasn't able to unclip because that crashes were so fast and unexpected that after that, that was always in the back of my mind while descending.. that went away when I switched to flats.. so flats for me the climb is just something I have to do in order for me to treat myself with with a descent.
  • 1 0
 Thanks Ben for the video and little bit more analysis.
Bike James has covered a lot of this Too, and James adds a little more context which matters.
Depending on what you’re trying to do, James feels flat pedals offer a lot of benefit.

First, ride whatever you like. This is not about “right or wrong” or “better or worse”. It’s about Pros’s and Con’s. And I will say that when I talk about flat pedals, I mean GOOD flat pedals with sharp pins and a full-flat soled like a 5:10 or Shimano.

As an instructor, I started on flats last year after 20 years on spd’s so that I could understand my clients better. Now I ride flats most of the time. Here is my blog post for those who are interested (update soon):

I will try to add a few points for consideration to this discussion:

1. Flat shoes are more comfortable. Modern thin, wide, flat pedals offer a lot of area to push on when you pedals and most riders don’t need overly stiff shoes for good performance. Many flat shoes have added width and softer materials making them way more comfortable for all-day riding. For the average recreational rider this is a plus.

2. Flats are safer. When you crash, get bumped around, try to learn how to wheelie and manual. Flat pedals make it easier to put your feet down on ground, especially if you loop out backwards while trying to manual. When you crash and your clips don’t release, you risk injury in your joints and feet. They are simply safer.

3. Flats promote better pressure control and bike preloading. Riders who are clipped in will always “hop” when executing wheel lifts and jumps. I’m not saying this is entirely bad, but most riders need to learn good techniques to compress and preload suspension through the cranks using primarily their legs.

4. Flats change and improve timing skills. Timing is the pinnacle of the MTB skills pyramid. ( Refining your skills on flats will help you to more fully develop skills and maneuvers without resorting to secondary moves like lifting with your legs instead of preloading. Learning to ratchet your pedals to get your power foot ready at 1pm is a good skill for many rides to practice. On clipless pedals, you can often get away with poor timing on a step up by pulling your pedal up using your shoes, but ideally you know more than one way to recover in that situation. 

5. Flats allow for great range of motion. Maximizing your balance to be stable on the bike requires lateral, horizontal and vertical motion. Cornering like a pro requires rotational movement. When you are clipped in, you have less range of movement. Not necessarily a problem, but more movement can be a better thing. For example, to create substantial rational pressure it is helpful to actual rotate your feet on the pedals to increase your lateral movement. 

6. Clipless pedals ARE more efficient. Contrary to legend, pulling up with your calves does not increase pedal power. Creating strong power comes primarily from your quads, and maximizing this physical motion is the key to a strong pedal stroke. This is exactly the same for flats and clipless pedals. BUT, as was pointed out in the video, maintaining stable foot placement at super high cadence is a skill on flat pedals and takes some level of effort and control. Clipless pedals allow experienced riders to relax some muscles during the pedal stroke, which saves some amount of energy and can allow for active muscle recovery. Don’t misunderstand this benefit; I would argue that most riders DO NOT have a good pedal stroke, and clipless laziness makes it worse, not better.

7. Clipless pedals can save your ass. Sometimes being locked in is a good thing. I find clipless pedals have saved me from crashing after some poorly timed jumps, missed step-ups and tall log hops. These days I usually run the springs at mid range and not too tight. While clipless pedals feel very secure to some riders, being locked on your pedals should not be mistaken for improved stability. Stability comes from the ability to manage the forces exerted on you and your bike from the trail, using movement of your body and the bike to counter the instability.

Both types of pedals exist because each offers something better, sometimes, for some people. The main challenge with this type of analysis is that it doesn’t take into account the very diverse nature of MTB riding and different rider requirements. Some people ride flat, smooth trails, some people DH on crazy rough stuff. The necessary, efficient and optimum techniques are different and there is some variability in required skills and techniques. A 15 second 1500 watt sprint at 120pm is not very common on the trail. Riding at 95% FTP is a good target for XC racers, but most recreational “Enduro” riders probably don’t even hit 75% FTP when they ride.

If you want to understand the WHY about torque, cadence and pedalling, start here:
  • 1 0
 MTB-Strength-Factory you fall off twice just trying to sprint/put in some power on a stationary bike that's not moving or bouncing over rocks and roots and you still don't see the disadvantage? At this point I would recommend you put out a 10 second video statement saying you like flats better. Simple. Some do some don't.. its okay.
  • 1 0
 @MTB-Strength-Factory, would be interested to do again the opposite way. With a dedicated clips rider moving to flats for a similar test. I think with you being flat orientated there may be less of a difference than if you where clip orientated. I ride clip and also pull up as well as push down. Especially when sprinting. Something you can’t do when on flats.
I’m short flat orientated moving to clips may not make huge differences due to riding style, however clip riders loosing the ability to pull up would (in theory) make a huge differance?
  • 1 0
 I think in the tests where clipless did not show measurable improvements was for a couple of different reasons. First, the riders were using the same technique they use with flats when using clipless. Different technique has to be used for clipless to be more efficient. Second, was most of the tests I have seen were much too short. Only a few minutes. I think they have to have long tests where using different muscle groups and fatigue is a factor. For flat out sprints, clipless is the clear winner for pedal security and not to slip a pedal. That is why all BMX racers using clipless. For downhills, flats and clipless is debatable.
  • 1 0
 Even if there is some minute advantage with clipless there are several good reasons to ride flats instead. For me they are freedom, safety, and knee health. I also find cornering with clipless to be more difficult. Maybe that is because my feet are locked in and I can't rotate my hips the way I want to. And when you come unclipped by mistake and you have to reclip it's a much more precarious and difficult situation than the occasional need to reposition with flats.
  • 3 3
 I've been on the James Wilson mailing list for years. No number of people on the trail will ever be able to convince me of the opposite now. That said, I don't recall ever having been bothered by anyone with the efficiency of the kind of pedals I happen to run. Like, out of all things you can talk about with people you meet on the trail, why would anyone even bother discussing someone else's pedal choice? Save that for the PB comment section Wink .
  • 2 3
 Hey mate, I couldn't agree more. This isn't something I chat about on rides....... we are way more interesting and only chat about which tyre width is best 2.3 or 2.4?
  • 2 11
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 7:51) (Below Threshold)
 @MTB-Strength-Factory: I actually get talked to about it fairly often. Mostly people asking why I haven't switched to clips, which I then have to explain a) why do you expect that? And b) I already did and switched back. Then they usually tell me I'm crazy, clips for power, clips for life, etc,etc. but when I keep up in the next trail they usually don't mention it again.
  • 3 0
 James is a ballsy, super strong rider that'll hit stuff that would give anyone hesitation. After riding with him many times though I'll tell you an uphill or downhill racer he's not. Which is the realm of clipless.
  • 1 1
 Very nice comparative experiments, thanks. Some tweaking of the experimental design and application of appropriate statistics would thoroughly elucidate your investigation. I am a professor of Biomedical, Biological and Chemical Engineering. I would be glad to help you with this. What's in it for me? We could also publish the results in the Journal of Exercise Physiology. That's how faculty keep score. Also, I always take advantage of opportunities for overlap between my vocation and my avocation.
  • 5 2
 I stopped using clipless after accidentally unclipping a few times in mid-air. Been riding flats with 5.10s ever since.
  • 3 1
 can confirm five ten freerider pros plus a super grippy pedal like deity deftraps is like glue on my feet.
  • 3 1
 I prefer using flats because I when it comes to accidental dismounts just being able to fly off the platform has saved me from some serious slams.
  • 3 1
 Clipped in or flats, I ride both. For me, I feel like clipped re-enforces bad technique where flats force technique. Both have their place and neither is right or wrong.
  • 1 0
 Switched back to clips recently after 20 years on flats for no other reason that I'm sick and tired of flat shoes that fall apart or fall short of their claims. Actually quite enjoying the planted feeling.
  • 1 0
 This is a really good point. I find that with flats my pedals only last about 2 years and the shoes about 1 year. With clipless (Shimano SPD) the pedals last 5-10 years and the shoes last 3+ years.
  • 4 0
 Pick a pedal and be a dick about it
  • 4 2
 great vid.....if tried clips but prefer flats with the right pedal and shoe combo that is.
  • 1 2
 Cool video. Results were much closer that I would have expected. I would even expect a control point at zero watts could have a few BPM variation over a few days or weeks.
I ride flats 98% of the time. I don't think there is any difference in power I can put down to the wheels. I mean, I'm still the same person putting the power down either way. I just find flats more comfortable because I can reposition my feet for different terrain or to use slightly different muscles on longer rides.
Plus there is nothing scarier to me than unclipping mid air. I could never get my SPDs cranked down tight enough, so those got moved over to my gravel crusher. 5.10s and some grippy pedals are my go-to.
  • 1 4
 Cheers mate.
  • 3 12
flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 8:53) (Below Threshold)
 "I could never get my SPDs cranked down tight enough"

That's the problem. You shouldn't have to crank them down, that's just a crutch to overcome clips inherent flaws for off-road riding. Even riders with great jump technique can still come out of clips in the air because clips are too limiting. Your feet want to twist and wiggle as you put body language into the bike and clips don't allow that, they just unclip instead. See Levy's mention of the same in podcast ep 7 or 8.
  • 1 1
 Any links available for the studies he mentions showing a clipless pedal rider moving to flats and losing efficiency? Every test I've seen cited shows zero efficiency difference between clips and flats...
  • 2 0
 put a power meter on your bike and do the test again pedaling along a rooty trail
  • 2 1
 If you watch Friday Fails every week you will notice everyone is on flats and using a dropper.............That's why I use neither.....
  • 5 0
 And riding a bike as well... If we're continuing that path of logic.
  • 1 2
 Ride both. Avid cyclist 110% clipped. Makes sense to spin efficient circles up and down on smooth asphalt, to constantly be putting power down; be fast.. I've seen too many of my friends crash suddenly mtb and only get one foot out and the carnage that ensues afterwards. To me flats when I mtb are an instant eject button. I'm not trying to be efficient while mtb and trust me, I can ride a mtb and am faster than most in my area. I'm fast enough and love knowing if something suddenly happens while riding mtb, the bike and myself are separated instantly. I ride Loaded Components flats with Vaude AM Moab Mids and have zero issues. Just this morning shit got real so fast and immediately jumped off the bike. The bike suffered (just paint), but I didn't.
  • 2 0
 video proved exactly what I had thought - riding flats or clips hard is exhausting
  • 1 0
 The only problem i have with clips is some of my friends that shouldn't be on them, if it mess up your confidence in steep technical terrain then you should ride flats pedals
  • 1 0
 That's a loud ass bike trainer thing, sounds like you are in a coal factory. I'd be having a conversation with you if you were my neighbor. Flats for life here Smile
  • 2 0
 Not one single pro XC rider, Roadie, CX rider, and even most downhiller's use flats enough said. Absolute nonsense.
  • 1 3
 We're biting on the bait aren't we? First, it's about the same so it's really just personal preference and technique. I'm all in for flats, but I have spent time riding trials, street, DH and that results in a certain set of flat pedal skills (proper bunny hop and the like). I can nail technical climbs on flats that most riders in my local area can't clear any which way.

There are times when I have installed clipless pedals for one-off XC rides, because I had spent a few years riding clipless a long time ago. It totally sucked, sure you can pull the bike up but that micro bit of loose float lacks the surety of pins. For pedal strokes, the muscles that pull up are small in comparison to quads/glutes, they don't help much and are easily overwhelmed. For pounding out the power over a long day you just have to rely on the big muscles.

Sprinting on a stationary bike with flats? Gotta have the resistance WAY up because with any bit of underpowered spin your foot will lose contact with the pedal. Absolutely, done it many times at the gym. Because the bike/pedal path is invariable you have to adjust your technique where your upper body provides motion and adjustment, which is the opposite to a real bike.
  • 3 1
 A simple "yes" or "no" would've been sufficient...
  • 1 2
 Flats are better for me, not because of efficiency or cool factor, but because I need something to help bail me out and eject when I get in over my skill level (aka all the time)
  • 2 0
 Clipped in on a climb when you drop you heels is torque city!
  • 2 0
 I like clips I like flats I like riding my bike
  • 2 0
 If you want to be a great rider start as a 5 and under novice.
  • 3 0
 Crocs FTW!
  • 1 1
 I were Five Ten Freeriders and my shoes aren’t tied up to tight to allow float inside the shoe. Takes more skill to ride flats Period!!
  • 1 0
 your thoughts in conjunction with the likes of the pedalling innovations catalyst pedal would be interesting.
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 I ride and like both, and I used to believe that, but that's not always the case. The larger platform and the less smooth circular pedal stroke has led me to have flat-specific crashes on fs bikes, clipping a pedal where a clipless wouldn't. This said, I've also had clipless specific crashes--unexpected unclips, or unable to unclip fast enough, or just trapped in my clipless pedal. This said, my worse crash was the result of riding flats. Still, for shuttling and big DH, flats are so comfortable and fun! And for confidence and to learn flow, they are a necessary tool. Everyone would benefit from excelling on flats. I make sure to spend at least one month on flats a year.
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 Flats for mountain and leisurely riding. Clips for when I'm in roadie mode which hasn't been very often lately.
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 Flats: biomechanics, knees.
There's really no question about its superiority in the long run.
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 Who cars. Just ride what you like and fuck em all.
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 So flat pedals and 27.5 wheels for the win, awesome to know I’m already in the flow !
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 The main advantage of clipless is that you can go on when you lose one leg halfway your ride!
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 Agree - flats for life. The only way to fly for me. Clipped in riders may not agree but that's ok.
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 Flats Forever!
=using your positioning and legs properly
=pre loading for jumps correctly.
efficiency pfffft!
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 Speak to anyone on the trails and they will tell you that?
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flag just6979 (Jun 20, 2020 at 9:32) (Below Threshold)
 Obviously the "anyone" was sarcastic and referring to the perception that most people will want to ride clips eventually. There are tons of vids on YouTube, especially lately, of people "graduating" or "leveling up" to clips, like there is some skill point you reach where you can't get any better without clipping in. Of course they all start with a bunch of crashes and tip-overs, eventually progressing to where they feel comfortable again. That uphill battle to get comfortable again makes them think they got better, except really they're just (maybe) back to where they were in flats. Except now they're limited by the clips and probably developing bad habits like pulling up for bunny hops and such.
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 give em a brake - it's a difficult job being the top contributor of a chem trails message board.
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 Another really interesting video answering the age old question of Flats Vs Clips ????
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 Sam Hill !
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 I heard this Sam Hill Guy is a bit of a novice? He can’t ride clipped in. You never see him pulling wheelies and other tricks on Instagram. He might need some coaching?
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 Every other rider in xc enduro and DH!
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 Flat pedal crashes are worse than clips.Flat riders catapult through space!
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 Can’t do no footers in clips so all arguments are null and void.
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 This is garbage!
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 Thanks ! flat fan over here, glad to see some data to back up the vibes.
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 But I do prefer clips when riding the single speed.
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 Tumbling down a hill with my bike connected to my feet? No thanks. Do people cable tie their hands to their bars also? Flats no question.
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 Flats all the way!!
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 Flat petals for life! Thanks for the video this is awesome
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 Cheers bro
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