Mojo Pro Bike Clinic, Clips VS Flats with Neil Donoghue

Jan 28, 2014 at 18:12
by Film This Tyler  
Views: 29,711    Faves: 37    Comments: 0


Neil has had a successful downhill racing career on flat pedals with some top ten results at World Cups and he became well known for his moto style, but now he has made the jump to enduro racing and has adopted the clip pedals. Neil gives us a little insight into why he made the change.

Neil has had a successful downhill racing career on flat pedals with some top ten results at World Cups and he became well known for his moto style but now he has made the jump to enduro racing and has adopted the clip pedals. Neil gives us a little insight into why he made the change. http mojo.co.uk

Mojo Suspension
Produced by Eyesdown Photography & Film
Music by Beatfux - Late Flip




190 Comments

  • 98 11
 Ride what your comfortable on. If your comfortable you will ride faster riding is such a mental game been 100% confident in your kit is what matters.

This debate of clips vs flats is SO stupid. Xc and pedally events its well shown clips are better: as soon as you hit dh the advantage goes out the window you ride what your more comfortable on. Its the stupidest debate. Even then unless you are highly trained athlete you'll get more performance gain from training than throwing some clips on.

People act like clips are always faster its not true the rider is faster, Sam Hill has proven this so many times there is so much time to be made and gained on a dh track in lines and just balls clips don't mean anything.
  • 12 2
 Totally agree. I ride both as they both have their advantages. On clips I find I can plow through rough sections faster because I can 'unweight' the bike and my feet stay planted. The trade-off is getting sketched out on skinnies and some slower technical terrain. With flats I find they're more 'fun' in that you can drag a foot through a corner or dismount if you pull chute at the last second before hitting a stunt.
  • 14 2
 yeah but it needs time to be comfortable on clips, I don't know people who came back from clips to flats, I stay on flats for DH and clips for All mtn, quiet scared to fall at high speed in a rock garden with my feet clipped ^^
  • 5 2
 I tried clips a few times but I just didnt really get into it. I have never been riding the bike and thought, I could sure use some clips right now. Just personal preference I guess. Whatever gets you moving down the trail with a smile on your face is all that matters!
  • 5 2
 For myself iv never felt flats held me back at all in downhill, my fitness needs work but that's fitness not my pedals. I actually find flats great in the rough iv never had pedal slipage issues, I can float the bike plenty and just let the bike do its thing. Maybe I'm just special at riding flats haha. I really don't know but once you get the hang off them I find they give me more confidence. I hit sections much faster because I know if I fall I won't scorpion or be stuck to a bike, I can bail and save myself a little more.
  • 16 1
 I've ride clips for 15 years, switch back to flats two years ago. Turns out, i was doing a lot wrong, flats teach you how to load and unload your bike correcly. That being said i do like clips, i will ride them again but i seriously think they are overated.
  • 24 26
 This is nothing against you guys but the "arguments" like :ride what you are comfortable with or it's down to own preference are nothing more but "good will driven bollocks". Believing so doesn't do us any good, other than appearing open minded on the internet. What do you base your preference on? what do you do, to which level did you get so that you can say that "this thing is good for me"? In the worst case someone sees to that vid, buys clips, focuses on experiencing what Neil said and he goes: "oh he's right, I'm much better now!". Or he goes: I ride just for fun, so I don't need clips! I wan't to shred corners! The matter of a fact is, that Neil and many other guys were riding flats in the period they came to their level which is way above any person that spends time writing on the internet. Just as many of great rides jumped on clips very soon in their development. You have to know it, do it and feel it yourself. Look at Neils feet as he rides the rough for the first time he is shown on flats, look how supple they are, allowing him to stay in balance and control, also wins some time by being smoother and not just ramming into things. Then watch some videos or pictures of some amateurs racing any MTB discipline, DH in particular. Look how tense their feet are. Look at some poor climber how they brainlessly mash uphills and make those tiny spin outs on every occasion, instead of feeling the ground to find traction. Flats teach that, they just teach proper technique, also when it comes to pedaling. When the race comes you can put them on. As to Neil, that guy has ridden so much in such a good way that his brain is so wired to the muscles that he rides SPDs just as he rides clips, but us mere mortals, need to practice on clips a bloody lot.
  • 23 28
flag kram (Jan 29, 2014 at 7:14) (Below Threshold)
 Saying you can't learn to ride properly on clips without using flats first is like saying you can't learn to ride on a DH bike without riding a HT first. Total bullshit. Maybe it will help you learn a bit faster or maybe it won't. But if anyone thinks there's no one out there who's never put time on flats that can rip it up, you haven't been looking hard enough.
  • 1 0
 Good point Waki. Personally I could make the switch to clips but I don't like the possibility of a scorpion roll and because I still ride bmx (with flats obviously) it'd be hard to go back and forth every time I get a different bike out.
  • 8 0
 I agree with Waki on that. You need good form and know how to weight the bike to be able to ride flats efficiently and those techniques are harder to learn but still very usefull if riding clipped in. Things like learning to bunny-up without pulling on the pedals as well. And yes kramster, learning on a HT does teach you a lot about line choice that would take a lot of time to learn on a DH bike. You are a better rider if you have the skills instead of relying on equipment doing the job for you.
  • 24 6
 To pretend clips aren't faster at the highest level of racing is absolute rubbish. Put simply, nobody will ever win a EWS on flat pedals, and less than 20 percent of World Cup DH races will be won on flats. The sport has changed alot since the days of Sam Hills domination. If you run flats at that level now, you just have to go impossibly fast on the technical stuff to try to make up for the time you lost in the short pedal sections. I used to think flats were faster in super muddy conditions, but Danny Hart changed my mind about that a few years ago.
  • 7 3
 @Protour Martin Maes from the Athertons is still running flats.!! Kids in unreal.!
  • 10 6
 kramster: I didn't say that you can't learn riding DH by riding only SPDs - that would be bollocks. I am just saying that flats teach some important lessons and many might be missing out by riding clips. I did miss out a lot, particularly when it comes to uphilling and riding out of proper stance. Clipless just let you run away with a lot of bad habits. Just as flats, although I think clips are worse in that respect. As to HT, in my irrelevant opinion one does not get better at riding Dh bike by training on HT. it is a myth that I have been perpetuating myself for many years. Everything is different on HT, even weight distribution. In rockgardens you have to get a bit on your handlebars to work your way through the stones with your upper body - while on fully you want to stay neutral for longer moments allowing the bike to do some job while are focusing on important bits, be it spotting line, popping some rocks, finding brakes spot, whatever.. You pick different lines as you would even on 120 fully, as there is no point in going for the big ones, only to get bounced around at low speed, risking your front wheel to get caught in a larger hole, while you can navigate on smoother line and ride faster, in more control. I rode every line on every shute on trails around my place, that I rode on 6" bike, but in some cases I pick different ones depending on which bike I am. Clips are good to have on hardtail in woods, as without them you can't realy utilize you lower body for anything else than staying on pedals, you can't pump the terrain on HT on flats, and you definitely can't pedal on rougher bits.
  • 9 3
 Maes switched to clips.

Waki, Graves is racing xc on a hardtail this offseason. He says it sharpens his skills. If he wins EWS overall nexr year, your theory is blown out of the water. Smile
  • 9 8
 Protour - Everyone of us is different at a different stage of development, and has different combination of skills. It means absolutely nothing that someone else is using clips or flats with success. The only thing that should be important to you is which pedal/shoe interface is good for you at this moment, and if you should really care.

Please ask Graves what aspect of riding is he training on HT, because I assure you that everything he does, he does deliberately to achieve a specific goal, improve a particular skill(s). At the same time an average bloke just goes out to ride HT because he thinks it is good for DH, as if HT had some magic power, then he might as well go and get his bike blessed by a bishop Big Grin
  • 7 0
 Waki, you are talking about average riders, I am talking about the highest level of the sport. There is no way anyone is winning a EWS race on flats, and even in World cup DH they put guys wit them at a severe disadvantage because of the speed they generate in the pedal sections. I think many average riders assume the pros can't go as fast in clips in super technical terrain because they are basing that theory on their own personal experience, which is likely correct. But the fastest DH racers on clips aren't slowing down in the technical sections because they are completely comfortable with them. Gwin didn't win VDS by 8 seconds by making it up in the pedal sections, though he did gain some advantage there. He won by 8 seconds because he hauled ass down the entire mountain on clips.
  • 2 2
 Oops, meant to write: Even in World cup DH the guys with flat pedals are at a severe disadvantage because of the speed the guys with clips generate in the pedal sections.
  • 6 4
 But why are we talking top DH riders? They don't need clinics videos like this one, so we may as well leave them to their own problems.
  • 10 3
 @ Protour:
There are far too many variables to account for during a WC DH run to say that it was clip pedals that allowed a rider to cross the finish line. If a higher percentage of riders are using clip pedals then obviously basic statstics tells us that it is more likely for them to win races. If 80 percent of the field is on Fox suspension then obviously the chances of the winner of the race riding fox equipment is more likely, does it mean Fox suspension gave them the faster time? Absolutely not. If 80 percent of cars on the road are Hondas then obviously there will be more car accidents involving hondas, does that mean Hondas are not safe.....

See where this is going?
  • 7 1
 I started w flats, went to clips for a few years, and then came back to flats. Took some nasty falls at speed clipped in the bike and I don't think I'd ever go back. Having flats stepped my game up with the confidence needed to hit big features and technical steeps.
  • 3 2
 VpS13, If you isolate that argument and leave it at that, it is a valid point. ..but.... there are other considerations to consider...such as.... where do the racers with flats make up for the time they lost in the pedal sections?

They don't make it up anywhere, which is why they aren't as likely to use them if they want to have a better chance at winning. Which is why more World Cup DH racers are using them than anytime since the 90's.
  • 2 2
 Waki, the reason to focus on the pro's is because that is the best way to get objective results. Those results don't always apply to average riders, but if the goal is to get faster, you study the fastest racers. If the goal is to have fun then subjectivity statements have validity, and you ride what is more fun for you. I have no problem acknowledging that a lot of average riders are more comfortable on flats, and even faster on them. Just like a lot of average drivers are more comfortable driving an automatic over a stick shift, and maybe even faster.
  • 5 3
 Automatic? But how would you brake with engine with an automatic gearbox?
  • 1 0
 Totally agree, I just bought a pair of spd's and am excited about giving them a try, because I did believe what the guy in the video was saying about different types of situations and where they might have a little bit of an advantage, but, I still have my flats and am definitely not planning on getting rid of them, I plan on using them still because like what you said, its all about what you as a rider is feeling the most confident and comfortable in. That will give you the advantage for sure.
  • 4 0
 Waki and Protour are comment section arguing and Pinkbike hasn't exploded yet?
  • 7 2
 Yes we are waiting for the neg prop party to wreck the place Big Grin
  • 3 0
 @VPS13 your right that the sample is unbalanced (80% clipped vs 20% flats) but you're drawing the wrong conclusion (or rather you shouldn't be drawing any conclusion) because this is not a random sample, and you'd need to account for the selection bias (racers choosing clips more often than flats). Not that that preference necessarily reveals anything (it could all just be hype that is creating misinformation which is influencing their selection). Never that less you could rectify the imbalance of the sample and and some of the bias by using matched treatment and control groups by matching a treatment observation (a racer with clips) to a control observation (a racer with flats) with as near to identical values in other variables.

You are right that there are a lot of variables which need to be controlled for before isolating the effect of clipless pedals on a racers lap time or race ranking, but i don't think that there are so many that it would be impossible. There might always be some omitted variable bias either because our theoretical framework is incorrect and we incorrectly assume that a variable is uncorrelated with independent variable (clips) and the dependent variable (race time) or they are simply un-measurable or difficult to measure (like what did the racer eat for breakfast), but if you held any statistical analysis to this level of rigor we'd never be able to say anything about anything by employing statistics because those 2 factors can always be an issue.

I think if you controlled for the major stuff, frame, suspension, track, etc. you'd at least get in the ballpark. What would be best would be to get some reliable panel data (same individuals for many years) then you might be able to control for individual fixed effects (racer specific variables that don't change over time) and time fixed effects (changes that occur over time that affect everyone) and get an even more precise estimate of the effect of clips on race times.
  • 8 1
 LOL the only people who ever say "clips vs flats argument is stupid" are flat pedal riders who hate clips Big Grin .

being caught in the middle - i ride both - it's easy to see the absurd arguments on both sides. whats funnier is how committed people are to their side of the argument. all i see is a "it's true because i said so" mentality. not convincing anyone.

Eliot Jackson and Steve Smith have both gone on record to say clips are faster in wc racing. not referring to fun, foot positions, etc... just faster.

Cuban-b has gone on record to say flats are more fun but not nearly as fast in any race situation.

see how much this matters? (it doesn't)
  • 4 5
 cuban-b. All developed arguments over some bike component issue are stupid, wheel size in particular. Being in the middle is as good and as bad as being a nazi. It's not like your or my opinion is going to cause famin in Bangladesh. I ride what I like at the moment and I don't give a damn if someone likes if I change my mind or not - I will change it, that's all I know. The other thing I know for sure is that neither of flats or clips can make a bigger difference to someone's riding. If someone is affraid of falling off the bike, being attached to it, and uses flats because of that, he has some serious issues and until he adresses them, keeping away from clips, is not going to solve them. And vice versa, if someone rides clips because he is affraid of loosing his feet of the pedals, then he also has a major skill issue and he maybe should work on it, instead of just strapping himself to the bike. And believe it or not, but people always have huge philosophy behind what they chose and why, of which most is bollocks, there is always some neglected issue at the base of it.
  • 6 0
 you just called me a nazi. thats why i love you! nazis were definitely not "middle of the road" - but that's just, like, my opinion man Smile
  • 2 0
 Waki, you don't think clips can make a big difference in climbing efficiency? I would have to disagree, and i also think they make a significant difference when pedaling over bumpy terrain in the rough, in terms of efficiency, like he talked about in the video. But again, that's more regarding racing and you are correct, nobody is starving over this one. Flats might have a lower carbon footprint, though typically a larger physical footprint.
  • 1 0
 if i reach wc speeds at any point in a ride it is purely by accident followed by a serious stack..in clips and/or flats, so it's a bit difficult for me to compare the advantages of either against an elite world class skillset. i think for a mere mortal rider like myself growin up bmxican, i have more versatility and fun in riding my one bike with flats. if my times and skill start creepin up to passing SHill or CKovarik...SPuDs for sure. hehe
  • 3 2
 cuban-b - I did not call you a nazi, a called up nazi a person that believes deeply in a superiority of on one thing over another. You said that you are in the middle. Protour - there is not a single study showing that clips are more efficient than flats for MTB. Not even close as compared to good and bad pedalling technique. Pros can probably utilize that advantage given they have excellent pedalling technique, as opposed to someone who doesn't. Unfortunately clips are promoting bad pedalling habits while uphilling. As for DH, yes in every situation clips will give you advantage on rough terrain, given the fact that you are pedalling, and I struggle to see people pedalling much... I dare to assume that a person who writes more than 10 words on this forum, does not pedal on downhills in a way that could allow him/her to gain advantage from being clipped in, if we are talking efficiency... so how do you think are the motorics of an average rider, from knees to neck? Glutes > lower back > upper back? how well trained are their cores to sustain a good platform for pedaling instead of flexing too much and wasting energy? How are they at the bottom of the hill, at the end of the day? How much power do they have left to pedal on those rough bits? How good are they in managing the energy over the length of the race, how are their skills so they go over stuff taking less hits? - you now the issues cutting 50 seconds of the race run not 2? Issues taking less time to train than write stuff on forums and earn money on new stuff? You see there are many advantages that racers talk about, it's just that you and me cannot utilize... it's of no other use, than being a dirt to throw at each other on the forum to determine who can have more right over useless argument Smile
  • 4 2
 flats > spd

because God
  • 5 0
 the true way is to use equipment that equates to how much one doesn't suck.
  • 4 0
 use both!
  • 1 0
 Waki for the first time in god knows how many posts and it kills me to say it but I agree with you I ride both and whilst I can rail the burms harder and faster clipped in nothing makes me happier thay hitting the dirt jumps with my flats and wrecking the shittery out of my shins. Yes I race enduro and used to use flats but the extra power transfer on the up stroke as in pulling up the pedal gives me a longer enduro than on my flats
  • 2 4
 Protour

You are putting way too much weight on clips.

You seem to think the time gain in the pedals is massive with clips in dh runs. They are not they are tiny, you wouldn't need to go stupidly fast in the other sections to make up that gap. If you can ride 100% Confident on clips than for sure get those few hundredths benefit in the pedal. But a few hundred will be made up by rider skill and training. The better rider will always win clips or flats.

For those races that are close you would need to look a the data to see where time is won it lost.

You're giving clips more benefit than they actually offer.
  • 4 0
 Yeah protour. Shame on you.
  • 4 0
 I don't understand why people are assuming that technical terrain is where clips are at a disadvantage. If anything that's where they shine because you can maintain constant contact with the pedals - you don't have to deal with your feet getting shaked out of position - and you have way more control. I've been riding both for 20 years and know that there are skill development applications for flats, but for technical cross country and DH I believe clips are better. I get the impression the demographics on here consists of a lot of dirt jumpers and free ride/park riders, where flats are appropriate.
  • 3 5
 I didn't read jack shit in that comment thread. Its like you guys are writing essays here, for Christs sake this isn't English class.
  • 4 2
 The only reason clips will make tech slower will be due to Confidence. If you have the head to go balls out and clips don't make you any less confident then there will be no disadvantage. Equally though I don't know why people complain that flats knock your feet off its just not true unless you can't ride flats properly. I ride plenty of fast rough terrain and I had never had an issue with feet flying off or moving, its a risk yes but its not very common or a issue if you can ride flats properly you're much more likely to go off line or crash before the feet are an issue.
  • 4 0
 true hipsters use spd for dirt jumping and flats for road bikes
  • 4 0
 Everyone was waiting for the waki and protour show down and it was all hype. You two are talking about different things. WAKI is right in that he is suggesting a rider ride with what will improve their personal skills at the moment. Totally different of what protour is talking about. Which IMO is also right baised on the stats of how many pros ride clipped in vs not. You are going to get a 30 percent increase in power on any flat section with being clipped in. That's obvious, but if I am correct. Like @jfyfe was saying, and like what I heard in a Steve Smith interview. Being clipped in helps more on the crazy technical sections because then you don't have to hold on to your bike with your trailing foot. Anyways, Lets save the protour vs. waki debate showdown for when they are actually talking about the same thing.
  • 6 0
 ^^ they don't care what they're talking, arguing about, as long as they can talk they're happy
  • 3 0
 ok here wego clips by far are better,flats are not good on a real dh trail,ya there fun if your trick rideing,or if your a new age bike park guy that can't ride,and as far as sam and kris k. go there on a different level,o and napom palmer,but if you want to win dh in pro class its clips,i remember back in the day 1982 when one guy showed up with clips at a ABA nat. bmx race,we all ran flat pedals and made fun of this guy,now look what bmx run all clips to win,but in the end if you like flats then run what you like.its your call to make.,
  • 1 2
 Martinezorlando - but the issue is that an average mountain biker that spends time writing here is NOT going to compete for a dh pro title. We are not discussing whether clips are good for pros, but whether they are good for us mere mortals. His point of objective should be having fun on bike and progress as much as he can. For him this is not an issue of fighting for seconds, it is an issue of cutting minutes. Get down to Earth... the only thing most of us here can compete for is "the gnarliest crash of the day". And the only way to get out of it, to get better is to get some fundamentals right and sorry but clips are going to slow your progress, they will mask issues with jumping, weighing the bike, most importantly with weight balance over the bike - why? because if you got them wrong you'd fall off the pedals. The skill level of many "park dudes" on flat pedals is way higher than an average rider could ever wish for. Sure - clips can lift up smeone to another level by adding confidence and allowing him to pedal, keeping his foot up in corners, but it must be deliberate, while most just buy what pros ride thinking it will make the faster - that's the essence of it. It took me three years on flats to say - I am ready to get back to clips. So yes some are race oriented, and sorry but that attitude holds them back. Sorry, such toys as clips, saint brakes, plenty of great suspension are for MTB adults. I do not mean that you are not an MTB adult, all the best to you - but I am barely in MTB puberty. Everything about any piece of technology is: is it good for me at this moment of my progression as a mountain biker?

Saying clips are far better means that Neil over there would be much better rider if he started riding clips long time ago and he wasted his time riding flats - go tell him that.
  • 3 0
 I enjoyed this episode of the WakiTour show. Thanks fellas.
  • 1 0
 I prefer flats, if rather feel confident on my bike, and being able to ditch my bike helps with that.
  • 1 0
 hay waki leak your wrong to progress is up to the human that want to progress.and to say flat pedal will help or stop you from getting hurt or are more fun is also wrong and me saying this is also wrong it come down to what does that human want to do,and in are dh sport weather your on clips or flats its all fun,and your going to touch the ground sooner are later.so were some plastic.o and if you don't think i no you better do some history cause you don't no any 1 can type bull S. ,BUT IF you don't no history you better start,that flag you see on my page don't let fool i'm not 3rd world,now to say any product is going to do someing for you must see if it work for you first,cause you are the one and only one on it at that time to know bla bla bla yat yat it never ends 3.15
  • 4 0
 what?
  • 1 1
 Martinezorlando - that was more or less my point - nobody really knows, it doesn't matter... good phrase with progress is for the man that wants to progress
  • 1 0
 Preface: Sometimes I clip in and sometimes I rider on flats.

Best lesson on clips vs flats... ask a rider who's been clipped in for years to to J-hop a bike on flat pedals.
  • 2 0
 Dingo-dave - don't be so kind with J-hop, ask them to go dirt jumping next day they changed to flats... no footer crotch lander a lot? It's a pattern of movement that gets forgotten among average clipped in riders. In trail or DH riding lack of that skill makes It just a matter of how fast can yoi hit a jump until clips and suspension stop forgiving ones mistake, and then they eat sht big time
  • 1 0
 I don't want to hurt anybody... I remember all too clearly switching to flats at the age of 19 after riding clipped for 6 years and thinking I was pretty handy with a bike. That was a real eye-opener.
  • 36 2
 Rode with flats for years and thought clips were stupid. Then tried clips and now I'll never go back. Don't knock it until you've tried it, yah.
  • 8 0
 Same here... but I would consider using flats if I start doing dirtjumps or something.
  • 10 12
 Say what you will but there is absolutely no way clips are more "fun" to ride in than flats.

I rode clips since the early 90s and ride flats these days in all types of terain.

Just more fun.
  • 22 1
 I would say clips are more fun. Theres no more worrying about trying to shuffle my foot back into the "sweet spot" or hanging on for dear life through a tech section because my foot bounced and now im riding on my heel. Clips allow you to just focus on the trail ahead and make throwing your bike around much easier. And getting the bike loose in the corners clipped in is pretty amazing. It forces you to trust your bike and develops a lot of skill.
  • 5 4
 You are good with clips, because you have developed a good technique on flats before. Lots of rider that never run flats, sucks at jumping, pumping, or going fast on gnarly stuff, they Just dont get it. Granted, that is not true for all riders, but a lot of them.
  • 5 0
 @Swellhunter clipless has progressed lots since the 90's
  • 9 0
 Swellhunter, no way it's more fun to ride flats? Get your hand off it. If you have more fun go for it, but don't be so ignorant as to assume what other people find fun. I personally find gripping my bars with my fingers wrapped around them more fun that trying to control them with my hands open, and I feel the same way about having my feet holding onto my pedals. But you can do what you like and call it fun.
  • 1 0
 It can be. As said in the video, it's easier to mess around with clips as you can always dab a foot. Personally I always drift feet up but I wouldn't be as comfortable doing that on clips, knowing that I couldn't put a foot out when I do mess up occasionally.
  • 1 0
 most relevant post here.
  • 1 0
 Good one kramster.
  • 1 1
 kramster - yes - a mere ignorant mortal like me actually likes flats better because they are more fun and I do assume that many people find them more fun too. If they didn't think so then why the hell is there sizable segment in the industry in flat pedals?????

i grew up on BMX bikes and then motocross bikes so it appears as if my definition of fun may be different than yours.
  • 1 0
 Ride both, both are fine.
  • 31 1
 If you cant put a foot out with clips you shouldnt be riding..
  • 30 1
 I prefer old fashioned toe clips- you can wear your normal shoes and they look AWESOME! Ha ha.
  • 30 0
 Pick a pedal type. Be a dick about it.
  • 1 0
 26", Enduro, Clipless!!!!!
  • 14 0
 Started mtbing in clips and developed really bad habits. Riding flats reinforces proper technique and form. It also emphasizes a focus to remain connected to the bike. If you're already a good rider, then you can be clipped in... but if you're still learning, starting with flats is better (in my experience).
  • 2 0
 this^^
  • 2 0
 i took this into consideration but i just couldn't get off clipless pedals. i was using clips for such a long time when i was doing XC and road. i tried DH when i got here and tried flats, i just couldn't learn how. it felt weird. it felt my bike wasn't part of me. so i went back to clipless. but given the chance, if i've gained enough confidence i'll try flats one more time.
  • 4 0
 you need to learn to bunny hop on flats with correct form. best to learn using a bmx bike or otherwise rigid frame. this will provide the foundation for sound flat pedal riding. you may not think that bunny hopping is that importing for trail riding but the fundamentals of the bunny hop are embedded in almost every maneuver on a bicycle
  • 3 0
 Tdryan is right. It's amazing how bunny-hopping-type techniques allow you to do jumps and drops better. I did the clipless-to-flat conversion a couple of years ago as soon as I startd doing DH (after a nasty OTB dead-sailor crash... bad form, clipped in). The first few weeks I would tug up on "flats" but then finally got used to being connected to the bike. From that point, I was riding far better.

I still ride clipless on XC/AM rides, and I am sure I can ride clipless doing DH now but prefer not to.
  • 21 4
 Flats on every bike man. Sam Hill is the man!
  • 9 0
 Switched to clips less than a year ago after a lifetime on flats. Wouldn't go back. Seen as I mainly ride trials and not massive parks or downhill (anymore) the benefits are unparalleled. That said when I do go on a uplift day flats all the way!
  • 6 0
 This debate is getting so old, just like the 26 vs 29er debate. Good f'n grief. Where is this constant push coming from? Ride with what bike and what shoes/pedals you are comfortable with. Those of us that ride 26 and flats don't need to be constantly told that what we ride is outdated.
  • 4 4
 Saying its just like the 26er vs 29er debate is nonsense. I tend to look at race results when I think of clips vs flats and the top riders in nearly every discipline ride clipped in... Jerome does.. Smith does...Graves does.. all XC riders do..
  • 15 2
 Race results shows that a cannondale is better/faster for enduro, and a devinci is better/faster for DH, they Also shows that you can't Win DH without a moustache, and can't Win enduro if you don't speak french. And you'll never Win anything if your stem is over70mm, or your bars shorter than 780mm. Did you eat pasta for dinner? Forget it. You have a birthmark under your left big toe? Dream on...
  • 1 1
 Race results? Give me a break.
  • 7 0
 who cares what shoes/pedals you use.

I use clips cause I can't bunny hop with flats Big Grin


However, Neil should learn how to fit a helmet first before talking about pedals
  • 8 0
 I'm not sure pedals are useful at all on a bike. Been going on pedaless lately. It definitely stepped my game up.
  • 5 0
 Flats or clips? Boiled or poached? All depends how I'm feeling, right now I'm in the mood for a Thai hooker and a bucket of coke, tomorrow I may prefer a midget and a bottle of Jack. Does it really matter? As long as you're having fun who give a shit.
  • 5 1
 Even running clips, I reckon I can stick a foot out as well as most running flats... It's not that hard to unclip if you need to! Prefer clips for pretty much everything but I do like sticking flats on the bike for an afternoon of messing about Smile

Nothing in the debate - ride which you prefer and don't be a wanker about other people's preferences!
  • 4 0
 I wish I could rock clips but for entry level riders like myself, I think flats are better to initially get used to handling yourself and the bike through technical terrain. Most of my crashes have occurred while riding clips and it's not the pedal I blame, but my own skills not being up to scratch. Losing momentum while in a rocky section and then doing the slow sideways drop is terribly demoralising and embarrassing and I find it's easily prevented by quickly being able to put a foot out with flats. Sure you can put a foot out with clips too but if you're not used to clips, chances are you'll be lucky to get the foot out in time...at least this has been the case for me.
For now, as a "beginner" I am happy to stick with my straitline flats and five ten's but hopefully one day I can dust off the clips and safely make it through the rock gardens in one piece.
In the end I think it comes down to riding what works for you Smile
  • 8 0
 Clip and commit
  • 3 0
 One of the best things about flats is being able to get your foot back ON the pedal cleanly if you need to dab in a techy section. Sure, the clips go in cleanly most of the time but certainly not all. This is usually the worst time to be trying to work your foot back in, especially if it's steep and gnarly.
  • 3 0
 One of the best things about clips is being able to get your foot back IN the pedal cleanly in exactly the right position if you need to dab in a techy section. Sure, the flat go back on the pedal in the right spot most of the time but certainly not all. This is usually the worst time to be trying to work your foot back to your preferred position, especially if it's steep and gnarly.

How many times do you have to reposition your foot by unweighting your flat pedal coz it's planted in the wrong place and stuck like glue with your five-tens? About as often as I have to reposition to find the hole, except I don't have to unweight to move it and can get back in on gnarly bits.

Ride what you like, but don't assume you can't get very efficient at getting in and out.
  • 1 0
 My most memorable bail on a bike being clipped in was vaulting over the handle bars then running down a sketchy rocky steep trail. Unclipping and clipping in become second nature, just like riding a bike...
  • 4 1
 I don't care what you anybody says 50 percent of racing DH is the sprints and its a no brainer clips are fast for sprints. Also rocky sections I feel its faster you can lift up the bike with your legs and plant the bike. May be a bit sketchy sometimes but I believe there faster. JUST MY OPINION.
  • 5 1
 No, it's not just your opinion. IT IS A FACT.
  • 2 3
 Do you know what's fact, both of you are close minded...
  • 2 0
 I Ride clips now with shimano dx shoes, after using flats for years. Was going down hill and had a incident the other week i can honestly say if i was not clipped in id have gone straight over the bars and crashed. But been clipped to the pedals pulled me back to the seat and i saved it with a wobble and off i went again.
  • 3 1
 What's next, a debate about crunchy vs smooth peanut butter? Why do people feel insulted or threatened by someone who uses different pedals than them? Like many people here - I ride both for different reasons. I can unclip nearly as quickly as I can dab with flats, and I don't do any tricks where my feet leave my pedals intentionally. One thing is certain, I am not comfortable unless my foot is right where I want it. I guess I need to practice pedaling and riding on flats with my feet in less-than-prime position!
  • 5 0
 Smooth is better. If you say any different, I'll cut you!
  • 2 0
 There are plenty of places I know I'm at a disadvantage for riding flat pedals, and for having a mid-travel full suspension vs. my friends riding clipped in and on 29er HT bikes. There's more XC type riding around metro Atlanta area than there is any sort of DH like there was when I live in the PNW. So of course, I get my butt handed to me on the climbs. Whatever. I have fun all the same.
  • 2 0
 In tried riding clipped in but I have such a mental block about not getting out in time I find myself constantly worrying and riding like a little girlSmile So I just stick to flats for everything including racing and XC as I can concentrate on just the ride and having fun!
  • 1 0
 Learn the clips on xc. Everyone falls over a few times cause they can't clip out fast enough at first, but it feels natural after a while. Also try learning on a clip that also has a platform like the cb mallet dh.
  • 2 0
 Clips are awesome. Can't stand people who think that it's somehow cheating and this 'real men ride flats' attitude. Granted you'll want to learn to unweighted the bike with flats and you're not gonna want to go jumping on clips but for smashing uk trails, especially on a hardtail, they're just better.
  • 3 1
 I gave up on clips because I kept falling off when I was riding slowly up hills! Used to have major confidence issues with steep climbs if it was slippy which made me ride unclipped, so I sacked them off and now I'm happier.
  • 2 0
 I only like clips for when my friends ride them so I can push them over and they cant do anything to stop falling Big Grin
  • 2 0
 Well here one for you guys. I ride flats because I'm old and my knees can't take being clipped in. There were times when it felt like a knife going through my knee when I was clipped in, never had that problem on flats. Maybe I have bad technique, but I'm not trying to be a world class rider neither.
  • 1 0
 Your clips / shoes were probably not adjusted correctly which is why you experienced the pain. I had to get mine fitted professionally after feeling the agony in my knees after every ride. After the fitting I experienced no more pain. But I still prefer flats over clips. My learning and confidence curve soared compared to while I was clipped in. It took some time to learn how to stay on without ripping my shin up, but now I can pretty much stay glued to my flats even on the gnarliest stuff. And I like to be able to dab at will.
  • 2 0
 The bigger issue here is why do people call them clips?

They are called clipless pedals, not clips. Back when clipless pedals first became available pedals with toe clips where the rage, hence the new fan-dangled pedal system had no toe clips attached, it was and has been referred to clipless ever since - or at least until the pajama wearing crowd decided flats were better and don't even use (or know) the correct name for clipless pedals.

I am old and grumpy.
  • 1 0
 Now that there are no such thing as toe clips, the term clipped-in is far more accurate than clipless. Flats are clipless. We could call clip-in pedals bindings, which is really what they are. Don't be grumpy, or I'll make you ride in real toe clips!
  • 4 0
 Flats and a pair of Five Tens, never had any problem on rough terrain. Foot out flat out!
  • 2 0
 I seem to do good with a solid pair of high ankle skate shoes which i love riding in, are the five tens any differant?
  • 2 0
 same flats and five tens, my feet have never slipped with five tens, which is good but if I just get that wrong foot position on the pedal you have to either stop or grimace for a whole run as there is no way your going to be able to shuffle your foot into position once you start. however I would like to give clips a go, but I don't want to buy clips and clip shoes and find I don't like it so, going to have to find a friend I can borrow them off.
  • 2 0
 ..
  • 1 1
 Five ten sole are strong rigid amazing grip try it
  • 2 0
 I have been riding with flat pedals for 14+ years after using cilps for ~ 2 years; I used to just ride with skate shoes until about 3 years ago when I picked up my first pair of Five Tens - hands down they are much better than a traditional skate shoe with flat bottom. They offer better protection as well as a more grippy sole. They have a few different models based off of what you will be using them for - buy a pair, you won't be disappointed. On the other side I tried to switch back to clips for the mountain bike in 2013 and couldn't get comfortable. Besides, I have won a few XC races on flats- like many have mentioned; it is what you are use to riding, most comfortable riding and what you can have the most fun using. Only use clips for commuting and road riding now...
  • 1 0
 Right on, i wasnt sure if they were like the whole enduro specific gimmick but they sound pretty good i might have to give em' a try. Also i agree flats fo life!
  • 1 0
 Five Tens are great, solid sole so your foot can be in contact with the whole pedal, super grippy sole to reduce foot movement but as @dhmatty said you've got to keep your foot in the right position as its hard to foot shuffle and finally a stiff shoe to support your whole ankle. definitely worth a try
  • 2 1
 I'd say the most important factor to decide between clips and flats is the discipline. You don't lean out a leg for safety through tormac road corner, but through muddy and snowy sections of downhill. Clips give 30% more power transfer since a pedal can be pulled up. I don't have problems with shoe moving around on my flats, but with positioning feet just right after start. Clips would help, but it is so much experienced in my head that flats save crashes so I like to stay safe.
  • 2 0
 When one gets really used to clips, the same thing can be accomplished with confidence. Easy to unclip in hairy situations without thought.
  • 1 0
 I think that it's the matter of time for me to get persuaded, but I've been riding for 25 years now and it's always been flats. I would try flats with toe clips and straps once in the past and it ended in terrible crash. I just could not move any feet. Clips enable this by twisting ankle and it seems to me that it still takes too long. In most situations I rescue myself by stepping really hard on the ground, if you can immagine this. Clips offer more control so the active aspect of security is improved. When limits are reached and a crash is inevitable the only thing to do is to step hard on the ground and try to rescue it.
  • 1 0
 I completely understand where you are coming from. I felt the same way as you at one time. One of my favorite Sam Hill quotes was, "I don't have a pair of clips near my house. I ride flats on every bike".

Recently I have switched to clips and was told to get the Mallet DH pedals and 5.10 Maltese Falcons. This is a great combination of the feeling of flats, yet being clipped in. I did fall a few times before I started to change my panic mode ever so slightly. It's really easy to intentionally unclip and put a foot out or bail when you get use to them.

The best part about being clipped in is being able to focus more on the trail when pinning it through the rough stuff. It does help with pedalling as well. I started and progressed on flats, then was able to solve a few issues I had left with clipping in. I can't believe that I'm riding, and standing up for clips. Wow, how things have changed
  • 1 0
 This is probably my future as well, but I don't believe it will take me a series of hard crashes. I observe my friends riding my discipline being less careful and a noticeable group is suffering from broken bones, elbows, ribs. I ride just behind them, but still stay safe. Clips can change the situation, and that is what postpones the change.
  • 1 0
 At races, I run flats for a few runs to learn the track and switch to clips once I'm comfortable. I can be about 2-3" more forward in clips and don't have to destroy a rear wheel all the time.
Have you LISTENED to a Sam Hill run? He's much harder on the ground/wheel than a clipped in rider.
  • 1 0
 Always used to ride a good set of flats with a good set of mtb shoes (started with shimano shoes, moved on to 5.10's). This was on both my Demo and specialized enduro. I then changed to clips on my enduro as I was using it more as a go anywhere bike (XC loops etc) and having the clips was defo an advantage for putting the power down and being precise - made me a (slightly) less sloppy rider. The downside though was that when I would take it DHing, I found that no matter how tight I made them, or messed around with cleat angle, I'd always end up unclipping in corners as I apparently twist my feet while cornering. So I thought 'bollocks to this' and went back to flats.
Also, the whole "with flats your foot doesn't always sit in the right place" thing is silly. A good pair of shoes with a stiffish sole and grippy pedals and I regularly do sections of runs with my feet in a not perfect position, and it doesn't really affect me. I trust my feet to grip, and they do. Win.
  • 2 1
 It's not rocket science. Your learning the track or You're technique is not perfect you ride flats. You know the track, you're fast and You want to be faster You go clips. I would say that 80% of people won't benefit from clips in downhill.
  • 1 0
 I just changed from flats to clips and I'd say its about 50/50. There is no doubt that clips pedal a lot better but im riding down hills so it doesnt matter too much. I would say however that clips are useful in rough and rooty tracks due to being able to hop around more and also have the confidence to keep both feet on the pedals making you ride faster. Only problem is not being able to chuck some nacccsss
  • 1 0
 Like much on this site it's just another opinion backed up by more waffle. I like to move my foot position on trails that I know from one section to the next. This is not a static possition kind of sport and different studies contradict each other often or are useless when applied to mountain biking. Clips are a big commitment but if they work for you then great but I will be sticking to flats. I feel more in controle, more lively and able to tailor my body position to my environment.
  • 1 0
 I've been thinking of trying spd's for a while now as I have been riding flats for about 6 yrs, ive been using 5.10 shoes and dmr vault flat pedals and the grip is very good as It allows me to pull up a bit after the down stroke,, the thing that puts me off most is the thought of crashing whilst still being attatched to my pedal, how much more of a performance gain is there by going to clipped in, is it just a few seconds over a 10 mile ride or would I be knocking like a couple of mins or more off a timed lap
  • 1 0
 getting in and out of clips is made to sound "so hard to do". If anyone has run Time pedals they will know that the ease of in/out and float allowed in them is perfect. They never clog up and I can not believe how well they are made. I have pedal sets that are years old and still spin on the spindle like they were a day old. The debate is endless though as it really is a personal thing, but you can not argue how effiecient clips are to flats. They have come a long way in design so if you have not tried them 'just because ..........give them a shot. You may surprise yourself
  • 1 0
 Flats will go the way of the dodo bird on the world cup downhill circuit eventually, there's less and less guys every year. There just more efficient and you can lay more power down plus its another connection to your bike. Most times your dabbing and sliding your just losing time
  • 1 0
 Clips are scarier but way, way faster from a racing standpoint. You can pedal sooner out of corners, and in the rough. You can shift in the air. Your feet are always where they need to be. Your ability to move the bike drastically increases because your literally stuck to it.
Yes its scary, and yes people will still site sam hill, but the last time sam won anything was champs in 10', yes bulldog won in 2012 on flats, but really? Thats 2 wins in the last 3 WC seasons on flats....
  • 1 0
 Notice a couple of comments here about power in the upstroke. I used to think that "pedaling in circles" maximized power and efficiency and so clipless pedals were the best for power and speed.

However, I think if you Google something like "pedaling in circles" you find physiology experiments that conclude that using the muscles on the back of your leg to pull your pedals actually reduces overall efficiency and power transfer. The muscles at the back of the leg are designed mainly to be stabilizers, not power generators. Focusing on using these muscles while pedaling will not only reduce your tendency to use the muscles on the front of your leg to generate the full power they are designed to produce, but over the long run can cause overuse problems in those stabilizing muscles at the back of your leg.

I've used both kinds of pedals. Currently on flats because I wanted to try more advanced terrain and greater speed and felt safer on flats with their instant bailout capabilities.

I was encouraged to find out that switching to flats and not pedaling in circles might actually put more power to the ground. Waki's right about technical climbing, when you only apply power on the downstroke it takes experience to learn how to find and maintain traction.
  • 1 0
 People, come on get the terminology correct. CLIPLESS! As this system is a pedal without a TOE CLIP it's refered to as CLIPLESS not CLIPS. CLIPS would mean that you run those gay toe clips on your pedals. Get it right as this may confuse newbies to our great sport. Peace.
  • 7 6
 Well... that was pretty useless. Basically he said flats are worse in almost every way. Which his not true! They both have advantages and disadvantages, this didn't really explain the advantages of flats.
  • 6 1
 Well he's a racing competitively, there's a reason while all the top DH and Enduro guys ride with clips you know. There may be advantages to flats, but not in terms of SPEED.
  • 4 7
 Disagree. For dh the advantage has never been proven they have never tested a dh rider. Dh has so many other variables clips or flats really mean nothing. Maybe South Africa is the exception. There may be very very small gains In the pedal sections but these are so minor going off line would negate this gain, also the small gain won't matter if a fitter riders comes down the hill. If Sam Hill ran clips he still wouldn't pedal as well as minnaar or Hannah on flats.
  • 6 0
 From this article www.pinkbike.com/news/The-World-Cup-Downhill-Signals-the-End-of-Flat-Pedals.html

"Without beating up the concept, it is worth mentioning that people pedal faster clipped in. Theorists hold that flats are the equal to clips in a sprint, but that is improbable at the high RPM and watt output that a professional sprinter produces. Visualize the science of what it would take to duplicate a ProTour finish-line sprint over rough, unpaved ground on flat pedals, and the advantages of having your feet attached to the cranks begin to make sense. That cycling began on flat pedals and then evolved to clip-ins over a 150-year time interval, further underscores the logic of conventional cycling wisdom. When everything is on the line, clipped in is the fastest way to pedal a bicycle."
  • 1 2
 For more pedal driven events with less external variants its definately worth it for dh its questionable. Purely because its not a pedal driven event and it has so many varribles that can happen off the pedals that is where time is really made or lost.
Pro tour and the like its impossible to argue clips are much faster.

I think what we forget though at times like these is that we are comparing athletes here and athletes have varrience. For instance would the benefit if going to clips for dh actually increase a lesser rider to even move up one more place? Probably not likely for dh. The athlete fitness and training will primarily determine thier performance.
Equally this is why dh needs to be tested because majorit if the track is not pedalling and we need to test the speed a rider has in the rest of the track and see if clips vs flats do make a difference. We can't use evidence found in road and directly say well its faster for dh too the varribles change and the dicipline is almost at opposite sides. May there be a benefit sure I just don't think its as big as the debate itself has gotten.

The debate is bigger than the actual practicality.
  • 2 0
 I know some mtb coach that will recomend training (on bike and on the trainer) on flats and racing on clips, they Just cant be useless.
  • 3 0
 He was probably recommending it for skills training, that doesn't mean its faster. The article is right, the biggest advantage to clips in racing is that you can generate more speed in every pedaling situation. It was surprising that Neil Donahugh doesn't even seem to realize it from watching the video. He only talks about how they keep your feet from moving around while pedaling, he doesn't even acknowledge that you can put power into the upstroke while pedaling, which is the main advantage of clips.
  • 1 0
 I never mention it was faster, btw, Just pointing out.
  • 5 0
 Clip and commit!
  • 2 0
 Variety is the spice of life! Both are fun!
Cliped in provides more power -- but if it's super greasy (muddy, icy, snowy) flats will be a laugh and a half.
  • 1 0
 I ride both, flats for Dh, am, dj, pump track, clips for xc (I ride xc up to 5 days a week)
... bl00dy h3ll he looked so much faster on flats. Foot out flat out not on the brakes and cautious.
  • 1 1
 I ride flats, DH, XC, All Mountain, the lot, and I have never had my foot "bounce" or shift, if that's happening, go spend £90+ on some flats and a decent pair of shoes, if your foot is moving about on flats, you need to get some bigger studs on em... I don't see the whole big debate over clips and flats, and the argument that you can 'pull and push' is a load of rubbish, because you cant, even trained athletes only ever achieve something like 70% efficiency whilst riding clips, as appose to 60% riding flats, and that 10% doesn't outbalance the argument. If I want to shift my feet because I'm off balance I can, and there is no 'sweet spot' when riding DH or AM, I find I am moving my feet about to balance and corner faster more now than I have ever been, but not once have I experienced my feet moving involuntarily, even when hitting big rock gardens or some crazy urban step lines.
  • 2 0
 Sewerrat, you forgot to mention they are for all the top enduro racer and most of the top DH racers too. Yeah, I know, reality sucks.
  • 1 0
 Clips for long rides with groups and tech uphill. I always feel at a disadvantage on a longer group ride when everyone has clips but me. But overall I prefer flats. I like to move my feet around and wear normal shoes.
  • 1 0
 i ve been riding clips since 92, more or less since they come in, even when downhilling was it its infincy, i always prefered them, always like been locked in and commited, even now i still love em! my preference always.
  • 3 0
 I ride DJ, I think I'll stick to flats. cant do a tailwhip clipped in (I cant with flats either so :/...)
  • 1 0
 i pretty much only ride flats mainly because when i ride, im not very competitive. I just go ride around with buddies and try to get a little too rowdy. What ever works for you, SHRED IT!
  • 1 0
 Everyone talking about beening scared of switching to clips because they don't want to scorpion and stuff but in my time riding clips I have always come unclipped in the event of a crash
  • 2 0
 Ground breaking revelations there! Clips help you pedal more efficiently but flats are more fun. Thank god Neil cleared that up for us!
  • 1 0
 5050. Flat pedals works for me I do well on it in uphill downhill jumps and rocky or rooty sections, but I might try in the future mallets by crank bros, im intrigue with the review this guy has shown.
  • 1 1
 For me, it really depends on the course. I have both set-ups and I carry them with me to the trail, allen wrench on and off, quick change of shoes and I'm money.
  • 2 0
 cliped inn for more speed and control
  • 1 0
 "Flats for a playful ride". Good news, since that's pretty much what all I need.
  • 1 0
 flats all the way for me and a pair of sam hill five ten's keep me locked in.
  • 1 0
 I ride right foot clipped, left foot flat. Far better than left foot clipped, right foot flat.
  • 1 0
 ...if you are riding left hand off camber trails
  • 1 0
 I ride flats, but I'm just glad they're not referring to them as 'clipless.'
  • 1 0
 If you dont like clips, your not use to them or out of shape. I would give flats the nod if its muddy or super slick though
  • 2 0
 Im running toe straps for 2014.
  • 2 0
 Pick a pedal type, and be a dick about it!
  • 1 0
 You ride a 29er, right? Wink
  • 1 0
 No sir! I have never ridden one and have no intention of ever riding one. I only have 26" bikes. My next bike will be a 650B. I am a dick about the pedals though! (platforms are the best obviously)
  • 1 0
 Aster, so it's true." Until you get to the point where you need to squeeze out seconds....it doesn't matter.
  • 1 0
 When riding clips yes it does help with pedaling but I find it is also better in the technical stuff than flats
  • 1 0
 So, good old fashion toe clips with those nice shiny cages and leather straps are the way to go?
  • 1 0
 What shoe/pedal combo is he rockin for clips?
  • 1 0
 He's using Fiveten clip shoes and Crank Brother mallet pedals.
  • 1 0
 That drift at the end though.
  • 1 0
 look at the damned camera when your talking to it !
  • 2 0
 Time ATAC for years now.
  • 1 0
 Flats... So I can do crankflips:-)
  • 1 0
 Ride with what you're comfy with. Saying "proof ia the pros are f
  • 1 0
 Wakidesigns and protour go ride your f 'n Bike and pipe down
  • 1 0
 What santa was he on?
  • 2 0
 Bronson.
  • 1 0
 Mjam, mjam…
  • 1 0
 Contrary to popular beliefs, Santa doesn't ride a bike he rides a sleigh... ;-)
  • 5 5
 Flats only! Cliped in sucks balls.
  • 1 0
 POWER STRAPS !!
  • 4 6
 only clips
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