On the trip that I just came back from, I used flat pedals instead of the clip pedals that are typically on the bike that I was riding. Even though I didn’t have any problems throughout the ride, it was definitely an eye-opener for me, particularly considering that I haven’t had a flat tyre on any bike for the last several months.
Difference Between The Types Of Pedal
The effectiveness of each kind of pedal is the first and most noticeable distinction between the two types. Clip-based pedals are much more effective than flat pedals for both uphill and downhill pedalling. This is due to the fact that with clips, you acquire power from both the downstroke (push) and the upstroke (pull), but with flat pedals, you only obtain the advantage of the downstroke.
In addition, when you ride with clips, your feet are always in contact with the bike; on the other hand, when I was riding with flats, I found that my feet kept slipping off the pedals on the ascents and on parts of the descent, regardless of how much concentration I put into maintaining control of the situation. I’m quite confident that the troubles I was having were a result of the pedals I was using at the time and the fact that I wasn’t acclimated to them, but they weren’t really enjoyable to use.
Having said that, there are certain benefits associated with living in flats. They provide you the ability to move your foot around on the pedal without requiring you to unclip your shoe. This may be more important to certain individuals than the efficiency gained with clip-in pedals. In addition, you may choose shoes that are more comfortable for walking if the pedals are flat. In spite of what purists would say, there are portions of terrain out there that just cannot be ridden, and it is not an easy task to handle those steep and rocky slopes while wearing shoes that appear like they were made for tap dancing.
When riding clipless pedals, many cyclists worry that their bodies won’t be able to release from their bikes in the event of a fall while they are clipped in. In the past, when certain pedals (ahem, Shimano pedals) would cement your feet in place, that was a legitimate concern. However, now that there are mud-shedding pedals available, such as the Time ATAC, the Crank Brothers series, and the higher end Shimano pedals, getting stuck to your bike in a crash just doesn’t happen very often.
Having said that, selecting the sort of pedal to choose for your bike ultimately comes down to a matter of personal choice. Although I would suggest that everyone who rides a bike designed for cross country should invest in a solid pair of clip-based pedals, there are several exceptions to this rule. I can see why many individuals who are into freeride, street, and downhill choose to riding flats since they are more comfortable with them.
If You’re Thinking About Switching Over To One Type Of Pedal Or Another
If you’re thinking about switching over to one type of pedal or another, see if you can convince a friend to lend you a set of their pedals; if you like what you test, consider making the plunge and getting on with it. Just keep in mind that it’s not a contest — riding with clips doesn’t make someone a better rider than someone who doesn’t use them. For most of us, it’s all about finding the gear that gives you the most enjoyment when you’re on your bike.