In this episode of the Mountain Bikes Apart podcast, we discuss arguably one of the most important contact points on your bike, which are the pedals.
With a few different types of pedal on the market, we talk about the pros and cons of each and what type of rider each one is suited to. We’ll also recommend some of the best products out there, so that you can make the best choice for your riding style and ability level.
Flats vs clipless
Colin and I start off by discussing the benefits and drawbacks of the different types of pedals on the market, namely flat pedal and clipless pedals.
What seems clear is that beginner mountain bikers should start out with flat pedals rather than launching straight into using clipless.
The first reason is that flat pedals help you learn the right way to lift the bike over obstacles, bunny hop etc, without just relying on pulling the bike up with your feet attached.
Secondly, it can be quite daunting riding off-road being attached to the bike, and so you want to get comfortable with the trails themselves before introducing clipless pedals into the equation!
We also briefly talk about cage pedals or rat-traps, which aren’t seen much nowadays, but could be a good stepping stone between flats and clipless, to get you used to the feeling of being attached to the bike.
Getting comfortable clipped in
We then move on to talk more about clipless pedals, their benefits and how to get started with them. It’s obvious that for XC racers, that clipless is really the only choice, and that the performance advantages in terms of power transfer are huge.
To get started with clipless pedals, it’s important to make sure that you can get out of them easily and that they aren’t causing you any injuries, which can be fairly common if setup incorrectly.
A good way to go is to choose something like the Crank Brothers Candy or Mallet pedals, which offer lateral float and also a platform to help you engage the pedal easier when locating the cleat. This float allows your foot to mind it’s own optimal position, which helps negate knee pain that can come from being completely locked in.
Choosing your shoes
Footwear choice goes hand in hand with the pedals you use, and Colin and I discuss some of our favourites. As exclusively a clipless pedal user, I use Sidi’s range of shoes as I find them extremely comfortable, tough and very stiff for maximum power transfer.
Colin lets us know about how impressed he’s been with his Five Ten shoes, which are the Greg Minnaar signature edition. These shoes, with their super tacky sole stick to the pins on flat pedals excellently, making for a fantastic combo.
It seems that more often than not, those trail riders that have tried flat pedals and not had a good experience, simply haven’t tried a good set of pedals. With the right pairing of shoes, flats will be grippy enough for almost every kind of all-mountain rider.
Clipless makes sense when raw speed and performance are paramount, or when you’ve developed the necessary skills to handle a bike on flat pedals.
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Stay tuned for the next episode coming very soon.