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Flat vs Clipless Is One Really Better Than The Other

Flat vs Clipless
Is Clipless really better than Flats.

It’s a question almost every mountain biker is going to ask at least once. Should I ride with Flat or Clipless Pedals? Flat vs Clipless is one of the bigger questions asked in the bike industry any one is not better than the other (though some may want to argue that). In the end you should ride on what’s most comfortable for you.

As a kid growing up I was immersed in the Mountain Bike Industry. I remember being dragged to my dad’s long circuit cross country races in northern Georgia (where I grew up) in the early 90’s. I remember sitting by the car in the pit’s with my older sister as my dad did lap after lap on this 5 mile loop. I guess you could say my dad was bias with him coming from a cross country background. Needless to say, my first real mountain bike, an original Full Suspension Trek Fuel (2003 or 2004?) came complete with clipless pedals.

I rode that bike for a long time. I even dragged it out to Colorado for a few months and left it in Crested Butte where I sold it for enough gas money to drive home (2013). Growing up Clipless was all I knew, I’d never heard of Flats or Five Ten’s- I’d never even thought of it as an option. Into my late teens I was riding more and more but still not feeling comfortable on my bike (2010). Then on one lovely summer day in the glorious trail network called Kingdom Trails I was scarred for life. Scarred enough to not ride for two years after. It hadn’t rained in a while and I was coming very fast around a turn when my bike washed out and I went flying, except I was still attached to the bike and a giant tree stump was quickly approaching my head area. Luckily I didn’t smack my noggin off the stump, I just cracked a rib and strained my shoulder pretty bad.  I was also told I made an interesting water buffalo-like bellow.

That crash along with my neglect to know flat pedals existed made me turn off biking for a while. If cracked ribs and strained shoulders were the end result in a crash then I’d have none of it. Granted I’d never really ridden with anyone besides my father so my ability to learn more about the Mountain Bike Industry was restricted to his area of expertise.

Two years pass, I enjoy hiking, swimming and all the things that go along with being a college kid in Northern Vermont (2011-2013). I graduate college and meet more people in the bike industry. That’s when I learn about flat pedals and the amazing brand of Five Ten Shoes. By now (In the last two years) I’ve sold my old Fuel and have just bought a Santa Cruz Bronson. Now I’m putting 5 days a week in on the bike and riding as much as possible. I’m also rocking Flat Pedals and Five Ten Freeriders.

I absolutely love the ability to push my bike away when stuff goes wrong. I LOVE It. Nothing really compares to it. I guess I have slow reaction time, because when I crashed clipless it was a hot mess. There are pro’s to being clipless though and as I become more comfortable as a rider and as the scratches and scares on my calves from the studs on my pedals grow deeper I wonder should I venture back into the clipless realm. For one thing, if I went clipless again I’d be able to bunny hop a little more easily. I don’t think it would make me a more efficient climber, having good pedaling form does that all on its own. But would it make me more confident or that nervous little girl again?

True Wheels Bike Shop in Basin Sports has a wide selection of both Flat and Clipless Pedals. For further questions on the matter or for my best water buffalo bellow interpretation, give us a shout. You might have to buy me a beer first to hear what I sound like when I crash.



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