Should a new mountain biker learn to ride on flat or clipless pedals?

Should a new mountain biker learn to ride on flat or clipless pedals?

  • Clipless

    Votes: 5 10.9%
  • Flats

    Votes: 25 54.3%
  • Doesn't matter

    Votes: 16 34.8%

  • Total voters
    46
#21
I think it's fair to add that if you choose to go flat that you should get the appropriate shoes to go along with them. I went flat and bought a pair of Five Ten shoes to go with, these shoes grip amazing well considering what their tread looks like. In the winter I use my Wolvhammers and am very disappointed at the grip they have considering the lugs the tread has. So like clipless, you need good shoes so don't skimp there or you will not realize the benefits of either setup.
 

MissJR

not in the mood for your shenanigans
Team MTBNJ Halter's
#22
I think it's fair to add that if you choose to go flat that you should get the appropriate shoes to go along with them. I went flat and bought a pair of Five Ten shoes to go with, these shoes grip amazing well considering what their tread looks like. In the winter I use my Wolvhammers and am very disappointed at the grip they have considering the lugs the tread has. So like clipless, you need good shoes so don't skimp there or you will not realize the benefits of either setup.
Yes! Excellent point. I had crappy shoes/pedals when I first was learning. When I switched back again after clipless, I went with 5 tens and race face pedals and it made a world of difference.
 
#23
You should probably start with whatever is most comfortable to you to get the hang of mountain biking, but definitely give both clipless and flats a solid try. Learning on flat pedals will definitely teach you much better overall technique since you're not attached to the bike. It's like learning how to ollie on a skateboard. It probably looks impossible until you learn how to do it, then you realize that you get to use this new skill you learned over and over every time you go out.

Like a lot of other people I started mountain biking on clipless because the guys I was riding with were hardcore-XC-pedal-until-you-can't-breathe guys. Not really my style. Once I started riding lift access I switched between flats for downhill and clipped-in for XC. That lasted about one season, but since then I've ridden flats exclusively for the last 10 years or so, even on my drop-bar bike. They're just more fun. Plus, out-climbing guys that are clipped-in while you're on flats feels pretty darn good.
 
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one piece crank

Well-Known Member
#24
Clipless is a mechanical interface attaching you to the bike, clip-n-spin.

Flats are all about feel. Did you ever walk a rocky section, a skinny or a log before riding it? Well, that’s also about feel - you feeling the line with your feet, sensing the surface for traction and stability. Flats are exactly the same way but you’re now rolling. There is no right or wrong, just infinite foot positions that your feet settle in to...
 
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extremedave

Well-Known Member
#25
I feel more confident riding technical stuff on flats. If you're doing banzai laps at Lewis Morris clips are great. Either way you're getting shoes and pedals because as mentioned the right shoes make a big difference on flats. I've got a retired pair of 5.10 impacts (size 9.5)if they fit and you wanna try them.
 
#26
I feel more confident riding technical stuff on flats. If you're doing banzai laps at Lewis Morris clips are great. Either way you're getting shoes and pedals because as mentioned the right shoes make a big difference on flats. I've got a retired pair of 5.10 impacts (size 9.5)if they fit and you wanna try them.
Thanks for the offer, I really appreciate that! Unfortunately I'm a size 12.
 
#27
Clipless is a mechanical interface attaching you to the bike, clip-n-spin.

Flats are all about feel. Did you ever walk a rocky section, a skinny or a log before riding it? Well, that’s also about feel - you feeling the line with your feet, sensing the surface for traction and stability. Flats are exactly the same way but you’re now rolling. There is no right or wrong, just infinite foot positions that your feet settle in to...
I really like this, for this alone I will give flats a try. Everyone here gave great advise, but you put it into a perspective that was really intriguing. "Feeling" the ground beneath me was never something I consciously did, but I will now. Thanks!
 

ilnadi

Well-Known Member
#28
I started with toeclips because clipless wasnt a thing yet, thank God they did become a thing because eating 130mm stems sucked.
😁 yeah. In hindsight toeclips were suicidal on technical trails. I too went clipless as soon as I could and rode them for 25 years. Switched to flats coaching NICA, beginners stop a lot. Now I still use clipless doing miles on gravel but love flats in the woods. As mentioned by many, good flat pedals & shoes makes a big difference.
 

jdog

Shop: Halter's Cycles
Shop Keep
#29
A well rounded rider will have experience with both. I rode BMX as a kid and when I began mtbing, toe-clips were the rage and then soon the Shimano m-747 changed everything. Learn both and see where you land.
 

bucknejo

Active Member
#30
like many others, as a beginner with flats I destroyed my shins - then I switched to some shimano spd's but unwound the engagement screw all the way so i could pop out easily if i needed to bail. i ended up popping out unexpectedly while going through some gnarly rock gardens here and there, but as the confidence grew i turned the engagement screw in a few turns which has now helped a lot with keeping the shoe in the pedal.

outside of that, what i found as one of the main benefits of clipping in was the ability to generate some torque on upside of the crank turn, basically pulling the crank up, when locked into some technical crawls or uphill climbs where you're basically going 0 mph.