In my last installment, I went over some of the technical aspects of flat pedals and shoe combinations and what to look for (and what to look out for) when riding said pedals and shoes. I also talked about some of the advantages that flat pedals offer the rider. In this installment, we’ll talk “clip-in” pedals (otherwise called “clipless” pedals).
As I said last time, if you want to get the most out of your riding – become the most competent rider possible AND have the most fun – I highly suggest you learn to ride both types of pedals. Both have advantages and disadvantages and each one will teach you to really develop certain aspects of your riding that may not occur if you simply stick with one type of system. Neither is better or worse – especially when it comes to technically challenging (i.e.: FUN!!) riding.
It is often considered that the best way to ride a road bike – the most efficient way to pedal – is to “spin” very fast circles with the pedals, in a quite easy gear, and in theory, apply force throughout the entire pedal stroke (this was popularized by Lance Armstrong, among others), rather then “mash” the pedals, only applying force on the down-stroke (think standing up, pedaling, in a very hard gear). Its very possible to pedal like this (spin) on smooth surfaces, and I’m not going to argue that this isn’t the best way to pedal a road bike or race a technically-easy cross-country race (although, there have been some very successful “mashers” on both the road and the dirt). Andy won’t argue but the study linked to in this post does say that “spinning” is not as efficient as “mashing”: http://betterride.net/?p=437
Because we will be pedaling at a slow cadence, we will be applying our power almost exclusively on the downstroke – even with clipless pedals – therefore, possibly (depending on who you talk to) negating any power advantage that clips may have over flats.
I personally feel that on extremely difficult, steep climbs, clipess pedals not only do not help the rider (because of the necessary slower pedal cadence) but also hinder the rider.
Advantages of clip-in pedals? First, the shoes are extremely stiff – stiffer then the shoes one would use for flats. This transfers more power to the pedal. Next, right under your foot and your super stiff shoe is a metal cleat which is engaged in a metal pedal. There isn’t really any “give” in this system and the shoe doesn’t “smush” down under your foot. I can usually feel this when I ride flat pedals and this is one of the only places where I can buy the argument that flats aren’t as efficient as clips. Also, you can get your Lance Armstrong-spin going on flat, smooth sections of trail – but you can also do this pretty effectively with flats (?).
And one more advantage of clip-in pedals: just as flats force you to maintain excellent position on the bike in order to keep your feet on the pedals (and, thus, you’re better able to control the bike), clips allow you get a little sloppy, and still, your feet are right where you left them, perfectly positioned on the pedals! This can lead to some bad habits if you start to rely on it, but it is nice at times!
First two emails from a students with some great photos and then some updates from all over the world! Gene, Here’s a couple of pictures that I mentioned I would send from Joe and my trip to Moab two weeks after our Palo Alto camp. The first one, hopefully, is demonstrating the uphill body position, […]
Without stirring up the clipped-in versus not clipped-in pedal debate a whole bunch, I’m going to shed some light on proper set-up and favorable shoe/pedal/cleat combinations for each, along with a few tips and tricks to get the most out of each set-up.
Well … what the heck, here’s my two cents on the “clipped” vs “no clips” great debate:
Guess what? Neither one is better! Each set-up has its advantages and disadvantages. Really, if you want to become the most well rounded and competent rider possible, get comfortable on both types of pedals.
Too often I see my students (and other beginner riders) riding with sub-par, junk for pedals. Pedal pressure is the most important element of controlling your bike. If you don’t have an excellent relationship between your bike and your feet, you’re at a major disadvantage when it comes to trying to ride the thing. You absolutely do not want to use cheap plastic pedals such as the kind that come with toe-straps with the straps simply removed. They have no traction and small platforms and are really quite dangerous. You also want to steer clear of cheap metal-cage pedals. Flat pedal technology has come a long way in recent years. A few years ago there were only a handful of quality flat pedal choices out there. Now, the choices in great flat pedals are darn near infinite!
Anyway, check back soon for the “clipped-in” version of this article. Put some serious thought into learning to ride flat pedals if you haven’t already done so … even if you are a “Clipped-in for life” rider.
Please see this post for Gene’s take on both pedals: http://betterride.net/?p=328
and this post with a study that shows that the upstroke that clipless pedals allow you to do is not efficient :
It really feels great when students thank me for creating the BetterRide skills progression and training great coaches to teach our curriculum. When expanding to more coaches leading camps I was really concerned about keeping the high standard that has made our camps so sought after. This has meant slower growth than many students would of liked (we can’t always meet the demand for camps in their area) but it has paid off with our certified coaches getting enough training (in our camps and then our certification school and experience (assisting me and Andy) to become confident, inspirational coaches. Here are a few of many recent emails:
I wanted to personally tell you what a great job Andy did with me and the rest of the group. We all came in as experienced riders that knew we still had much to learn and your teaching methods along with Andy’s top notch demonstration and presentation skills open us up to what we really can achieve.
The real key for me was how very inspirational Andy is! For someone with that much humble talent to be able to teach at such a high level with passion really brought the camp’s and my goals together for me and my fellow riders! I will be practicing (hopefully) with some of that same exuberance to continue to improve my skills. It was the best money I have ever spent on biking!
Hope to see you gents soon and good luck in spreading the BetterRide Word! You and Andy really make a great Team!
Ken Gauthier, May 16, 2011
Yesterday I posted Andy’s article on crashing and now here is an article I send to students helping them use the injury, crash or setback to come back stronger.
I have gotten a lot of emails about this tough mental process. I think this is an area where many people struggle, certainly for me I have had crashes that effected my performance for months.
“I have failed a lot more times than I have succeeded” that piece of wisdom comes from Micheal Jordan. I will certainly agree with that, in my thirteen years as a pro racer I have won only two races. At the NORBA Nationals in the 1990′s only the top 70 pros qualified for the final, I finished 71 in the qualifiers four times and 72nd twice, ouch! In 2003 I had a frame snap in half while doing about 40 miles an hour at Angel Fire, that really hurt, four broken ribs and the wind knocked out of me. Events like these can quell your desire to ride or fire you up to learn from the event and try harder. How you deal with adversity is up to you and since you have sought out instruction I will give you some ways to overcome frustrating experiences and use them to become stronger.
How do you get your confidence back quickly, in the middle of a ride or race? A state change, forcing a smile, puffing your chest out and standing tall are simple ways that help regain confidence quickly. As is a little positive self talk, “that wasn’t like me, I am a really skilled rider, I have been riding really well, I am going to get back on my bike and ride like I own the trail!” These two methods combined can be very powerful.
Yes, no matter which of the above methods you use it will take work but all things worth having (like peace of mind) require work. Knowledge is worthless without action!