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Flats vs Clipless

  • 22-01-2023 7:13pm
    Registered Users Posts: 17,829 ✭✭✭✭

    Ive always wondered about this as someone who used flats for years before making the switch:

    GCN just did another video that finds effectively zero difference between flats and clipless again to go with all the other articles showing the same and I just cant get my head around it, personally I wouldn't go near the Wicklow mountains or tackle any long distance on flats, I just wouldn't be physically able for it. Like I genuinely would not be able to make it up the steep bits of the Sally Gap or even out of Enniskerry without putting my foot down a load of times, not to mention the fact that I wouldn't be able to get there in the first place range-wise without clipless seeing as its 35-40 km from where I stay in Bray because Id run out of puff 100% faster without clipping in.

    Im not even a serious cyclist, I run a pair of these on my roadbike, flat side for going to the shops, SPD side for anything over 5km:

    It cant be all psychological can it? If it is its the most powerful placebo effect or whatever you'd call it Ive ever experienced anyway, literally feels like the difference between swimming laps in Speedos or in a wedding dress. The feeling of applying power on the upstroke as well as the downstroke to pull yourself up hills is fake?


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,266 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    Another GCN does science where they haven't looked at the variables. The flats don't measure all the power but pins on MTB shoes hold your feet damned well. On a flat TT, I'd say they are right, F all difference and plenty of studies to verify this but there is far more to this comparison than they talk about.

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,596 ✭✭✭✭Squidgy Black

    A big part of it that they neglected in the GCN video is positioning, especially with your knees. The only real movement you have in clipless pedals is within the range of float for your cleats, with flats it’s all a guessing game and not as stable.

    If you stuck the same rider one a turbo and had a bike fitter looking at him and tracking it, you’d probably see a fair difference.

    At the end of the day it’s all horses for courses all the same, some people prefer flats and like being able to move around a bit more.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,208 ✭✭✭Macy0161

    If it makes no difference, I wonder why single leg drills and quadrant drills are "a thing"? As said, not all flats created equal either - pinned flats with mtb shoes quite different from flat rubber pedals you get with a bike.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,088 ✭✭✭RikkFlair

    After 5 years of flats I went clipless a couple of months ago, everyone I asked for advice told me I would probably fall off during my first ride, I didnt....I fell off during second ride 😂 Definitely takes some getting used to, have had a few wobbly moments stopping at junctions etc, but then I found the toe straps very odd when I started out and got used to them too.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,574 ✭✭✭✭loyatemu

    literally every professional cyclist uses clipless, maybe they just haven't watched enough GCN videos...

    I've heard it said before that pulling up on the pedals doesn't make any difference to power, so maybe that's psychological, but at the very least being clipped in means you have a consistent pedal/foot position, you can't slip off and it's easier to produce a consistent pedal motion on every rotation.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,639 ✭✭✭2011abc

    The world has literally gone mad now ...(I could kinda vaguely cope with 32mm tyres at 50psi being faster than 17mm at 170psi but this is a step too far )

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭saccades

    Unless you are actively pulling up with your leg I think you'll get away with it on a typical road spin.

    When pushing big sprints it makes sense to have the foot clipped in, I'd hate to lose footing when pushing 1000w say at the start where your pushing leg isn't quite up at the revs of the leg getting ready for the next stroke

    Works well on an mtb for the same reason and also on rough terrain too. Flats and pins give an immediate bail out but can give you a battered shin.