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SPDs - Arnt they a suicide device?!

tonyeynontonyeynon Posts: 114
edited December 2008 in MTB beginners
Hey chaps,

I just dont understand them on mountin bikes but feel like Im might be missing out due to my lack of knoweldge.

Now I understand the XC reason for having them, push/pull etc, and you can bunny hop over things easier should you need to... But, they seem like like a bit of a death trap, ie if things start to go wrong how fast can you get yuor feet out - how does it work? so if your back wheel goes, can you just quickly yank your foot off it and get it out to pretect you or is that just the price you pay? Im thinking here more in the agressive singletrack environment... whats the motion, is it twist-pull? can you do it in an ermgency?

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  • Sir HCSir HC Posts: 20,148
    The more you use them, the more comfortable you are with them. I've just stuck my spare set of spd's on my freeride bike, makes riding up hills much easier. I've had a few moments where the front or rear has started to slide out, but its easy to clip in and out once you have had a bit of practice.

    To unclip you twist your ankle, shimano spd's are the best to start with in my opinion, as you are able to set the tension of the spd mechanism.
    Intense Socom
  • -liam--liam- Posts: 1,831
    Fitted mine yesterday, never used them before. No probs releasing when losing it and needing to get a foot down and clipping in when starting on a hill etc yet I've seen people say that they have had moments when they couldn't get their foot released full stop.

    Perhaps it is just down to the individual....

    I've just not set the tension very tight and my foot drops out with a quick twist. Actually at one point I stopped and forgot that I had them on....My foot came straight out no issues.
  • I treid SPDs a long time ago and didn't get on with them. Very embarassing falling over in front of lots of walkers time and time again!

    I guess its horses for courses, I can see the advantages of SPDs though.
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  • I love my egg beaters SPD pedals. I can get my foot out faster than I can think. I've used clip in's so much now its a built in reaction.
    As snotty badger said, its horses for courses. I wouldn't ride without clipping in, even into town. But then I know people who wouldn't ride clipped in at all.
    I rode in the lakes with some friends a year ago. We went down some stupid decends, rocks like basket balls, wet leaves, etc. Scared me stupid. Was far more confident riding that terrain because I was clipped in. If I ride flat pedals, I lose my footing all the time.
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  • stumpyjonstumpyjon Posts: 4,069
    I've been a devoted fan of SPDs. Had a few serious offs, but every time I've come unclipped without even thinking about it. Just make sure you run them with the tension backed off enough, just enough to stop you unclipping in normal riding and there shouldn't be any problems.

    Only recently have I considered using flats, there's a red and black trail near me. The red's fine but the black is very technical. Reason for wanting to use flats is not so I can unclip quickly (no issues there) but rather I have more trouble clipping in on technical stuff and that stops me riding it.
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  • omegasomegas Posts: 970
    When you have used SPD,s for a while , this could be months or a year depending on how much you ride you just take your foot of the pedal the same as if your using flats, you don’t think about it, it becomes a natural reaction to release rather than lift.

    For anyone starting out on clipless pedals I would say the most important part is giving them time to get used to. The benefits you get from them is apparent from the first time you use them .
  • Used to use spd for mountain-biking for years. Bailing out was not a problem, never had any issues that way.

    SPDs have definite advantages, your feet are nailed to the pedals making technical runs easier and pedalling efficient. Most of the lads I ride with use them. But in the end I switched to flats, mainly because I never found a pair of cycling boots that didn't cramp my feet within an hour of riding.

    Now I prefer using flats, I can ride in any old pair of trainers with a soft sole; no issues with my knees due to the cleat being sightly out of line; no issues with cleat wear or clogging; and if your pedals have decent grips, bunnyhops and technical runs are not any harder. there is the hazard of the dreaded "Bear Trap" if you lose one pedal, but your pedalling technique soon adapts to keep your feet on the pedals.
  • BikerbaboonBikerbaboon Posts: 1,017
    I have been riding for 9 months all of that on SPD. Never had a problem cliping out when i felt the back slip, Confidnet on jumps and tech sections thay where great. But Im now rideing flats...... why i hear you all cry.

    In the Last month or so I have been pushing my limits and getting my skills better. I have had 2 big offs at some speed 15-20 mph each one. Both times my feet stayed clipped in and i ended up under the bike. I can right one off as a freak accedent but 2 of them in 4 weeks......

    So now im rideing with flats, I have not noticed the loss in power on hte up hills. did 4k feet of climbing today and i was as fast as i would have been in spds on the downs i was slower ( its my first time out on them.) I did lack some confidance that the peddals would still be under my feet when i landed form drop offs but after rideing for about 3 hours i was jumping off the water bars like every one else.

    MTB is a mind game and you have to be confidant in what you are doing, I have lost my confidance in my spds in a crash so im not going to use them. but if people like to use them and it feels better for them then go for it. the only way to know if they are right for you is to suck them and see.
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  • KB8KB8 Posts: 123
    I could not IMAGINE going back to flats.
  • Father FaffFather Faff Posts: 1,176
    I've been on spds quite a while. Most faster crashes I've had I've come out no problems without thinking about it. The problems I've had are on very slow crashes when leaned over - a few times I've failed to get the foot out of the pedal on the side I'm falling on which has resulted in some pain and injury and sprocket teet5h in my calf. As a result I've been trying some flats but have found it very difficult to get on with them - like not being able to pull up on the pedal on a hard climb up rough ground and feeling my feet might bouce off on the dowhills - so I've gone back to spds. Keep them pretty loose though.
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  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    tonyeynon wrote:
    Hey chaps,

    I just dont understand them on mountin bikes but feel like Im might be missing out due to my lack of knoweldge.

    Now I understand the XC reason for having them, push/pull etc, and you can bunny hop over things easier should you need to... But, they seem like like a bit of a death trap, ie if things start to go wrong how fast can you get yuor feet out - how does it work? so if your back wheel goes, can you just quickly yank your foot off it and get it out to pretect you or is that just the price you pay? Im thinking here more in the agressive singletrack environment... whats the motion, is it twist-pull? can you do it in an ermgency?


    I've been using SPDs for nearly 20 years - almost since Shimano introdiced them. I can safely say that whilst I've had my share of "offs" whilst using them, I cannot once say it was the fault of the pedals.

    They're like ski-bindings - if you put any unnatural forces on them (i.e. other than the rotation of pedalling) they come unclipped.

    I think that a lot of people get a pre-conceived idea about clipless systems before they try them, and as a result they never get used to them. But ask yourself this - if they are an accident waiting to happen, would Shimano and others still be making them after 20-odd years, and would they be as popular as they are.

    Havign said all that, I do use flats for trail-centre use and just tarting about, but for all-day trail rides out in the hills its Spuds all the way, every time.
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  • handfulhandful Posts: 920
    +1 for spds. I am new to mtbing and consider my skill levels to be pretty low but I have got used to them very quickly and have not quite come a cropper yet although I was pretty close on a couple of occasions at low speed. I now find instinctive to the extent that I find myself almost feeling clipped in to my clutch pedal when driving my car :lol:

    I went for a 20 mile ride last weekend and was finding myself pulling out on some upstrokes so have tightened them up a notch so will have to take it easy for a couple of rides whilst I get used to the added tension. I think this is perfectly normal cleat wear though that makes this necesary.
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  • stubsstubs Posts: 5,001
    Last year I fell into the fashion trap and bought some bling flat pedals and 5Ten shoes but for some reason they killed my knees. So I went back to my lovely Time Alium pedals and Specialized shoes.

    Now the expensive flats are on my shopping bike and the shoes were used as ordinary trainers
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  • jaysonjayson Posts: 4,606
    I cant ride a bike without spuds anymnore, my feet just feel totally disconected from the bike which inturn makes me feel very unsafe.

    Ive had my fair share of err...incidents but i still wouldnt ride a bike without them. Once ur used to them then there really is no going back on them, the feel of security far outweighs any negatives u may think of using them.
  • I have used clipless pedals for nearly 15 years now and despite numerous crashes dont use anything else. Most problems I have are going up steep hills and being unable to clip out when grinding to a halt. Especially if the pedal isnt at the bottom of the stroke. If going downhill it is usually easy to unclip. I use time but spds are better in emergency out situations. Does anyone remember onza MO's. They realy were lethal. I lost count of the number of times I fell over infront of walkers because they wouldnt release.
    I think the overall efficiency and confidence of being attached far outweighs the occasional realease problem, although I dont freeride.
  • Father FaffFather Faff Posts: 1,176
    The nearly most serious incident I had with spds was on the North Face trail at Grizedale coming down the fairly quick downhill back towards the trail centre there is a rignt bend to a little bridge over a deep gully and then sharp back left out of the bridge. I was lent hard over to the left coming off the bridge when the rear let go pointing me straight at the gully and I couldn't get my inside foot out of the peddle to dab down and correct. If Id gone down the 10ft onto the rocks below I can't imagine how serious that would have been. Luckily some kind of panicked lurch managed to get me upright enough not to lose it but it was after that I bought some flatties to try.

    I think you've got to consider whether you are going to be riding anything serious enough so that spds could be a big risk. Normally I wouldn't consider the North Face trail much of a risk at all however it does have a few drops onto rocks that you might want to ease off a little on with spds.
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  • CpsCps Posts: 356
    I have been using these ... cts_id=412 recently. I find having a decent platform to use when unclipped helps greatly when tackling unfamiliar terrain. And I haven't noticed any difference in performance to full on SPD's
  • I don't get on with either. With me its probably confidence, I have enough problems stayingh on on technical and downhill stuff with out having to worry about unclipping.
  • I recently got some Egg Beaters, great peddles. I've had a few offs since using them and I'm a bit more cautious on technical stuff than I used to be, but the advantages are clear when you use them. No more achy feet, easy climbing etc. I though about going back to flats but think I'll give them more time as I'm sure clipping out will come more natural with time.

    Try them
  • .blitz.blitz Posts: 6,197
    tonyeynon wrote:
    I just dont understand them on mountin bikes but feel like Im might be missing out due to my lack of knoweldge.
    Never had a problem getting out of them in a hurry but I find getting back in again can be a pain sometimes e.g. an uphill start on technical singletrack. SPDs are great when clipped in but they make awful platform pedals.
  • I use both, for full bore mtbing i ride flats, because i like to bunnyhop and wheelie and generally mess around. I don't find I lose any power, and I can really practice efficient pedalling on smooth sections, lifting the foot just off on the upstroke.

    The main reason I have for flats is that I'm constantly learning new skills, trackstands and manuals, endos etc. and I regularly need to get a foot down really quickly. Once i'm more confident I transfer the skills to clipins on other bikes. But my jump bike and my 456 will always have flats.

    Now, clipped in I can bunnyhop and trackstand, and I'm getting happier doing endos. I find they are better for focusing on pedalling smooth circles, whereas the flats are better for unweighting the back foot on the upstroke.
  • I switched from spds to flats recently. Like a few other posters I had some offs that were attributable to my spds by the fact that my weight shifted sideways and pulled the bike over.

    I did some downhill stuff recently and noticed that all the other guys (20 or so of them) were on flats. My mate was riding his spds and he had difficulties because he had to try and get clipped in before he hit stuff (he'd lean on me while he clipped in), whilst I was ready as soon as my feet were on the pedals.

    I found the spds gave me some advantages when climbing but I've had no knee pains since I came off them and I've not had any issues with my feet sliding around.
  • NorthwindNorthwind Posts: 14,675
    TBH I think most of the objections to either sort of pedal are generally formed on false assumptions, bad hardware or bad technique... Both do have their real advantages and disadvantages but I wonder how often we decide what we prefer based on those? Or how many SPD lovers have used really good flats and suitable shoes, or vice versa for us flatties?

    (me, I use flats- I have a lot of ligament damage in my right knee and though it works for pedalling, it won't tolerate twisting at all, so having my foot attached to anything- bike, snowboard, etc- is off the menu these days. So I can take the high moral ground :wink: )
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  • Northwind wrote:
    I can take the high moral ground :wink:

    What's the view like from up there? :)
  • .blitz.blitz Posts: 6,197
    SPD country...

  • jojo90jojo90 Posts: 178
    SPDs for long XC rides, flats for more technical stuff.

    I bomb down things in flats that would have me unclipped, brakes on, and 'balancing' on my SPDs. Same for climbing technical sections, hate SPDs as I slip then fall sideways.

    Last weekend in wales round Cwm Carn would have sucked in SPDs.
  • SPD's all the way.. much better control/ speed/ traction etc
    Agree on really steep off road can be a pain getting started again, and on very steep downhill bits can feel a bit sketchy clipped in.

    Best bet would be get some DH style spd's with pedal surround to allow more grip.

    Without clips you slip all over the place.. ever hit your shins with a pedal?
  • KB8 wrote:
    I could not IMAGINE going back to flats.

    Couldn't imagine going back to SPD's! I used toe clips for years, then SPDs, but found on really tech stuff they were limiting. V12s & 5-10s all the way now, even for all day rides.

    Just a note - SPDs don't make it easier to do a proper bunny hop - they make it easier to do a 'speed hop' where you lift front & back wheels at the same time, because you can yank the bike up underneath you. With this technique there's a limit to how high you can go - when the saddle hits you in the bum, that's it.
    When you bunny hop though, it's mainly weight shift that lifts the rear, you only need a bit of grip on the pedals. So flats are fine, and also, you can get more height due to the weight shift working to your advantage and you can get the saddle in front, letting the bike go higher. This obviousy works with SPDs as well, just that with the proper technique they don't give you any advantage.
  • Daz555Daz555 Posts: 3,976
    .blitz wrote:
    SPD country...

    Cliffs of Moher?

    If so, I've sat in that very spot. Very nice indeed!
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  • NorthwindNorthwind Posts: 14,675
    Without clips you slip all over the place..

    Nah, not with good pedals and suitable shoes, and a tiny bit of technique (if your feet slide off constantly with decent pedals, you're probably pushing sideways or twisting your foot). I'd agree with the terrible flats we had back when I started riding, or with the rotten bars of soap that come attached to most bikes even now, but a quality flat like a V12 or MG1 is incredibly grippy.
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