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SPD's or Flats?

wicked2627wicked2627 Posts: 121
edited November 2010 in XC and Enduro
Hi Guys,

I know there is a large SPD and Flat's camp but was wondering how much more inefficient it would be if I were to go from SPD's to Flats?

Currently it's about 45min road cycle (uphill) to my local woods, so SPD's are really useful. however, i'm struggling to get over my Downhill fear and believe it to be because I do not trust being strapped in.

Just thinking, should I get flats and corresponding grippy shoes or shall I stick with SPD's and get used to them?

Any opinions?
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  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Just use whatever you're happiest with. You won't really get any sensible advice here, just a bunch of people trying to force SPDs on you, regardless of your preference, even though they misunderstand the actual advantages.
    Or.. a minority of people who will argue blind about flats being best.
    But really it's down to what YOU want.
  • wicked2627wicked2627 Posts: 121
    Cheers. I agree that people instinctly believe their personal choices are the correct choices.

    What I really want to know is do others use flats for long distance road and hill climbing? That's what I spend most of my time doing but don't know how much it will affect me in getting flats. Plus I don't really want to buy them if I find out it's a lot worse.

    Thanks
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  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Well, in that case then... Personally I ride flats for everything. From trail centre runs, a bit of XC, some riding in the wilderness, DH/freeriding, even getting the miles in on the tarmac to get my fitness up.
    I rode SPDs for years, but eventually decided that the cons far outweighed any benefits.
  • wicked2627wicked2627 Posts: 121
    Been riding again today and think I need flats. Keep losing balance when the trail is a bit technical and i'm setting off.

    Are there are pedals that are SPD but can be changed to flats? Or only SPD on one side and proper grippy flats on the other?
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  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    avoid combined SPD/flats. They're never (in my, or Nickouse - forum mod's) opinion.
    They never give as good a grip as proper flats, and sod's law you always end up with the wrong side facing up.
    Good flats, and decent shoes that work should give you no problem whatsoever.
  • wicked2627wicked2627 Posts: 121
    Cheers,

    Just ordered some DMR's - will see how I go. Even though it'll be harder on the road (esp standing up going uphill), hopefully it'll make me better on the trails.

    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=50028
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  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    You shouldn't have any issues at all standing on them.
  • leginlegin Posts: 132
    ive had the same dilema and settled on spds with a platform and set to disengage quickly.i certainly prefer drop offs and jumps being clipped in and rock gardens their so much more secure, there are just some fast off camber bits on my local loop that scare me a bit.at least when you got a platform you can unclip for extra confidence.
    my spare bike has flats so comparable i think the clips are better for climbing and come into their own when your knackered.
  • rusty77rusty77 Posts: 9
    For what it's worth, I've never found getting out of SPDs to be a problem. The issue for me was getting back into them quickly when I'm DH racing so if you're mainly riding XC then I'd be inclined to go for clips. Flats are harder to ride when it's rough and manoeuvring the bike is probably easier being clipped in as you're part of the bike. The fact that it's harder with flats kind of appeals to me and I think they make you a better rider but at the end of the day it's what makes you feel the most comfortable and feel the most confident.
  • DghDgh Posts: 180
    I use flats (5/10s) all the time. But I'm pretty censored !
  • Chunkers1980Chunkers1980 Posts: 8,035
    I rode SPDs for years, but eventually decided that the cons far outweighed any benefits.

    What are the cons of SPDs?

    The only downside I have with SPDs is always having to wear the same shoes and my flip-flops not having cleats...
  • morgan.349morgan.349 Posts: 39
    i made the jump to spds a bout a month ago. I found them very easy to use to start with. The feeling is weird but It used to it quickly.

    for xc stuff they are ideal, for freeride/downhill i would avoid.

    Keep your flat pedals and swap over when you need to.

    if you dont get on with spds you can just sell them on ebay for not a massive loss.

    I'd say buy some, if you dont like them sell them on....
  • My perosnal experience was much the same; didnt have full convidence at first. I stuck with it however and I really enjoy running the SPD's now. Saying that if I drive to a ride with the bike in the boot I always chuck some flats in with the tools incase I feel like a change.

    I think its best to have both and switch between the two when and if required. Like morgan said ebay is always there to see spare kit on.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    I rode SPDs for years, but eventually decided that the cons far outweighed any benefits.

    What are the cons of SPDs?

    The only downside I have with SPDs is always having to wear the same shoes and my flip-flops not having cleats...
    Having to wear special shoes.
    If I was cycling to school, having to carry normal shoes with me.
    Having zero grip on the pedals when I just jumped on the bike to cycle to the shops/school (was a while ago) in my normal trainers.
    Having the pedals gunk up with a mixture of mud, clay and crud and being unable to clip in.
    When dabbing a foot if the bike was sliding, it was a faff to have to quickly clip in properly - with flats I just stomp my foot in the general direction of the pedal and away I go.
    If I was trying to get up a very steep hill, and the back wheel spun or the chain snapped, I could end up on my side in a pile of mud before I even knew what was going on, whereas with flats my foot has always reacted faster than my brain ever could.

    In fact, the only thing I miss from SPDs is the ability to lift the bike quickly and replant it, if both wheels were drifting, no matter what positions my cranks were in.
  • MigginsMiggins Posts: 433
    From what I've read on this debate (flats vs SPDs), neither is head and shoulders above the other. This says to me that it's got to come down to personal preference. Go for what you're more comfortable with.
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  • LAW4778LAW4778 Posts: 232
    I do really hate this debate and do wish there was only one choice, when i got back into riding and bought my new bike last april it came with spd's so i bought some shoes and away i went, i could feel the efficency of the pedaling and it was great on the 45 minute ride to my local off road spot but then becuase i wasn't confident i found myself falling off then pushing the bike over the rocky bits and also the tight down hill sections which is pointless in my opinion.
    So off i went and ordered some V12's my feet hurt at first and becuase i didnt want to splash out on some more bike specific footwear i used my Merrell walking trainers which i don't think helped as they are not job specific.
    Anyway i had a non bike related injury so have only just got back riding in the last 6 weeks or so and now i am back at square one as i still have the V12's on after a few weeks i do feel to be riding better and am coming to the thought of buying some 5.10's or similar to aid in my flat use even more. Any opinions out there on road riding in flats to get to the trails because to me it just doesnt seem right and i feel the more road riding you do you are better off in spd's i think deep down i do prefer spd's but haven't got the skill or confidence for the off road bits my trouble is i look at too many photo's of biking injurys and just feel i don't want to be one of them poor buggers.

    In fact that would make a good thread those people who have had an injury due to being unable to unclip from spd's ????????????
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  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    Well, even though I haven't ridden SPDs in years, my physio specifically warned me not to, or my knee injury would flare up again.

    There really is nothing wrong with riding flats for the road sections, just use whatever you're happiest with - that's the only advice there is, really, no matter how dragged out it gets.
  • BUR70NBUR70N Posts: 182
    I have always used flats, never used spds due to the cost of the shoes when comparing them to normal bike shoes. Plus the weight of the pedals can sometimes be less if going for flats.

    Down to you, try some spds with shoes and see what you think. Again as others have said it's down to you, for me the costs are to high, pedals and shoes.
  • Had my 1st go on some SPD's for a while today..

    I have some crank brothers smarty pedals this time round (I had shimano ones last time) and i'm finding them much much easier to get along with.

    I find the engagement a bit easier and it feels way less mechanical.


    The only thing i need to get used to is the float and riding on the ball of my feet..... its weird!
  • TrekTomTrekTom Posts: 45
    I had the same dilemma when I bought my new bike this year. I got some of those SPD's with a flat cage thing which were rubbish. As someone said, if you're gonna use them like flats, just buy flats. So avoid them I reckon.

    The reasons I ride flats now and not SPD's is purely a confidence thing. Yeah I'm sure that SPD's on balance do give you a bit more pedalling efficiency, but for me personally I am quicker off road because I can quickly put my foot down when I need to and feel a bit better when hooning down a trail knowing that I am not attached to the bike should I hit a root etc.

    But agree that it's down to choice and trial and error. I fell off 3 times when I got my SPD's (I'm used to them from my road bike so it wasn't a case of not knowing how to clip in and out) but haven't stacked it since having my flats on there. Like I said for me, it's a confidence thing.

    I would advise trying a few rides with spuds and seeing how you get on....
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  • UchigaUchiga Posts: 230
    TrekTom wrote:
    I am quicker off road because I can quickly put my foot down when I need to and feel a bit better when hooning down a trail knowing that I am not attached to the bike should I hit a root etc.

    If that is the case it is about practise with SPD's Having watched the pros in Champery XC Racing where id say only 80% of the time they were riding they got out of there SPD's pretty damn fast when they needed to get off the bike and run. And it has to be said ive been using SPD's for a touch under a year and at firat i did feel like going back to toe straps or flats to the confidence thing but after practise i can unclip like second nature.

    My first few weeks with clipless were pretty much painless. They say the first couple of weeks are the most difficult. I had two crashes. Both of which were stationary in my own garden. And it has to be said i know how to fall off properly now. Knowing how to fall off without injuring yourself too much i feel is just as an important skill as being able to ride fast.

    But again it is personal choice and you do never know until you try.

    For all those saying that platform pedals and a set of Five Tens are cheaper... Well all the Five Ten Shoes i've seen on chainreaction are more expensive than both my shimano SPD shoes and as for pedals well my clipless pedals cost me £20... Price wise its not that much differant now.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    thing is, you don't NEED 5:10s to ride flats. Any flat soled trainer (or shoe!) you own will work fine.
    I have a massive collection of old Vans. When they get to tatty to wear day to day, they get relegated to MTBing duties.
    So, I've effectively spent nothing on "riding" shoes. (ignoring the 3 or 4 pairs of SPD shoes I've had in the past).
  • GiantMikeGiantMike Posts: 3,139
    I ride SPDs and love them. Everything from Road Racing to Cyclocross to MTB. SPDs are more efficient (you use more of the pedal stroke and gain a lot on the uphills). However, performance matters to me as I generally race rather than stand around on the hills chatting.

    It's obviously your choice which pedals you ride with on any given day. However, you can have BOTH options available before you go out and fit the pedals and shoes accordingly. Try both and make a choice yourself.
  • crakercraker Posts: 2,060
    last time I tried flats I seperated from the bike at a table top landed heavily and got smacked in the shins by the big sharp toothed pedals. Never again.

    Can we start a 'people who've been injured because they were unwisely trying to use flatties' thread? :wink:
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    GiantMike wrote:
    However, you can have BOTH options
    Yeah, SPD on the left, flat on the right. AWESOME!!! :D
    mr_si wrote:
    last time I tried flats I seperated from the bike at a table top landed heavily and got smacked in the shins by the big sharp toothed pedals. Never again.
    Yeah, and I can almost guarantee that if you'd been attatched to the bike, things would have gone much worse.
  • As an update, i've done about 200 mils on flats and love them. The backs of my legs get a bit lacerated, but I have so much more confidence going downhill and find it's easier to start pedalling when halfway up a hill than with SPD's.

    Maybe if I didn't have Shimano SPD's, I would have had a better experience but when covered in mud, I found it hard to clip in and harder to unclip which doesn't fill my with confidence. Now I don't need to worry about it!
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  • GiantMikeGiantMike Posts: 3,139
    wicked2627 wrote:
    As an update, i've done about 200 mils on flats and love them. The backs of my legs get a bit lacerated, but I have so much more confidence going downhill and find it's easier to start pedalling when halfway up a hill than with SPD's.

    Maybe if I didn't have Shimano SPD's, I would have had a better experience but when covered in mud, I found it hard to clip in and harder to unclip which doesn't fill my with confidence. Now I don't need to worry about it!

    Glad you've found a solution that works for you.
  • Good luck on the flats. I switched back from SPDs because I didn't like getting a foot knocked out on a descent and not being able to clip back in again. I miss the slight climbing advantage,but getting going again now is much easier

    In answer to the chaps who have had feet come off flat pedals I think a lot is down to body position, I find if I am off the saddle weight back,arms bent I dont have any issues. That said I try to avoid gravity defying acts,they still dont feel quite right to me

    As for the price of 5.10s they are expensive,but can be resoled professionaly. Just a shame no where has them reduced heavily. They go for near RRp second hand on ebay :(

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  • SPD's are great and I will never ride without them. I have the multi directional release cleats and quite frankly if you can't get out of them you are doing something wrong.

    I have mind set up quite nicely so I don't pop out when I put the power down but if I'm in the s**t and need to bin the bike I can move my foot in ANY direction and I am out.

    Going up hill they are a lifesaver and make things more easier. They really help me concentrate on my technique better.

    Going downhill over rocks and roots they stay nicely connected and a bump or knock doesn't send my feet slipping off.

    Can't fault them. They are wonderful
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  • LjStronge wrote:
    SPD's are great and I will never ride without them. I have the multi directional release cleats and quite frankly if you can't get out of them you are doing something wrong.

    I have mind set up quite nicely so I don't pop out when I put the power down but if I'm in the s**t and need to bin the bike I can move my foot in ANY direction and I am out.

    Going up hill they are a lifesaver and make things more easier. They really help me concentrate on my technique better.

    Going downhill over rocks and roots they stay nicely connected and a bump or knock doesn't send my feet slipping off.

    Can't fault them. They are wonderful

    But if you knew what you were doing with flats going downhill with flats your feet would stay nicely connected and your feet would bnever be knocked off :p
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