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Debunking bad MTB Advice Pt. 5

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

"You have to be clipped in to be a good rider.”

Recently, we put out a post on our social channels asking, 'What's the WORST piece of mountain bike advice you've been given? We then posted the top five worst suggested pieces of advice as a poll on our Instagram Stories asking if the advice was true or false to use. Some of you were on the right track, and some of you weren't. They weren't trick questions, though - the answers were all false because they're techniques that aren't correct due to the decrease in rider safety and understanding about what we're doing on our bike. These posts received a lot of engagement, so we'd love to dive a little deeper to help you understand why these pieces of advice aren't great to be sharing or using.

"You have to be clipped in to be a good rider."

Disclaimer: I'm aiming to avoid the age-old debate of riding clipped-in versus flats. What I'm hoping to achieve here is to educate you on the pros and cons of riding flats or clipped in, and why at the end of the day, whatever type of pedal you choose, it doesn't matter as long as it works for you!

PROs of Riding Flats

  • Encourages proper technique and good habits (i.e. for bunnyhops and lifting the rear wheel)

  • Easy bailouts

  • Better for practicing things like your manuals and wheelies

  • Easy to get going again

  • Great for hike-a-biking when it's needed

  • More comfortable shoe

CONs of Riding Flats

  • Your shins and lower legs will take a beating (and the odd stitch - wear shin protection!)

  • Pedal slips (getting bumped off the pedal)

PROs of Riding Clipped In (aka Clipless)

  • Stiffer shoe = better power transfer

  • Being locked in, your feet will stay put (no pedal slips)

  • Clipless pedals make small jumps and hops very easy but relying on them for techniques such as bunny hops encourages poor technique.

  • Good for racing

CONs of Riding Clipped In (aka Clipless)

  • Slow-motion falls

  • Crashing with the bike still connected to you

  • Pedals getting jammed or clogged with mud

  • Difficult to get going at the bottom or top of a hill

I grew up riding and racing clipped in for over fifteen years. Now I ride flats full time. I'm having way more fun and found my technique improved, along with my confidence in technical terrain (both down and up!) There is a bit of a learning curve with them, but working with a Professional Instructor through lessons can help expedite that process and save your shins! I still ride clipped in occasionally to change it up or when I'm out adventuring on my gravel bike.

My flat pedal of choice is the SHIMANO DEORE XT - Flat Pedal. And my clipless pedal of choice is the SHIMANO DEORE XT - SPD Pedal.

The key is to figure out what best works for you and what you're most comfortable with. Do not let ANYONE pressure you into changing your pedal type if you're not ready or comfortable to do so. Talk about a confidence buzz kill!

We want to know - which pedal do you prefer, and why? Leave us a comment below!

If you're struggling with riding flats, book a Private Lesson to understand what is we need to do and why, plus build your confidence along and save your shins along the way!


Find out more on our Private Lessons and how to book here.

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