Advice for a flat pedal newb

Goudgey

Likes Dirt
Hi all, so today I went for my first ride on flats and it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

l classify myself as a start again beginner and I’ve been riding ridden clipless for as long as I can remember. I’ve started to feel that clipless has been holding back my progression for all the common reasons often talked about, lack of confidence in tech where the ability to dab can be beneficial, bad technique for bunny hops, drops, etc. For these reasons I decided to make the transition to flats, DMR Vaults paired with Leatt DBX 2.0 shoes to be precise.

I’ve often heard about “clipless levels of grip” from good shoes (5:10’s) paired with good pedals but I didn’t find this at all. On relatively smooth flows trails I found the grip to be adequate but through rock gardens and when the rear of the bike was unweighted over small jumps or drops my feet were popping off the pedals. I was even losing grip when my gear changes were less than smooth.

Ill be the first to admit that my technique is nonexistent and requires a lot of work, and for this reason I’m hoping that in time as my technique improves the level of grip from the flat pedals will also improve, Is this a fair assumption, or is my experience typical of what flat pedal riding is like?

Perhaps the combination of the Vaults and Leatt shoes isn’t good and It'd be worth me trying another brand of shoe?

Should I stick with flats or go back to clipless?

Cheers
 

moorey

I'm full, couldn't eat another dick
Can’t comment on the Leatt shoes, but sounds a bit like technique. Where are your feet placed on tie pedals? Move forward a tad compared to clipless maybe. Also drop your heels on right terrain.
 

foxpuppet

Eats Squid
Stick with flats, give it a month or so of riding as much as you can to regain the feel.


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Goudgey

Likes Dirt
Can’t comment on the Leatt shoes, but sounds a bit like technique. Where are your feet placed on tie pedals? Move forward a tad compared to clipless maybe. Also drop your heels on right terrain.
foot position was pretty similar to when I’m clipped in, on the balls of my feet. Would I be better off with the pedal more towards my arch?
 

moorey

I'm full, couldn't eat another dick
foot position was pretty similar to when I’m clipped in, on the balls of my feet. Would I be better off with the pedal more towards my arch?
I’m more like you. My son insists I should move forward 1/2” or so. He is a lot smarter than me. Worth a try. Definitely persist with another shoe if Leatt aren’t working. Pins all sweet on the vaults?
 

Stredda

Likes Dirt
I've not long switched to flats. Got a pair of RC Wildcats and some OneUp composite pedals. After 8 years clipped in they do feel strange but I will stick with them a while more and try a bit of skills stuff. Might be a case of switching between them depending on the type of riding planned.
 

Goudgey

Likes Dirt
Vaults are brand new today. The Leatt have a waffle patterned sole rather than a flatter sole with knobs like 5:10 shoes so I’m thinking the connection between the two isn’t as great as it could be. It seems good for horizontal movement but not great vertically.

I’ll play around with foot position and concentrate on dropping my heels over rough stuff and drops.

It was the loss of grip/connection with the pedals when changing gears that really threw me.
 

leitch

Feelin' a bit rrranty
Sounds like a combination of pedal too far forward on your foot and pedalling like you’re still riding on clipless pedals. Pedal axle should be behind the ball of your foot and heels down when coasting/in rough stuff. And as Poodle said the losing grip when changing gears sounds like you’re pulling up your back foot a bit while pedalling.
 

Goudgey

Likes Dirt
You may be subconsciously trying to lift the pedal with your back foot still
Could very well be that. I’ve never been a jumper and have always relied on bringing the bike up to me when clipped in.

Thanks to google images the shoes look like they should be grabbing just fine.
I asked a local Facebook MTB group for shoe recommendations and there were a few responses in favour of the Leatts, so others seem to rate them too.
 

Halo1

Likes Dirt
Nothing wrong with flats or your mt shoes you just need to learn how to stay on the pedals.
When I went to flats I practiced a lot of bunny hops as this showed me when I was trying to lift the bike with my feet.
Once I got this then jumps and drops where less scary.
I also switched regularly between my flats and clips to learn the benefits of both, before I stick with clips all the time. There is no clip in like grip on flats just grip and more then enough grip to ride anything your skills will allow.
It just takes time to re learn or unlearn.
My riding did progress a lot once I got use to flats and don’t miss clips at all.
 

Goudgey

Likes Dirt
Sounds like a combination of pedal too far forward on your foot and pedalling like you’re still riding on clipless pedals. Pedal axle should be behind the ball of your foot and heels down when coasting/in rough stuff. And as Poodle said the losing grip when changing gears sounds like you’re pulling up your back foot a bit while pedalling.
this makes a lot of sense. I’ve come from a roadie background and am very used to pedalling heel down on the downstroke and heel up on the upstroke.
 

Ultra Lord

Beanie Fitment Specialist
Vaults are brand new today. The Leatt have a waffle patterned sole rather than a flatter sole with knobs like 5:10 shoes so I’m thinking the connection between the two isn’t as great as it could be. It seems good for horizontal movement but not great vertically.

I’ll play around with foot position and concentrate on dropping my heels over rough stuff and drops.

It was the loss of grip/connection with the pedals when changing gears that really threw me.
More rides. It’ll take a few to figure it out, especially as it isn’t a normal thing for you.

time to hit some pump tracks and smoother trails so you get used to having feet floating around. And practice bunny hops, being able to hop without feetsies coming off will help you get the feel for it.
 

Plankosaurus

Hydraulic Jack specialist
When I first tried this clipless to flat transition, I struggled too. I now stick better with runners and basic flats than I did with fivetens and my blackspires at the start. The grip hasn't increased, it's just you learn how to ride again.

I had to keep telling myself to follow the bike, it's the closest thing to what's needed that I could think of. You ride lazy clipped in, you expect the bike to just be attached, you'll be rigid and won't use your legs as suspension as much. After a while all this will start to come together on flats and it'll make you a better rider overall. I still clip in for more xc stuff, longer rides and single speeding, because it is more efficient and takes less effort over time. Flats are more fun though, so much more confidence on slippery or sketchy rides too.

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rockmoose

Likes Dirt
Watch some Sam Hill, and Troy Brosnan on YouTube. Rewatch some of the gnarly sections in slow motion, and you can really see how they work their foot positioning.

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Goudgey

Likes Dirt
Can anyone recommend any good YouTube videos or sites that cover good flat pedal technique? A quick search on YouTube hasn’t given me much.
 

puffmoike

Likes Bikes
Can’t speak from personal experience, but my main riding buddy switched to flats about six months ago after 35 years of clips. He’s not a superstar, but he’s pretty competent, fast and fearless.

He wanted to learn to manual, and just experiment more generally.

First ride he almost crashed into a tree popping off a small tree root on an innocuous bit of warm-up trail, which had me laughing. On the rock gardens on the descent he said he couldn’t keep his feet on the pedals.

I figured the experiment would last another ride or two.

Six months later he’s still on flats, and apparently still enjoying it.

It’s not your gear
 
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