Advice for a flat pedal newb

Scotty T

2.6 inches
Tip: drop your seat post about 3mm switching from spuds, mine wasn't painful but I could totally feel the difference being suspended on cleats to flats. Vans are thin, has anyone else had to drop the post a fraction switching over with more sturdy flat shoes?


Hi all,
Have recently become flat pedal curious after years riding clipped in, but so far my experience has been pretty crappy. I have gotten very used to my foot always being in the right place, and am finding it difficult to keep it there when I ride flats.
My question is: have others been through this and managed to find a flat pedal/shoe combo that is grippy enough that your foot doesn’t constantly get blown off when pedalling through rough stuff/downshifting at speed? I have been riding in Vans Eras (good old waffle sole but extremely flexible) and tried a few different pedals - oneup plastic w metal pins, spank spoon, old specialized. I realise a lot of this is down to personal preference, so here is some more context (feel free to skip this bit if you have a good answer already!)

I rode BMX for years, then about ten years ago started riding “big bikes” a lot. It took me a few years to switch to clipless, but once I did there was no looking back. Have done plenty of touring, randonneuring, bikepacking, and trail riding, but only recently got a dually. I love clipless pedals, and don’t have issues with them riding jumps, DH etc, but the dually has got me riding more and more tech stuff, things like low speed, high risk features where I am gonna have to bail out sooner or later. I don’t normally have issues ejecting from my pedals, but I can see it happening eventually. On the flipside, I feel a lot more confident riding through the jank etc knowing my feet are always in the right place, so I don’t wanna give that up.

Anyone been through a similar process?

Harry (near Canberra)


Likes Bikes and Dirt
My experience is pretty similar, and like you I thought it was the pedals not gripping my shoes. That wasn't the case though, it was the shoes not sticking to the pedals. I started wearing proper flat pedal shoes and the difference is as obvious as night and day. My current go to shoes are 5-10 freerider pros. They stick like glue.


Likes Bikes and Dirt
Yep I did it last year for my trail riding. Still using clips for xc, and rail trail rides.

Did take a little while to get used to. Particularly keeping the foot in a comfortable position without constantly adjusting and didn't feel as secure in crazy chunk at mach chicken. And just need to be a little more cautious of pedal strike.
Got myself some RC Hellion shoes which have been great.

As you say, I love the bail factor in the tech situations. I think they have already saved me on a couple of occasions.


It's Not Easy Being Green
Proper shoes will have more effect on grip than the pedals.

If you're after something cheap with good grip, try the Cleanskin pedals.


Likes Bikes and Dirt
When going clips to flats you may need to learn to walk again before you can run again.
I would say that it is more technique to
keeping your foot on the pedals then gear but some gear is better. You foot would be conditioned to clips so may not be applying as much pressure as needed.

I bet someone could probably ride the same sections in thongs.

I changed to flats because I like to move around the pedal so I don’t have one position.

In my experience 5 10 impacts, long pins and wide pedals were the best combo for grip

I ride those long catalyst pedals and they are not the best for grip but are more comfy and feel very stable.


Crypto curious
Flat pedal shoes definitely help, so do longer "pins" in the pedals.

But @Halo1 made a valid point with technique as it is definitely a part of it.

If I wear my skate shoes or have pedals with shorter pins, I don't feel any less safe or connected to the bike than when using/wearing my go to pedals (CB plastic fantastic w/longgg pins) and shoes (RC Wildcats)


Thanks y’all, after reading your responses (and the rest of this thread like I should have done before posting) I came to the empowering conclusion that it was mostly operator error. I put the flats back on and went for a ride at Majura this arvo. Did a few DH runs, rode the tech xc (auto alley etc) and it was fine. A few more dabs than usual on the tech xc trails, but it was all good on the DH so long as I was conscious of where my feet were. Felt like I could rail the berms a few percent harder too. I think it will be worth persisting with, and I’ll definitely get some grippier/stiffer shoes eventually. Shame they all seem to look like late90s/early 2000s enormous skate shoes.


Eats Squid
Ryan Leech had a really good online course called the flat pedal challenge. I found it helpful and one of the main tips was stick at it for at least 12 rides as that is about how long it takes on average to re-gain the same level of speed and confidence as you had on clipless.

I rode clipless for about 7 years then made the switch and haven't looked back 3+ years later.

Started on DMR Vaults + 510 Freeriders which is the ultimate grip, but have since tried a few different pedals and shoes just to play around with different feels (there is such a thing as having too much grip)


Likes Bikes and 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?

I had similar issues when I started with flats but would never go back. It’s probably all been said; however the main things are to keep your heels dropped through any rough bits, ride mid sole instead ball if foot over spindle. Whenever the terrain points down, drop your saddle, and consciously think “light hands, heavy feet.

a lot of riders that entered the sport and have bever ridden flats are simply attached to the bike and rely on that attachment to lift or unweight the rear wheel, bunnyhop, do drops and stay planted when being bounced around. You don’t get this with flats and every time you resort to clipless techniques you’ll likely cop a pedal in the shin or calf. You soon get tired of cat claw nsrks on your legs and adopt proper technique!
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