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To Clip or Not to Clip?

By Nathaniel Wu


If you’ve spent time around bikers, you probably have heard the terms “clipless” and “flat” pedals being thrown around. The average person might scratch their head after hearing those terms. Today, we will review the basics between clipless and flat pedals and which would be better for you.

The term clipless is somewhat misleading, as that is the type of pedal that you clip into. The pedal is small, but it has a clipping mechanism that corresponds with a clip on the shoe. You clip in and out with a slight twisting motion of the foot. The advantages of clipless pedals include not having the foot slip and the ability to add power in both directions of pedaling. With a flat pedal, you can only add power when pushing towards the ground. With clipless pedals, you can add power when you pull up as well. This makes climbing and sprinting much easier. However, the drawbacks include higher costs, the necessity for a special shoe, and a slight learning curve for clipping in and out. For those who are looking to bike more seriously, clipless pedals may be a worthwhile investment.

Flat pedals are the most common type of pedals. Flat pedals are rather flat (hence the name), but often have metal or plastic pegs to help maintain traction. The advantages of flat pedals are the lower cost, compatibility with more shoes, and the lack of a learning curve. However, foot slipping is a problem, and with the pegs, they can get rather painful if they hit your leg. The lack of power derived from pulling the leg up should be noted, but it is usually not a major problem with most flat-pedal users.

So, which one should you choose? It depends on how seriously you want to bike. If you are more casual or recreational, flat pedals are likely the better option due to their simplicity and cheaper cost. If you are more serious and want to put on some speed, consider investing in clipless pedals, as that will help improve mileage and speed. As always, happy biking!

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