All Things MTB

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Here you will find reviews on Mountain Bike parts, accessories, upgrades, clothing and bike setup to help answer some of the questions you have about your bike. If you have a question about any parts or maybe how to setup your bike feel free to contact me and I will try and answer them best I can.

Scroll Down for all the topics covered so far, we will build this section up on a regular basis.

Pedals Clipless Vs Flats

A question that gets asked a lot, Clipless or Flats?

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I personally use Shimano M530 SPD Trail Clipless MTB Pedals which suit my riding style. These pedals are SPD clipless pedal but have an Integrated cage that increases stability and control when not clipped in.

The M530’s are doubled sided so you can clip in on any side making life a bit easier when you need to clip in quick and can’t look down.

My first bike came with flats and I didn’t feel comfortable with them while climbing, as my foot either kept slipping or wasn’t in the right position, which in turn caused me to get pains in my knees. When clipped in your foot is locked in the right position and prevents you from pedalling with your foot twisted.

What if I can’t get clipped out in time?

Yes that is one of the biggest fears of switching to clipless pedals and it was one I had myself for a long time, but heres what help me get over it.

  • Use Shimano SH56 Multi Direction Cleats, SPD multi-release cleats allows your shoe to be disengaged by rolling or twisting the foot in any direction. These are amazing and

  • Get on your bike whilst supporting yourself against a wall/tree and practise clipping in and out of the pedals to you feel comfortable doing this.

  • Start with the tension screw fully loosened off on your first ride, this means you foot is just about clipped in and you can lift it out. Take and allen key in your pocket and tighten the screw one turn at a time to you feel comfortable with the tension. you’ll soon be clipping in and out without thinking about.

The Pro’s and Cons of Clipless Vs Flats

Cycling background

One of the first things to consider is your cycling background. If you are coming to mountain biking from the road, you are likely to be familiar with and more comfortable on clipless pedals. However, if you come from a discipline where flats are more commonly used, such as BMX, or are just getting started cycling, then flats may be a better choice for you.

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Pros of flat pedals

Easy bail out

If a section of trail or a feature suddenly get a bit too much for you, flats make bailing out or dabbing a reassuring foot down easier. Also, on fast corners, some riders like to put a foot out as an outrigger, again this is easier with flats.

Good technique

For some techniques such as bunny hops and rear wheel lifts, flat pedals teach you the correct foot position and technique. With clipless pedals it is possible to cheat and develop bad habits. Learning techniques such as power assisted front wheel lifts and track stands can be easier with flat pedals as the option of easily bailing out can give novice riders more confidence.

Getting going again

If you come to a halt on a steep climb or descent, getting moving again is far easier with flat pedals.

Hike a bike

If you are forced to get off and push, flat pedal shoes tend to be far more comfortable and offer more grip than their clipless pedal equivalents.

Cons of flat pedals

Bumping off

Although the pins on the pedals and soft soles of dedicated flat pedal shoes do offer a very stable pedalling platform, your feet can be bounced off the pedals on very rough terrain.

Bruised shins

The downside of those grippy pins is, if your feet do come off the pedals, they can spin round and make a painful mess of your shins.

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Pros of clipless pedals

Pedalling technique

We will dispel a myth first, clipless pedals are not there to allow you to pull up on your pedals, this isn’t good technique. What they do allow is for you to more easily scrape through the bottom of the pedal stroke and push over the top of it, which does even out power delivery and improve efficiency. However, these improvements are not as significant as some clipless pedal users claim.

Power transfer and comfort

Clipless pedal shoes will tend to be stiffer, this improves power transfer. It also means less flexing of your foot which, for rides involving sustained pedalling, will improve foot comfort.

No shifting feet

With your feet attached to the pedals, no matter how rough the terrain, they are staying put.

Easy hopping and lifting

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

Cons of clipless pedals

Slow motion falls

Almost a clipless pedal rite of passage is the comedy slow motion fall. It normally happens at the end of the ride when you are tired and in front of a car park full of witnesses. You come to a halt, forget or are unable to unclip and over you go.

Getting going

If you have to stop on a steep climb, getting going again with clipless pedals can be a nightmare.

Clogging up (on snowy climbs)

Most clipless pedal systems have some sort of mud clearing mechanism when you clip in and clip out. However, in extreme conditions, especially ice and snow, they can become frustratingly clogged.

Personal preference

Which pedal system you choose largely comes down to personal preference. Some riders do like to switch between the two depending on the type of riding and trails their doing. For more cross-country style riding, they might opt for clipless but will choose flats for more technical trails or if learning new techniques.

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Should I Go Tubeless?

Standard Vs. Tubeless Tires

From a performance point, tubeless tires are hard to beat. When I was first told about the I honestly taught what difference could it make? I was told I would notice a difference in acceleration speed and I taught do you get a free tank of NOS with the sealant, but it actually does make a difference.

Tubeless tires let you run lower tire pressures. Lower tire pressure is the best way to improve your tires' contact with the ground, and with that comes better bike performance.

With standard tires with tubes, low tire pressure leaves you vulnerable to pinch flats. These are flats caused by hitting an obstacle hard enough to compress the tire so much that the tube is pinched between the obstacle and the rim. Of course, the tire is surrounding the tube and is part of this compression sandwich, but that's not enough to protect the tube from getting bitten. Tubeless tires are highly resistant to pinch flats, so you can run with a low tire pressure without the great risk.

Tubeless tires also absorb shock better than tires with tubes. This is because tubeless don't have the separate force of a pressurised tube pushing against the inside of the tire. Better shock absorption means a smoother ride with less vibration, and ultimately better control. This advantage is noticeable on big rocks and roots as well as small stuff like gravel.

Tubeless Has Some Drawbacks 

Even with tubeless tires you still need to carry an extra tube and co2/pump. This is because tubeless tires can get flats. In fact, while they're much less likely than tubes to get pinch flats, tubeless tires can still suffer sidewall cuts and tears. Tubeless tires also must seal against the rim to hold any air; if there's a problem with the seal, you have a flat tire. All tubeless tire systems let you put a tube in if you get a flat and you can't get your tire to seal up again. Alternatively, you can patch a tubeless tire from the inside, provided the hole or tear is patchable.

If you try to lower your tire pressure too much, you will be more likely to damage your rim when you hit rocks, and you may feel the tire roll under during hard cornering. When this gets really bad, you can burp air out and end up with a flat, unsealed tire.

One of the hardest things I found about a tubeless set up is actually mounting the tire for the first time if you don’t have a compressor near by, but there is ways around this that I will cover in another post…..