Spoke Magazine

Flats vs Clipless

Posted by pieter on Wednesday June 4 2014

flats verse clips

The last thing that went through Barry’s head as he crashed, should have been the words of Larry saying “I told you so”. But it wasn’t. What really went through his head, apart from rotten logs, was a little more basic and with a whole lot more profanity. However, there was no mystery to what was the last thing to go through the back of his Achilles and lacerate its way up his leg to the back of his knee…

Last weekend it was raining, and since the local tracks were closed, Barry and Larry went out of town to ruin someone else’s local trails. On the drive up Barry and Larry talked mountain biking and eventually a flats versus clipless pedal argument came up. Since the trails were going to be wet, Barry was adamant that flats were going to be better so he could quickly take his feet off through the slippery corners and that Larry wouldn’t be able to unclip fast enough. But Larry was adamant that Barry was a pussy and couldn’t handle clipless; also his feet would always be slipping off his pedals. This was a perfect argument for a longish drive because it was pointless, but lasted the whole way to the trailhead.

Larry was quick out of the car and started to make a start up the trail, leaving Barry to lock up the car and get on his bike. Larry made great time flying up the hill, cleaning all the wet, technical root sections with ease. All those extra secret spin classes Larry had been doing were paying off. Then he remembered that coming up was an extra-hard section that he had never cleaned before. Giving his gears a quick check, Larry stood up and put in some extra power so he could fly up the first pinch, but he mistimed it and his rear wheel spun out on a large root, causing his body to lurch forward and smack his knee into the stem. In a panic he tried to unclip, but his feet were loading the pedals and stuck in an 8 and 2 o’clock position. With a girlish scream and a masculine thud, Larry tumbled down, smashing his head through some rotten logs.

Five minutes later Barry came up the track huffing and puffing, to be greeted by a bloodied, blubbering Larry, all tangled up in his bike and surrounded by rotting logs. With a small “told you so” and a remark about un-clipping anytime, Barry helped his mate up and they decide that they should head home. But while Larry limps down the hill Barry would go to the top of the hill and at least do one run back down.

At the top, Barry was feeling secretly chuffed on his choice to use flat pedals and that Larry’s crash had proved that he couldn’t unclip whenever he wanted. Barry readied himself for a fast descent so he could get in some good gloating on the drive home. Everything was coming together; Barry was making his turns perfectly and clearing root sections with ease. As Barry approached where Larry had crashed, he decided to jump the whole section. Barry gave his gears a quick check and started to pedal harder, unfortunately the gears were clogged with mud and jammed, causing the bike to jump and throwing Barry forward. As he started to jump he was very nose-heavy and ended up casing the same root that Larry spun out on, causing Barry to fall even further forward on the bike. This then caused his foot to come free of the pedal. All he could manage to right himself was to seat bounce the landing with his foot to drag behind and his pedal while it grates all the way up the back of his calf. As Barry looked down, all he saw was a lot of torn white flesh. He quickly decided to keep moving while shock is fresh and the blood isn’t flowing.

As Barry pulled into the car park he saw a very stiff looking Larry waiting in the car. Larry looked very shocked at the amount of blood coming from Barry’s leg as he gingerly helped Barry get bandaged up. The drive home should have been filled with plenty of banter and joking since neither Barry or Larry had seen each other’s crash. But it wasn’t, instead it was very quiet since technically both men had been proven very wrong about their choices…

Categories: Exclusives, Hey Mate

  • Ben Wilde

    Love it. I ride both. Usually at different times.

  • Rossco

    Flats….foot loose, freestyle

    • Pieter

      clips for the win

  • thesteelworkersofamerica

    Mate clipless on the left foot, flats on the right. it’s the best of both worlds.

  • Phil

    That got a laugh. On a recent ride (struggling to keep up with the clip in lads on the pedaly bits) I was off a jump with both feet mysteriously and fearfully off the pedals but moments latter surviving a nasty slide with a lucky dab of the foot.

  • Jamie Hamilton

    Flats are like Kilts, they help with your flow man.

  • BikeJames

    This is a ridiculous story. Larry fell over becasue he couldn’t get unclipped and Barry had a foot slip because he was trying to bunny hop and had the trail conspire against him. The two situations are not even comparable.

    Barry might have cut his leg up bad but it sounds like he might have broke his neck if he had been clipped in and couldn’t unclip. Unlike the clips – which caused Larry’s avoidable crash – the flats helped Barry walk away from an unavoidable crash. I’ll take scars on my legs every day compared to a broken wrist or neck.

  • Alex

    Why not get the worst of both? Ride normal shoes on SPD pedals. Slippery, unpredictable and uncomfortable.