Clipless pedals or mountain biking platform

Being old school, the vast majority of my life, I have been riding platform pedals and I have defended them “to the death.” However, since I decided to go “hooked”, I love clipless pedals. Learning the base and technique thanks to the platform pedals, the cleats offer me better handling of the bike.

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However, each type of pedal has its advantages and disadvantages. To tilt the balance to one of the two sides, you must take into account the use that you are going to give them and the type of terrain you are going to move through, among other things. In this case, the mongoose red mountain bike could be the best option for you. Keep reading!

Platform pedals

The platform pedals or “flat pedals” consist of a plastic or metal base with small screws distributed over the surface where you can seat the foot to turn the cranks and provide movement to your bike. Today there are countless models, measures, and even the material of the “skewers” has been improved to increase grip.

Spiked platform pedals

Although platform pedals have always been used in DH and BMX especially, they are equally useful when practicing Enduro. Their main advantage is the freedom of movement they offer when handling the bike and acquiring techniques. By not having your foot hooked to the bike you can put it on or take it off quickly to mark a trick or in the event of any error, scare, or tight curve.

However, you should focus on keeping your feet on the pedals in very bumpy areas to prevent the shoe from slipping. Even if you think that this can only happen on a descent, it could also happen when you climb a technical route causing your foot to rise uncontrollably due to the unevenness of the terrain and unbalance of you. You could even get the typical shin injury, very common in those who choose this type of pedal.

A good option to minimize this risk is to use pedals made of quality material, with a good base and spikes, as well as specific footwear. A pair of shoes with torsion-resistant soles, soft and with an appropriate design, give you a better grip by helping the “spikes” fit perfectly and do not move.

Suitable footwear will offer you confidence, a good feeling on the bike and your foot will be well fixed to the pedal without fear of it escaping. Keep in mind that it is no use having the best platform pedals on the market if the sole of your shoe is not adequate, or vice versa.

Although the shoe does not move, the great disadvantage of platform pedals is especially appreciated when pedaling. You can only exert force when you push the pedal down, losing quite a bit of efficiency in the rotational movement.

Another positive point about these pedals is that riding on them is safer in muddy or snowy conditions. By not accumulating mud, neither in the mechanism nor in the cleats, you always have a good base to rest your feet on. Also, if you have to push or carry the bike, it will be very comfortable to walk with shoes without cleats.

Advantages of platform pedals

  • Freedom of movement (for problems, or jumps and tricks)
  • Perfect for use in muddy or snowy conditions
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Great variety in the market
  • Especially good at acquiring technique

Disadvantages of platform pedals

  • Shin injuries from bumps or scrapes from your pedals
  • Possibility of your foot coming off in technical areas, cuts, or jumps

Who are platform pedals ideal for?

  • Lovers of bike parks and doing tricks “no foot”
  • If you prefer to walk around tight curves, technical areas, or simply have that freedom of movement.
  • If you live in cold or humid climates and go out on sticky muddy terrain or snow

Automatic pedals

Clipless pedals are made up of a structure that has a mechanism made up of springs that hook a metal piece (cleat) screwed to the shoe. To release the foot, simply turn the heel outward.

The structure can be larger or smaller. For those who practice Enduro, you can look for a base that gives you more surface to support your foot and thus give you more peace of mind if the cleat has not been attached. On the other hand, you could opt for pedals with less surface area for disciplines such as Cross-country.

One of the great advantages, thanks to the engagement of the pedals with the cleat, strength is provided throughout the pedaling cycle, achieving a more fluid and efficient movement.

In jumps and technical descents, it will give us stability since the probability of our foot slipping off the pedal is reduced. In addition, the automatic pedals help to pull more of the bike and take it wherever we want. Even depending on your level, you can do some kind of jump or maneuver to change your trajectory with the pull of the pedals.

The use of these pedals forces you to buy special shoes since you need cleats to get hooked on the pedal as mentioned above. This is an additional expense, although it is true that they are very hard and resistant shoes. The downside is that if you have to carry the bike or walk down a difficult area, it will be more uncomfortable since the soles are much more rigid and the cleats can slip.

Another negative point of this system is that if there is a lot of mud, it may accumulate on the dock and in the cove, making coupling difficult or impossible. You will have to use a stick or Allen key to clean the pedal and the shoe area.

Something that we cannot forget is the need for a short period of adaptation before getting fully into action. Falling is always one of our biggest fears (myself included). It is advisable to train the movement several times to engage and disengage the shoe from the pedal, assimilate it well and regulate the tension of the pedal spring.

An appropriate tension will be the minimum that allows you to hook the cleat comfortably but without it becoming disengaged with the natural movements on your Mtb. It is advisable to always carry an Allen key to modify it to your liking during the route, so you will avoid the typical silly fall while standing still.

The ideal is to practice first in terrain that you know well or are easy. As you gain confidence, regulate the tension of the spring until it is to your liking. Not too loose, that makes the shoe come off very easily, not too tight that you can’t even release your foot from the pedal and end up on the ground.

Advantages of clipless pedals

  • You take advantage of all the circular movement of pedaling
  • Greater stability on the pedal does not slip the foot in technical areas
  • You can take advantage of the pull for jumps or bunny hops
  • Once the adaptation period is over, they can offer you greater security

Disadvantages of clipless pedals

  • Difficult to drive
  • Higher cost (pedal, cleat, shoe)
  • Mud or snow can accumulate making coupling difficult
  • An adaptation period is needed
  • If you do not know, you do not acquire the necessary technique for jumps or bunny hops

Who are clipless pedals ideal for?

  • You move through very technical areas and look for more security
  • You do long routes and are looking for greater pedaling efficiency

Clipless pedals vs platforms

Now that you know the characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of the two types of pedals, you can decide based on your riding style, type of terrain, road conditions, and preferences.

Don’t you see it clear?

Don’t worry, you can always have both types and use them depending on the terrain you are going to ride, the inclement weather, or simply if you want to enjoy the pump track. Combining the use of the platform and the automatic ones will prevent you from getting used to overusing the pedals when lifting the bike and you will always have control.

If you still doubt, the market also offers other possibilities, such as mixed pedals or dual-purpose, which have a platform face and the other with a hook. Some magnets are also platform pedals with a powerful magnet that attracts a plate placed on the shoe.

Tips: What is a cruiser bike good for?