My bike is a Giant Reign, and I ride in the UK. I like going to local gravity parks and trail centres and my local tracks are mainly downhill orientated but I also like to get out on longer rides. I'm currently running some cheap pedals off an old XC bike and am using skate shoes. When the terrain gets even remotely rough, my feet are all over the place and it's doing my head in.

Obviously I need to invest in some better pedals and shoes, however I'm not sure whether to take the hit and go clipless straight away or to get some decent flats n proper shoes then revisit the clipless question further down the line. Any recommendations?

  • You should check out this question bicycles.stackexchange.com/q/5647/19106
    – ebrohman
    Mar 26, 2016 at 14:55
  • That question is about using toe clips in traffic. This question is about using clipless on DH courses. Different pedals, different use.
    – ojs
    Mar 26, 2016 at 19:15
  • Also checkout question bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/14541/…
    – mattnz
    Mar 28, 2016 at 8:24
  • 1
    Even among cheap platform pedals there's a huge variation in grip. I've got some moulded plastic ones that are pretty slippery, and some with an outer part bent from a single piece of alloy with bits sticking up. They're so much better that I might not have gone for clipless if I'd had them to start with. But this is for bad tarmac, speed bumps etc. - very different to downhill. It would be cheap to try though.
    – Chris H
    Mar 28, 2016 at 8:28
  • 2
    Voted to close as his is primarily opinion based (the number of answers proves this). The topic is already very well covered on this site.
    – mattnz
    Mar 28, 2016 at 8:28

4 Answers 4


Being clipped in makes it slower to get your feet off the pedals, in situations where you might want to dab on the ground. Its still possible, but you have to anticipate the need more.

On the other hand, being attached to the bike lets you move it around when in the air, so preparing for a landing.

Toe clips on the pedals are stupid and you should avoid them - they have a bad habit of catching things if your foot is not in them properly.

The other option is pedals with little grip teeth and shoes that have a suitable tread pattern. Personally I've never ridden with these.

Sadly noone can tell you what will work best for you. If you have a friend with pedals you'd like to try, ask to borrow their bike for a ride. Or swapping pedals is relatively easy and only requires one tool. Most bikes have a 9/16" thread and a pedal swap takes ~5 minutes. Or buy some cheap ones on ebay for a test. You can always sell them onwards if you don't like them.


Clipless makes it hard to bail out when you're in trouble, which is why most DH riders use flats.

A quality pair of flats + decent shoes are going to be just as expensive as clipless pedals and shoes.

Unless you're doing serious downhill (and crashing a good bit), I would go straight to clipless.


Clipless pedals/SPD (and shoes) are great (shoes are usually very comfortable to wear; not so much when walking ;) and riding a bike, especially on flat and uphill terrain seems efficient and easy.

I have clipless, flat and combined pedals for my MTB... and I've used clipless until one day I had crash :) After that, I have constant fear that I won't be able to unlock my shoes in time to fall nicely :)

Since I didn't want to go back to flat pedals I decided to switch to combined ones. Now, when I'm approaching steep downhill section I just put my shoes on the flat side of the pedals and I worry much less about falling.

My suggestion would be to try combined pedals - they might be good alternative.

  • 2
    Reduce the tension of your clips... My cheap "look keo easy" are so budget they don't even have a tension adjust, and a good stiff yank makes the cleat come right out. My two crashes, feet and pedals just weren't an issue.
    – Criggie
    Mar 27, 2016 at 10:18
  • 1
    Good point about adjusting tension to easily 'unlock' your feet. Mar 28, 2016 at 9:45

It is not that hard to use clipless, you just need to gain muscle memory to how to remove your feet from the pedal. It is takes about 15 min of practice. But as said above there isn't really a point. I didn't find clipless more comfortable or more efficient (they are not) just different. You can do stuff that you can't whit normal pedals. When you are tired you can raise your leg instead of pushing or just focus on not just pushing the pedal as you can make effort along all the pedal travel making it feel like less effort as you are using your both legs at same time.

  • thnk for dislike I will not maintain ciclistiks myths but you are free to do so.
    – kifli
    Mar 28, 2016 at 11:29

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