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Clips or Flat Pedals – The Great Debate!

Clips or flat pedals – the great debate!

This is a seemingly never-ending debate for adventure racers: what should they use on race day? Flat pedals and trail runners vs. clip-in and cycle shoes. 

Here we look at the advantages of both options. 

The pros for clip-in and cycle shoes: 

Better pedaling: As you are connected to the pedals with stiffer shoes, you can have more power being transmitted to your wheels.  Which means you go faster and use 20% less energy. 

Hills Clip-ins are more efficient for hill climbs and in adventure racing there are loads of hills. 

Pull-up: As you are connected you are able to ‘pull up’ on your pedals. This allows you to use more of your calf muscles as you rotate the pedals. Again, giving you more speed and using less energy.   

The pros of flat pedals and trail runners: 

Only one pair needed: In most Quest races, especially in the longer distance routes, participants are required to undertake a run stage straight off the bike, often more than once. 

If you are only using your trail running shoes, you can just rack your bike in the transition and start running. No need to faff around with changing shoes, saving you many seconds that are crucial in your race with your buddies. 

There can be up to 3 shoe changes if you go with clip-ins. 

Added confidence: If you are newer to cycling in groups, then having your feet not locked in might be a safer option as you will know you can take your foot off at any time anyway. 

It’s one less thing to think about as you concentrate on the road and scenery ahead and making it to the finish line.  


Our advice: 

Flat pedals and trail runners all the way! 

Lots of people like to train on the bike with clips and cycle shoes. It’s pretty easy to change over pre-event to flat pedals with a good pedal wrench and a bit of WD40. 

If you are changing to flats for the first time, change-over 2 week’s pre-event to get used to it as slightly different leg muscles are activated on flat pedals.



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