Pedals for MTB Flat or with bindings: which are the best?
The pedals are some of the most important components of our bicycle: they are in fact - in addition to the handlebar and saddle - the point of contact between the cyclist and the bicycle. In the world of cycling, the debate is more heated than ever: are flat pedals better than those with bindings?
It is not possible to give a straight answer: in fact, there is no one option that is better than the other, there is the best one for every need. That's why in this article we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of flat pedals and pedals with attachments , so that everyone can independently understand which option is best for them.
Starting by listing the advantages of these two pedal philosophies, two philosophies that also determine riding style
Benefits Flat pedals
Flat pedals are the classic pedals with a flat support surface, on which there is no type of connection with the shoe, but only the so-called PINs, or "pins" that increase the grip between the pedal and the shoe.
The main advantages of using this pedal are:
- Greater ease of use: the Flat pedals used in MTBs are no different from those mounted on a common women's bicycle or on the most common supermarket MTBs. Anyone who knows how to ride a bike knows how to use these pedals. Their use is therefore more intuitive even for newcomers to the discipline.
- They can be used with any type of shoe. While a dedicated cycling shoe is still ideal, flat pedals can be used with almost any type of athletic shoe.
- They reduce the risk of falling. Getting off the bike with flat pedals is much easier because there is no need to release the shoe from the pedal. Even in the event of loss of balance or other unexpected events, moving your foot from the pedal to the ground is easier and this significantly reduces the risk of falling.
- They leave complete freedom of movement. You can balance yourself by moving the heel of your foot inwards or outwards, you can easily pull your foot out when you want to make a bend in the screed....
Benefits pedals with bindings
Pedals with bindings consist of a system of attachment to the cyclist's shoe. The main advantages offered by this solution are:
- Better control of the bike: with your feet hooked to the pedals, you have greater control of the bike in any situation.
- It is easier to jump over obstacles: having greater control over the bicycle and being literally hooked to it, it is easier for the cyclist to jump and pass obstacles on the paths.
- Lower weight. For those looking for the greatest possible lightness on their bicycle, pedals with attachments are the ideal solution, as they are often lighter than the flat alternative, thanks to the considerable reduction in the support surface possible only with clipless pedals.
- Pedaling is more efficient. With the foot hooked to the pedal, the cyclist not only pushes the pedal down but can also pull it up. In this way pedaling is more efficient and effective, helping the so-called round pedaling, where in every position in which the crank is found, the same energy persists on the pedals and therefore on the wheel.
Unfortunately, as with everything good, there are also negative aspects
Disadvantages Flat pedals
Unfortunately, as with everything beautiful, there are also negative aspects:
- Weight. As we have mentioned, they are heavier than those with attachments, in fact to have a good grip with a FLAT pedal a large surface is required, which is not essential for pedals with attachments.
- With Flat pedals it is more difficult to learn to jump over obstacles because, not being hooked to it, it is more difficult to let the bicycle follow you during the movement. More difficult does not mean impossible
- In the roughest sections the foot inevitably moves back and forth on the pedal, sometimes creating non-optimal conditions of balance on the bike, in fact it is not pleasant to be with the heel of the shoe on the pedal instead of the toe.
Disadvantages Pedals with bindings
Even pedals with bindings have some contraindications:
- First of all is hooking the shoe to the pedal, a movement that can be difficult, especially for those who have never used them before. They definitely have a longer learning period than the more conventional flat pedals. A big problem especially for those who are used to stopping or "throwing" their foot out at every turn.
- Increased risk of falling: being hooked to the bicycle, when the bike falls, the cyclist usually follows it. Especially on the first outings it is easy to fall from STOP precisely because you are not used to it and have not yet learned the lunge movement to perform to disengage.
- Drawbacks may arise during outings in the mud: when you put your foot on the ground, perhaps to push the bike along some particularly bumpy and impervious stretches, it could be difficult to hook the shoe to the pedal due to the mud that settles on the shoe cleat.
Conclusion: so better FLAT pedals or with bindings?
What's the best option for you? For agonists looking for performance and speed, we definitely recommend pedals with bindings. On the other hand, those who experience cycling more calmly, are not looking for maximum performance, or often find themselves pushing the bike and therefore having to get off and on often, then Flat pedals are certainly the recommended solution. Don't forget that Flat pedals are not synonymous with "second-class cyclist"! The most striking example of this is Sam Hill, 5-time Downhill World Champion and two-time Enduro World Series winner and raced his entire career with Flat pedals ! Justifying that only with FLAT pedals can he express himself at his best on his bike.
How do we think about it?
We at Switch strongly believe in the potential of FLAT pedals because they guarantee a freer and more expressive riding style and for this reason we have a wide choice of solutions for all budgets in our catalogue! Visit our section dedicated to pedals and discover the pedal that best suits your needs!
Visit our pedal collection - SWITCH PEDALS