Why I’m switching to mtb style flat pedals

Comparison of flat and platform pedal

I’ve recently found that my shoes were slipping in damp conditions and that I was not transferring quite as much power in my pedal stroke as I would have liked. Therefore, I’ve switched to wide, mountain bike style flat pedals.

For cyclists that don’t wish to go all the way and be clipped in to their pedals, it can be a smart upgrade path. You often see single speed and fixed gear riders choosing these flat mountain bike style pedals, as they enjoy the efficiency, combined with the option to wear any footwear you choose.

Removing your old pedals and installing new ones is easy. We’ve got instructions in our Bike Doctor app. The most important thing to remember is that the left pedal is reverse threaded, so you’ll need to turn it clockwise to remove it. The right pedal needs to be turned counter clockwise – as you would with most bolts.

Avoid using an adjustable spanner when performing this repair as the grip isn’t as firm and you may slip, causing damage to you or more importantly to your bike! Ideally, you should use a pedal spanner which comes with most bike maintenance kits.

There’s plenty of choice when it comes to flat MTB pedals and two of the best are the Shimano MX30 (cheapest price is on Chain Reaction Cycles) and the MKS GR9. If they don’t take your fancy, take a look at some of the best sellers on Chain Reaction Cycles for an idea of what most cyclists are buying.

As with all cycling component and accessory choices, it comes down to personal preference. What pedals are you using?

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45 Responses to Why I’m switching to mtb style flat pedals

  1. Mathieu Davy 27/09/2012 at 10:15 am #

    Also, it’s worth mentioning that you should never tighten them like a brute, or you won’t be able to remove them later on without a massively long spanner or power tools.
    On all my 5 bikes, I tighten them with my fingers *only* and it’s been fine all the time.
    I commute through london, been in the mountains, did some hard 60Kph sprints and do time trials and triathlons, so you can take my word for it: the pedals won’t fall off!

    • Andreas 27/09/2012 at 10:39 am #

      True – I’d probably go a little tighter than your fingers but not much beyond that. Good tip Mathieu! Also: never forget to add grease on the threads before putting pedals in.

      • Mathieu Davy 27/09/2012 at 11:04 am #

        Oh yeah! Never forget grease, and if you have it, the washer. That could save your cranks. I’ve seen cranks ruined by a combination of forgetting the above: no grease, no washers = pedal almost fused in crank = bin…

    • blahkid 21/10/2012 at 12:40 pm #

      Bad Advice. While your pedals will eventually self-tighten in the meantime you will increase the wear on the threads as you will putting your entire weight on a loose connection. Such damage can lead to seized threads.

      Most manafacturers recommend around 30nm of torque for attaching pedals. Always follow the installation instructions.

      As mentioned the best way to avoid problems with pedal removal is to greese the threads, reservicing once a year.

  2. Paul 27/09/2012 at 10:16 am #

    You can get away from the lights faster with flats too. Every day I get held up by cyclists that work their way to the front of a junction, then hold everyone else up while they clip-in…

    • Mathieu Davy 27/09/2012 at 10:18 am #

      I just stay clipped in and learnt to track stand!
      But about your point, probably some cycling etiquette should be learnt too. Too many cyclists on beater bikes doing 10mph ride to the front of the bunch at the lights and also hold up everyone else =)

      • Andreas 27/09/2012 at 10:41 am #

        It’s called shoaling as dubbed by Bike Snob NYC!

        I’ve not much experience with clipless but I’d imagine you could pedal with one foot before having to clip in?

        • barton 27/09/2012 at 12:03 pm #

          You can, but most with road clips do not. I have SPD pedals, so I move through junctions and then clip in – if it did not happen initially. I have seen the back up caused by those who cannot get off quickly b/c of clipping in at many junctions.

      • Paul 27/09/2012 at 11:53 am #

        LOL, very true! :D

    • Matthew Hardy 17/10/2012 at 12:57 pm #

      Exactly, clips are too slow for urban riding – and too dangerous!

  3. Thomas 27/09/2012 at 10:29 am #

    I use flat pedals on my fixed gear, I tried track style pedals for a bit but, as you point out, they can be slippy. I guess this is more of a problem with fixed gear than with a freewheel as the pedals are always in motion.

    I’ve recently been using some pedals straps which are made by a company called Restrap. They attach through flat pedals and have velcro so they can be easily adjusted for different footwear. Once you get your feet in (a bit tricky when in motion) they feel very secure.

    • Andreas 27/09/2012 at 10:42 am #

      Only thing that would worry me about that Thomas and that puts me off is that in an accident I’d be dragged down with my feet attached to my pedals. I believe clip ins are designed to release your feet in that event…

      • Thomas 27/09/2012 at 11:07 am #

        Yes that is a concern… The first time I tried them out I fell over and couldn’t get my feet out to get back up again! I’ve got used to them now though and wear them a little looser. You’ve got a point though, if the bike goes down I’m bound to follow.

        • Andreas 27/09/2012 at 12:25 pm #

          The weird tactic I used was to wear one on my right foot and then when I got used to that I strapped it to my left – odd tactic but it worked! Now, I simply prefer riding without though I do miss it when heading up hill!

  4. alunthomasevans 27/09/2012 at 10:38 am #

    The Wellgo V8 copies (first hit from the Chain Reaction link you posted) are an absolute bargain – not quite as strong as the ‘real’ V8s from DMR, but for commuting purposes they are great – and cheap!

    • Andreas 27/09/2012 at 10:43 am #

      Yep – can see why it’s a best seller. It’s roughly half the price on there than anywhere else I could find it.

  5. Andrew 27/09/2012 at 11:09 am #

    I have pedals which are flat on one side and SPDs on the other. This means I can get away from the lights quickly, then worry about clipping in once I’m moving.

    I find singlespeed/fixies hold everyone up far more than those with clip-in pedals, while they strain at the knees to get moving. Personally I’d rather properly maintain a drive chain with gears than shuffle around with a zimmer frame from mid-50s because I wrecked my knees looking cool on a bike when I was younger.

    • Mathieu Davy 27/09/2012 at 11:14 am #

      It’s all a matter of gearing. But as with everything fashionable, some people know how to use them, some don’t.
      Most track bikes are sold as that: track bikes. With the appropriate gearing when most of us would need something a lot easier. I had one with 48×15 when I bought it. While I have the legs for it on short distances, I promptly changed for 44×18 which was much more appropriate. But who does that? It’s an extra £50 on top of a bike that most buy also because it’s cheap!

    • Emily 27/09/2012 at 1:19 pm #

      I’m with you Andrew – SPDs + flats. Shimano touring pedals is what I go for. Plus for commuting I use Specialised touring shoes, without cleats – a fairly flat smooth rubber sole that gives me good contact with the flat side of the pedal. Being proper bike shoes they are a bit stiffer and more comfy than ordinary trainers, and no laces to catch. Still slide off the pedal sometimes in wet weather, but that’s life.

  6. Johnny 27/09/2012 at 11:11 am #

    Changed to Wellgo B143 pedals. Made a huge difference as no more slipping feet. Easier to get more power when cycling and more confidence when pedalling flat out.

  7. Dougie 27/09/2012 at 11:27 am #

    I put Revolution Contact Flat Pedals (Edinburgh Bike Co-op) on my Cannondale Bad Boy four years ago and they’ve been so good I bought another set for my Langster. Sealed bearings and replaceable pins for under 20 quid is a bargain in my opinion.

  8. commuterjohn 27/09/2012 at 11:58 am #

    Hi.
    I moved over to these a few years ago, I found my feet were slipping or trying to find the flat of the pedal in the dark and in traffic was a no no.
    Now all m my bikes are fitted with them.
    No slipping in the wet. No pedal top to find and no problem if I get grass or mud on my shoes.
    John

  9. Joanythepony 27/09/2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Hi,

    I use Shimana M324 pedals that are flat on one side and spd on the other with a pair of DZR Jetlag shoes. They are really cool looking shoes that can be clipped in or not and are really comfy to walk in, I can highly recommend them for the urban cyclist and available here http://www.alwaysriding.co.uk/

  10. Eddie Tomlinson 27/09/2012 at 6:02 pm #

    Interesting discussion. I currently use SPDs on my road bike which I use mainly for commuting and the odd weekend ride. I usually do a few big rides a year and train for them, otherwise sadly it’s mainly commuting.

    I’ve been considering whether I need SPDs, or whether I Should switch to double sided (flat one side, SPD the other) or just flats. Although on my road bike I’m not sure how the MTB flats would look. The main reason is that I play other sports, e.g tennis so I often cycle to tennis or BMF and have to change shoes when I get there and before I cycle back which is annoying.

    How do people find the double sided ones – is it easy to get the SPD side? I imagined it being a pain having to flip the pedal over to get the right side… and they’re heavier, right?

    • Martins 27/09/2012 at 10:07 pm #

      I’ve got Shimano PD-M324 SPD MTB Pedals, they have a kinda rubber washer on them, so they do not spin on themselves. That is – in a half a turn the other side is facing up and I can clip them in easily. Although in the beginning I had to fight temptation of looking at pedals while clipping in – could be dangerous when on move.

    • Holly 27/09/2012 at 10:20 pm #

      Eddie! Holly here…I find double sided quite annoying with normal trainers as inevitably the clip faces up and it’s not comfortable with trainers like this. Have a go on mine if you like?
      That said they are a good happy medium I think and after one week cycling fine and happy with clips I’m not convinced they really are suitable for urban riding?

    • Will 28/09/2012 at 11:52 am #

      What sort of distance do you travel to tennis? I use SPD-SL pedals on my road bike which enable me to use proper cycle shoes when I am doing proper cycling but their flatter wider profile than SPD mean that I can also use them with trainers when I am doing shorter distances or am out socially. They are probably not as good as flat pedals with trainers, but I was surprised at how secure they feel. The only problem I find is that I forget my feet are not clipped in sometimes.

  11. Simon Wilcox 28/09/2012 at 9:30 am #

    I’ve got MKS PB390 Commuter Pedals on my hybrid. They work really well with loads of grip. http://www.wiggle.co.uk/mks-pb390-commuter-pedals/

  12. Jez 28/09/2012 at 12:38 pm #

    Just to warn, I had a horrific accident with toe clips!! Foot caught in them and the bike landed awkwardly on a slight incline resulting in me dislocating and breaking my ankle horrifically ( I won’t go too graphic! ). 6 weeks in plaster and an further 2 months on crutches! Flat pedals all the way now!

    • Andreas 28/09/2012 at 1:09 pm #

      Squirmed reading this – ouch!

  13. kimbofo 28/09/2012 at 1:09 pm #

    My, how attitudes have changed. I swapped my clip pedals for flats in 2007 and got lambasted for doing so by other cyclists!

    • Andreas 28/09/2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Give it another few years and you’ll be getting lambasted again!

  14. Dermot 28/09/2012 at 1:23 pm #

    Interesting discussion!

    I switched to clipless pedals a few months ago and haven’t looked back. The power transfer from leg to bike is instantly better.

    I’ve had a couple of *almost* sticky moments when I stopped before unclipping (if you’ve got no forward motion and you’re still clipped in you’ll fall over) but these have served as useful lessons!

    As for clipping in when the traffic lights go green – I push off with my clipped foot, get some speed up then clip the other foot. Takes a bit of practise but as the months have passed – and with a few adjustment to the cleat positions on the shoe – your foot automatically finds the pedal.

    One thing all the clipping and unclipping at traffic lights has encouraged me to do is find routes across London with fewer lights. There also tend to be the quieter routes so it’s a win/win situation imo!

  15. Dermot 28/09/2012 at 1:24 pm #

    Interesting discussion!

    I switched to clipless pedals a few months ago and haven’t looked back. The power transfer from leg to bike is instantly better.

    I’ve had a couple of *almost* sticky moments when I stopped before unclipping (if you’ve got no forward motion and you’re still clipped in you’ll fall over) but these have served as useful lessons!

    As for clipping in when the traffic lights go green – I push off with my clipped foot, get some speed up then clip the other foot. Takes a bit of practise but as the months have passed – and with a few adjustment to the cleat positions on the shoe – your foot automatically finds the pedal.

    One thing all the clipping and unclipping at traffic lights has encouraged me to do is find routes across London with fewer lights. These also tend to be the quieter routes so it’s a win/win situation imo!

  16. Big Softy 28/09/2012 at 3:02 pm #

    Time to bite the bullet and change to clipless perhaps Andreas?
    I’ve evolved over the last 30 years from full-cage, to half-cage and in the last couple of months to SPD and don’t regret it.
    Standing on the pedals in the pouring rain with utter confidence of not slipping off.
    A couple of hours practice on grass in the park until you get the feel and you’re ready to roll.
    I usually keep my right foot clipped in at lights, using my left for balance, and never had a problem clipping back in when I get mobile.
    And if you’re worried about being clipped in, Shimano make a cleat that unclips multi-directionally.

  17. Black cardamom 28/09/2012 at 7:37 pm #

    I got MKS lambda pedals last April.

    http://www.evanscycles.com/products/mks/lambda-commuter-pedals-ec016830

    They are absolutely brilliant. They look like gangsta jewelry, but I can wear flip flops or heels or combat boots or decent cycling shoes and my feet do not slip in the rain, and my power has increased noticeably – even on Bristol hills.

  18. gordon 28/09/2012 at 8:50 pm #

    DMR V8’s, enough said.

  19. Peter K 29/09/2012 at 8:48 am #

    Plastic MTB open toe clips. very easy to slip out of, and give you power over more of your stroke than flat pedals.
    I had a brief excursion to clipless pedals but falling over in Parliament Sq on the naked bike ride when I couldn’t unclip in time decided me against them

  20. UK Cyclists 02/10/2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Nice tips. I’ve always stuck with flat pedals after a few falls when I was clipped in.

  21. SteveP 16/10/2012 at 11:47 pm #

    Another vote for the Shimano M-324 pedals – SPD one side, nice “toothed” flat on the other. Best of both worlds. I used to use toe clips but they were always catching on something.

  22. Matthew Hardy 17/10/2012 at 1:06 pm #

    I have Look clipless pedals on my racing bike but Wellgo CNC M142 flat pedals on the bike I ride to work. I don’t have to climb any hills, which is where clipless really help. It’s so much faster from the traffic lights than clipping in, and London riding is always stop-start. Plus with London roads I like being able to stop falls in their tracks when I have to swerve because of an Addison Lee, or in the winter because of an ice patch.

    The Wellgo CNC M142 is the lightest flat pedal out there – only 236 g per pair, which is on a par with the lightest clipless pedals.

  23. Paul 14/04/2013 at 2:39 am #

    You only listed two pedals, not three.

    I disagree regarding MKS GR9. Rather than being mtb pedals, they’re a small platform road pedal. I have a set and don’t suggest them for urban or mtb use…too slippery when wet, no traction/pins, platform too small for large shoes, soft-soled shoes fold over edge.

    I realize this post is largely for referral revenue, but wanted to comment in case someone was considering the GR9.

    • Andreas 14/04/2013 at 2:06 pm #

      Hey Paul – thanks for sharing your opinions on the GR9. Also you are right – I’ve updated the post to say two pedals instead of three.

  24. Steven 23/06/2013 at 11:22 am #

    About 2 years ago I fitted a pair of cheap, alloy VP MTB / BMX style pedals to my commuter & never looked back! The studs are screw in and replaceable and they’re a godsend in winter when riding in boots, supper grippy and the wide platform feels great underfoot.

  25. Simple 25/07/2014 at 7:40 pm #

    I always comment wherever and whenever I see this topic on a cycling forum.

    For the life of me, I do not see why the “clipless crowd” cares whether or not other riders use platforms/flats. You rarely see people who prefer flats complaining about other people’s choice to go clipless. Why is this?

    I ride my LeMond to work almost every day, and I don’t like to carry extra shoes with me. Then after work, or on weekends, I like to jump on my bike wearing sandals or running shoes. It’s just my preference, and I don’t intend to change, regardless of what other people think.

    It’s funny – my friends were aghast last year that I could possibly forego the “efficiency” of clipless. I really enjoyed inefficiently sailing past them on the road with my MKS lambdas (like Black cardamom above, I love these pedals). I didn’t even bother mentioning to them that, in fact, nobody actually lifts up on their pedals while riding. I just sailed on by.

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