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Clips vs Flats | Which Pedals Are More Efficient For XC?

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Published on Jul 9, 2017

That's right, GMBN are doing science! Neil's measuring what's more efficient to use on a XC MTB, clip pedals or flat pedals. But this time he's not just relying on the clock. He's got a power meter, feeding data about cadence and performance directly into an on board computer! Let's get scientific!

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The course I'm riding today is pretty mellow. Lots of hard packed cross country style trails, but also a couple of pretty punchy climbs where I'm gonna have to put the power down. On my bike, I've got a power meter and I'm wearing a heart rate monitor. So all that information's gonna go to my computer. It's gonna tell me how hard I'm working, how much power I'm putting through the pedals, but also lots of detailed information on things like smoothness. So I'm trying to ride two really consistent laps with how much effort I'm putting in. And be able to go back to the Dirt Shed have a look at the stats to see if there is any difference between flats and clips.

I've done a bit of a cycling lap, so let's see what I can do on clipless pedals. They felt good, felt normal. I always ride cross country on clipless pedals now. So, time to put the flats on. Doesn't feel right sticking some big pedals like this on a carbon 29er, but let's give it a whirl.

Lets have a look at some results for flat pedals first. I did the 6.3 km lap in 18 mins and 32 secs. On clips, I did it in 17 mins 56. So, faster on clips. However, you're looking at the heart rate results, it does look like I worked that bit harder on clips. That doesn't mean that clips were more efficient, which means I probably didn't pace it quite the same. The interesting thing is when you come to the cadence and the power. I had a slightly higher cadence on clips, so it felt like I kept a much more consistent cadence as on the flat pedals, It's much more power spiky. Same with the power. The power curve is much more consistent. It does look like I was working slightly harder 'cause my heart rate was slightly higher on average on the clips. But, I definitely, that's what it feels like for me. With the clipless pedals on, I feel like I'm just spinning a much more consistent rate, and I'm not just having to just sprint and then coast. So, what's the conclusion? I think from this relatively short task, I definitely think that clipless pedals are slightly more efficient. And for me, it definitely feels that way, especially trying to ride a carbon 29er. They're quite a harsh ride, so on flat pedals, I was bouncing around, having to readjust my feet quite a lot. Whereas on the clips, it felt like I could spin the pedals really well. Also, after the test, I actually did a max power test. And on the flat pedals, I got quite a weedy 920 watts. On the clips, I got 1173 watts. So a big difference there, 250 watts in max power difference.

We've done clips versus flats in the lab, where we really didn't see much difference. And then on a downhill bike where the flats came out on top. So this is the first time we've actually seen clips take a bit of a lead. I think the next video we need to do is a marathon version of this, so 50k. That's where I think we'll really see a difference.

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Watch more on GMBN...
Do Flat Pedals Win Medals? Lets find out : http://gmbn.eu/7U 📹
Check out our lab results: http://gmbn.eu/clipsversusflats 📹

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