Flat pedals, shoes and bike shop?

Hi Lee,

I just read over Pump Up the Base and am fired up to get going. In particular, I had been thinking of giving flat pedals a try for a while, and this is a great excuse to do so. Do you have a type of flat pedal and flat pedal shoes you’d recommend, or are they all pretty similar?

Lastly, is there a local bike shop that you’d recommend for shoes and pedals. I find most shops are real good with bikes and parts, but there’s not a lot of expertise with shoes out there. I’ve got weird feet and need more help than most. Thanks for you your help, and thanks for the REVO referral. I’ll be giving them a call soon.


Dave Farrell


Thanks for buying the Pump Up the Base off-season training program. I’ve been on that program for a few years now, and it works extremely well. How well? When I started PUTB I was maintaining 200 watts. Now that number is closer to 300. Plus my sprint power is up too. So welcome to PUTB Nation!

Flat pedal shoes

Right now Five Ten is the best, period. When I say best, I mean stickiest and most specifically made for pedals. Five Ten makes a wide range of shoes for various riding styles.

If you have funny feet, as I do, you might consider a non-bike shoe.

Any shoe with a relatively smooth, sticky sole works great. Vans and other skate shoes are still legit. I’ve had success with running shoes and especially with “approach” shoes. As a matter of fact, the first bike-specific flat pedal shoe was a slightly modified Five Ten Mountain Master. The Five Ten Guide Tennie also looks good, but the toe is too narrow for me.

When I ride flats off road, I wear some old Five Tens. Day to day and when I ride flats on the road or trainer, I wear an old Montrail mountain running shoe. It sticks to pedals well, walks the dog well and stomps shovels well. Its big toe box fits my funny toes.

Spinning 200 rpm on flat pedals with my Montrail mountain running shoes:

I have no affiliation with Five Ten or Montrail.

Flat pedals

I’ve ridden models from $30 to $200, and, honestly, they all work pretty well — especially with great shoes.

As bike genius Lars Thomsen, owner of Trail Head Cyclery in San Jose, CA says, “Great shoes and so-so pedals work well. So do so-so shoes and great pedals.”

Look for a price and color you like, with lots of adjustable traction pins. If you’re not doing crazy tricks, you want the stickiest connection possible, which is the maximum number of pins, as long as they go.

My current favorite flat pedal is the Shimano Saint. It’s not the most fashionable option (what no purple?), but it’s beautiful, functional and will last 20+ years. Seriously. I still ride my original Shimano DH pedals.

Shimano Saint flat pedals. I do have an affiliation with Shimano (thank goodness!).

Another fave pedal is the Specialized “P.Series Pedal Dirt.” Not a great name, but light weight and incredible stickiness.

I have an affiliation with Specialized, but I paid for these P.Series Pedal Dirt pedals.

Bike shop

For the best selection of flat pedals and shoes in the Front Range, go to The Fix Bike Shop in Boulder.

In the Bay Area, go to Trail Head Cyclery in San Jose.

I have longstanding relationships with both shops.

For help finding shoes that fit unusual feet, check out Boulder Running Company in Boulder, Littleton, Colorado Springs, and more locations. They were super patient, and they matched me to the Montrails.

REVO Physiotherapy and Sports Performance

In my experience, the most dialed physical therapy and performance clinic in Boulder. They’ve helped me — and lots of my clients — in a big way. If you have any pain, or you want to avoid it, check out REVO.

Getting stronger — with professional supervision! This can’t hurt the wattage.

Have fun!


Know more. Have more fun!

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10 replies
  1. Dave Farrell says:

    What’s your favorite clipless pedal, Lee? I’ve been riding Time ATAC’s for years. I like the float, but the release is pretty stiff. Any suggestions?

  2. leelikesbikes says:


    I’ve been on Shimano since the late ’80s. The newer XT Trail pedal works very well and it a great value. If you can afford it, the XTR Trail pedal is incredibly smooth in and out.

    Rip it,


  3. Jeff Faris says:

    I know this is old but I thought I’d chime in.

    A little background; I tried clipless pedals years ago but after a couple of close calls still attached to my bike I gave up and haven’t had enough desire to overcome the small amount of fear in the back of my head. I’m not the fastest going up but appreciate the ability to go into more aggressive lines knowing I can hop out real quick.

    For what its worth Five Ten shoes are my absolute favorite and I would recommend them to anyone (Try the Freerider Contacts AKA VXi, they’re great). If their shoes do not work for you and you plan on riding trail over a decent distance then Vans might not be the way to go.

    I ride Vans when I’m dirt jumping and they work great in terms of grip however if you are planning on going on a longer distance where you’re pedaling a lot you will want to take a look at shoes that have a stiff sole under the ball of your foot. I found that my feet killed me after a lot of pedaling without that extra support.

    On the pedal note I will also recommend the Deity Compound pedals. They also aren’t much to look at (though they do come in purple) but due to their vinyl body they are lightweight, slide over rocks instead of grab, more durable than plastic, and if you do break one they’re real cheap to replace the body ($18). The great thing about the compounds is that they use metal, replaceable pins which grip just as good as an aluminum pedal. I’m also eyeballing the Race Face Chester pedals for my next pair but haven’t tried them yet.

    I don’t know if Lee has covered this yet with flats but couple of tricks I’ve learned over the years is that you want to keep your heel down on the downstroke which seems to help with power/fatigue (could be all in my head). If you need some help on the upstroke you can point your toes down and press into the pedal while lifting your leg which keeps your shoe hooked to the pedal so you *can* put power on the upstroke but it takes a little bit more coordination.


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