I can’t stop worrying about my pedals

Hello Lee,

I have been going through some hard times lately with my riding.. started when I bought Crank Brothers Mallets and I couldn’t get in and out quick enough and took some hard hard tumbles.. I mainly ride technical trail in FL. one of which is Alafia.

I tried flats out found out I had re-learn how to pedal and be able to bunny hop…I am not confident on the jumps ie. foot slipping fear…I have been ridding clipless since 95′ and I am 45 if that matters.

clipless where fine untill recently I guess I stepped up the game and don’t do the XC ride any more… I just like going out playing around learning how to wheelie off of drops, pump , jumps etc…just having basic fun.

I just dremeled the cleats down a little bit to see if the engagement would be quicker as well as the disengagement. should I just buy a decent pair of flats and stick to them? I did buy some 5/10 impact lows..

I’m getting alot of feedback – most riders say stick to the clipless others say go to flats I have know gotten to point I am confused and on my rides all the focus and energy is going into this one nagging question – flats or no flats??

Hopefully you can set me straight!

Best Regards,
Joseph Vazquez III


45 years old and rocking. Nice work.

I don’t understand why you’re having so much trouble with your pedals. From what I hear, Crank Bros pedals are almost too easy to get out of.

Maybe you just need to practice. Not on technical trail. On the road. Or in your living room. If you’re not confident getting in and out of your pedals in a clean environment, how can you expect to do it in the gnar?

DO NOT dremel any part of your bike (or shoes). That is insane. Dude, you’re 45 years old.

How about this logic?

• Clip-in pedals are causing damage. You have crashed because of them.

• Flat pedals might cause damage. You are worried about crashing because of them.

For you, clip-ins are not safe. Flats might be safe. So let’s try flats for a while.

Get some good pedals. My Answer Rove FR pedals cost less than $100 and work great. Other nice choices include the Specialized Lo Pro Mag and Truvativ Holzfeller. Heck, these days, if you shake a tree a bunch of nice flat pedals will fall out. You already have great shoes.

Go back to basics. If you don’t know how to ride with flat pedals, you don’t know how to ride. Some people hate hearing this, but it’s true. Slow down. Focus on great technique. Have fun finding real Flow on your bike. The speed and braaap will come on their own.

My Badass Lawyer Chris is 50 — and one of my favorite MTB kung fu students. As part of his training, he switched to flats last year. He worked through a short adjustment period, but now he says he’s flowing way better and having way more fun. When he clips in (say, for aggro rides with the fast boys), he’s killing it extra rock style.



Know more. Have more fun!

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14 replies
  1. birkham says:

    Free your feet, free your mind! Some of the best MTB advice I received was to give flat pedals a try. It’s so true, if one can’t ride with flats (hop, steep technical uphills, etc), one probably hasn’t learned to load/unload the bike or pedal properly.

  2. ClintonRH says:

    Should of tried putting a spacer under the cleat before dremeling. Those cleats are probably ruined now. What’s probably happening if he’s having trouble getting out of Crank Bros is the tread of the shoes is pressing into the platform too much. My Quattros are very difficult to get out of if I don’t have a spacer under the cleat. The tread blocks on the side of the cleat press into the pedal to much, effectively locking me on because I have difficult turning. One tiny little thin plastic spacer that came with the cleats was all that was necessary to prevent the tread interference.

  3. cglasford says:

    Like lee said, if you can’t ride with flats you can’t ride. I tell all my friends that I help get into mtb start with some decent flats and good shoes, which you have, and then ride with them for at least a month. Start just riding around your block. Practice your turns, hard braking, ride some curbs, just get use to them. Then move onto wheelies, manuals and bunny hops. If you are scared of getting a pedal to the shin get some 661 veggie shins or if you have kids that play soccer, strap them on. I only ride flats and feel pretty confident and frankly hardly every slip a pedal but still rock shins because I feel more confident with them on! Good luck, start small start slow and you will benefit huge from going with flats!

  4. Lisa says:

    Best decision I ever made was going to flats! Never realized how wrong I was doing things. Tough at first, but I’m having more fun and doing things I never thought I would. I really had to learn how to do drops properly instead of using the clips to pull up. I was a die-hard clipless fan, but I’ll never go back!

  5. crazybike says:

    #1 I did have shims under clears
    #2 tried friends CB no prob
    #3 dremeling was suggested to me by other mtn bikers
    #4 shoes where fine check out at LBS

    Good news is that I went back to the LBS we set the bike up with the pedals on a trainer they watched me as I engaged and disengaged using both the problematic CB mallets and new ones.
    Huge issue with the one’s I bought
    . It was almost comical how much problems I had clicking in and out.
    The new pair no prob.
    good news after several calls to CB it was determind my pedals where defective. Ththe pedals are going back to CB and I will get a 2012 CB mallets new and improved. They discontinued the old ones.
    as for the flats im loving them. I even ordered a pair of Straitlines I can now bunny hop over roots withe flats and do smaller jumps. No problems with climbs at all. Thi vs are starting to get back in order.
    Thought I was going nuts! With this pedal issue. Like I said I had been ridding clipless since the early 90’s so I couldn’t understand the issue I was having.
    Thanks for all the help!
    I’m still rockin the flats and login them. I like the freedom.

  6. cglasford says:

    Glad to here it! keep up with the flats and watch your skills improve ten fold! I mean it, you will destroy with your clips when you can rip with your flats!

  7. crazybike says:

    Sorry…I don’t uneerstand why my post came out the way it did? I was on my Droid perhaps? sorry it looks like I was being rude..not intended. I apriciate all the advice thanks!!!

    In regards to the flats just re-learning everything, but as a kid thats all we rode on or bmx bikes and we did jump and everything no problem but again I was a kid and it was the 70’s and 80’s

    glad we finnaly figure it out it was the springs in the pedals that where defective.

    But for now I can’t wait for my Straitlines to come in. got a great deal on them.

    I also changed my stumpy: 30″ bars 70mm stem, 2.3 nevgals front and back and hopefully buy the end of summer some stronger rims and hubs the 420 SL DT swiss are to light and flexy for my weight.

  8. leelikesbikes says:

    Lots of great news: finding a defect in your Crank Bros pedals, and rocking the flats.

    Like cglasford said, when you learn to ride well with flats, you will kill it with clips!

    The Straitline pedals look good. I hope you ordered the Jeff Lenosky signature model — with the 24K gold plated pins.

  9. crazybike says:

    Lee those are the one’s I ordered. Great deal on them too. I plan on being on flats for awhile. Too bad you don’t have any clinics in Fl.

  10. crazybike says:

    No. I’m in Tampa. You should come out and check Alafia State Park or Santo’s Park in Ocala.

    Have fun…enjoy the beach.

  11. crazybike says:

    Just receieved my Straitline pedals…loving them nice grip. rode them on some xc single track to try out real quick so far thumbs up. I will be hitting some technical trails tomorrow.

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