How to get more grip, control and power from your pedals
Ditch the cleats and learn how to ride flats. Pedal choice, pedal pin customisation, foot placement, getting loose and how to put it altogether.
1. Choices, choices, choices
First up, your choice of flat pedal is key; go for a model that’s thin, has a concave platform, is wide enough to accommodate your foot and provides options in terms of pin placement. Equally important is your choice of shoe — Five Ten shoes have been around for a while now, but they’re still top of the pile when it comes to sheer grip.
2. Pin perfection
Pin placement is down to personal preference, although we’d recommend at least one in each corner and think about omitting the centre pin at the front to save your shins. Some pedals, like the DMR Vault, give you the option of different types of pins, and the ability to reverse them for a different grip feel. Fewer pins can actually give you more grip, but you may find you have to be that bit more accurate with where you place your foot each time.
3. Don’t stay planted
Because your foot isn’t fixed to the pedal you can move it around to aid balance and grip. When cornering or riding off-camber sections, you may find it useful to pivot your foot in the direction of travel to help fine-tune your weight on the bike and maximise grip.
4. Drop your heel
SPD-style pedals might appear to have one clear benefit when it comes to riding rougher sections — they literally keep your foot attached to the pedal — but using the right technique you can keep your feet firmly planted on flat pedals. All you need to do is drop your heels when riding a rough section, which also has the additional benefit of improving braking traction.
5. Stamp your authority
When the trail gets really tricky, clipping in can be more of a hindrance than a help; if you are negotiating a steep chute, and have half your brain trying to work out whether to unclip or not, you’re asking for trouble! With flat pedals it’s no problem to drop a leg or stamp a foot and not have to worry about trying to clip in again afterwards.
6. Foot out, flat out
Getting loose on a bike is such a fun feeling; letting the back end drift and dangling a foot off always leaves you feeling like a hero. With flat pedals you’ll have way more confidence to push your cornering, and when things start getting rowdy, your feet are always free to dab and bring things back under control.