Clips Vs. Flats on Slickrock's Toughest Climb

Clips Vs. Flats on Slickrock's Toughest Climb

Like me, Alex has platform pedals, and he just can’t keep his spin going on this steep climb. He pushes his way up, and then gets caught mid pedal stroke somewhere along the way. Brian sits atop the hill with a smug clipless grin. Despite the fact that he finds amusement in seeing Alex suffer, he takes a moment to save him from falling off a cliff.

Both Brian and Randall cleaned this steep climb on Slickrock trail. Aside from being good riders, they’re both clipped in. This is definitely the preferred setup for climbing. Among the many benefits of riding clipless is the ability to pull up on your pedals in addition to pushing down, maintaining power transfer through your entire pedal stroke. Side note for the newbs, clipless refers to being clipped in. I know it’s confusing.

As someone who runs platform pedals most of the time, I still can’t argue with the benefits of clipless. After adjusting such a setup, your shoes will always remain in the perfect position while riding. It’s also nice that on really bumpy terrain clipless pedals keep your feet where they’re supposed to be. So they’re secure, functional, and efficient.

Of course, platform pedals are not without their benefits either. Anyone who wants to throw some tricks into their riding should consider platform pedals, and if you take a lot of risks they may improve your chances of survival. For me, that’s the main selling point. Consider what could have happened to me here, or here if I couldn’t unclip on time. Add that to the fact that they’re better for jumping around, and platform pedals are definitely for me. Still, I’m making tradeoffs in other areas.

Brian is scheming. As Alexander catches his breath, Brian runs down the hill to execute the ultimate one upper—showing up Alex on his own bike. So, let me get this straight; the rider wearing SPD shoes is going to do this climb on platform pedals? You can see Brian using his heels to avoid slipping on his cleats.

It’s ironic that the clipless rider actually proved the climb could be done on platforms. I do think riding clipless can teach you how to spin better, and spinning is what you should be doing, not mashing. You can see how Brian keeps the pedals moving fluidly throughout the climb.

Alex could take no more. With fire in his eyes, Alex set out to put this climb behind him. He finally cleaned it.

It’s clear to see how with proper technique you can, in fact climb just about anything on platform pedals, and it doesn’t always take 35 tries. I did this climb first try on platform pedals, although I took a slightly different line. Another rider on the trail, Sarah, did it head on as her friends cheered. We then saw quite a few other riders owning this climb on platforms.

I think every rider should try platform and clipless setups in that order. Each pedal type teaches you something different, and they both come in handy for different types of riding. Since pedals are so easy to change, they can be swapped before rides. Look at these pedal types not as opposing sides, but different weapons in your mountain biking arsenal.

For the rest of the day, Alex nailed every climb he encountered. It was a matter of spinning, and technique, not pedals and shoes. Alex didn’t blame his failure on gear—that would have been a cop out. Instead he took responsibility for botching this climb and committed to making it right. Having cleaned it, he became a better rider on the spot, and that my friends, is what mountain biking dreams are made of.

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  1. rick w on July 23, 2019 at 12:43 am

    why not a combo pedal? clipped for the hill climbs, platform for when its gets narly.

  2. Eliver subscribed on July 23, 2019 at 12:44 am

    I feel like i doing that when i watching

  3. TheoremGames on July 23, 2019 at 12:45 am

    I use Crank Brothers cleats and pedals. Flat on one side, clippy on the other.

  4. Mr Madazza on July 23, 2019 at 12:45 am

    Great video but I couldn’t help thinking what those 2 lines were going through the sky at 4.50

  5. Jarlaxle Baenre on July 23, 2019 at 12:48 am

    I remember that at the whole enchilada! 1:45

  6. Justin Tran on July 23, 2019 at 12:50 am

    I think it would’ve been easier for Alex to climb the hill if he lowered his seat

  7. Ride with DB on July 23, 2019 at 12:50 am

    I think its better to use those pedals that are 2 in 1 I think those are called Flatcleat pedals they’re very effective🚵‍♂️🚵‍♂️

  8. Tendi Zangmo on July 23, 2019 at 12:52 am

    Is BKXC in your team

  9. The Godly Noob on July 23, 2019 at 12:58 am


  10. Lukas Andersson on July 23, 2019 at 12:58 am

    From my perspective Alexander is the real winner between him and Brian since Brian has bikeshorts on

  11. Bondi Jakobsen on July 23, 2019 at 12:59 am

    It’s all about technique when ridding platform

  12. David Braucht on July 23, 2019 at 1:01 am

    Not to be a dick but these guys dont exactly look like they are at the pinnacle of fitness. Just some average looking occasional mtb riders. I bet id smoke him on flat pedals if he was clipped…….

  13. kainpwnsu on July 23, 2019 at 1:02 am

    I always assumed "clipless" meant "secured to the pedal without toe clips (cages)".

  14. Mit Tongohan on July 23, 2019 at 1:02 am

    2:16 HAHAHA

  15. Wild Outdoor Living on July 23, 2019 at 1:02 am

    I find that I can commit way more to technical climbs while Im on flats.

  16. Rick Sanchez on July 23, 2019 at 1:03 am

    Hey Seth I was just rewatching older vids and I was wondering what your opinion was on basket pedals?

  17. Jipee Juhu on July 23, 2019 at 1:04 am

    a higher cadence also goes a long way
    have you tried magnet plattform pedals yet?

  18. Gannon Mosher on July 23, 2019 at 1:04 am

    3:14 “dude f*ck you”

  19. Easy Gaming on July 23, 2019 at 1:06 am

    2:16 😐😕😓

  20. Lily is big ol silly on July 23, 2019 at 1:07 am

    Ride with clipless on one side and platform on other side

  21. M. W on July 23, 2019 at 1:07 am

    Hmm, i use hybrids. I think it‘s the best for me. I clip in when i want and when not i just use the platform side. What do you think about such hybrids??

  22. lawrence carter on July 23, 2019 at 1:08 am

    He didnt cop out. Nice move.

  23. Mark Kanzler on July 23, 2019 at 1:08 am

    You have to focus on making your feet do circles rather than pushing down on the pedals – it makes you smoother.

  24. Nutshell on July 23, 2019 at 1:08 am

    It was alex’s backpack duhh

  25. Vera Reha on July 23, 2019 at 1:11 am


  26. robinheil on July 23, 2019 at 1:13 am

    Flats are better for jumping around? I’m new and trying to learn how to bunny hop and all my friends were saying clipless is better for that.

  27. Zon Bevens on July 23, 2019 at 1:13 am

    Do a challenge where your tires can not come off the ground

  28. El Jefe on July 23, 2019 at 1:14 am

    It’s more about weight distribution .. he gotta weigh down the rear more

  29. the damn train on July 23, 2019 at 1:15 am


  30. Mr. Fishy on July 23, 2019 at 1:17 am

    When he is talking about platform petles that jump park is in moab!!

  31. Jaroslav Záruba on July 23, 2019 at 1:18 am

    3:13 _"dude fuck you!"_ exactly my feelings 😀 😀 might have pushed him off of the rock maybe… 😀 😀

  32. Sam Bays on July 23, 2019 at 1:22 am

    Take that stupid seat out your butt and you might get a lot more obstacles done the first time! Why do MTB riders insist on that high ass seat bullrap!!??? I always lower mine and dont mind standing and freekin pedalling!!

  33. Mark Kanzler on July 23, 2019 at 1:24 am

    "Clipless" goes back to when they had actual toe clips which were a sort of cage over the toe of the foot.
    I think we need a new name like snap-in or toe-bindings or something.

  34. Braŭljo on July 23, 2019 at 1:26 am

    Catalyst pedals and oval chainrings could help

  35. Mr Madazza on July 23, 2019 at 1:26 am

    I don’t like the idea of being clipped in and on a cliff

  36. T-SERlES on July 23, 2019 at 1:26 am

    The conclusion: toe clips

  37. Ghostrider304 on July 23, 2019 at 1:27 am

    So I set out for info on this very topic, should have known you’d have a video to cover it. I’m a proud clipless rider, been using them since, well forever ago. I have seen the benefits of flats and I think I’m going to get a set to have on hand when the terrain dictates. Thanks for a great video.

  38. Davis's Riding on July 23, 2019 at 1:29 am

    I have a specialized camber like the guy who rode clip less that is white black and gold

  39. wwindsunrain on July 23, 2019 at 1:30 am

    Seth, I’ve watched some of your videos and you seem to ride with flat pedals in all of them. Why do you prefer the flats when clipless allows higher cadence and different muscles? I’m just starting to ride trails and put spd pedals on my new trail bike. Should I be concerned about not be able to put a foot down fast enough? Are the advantages of clipless less important on a mountain bike?

  40. Joseph Dunbar on July 23, 2019 at 1:31 am

    Imagine Alex being clipped in each time he bonked on the steep!

  41. Andrew Howell on July 23, 2019 at 1:32 am

    Drop the seat and weight over back wheel to climb

  42. Dude On Bike on July 23, 2019 at 1:32 am

    Another great video. Thanks.

    Technique, strength and stamina are the key. Pedals not so much. The rider struggling up the climb has to work on one or more of these fundamental skills. And this video pretty clearly shows how pedal choice probably isn’t the main issue. Now I’ll admit that I’d HATE having to do Slickrock on flats. Having one’s preferred pedals is important, but not crucial in this instance. 30 years riding clipless means I’m just too accustomed to the power transfer clipless affords me and my riding style. But that’s my style. So I could ride Slickrock on flats (obviously), but I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. And the reverse would be true for the flats rider – much more in many cases, given the fear-factor clipless pedals induce in technical situations.

  43. joses box on July 23, 2019 at 1:32 am

    I rode that is a bit of an S pattern. Seemed to crack the code.

  44. Jaroslav Záruba on July 23, 2019 at 1:34 am

    wouldn’t do this crap without some frikking safety rope around the guy’s waist 😀

  45. Josué Barrientos on July 23, 2019 at 1:34 am

    It’s nice to see the pros struggling

  46. Adriane Bernal on July 23, 2019 at 1:39 am

    Try Lock your suspension fork when climbing

  47. jbw5485 on July 23, 2019 at 1:42 am

    DUDE!!! Fuck you!!!!! 😂🤣😂🤣😂

  48. aryan dhoeme on July 23, 2019 at 1:43 am

    Wat bike doe you have

  49. Jairus Bernal on July 23, 2019 at 1:43 am

    he would have nailed it first try if his feet were in the right place, maybe scooping a bit might have helped

  50. Problemx3 on July 23, 2019 at 1:43 am

    I don’t use clip pedals because I jump allot in the street