When you first learn to ride a bike, you learn with flat pedals. They’re actually preferred by most off-road riders. But what about clipless pedals? Do you know the difference?

Don’t Be Fooled by the Clipless Name

The name is actually misleading. You clip your shoes to the pedals, so they’re locked to your feet. There are two types of these pedals – single-sided and double-sided. On single, only one side of the pedal receives the cleat. This is the most common design. And it saves weight. On double, you can click in the pedal on either side. So you don’t have to look down to get your feet in. You can set one side looser if you want.

And, if you ride your bike in regular street shoes, you’ll have a good amount of pedaling surface. With clipless, it’s a lot easy to pedal over rough terrain. That’s because you don’t need to drop your heels to maintain traction between your shoes and the pedals. You also have more control over your rear wheel, and you feel more attached to the bike. Just make sure you set them up correctly, otherwise you’ll get hurt.

For Flat, It’s All About Grip

These are exactly as described – flat. They usually have replaceable pins that help the sole of your shoe grip the pedals. Some have a concave shape, which lets you really press your foot into the pedal. Then you have maximum grip and stability. And, there are different materials. Ones that are composite are more lightweight. Medal ones are heavier, but they have more grip. And they last longer.

With flat pedals, it’s easier to gracefully dismount or put a foot down. It’s also easier to learn new tricks. If you have to make an emergency stop, no problem. There’s no incorrect position for your foot, either. You can ind a natural and comfortable position that works for you. You can also adjust it as you ride. Plus, you can wear any kind of shoes, not just cleats.