I’ve been called many things over my 30 plus years of BMX racing, but it seems that some people look at me as the leader of the flat pedal revolution. Ha, a revolution? Flat pedals have been around since the beginning of BMX. And me a leader? If you look closely I think you will notice that flat pedal racers don’t need a leader. They aren’t followers, which is the reason they don’t race with clip pedals, or clipless, or whatever the heck you guys decide on calling them, whenever that may be.
So I started racing BMX in 1982, about the time (and for many years later) the Shimano DX platform was king. It wasn’t until 1998 that Shimano released their…let’s call them clip pedals for the sake of consistency…it was shaped like a platform pedal but had the SPD compatible clip in it. It took over the BMX race scene in just a few short years. It’s not a bandwagon I was ever keen to jump on. Despite having used them while racing MTB, where I found them beneficial for climbing hills, but I’d never put them on my BMX bike. I was enjoying my BMX riding and racing with flat pedals and I was getting reasonable results. As far as I was concerned if I wanted better results I should just train harder.
It’s almost 20 years later and I still think that way. And there there are those from the clipped era that are still chasing the perfect pedal and shoe combination. Some trying “road” clips, carbon soled shoes, and of course all the other variations of the same theme. Along the way they are spending endless amounts of cash. All to chase down the smallest of gains over the competition. Correct me if I’m wrong but wouldn’t that time, effort and money be best invested in training. How long will you be able to keep blaming equipment before it’s just too late and you’ve missed some of your best racing years because you have completely forgot the reason you did it in the first place.
This isn’t an argument as to why you should or shouldn’t use clips. It’s just my retrospective, it’s why I chose not to go down that route. Sure I didn’t have the Olympics carrot dangled in front of my nose, which seems to drive a lot of BMXers these days. And best of luck to them too, I’ll be watching on as our elite riders battle it out for Olympic glory each cycle, as I have since the lead up to the BMX debut at the 2008 Olympics.
There was a time where I had saved money and came to a cross roads where I would either race in the USA until the money ran out or pay my own way through my first year through University and see how that panned out. The question of what pedals I would use never crossed my mind. Although given it was in the early 2000’s it’s possible there would have been a time of experimentation. In the end I didn’t get to the USA until after I’d finished Uni and put a few good years in at work, but I did it, on flat pedals. It was quite a few times.
I’m sure that if you were to ask any flat pedal racer why they chose to go down the same route they will have their own story. Some may have even gone to the dark side for a period but returned.
If you want to race with flat pedals then that’s what you should do, riding on clips because others do, well that just doesn’t make sense, especially in an individual sport.
If it takes someone to point out there are flat pedals that will offer you benefits you never thought possible, like increased pedal efficiency, more powerful strokes, and comfort, and then offer you a full 30 day money back guarantee you’d want to check them out wouldn’t you? The Pedaling Innovations Catalyst pedal is well worth a look. While I don’t think it instantly made me faster it has given me more confidence that I can crank harder and not worry about the pedal slipping or rolling under foot and, as an added bonus, greater comfort.
I’ve only ever raced BMX because I love to be on my bike, I have had a truck load of fun doing it as a flat pedal racer.
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