SPD Versus Flatties – Horses For Courses
A while ago, I bought SPD pedals for my hardtail and went 100% clipped-in for a while. Other than the early slow-speed-falling-off incidents, it was great. I didn’t think I’d ever look back. When I bought the Merida 120mm soft tail trail bike, I transferred the spuds to it and had no problems….
But… I’ve started to enjoy throwing the bike around a bit more, meaning that my lack of skills and core stability shines through. When clipped in, this manifests itself as unplanned outages with consequential bruised hips and upper arms. When winter set in, I decided enough was enough and bought myself some flat pedals. The most suitable shoes I had for flatties were a pair of Etnies in brown suede, which quite frankly were going to get ruined if I kept riding them around the gritty Pennines all winter.
So, Why Choose The Danny McAskill Five Tens?
I’ve read lots of reviews in magazines, like most of you will have. I’d pretty much decided I wanted some 5:10s before I even decided I wanted flat pedals. The question for me was: which Five Tens do I get? I’m not an extreme rider, so high tops would have been overkill so I narrowed things down to:
1. Impact Low, or
I’d somehow managed to arrange to have these shoes bought me as a present, so I chose the ones which looked most socially acceptable. Basically, which choice made me look the most normal? Freerider wins! The bubble-wrap-athon wraparound sole of the Impact Low is a total plus for MTB nerds, but for normal people (like the person who was buying my shoes) it looks, well, just odd.
The Freeriders come in a few cool designs (choose your favourite) but for me, the Danny McAskill flavour looks the best. Smart black shoe with cool blue highlights, looks great with jeans = Win. The extra technical specs including strengthened heel, extra resilient padding for backflips off bus stops and so on, yeah… that was really relevant for a 43-year-old MTB weekend warrior. Not. They look ace, though!
These shoes are comfy. As comfy as a worn sofa with a fluffy throwover, and your favourite duvet on top. Warm too in the winter, thanks to the generous padding everywhere. But… they don’t look like spaceman shoes. They look cool whether covered in mud on your bike, or box fresh down the pub.
On the bike, the Stealth Rubber sole is as sticky as an unwelcome nephew’s fingers on your freshly-cleaned TV screen. You have to pick your foot up off the pedals to reposition it, where it will stay until you choose to move it again. The grip is tremendous, for a shoe which looks like it has a pretty flat bottom. In fact, there’s a definite concave there to help you stay rubber side down, planted on the bike. Unlike SPDs though, you can throw a foot out and dab when you need to.
Skidding down the Pennine Bridleway on ice earlier this year, I was glad of one foot firmly stuck to my pedal, the other dragging along the floor while my rear wheel slid downhill sideways. I couldn’t do THAT in spuds! On difficult rocky trails they come into their own too, allowing you the cushion of knowing you can throw a foot out if things get hairy. I’ve achieved much better speeds downhill on flatties than I can clipped in, purely because of the confidence that having the ability to quickly bail gives me.
I know the top downhillers are riding clipped in nowadays and that therefore I’m fighting against a trend, but I’m not as good as those riders, and I have to turn up for work on Monday able to walk. I ride for fun, not to beat the fastest in the world down a mountain. So Danny Hart, you go ahead and clip in: I’m sticking with my flatties and 5:10 Dannys on the sketchy stuff!
Let us know what you think of them if you get some, or if you’re rocking them already!