You often hear that clipless pedals are 20-30%+ more efficient than flat pedals but there is no evidence to back that up. In this video I explain how this number is based on a disproven biomechanical theory and why it is still so popular in the cycling media.
5 thoughts on “Why Clipless Pedals Are NOT 20-30% More Efficient Than Flats”
Hi James. I was one of the people who challenged the Pink Bike video in the comments. In response she still repeated the claim without backing it up. Big problem is that the ‘push and pull’ argument FEELS like it makes sense. I have used both and all my uphill times are exactly the same, so I use flats because they are way more comfortable with the same performance.
Well, when I use my lower back to squat or deadlift it “feels” like I can lift more weight and I may even be able to lift more weight if my lifting skill is poor but that doesn’t mean that it is better. That is why we have science to give us an objective look at things since our feel can be wrong. It was really sad that she stuck to her statement instead of taking it as a chance to educate herself but that is pretty typical for the cycling “media”, plus she’s a girl so you aren’t really allowed to question her anyway…
I didn’t start biking seriously till I retired at 55. I definitely ran into people that said go clipless if you want to advance your skill. I’m 61 now and still on flat pedals. No plans to ever go clipless.
Enjoying my Catalyst Pedals.
Great food for thought … Would love to see an actual credible study or two on the issue. I unfortunately have little to offer beyond one data point. I ride both flats and clippless depending on the kind of mtbing I’m doing. Occasionally I’ll ride flats for XC/trail rides (i.e too lazy to swap the pedals as I’m getting ready to ride). Strava times for these kind of rides are consistently 10ish % faster FOR ME with clipples pedals. It’s entirely possible this is the case for ME because that’s how I usually ride/train on that kind of ride instead of with flats.
Regardless, if you’re correct, decades of road racers are wrong. That is an awful lot of people who’s financial well being was risked on an unsubstantiated theory and nobody ever figure it out. Thanks for the opportunity to add my thoughts to the discussion.
There are credible studies on this stuff. You can find them in the Flat Pedal Revolution Manifesto. The science just doesn’t back up the theory that is used to sell clipless pedals and that is why the industry and cycling “media” ignore them.