Clips [Clipless] vs Flat Pedals

Hey everyone, hope your indoor season is going good? I’m mainly a trail rider and picked up a CX bike this fall. I run flats in my trail bike and was running flats on the cx bike and using it on the train up u till a couple of weeks ago. I picked up some clipless pedals and did a few sessions to finish or my ssb 1 block. Before starting ssb2 I tried another ramp test with clips, I couldn’t finish the test and my estimate dropped 48 watts. Today I had Kaweah and my legs were on fire before the first interval and during the first interval I shut it down. Would moving over from flats to clipless cause this or should I look elsewhere?

I can’t see how you could lose that much power from properly adjusted clipless pedals. So I’m guessing it’s an adjustment issue, unless there’s a mechanical issue I.e. the pedals aren’t rotating freely. Did you adjust the saddle height when you switched? Clipless can put the ball of your foot in a very different position with respect to the pedal spindle compared to flats, so you may need to move saddle height accordingly. Other possibility is you’ve got the cleats in a really extreme position, best to start off with them in a fairly neutral position which puts the ball of your feet over the spindles.

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Yes, I raise the seat a little. Maybe I will try going up some more. I also do have the cleats moved in towards the bike to get my feet out away from the crank arms some. I will check and make sure pedals is moving freely. I’m using crank brothers mallets and five ten mountain biking shoes too but I don’t think that would matter?

Shouldn’t matter, I’ve used all kinds of different pedals and shoes over the years, never had anything like what you’re describing. MTB shoes might cost you a bit of power compared to road shoes if the soles are less stiff, but compared to flats and trainers you should be transferring more power to the bike, not less.


I’m going to mess around with the saddle height and position and go from there. Thanks for the help!

Start here:

I doubt it’s the pedals. The watts difference is just too big. I bet something else in your setup has changed. Swap back to flats and see what happens. This will allow you to determine if it’s the pedals or something else.


What’s your trainer setup? Are you using a smart trainer? Did you calibrate it before the test? Pedals should not have an effect like that!

That’s the plan if I can’t get it figured out. I think I actually needed to lower my saddle since my flat pedal shoes have a big some. I made a bunch of adjustments today and ended up lowering it a decent amount, we’ll see.

My trainer set up is a Kurt kinetic with an in-ride sensor. I double checked tire presser and tension today. I am not sure yet if I’m going to give it a shot later tonight after I get the kids to bed or just wait until Monday or Tuesday.

Anyone else tried putting flat pedals on the trainer? What were your results like?

I like riding flats on my mountainbike outdoor, so figured I’d give it a go on the trainer inside.
After a couple of weeks, with long SS90 workouts and some VO2 interval sessions on my flats, I can’t find any difference in my performance!

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@adrian_r, I moved your post under an existing on on the same topic.

There are a couple of other threads with similar discussion: