Are Road Pedals Faster than Flat Pedals? | Clips vs Flats Hill Climb Challenge


(metallic whooshing) (hypnotic EDM music) – Three, two, one, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up! What is the best upgrade
you can make to your bike? Now, some people would say making the transition from
flat pedals to clipless. – Clipless is a confusing name because you do, indeed, ride clipped in, but the name comes from a time when toe clips and straps, the visible cage around your foot, were the pedal of choice. These new pedals didn’t
have a visible clip, so therefore were known as clipless. – [James] Yeah, now anyone
who rides clipless pedals will tell you they make
you more efficient, they make you faster, and they allow you to have
more control over your bike. – But can you actually put out more pedals with these pedals on? Will you go faster? Or do they even make any
difference whatsoever? Well, that’s what we’re going to find out. To do so, we are going to tackle one of the most incredible
climbs in the world, twice. Maybe not the whole climb though. Once on the flat pedals and once with our normal clipless pedals. It sounds simple and it would be were it not for the
fact that the full climb is Sa Calobra in Mallorca, nine and a half kilometers in length at an average gradient of 7%. So instead of that, we’re going to reduce it to just
three kilometers near the top. Again, the average gradient is over 7% If you want to find out what
the benefits are supposed to be from riding on clipless pedals, all you need to do is a quick Google and you’ll find that the idea is all about power
transfer and efficiency. Because your foot is physically
attached to the pedal, you’re meant to be more efficient. – Yeah, you can also transfer more power because you’re able to pull
up and push down on the pedal, making your pedal stroke more efficient. But, Chris, this all sounds like rubbish because the first one
doesn’t make any sense and the second one is disproven. – Yeah, and despite that being true, you would absolutely never
catch me riding a road bike in a pair of flat pedals. – Yeah, I’d have to wrestle
them off you, wouldn’t I? – Well, my clips would,
if I don’t drop ’em first. – We’re going to be doing two runs. Our first run’s going
to be on clipless pedals with our Fizik carbon road shoes. Now that should give us a good benchmark. Now, our second run will
be with trainers and flats. – And it’s at this point
we should point out the obvious difference
between the two setups. You see, cycling shoes are really stiff and designed to be mega efficient. But if you’re riding on flats, it’s highly unlikely you
would’ve already bought yourself a set of cycling shoes and you
therefore would probably have quite a flexible pair of trainers. – Yeah, a bit like this actually. These trainers are designed
for running and walking and not designed to be
putting power through a pedal. – Right, let’s talk about the tests. To prevent our overly-competitive natures coming into play, we’re
going to be doing them in a time trial-specific fashion. That means we’ll only ever be
riding one rider at at time. – Yeah, but don’t worry. We’re going to be doing max efforts and we’re not allowed to look at our data. So, Chris, take off your Wahoo head unit. – In the pocket. – Chris and I have just ridden two thirds of the way up this
iconic climb, Sa Calobra, and we’re going to be
racing the hardest bit of it all the way up to there. – Yep, the bridge at the top,
or very close to the top. There’s a reason we’ve
chosen only to do three Ks, is we don’t want to do two back-to-back 30-ish minute efforts and have the accumulated fatigue of that. That could skew the results somewhat. But also I think it’d be more interesting to do something that’s a
little bit of a halfway house between the sprints they did last time and the longer efforts that they did. – [James] You ready for a max effort? – As ready as I’ll ever be, James. – All right, you’re going first. – What, and have you
chase me up the climb? – Yes. – Just give me three minutes. There’s nothing I hate more– – I’ll start you off. (hypnotic EDM music) Chris Opie, run number
one with clipless pedals. Three, two one, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up! (relaxed EDM music) Right, Chris should be a
little bit a ways up now. I’m going to start off myself. Three, two, one. I just hope I can clip in. Right, clipped in, let’s
chase that fast sprinter! (relaxed EDM music) – That hurt, as you might’ve expected. (panting) It’s now time to head down, change pedals, and go again. Let’s see if Hank can catch me. (relaxed EDM music) – Run number one done. Let’s now change pedals. Whoo! – Don’t really want to put
these pedals on my bike. It just seems, I dunno. I mean, what, they’re worth
less than an inner tube and the bearings don’t really turn, so maybe just you could do the test. – No, that’s not fair. After all, this is all for science. – [Chris] All right, okay. (quiet bluesy rock music) – Right, Chris, how does it feel to be wearing trainers on your Pinarello? – It’s really weird ’cause I don’t know, I mean, I don’t know where to put my feet, as in this shoe’s definitely
not made to ride a bike with. – No, are you ready for
this max three K effort? – No, not really. – Well, don’t worry about
that, mate, ’cause here you go. You ready? Three, two, one, and up! Up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up! Looks slow. (aggressive rock music) Now, the good thing about having flats is I don’t have to
worry about clipping in. So here goes nothing. Three, two, one, up! (grunting) Slow start. Oh, it’s harder than I thought. (aggressive rock music) Whoo! That was tough. How do you feel? – It was really weird because every time you’d go to stand up, you can’t really pull up on the pedal in the same way that you normally would. It was actually easier to stay sat down and turn a slightly
bigger gear than normal. – Right, how are we going to
look at these results then? – Well, we’re going to need a laptop, so we’ll do that bit somewhere else, and we’ll enjoy the rest of
our ride for now, I think. – We’ve made it back to GCN
HQ and all the results are in. So Chris, are you ready to elaborate? – I am. So we chose that three kilometer section at the top of Sa Calobra. We’ll start with clipless pedals first? – Let’s do it. – We’re used to riding them. James, 367 watts, 78 revs per minute, that’s how fast his
cadence was, 9:17 minutes. – [James] Not bad. – [Chris] Now I’ve been
training a little bit. I did manage to roll you here. 9:12 minutes but I did do a lot more watts because I’m a lot heavier than you, so it’s 409 watts but a cadence of 73. I tend to pedal slow, again, uphill. I’ve noticed you always seem to look like you’re in an easier gear,
getting a little bit faster. So that was clipless. Obviously, we’re trained to
ride in that sort of fashion. We know what it’s like to be clipped in. – The flat’s a bit alien, wasn’t it? – It was a bit. It didn’t feel quite the same. Should we get the results first? – Let’s do it. – [Chris] Right, 351 watts for you at 70 RPM with a time of 9:42 minutes. Putting seven seconds into me here, because I did 9:47, 380 watts, but my cadence dropped quite a lot. And both of us lost a bit of cadence but mine dropped more than yours, 62 RPM. – So what was the conclusion? I guess we’re not losing
a huge amount of time but it’s all really on feeling. – Yeah, exactly. You would stand up, or
you’d try to stand up to go out of the corners and accelerate and try and pull on the pedals
but you didn’t have that, so the bike felt sort of
clumsy underneath you. Now obviously, we’re not
used to riding without clips. So that was quite alien
to us, as you said before. – Yeah, I mean, I rely on
the upstroke of the pedal, especially when I’m climbing, so to have to kind of flip it
and rely on the downstroke, I just didn’t feel like I could get nowhere near the amount of power. – No, you don’t get that initial drag through the bottom of the stroke, do you? Actually, the power discrepancy,
I think, isn’t huge. It’s not even quite 10%, so
that’s actually in fact 5%, so that’s really not that bad at all. But it was all about the sensation and the feeling, wasn’t it? It just didn’t feel like we
were riding our bikes anymore. – [James] No, but other than that, I think, you know, they’re
not as big time gaps as we thought they were going to be. – So if you do have flats at home and you don’t really want to change, then don’t feel pressured into doing so. – No, do what’s comfortable, I guess. If you enjoyed this video and you enjoyed seeing us
suffering up the Sa Calobra climb, then make sure you give
this video a big thumbs up. – And for more content
right now, click down there.