Clipless Vs. Flat Pedals | Which Is Faster For Your Next Triathlon?


– For anyone starting out
in cycling or triathlon, one of the first things you’re
advised to buy for your bike is a pair of clipless pedals like these, and some cycling shoes. – Yeah so that you’re more powerful, you’re more comfortable and more efficient when you’re using pedals
that you’re clipped into, as opposed to flat ones like these. – But given that we’re triathletes and we’re transitioning to the run, then it could make a lot of sense that she’d wear running shoes and then simply jump off
her bike and run off. – Yeah it does and I
think that’s enough of us chatting about it. It’s time we went to investigate. (upbeat music) – Well to start with, I like to take a look at an area specific to triathlon, the transitions. Now I think this could be a really interesting comparison between clipless pedals and flat pedals. – Yeah I mean most of us use bike shoes on the bike with clipless pedals, and then we come into T2 and change and put our running shoes on. But why not? Why trainers for all of it so you can wear your trainers on the bike and then you’re ready to
go straight into the run. – Now aside from it perhaps
affecting our cycling, could actually change our transition time. So we thought this could be a really interesting investigation. We’re gonna do some transition. We’re going to do a T1 from here. We’re going to grab our bikes. We’re going to run out. We’re going to mount our bikes
after this mount line here. We’re gonna do a quick out and back on our bikes around the cone up there before dismounting before
the dismount line here. We’re gonna drop our bike off, and then we’re gonna run
off across the line again. Now we’re gonna do two runs on this. We’re going to do a
run while we’re wearing our bike shoes on the bike before pumping our running shoes on. And we’re gonna do another run where we’re wearing our
running shoes throughout. And we’re gonna time all
the runs and compare. – Go! Go Mark. (cycle spokes clicking) Nice, come on. Nicely on the shoes. That’s quick, yeah. That is a good job. – Nice! Okay Heather’s run on the flat pedals. Let’s see how she gets on. She’s looking very focused. You ready Heather? – I’m ready. – Alright three, two one let’s go. A step too fast. Running shoes on. Helmet on and she’s away! And a mount. Around the cone, good work Heather! Ready for T2. Nice work coming into your own here. Helmet off and she’s away! Awesome 46.7. Good work. – Okay Mark you ready for
your flatless pedal run? – Yep. – Three, two one go! Right, pick up right there. I’m so excited to see how he gets on. Come on go, go, go. And he’s away! To make up for this time. Smooth on this lap. Nice! Alright it’s gonna be seedy here. Go, go, go, go, go! – What was it? – It was 34.6 Only half a second quicker. – A little bit quicker. Interesting. Well I was gonna say
that the running shoes, staying in the running shoes throughout was going to be a lot quicker. But going by my runs, it was only marginally quicker. So there a little bit of sceptical on our own run so, we’ll just have to see. – Well it’s been a long time since my flying mount practise. So I’ve never actually done a transition with bands on my shoes. So yeah. I don’t expect it to be faster. But we’ll see. – Okay Heather’s turn
for the clipless pedals and bike shoes. Are you ready? – I am ready. – Three, two, one let’s go! Helmet on and away! Into the mount. Back in T2 dismount. Running shoes on. Good work. Okay that was 53.7 – A tad bit slower. – That’s really interesting. I was surprised actually how little difference there was between the flat pedals and clipless for myself. – For you yeah. I wasn’t surprised at mine because I’ve not cycled with my feet and took off my shoes before, so that’s going to make a difference. – Yeah but then admittedly
we weren’t actually putting our feet into our bike shoes. So that could add more time again. – Take me a lot longer because I’ve never even done it. So for me the difference
would be much bigger. – Yeah so this has been
really interesting. I think next step now, we need to head out and get cycling and see the differences there. – Okay well interesting results so far. But before we can make
any real conclusions, I think we need to consider everything. And especially the bike. We’re gonna use triathlon bikes because that’s what makes the best with race so. – Yeah now I think I actually benefit quite a lot from pulling up on the pedals when I’m using clipless
pedals when I’m clicked in. But it’s not actually something
I’ve really compared before, between clipless and flat, so I think this can be really interesting. – Well we’re going to experiment. We’re going to have 10 minutes of riding at a set power. We’re both going to do it once with clipless pedals, once with flat. And then we’re going to measure the difference between our heart rates, the speed, the distance we covered, and also just how it felt. – Okay run one on the clipless pedals. Here we go. (upbeat music) – Okay this is my first run of 10 minutes. I’m starting off with my bike shoes and my clipless pedals. So here goes. (upbeat music) Okay this already feels
a little bit silly, but we’re gonna see how riding in trainers and flats feels compared to clips. So here we go. (upbeat music) – Okay next run with the flat pedals. And this just feels very wrong. With flat pedals and trainers. But anyway here we go. (upbeat music) Okay so that’s all of our 10 minute runs done both on the clipless and on the flat. I tried to hold an average power of 285. And you held 200. – 200 yeah. – 200 perfect. Now for the clipless results, I had a heartrate of 150 beats per minute. A speed of 41.5 kilometres per hour which gave me a total
distance of 6.9 kilometres. – Yeah now I held to
the rest as I’ve said, so my heartrate was just above Mark’s at 151 beats per minute which gave me an average speed of 35.4 kilometres an hour, and I covered 5.9k with clips. – Okay and then on to the flat and things are interesting because I actually held
the same power, 285. But I had a slightly
higher heartrate of 154. And then my speed was quicker. 42.9 in kilometres per hour and it gave me a total distance of 7.1. Now Heather, yours. – Yeah and again I managed
to hold the same work so I was pretty much right on 200. My heartrate raised just a
couple of beats though 153. But this time I managed
36 kilometres an hour. And that gave me 6K so I ended up going .1
of a K further as well. – Yeah I mean I have to say, when I actually finished the test I felt a lot worse on the flat. It just didn’t really feel comfortable. I felt like I was having to, almost like work harder with my quads because I wasn’t able to pull up. So I wonder whether I was
overcompensating on my quads, and almost like powering a bit more. Maybe we had a slight tailwind to play in. – I think the wind picked up slightly and we definitely do have
a tailwind on this stretch. And maybe sometimes you
know doing a second run, you’re more familiar
with where you’re heading and the rode and things so. There’s the little things like that that could maybe favour a second run. – But then our heartrate was higher, which might suggest that
we’re working harder in certain muscle group. I’m not sure. But either way it’s pretty close. It wasn’t as an obvious
difference as we maybe expected. So I think we need to look
into this a bit further. – Okay that surprised us and thrown us off slightly. But could it have even more of an impact on shorter distances races especially during our fleet where it’s less of a pure timed triathlon. – Well this isn’t actually anything new. In fact if you take a look
at our dual athlon friends, you will occasionally see athletes using a slightly advanced flat pedal with a toe clip, which is what they call a Pyro pedal. And it makes a lot of sense given they’re going
from run to bike to run. So it’s kind of two shoe transitions. They can just wear their running shoes for the whole race. Now we are taking a slight trip
down memory lane with these. And I did try to acquire
some and I failed. So I’ve just got some standard flat pedals with a toe clip. And personally, I actually think this
makes a lot of sense. But why don’t we see
triathletes using this? Particularly for the
short distance events? – Well is it maybe
something by the fact that it’s because everybody
else uses clipless pedals, so you’re going to use them? But then especially in group racing when you’ve got the power surgers, you need to be able to
put that power down. And you’ve got that extra security. Or maybe people just prefer
using clipless pedals. – Well I think we need to do some sprints. Let’s lay some power down. So we’re doing three
10-second maximal sprints and recording our peak powers for each. One with clipless pedals, another with the flat pedals, and also with toe clips. (upbeat music) Okay so that is the sprints done and many triathlons in a sense, but the bike leg at least, and quite noticeable difference for me. On the clipped end I had power of 1,050. And then a significantly drop off with the flats. It was around 775. And then with the pedals
with the toe clips, I was somewhere between 915. – Well I didn’t have the same
amount of work sadly as Mark, but I still had the
same pattern that I had. My highest by far when I was clipped, and my lowest with the flats. The clip pedals were
somewhere in the middle. – The significant and
quite obvious difference with the flats is just
when you start to get going on the sprinters, yeah it was almost like
pulling my foot off the pedal, so I clearly pull up a lot in a sprint. So if I was doing a triathlete race, I don’t think I’d be going for flats. The toe clips did help on that. Obviously there was still
a bit of a drop off. – Yeah I got a bit of
a side of that as well. Not just the fact that
my foot was coming up, but I felt like it
wasn’t completely stable. So even once I got going
with the flat pedals, I still didn’t just didn’t
feel quite as secure like handling the bike. – But then again we are
using it for the first time. So perhaps we could try
it a little bit more. So I guess the jury is still out there. We’re not complete converts. I think personally I’ll probably still stick to cycling shoes for triathlon for now. But I was quite impressed
by the toe clips. So I think we need to investigate
that a little bit more. – I think we do. – Yeah if you haven’t done so already, please do subscribe to GTM by clicking on the globe. And if you’d like to see our video on comfort versus aerated
positions on a TT bike, you can see that by clicking down here. – And if watching this has made you think you want to practise your format and you want to be as good as Mark and a lot better than me, then I have actually made a video on it from Maserati just here.