I’ve slowly been moving away from SPD type pedals on my bikes in favour of BMX platforms and street shoes. This has worked well for most of the riding I do which is generally urban transport, utility/cargo cycling and touring. I wasn’t 100% sure I’d be happy with this setup for mountain biking as it’s a much more aggressive style of riding. I also harbored a fear of flying off the pedals at an inopportune moment.
When packing for Moab/Sedona I included some SPD type pedals and shoes just in case I couldn’t stand platform pedals off road. Kurt only brought SPDs and so I started to worry I was making a bad choice. However, I had the platforms on my Nomad and was too lazy to swap them out so the experiment was set in motion!
After a couple rides in Moab it was pretty clear that platforms were an excellent choice. So much so that Kurt ditched his SPD pedals/shoes and bought some BMX pedals. He also bought some 5.10 bike shoes. With climbing rubber and a flat sole these shoes stuck to his pedals like glue. I was a bit dissatisfied with my trail runners on BMX pedals as the sole did not grip the shoes as well as I would have liked – not their fault – trail runners are not designed for bike riding.
I pulled the trigger on some 5.10 Impact 2 low shoes [Kurt got the Impact 2 mid version with a slightly higher ankle section]. The difference was impressive…climbing rubber is understandably sticky and a flat sole engages all the pins on my NRG BMX pedals. The result is loads of control and the ability to put a foot down instantly. I felt much more comfortable tackling technical sections since I could take a foot off the pedals easily or jump right off the bike if needed. I also never had any issues with coming off the pedals on fast downhill sections or jumps. In fact it pretty much feels like your feet are glued to the pedals until you want them off.
Interestingly of the local riders we’ve seen in Moab and Sedona the ratio of platforms to SPD pedals is about 4:1. These 5.10 bike shoes have been one of the most popular choices of footwear for the platform pedal crowd. I’m not surprised since they are well made and quite comfortable as day to day shoes off the bike.
Of course there is a downside to not being clipped in to your bike. You can’t pull up on the pedals to generate extra power or bunny hop an obstacle. I haven’t noticed the lack of power as a problem and with 6″ of travel at the back as long as I get my front wheel over the obstacle I’m home free. I’ve also watch loads of riders with BMX pedals bunny hopping so it’s doable I just have to learn some new skills.
I find this change back to normal footwear a bit funny as I used to think cycling without SPD pedals was crazy talk…=-)