My love of bikes started with BMX.
In those days, a cinder block and a piece of plywood made a pretty awesome jump. If you were lucky, a few friends were brave (read: dumb) enough to lay down and let you jump over them.
Those were the days.
Later I switched to mountain biking, and I was introduced to clipless pedals. They seemed to be the only option for anyone who wanted to be considered a “real” mountain biker. So I got some.
My first attempts to clip out resulted in several FTBC (Failure to Be Cool) maneuvers—those are familiar to anyone who’s ever clipped in. Unable to clip out when I started going down, I slammed my side on the ground from a standstill. It hurt like a mother, both physically and emotionally. I learned pretty quickly to clip out earlier.
To MTB coach James Wilson, this is proof that I learned to ride incorrectly. Mountain biking demands strength, stability, and ability—and in Wilson’s opinion, clipless pedals help build none of these.
As Wilson sees it, the entire industry has committed to the wrong paradigm.
JW: A mid-foot position also allows you to be more agile on the bike. Being on your toes is an unbalanced position, especially if your foot isn’t getting ready to come off the pedal. You can look at athletes like surfers and skateboarders as two examples of athletes who have a “flat foot” but are amazingly agile. The idea that being on the ball of your foot improves your pedaling power or agility on the bike has no basis in real life and is simply tradition.
This is the premise behind the new Catalyst Pedal from Pedaling Innovations. The pedal has a wide platform, so riders can take a middle-of-the-foot position on the pedals to gain maximum power and stability.