I rode clipless(Time ATAC) for about 17 years. A couple years ago I thought it would be a fun challenge to go to platform pedals. I started with Race Face Chesters and 510 Freerider shoes based on a lot of research. The Chesters were fine for a trial pedal to see if I liked it. After about a month I was hooked. After more research I went with DMR Vaults. I now have them on two bikes - my Stumpjumper and my Hardtail. The Chesters were in the $50 range and the Vaults are in the $100 range. The Vaults work better I think just because they have more pins. They are built out of pretty sturdy metal and got bashed a lot in Fruita slickrock and Rhode Island granite, so they definitely hold up. I honestly think more credit should go to shoe choice than pedals. The 510s just stick like crazy to the pins.
My one bit of advice if you haven't rode drops, bunnhops etc. on flats in a while comes from a Ryan Leech course. You imagine picking up a bowl from the inside with your flat hands you have to gently push outward. The pedals/pins/shoes work this way. Front foot heel down just a tad and rear foot toe down just a tad the friction between the two keeps the bike with you in the air. That made all the difference for me when I converted. For what it is worth, I decided to stay with flats after my experiment because my knees felt better.
Hope this helps,
EXCELLENT advice, and much appreciated.
I chose to limit the discussion the way I did, and it sounds like I may have missed some info from people who had worthy opinions. Noted for the future ...
FWIW, I started racing (bmx) bikes back when Evel Knievel was cool, and learned a HUGE amount of what I know about riding off road before clipless pedals were a fantasy. Learned a TON riding that way, and my girlfriend now rides flats only while playing around off road (a couple classes w/Jay @ http://www.rootsmountainbiking.com/ helped).
Craig Seibert, GORC Board Member
GORC/St. Charles County Parks Liaison