Flat vs. Clip Pedals: A Rundown


When selling a mountain bike or simply talking upgrades with customers, one of the most common topics we cover is pedals. Pedals can be a tad tricky to choose: first there are myriad of brands and models many of which have fairly specific biking purposes. Second, there are two major camps in the mountain biking world which can be occasionally fanatical; the clipless vs. flat pedal crowd. But what we’d like to point out that at the end of the day we don’t feel one is better than the other, both have their distinct advantages, and the key is finding the right solution for your needs.


Clipless pedals is one of the one of the more confusing terms in the bike industry, as they are the pedals with specific shoes and cleats which clip into the pedal. For clarity sake we often refer these at Start Haus simply as “clip-ins” when discussing pedal options with customers. The term “clipless” derives from the pedals with straps around the foot, which were referred to as “toe clips” (not a pedal option we will be discussing). With the advent of cleats and a mechanical pedal, the “clipless” pedal was born. Flat pedals do not clip in in any way; they most often rely on pins on the pedal and tacky shoes for traction.

Getting into these differences, those in the pro clip-in category will often cite an efficiency advantage while climbing. In short with the pedal attached to the shoe the cleat is pulling with the upstroke of the crank, an advantage one does not have with flat pedals. It turns out its been a bit tough to quantify the precise energy advantage that clips have over flats, but arguably there is a slight benefit there. Also, with clip pedals you’re feet are literally clipped to the pedal; this creates a super stable platform for the rider to push on, pump and ride. Many of those who have been riding clips for a while have become reliant upon being so connected to the pedal, and when riding flat pedals they may not like the feeling of their foot coming off the pedal or moving in any way.

For years flat pedals were generally used by downhillers, BMXers, and beginning mountain bikers. The last few years have seen a flat pedal renaissance. Flat pedals allow the rider to get a foot off the pedal very quickly. Second, a flat peal rider has a much greater platform to stand on, which can be a big advantage when hitting jumps, pumping berms, and generally riding freeride terrain. One last advantage to note that flats have over clip pedals is when the foot has been removed from the pedal it is much easier to get the foot into position than with clips.


It must be mention that flat pedals are reliant upon the combination of a good pair of pedals and high quality bike shoes. Good flats are generally low profile (meaning they are thin) to reduce pedal strikes. Good flats have quality pins to keep the foot in place, which are generally replaceable if they get bashed on rocks. High quality shoes have high friction rubber and a flat stiff sole. The sole should be stiff to absorb impact and create a tough surface to connect to the pedal.

As far as shop employee preferences go, those who started and kept with flats ride flats; those who are clipless veterans ride clips. If you’ve been riding clips and never felt comfortable or never got used to them, join the dark side and try a good pair of flats!

We really don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to the flat vs. clipless debate. Our experience has shown that flat pedals do not hold you back on climb-intensive rides or even pure XC bike rides. Like most things in life, the correct answer is based on one’s expectation of the product’s performance and your preference. But what we are sure of is our ability to help you find just the right pedals for your mountain bike! We carry top pedal manufacturers like Race Face, Spank, VP Components, Issi, and Xpedo as well as great bike shoes from Five10 and Pearl Izumi. Call the shop or come on by to check out the selection.


A Basic Ski Wax Guide


At Start Haus we’ve had quite a number of people come looking for a way to speed up the bases of their skis in this warm spring snow. Several people have decided to invest in a ski waxing setup to wax their own skis, and we think this is a wise move!

Waxing your own skis means you’re not relying on a shop to turn you skis around. Taking the cost of waxing over time you’ll eventually save money. This of course, is dependent on how often you ski, because a proper wax setup initially is fairly spendy. However, if you ski a lot, or have multiple pairs of skis, the investment will pay off! Waxing your skis regularly protects the base and will result in a longer life of the ski, further protecting your investment. Having a good wax on your base can also reduce the risk of injury due to sticky spring snow.

If you’re the hands-on type, waxing your own skis is a rewarding venture. It’s fairly simple to deliver a basic Iron wax to a pair of skis, and you get the obvious benefit of being faster on the slopes!

To achieve a basic wax you’ll need a ski wax iron, a ski vise, a bench of some sort, some good hydrocarbon wax, a sharp wax scraper, and a wax brush or two

Applying the wax to a clean base is paramount to success. At Start Haus we recommend against base cleaners. Base cleaners are solvents, which actually harm the base by drying it out. The best way to clean a base is to melt a wax onto the base and scrape it off while the wax is still hot. This will pull the detritus out of the base, which is probably clogging up the base structure.

Once the base is clean, drip a good amount of hydrocarbon wax to the entire base of the ski tip to tail. Next iron the wax into the base so that all the wax is melting, but not so slowly you’re seeing smoke come up! The wax packaging should have a recommended temperature setting for the iron, be sure your iron is set to the correct temp. For best results I recommend mixing in a mid temp wax along with the warm snow wax. The warm wax, which is usually yellow in color, will wear off the base quickly in a matter of an hour or so the mid temp will keep your bases waxed throughout the day. You can be scientific and build up layers of wax by applying; cooling, and scraping separate layers, or just melt in two waxes at the same time.

At this point once you are happy with the ironing job the ski should be left to cool completely. The next step is to scrape the ski with a sharp plastic wax scraper. The goal here is to remove all the wax. A solid brushing will remove the excess wax and open the structure of the base back up allowing it break the suction of the snow.

Ski waxing should not be a daunting task, if you’re nervous about any of the aforementioned steps feel free to practice on an old pair of skis until you get the hang of it! If you have further questions feel free to stop into Start Haus or call! We always love to help steer people into the right direction toward a faster more fun time on the slopes!


Norco Bikes at Start Haus Now!


Start Haus is pleased to announce our partnership with Norco Bicycles! Norco is an innovative Canadian bicycle brand that has been building excellent bikes since 1964. Norco builds everything from urban/townie bikes to some of the meanest and fastest downhill bikes around. They’re best known for their sweet mountain bikes.

Come in and check out the all mountain Sight in both 27.5 and 29” wheel size.

Norco Sight C9.1

Or this enduro beast, the Norco Range, also available in the 27.5 and 29er variety.

Norco Range A7.3

Hungry to hit the Truckee Bike Park? We are excited to announce we have some beautiful Dirt Jumpers from Norco as well! Available in both 26 and 24” wheel sizes the Ryde 26 and 24 come in at the unbelievably low price of $499!

Norco Ryde 24

Along with Giant, Liv, and KHS we feel that Norco is a tremendous addition to the Start Haus bike offering. Come on in today and see what’s new in the bike world or take a test ride. We love to answer all your questions about bikes and gear!

Race boots

Getting the Most Out of Your Ski Boots

You’ve heard the old refrain, “boots are the most important part of your gear setup.” This is for good reason; a pair of uncomfortable boots can ruin a weekend, an expensive ski holiday, or a whole season. After buying a pair on sale that were too big and a rushed job you finally bit the bullet went to the reputable boot fitter and got yourself a pair of well fitting boots that are snug, relatively comfortable and can take your skiing to the next level. Now you’re thinking “Well now what?”

We’d love to pass on some tips to help you protect that expensive investment and get the absolute most out of your prized ski boots.

 Custom Footbeds

 Custom footbeds are one of the best upgrades you can make to your boots! We all want our houses built on a solid foundation, and you should demand the same with your ski boots. Custom footbeds give you the solid platform that will get your foot in a powerful neutral position creating less foot fatigue throughout the day. At Start Haus we carry Sidas heat molded custom footbeds and have several different options to choose from: Custom Pro Mesh offering a great blend of comfort and performance, to our low volume Custom Race blank which takes up minimal boot real estate and gives great performance!

Liner Upgrades and or Replacements


Various aftermarket liner options

Various aftermarket liner options

Many of our customers ask about a liner upgrade as they are trying on ski boots. Generally at the Start Haus we recommend sticking with the liner that comes with the boot, barring any extreme fit issues or pre-existing conditions. There are several good reasons for this: modern liners are by and large really, really good! In the decade I have been fitting ski boots liners have improved by absolute leaps and bounds. Thanks to advances in laser scanning, CADD software, and injection molding foams “stock” boot liners ski well and fit great.

However, if your boot liner is packed out or if you’re fit isn’t feeling quite right, going to an aftermarket liner can be a wise move. Intuition liners have proven quite popular and boast several upsides. First and foremost, they are light and warm (relative to other liners). Secondly, they offer a custom fit. If you have a boney prominence on the foot an Intuition liner can be an excellent solution! Intuition liners feature a heat-moldable Ultralon foam that conforms to the shape of the foot and the liner offering (generally speaking) a good snug fit without being over the top tight.

Zip Fit liners are both a fit and performance upgrade that will make the boot snugger fitting and much more responsive. In fact, if the fit is too tight, we often struggle to get the Zip Fit liner in the boot at all. One excellent feature of the Zip Fit liner is that it is the only boot liner I know of that one can add material to, so as it packs out over time a boot fitter can simply add more material to it in specific zones to dial in the fit. Due to its snug fit the Zip Fit is often the choice of the expert skier how has a low volume foot that feels as if they can never get a tight enough fit.

Foam liners are the third and final aftermarket liner available from the Start Haus. Foam liners create a tight and uncompromising fit for the skier who doesn’t want their foot going anywhere! Foam is injected into the liner with the athletes foot in the liner and shell and will create a snug and precise fit. The molding process itself is quite intense and the liners take quite a while to pack out. If you’re looking for the snuggest fit possible or are just a foam fanatic from way back the Nordica foam liners we carry are the best in the business!

Canting and Alignment

Jim Schaffner uses a plumb bob to check a client's knee position over the feet. The procedure tells Schaffner whether a skier is knock-kneed or bow-legged.

Jim Schaffner uses a plumb bob to check a client’s knee position over the feet. The procedure tells Schaffner whether a skier is knock-kneed or bow-legged.

 Canting is the relation of the center of the knee to the center of the ski boot. Skiers can be misaligned or out of balance in several ways. As it relates to canting, a skier can be bow legged, knock kneed, or windswept (in on one boot and out on another). None of these are desirable and some are worse than others. Depending on how much correction is needed, canting can either be the best investment you can make in your skiing or just a pleasant upgrade. To properly cant an athlete we would plane the sole of the ski boot, then raise the height by attaching lifters to the soles, and then cut the toe and heel back to the specific height to be DIN compatible.


Getting the Most Out of Your Mountain Bike

The bike industry is ever changing. It seems like every year a new wheel size comes out making your beloved bike less valuable by the minute! For many it is unfeasible to upgrade to a new bike every other year and at a certain point it’ll probably make more sense to replace components to make the bike perform more to your liking. At Start Haus we’ve had the pleasure of upgrading many bikes installing more modern components on and making them more fun to ride!

One of the common upgrades we’re doing is converting drivetrains to 1×11. By converting your bike from a two by drivetrain to a one by achieves several significant benefits:

  • Weight loss. Obviously by taking the front derailleur off the bike eliminates weight, but don’t forget that the front shifter and cables also get eighty-sixed. Depending on what the component spec is the bike is usually losing ¾ of a pound!
  • The cockpit gets significantly cleaned up. With the advent of dropper posts we find one shifter on the handlebars is all we can tolerate. All our shop employees are running 1×11 or 1×12 drivetrains with the rear shifter on the right and dropper on the left and we have a clean cockpit that makes for easy shifting and fun riding.
  • If I’m being totally honest front derailleurs are a pain in the neck. They operate under far greater loads than the rear derailleur and are more difficult to adjust properly. Less moving parts means less mechanical failures on the trail and this equals more riding time!
Running 1x11 makes for a trouble free ride.

Running 1×11 makes for a trouble free ride.

Less levers means more fun!

Less levers means more fun!

With Shimano in the game converting your drivetrain to 1x is more affordable depending on your hub type. If you’re not looking to get the top level components we’ve found the Sram GX derailleurs and shifters do a great job at a great price!

Within the last couple of years suspension forks and shocks have become mind-bendingly sweet. Several of our customer’s have opted to upgrade both fork and shock, which will have a dramatic effect on the handling of your mountain bike. Since Rock Shox released the Charger Damper in their Pike fork and then followed by the Lyric, several wise riders have opted for this choice, along with the vast majority of our shop employees. Although with Fox upgrading dampers and releasing new forks and shocks this year, we expect many of the fastest riders to choose Fox again. While a suspension upgrade is not usually cheap it has a tremendous impact on the trail. In a place with trails like Lake Tahoe it just makes sense to have the best suspension that you can afford.

The new 36 Performance Elite

The new 36 Performance Elite from Fox.

The third and final upgrade we’ll talk about is going tubeless. Most mid to high end bikes these days are coming with tubeless ready rims. Eliminating inner tubes also trims weight, but also allows the rider to run at lower tire pressures. The upside is the rider will experience less pinch flats and by running lower tire pressure the rider will experience better traction on the trail. Wheels are certainly a part of the bike that gets pretty hammered, so some will find it necessary to upgrade wheels throughout the season.

Stop by Start Haus to talk bikes, components, upgrades, or just stop in to say hi! We love upgrading bikes and remember our goal is to give you the best riding experience you can have; we love sharing our passion for outdoor sports!


Start Haus Partners with Blizzard and More

Start Haus is pleased to announce a 2017 Speed Ski Leasing program!

Partnering with Blizzard (with more to come) our racers are now able to lease DH and SG skis for a fraction of the cost of owning a pair!  With so many racers needing a pair for just one or two events late in the season, the speed ski leasing program is the best way to grab a fresh and fast pair of SG or DH skis.

The following Blizzard skis are currently available for lease:

Down Hill Speed Skis in a 212cm and 218cm

Super G Speed Skis in a 185cm, 205cm, and 212cm.

Pricing starts at $125 for a day, $75 a day for 3-5 days, or $50 per day for a week lease.  These skis are ready to mount to your boot specs and tuned to your preferences. Contact us for more information!


2017 Ski Consignment Sale

Its that time of year again folks- time to clear out the garage, unload the attic, and bring us your used skis!  The 2017 Ski Consignment Sale is always huge, so don’t miss out!  Customers line up around the block early to snap up the best gear, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to purge the old gear and get yourself some new sticks. As always, we’re accepting used and new skis, new bindings, and race suits in good condition.

We’ll help you price your gear and make it move.  Pick either 80% store credit (the popular option) or take 60% as a check.

Sale happens Labor Day weekend, Friday through Monday, September 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.  Lets make it bigger than ever!

Accepting gear now!