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Newbie racer, longtime commuter and brevet rider with knee issues who absolutely CANNOT use clipless pedals.
I am racing short-track XC this summer as a warm-up for my first season of 'cross, and LOVING it. Hadn't done any off-road since the Dark Ages of BMX back in the early 70's. Old and slow but my bike-handling skills have come ROARING back -- I cannot tell you how gratifying that is!

So far doing ok on a singlespeed mountain bike and gnarly flat pedals with very stout leather BMX shoes. Fine for summer short-track racing (see below).
Only problem is that when I add running to the mix in the rainy autumn those shoes will become a liability on the run-ups. What's a creaky old gal to do? Who else is racing on flat, stompy BMX'y pedals, and what pedal/shoe combos do you like for 'cross?

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Any chance of finding a clipless pedal with lots of float? Is it the pulling up on the pedals that hurts the knee?
With no access to sports specialists or health insurance I feel I need to play it VERY safe based on past experiences with clipless pedals. Always not enough float (except for Speedplay Frogs, which gave me enough float but by then I'd slipped totally off the pedal), always not enough surface contact area to avoid pain and strain. Racing with BMX shoes and flat pedals has so far been surprisingly okay, except for run-ups. Ugh. Still researching.
No help here, but I remember for Rhonda Mazza racing extremely well for a good amount of time with trail running shoes and flat pedals. She has since switched over to clipless, but it seemed to work okay for her.
I've been racing short-track with fat-soled Van BMX shoes on Crank Bros 5050x's where I've loaded every hole with a pin. So far they're great for pedal grip. For run-ups in the mud, I know my BMX shoes won't cut it; but trail running shoes may not offer me enough pedal grip while I'm riding. A dilemma. Still working on it.
Have you thought of Power Grip pedals?
I might go that route this season. But in the past few, I am a flat pedal guy. The best shoes are hiking shoes. Great grip for the run ups!
I will admit that I am a bottom dweller when it comes to finish position. I am far from semi-pro or weekend warrior. Just love the sport of 'cross that I don't mind getting it handed to me in every race.
Greetings, fellow bottom dweller!

I have finished DFL or very close to it in the first two of my four pre-registered short-track races this summer, and I expect similar results in the fall at the 'Cross Crusade. Meanwhile, I am considering having my cobbler affix two small soccer cleats to the very front and very back of the soles of an old pair of BMX shoes, and seeing how that works. Stay tuned.
Crank Bros. EggBeaters...lots of float, in and out with ease.....
Wasn't there a high-level female racer a few years ago that used to do 'cross with running shoes and toe-clips? I remember reading a profile about her in VN.

That said, like JP has suggested, I've gotta believe that the big float in Egg Beaters, and that easy-clip-in-and-out would protect your knees. Candy's might be good, too, as you could ride them like platforms in some cases. Also go with some soft MTB shoes that are comfortable to run in and don't transfer as much energy, either through twisting or concussion, to your knees. The best part about the soft soled MTB style shoes is that they are usually the cheapest!

One other suggestion: if you're going with non-cycling shoes: how about cycling shoes with no pedal cleats or just a flat plate screwed in? Or how about soccer shoes with the mid-sole spikes taken out or ground-off - just leaving the toe and heel spikes?

Oh, and by the way, when it gets really muddy and slippery, those run-ups are all, well pretty much muddy and slippery no matter what you've got on your feet!

Good luck!
The reason I cannot use clipless pedals is that (a) my foot position changes slightly with EVERY pedal stroke, especially on the right side. This is a result of (b) congenitally-malformed patella and ankle joints that nearly everyone in my family has had to contend with. No amount of adjustments will get me over this, and on my budget and level of cycling I realized some time ago that I would have to forgo clipless pedals. On my long-distance road bike I still run toeclips with the straps wide open; but I can't imagine using this for 'cross and eventually this bike may also get flat pedals. For short-track I've had surprising success with the flat pedals overloaded with pins. LOTS of grip!

Your observation about soccer shoes is good, and I've been researching that as an option. I'm also experimenting with an older model of Shimano "touring" shoe whose SPD holes were permanently closed (custom job by my cobbler a few years back).
Meanwhile, I'm still in short-track xc season here and the Vans and flat pedals are working so far.
I would say give crank brothers a try. Try to see if you can find a friend who will loan you a set. I find these pedals have lots of float and super easy to get in and out of. It took me a while to get used to them coming off of super stiff release of time and shimano.

I'm sure someone around you has a pair of shoes that fits and rides crank brothers. Its worth a shot since you won't know till you try
Don't worry too much about clipless pedals. I spent my first cross season on flat pedals with trail shoes and had a blast. I tried a few different kinds of shoes (running VS trail) and really liked Salomon shoes: http://stores.channeladvisor.com/theshoeplanet/items/item.aspx?item...
I developed a lot of knee problems a few years back.

My favourite pedals were time atacs (note this was for general riding not cross racing).

Upon switching to speedplay frogs it felt like starting riding all over again.

Float is one thing, and yes it is generally agreed some float is better than none, but very little mention is made of the release tension (or centering float) of the pedal springs.

with frogs there is none.
I tried the atacs again as i was annoyed by how fragile the frog cleats are, but all my pain returned ( I'm 99.9% certain this isn't a set up issue) so back to frogs again. I'm not looking forward to the kicking the cleats will take off road, but it seems they suit me best. my knees just can't take the twisting forces involved with clipping out from atacs (and I'm guessing eggbeaters too).

EDIT, sorry I didn't notice you'd already tried frogs........

Otherwise I reckon Matt speaks sense with the trail shoe idea.

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