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So I have been trying out various shoes with my flat gnarly BMX pedals (I am not racing clipless this year because there's not enough time for me to get a proper fitting and to acclimate).

So far I've tried two different versions of an older-style Shimano mountain/touring shoe, both with the cleat holes closed up. The low-top version can be seen in my profile photo (also in link below), and another mid-top version came my way two weeks ago. Neither of these shoes are fantastically grippy on the BMX pedals but they are so far okay enough to get the job done in a race. For the stubbornly non-clipless like me, Is there a better shoe (a trail shoe maybe) that will give me a little more flexibility on the ground while still gripping my pedals reasonably well, AND that comes in a womens' 9.5/Euro 42?

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OK, I kind of see two questions here. Obviously you don't want to go clipless yet, and I can understand that. But there is also the comment about flexibility. Are you talking about flexibility of the shoe for running? And do you plan to go clipless in the future?

If you're going to stay with the BMX pedals, the only thing I can think to recommend is a trail running shoe. BMX shoes which are designed to grip those pedals, grip the pedals by being perfectly flat which increases contact area between shoe and pedal. Unfortunately the very thing that makes them work well with platform pedals, makes them absolutely useless on most cross courses. A good trail running shoe will have a sole that should be the middle ground between flat soled BMX shoes and aggressive-ly lugged MTB shoes. It should give you traction on flat pedals, but still allow for running in most course conditions.

The other option that I might recommend is to go with a pedal like the Crank Brothers Mallet. Pedals like the Mallet have the platform to allow you to ride unclipped, but with a design and finish that are meant to work with MTB shoes that have the aggressive soles you need when off the bike. I would think the mallets, and a good fitting clipless shoe, will give you a good platform to get started on and when the season is over, you're already setup to go clipless.
The thing is that, with historically bad kness and no health bennies, I have some serious doubts about going clipless, at least without some really good professional help in getting it set up.

That said, I am mostly thinking of the running. For actual on-the-pedal riding the Shimano shoes seem to work okay -- not stellar, but okay. They certainly don't grip the pedal as well as my Vans did this summer at short-track, but the Vans would've been a ridiculous choice for 'cross.

I was just presented with a THIRD option by a friend: PI X-Alp Seek III with water-resistant uppers. These will require some breaking in and I probably will set them aside for my November races if I decide to use them at all. For this weekend I will probably just go with the Shimanos and deal. But yeah, going clipless is fraught with risk for me because I DO have knee issues and I'm also not getting any younger. All it takes is one poorly-adjusted clipless pedal to ruin a knee for good. Cheers--BH


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