An essential component of any bicycle is the pedals, which connect the legs to the drivetrain via the cranks. Safety, performance, and comfort are all enhanced by these complex components that are often overlooked.
You can get more out of your bike by choosing the right bicycle pedals for you. We will be covering all aspects of bicycle pedals, no matter if you are looking to clip-in (or strap-in) or step-on (or both).
Are you short on time? For quick links to the relevant sections, see below
- What are bicycle pedals?
- Clipless vs Platform vs Clip Pedals
- Road Bike Pedal Types
- Mountain Bike Pedal Types
- Platform (Flat) Pedal Types
- Commuter Pedal Types
- Tips for Pedal Maintenance
What are Bicycle Pedals?
Bicycle pedals are sold as a pair and thread into the crank arms. They provide the point of contact that propels a bike forward.
There are three types of bicycle pedals: clip, clipless and platform. Below we’ll discuss the differences between each style. However, each has its advantages that can have a significant impact on your riding experience. These benefits include greater power transfer, stability, comfort, and ease-of-use.
Clipless Vs. Platform (Flat), Vs. Clip
There are three main types of pedals: clipless, clip and platform. We’ll provide a brief overview of each type, their intended uses and the best riding styles.
When used in conjunction with ” Cleat” cycling shoes, clipless pedals allow for you to attach your foot mechanically to the pedal. It’s similar to a ski binding system. It allows for greater pedaling efficiency, better power transfer and a more secure hold without your foot sliding off.
Clipless pedals, which are also known as “toe clips”, are confusingly called that because they don’t have the traditional “toe clips”. They are popular for the best mountain bikes, road bikes, and commuter bikes. Clipless pedals are more common than you might think. It is possible to trip over while the bike is attached.
Clipless pedals can be divided into two types: road pedals or mountain bike pedals. Two-hole clipless pedals for mountain bikes use a cleat with two sides. They shed more mud than their road-going siblings. Shoes made for mountain biking pedals are more comfortable to wear because of the smaller cleat. This makes them a good choice for commuters as well as recreational cyclists.
Three- or four-hole cleats are common for road bike pedals. They are usually one-sided and have a greater surface area to transfer power. For riders who plan to do a lot of walking, the larger cleats can be difficult to walk in. However, special cleat covers or accessories are available.
Platform pedals are commonly found on BMX, mountain, urban, and recreational bikes. They allow you to simply step on the pedal and begin riding. These pedals are easy to use, and don’t require any special technique. Platform pedals are stronger, more stable and offer better traction.
Toe clip pedals connect the foot to the pedal using a cage and strap. Now, clipless pedals are more popular than toe-clipped ones. Although special cycling shoes are not required, the foot can be attached without them. Toe clip pedals can trap the shoe in an emergency and are less secure than clipless models. Toe clip pedals should not be used for mountain biking. Instead, they are recommended for indoor exercise bikes and commuter bikes.
Pedals for Specific Disciplines
After giving you an overview of all the available pedal styles, we will dive deeper into the category-specific pedals. We’ll explain the various closure mechanisms and how they can benefit your particular riding style.
Road Bike Pedals
Today’s road bike pedals are sophisticated and have advanced over time. The clipless type of dedicated road bike pedals is the most popular. They offer the greater pedalling efficiency, increased power transfer, and a secure grip. There are subtle differences between brands and price points in the binding systems, stability, float, and durability.
- Take a look
The clipless pedal style was introduced to mass markets by Look in 1983. However, the original Delta closure system and cleat have remained largely unchanged for more than 20 years. The iconic French company still uses the Keo closure and cleat to replace the Delta.
While Look clipless pedals have been continuously improved over the past 30 years, their fundamental functionality remains the same.
French carbon fiber specialists Time has been selling its popular XPro clipless pedal platform and XPresso for more than 20 years. They are loved by riders for their low stack height, low weight, and stable cleat platform. Time pedals have been refined over the years.
Mountain Bike Pedals
Mountain bike pedals are popular in two ways that differ from road-going counterparts: There are two styles: platform and clipless. A third, less well-known option is the combination pedal. This combines the platform and clipless pedals into one.
Mountain Bike Clipless Shoes
When choosing the best full suspension mountain bike pedal, the main considerations will be the weight, engagement level, mud-shedding properties, and, in the case of clipless pedals. How much float do you have? Clipless mountain bike pedals are more suitable for technical off-road terrain. They have more float, double-sided access, and more robust construction. Cross-country clipless pedals are lighter, more stable and can shed more mud than their road counterparts. A trail or gravity clipless pedal will usually have a platform cage to protect the clipless mechanism from rock strikes and provide traction and support for the feet when it is not being clipped.
Mountain Bike Flat Pedals
In recent years, mountain bike-specific platform pedals have seen a surge in popularity, especially among the all-mountain, downhill, trail, and enduro crowds. The ability to react quickly to a tire slipping or to bail out of a bike in case of an emergency is what has helped to make these pedals so popular. It is important to use flat pedals for mountain biking because they provide extra grip because they are made of tough metal and have multiple spikes or pins. To increase pedaling efficiency, they can be worn with skate shoes with soft rubber outsoles and reinforced middle soles.
Flat pedals are the best option for short-distance commuters and recreational riders. They can be used with the majority of urban, commuter, and hybrid bikes on the market. Flat pedals are ideal for short-distance commuters and recreational riders because they don’t require specific cycling shoes.
BMX pedals look similar to mountain bike flat pedals but are more simple and more robustly built to withstand a lot of abuse. It can be made from steel, resin, or aluminium. They are usually heavier than other platform pedals, but they are also more affordable.
Many BMX pedals only require one bearing and bush, with very few gripper pins. While they look very similar to mountain bike pedals you should be aware of the differences in axle standards. Many BMX pedals for kids have a smaller thread diameter.
Like any other component of your bicycle, pedals require regular maintenance to keep them in top shape. Regular inspections of the pedal surface and cleats are the best form of maintenance. Cleaner pedals will make it easier for the cleats to contact the pedal body. This will make clipping in and out easier.
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