When looking for bike pedals, it is imperative to critically consider the type of riding you will be engaging in. Are you a frequent road biker or an avid mountain biker or use an indoor spin bike? Are you looking for better pedaling performance as offered by clipless pedals or ease and maneuverability as offered by platform pedals?
Perhaps you want a little of both?
No need to worry. If you do choose to go with clipless pedals, be sure to get shoes and cleats that can complement them. You can decide to shop for shoes first, or pedals first, but make sure the shoe and pedal are compatible. Cleats are usually sold with pedals, but if they come separately; make sure to buy ones that will match your pedal.
In this article, we dissect the different types of bike pedals so that you can be familiar with each one of them when buying comes to order. Let's delve right in:
What Type of Bike Pedal Do You Need?
1. Platform Bike Pedals
As the name suggests, platform bike pedals have a flat top which offers sufficient support to your feet when pedaling. They can be used with almost all shoes, except the clipless ones.
Recent platform pedals use lightweight materials to reduce bulkiness, have sealed bearings to keep out any dirt and moisture, and feature pins on their surfaces for better grip when the pedals become slippery.
Most mountain bikers love this pedal because of its secure grip and control, as well as its ease to detach your feet from it in case of a fall. While clipless pedals release automatically when you fall platform pedals help you gain confidence and avoid crashes altogether.
Toe Clips & Straps for Platform Pedals
Toe clips are metallic frames that are attached to platform pedals at the front to cushion your toes. They are very crucial when pulling up or pushing down with your foot during pedaling. The clips are usually attached to adjustable straps that thread through the top of the clip to surround your foot and provide a useful retention system that is durable and lightweight.
2. Clipless Bike Pedals
Clipless pedals are arguably one of the best innovations in the bike field. Much like skiing technology, these pedals make you more efficient by allowing you to have a better foot-to-pedal connection.
They are also safer in that they offer an instant foot clamp and release. We recommend these pedals for road and mountain biking, as well as everything from racing, commuting and riding. They are also perfect for spinning.
If you are new to bikes, getting pedals and shoes to match them might be a bit difficult. If you’ve been thinking whether getting clipless bike pedals is worth the expense for you, here is something to help you make your mind up.
Are you a regular rider who does up to 10 miles or more? If so, then we think you will love the way clipless pedals enhance your cycling experience by boosting pedal power, safety, and overall comfort.
Clipless Pedals for Mountain Biking
Clipless pedals designed for mountain biking have cleats that feature two holes with screws to secure the cleat to 2 slots at the bottom of the compatible shoe. This system allows you to slide the cleat either backward or forward so that you can get the right angle and balance for comfort and ease when engaging the pedals.
The two-hole design is commonly known as the SPD (or Shimano Pedal Dynamics) system as coined by Shimano, the company behind its invention. Interestingly, Shimano is still the market leader today, but other manufacturers like Time and crank brothers have similar systems that work just as fine.
Clipless Pedals for Road Biking
Clipless pedals designed for road biking have cleats that feature three holes. The cleats are larger than those of mountain bikes, are made of plastic and protrude farther away from the sole.
The main advantage of 3-hole cleats is the fact that they have an ability to spread the force you use to pedal over a wider surface area. This helps reduce the amount of pressure at the connection points allowing for smooth pedaling under high-stress loads.
If you do not use your bike regularly, you may go for a 2-hole cleat system because it allows for easy clamping and release.
3. Platform/ Clipless Bike Pedals
This hybrid system combines the efficiency of clipless pedals and the flexibility of platform pedals. It is the perfect choice for those looking to slowly transit into the clipless system.
While many bikers either go ’all in’’ or ’all out’’ when it comes to clipless pedals, this hybrid option is the best choice for the biker who does not want to wear cycling shoes every time they go biking.
Features of a Bike Pedal
Pedal Float- When you place your foot on a pedal with cleats, the cleat will automatically lock into the pedal for stability and support. Float, in this context, simply refers to the degree of rotation on the pedal. Some floats hold the pedal at a fixed angle, while others allow a lot of rotation. This depends on your preference as a rider.
Multiple-release Cleats- Most pedals usually come with cleats that release laterally. Multiple-release cleats are similar to these models, but e release a bit faster and at more angles (allowing your heel to either move inward, outward or slightly upward). The difference is not much, but multiple-release cleats are more comfortable than regular cleats that release laterally. Multiple-release cleats are bought separately.
Getting Used to Clipless Pedals
Practice is important when learning to go clipless. This is particularly so if you started with toe clips and straps, which have an entirely different foot motion for entry and release. Clipless pedals release by adjusting your heels outwards.
You can learn the release motion by standing over the bike, and not necessarily sitting on it. If you are worried that you may fall over, practice on soft grounds like lawns. Even better, if you can train indoors, simply mount your bike and practice as many times as you can.
Start by clicking your foot into the pedal and removing it. Repeat these 30 to 40 times with both feet. You should begin to feel how natural and easy it is to do so. Keep clicking and releasing as many times as possible until you get the hang of it.