Bicycle Pedals – You should chose bicycle pedals based on your riding skill level, and also match them to your preferred shoe style. For example, if you want to wear sneakers, then you will want to stick with caged or platform bicycle pedals. Clipless bicycle pedals require special cycling shoes that fit snugly over the cleats on the bicycle pedals. So if you go with clipless bicycle pedals, you must match its design to the size and shape of the cleats built into your cycling shoes. Here’s what to consider when shopping for bicycle pedals.
Platform bicycle pedals are considered the most basic system. These bicycle pedals provide a wide stable surface on both sides to support your feet. They are not intended for use with clipless shoes. More recent technological advances include lightweight materials, sealed bearings to keep out moisture and grime, and even replaceable pins on the surface for increased grip in slippery conditions. Many downhill mountain bikers prefer a combination of these types of bicycle pedals paired with specifically matched shoes. This pairing provides ample grip and control while remaining the easiest bicycle pedals to get off of in the event of a crash.
Toe clips (also called “toe cages”) are small frames that attach to the front of platform bicycle pedals and surrounding your toes, thus securing your foot to the bicycle pedals. With the addition of an adjustable strap that threads through the top and bottom of the clip (encircling the ball of your foot), these bicycle pedals allow you to pull up with your foot in the stroke as well as pushing down, effectively doubling your efficiency. However, the cage design does not provide the same high performance associated with clipless bicycle pedals.
The hybid platform/clipless dual bicycle pedals combine the flexibility of the platform design with the efficiency of the clipless system. It is an excellent transition for anyone looking to ease into clipless bicycle pedals, and they offer an alternative for those who don’t always ride with cycling shoes.
Clipless bicycle pedals are considered the most advanced system. These bicycle pedals work by mounting a small plastic or metal cleat on the sole of your shoe which then snaps in to a set of spring-loaded “clips” on the face of the bicycle pedals. The clipless design allows for the most efficient pedaling motion by offering a direct attachment between shoe and to the bicycle pedals which allows you to pull up and push down during the pedal stroke for maximum energy efficiency. This system offers a high level of control while executing moves like hopping up on to curbs or over logs and improved safety by not allowing your feet to bounce off the bicycle pedals while riding through bumps or slipping off as you apply power in rain or snow. Pick the largest size pedal possible for more even weight distribution and better comfort; larger cleats spread your weight over a larger area of the foot, and reduce discomfort on longer rides. You will need to decide between double-sided or single-sided clips. Double-sided bicycle pedals have clips on both sides, which means you can easily attach your feet without looking down or making adjustments. Double-sided bicycle pedals will only work with cycling shoes. Single-sided clips mean you have to look down and fit your feet onto the correct side. With a single-sided clip, you can use the flat side of the bicycle pedals to ride with your sneakers or sandals.
With road pedals, the cycling shoes typically have cleats made out of the plastic, and that are larger and protrude farther from the shoe soles. The advantage of this system is that the larger cleats are able to spread more of the applied force over a wider area. This design subsequently reduces the pressure exerted on the connection points. If you do not push your road bike to the edge of its performance envelope, you may opt for a 2-hole cleat system since it allows you to walk around more easily.
With mountain bicycle pedals, the most versatile MTB clipless bicycle pedals systems can be utilized for all types of riding, such as road cycling, mountain biking, touring or commuting. This recessed cleat option, when paired with appropriate shoes, can makes walking easier and less noisy.
On bicycle pedals systems, screws are placed through 2 holes securing the cleat to 2 tracks or slots in the bottom of a compatible shoe. This design lets you slide the cleat back and forth slightly to achieve the proper angle and placement for maximum comfort and ease of engagement onto the pedal. Ideally, the cleat should be mounted directly under the ball of the foot, however, that alignment may not be the most comfortable position for every user. So a lateral or “twist” adjustment is available on theses cleats which allows them to be more precisely aligned to accommodate different pedaling styles.
One final consideration on bicycle pedals systems is the pedal float. When you step on a cleated pedal, the cleat locks into the pedal’s mechanism and its held firmly in place. The term “float” refers to the amount of angular rotation that the foot is allowed on the pedal. Some systems hold the foot at a fixed angle, others only allow fixed amounts of float, while a few allow customized ranges of float. This largely becomes a personal preference as you become a more experienced rider. Cyclists with knee issues should use cleats with built-in float on your bicycle pedals.