There’s a lot to consider when it comes to choosing a set of pedals for your bicycle. The type of bicycle you ride, the kind of riding you primarily engage in, and the shoes you wear are just three factors that might come into play.
Because the pedals actually play a significant role in the bicycle’s performance – as well as in your comfort while riding – it’s worth taking the time to make a reasoned choice. This blog post covers the information you need to know.
In the sections below, we’ll cover the aforementioned factors in more detail and will mention some helpful tips and tricks to help you make the best selection for your needs.
What Types of Bicycle Pedals Are There?
There are two broad categories of bicycle pedals: clipless and flat (or platform as they are also referred to). The main difference between the two is that with clipless pedals, you clip your foot into the pedal and it remains latched in as you ride. Flat pedals are the kind you probably had on your first bike growing up; they don’t require you to clip in your shoe and can work with most types of footwear.
Clipless pedals require a pair of riding shoes with a metal or plastic cleat attached to them. There are two primary types of clipless pedals, some with a 2-hole cleat design and other with a 3-hole setup. These pedals can allow you to ride more efficiently and with greater power transfer. However, they also require your foot to be locked in to the pedal at all times, which may be undesirable for some types of riders.
Flat pedals do not require any special sort of riding shoes; you simply place your foot on the pedal and you’re good to go. Some riders prefer these pedals because they are easier to use and can be safer if you anticipate falling down on the bike or if you have to make frequent, unplanned stops. For most riders and riding styles, these pedals will translate to worse performance overall.
There are also hybrid pedals, which feature a clipless design on one side and a flat design on the other. This type of pedal can be helpful to someone who is just learning to use clipless pedals, or for someone who uses the same bicycle in a variety of different riding situations.
What Kind of Bicycle Do You Ride?
The main things to consider when it comes to choosing the right bicycle pedals for your bike are the type of bicycle you have and the kind of riding you’ll be using them with.
Clipless pedals are popular amongst road cyclists, especially those competing as athletes. These cyclists tend to favor the 3-hole cleat design, as they are larger than the 2-hole design and allow for a greater spread of force to be applied.
However, 3-hole cleats are also generally larger than 2-hole cleats and protrude farther out from the shoe, potentially making them less comfortable.
It used to be the case that clipless pedals were considered the best for mountain biking as well, at least performance-wise. That still might be true, all things considered. However, these days flat pedals have increased in popularity amongst mountain bikers.
Mountain bikers might prefer the 2-hole cleat design over the 3-hole design should they go with clipless pedals, as they allow the foot a wider range of motion. This can be beneficial for the more uncertain terrain that mountain bikes thrive in. Just as with road cyclists, clipless pedals are favored by many mountain bikers because of the performance benefit.
Flat pedals could be the better choice for someone new to mountain biking, as taking a spill can be easier to deal with relative to a crash with clipless pedals. Choosing a pedal with great grip that meshes with grippy shoe can partially make up for the fact that your foot won’t be locked in to the pedal as well.
Those who ride their bikes for recreational purposes or for commuting may also prefer one style of pedal to the other. For instance, if you’re a commuter in a busy city who has to make frequent stops, you may not want to clip your shoe in and out of the pedal regularly. But if you have to commute a long distance, you might prefer clipless pedals for the sake of riding efficiency.
Bicylists riding primarily for fun over short distances may not want the fuss of a clipless pedal. If they do, they’ll generally favor the 2-hole design because it is less intrusive. The 2-hole design is also usually easier when it comes to clipping the shoe in and out.
Choosing the Best Bicycle Pedal for Your Needs
Making the best decision when it comes to bicycle pedals largely comes down to the type of bicycle you have and your riding style and intentions. While clipless pedals offer more streamlined performance, they require your foot to be locked in while you’re riding and do entail a bit of a learning curve. Ultimately, most riders should find that they can get used to clipless pedals over time. Whether it is worth putting in the time to become comfortable with them will hinge on your goals and the reasons that you ride your bike.
Armed with the information included in this blog post, it is our intention that you’ll be able to make a more informed selection that best fits your specific needs as a bicyclist, regardless of where you’re located.