Pedal choice can make such a difference to both your comfort and performance on the bike, so it’s important to make a considered choice. Some new bikes will come with a specific pedal attached, but these days there are many different options, each with their own strengths. If your new bike does come with pedals, the chances are that they are of the flat variety with which you can wear everyday shoes rather than a specialist cycling pair. Typically, these come with a web of bands that keep your foot in place. On the other hand, clipless pedals, more logically referred to as “clip-in pedals”, are an ideal step forward in your bike setup to improve your efficiency and comfort. With that in mind, here’s a quick rundown of the major players in the road pedal market:
The original clipless pedal, the Look Keo has been the go-to system for countless cyclists since the eighties. They’ve evolved somewhat since then, with Look recently bringing out a super-light carbon model, and their large surface area makes them slightly easier to get into than other pedals. Look remains the pedal of choice for much of the pro peloton, so if it’s good enough for them…
Much like their Look counterparts, the Shimano road pedals use a 3-bolt system, though there are some significant differences between the two brands. Namely, Shimano pedals are broader, making for a more efficient power transfer, though this does add some weight. They come with varying degrees of float – how much side-to-side movement your foot has when clipped in – and represent a great value road pedal for both racing and sportive riding.
A relatively recent entrant into the pedal market, Speedplay offer a titanium road pedal that, like many mountain bike pedals, can be clipped in on either side. This makes it a great pedal for those new to the sport, considerably reducing the amount of faff required to clip your shoe in and out. The circular shape also makes for an efficient transfer of power through your pedal stroke. Perhaps most crucial, however, is the wide range of colours that Speedplay offer; who can resist matching the Bianchi celeste decals on their frame with a teal pedal?
With the phenomenon of power meters having swept through the pro peloton and amateur ranks alike, Garmin broke the mould a few years ago by introducing the first pedal with a built-in power meter. If you own several bikes, this could be a cheaper alternative to fitting a power meter to each and every set of cranks. The pedal itself is light and sturdy, and offers seamless integration with Garmin bike computers.
With your power going through a set of pedals you are confident in, you’ll be able to squeeze out those extra watts that could make a decisive difference when chasing that Strava KOM.