Your body comes into contact with your bicycle in three areas: Your seat, your hands, and your feet. To get the most enjoyment and benefit out of your cycling, you need to carefully choose the parts for each of these areas. Your feet are where choosing the right pedals makes a difference, and there is not one choice that works best for everyone. Here's a rundown of the difference types of pedals, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
|Comfort platform pedal|
Most hybrid and cruiser bikes come with "comfort platform" pedals, which have a smooth surface that makes them usable with thin-soled sneakers, sandals, or even barefoot (in true "beach cruiser" fashion).
|BMX platform pedal|
|Mountain platform pedal|
Pros: Inexpensive (usually), work with any kind of shoes.
Cons: Less efficient--promotes "pedaling in squares" rather than pedaling in circles.
Pedals with Toe Clips
|Pedal with toe clips and straps|
Pros: Inexpensive, work with any kind of shoes, somewhat more efficient than platform pedals.
Cons: Can be inconvenient to insert and remove your feet.
These pedals have a mechanism that is similar in concept to a ski boot binding. The mechanism holds your foot in place on the pedal during the circular pedaling motion, but is easily released by twisting your heel outward. The term "clipless pedals" is used to distinguish them from pedals with toe clips. Unfortunately, this often causes confusion, because the phrase "clip in" is used to refer to the process of putting your feet in place on your clipless pedals.
Clipless pedals hold your foot in place securely, while riding fast on smooth roads, as well as during aggressive riding on off-road trails. They allow you to practice the most efficient pedaling technique, by exerting an even, consistent force throughout the circle of your pedal stroke.
The clipless pedal system consists of three parts: the actual pedals, the cycling-specific shoes that are designed to work in conjunction with the pedals, and the cleats, which is the set of hardware that attaches to the shoes that works with the clipless mechanism on the pedals. The cleats usually come as a pair with the pedals, and are also available separately as replacements as they wear out.
There are two important characteristics of all clipless pedal systems. The "release angle" determines how far you need to twist your foot in order to disengage the clipless mechanism. Some pedals have adjustable tension, which allows you to customize the release angle and the force needed to get your foot out. For some pedals, you can change the release angle by adjusting the position of the cleats on your shoes. The "float" of a pedal refers to how much your foot is able to freely swivel from side to WITHOUT coming un-clipped. Some people like a lot of float, while other people prefer the secure feeling of no float at all. You can change the float for some pedals by choosing a different version of cleats.
Road Clipless Pedals
|Look Keo Road Cleat Set|
|Look Keo Classic Road Pedal|
|Speedplay Road Pedal|
Pros: Lightweight, maximum efficiency for long, fast rides
Cons: Require cycling-specific shoes, impractical for walking around off the bike
Mountain Clipless Pedals
|Shimano SPD Cleat Set|
|Shimano PD-M520 Mountain Pedal|
|Crank Brothers Egg|
Beater Mountain Pedal
|Speedplay Frog Mountain Pedal|
Pros: Pedaling efficiency, comfort, walkability
Cons: Cycling-specific shoes required, may not be as efficient as road-specific pedals.
You can learn more about Choosing and Using Clipless Pedals in our clinic at all three Century Cycles stores on Tuesday, January 31, 2012. The clinic is FREE and begins at 6:30pm.
Our next FREE clinic is Tuesday, December 27, about Dressing for Winter Cycling, also at 6:30pm at all three of our stores.
For these and any of our Bicycling and Maintenance Clinics, please call the store you'd like to attend to reserve your place, or RSVP to the Facebook Events.
For information about all of our clinics, see: www.centurycycles.com/goto/clinics
To see a list of the clinics (and all of our other events) by date, see our Calendar of Events at: