How to Choose The Best Bicycle Pedals for Your Riding Style

There is a huge variety of different pedal brands, types and disciplines so it might get complex when trying to choose the right ones for yourself. This short guide will cover the pedal choosing basics and average prices. There basically are 3 types of bike pedals: simple plain pedals, quill pedals (clippable) and clipless ones.

Plain Pedals (Platform)

Plain/platform pedals are the simplest type of pedals and are used on all types of bikes, especially on recreational ones. Platform pedals have quite a lot of space for your foot to be held steadily and comfortable. The best advantage of plain pedals is that you can ride your bike with any type of shoes which means that it is not necessary to purchase specific cycling shoes.

Plain pedals are usually made from plastic or aluminum but you can also find some steel, titanium, carbon, etc. Depending on the material, prices will vary drastically. You can easily find $5 to $15 pedals at your local bike store or search online and get some better price/quality ratio, for example: Aluminum flat/ platform pedals under $25.

Pros Compatible with ordinary shoes, different feet positions, easy to stand on and off, great for children
Cons More chances of slipping your foot compared to SPD or Quil pedals
Best for BMX, MTB (with better grip), children bikes, commuting
Prices $5-$15 for plastic, $15-$50 for aluminum

Quill Pedals (Toe Clips/Straps)

The quill pedals which are used in touring, road or track cycling slightly differ in width. Quill pedals are still quite popular among cyclists, although the clipless pedals are available for everyone. Nowadays quill pedals are mostly used for touring or in track cycling because track cyclists use so much power that clipless pedals tend to detach.

You can increase your cycling power by using the straps. The main reason of using straps on your pedals is to help you transfer the power from your legs to the pedals when you are pushing them down and pulling up. It also helps your feet to be held in a more stable position, but it also might help you fall down if you are not experienced enough. Imagine if you reduce to such speed when you need to take your foot on the ground to keep the balance and your foot is still strapped on.

Pros No special shoes required, increases cycling power, prevents foot from slipping, gives more control of the bike
Cons Might scuff shoes, difficult for inexperienced cyclists
Best for Track, touring, fixed gear
Prices $5-$15 for plastic, $15-$50 for aluminum

Clipless Pedals (SPD)

Clipless pedals are probably the best choice for most cyclists because of feet stability, push/pull pedaling, etc. The most popular type of clipless pedals is SPD (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) which is used in both road and mountain biking because of its simplicity – easy to stand in/out, works perfectly and the prices start from $15 (pedals only). It is a bit more complex to ride with Look (road) pedals. It requires more practice until you learn how to properly step in and out, but it will provide much more stability compared to SPD.

You can ride with any type of shoes while using platform or clips/straps pedals, but when it comes to clipless pedals – you will need a pair of special cycling shoes. There basically are 3 types of shoes for clipless pedals: the 2-hole system (SPD, the universal type), the 3-hole system (Look style, used in road cycling) and the 4-hole system (Speedplay). Depending on the shoe brand and quality, you can find cycling shoes starting at $30. Shoes usually come without cleats (small metal plates that connects to the pedal) which are included when you buy the pedals.

Look Pedal, Cleat & Shoes (Road)

SPD-SL Pedal, Cleat & Shoes (Road)

SPD Pedal, Cleat & Shoes (Mountain)

Speedplay Pedal, Cleat & Shoes

Crank Brothers Eggbeater Pedal, Cleat & Shoes

Pros Provides the best bike control (easy to bunny hop for anyone), steady feet, pulling/pushing, some works on both pedal sides (double-sided).
Cons Requires some practice at first, easy to fall over when you are stopping and your feet are still clipped.
Best for All disciplines
Prices SPD from $15, Look from $30, Speedplay from $100

How to Choose The Right Pedals for Your Bicycle

There basically is no such thing as the “best type of pedals”. Depending of your riding style, there will be ones that work the best and ones that won’t do the thing.

The most widely used are SPD pedals which will work fine on all types of bikes. If you have never tried quill/strap or clipless pedals, you should definitely try it. There even are some budget combos, which include pedals, shoes and cleats for just $70.

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