It’s just a bike pedal. But because there are a lot of cycling pedals in the market, choosing a bike pedal may be daunting. This is especially true if you are just starting your biking habit.

In this blog, you will learn how to choose bike pedals by considering the type of riding you do. Are you road biking? Or do you prefer mountain biking? Do you want the power of clipless pedals? Or do you need the maneuverability of flat pedals? Or maybe, you are looking for both? 

This blog post will help you decide on the perfect bike pedal for you. Let’s begin.

The Two Types of Bike Pedals

There are two common types of bike pedals in the market:

Flat pedals

Also known as platform pedals, flat pedals are the favorite of mountain bikers who love the thrill and adrenaline rush of downhill rides. They usually pair this cycling pedal with grippy bike shoes specially designed for mountain biking.

Together with a pair of suitable bike shoes, flat pedals give you better control when riding. Its ease of use makes it one of the safest pedals too — allowing you to get off quickly in a crash.

Flat bike pedals are also great for bike commuters who constantly get off and on their bikes as they brave the downtown traffic. You don’t need specialized shoes for this purpose. The stable and wider surface of platform pedals makes it a perfect everyday companion for casual and recreational rides.

Clipless pedals

This may sound confusing but clipless pedals are designed for you to clip in, despite its name. These bike pedals work by mounting small cleats (plastic or metal) on the soles of your bike shoes. These cleats snap into a set of spring-loaded clips on the surface of the pedal. Most clipless pedals in the market are sold in two-hole or three-hole variations.  

Because your shoes are clipped into the pedals, your feet will not bounce off as you hop over logs and obstacles. Clipless bike pedals are for those who want greater control and more power on their rides. Getting on and off your bike using clipless pedals will take some practice, these tips should help.

bike pedal tips

Bike Pedal Features that You Need to Know

The float  

This refers to the degree of angular rotation allowed on the foot while you are clipped into a clipless pedal. The float will depend on the kind of clipless bike pedal you use. Some allow for some degree of rotation while others are fixed. Very few clipless pedals offer a wide range of float settings. The float will be more of a personal preference as you gain experience in biking.

Multi-release cleats

Most cleats that come with clipless pedals release laterally. Multi release cleats allow your feet to move inward or outward at an angle — making it easier for you to release your foot. Multi release cleats are usually sold separately from clipless bike pedals.

Your Riding Style will Determine the Type of Pedal You Need

Bike pedals for recreational biking

If you are a casual biker, your first choice should be a flat or platform pedal. You can also opt for a two-hole cleat system if you want to get started on clipless bike pedals.

Bike pedals for bike commuting 

Do you need shoes that you can wear to work or in a grocery store? If yes, go for flat pedals that work great with any type of shoes. The power and energy efficiency of clipless pedals are perfect if you bike commute long distances.

Bike pedals for mountain biking

The two-hole design cleats of mountain biking shoes are recessed into the sole. This allows you to walk comfortably when you are not riding these trails.

If you want greater pedaling efficiency and more control while riding technical terrains, buy clipless pedals. Pick platform pedals if you want to take your foot off the pedal more freely. Flat pedals are an obvious choice for those who are not comfortable riding on clipless bike pedals.

bike pedal tips

Bike pedals for road biking

Road bikers usually go for clipless pedals because it provides greater pedaling efficiency — ideal for long haul rides. Road bike pedals are different from its mountain biking cousin. Instead of a two-hole design, road clipless pedals have three holes and the cleats are slightly larger. This design translates to more power when pedaling because the force is spread in a much larger area.   

Road bike pedals are commonly referred to as SPD-L systems.

Hybrid bike pedals

Hybrid bike pedals offer the best of both worlds — the ease of use of flat pedals and the power and control of clipless pedals. Hybrid bike pedals are great if you want to transition into clipless pedals.

Questions to Ask Yourself when Buying Bike Pedals

What is your riding style?

Are you a recreational biker who needs flat pedals that are easy to use? Or are you a professional bike racer who wants to maximize every pedal?

Do you want clipless or flat pedals?

Flat pedals are for those who get on and off often or for those who are not comfortable walking on cleated shoes. Clipless pedals, on the other hand, offer more power and efficiency. Your shoes are connected to the pedal, delivering power to your bike as you pull upwards and push down.

What shoes do you wear?  

The shoes you wear will sometimes dictate the bike pedal you need. For example, if you are a bike commuter who needs more comfortable shoes at work, then buy flat pedals that are compatible with most shoes. If you want to go clipless, go for two-hole mountain biking pedals. The recessed cleats should offer some degree of comfort while walking.

There you have it. We hope this blog post was able to help you understand the factors that help determine the type of bike pedals for you. 

We’ve prepared a list of the best clipless bike pedals that you can buy today. Check it out!

Happy biking!

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