There are many types of pedals available nowadays, and buying replacements for your worn-down pedals can take quite a bit of consideration. In order to save you time and money, I’ve compiled this guide to give you the ins and outs of the different types of pedals, and their distinct advantages and disadvantages. In order to shop these bike parts with confidence, here’s what you need to know
Clipless, Flat and Hybrid Pedals
This is one of the first obstacles that people get hung up on when shopping for these bike parts. The decision between flat and clipless pedals is an important one, and in order to know which style is best for you, you should understand the differences.
Clipless pedals are also known as clip-in pedals. These are the modern cleat-style pedals that despite their name, clip in. With flats, on the other hand, there’s no connection between the shoes and the pedal – you just place your foot down and push.
As just mentioned, these pedals require you to lock your shoes into the pedals. And while this may sound off-putting, there are some benefits that make them worth it. For instance, you’ll be able to make the most out of each stroke. In other words, instead of just being able to push on the downstroke, you can also pull up on the upstroke to increase power transfer, which will ultimately result in more speed and make it easier to ride uphill. These two things make clipless pedals the go-to choice for most road cyclists.
However, mountain bikers can also benefit from clipless pedals, as they prevent your feet from slipping in wet conditions or bouncing out of position when driving over rough terrain. If you’ve ever tried riding through rocks on flat pedals, you probably know that keeping your feet on the pedals isn’t always easy.
But even though there are benefits to clipless pedals, not all riders prefer them. They can be a bit pricey, and some riders worry about falling over. They take some getting used to, but with practice getting in and out of them can become easy. Even if you crash, they can disengage easily so you probably won’t get stuck to your bicycle.
For riders who aren’t sold on clipless pedals, flats, also known as platform pedals are the ultimate choice. These pedals are almost always more affordable than clipless pedals. Moreover, if you’re a casual rider, you’ll probably like the ease at which you can hop on and off your bike at any given moment. More importantly, you can wear any type of shoes, making them ideal for recreational riders and commuters who don’t want to go through the hassle of carrying an extra pair of shoes with them.
Casual trail riders and aggressive mountain riders can benefit from flat pedals, as they can quickly put their feet down on rougher sections, and use the freer movement to go through sharp turns and jumps, knowing they can easily disengage from their bike if things go south. On the downside, flat pedals aren’t as energy-efficient and sure-footed as clipless pedals.
Hybrid pedals, also known as dual-sided pedals, feature a platform on one side and a clip-in mechanism on the other side. These pedals are ideal for riders who want to have both options. If you own a do-it-all bike and you switch between riding casually and manically, hybrid pedals are the way to go. Moreover, these pedals allow you to practice getting in and out of clip-in pedals, but don’t want to have the mechanism attached at all times.
Mountain Bike and Road Bike Pedals
Mountain bike pedals come in either flat or clipless models, and are designed to provide better control on more challenging terrains. Clipless mountain bike pedals have two-bolt cleat systems that engage in the rear and front of the cleat. The cleats are then recessed into the sole of the shoes, meaning that shoes made for these pedals are walkable. Once clipped, you can unclip them by twisting the heel out and releasing the cleat from the pedal.
Flat mountain bike pedals, on the other hand, feature a wider platform than usual, lined with pins that provide extra grip for your shoes to help keep them in place. Since flat shoes aren’t as stiff as clipless shoes, the wider platform spreads out the pressure on the foot to prevent fatigue.
Road Bike Pedals
Pedals dedicated to road biking are exclusively clipless, as road bikers value efficiency and speed over everything else. These pedals use a different cleat system, which features a longer platform and a three-hole design, in which the cleat protrudes from the sole of the shoes and is only locked into one side of the pedal. This provides weight-saving and power-transfer benefits. On the downside, these shoes aren’t walkable, but it’s something most road bikers are willing to sacrifice. Road bike pedals vary from brand to brand, and it’s up to you to find your most suitable model.