Why are pedals important?
There’s no shying away from it, pedals are an essential part of your bicycle as either a method of transport or the key to exciting new adventures in performance and fun. They are the connection between you and your beloved machine.
The question is then which connection is best and most suitable to enable you to get the most from your trusty steed?
What type of pedals are available?
Road clip-in (clipless)
Road clip-in pedals were pioneered by French company Look in the 1980’s, replacing the outdated method of toe clips and straps. The major benefit of this system over a standard flat pedal being that the entire rotation of the pedal stroke is utilised. No wasted watts!! The mechanical connection between shoe and pedal allows you to pull through the back end of the pedal stroke as well as apply power in the downstroke, vastly improving efficiency. A cycling specific shoe is required for use with a clip-in/clipless pedal system.
The evolutionary journey of this pedal system from the original variant has been an interesting one, with more and more manufacturers trying their hand at their own version. Materials on current versions range from the exotic Titanium and Carbon to the more run-of-the-mill aluminium. The clip system itself on some models such as speedplay has moved away from the pedal and onto the shoe itself.
MTB clip-in pedals
Mountain bike clip-in pedals usually operate a slightly different cleat system (smaller) to allow for the difference in sole on the specific shoe.
Flat pedals are the most common style of pedal mainly due to their ease of use and practicality. They are however often overlooked for their performance qualities. Many downhill mountain bike riders often favour a flat pedal for the freedom and adaptability it provides. Flat pedals can be used with your normal shoes.
A touring pedal offers the rider looking for the added power delivery of a clipless/clip-in pedal but the flexibility of a flat pedal the best of both worlds. If you’re looking to put the miles in but also have the ability to enjoy a stroll with the family or pop to the shops at the other end these are the option for you. These can be used both with and without a cycling specific shoe.
How do I choose?
- The choice of which system is best for you will depend greatly on what your main bike usage is and your riding goals.
- A clipless pedal will give you that much sought-after boost in pedalling power and efficiency but may not be the solution if a cycling specific shoe is impractical.
- A flat pedal is more suited to those who use their bike purely for transport. The freedom of being able to ride with a standard shoe makes these an advantage for some.
- If you fall slap bang in the middle of the above then the touring pedal is your solution. The large platform will allow the use of a standard shoe with the added advantage of a cleat system when required.