Types of Bicycle Pedals

Standard

There are numerous options for bicycle owners when choosing bicycle pedals.  Not only are there a lot of brands to choose from, there are several different types of pedals to choose from.  We’re going to run through the basic pedal types here, and will follow up with brands and recommendations in the next post.

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Bicycle Pedal Types

Platform

Shimano Platform Pedals

Shimano Platform Pedals

Platform pedals are probably the type of pedal most bike riders had on their first bicycles.  They are big and flat, often with traction pins for added grip.  Often found on mountain bikes and BMX bikes, platform pedals are available in cheap plastic models and expensive lightweight materials.  You’ll find plastic models on cheaper bikes in the $0-$300 range.  A little higher up on the price/quality scale are are the plastic core/metal cage variety, which give you better traction and a little higher build quality.  Next up on the line are the all-metal platforms which are found on the higher-end bikes.  With higher prices comes higher grade materials and weight savings.

Advantages:

  • Inexpensive models available (easy to replace)
  • Easy access (getting in and out)
  • No need for special gear (cleated shoes)
  • Less accident prone if you get into a wreck

Disadvantages:

  • Shin scrapes in wet weather (we’ve all done that)
  • Inefficiency.  You’re going to lose a lot of power on the up stroke because your not connected to the pedal.  I never used clipless pedals before but have recently changed over from platforms and am amazed at the speed increase I have.  It takes some time to get used to the up effort, but it’s all good.

Toe-clip

Toe-clip Pedals

Toe-clip Pedals

Toe-clip pedals are the least favorite pedals of mine.  I haven’t had a lot of success with them, got them caught on a tree root once, broke a couple of buckles, and had some malfunctions.  They’re hard to keep adjusted just right, either too tight or too loose.

Advantages:

  • Increased pedaling efficiency
  • No need for special gear (cleated shoes)

Disadvantages:

  • Difficult to get in and out of.  You have to loosen the straps to get out sometimes if you have the straps tightened for maximum efficiency.
  • Extra parts.  I’ve had a lot of problems with the straps getting torn, ripped, and frayed.  The buckle can malfunction, and if it does, the pedals are horrible to ride on.
  • Clipping danger.  There is a danger that you could catch the toe-clip on something and totally ruin your day.  I’ve done this before on a tree root and went right over the bars and down a ravine.
  • Too many parts.

Clipless

Shimano Clipless Pedal

Shimano Clipless Pedal

Clipless pedals are actually pedals with clips, so the name is a bit confusing. It actually refers to the lack of toe clips on the pedals.  Clipless pedals require special shoes with cleats in their soles that click into the pedals.  They keep the rider connected directly to the pedal and are used by a large number of riders.  There are what you’ll find on most touring bicycles.  I currently ride on clipless pedals and love them.  My avg. speed is up and I feel I have more control over the bike with them.

Advantages:

  • Superior pedaling efficiency
  • Clearance on turns (touring bikes have low bottom brackets, pedals can clip the ground on turns)
  • Inexpensive.
  • Simple, very few parts.
  • Easy clip-ins and clip-outs.

Disadvantages:

  • Requires special shoes.
  • Some models tend to get clogged up with mud.  Others, like egg beaters, don’t.
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