Introduction to Clipless Pedals
There are so many pedals options to choose from. Here’s the run-down of the most comfortable clipless pedals that every beginner cyclist needs to know about.
For a long time, I just used toe cages. After all, if people have been biking for hundreds of years without any expensive pedals, why should I have to shell out the money for them?
I actually completed my first century (100 mile ride) in nothing but tennis shoes with toe cages.
But once I made the switch to clipless pedals, there was no going back
First, What are clipless pedals?
Ironically, clipless pedals are pedals that you “clip” into.
However, unlike old-school toe cages that strapped you firmly into the bike, clipless pedals allow you to clip into and out of the pedals more easily. And, for the general public, the riders that used them appeared to be riding “without toe clips.”
So, while “cageless pedals” or “clip pedals” might be a better name for them, the whole cycling industry calls them “clipless.”
And we just go along with it. After all, when you’re pedaling, it doesn’t matter, right?
Benefits of Clipless Pedals
Doubling your power!
Clipless pedals were first introduced by LOOK back in the 1980s. Not surprisingly, they have become the hottest thing in cycling.
There are two main reasons why.
More powerful shoe
Cycling shoes are extremely stiff. After all, they are made for pedaling — not for walking in.
When you pedal in tennis shoes, the pedals dig into the soft sole of the shoe, pressing primarily on the metatarsals – those small bones at the base of the toes. All of the power has to be directed through this small area, and, consequently, a lot of power is lost.
Because cycling shoes are so stiff, they deliver power from the entire ankle and foot and enable an evener power distribution. This not only helps eliminate foot pain, but it also helps reduce the amount of energy that is lost in the soft sole of other shoes.
So, with clipless pedals, you are essential, turning your entire foot into a pedal, delivering a more powerful stroke and creating a more comfortable ride for yourself.
More powerful upstroke
Probably the best thing about clipless pedals is that you can pull up on the upstroke.
Most riders just push their pedals. However, by pulling up on the pedals, you use more of your leg muscle, creating a better workout for yourself. With practice, you can develop phenomenal increases in speed by developing the upper muscles of your thigh.
The ability to pull up during the upstroke is especially essential for hill climbing and can make all of the difference between a successful hill ascent and a painful one.
Best Road Bike Pedals For Beginners
Here are some likely assumptions for a beginning road cyclist who is looking to go clipless.
Not too expensive.
Easy to use.
Easy to get in and out of
I have two major favorites when it comes to road bike pedals: Shimano and Speedplay.
Shimano PD-M540 SPD MTB Pedals
If you are looking or for a lightweight dual-platform pedal for mountain biking that is perfect for users with no clip-less pedal experience then you should definitely consider the Shimano PD-M540 SPD Pedal.
It claims to be the best mud and debris shedding pedal in its class, which bodes well for those bikers who like muddy terrains. Another great feature of the pedal is that it has adjustable cleat tension. The fact that you can make this adjustment means that this pedal is great for beginners who are just starting to use clip-less pedals.
The feedback for the product has been very good. The pedal currently has a review rating on Amazon.com of 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Product Features and Specifications
- 2-year manufacturer warranty
- Steel alloy material
- Adjustable cleat tension
- Mud and debris shedding
- Lightweight (352 grams per pair)
Would we recommend the Shimano PD-M540 SPD Pedal to our readers?
Absolutely, and here is why:
After researching this product we found almost no complaints made for it, except for those that we mentioned. Our recommendation is based on the pedal’s ease-of-use, and the fact that they are very user friendly and great for beginners.
Crank Brothers Egg Beater SL Bicycle Pedal
The Crank Brothers Egg Beater SL Bicycle Pedal is described as a simply elegant pedal made with a stainless steel body and wings.
It is an efficient pedal that clips in very quickly due to its 4-sided wing. The wing rotates under the pressure of your foot and smoothly engages the cleat bolted to the sole of your shoe.
There are no weight restrictions for the Egg Beater and the pair weighs 266 grams.
The pedal currently has a 4/5 star review rating at Amazon.com.
Egg Beater SL Features and Specifications:
- No weight restrictions
- 266 grams per pair
- Stainless steel
- Recommended for cross country and mountain biking
Would we recommend the Crank Brothers Egg Beater SL Bicycle Pedal to our readers?
Tentatively yes, and here’s why:
We are always keen to recommend products to our readers that are good value and do what they purport to do. At the end of the day if you are looking for a simple lightweight pedal that clips in quickly then you will be satisfied with this product.
The only reason that we are a tiny bit uncertain about recommending this product is that there haven’t been a lot of reviews given by customers yet. If this wasn’t the case we would be very confident in this recommendation.
Shimano XTR PD-M985 Trail Pedal
The Shimano XTR PD-M985 Trail Pedal is a top shelf XTR pedal that is designed for adventurous users who like to ride on wide array of trails. This competent pedal is both lightweight for effective racing and is of a premium quality that will allow you to traverse the toughest terrain.
What’s great about this pedal is that it will require no maintenance and that its cleat tension can be adjusted. It also comes with a one-year manufacturer warranty.
Based on three customer reviews, this pedal has an Amazon.com review rating of 4.7/5 stars.
XTR PD-M985 Features and Specifications
- Weight 398g
- Recommended to be used for free riding and on trails.
- One-year manufacturer warranty
- Cleat type: SPD
Would we recommend the Shimano XTR PD-M985 Trail Pedal to our readers?
Tentatively yes, and here’s why:
We really like these pedals because they have had great feedback and there are many benefits that you will gain from using them. We also like that they can be used on a variety of different trails and are durable. Generally, we are very impressed by them.
Shimano PD-M520L MTB Sport Pedals With Cleats
The Shimano PD-M520L MTB Sport Pedals with Cleats are a great set of pedals for riders who enjoy both road and mountain biking. It was built to be an off road type pedal and their open binding design makes cleaning mud of the pedals easier. The Shimano PD-M520L MTB Sport Pedals are also Shimano’s lightest off-road set making them a practical choice for almost any terrain. These live up to the reputation of the company that makes them. Shimano has revolutionized biking design and these pedals carry that mark of innovation and quality with them.
We found Amazon.com to have the best prices on all mountain bike pedals, including the Shimano PD-M520L MTB Sport Pedals.
Shimano PD-M520L MTB Sport Pedals Features and Specifications
- Sports type
- Pedals with cleats
- Dual SPD bindings
- Cartridge bearing
- Material type: Steel
- Material set element: aluminum
Have you used the Shimano PD-M520L pedals? If so, please share your experience and opinion of them by leaving a comment below the post. We’re always looking for additional thoughts from real riders, and it really helps those individuals who are new to mountain biking!
SHIMANO PD-R550 SPD-SL Road Pedals
The Shimano pedal is excellent because it uses the original LOOK clipless pedal format, which gives you a huge clip for solid power transfer. At the same time, the road pedals are easily adjusted by a small screw on the rear so you can make them easier or harder to clip out of.
New riders can make the pedals very loose and give themselves the extra confidence that they can clip out easily. As they become more confident, they can tighten them down and deliver more power without clipping out accidentally.
Probably the best aspect of Shimano road pedals is that they are some of the cheapest pedals out there. Plus, they are high-quality and will last you through years of use. Plus the cleats — the parts that have to be replaced the most — are very inexpensive.
And, if you like the cheap Shimano pedals, you can always upgrade to a better pair later. They have many different varieties in the road line, and they just keep getting lighter, with better mechanisms (the better innards both help with durability as well as making it easier to clip in and out).
This is probably the most widely used road pedal, and you can’t go wrong going with Shimano. They’re top-notch.
Best Mountain Bike Pedals For Beginners
SHIMANO PD-M324 SPD Dual Platform Pedal
Mountain bikes use a much smaller cleat. This enables the mountain bike shoes to have a little tread on them around the cleat.
It helps during those inevitable moments when you have to hike out of some tricky situation. Plus, road cyclists like them since they can more easily walk around — nice when stopping by the coffee shop after a ride — and commuters love them since it gives them a shoe that is more universal for all the situations they will find themselves in.
There is only one good pedal for beginners to look at: The Shimano SPD.
SPD’s are so easy to learn, install, and use that it’s almost a joke. Plus, if you have SPD cleats on your shoes, you can use them at pretty much any spinning class nationwide.
In fact, SPD cleats are so popular that even most beginning road cyclists will use them instead of going for a road pedal.
The one downside is that the pedal is so small that you don’t have quite as much power transfer as you would with a road pedal.
However, until you decide to do a Tour de France, it probably won’t matter to you, anyhow.