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Bike Pedals

Best Bike Pedals [2021]

If you think all pedals are made the same, you might be missing out on a great opportunity to take your cycling to the next level. The wrong pedals can be uncomfortable, slow you down, and they may not even work!

You may be wondering how a pedal could possibly not work. After all, it’s just something to push on to make the bike go, right? That’s mostly true, but there is a lot more to pedals than the flat pedals that are standard on most common bikes.

To find the right kind of pedal, we first need to look at the different kinds of pedals and understand what kind of riding each pedal is made for. Then we will look more closely at each kind of pedal to see their pros and cons, as well as a few good examples.

Types of Bicycle Pedals

The most common kind of pedal, the one we are all familiar with, is a flat pedal. This is just a wide, sturdy pedal, often with a textured surface to provide added grip, that works with any kind of shoe. These are the easiest pedals to use, but they don’t have any way to keep the foot on the pedal.

Clipless pedals are popular among road cyclists and some mountain bike enthusiasts. The word “clipless” is a little confusing, because these pedals are designed to work with a special shoe that “clips” into them. Clipless pedals keep the rider’s foot firmly in place, but some riders don’t like them because they can be cumbersome on technical terrain and are costly.

In between these two types are basket pedals. You can probably guess, but they work by using a basket on top of the pedal to secure the foot. These are great options for riders who aren’t comfortable with clipless but want an inexpensive way to keep their foot in place.

Flat Bicycle Pedals

If you aren’t a hardcore cyclist, you may have only ever seen flat pedals, and there’s a good reason for that. These pedals are perfect for everyday riding because they work with any shoe, they are easy to use, and, well, they just get the job done!

The main downside of flat pedals is that they don’t keep your foot in place, and they don’t let you get any power from your upstroke. However, for many people, that’s okay! For commuters and casual riders, flat pedals are the perfect option.

However, just because flat pedals are common doesn’t mean they have to be cheap. High quality flat pedals can improve your rides by being lighter, grippier, and sturdier. Think about commuting to work in wet conditions and having your foot slide off the edge time after time, or cracking your plastic pedal after a year of heavy use.

An upgraded flat pedal doesn’t have to break the bank. Consider these MDEAN aluminum pedals that are made of sturdy metal and offer a lightweight construction featuring eight anti-skid grip studs. These pedals will last longer than stock plastic pedals, lower your bike’s overall weight, and keep your feet where they are supposed to be.

If you want the best, lightest weight, grippiest flat pedals, you can find those, too! Check out OneUp Components for a lightweight, durable aluminum pedal with ten removable pins. Even though the pedals that came with your bike will work, these pedals will let you go faster and last longer.

Clipless Bicycle Pedals

Clipless pedals are popular among road cyclists and mountain bikers for two huge reasons. First, they let cyclists take advantage of the power generated in an upstroke. That means instead of just pushing the pedals down to generate speed, these pedals let riders pull up as well.

Clipless pedals also keep the foot firmly in place on the pedal. Mud, water, rocks, and speed bumps are no match for clipless pedals, which pair with special cleated shoes to lock the rider into the bike. Riders clip in by sliding the cleat into the pedal, and unclip by rotating the ankle outwards to free the cleat.
Clipping into a pedal might sound kind of scary at first, but the advantages of clipping in are worth the effort it takes to learn how to safely and quickly clip and release.

However, before buying a set of clipless pedals, make sure you have determined that the cleats, pedals, and shoes are all compatible. Clipless pedals are very small, and are designed to only work with certain cleats, which can only fit into certain shoes. Any mismatch will mean your pedals won’t work!

A reliable choice for road biking clipless pedals are these from Shimano. They are simple, sturdy, and since they are from a well-known brand, it will be easy to find compatible shoes and cleats.

Some clipless platforms can also function as flat pedals, like these from Venzo. These pedals are wide enough, and feature enough grip, to be used with casual shoes, but can also be used with clipless shoes for more serious riding.

Basket Pedals for Bikes

Basket pedals (sometimes called toe clip or cage pedals) are a great option for riders who want the security and power of clipless pedals, but aren’t comfortable with clipping and releasing clipless shoes.

However, for riders hoping to ride on technical or dangerous terrain, it should be noted that many riders find that it takes longer to get out of basket pedals than releasing from clipless pedals, which can lead to harsh falls if the rider can’t free their foot quickly enough.

For casual mountain bike riders looking for added stability or commuters maximizing power, however, basket pedals are an effective and affordable option. Check out these AbraFit pedals that offer a roomy cage and a simple design to get you rolling in no time.

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