Before you switch, upgrade or try clipless road bike pedals for the first time, here’s Bythlon’s guide to choosing road bike pedals the smart way. There’s more to road cycling than you think.
Do Clipless Road Bike Pedals Make a Difference?
Your choice of road bike pedals has an impact on almost every aspect of your experience as a road cyclist. From your height, to freedom of movement to delivery of power and momentum, the entire physical experience can either be boosted or hindered by a lack of understanding of what really goes on beneath the soles of your feet.
For road pedals in particular, the execution of movement against a harder, smoother surface area is everything, particularly when trying to reach a new PB or achieve greater fitness goals. You want to give yourself the best possible chance of delivering constant, sustained energy without wasting effort or even worse, risking injury.
What Are the Different Types of Road Bike Pedals?
Standard Platform Pedals
This is the pedal you used as a kid. Affectionately referred to as the “BMX style” pedal, the flat platform pedal does not clip you in and therefore doesn’t engage your feet with the bike. Riders who do not enjoy any type of secure connection to the bike opt for platform style pedals and rely entirely on downward pressure to drive the bike forward.
Clipless – SPD
SPD pedals stand for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics and is typically a double sided pedal that the bike shoe ‘clicks’ into, creating a secure connection between feet and bike. A two-bolt cleat system installed inside the sole of the bike shoe allows for easy switching to walking when needed.
Clipless – SPD-SL
SPD SL is the road bike equivalent of SPD pedals and utilises a three-bolt system for increased efficiency. The cleats used protrude from the sole of the shoes, therefore making it a little harder to walk when required. SPD SL clipless pedals are typically single-sided.
Is it Worth Upgrading Road Bike Pedals?
If you are a road cyclist looking to increase performance, efficiency or fitness, then yes. It is always worth looking at how clipless road bike pedals can help step up your cycling.
The Bythlon pedal system technology is known globally for its simplicity but considering what makes a pedal the right one for you, isn’t as simple at first. Understand what you need as a cyclist, and even what your choice of pedal will require from you.
Here are the key categories to consider when choosing clipless road bike pedals.
Stability varies greatly between road bike pedals. Each clipless system has a degree of “float,” the light movement and rotation your foot is allowed while riding. Some cyclists prefer less limited movement than others, so it’s important to find what makes you comfortable.
Pedal platform surface area is also an important consideration; larger platforms arguably offer more comfort. How much of a platform do you need to rest your foot? Transitioning from wide flat pedals to minimal clipless pedals can take some adjusting.
Finally, how much lateral adjustment do you need? It’s important to be able to keep a vertical base and track your knee in a vertical line, not only to maintain consistency of movement but to avoid bad habits which could lead to knee problems in future.
This is a major concern to the uninitiated when choosing clipless road bike pedals. The clipping/unclipping experience is alien at first to all of us and the experience varies from pedal to pedal. Release Tension is the important factor here, as some prefer it to be more rigid than others.
The feeling of security when walking is also important, as is the transition from road to off-road. Get used to the feeling of mounting, dismounting, clipping, unclipping and walking to get a feel for the full road biking experience.
Your physical interaction with the bike through clipless pedals goes a long way to determining the performance of the ride. Power transfer is the key factor here. The execution of the downward force is dependent on your confidence in the road bike pedals you’ve chosen, plus your natural cycling ability.
Also, consider the “stack height;” this is the full height of layers between your foot and the pedal itself. The road bike shoes, cleats and clipless pedals have a tendency to layer up and add a considerable amount of height to your riding position. Consider how this might affect comfort and your ability to perform at your best.
Can You Put Any Pedals on a Road Bike?
Technically, yes. But without careful consideration, you’re not only doing yourself a disservice, you’re potentially risking injury or aggravating old ones if you don’t have the stability, safety and performance settings that are right for you.
The Bythlon pedal system offers riders the full road bike experience to those who are either working on transitioning to a road bike pedal, or those who are recovering from a cycling Injury. The feeling of engagement with the bike is there, with the ability to smoothly step out of the pedals quickly and safely. The platform offers stability and safety while the clipless mechanism that doesn’t lock you in, offers the same performance benefits as traditional clipless pedals.
Use this guide to get started, then talk to a member of the Bythlon team to find the right road bike pedals for you.