Recently, I got into a discussion with a friend about pedals. Now, pedals are not a big deal with me. Since I started riding clipless, I’ve stuck with the Look-style pedal, although I currently ride on Shimano SPD-SLs, which have a slightly wider platform than the Looks. But our discussion got me to wondering? What pedal preferences are there? Is there a clear-cut leader?
I suppose we could get into the debate between clipless, toe clip, and platform pedals. But I’m going to skip that. I assume that most readers come here because they’re road bike riders like me and therefore, have adopted clipless pedals (which you really clip into, but that’s another post).
I noticed when talking about cleat position a while ago, several readers chimed in with the praises of Speedplay pedals. These are the small round pedals that attach to a cleat that resembles no other. Speedplays come in several different models, with varying amounts of float. That makes them attractive to me, because the six degrees of float on my pedals seems restrictive. Speedplays are pricier than most other pedals, however, which is why I chose to pass on them.
Look pedals are the daddy of the clipless. You need shoes that will fit a three-bolt cleat. The Looks, and those like them, clip solidly into the pedal, to make you feel as one with the bike. Pedals shaped like Looks and Shimano SPD-SLs are weighted at the back, so they point up when the rider is not using them. I always chuckle when pulling away from a stoplight during a group ride, as everyone tries to find the clip-in position. Some do it faster than others. Click, click, click.
Other riders prefer Shimano SPDs.
These pedals take smaller two-bolt cleats, that recess into the shoe’s sole. Mountain bikers make use of these, but many road bikers like them because the recessed cleat lets the rider walk normally — a nice option during a stop at a coffee shop during the ride. I’ve never used these, and I wonder if they give the rider as solid a connection to the bike as the Looks.
The mountain-bike style SPD pedals look uncomfortable to the layperson. How about it, SPD users? Do SPDs provide a good platform for the foot? Or do they cause some discomfort during a ride?
I you were starting road biking from scratch — knowing now what you didn’t know then — which pedal system would you recommend, and why?