Maybe you’ve purchased a road bike that didn’t come with pedals. Or, you’re not happy with the pedals that are currently on your bike and want to change them.
You can find high-quality road bike pedals that will feel more comfortable without getting in the way of your cycling.
Can you easily replace your bike pedals? It’s easy to remove your bike pedals and replace them, but you’ll need a hex key or pedal wrench.
However, many bike pedal manufacturers make it easier than ever to install new pedals on your road bike, such as by including all the tools you need in your purchase.
With that in mind, our reviews that follow feature both flat and clipless pedals so you can find the one that suits your cycling style the best.
Best Road Bike Pedals – Reviews & Buying guide for 2021
Best Overall: SHIMANO PD-EH500
One of the best things to look for in a pair of bike pedals is versatility – you want to be able to use them clipless or with cycling shoes. That’s one of the reasons why these Shimano pedals make the top spot in our reviews. Let’s see what else they have to offer.
- These versatile Shimano bike pedals are dual-sided. They have a standard platform on one side of the pedal and a SPD step-in design on the other. So, you can use them with SPD cycling shoes or choose to go clipless instead.
- For increased convenience, Shimano SM-SH56 multi-release cleats are included with your purchase of these bike pedals.
- You can use these best clipless pedals for road bikes and mountain bikes.
- The flat side of the pedal has removable traction pins. These give you greater control and grip, even if you encounter a bad storm or uneven terrain on your way.
- They’re really easy to clip in and clip out, thanks to their light action binding mechanism.
- These best spd pedals for road bikes come with a two-year warranty.
- These pedals work well when you use them uphill, but some people who have purchased them have expressed that their platform side is quite small which can make them work less effectively downhill if you’re not clipped in.
- Others say that the pedals are actually not black even though they’re marketed as such. They’re a dark blue in color.
- Some people have mentioned that they didn’t receive everything with their order as parts were missing. Therefore, if you do purchase these pedals make sure that you check the box immediately and report back to the company if you’re missing anything.
Runner Up: CXWXC Road
If you prefer flat pedals to clipless ones, perhaps because you’re used to them and find it easier to cycle with them, these best flat pedals for road bikes are both durable but lightweight.
They’re also suitable for road and mountain bikes, which is great. Let’s see what features they have to offer.
- These flat pedals have eight pins per pedal and a slightly curved surface to ensure contact with your bike.
- What’s useful about this type of pedal is that it’s designed to be wider than a regular pedal, which makes it comfortable to use while also ensuring a greater foothold during cycling.
- These best platform pedals are strong. They have a CNC pedal body and Cr-Mo axle in combination with a sealed cartridge. This also makes them more durable if you’re cycling on harsh terrain or in bad weather conditions.
- On the topic of harsh conditions, these bike pedals are sealed to keep them waterproof.
- These pedals come in a variety of colors. You can choose from black-orange, black-red, and black-grey.
- For easy installation on your bike, these pedals come with convenient “L” (Left) and “R” (Right) markings.
- Since they have a 9/16-inch screw thread, these best road bike platform pedals are compatible with a variety of bikes. They will fit most road and mountain bikes without a problem.
- Some people who have purchased these bike pedals have reported that they didn’t get them in the colors they ordered.
- You will require Allen wrenches in order to install the pedals on your bike, so make sure you have these handy.
Best Clipless Pedals: SHIMANO Ultegra R8000
These pedals are great because of how they’re both lightweight but durable. But what else do they have to offer?
- These bike pedals are lightweight in design yet strong – they only weigh 248g so they won’t make you feel like they’re weighing you down.
- They have an extra-wide design. This makes them feel more stable while also encouraging greater power transfer during your cycling sessions.
- They have an integrated contact surface. Their body plate is made of stainless steel which not only reduces weight but wear and tear, too.
- They have a low-profile design that boosts road clearance. This means that you can feel more confident when you’re on the road, even if there’s traffic or difficult turns you have to make.
- These pedals have adjustable entry-and-release tension. This means you can customize your settings when you need to change from casual cycling to sprinting or vice versa.
- Some people have reported that these pedals are quite difficult to clip into as compared to other clipless pedals. Therefore, they might not be user-friendly for beginners.
- Others have mentioned that they especially have a hard release tension.
Alternative: LOOK Keo 2
These pedals have been remodeled by the manufacturer, so you’re getting a slimmer, stylish pedal design that has a wider contact surface.
- These pedals have 60mm width to give you a larger platform and keep your feet comfortable yet secure, and it’s especially useful if you’re navigating tricky terrain.
- The stainless steel plate of these pedals has been redesigned so that it matches the cleat and ensures the same contact between your feet and the pedals no matter what position your foot is in.
- These best clipless road bike pedals have a good power-to -weight ratio as a result of the pedals having an increased usable contact surface.
- They have a spindle profile that’s also been improved. Since they have been built around a large steel axle, these pedals have an axle with an inner ball bearing as well as a needle roller bearing. The result of this? It means weight can be handled and distributed evenly for the best results.
- Some people who have purchased these bike pedals have reported that they start to make clicking sounds after some use.
Best Beginner Road Bike Pedals: Venzo Multi-Use
If you’re just starting out with cycling, you’ll want to ensure the pedals you choose to fit on your bike are user-friendly and easy to install.
- You can cycle with these pedals by using clipless shoes, which increases the energy efficiency of the pedals and makes them versatile.
- Cleats are included with your purchase of these best road bike pedals. The tension of the cleats can be adjusted via screws conveniently located on the side of the pedal.
- These best road bike pedals for beginners are made of quality die-cast aluminum. This gives you more durability and stability during your cycling sessions.
- The pedals have a sealed bearing axle. This is beneficial because of how it prevents moisture and dirt from getting into the pedals.
- People have said that these bike pedals are really easy to install, so they’re great for beginners.
- Some people who purchased these bike pedals have reported that they sometimes tend to squeak.
- Others have complained about the bearings not being great, such as that they cause the pedals to not spin freely.
Best Road Bike Pedals FAQ
If you’re still unsure about what road bike pedals to buy, don’t worry. Read our FAQ section below to get the lowdown on all the bike pedals to know about and how to use them.
Do pedals matter on a road bike?
Your bike pedals do matter, mainly because of how the pedals you choose are quite a personal choice.
Many road bikes on the market don’t even come with supplied pedals because of how common it is for cyclists to choose their own pedals.
Regular bikes usually have the standard flat pedal, but it’s common for cyclists to make use of clipless pedals. We’ll get to what clipless, and other types of, pedals are in the next question.
Many cyclists who use road bikes will want to ensure that they have a more stable footing while they cycle, which is why they will want clipless pedals.
These pedals also ensure a better connection between the pedal and shoe which means there’s more power in every stroke.
You’ll likely find that many road bike pedals have cleats with three-hole designs in them, which are large and extend further from the shoe sole than a two-hole design.
A three-hole design cleat is useful because it distributes the force that gets placed on the pedal over a larger area to decrease how much pressure is put on the connection points.
It also boosts the stability of your connection when pedaling your bike.
When choosing the best bike pedals, it’s worth considering what type of cycling you’re interested in doing.
If you’re a casual cyclist, for instance, who only wants to do a bit of recreational cycling on the weekends, you can get away with using flat pedals or a two-hole cleat design as this makes it easy to walk around as well as mount and dismount the bike with ease.
On the other hand, if you’re riding your road bike daily, such as because you’re traveling to and from work, you will want to use clipless pedals that are more efficient.
What are the different types of road bike pedals?
Now that we’ve already touched on the different pedals that are common for road bikes, such as flat and clipless pedals, it’s worth taking a deeper look at what these pedals are about and which ones are good to consider for your road bike and personal cycling style.
The term “clipless pedals” can be a bit confusing because you will need to clip into the pedal cleats, so you’re not avoiding the clipping in action.
Basically, how these pedals, which we’ve featured in our bike pedal review, work is that you mount a metal or plastic cleat on your shoe sole that then will slot into the clips on the pedal.
This is something you might be interested in if you cycle regularly as it will ensure you have greater stability as well as control.
As you know, cycling on a road bike means that you have to have quick reflexes and be able to notch up greater speeds on a whim, so you want to feel that your feet are properly clipped into the pedals.
If you’re a cycling beginner, it might take a bit of practice to learn how to quickly snap into and out of the pedals, but this shouldn’t take a lot of time to get right.
There are many types of clip-in systems for pedals, such as Speedway, Shimano’s SPD and SPD-SL, and Crank Brothers.
Flat pedals are sometimes called platform pedals. They are a wide, flat surface that you use to cycle.
What’s great about them is that they’re versatile – you can cycle while wearing any kind of shoe and you don’t use flat pedals with clipless shoes.
If you’re a recreational cyclist, you’ll benefit from flat pedals because you can easily step off your bike and walk around. This is ideal for leisurely cycles around town.
Similarly, if you regularly cycle downhill with a mountain bike, a flat pedal might also be a better choice for you.
This is because if you choose this pedal with shoes that have a good grip, you’ll gain more control of your bike (via REI).
Is it OK to use flat pedals on a road bike?
As we’ve seen in the previous section of this article, it’s fine to use flat pedals on a road bike. But before you do, you should consider what type of cycling you do.
As previously mentioned, if you’re a recreational cyclist, you’ll benefit from flat pedals.
However, if you do faster and more strenuous or regular cycling, it will benefit you much more to invest in clipless pedals as you’ll be able to gain much more control.
Flat pedals have some benefits you should consider before you choose other bike pedals. Let’s take a look at them.
- You have a lower risk of injury. There are injuries that can occur when you use clipless pedals. These tend to happen if you don’t adjust the clipless cleats and bike fit properly, and knee pain is a common type of pain you might experience, as well as pain in your hips.
- You can save some money. You can save quite a bit of money by choosing flat pedals instead of clipless ones. Generally, clipless pedals cost around two to three times more than flat pedals. What further saves you money if you’re opting for flat instead of clipless pedals is that you can wear any shoes when cycling.
- You can get out of them easily. One of the biggest concerns for cycling beginners when it comes to clipless pedals is that they can’t easily clip out of them. Imagine if you have to stop in an emergency and put your foot down on the ground – you will have to remember to unclip your feet first, which can be difficult to do if you’re not used to it! The appeal of flat pedals is that you can easily put your foot down whenever you want, without first having to unfasten your feet from the pedals.
- You have greater movement. When you cycle for longer distances, it’s nice to be able to move your feet around on the pedals. On flat pedals you can easily do this to prevent aches and pains or fatigue from settling in.
- You’ll learn more as a beginner if you choose flat pedals. If you’re just starting out with your cycling hobby, using flat pedals is ideal. It enables you to learn the proper form while cycling without having to worry about getting into and out of clipless pedals, and it also prevents you from experiencing any related injuries.
That said, there are good reasons to upgrade to clipless pedals. These include the following:
- You will gain better control on the upstroke. You can only gain power in your pedalling with flat pedals when you’re on the downstroke. You need to have a better grip if you want to pull up, and you’ll gain that from a clipless pedal system.
- You will gain more power when going uphill. If you’re cycling uphill a lot, it’s worth learning to get the hang of clipless pedals. This is because they give you more power when you’re cycling uphill or cycling very fast. The reason for this is because when you use flat pedals your feet are not always in the prime position to achieve the power and speed you want.
- You won’t battle in smaller spaces. The great thing about a road bike is that it affords you the opportunity to cycle through small and narrow spaces. The problem with flat bike pedals is that they tend to be quite wide. While that’s great to make you feel that you’ve got more support for your feet should you move them around while cycling, the wider area means that you won’t always be able to move easily through narrow spaces.
- You won’t slip off the pedals. We can’t forget that it’s sometimes easy to slip off flat pedals and lose your momentum, drop speed, or even hurt your foot.
What pedals do pro cyclists use?
If you’ve ever heard it said that flat pedals are a bit outdated, this does make sense.
Seeing as though clipless pedals help you to cycle faster and give you more control, it makes sense that professional cyclists would choose them over flat pedals.
However, the type of clipless pedals that professional cyclists will choose will depend on their preferences.
For example, cyclists who race on the road or use a mountain bike will obviously choose different types of clipless bike pedals.
But, indoor sprinters might tend to choose toe clips or straps instead of clipless pedals.
It’s interesting to note that studies have been done to compare flat and clipless pedals to see if there is any truth to the idea that clipless pedals make you cycle more effectively.
While some research has found that there’s no real difference in how efficiently you can pedal when engaging in lower-intensity riding between flat pedals and clipped-in shoes, there is also research that has found that when it comes to sprinting clipless pedals do have an advantage.
The test found that clipped-in shoes increased cyclists’ maximum power during sprints, and this was an average of 16.6 percent as compared to the flat pedal, and 9.7 percent as compared to toe clips and straps.
This proves that if you’re cycling faster and more aggressively, you will benefit much more from using clipless pedals.
Whether you’re a cycling beginner or an experienced rider, having the best pedals is a must to increase your ease of use on your bike.
In this article, we’ve featured five of the best road bike pedals, looking at their advantages and potential drawbacks. We’ve featured both flat and clipless pedals so that you can choose the best ones for your preferences and riding style.
We’ve also answered some important questions about bike pedals, such as the types that professional cyclists use.
Last Updated on July 28, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic