The best road bike pedals are built for speed, endurance and durability. What that means is that the pedals are designed for maximum efficiency when transferring your pedaling energy in to moving the bike forward.
Before you can begin shopping for the best road bike pedals, it is important that you understand a little about the different design options available, the advantages of each one, and a few bike pedal shopping considerations for future reference.
Good Things to Know When Looking for the Best Road Bike Pedals
- Platform Pedals — This is the typical road bike pedal you probably had on your first two-wheeler; the downward motion on the platform pedal is what provides motion. This design was optimized with a clip that holds the shoe to the pedal, allowing the road racer to exert force on the upward motion for improved energy efficiency.
- Clipless Pedals — At first, bikers would use a toe-strap or toe-clip to attach the pedal to the shoe. The design was improved upon by the French Bicycle company Look. The modern clipless pedal allows the rider to “clip” in and out with a foot movement rather than having to undo the clip and strap with their hand.
- Cleats — You can’t clip onto your clipless road bike pedals without a cleat, or the brace fixed to the bottom of a biking shoe. The cleat is held in place with multiple bolts, typically Allen bolts. The original design by Look had three bolts. Today the Shimano SPD-SL also uses this system, while the Shimano SPD uses a two bolt system. The Speedplay Zero system features cleats that can be fastened with three or four bolts.
- Float — Float is measured in degrees and represents the amount of wiggle room your cleats and pedals will allow. Zero-float means there will be no wiggle room and your biking shoes and cleats will be firmly fixed to the pedals. Most riders prefer a little float, which reduces knee injuries. An important consideration here is how the cleat will “float”. Some designs, SpeedPlay in particular, have no friction and provide free floating movement; many race riders prefer this. As a beginner we recommend finding a cleat that has a medium amount of float.
- 0 degree float – no float
- 4.5 degree float – medium amount of float
- 9 degree float – a lot of float
- Stack Height — This is the distance between the center of the pedal axle to the sole of the shoe. A lower stack height will result in greater energy efficiency.
- Release Tension — Is the tension of the pedal’s grip on the cleats. Higher tensions mean that engaging and releasing the mechanism requires more force. Beginners should start with a low tension, at least until they have gained some experience.
- Budget — Road pedals come in all shapes and sizes, each with very specific advantages, as well as different price differences. Before beginning your search, decide how much you are willing to put into this investment. If you are upgrading from flat platform pedals to clipless pedals you will notice a significant increase in speed while cycling.
If you are simply looking to improve your road biking experience, there are many reasonably priced road bike pedals.
Best Road Bike Pedals Review
From the original clipless designers, Look’s KEO2 Max Pedals feature an innovative French design, while precision manufacturing make them a great selection for cyclists of all skill levels. The mere 130 grams per pedal is accomplished through sophisticated carbon injection technology, reducing weight and increasing strength.
Serious cyclists will love the improved comfort and energy efficiency provided by the redesigned steel wear plate with 12% more contact surface area. Dual-seals, steel contact plates, and a thicker axle all contribute to the KEO2 pedals’ considerable longevity.
All Look products have been factory tested under the most rigorous conditions before being approved by quality control. With the proper care and maintenance, this could be the last set you’ll ever need.
For cycling enthusiasts who have spent many long hours on the tarmac, Shimano’s products are highly recommended for their durability and performance. These SPD-SL pedals are easily the best choice for learning the clip-in clip-out action. The larger clip bracket makes fine-tuning the clip-in action considerably easier.
The adjustable tension of the PD-R540 is another feature that is great for finding a tension that is right for you. Top quality materials and an innovative design ensure optimal performance with a minimal amount of regular maintenance. All you have to do is keep them clean and oiled.
For serious training and competitive biking, the Speedplay Zero Cromoly Pedals provide crucial advantages. Featuring state of the art precision float adjustment and a sophisticated pedalling system, the Speedplay is designed for optimal performance and more specifically they are great for sprinting. However, only professional cycling would justify the high cost of these superior pedals.
Unlike other clipless systems, the Speedplay features a dual-sided entry making clipping a more intuitive process. The different entry method eliminates the need to look before you clip, but still takes some time to perfect.
In addition to being lightweight (216g), the Speedplays can allow for up to 15 degrees of float for creating a riding experience perfectly suited not only for your needs, but also for your knees.
The Shimano Ultegra Pedals offer a lightweight advantage for competitive road cyclists. The lightweight carbon composite body and wide platform provide optimal energy transfer and minimal additional weight.
The Ultegra features a release mechanism with adjustable tension levels, making it ideal for beginners who are learning technique, and professionals who are fine-tuning theirs. The Ultegra also provides +/-3 degrees of adjustable float and sufficient foot movement to keep your knees safe while getting the most for your energy.
The Shimano Ultegra is ideal for professional cyclists and aspiring weekend warriors alike. The cutting-edge design and high quality of these pedals remove the need for complex regular maintenance while consistently providing optimal performance, stability, and energy efficiency.
The advantage of having a multifunctional pair of pedals is applicable to cyclists of all skill levels. With a two-sided system you can skip the especially arduous task of changing pedals. The multipurpose system also allows you more control over where you are going without having to carry specialized shoes.
For the cyclist who can’t constantly be wearing cleats, the Shimano Multipurpose SPD pedal system is a great asset to a versatile road bike. The Shimano Multipurpose Pedals also feature steel cartridge bearings and a steel spindle for increased endurance.
Slightly heavier than the Shimano Ultegra, the Light Action Shimano option is designed to provide an easy release clip-in system with lighter spring tension. This simplistic design greatly reduces the learning curve associated with mastering the clip-in action and still provides all the energy efficient features of a professional system.
The Light Action pedal system also features a wide contact area for maximum power transfer and improved stability. Coupled with Shimano durability and design, this is a great option for those with beginner to intermediate road biking skill levels.
The ColorGo Bike pedals are a lightweight option designed for maximum stability even under hard pedalling. They are also reversible and can be used as platform pedals, making them perfect as an entry level clipless pedal.
These pedals also provide a great way to learn the dynamics of adjustable release tension. Weighted pedals ensure the cleat attachment is always facing up, making the clip-in process that much easier. When first getting used to the process, small features like this can make a big difference.
What could be better than the option to switch back and forth? These clipless WellGo Reversible pedals are compatible with the 98A or Shimano 51 cleats on the top, and can also be flipped over and used as a platform pedal.
Such versatility is a huge advantage to the modern urban commuter. You won’t have to worry about which shoes you have.
Aoske’s minimalist road bike pedals provide good contact and nothing else to weigh them down. Weighing in at 500g for the pair, these are some of the lightest durable platform pedals around for the price. Fine quality pedals too, constructed with durable aluminum alloy platforms around a CR-MO Steel axle.
The Asoke pedals are a terrific option for keeping a road bike without having to be concerned with clipless cleats and specific shoes. These key features make these platform pedals just right for those who love to ride, but aren’t training for any competitions.
Best Road Bike Pedals Review
|PICTURE||BIKE PEDALS NAME||PRICE RANGE||RATING
|Look KEO2 MAX Pedal||$60 - $100||5|
|Shimano PD-R540 SPD-SL Road Pedals||$32-$150||4.8|
|Speedplay Zero Cromoly Pedals||$200||4.7|
|Shimano Ultegra SPD-SL Pedals||$100-$340||4.7|
|Shimano MultiPurpose SPD Pedals||$40-$175||4.6|
|Shimano Light Action SPD Pedals||$40-$165||4.6|
|ColorGo Road Bike Pedals||$50||4.6|
|Wellgo Reversible Road Bike Pedals SPD/Platform||$25||4.1|
|Aoske Flat-Platform Road Bike Pedals||$30||4|