Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Welcome to our big clipless pedal test 2019. Here we present all clipless pedals that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and also added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.

With this, we want to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best clipless pedals for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy clipless pedals.




Summary

  • Clipless pedals are special bicycle pedals where the foot is clicked into the pedals with special cycling shoes. This connection can only be released by a special movement.
  • Because of this firm connection, clipless pedals give you extra grip and improved power utilisation.
  • Clipless pedals are divided into two categories: Road bike clipless pedals and off-road clipless pedals. Depending on how and where you like to cycle, you should adapt your clipless pedals accordingly.

The Best Clipless Pedal: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying clipless pedals

What are clipless pedals?

Clipless pedals are special pedals for bicycles that have a special device for cycling shoes. You have to click into this device properly.

With clipless pedals you have a particularly good grip and can no longer slip off. (Image source: unsplash.com / Aj Alao)

This click connection makes it impossible for you to slip off your pedal. It also results in the so-called round kick. This means that when one foot goes down in the pedal, the other foot automatically goes up. This results in a more effective use of power.

How do clipless pedals work?

Clipless pedals work thanks to a special pedal plate (which is called a cleat) that sits underneath your shoe and snaps into the clipless pedals. To do this, you need to put your foot on the pedal with the right cycling shoe and apply a little pressure so that the two components connect. To release the connection, you have to turn your foot slightly to the side. This will free you again within a fraction of a second.

For which bicycle are clipless pedals suitable?

Before you buy clipless pedals, you should know your bike and your preferences. Depending on the type of bike you own, you should also adjust your pedals to it. It is also important to know how and where you like to cycle.

When do clipless pedals make sense?

Today, clipless pedals offer a number of advantages. Especially if you ride your bike a lot and also like to go off-road, clipless pedals might be worthwhile for you.

If you are dissatisfied with your current riding efficiency, it can increase immensely with clipless pedals.

The so-called round pedal gives you a pull phase in addition to the push phase. Simply put, you also pull the pedals up. This leads to an improved use of power. On a road bike, clipless pedals also make a lot of sense because they give you a much better grip. With clipless pedals you have the best possible contact with the pedals and can therefore guide your road bike much better.

How much do clipless pedals cost?

Clipless pedals come in a wide price range. Some models are around 30€, but most are more like 100€. It all depends on the quality and accessories that the clipless pedals come with. Especially professional pedals can be very expensive.

What are the alternatives to clipless pedals?

Besides clipless pedals, there are three other types of bicycle pedals. The most common pedals are the so-called block pedals. They are mainly used in everyday life. Block pedals consist of a metal axle and two rubberised blocks made of plastic. Also very popular are stand-up pedals, the so-called bear paws. These pedals are very wide and consist of a metal cage with points, bulges or prongs upwards and downwards on the contact surface.

This means that you slip much less than with normal block pedals, especially off-road and in dirt. Another alternative is a combination pedal. These are a combination of bear paws and clipless pedals. On one side it is designed like a stand-up pedal and on the other like a clipless pedal. If you are unsure which system is best for you, we have put together an overview with advantages and disadvantages.

Pedal type Use Advantages Disadvantages
Block pedal in everyday use on city or trekking bikes These pedals are the cheapest and easiest to use. You don't need any special shoes for them and you can ride normally It is very easy to slip off block pedals. Especially off-road and when it is very wet and dirty, this can quickly lead to an accident.
Bear paw Trekking and mountain bike With these pedals you slip very little. This is a big advantage especially in dirt, water and mud If you ride with cycling shoes with a smooth leather sole, you probably have too little grip.
Combination pedal off-road and on asphalt roads These pedals are very versatile because you can choose whether you want to use a clipless pedal or a stand-up pedal. This allows you to ride with a lot of grip in the mountains, but also to ride easily on the road For the clipless side you need special shoes. These pedals are also very expensive.

Decision: What types of clipless pedals are there and which is the right one for you?

If you want to buy clipless pedals, you can choose between two types. Depending on the bike you ride and the routes you take, you have two options:

  • Road bike clipless pedals
  • Off-road clipless pedals

These two variants differ mainly in terms of the entry level and the material. In the following section, we will take a closer look at these clipless pedals and provide an overview of the advantages and disadvantages.

What are the characteristics of road bike clipless pedals and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Road bike clipless pedals only allow you to step in from one side. This makes getting out of the pedal a little more difficult, especially when you need to get going quickly. On the other hand, they offer a wide and firm fit. Road bike clipless pedals are usually made of plastic.

Advantages
  • Focus on power transmission
  • light
Disadvantages
  • high wear
  • difficult exit

With this version you stand very firmly in the pedals. This results in easy and direct power transfer. These pedals are perfect for racing, even if the wear is very high.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of off-road clipless pedals?

With off-road clipless pedals, or MTB clipless pedals, you can step in from both sides. This also makes it easier to get off again, which makes these pedals more suitable if you have to get off your bike more often. MTB clipless pedals are usually made of metal and are mainly used on mountain bikes and trekking bikes.

Advantages
  • very robust
  • almost immune to dirt
Disadvantages
  • smaller contact surface
  • poorer power transmission

Due to the smaller contact surface, power transmission is not as effective as with road bike clipless pedals. This version is better suited for everyday tours on somewhat more demanding routes.

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate clipless pedals

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate clipless pedals. This will make it easier for you to decide whether certain clipless pedals are suitable for you or not. In summary, these are:

  • Freedom of movement
  • Spring tension
  • Weight
  • Shoes

Freedom of movement (float)

Click pedals have a certain amount of freedom of movement or float, which is given in degrees. This describes the angle at which you can turn your foot without loosening the connection of the clipless pedals. The float angle is mainly dependent on the cleats, i.e. the plates between the shoe and the pedal. Most clipless pedals have a self-centring spring action. This means that the cleats move back to a neutral position on their own.

If you already have knee problems, we recommend clipless pedals with a free-float system.

With this system there is no resistance and from about 15 degrees the foot simply clicks out.

Spring tension

Another important criterion when buying clipless pedals is the spring tension. Especially with high-end pedals, the spring tension is usually tighter and harder than with most mid-range models.

The harder the spring tension, the harder it is to detach from the clipless pedals. When buying, you should also make sure that the spring tension can be easily changed. This allows you to adjust the spring tension to your own needs.

The spring tension can be adjusted to your needs. For professional road cyclists it has to be adjusted differently than for hobby cyclists. (Image source: 123rf.com / lassedesignen)

Weight

If you attach a lot of importance to the weight of your bike, you should also pay attention to the clipless pedals. Some models are quite a bit heavier, which makes it harder to pick up your bike. If you often ride on routes where you have to carry your bike over a small obstacle, you should buy light clipless pedals.

Shoes

An important part of clipless pedals is the right shoes. Depending on whether you have off-road or road clipless pedals, your shoes should also match. There is almost no compatibility between them. Depending on the brand, there are different cycling shoes.

The shoes must fit the clipless pedals to guarantee optimal riding comfort. (Image source: pixabay.com / JO-Design)

The big difference between off-road and road clipless pedals are the cleats. Most cleats on mountain bike clipless pedals work with two recessed screws. The cleats on road bike clipless pedals are usually locked in place with three screws. Before buying clipless pedals and shoes, make sure that you can use both together.

Facts about clipless pedals

How long have clipless pedals been around?

Clipless pedals were invented at the end of the 19th century. At that time, a pedal was introduced in which a special shoe could be locked into place by turning the foot. Clipless pedals were first used in the mid-1980s. With these pedals, however, you still had to release the lock by hand. Since then, they have become the standard in cycling.

It is impossible to imagine racing without clipless pedals. (Image source: unsplash.com / Simon Connellan)

How do I adjust clipless pedals correctly?

In order for your clipless pedals to be as effective as possible, it is necessary that they are mounted correctly. This will also help to prevent joint pain.

When mounting the pedals, make sure that the pedal axle is directly under the ball of your foot.

You can mark this position on your cycling shoes. You then have to move the cleats in the slotted holes in the soles of your shoes so that they lie exactly on the previously marked position. The easiest way to do this is to use a triangle for alignment.

Your feet should be very close to the bottom bracket so that the power transmission is better utilised. Make sure you leave enough space between your shoe and the crank.

Your feet should be as parallel as possible. Finally, tighten the cleats with a 4 Allen key to 4 to 5 Newton metres of torque. You can also use screw glue to tighten the cleats even more.

How do I properly maintain clipless pedals?

To ensure that your clipless pedals function optimally and have a long service life, you should clean the pedals and cleats regularly. The best way to do this is to use a brush with bike cleaner or washing-up liquid.

To protect your cleats even better from dust and dirt, you can spray the dry cleats with silicone spray after cleaning. This will also make getting on and off the bike smoother. You can spray the binding and preload springs with a standard multi-oil to lubricate the mechanism. Depending on the manufacturer, they may also have their own more specific instructions for cleaning clipless pedals.

Is there a connection between knee problems and clipless pedals?

Clipless pedals are often associated with knee problems. However, there is no real connection between knee problems and clipless pedals.

As long as you have adjusted your pedals correctly, you should not have any knee problems with your clipless pedals. (Image source: unsplash.com / Blubel)

As long as you have your clipless pedals and especially your cleats properly adjusted, you shouldn't get any knee problems.

How can I practice unclicking with clipless pedals?

As a beginner, using clipless pedals is a little more challenging at first. In order to get used to clicking in and out as quickly as possible, you should practice a lot in the beginning. It is best if you ride on a very quiet and familiar road and consciously click off and on again. This will also allow you to adjust the strength of the release. The more you practice, the faster you will internalise the movement to click out and the more confident you will become in using clipless pedals.

Photo source: 123rf.com / Pavol Stredansky

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