Last updated: August 6, 2021

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When riding a road bike, a constant change of pressure and tension on the pedal is crucial. If you manage to apply the same amount of force when pushing the pedal down and pulling it up again, you will achieve an effective, rounded pedal stroke. In particular, pulling up the pedal is impossible with a conventional pedal.

With our large road bike pedals test 2021 we want to help you find the right road bike pedals. To help you keep track of all the different road bike pedals and systems, we have compared the pedals with each other and listed their advantages and disadvantages. This will make your purchase decision easier.




Summary

  • Road bike pedals are not included in the purchase of a road bike. In addition to choosing the right bike, you also have to think about the right pedals. Road bike pedals are always sold as a set - a left and a right pedal.
  • There are road bike pedals with loops or straps that are tightened around the shoe. This system is the first power-optimised pedal system. More effective and widespread are road bike pedals with a click.
  • In order to ride road bike pedals with a click, you need to create a connection between the shoe and the pedal. To do this, a pedal plate - a so-called cleat - is screwed to the bottom of the road bike shoe.

The Best Road Bike Pedals: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for road bike pedals

In this section we will show you what you should look for when buying road bike pedals. There are some differences that you should keep in mind. Note that there is no one pedal that works for every rider.

Overall, you should consider the following features:

We will go into these criteria in more detail below.

Pedal system

The main criterion when buying road bike pedals is the pedal system. There are many different systems offered by various manufacturers. The aim is always to fix the shoe on the pedal by means of a certain connecting mechanism.

  • Road bike pedals with loop: This system consists of a conventional bicycle pedal and a loop or strap attached to it. You can use these pedals with any shoe by standing on the pedal and tightening the strap. Nostalgics go for the retro look of these road bike pedals.
  • Road bike pedal with click: To use a click system, you attach a pedal plate to the bottom of your cycling shoe. By clicking the shoe into the road bike pedal, you create a connection so that you can no longer move your foot on the pedal. By turning your foot outwards, you release the unit again.

Ultimately, it is your riding experience that decides which road bike pedal is right for you. After all, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable and safe on your bike.

Material / Weight

Road bike pedals differ in their material composition and weight depending on the manufacturer. All manufacturers offer entry-level models as well as top models. The differences are usually marginal. An increased bearing distance and a lower weight promise even better performance.

There are pedals made of carbon composite material with a stainless steel contact surface. Others have a stainless steel contact surface. Still other manufacturers use titanium axles. The more expensive versions have ceramic bearings.

The weight of entry-level models is between 248 grams and 265 grams. The top models weigh between 206 and 228 grams.

The pedal plates are made of plastic and wear out over time, so you have to replace them regularly.

Adjustment options

When it comes to the adjustment options, we distinguish between the adjustment on the pedal itself and the cleat on the cycling shoe.

  • on road bike pedals: On road bike pedals with a click, the release hardness can be changed with a screw. If you tighten the screw very firmly, you will achieve a strong connection between the foot and the pedal, but you will have to be very skilled at releasing it slowly. If you tighten the screw less, you lose power transmission.
  • on the cycling shoe: When changing cleats, you can use positional retainers in the form of a small plastic piece that is attached to the shoe with the cleat when you first adjust it. As soon as your cleat is worn out, unscrew it. You do not unscrew the position memory and simply fix the new cleat around the memory again.

The freedom of movement is severely restricted by road bike pedals with a click.

Guide: Questions you should ask before buying road bike pedals

In the following, we would like to answer the most important questions about road bike pedals. We have selected the questions for you and will answer them shortly. After reading the guide, you will know all the important factors of road bike pedals.

What is special about road bike pedals and what advantages do they offer?

Road bike pedals make road cycling really fun. Since you have probably already spent a lot of money on your bike, you should take enough time to choose the right pedals.

Road bike pedals are also available without a fixing mechanism, but this is the decisive feature compared to conventional bike pedals.

The special feature is that you use your leg power not only to push the pedal, but also to pull it. This means you can ride faster because you are using your front and rear thigh muscles.

The biggest advantages of road bike pedals are:

  • Efficiency
  • no slipping on the pedal
  • no slipping in wet conditions
  • Jumps over low obstacles are possible
  • Relief of the rear wheel is possible

In addition, road bike pedals create a completely new riding experience and give your road bike a sporty look.

What types of road bike pedals are there?

If you want to buy road bike pedals, there are 2 alternatives you can choose between: Road bike pedals with and without click.

We have compiled the most important advantages and disadvantages of both types below.

Road bike pedals without click

Road bike pedals without a click are only slightly different from normal bike pedals. Their optimisation is mainly in the wider footprint and anti-slip nails. They are therefore very affordable and a good choice for beginners.

Advantages
  • easy to get on and off
  • can be ridden with any shoe
Disadvantages
  • no pulling of the pedal possible
  • no optimal power transmission

As soon as you are more experienced, you can exchange your pedals without click for those with click. A completely different riding experience awaits you.

Rennrad Pedale

Road bike pedals without click look particularly good on vintage road bikes. (Image source: Florian / unsplash)

Alternatively, you can choose road bike pedals with a strap. They give you a closed foot position on the pedal and thus a little more power. Nevertheless, dismounting remains uncomplicated.

Road bike pedals with click

With road bike pedals with a click, you are entering advanced terrain. They are the system you should use if you feel safe on your road bike and want to take advantage of all the benefits of the sports equipment. With the click system you ride exclusively sporty.

Advantages
  • Efficiency
  • no slipping on the pedal
  • no slipping in wet conditions
  • jumps over low obstacles are possible
  • relief of the rear wheel is possible
Disadvantages
  • Practice is necessary
  • danger of not being able to unclip in unpredictable situations and tipping over

If you want to ride a road bike properly and are an experienced cyclist, you should try road bike pedals with a click. Without them, at least sporty road cycling is only half as fun.

Who are road bike pedals suitable for?

Road bike pedals are attachments for a piece of sports equipment. You should know that. So if your hobby is road cycling, you should look for road bike pedals.

Pedals with a click system are only suitable for mounting on a road bike and should not be used for any other purpose. Pedals without a click system can also be used for other bikes.

You should not use racing bike pedals for mountain bikes, cross bikes, gravel bikes, trekking bikes or other bikes because it is very difficult to get off. For these bikes there are good alternatives with easier click mechanisms.

How much do road bike pedals cost?

The price of road bike pedals depends in particular on the pedal system. They range from about 7 to 350 euros. While pedals without a click and pedals with a loop are available for around 10 euros, pedals with a click cost up to 350 euros.

Type price range
without click approx. 7 to 80 euros
with click approx. 30 to 350 euros
with loop approx. 10 to 80 euros

The price differences within the categories are enormous and can usually be explained by the material used and the durability. The lighter and stiffer a pedal is, the more expensive it is.

The advantages of the most expensive clipless pedals can hardly be seen, let alone felt. You can get a very good amateur pedal for around 100 euros.

Normal road bike pedals do not differ in price from those without a click or with a strap. It only gets more expensive when you buy road bike pedals with a click.

How can road bike pedals be changed?

To mount road bike pedals you need an Allen key, mounting grease or copper paste.

  1. Loosening: First, bring your bicycle crank into a horizontal position. On the back of the crank, loosen the pedal against the direction of travel with a 6 or 8 mm Allen key. Press the pedal down with one hand and pull the Allen key in the opposite direction.
  2. Care: Before mounting, clean the thread and the contact surface of the pedal and crank with a cloth and lubricate with mounting grease. Copper paste should be used for titanium axles.
  3. Assembly: Now screw the road bike pedal into the crank. When tightening the pedal, hold it with your hand. You should also observe the manufacturer's torque specifications. You can follow the individual steps in the following video.

By following these 3 steps, road bike pedals can be changed without any problems.

Which road bike pedals do the pros use?

Professionals only use road bike pedals with a click. If you have not yet been able to decide on a manufacturer, a brief overview of the pedals of the world's best road cyclists may help you.

Rider Team Successes Pedal
Peter Sagan Bora-Hansgrohe 3x world champion, 11x stage Tour de France Shimano Dura-Ace PD-R9100
Julian Alaphilippe Deceuninck-Quick-Step 1. 1st place Milan-Sanremo, 5x stage Tour de France Shimano Dura-Ace PD-R9100
Mads Pedersen Trek-Segafredo 1x world champion Shimano Dura-Ace PD-R9100
Tony Martin Jumbo-Visma 4x world champion individual time trial Look Keo Blade Carbon

This is just a small selection of the very best. As you can see, models from Shimano and Look are the most popular.

Rennrad Pedale

Professional cyclists use road bike pedals with a click. Even under the most difficult conditions, they get their performance on the road. (Image source: Simon Connellan / unsplash)

Remember: There is no one best road bike pedal. Even professional athletes use different pedals.

Can road bike pedals be used with any bike shoe?

In principle, you can use road bike pedals without a click or with a strap with any shoe. Road bike pedals are not suitable for riding without road bike shoes.

However, if you choose the pedals with a click, you will need to buy special road cycling shoes. There is a fixed plate with threads on the sole. Depending on the quality, this can be made of plastic or carbon. You screw the cleat that fits your road bike pedal into these threads. As a rule, you have to tighten 3 screws.

Conclusion

Before buying a road bike, you should also think about the right road bike pedals. You will need to buy these separately. Road bike pedals differ from classic pedals in the better contact surface or in the fixation of shoe and pedal. There are pedals without a click, with a click and with a strap.

You should choose road bike pedals without a click if you still feel insecure on your road bike. However, they do not give you the advantage of the typical push and pull of a road bike pedal. This performance-optimised riding is made possible by pedals with a strap, but more so by pedals with a click. Click pedals are the system you should aim for if you want to ride a road bike properly.

Picture source: 123rf / TORWAI Suebsri

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