Everything you need to know about bike pedals
Few people realise how important bike pedals are. We rely on them, but we rarely think about their functionality and importance.
But pedals are a crucial part of your bike, since they’re one of the three contact points between you and your bike. The pedals are where you transmit your power but also where you keep control. Bike pedals come in a wide range of designs, shapes, and levels of quality.
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The different types of bike pedals
When looking for bike pedals you’ll quickly notice the wide range available. Luckily, most of the time your everyday bike is already equipped with decent pedals which match your bike and the terrain.
Of course, not all bicycle pedals are the same – they differ in quality, among other things. Good pedals with a rough platform for extra grip ensure better power transmission and increase riding comfort, because the rider him- or herself will be more relaxed. Slippery pedals, on the other hand, can endanger your safety and negatively affect your comfort.
Classic bicycles are often equipped with so-called flat pedals, also known as platform pedals. These pedals last for years and are very durable.
The pedal body usually consists of a steel framework to which two rubber blocks are attached. They are double-sided and nonslip thanks to grip pins. They can be used with a wide variety of shoes.
Bear claw pedals
Another type of bike pedals is the so-called bear claw or bear trap pedal, which is available with or without the metal pins for better grip. The clue is in the name – bear claw pedals look like a small metal cage with the tips of the pedals pointing outwards. As a result, these pedals offer better grip and are even more slip-proof.
They appeal particularly to mountain bikers, who traverse uneven and hilly terrain and therefore need extra grip to increase their stability and power transmission. These pedals are also suitable for more extreme rides such as freeriding and downhill. Again, it’s all about the extra grip, just like our BMX pedals.
Racing bikes have so-called clipless pedals, as the rider clips into the pedals with special racing bike shoes with cleats mounted on the soles.
These pedals ensure a secure connection between your shoe and the bike, resulting in improved pedal efficiency and increased power transmission. This is particularly important for people striving to beat their personal records or to win races. These pedals are called SPD-SL pedals
They’re a must-have for every racing cyclist who regularly hits the roads, because they maximise the power generated and significantly improve the rider’s safety.
Mountain bikers dismount more often, for example because they come to places they cannot pass or have to carry the bike for a while. Shoes designed to attach to SPD pedals are easier to walk on when you are off your bike. The pedals are also double-sided, which makes them easier to reattach to.
The cleat is integrated into a grippy sole, so you’re not walking on the cleat but on the hard sole of your shoe. SPD pedals are also perfect for people who regularly make stops while touring and want to be able to walk around.
Exercise bike pedals
On exercise bikes or spinning bikes, you’ll find different types of pedals. Depending on the use case, these bikes come with a clipless mechanism, a toe cage, or platform/flat pedals with a strap.
These pedals are made to provide you comfort and stability and can be used with both normal sport shoes and special cycling shoes. If the exercise bike is used by several people with different experience levels and requirements, hybrid exercise bike pedals, combining a toe cage and a clipless mechanism, might be a solution.
Pedal quality is crucial
Bike pedals are available in different price ranges and from various manufacturers. The pedal materials should be durable, strong, and rust-resistant so that they will last for years. If the quality of the pedals is not right, it can affect your comfort when riding significantly. The larger the platform, the better the grip.
Pedals must also be roadworthy and meet the regulations of the RVLR (Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations). The RVLR states that four amber-coloured pedal reflectors are required.
Another important aspect is the bearings, which should ideally be easy to lubricate or replace. A malfunctioning bearing will negatively impact your riding experience. Keep this in mind before you buy new cheap plastic pedals. It’s worth investing more in pedals to enjoy your ride more!
With clipless pedals, you should pay attention to the mechanism, because it must work smoothly and reliably. Also bear in mind that bicycle pedals come with different threads – right-hand or left-hand threads. The pedals should be installed on the correct sides.
When buying clipless pedals, a good price–performance ratio is crucial. The cheapest pedals are not always the best choice. It’s also important to choose bike pedals that are compatible with the bike and bike crank you are using.