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The Ultimate Guide To Pedals For Sportive Cyclists

The Ultimate Guide To Pedals For Sportive Cyclists post image

Well that’s a bold statement to start things off with.

(“Oi cock! This Grimper fella reckons ‘e’s got the ‘ultimate’ guide t’ pedals“, “Nah, tha’s collops mate.”)

Fair point. This post is unlikely to represent the last word written on pedals. But some of you people seem to like it when I write about things. So today I’m writing about pedals.

Anyway, it’s ‘ultimate’ as in Ultimate Warrior, who did not appear to be the ultimate wrestler, never mind warrior.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you introduce a post about pedals.

Why Should You Care About Pedals?

The pedals are one of the three components on your bike that touch you (the others being the saddle and the handlebars). More than that though, they’re the only point at which you transfer the exertions of your muscles into movement on the bike*.

(* Well they should be – let’s politely ignore the fact that my arms jerk the handlebars around when I’m out of the saddle, desperately trying to keep going up a steep incline.)

It’s worth giving at least some thought to making that transfer of effort as efficient as possible.

Furtherly, a poor choice of pedal can cause or exacerbate injury. My long-running knee pain saga (which concluded happily last July) certainly wasn’t helped by using the wrong sort of pedal (the wrong one for me at least).

Let’s Start At The Beginning

Pedals come in all shapes and sizes (within reason). Let’s keep it simple and say there are three main types:

1. Flat pedals

Sometimes known as ‘platform pedals’ (no, me neither, I just looked it up), flat pedals do exactly what they say on the tin. They’re the type of pedal fitted to your old Raleigh Mini Burner, your hybrid and your heavy duty downhill mountain bike.

Some flat pedals come with impressive, and potentially lethal, teeth that stick into the treads of your shoes, in order to aid grip. And also to help you remove that pesky skin that you insist on having on your shins.

2. Pedals with toe clips

Like flat pedals, but with a clip at the toe end of the pedal in which to slide your foot, and straps to hold it in position. The idea is that the pedal remains attached to your shoe, even as you lift your foot on the upward side of your pedal stroke (when the pedal goes from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock).

Largely superseded by ‘clipless’ pedals for many purposes, you sometimes see them fitted by manufacturers to new hybrid bikes and lower end road bikes (often with the expectation that they’ll be removed and replaced with the rider’s pedal of choice). They’re a fixture on classic bikes used in retro gravel fests such as L’Eroica (“a poem written with a bicycle”).

3. Clipless pedals

The main, dare I say it, defining feature of clipless pedals is that they feature A FUGGING CLIP.

I can see it. There! [Points vigorously at either shoe or pedal depending on pedal system used]

You clip your foot to the pedal. If you pull up to some traffic lights, you clip out (unless you’re some sort of track start balance hero). Then you clip in again and cycle off.

Anyway, whatever you do, the point of such pedals is that you have a cleat attached to your shoe. This cleat then attaches firmly to your pedal, allowing you (theoretically) to deploy power to it throughout the whole of your pedal stroke.

(Yeah, I know they’re called ‘clipless’ because the toestrap brigade had already bagsied the term, ‘clip’).

Going Clipless

If you haven’t done so already, I recommend using a clipless pedal if you’re going to be cycling for any significant distances. And I’d classify any sportive training ride as a significant distance.

As I re-discovered this weekend on my hybrid, going clipless-less can lead to your foot losing touch with the pedal on a pretty frequent basis.

I haven’t cycled without clipping in for some years (my hybrid has ‘hybrid’ pedals – clipless on one side; flat on the other – and 99% of the time I wear shoes with cleats). My pedalling wazzockry was actually demonstrating a skill that I’d unlearned – that in order to keep the rising foot attached to the pedal, you actually have to exert a little downward pressure.

So you’re pushing against the pedal that is being forced up as your other (main) leg exerts downward pressure in order to turn the chainrings and power the bike. Now I’m no physicist (unlike my uncle, who I now discover has a Wikipedia entry!), but that doesn’t sound efficient at all.

(It Takes) Diff’rent Strokes

An oft-stated argument in favour of clipless pedals is that they allow you to deploy power throughout the whole pedal stroke. For me, the ‘whole stroke’ is probably a claim too far, but I’m pretty sure I am able to exert force for longer on the pedal than simply the main down stroke (the bit between 2 and 5 on the clock face).

Now crazy as this sounds, in the early days of this blog, I used to consult scientific papers on cycling issues of note (!!). As you can read from the post I wrote on the topic of pedalling technique, my synthesis of their findings was not exactly incisive.

Headline message: sports scientists don’t agree unanimously that being able to apply power throughout the pedal stroke leads to greater efficiency and therefore stronger performance.

Still, most people agree that clipless pedals for road (and, by extension, sportive) cyclists are A GOOD THING. Hundreds (thousands?) of pro cyclists can’t be wrong.

So get over that fear of performing a sideways pratfall (think: Delboy; winebar*) when you prove unable to clip out.

(*UK comedy gold reference – apologies to foreign viewers and those under the age of 27)

Types of Clipless Pedal

Again we start with generalisations.

Clipless pedals fall into two camps: road and mountain bike. As far as I can see, there are two main differences:

  • the size of cleat (and thus the pedal): the mountain bike ones tend to be smaller. Road cleats and pedals are wider, providing a larger, stiffer surface area through which power is transmitted; and
  • mountain bike pedals are more commonly double-sided, allowing you to clip in whichever way up they’re facing, whilst road pedals generally* have a top (which you clip into) and a bottom (which you don’t).

(* see the next section for the two-sided road biking pedal exception)

As a sportive rider, you’ll want to be choosing road pedals…

Double-sided Sticky Pedal

For many years, I used a pair of Shimano SPD (mountain bike) pedals on a woefully ill-fitting road bike. I used it primarily for commuting in London and I laboured under the belief that mountain bike pedals were easier to clip in and out of (at traffic lights and rising suspension bridges) and that you couldn’t buy a two-sided clipless road pedal.

I obviously hadn’t spent particularly long researching the subject.

Whilst most pedal makers (Shimano, Look, Time etc) stick to one-sided road pedals, a company called Speedplay make a range of two-sided ones. They look like lollipops, which is both cute and irrelevant.

I own a pair of Speedplay Zero pedals and cannot recommend them highly enough. There are more important reasons why I use Speedplays (engage baited breath until the next section), but a nice side benefit is that their two-sided nature means I don’t to think about which way they’re oriented before attempting the clip in.

Oh yes, and that thing about mountain bike cleats being easier to clip in than road ones. I’m pretty sure that’s nonsense. You can adjust the spring tension in most pedals to suit your own clip in/out needs.

What To Look For In A Pedal

That you’ve bought two of them.

Assuming you’ve successfully avoided that potential pitfall, the main things to consider when buying a pedal are:

Float

‘Float’ is the degree of rotational movement about the ball of your fit that a pedal will allow whilst your foot is clipped into it. A pedal with a large amount of float will allow your heel to move from side to side without unclipping. A ski binding (which provided the inspiration for the first clipless pedals) has zero float: the foot (ski boot) is locked in position and no lateral movement is possible.

Most people (if not everyone) have a little lateral rotational movement of their feet when pedalling. Having a pedal that can accommodate this, via float, without sacrificing too much stability and power transfer, means that you’re less likely to force yourself into an unnatural pedal stroke, causing injury.

Choosing the right amount of float is a bit more complicated. Too much float can be unhelpful, since it might allow the rider too much freedom to employ a poor pedal stroke (knees moving sideways for instance), without any correction at all.

As someone with ‘bio-mechanical issues’ in my legs (and hips… and feet…), float was my key consideration in choosing Speedplay pedals. I had them fitted, and the float adjusted to my requirements, by a professional bike fitter. If you are susceptible to pain in your knees, ankles or hips when riding, I recommend you consult a qualified fitter, who can determined exactly what you need.

Compatibility

Do the cleats that come with the pedals fit on your bike shoes – either the ones you own or the ones you plan to buy? If not, is there an adaptor available?

It’s important to think about these things. I bought a pair of Specialized Road Elite (Elite – ha ha ha!) shoes because I’m used to the Specialized fit and they offer good arch support. It would have been disappointing to find that choosing a pair of shoes to help deal with my ‘biomechanical issues’ meant that I couldn’t go with pedals suited to the same purpose (don’t worry though, my shoes and pedal cleats fit just fine).

Most road cleats use three screws in order to attach to the sole of your shoes. They therefore require three holes…

I think (don’t quote me) that the Shimano SPD-SL arrangement of holes is the most common for bike shoes to be compatible with. Other pedal manufacturers, such as Look and Time, might use 3 holes as well, but they’re not necessarily spaced out in the same arrangement. Many shoes are, however, compatible with a number of different cleats (e.g. a quick search on Wiggle finds me a dhb shoe that is compatible with both Shimano SPD-SL and Look Keo cleat/pedal systems).

Speedplay cleats (“stop bleating on about those fugging Speedplays”) attach with four screws, rather than three, and hence need an adaptor in order to fit onto SPD-SL compatible shoes. Which means you have to use seven screws. Per shoe. Which is a lot of screws. In your shoes.

Maintenance

I’d be a hypocrite if I wrote too much under this heading. A fastidious maintainer of mechanical apparatus I am not.

But.

My understanding is that for some pedals (such as my Speedplays), you need to put a bit of extra effort in to keep them clean and lubricated, if you want them to last.

Which reminds me, I really must clean and lubricate my pedals…

How They Look?

As with most things cycling, looks are an important (most important?) consideration. I’ll have to leave this one to your own personal preference.

And then remind you that the pedals are hidden under your shoe when you’re attached to the bike.

How Much Does A Set of Road Pedals Cost?

Good quality pedals start at around £35, with top end models costing between £200 – £250 (excluding the top-of-the-range Speedplay pedal which has a mind-boggling list price of £599!).

What Do You Get When You Pay More

Generally you see the use of higher quality materials and more sophisticated mechanisms as you pay more moolah.

Expensive pedals use carbon and titanium in order to bring the weight down, and the desirability factor up.

Higher-priced pedals will have more ‘adjustability’*, in terms of setting float and the level of tension on the clip.

(* apostrophied because spellchecker tells me this is not a word. Neither is apostrophied).

How To Fit A Pair Of Pedals

This is maybe a topic for a longer post with photos, but the essential message is that it’s very easy… provided you have the right tool.

In this case the right tool is a pedal wrench (I own this one, made by Park Tools). Using a substantial wrench with a long, easy-to-grip handle makes loosening the pedal spindle from the crank arm a pleasure. Using the small spanner that came free with your first Raleigh BMX is not a pleasure, and is likely to result in a set of bloody knuckles when you slip and ram them against the chain rings.

Final pro-tip: the pedal on the left hand side of the bike screws out (and in) the ‘wrong way’. So, for loosening the pedal, you’ll need to turn it clockwise. The right hand pedal follows the normal in/out conventions.

Actually, it turns out that Condor Cycles have conveniently prepared a longer post with photos. Don’t say I never give you anything.

Proving Pedal Power

If you have a healthy disregard for saving money, you can, if you wish, get a power meter that fits inside your pedal and records your power output as you ride. Yes, inside your pedal. What next? Monkey tennis?

After a protracted development period (something like 3 years), with a number of false starts, Garmin released its Vector pedal-based power meter in September 2013. At the very least, it comes in an attractive box (it should do, given the £1,350 cost).

This is not something I’d recommend for your average sportive cyclist (or even your above-average sportive cyclist, since there are cheaper, more accurate power meters available).

If you’re interested, you can take a gander at Garmin’s promo video, which as usual features some glorious scenery (and an annoying voice-over).

Pedal Buying Options For Sportive Cyclists

So which pedals are right for you? Here are a selection of choices that might fit the bill.

I’ll say at the outset, I own and highly recommend a set of Speedplay Zero Stainless pedals (my mid-range choice). I believe that switching to these pedals was a vital component in solving the knee problems that had plagued my cycling for years.

For the other choices, I’ve gone for systems that work well for friends and relatives, and have a large number of positive online reviews.

Note: The links below are affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I’ll get a small commission. You won’t pay any extra, but you will get an immediate happiness boost from knowing that you’ve supported this site.

Budget choice: Shimano 105 Carbon SPD-SL (that’s a UK link; click here if you’re in the US)

Shimano 105 SPD-SL road pedalsI was going to suggest the entry-level SPD-SL in this slot (because my brother-in-law-to-be has them and rates them highly) but then I saw that Chain Reaction has the 105 version available for £54.49. As well as being a whopping 39% lower than the RRP, this makes them just £20 more expensive than what I’ll now call my budget-budget choice.

I have Shimano 105 gears on my bike and I’m a big fan. To me, 105 offers the best compromise between performance and price in Shimano’s range. Apparently, and as their name suggests, these pedals are designed to match this groupset.

They also have the word ‘carbon’ in the name, which I’m presuming reflects the presence of carbon in the pedals. And we all like a nice bit of shiny (figuratively) carbon…

Mid-range choice: Speedplay Zero Stainless (click here for US product link)

speedplay-zero-stainless-pedalsIf you’ve got this far into the post, and you haven’t marked me down as something of a Speedplay zealot, either you’ve not been reading very closely or you’re drunk. And the best time to buy a new component for your bike is when you’re drunk.

Let’s summarise:

  • they’re double-sided;
  • they look like lovely colourful lollipops;
  • they can be adjusted to suit a range of biomechanical peccadilloes (they have up to 15 degrees of float).

What’s not to love?

Top-end choice: Look Keo Blade Carbon Ti (click here for US product link)

Look Keo Blade 2 carbon ti road pedalsNot just carbon. Not just titanium. These look pedals contain oodles of both carbon fibre and titanium (well, presumably the bare minimum, rather than oodles).

If you’re interested in buying these pedals, be aware that Look make a new version (they call it the Keo Blade 2) and online retailers aren’t always clear which they’re selling. I believe my links are to the new pedal because

  1. it’s not available until May on the site in question (Chain Reaction Cycles); and
  2. it has three levels of cleat tension (12, 16 and 20Nm), whereas the original only seems to have two (12 and 16Nm).

Oh yeah, and it says “Keo Blade 2” in the page title.

Super whizzbang choice: Speedplay Zero Titanium Nanogram Pedals (click here for US product link)

Speedplay-zero Titanium Nanogram PedalsMy cup runneth over.

Lollipops and moonbeams. Titanium and nanograms.

I’ve said already that the RRP is £599. Both Wiggle and Chain Reaction (Chain Reaction in the US) sell them for 20% less than this (which is a not-insignificant £120 off, given the ludicrous starting point).

If you have £480 (or $694 currently) to drop on bike pedals, I can think of no finer display of valour.

Fin

If you enjoyed this post, perhaps you’ll also enjoy:

My guide to cycling shorts for sportive cyclists; or

My new book for beginner sportive cyclists.

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{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Tom Metcalfe says:

    One things add is that the size of the platform (or contact area) is important in terms of comfort because it’s more stable: I’m sure any one who has used SPDs had has the sensation of having a walnut for a pedal and hence the SPD-R, a direct copy of the LOOK pedal. I’m not sure how speedplay match up in this regard.

    Clips are lethally dangerous. If you fall off, often the bike remains attached and they do not do well will running shoes.

    I’d say look pedals and those cleats with the rubber (non-slip better lasting), relatively cheap are the best option for the sportive cyclist.

    • Andrew Montgomery says:

      Thanks Tom. With the Speedplays, the contact area is increased by the cleat (where the sprung mechanism is). These are larger than the pedals and effectively envelop them when you clip in.

  • roninsteel says:

    As a fellow stainless speedplay pedal owner I recommend the grease gun they sell for lubricating the pedals as the bearings are prone becoming dry or corroded if you enjoy salty winter riding.

    I always keep a spare set of shoe cleats as they do the clipping in and out best lubricant for them is chain lube sprayed on before every ride

    • Andrew Montgomery says:

      Thanks Ron (Ronin?). Good advice, particularly around the chain lube before each ride.

      • roninsteel says:

        As a guy who makes wildcat 4×4’s I’m full of useful comments ! But my real joy is cycling dartmoor and south Devon.

  • Kristian says:

    Can you use the Speedplays with normal shoes? If yes how does pedaling feel compared with flats?

    Any suggestions for a flat/SPD clip in pedal? Best of both worlds, where for short distances or in city would simply use the flat bit and for sportive the clip in side?

    • roninsteel says:

      the thing with speed plays once you have used them they become second nature, even in traffic its like having sticky shoes

    • Andrew Montgomery says:

      Hi Kristian,

      No, you can’t use the Speedplays with normal shoes – the pedals themselves are small; the cleats are larger (forming the wide, stable base through which to transmit the power). You could probably cycle a few meters with them using normal shoes; any more than that would be a nightmare.

      Rather than a flat/clipless hybrid pedal, my thought would be to go for a clipless pedal and buy an adaptor that converts it into a flat pedal. I’m pretty sure that’s what I have on my hybrid – I think I have a standard SPD and then the plastic flat bit clips in to one of the sides of the pedal.

      I’ve never tried this for the Speedplays, but here is a Chain Reaction link for the ‘platformer’ adaptor that they use to convert a Speedplay Zero (clipless) pedal into a flat platform version: Speedplay Platformers

  • paul keeler says:

    I went with the showman 105s , purely to match the rest of my bike (gears , brakes ).
    I find them very comfortable to time long distance and it feels like I can put more power through them.
    Also easy to set up .

  • Paul keeler says:

    The auto texting changed shimano to showmanship.
    Sorry about that.

  • Ian says:

    I got some cheap look keo copies when I first got my bike, now upgraded to the Look Keo Carbons.. costly but fantastic quality and the platform size does improve comfort on longer rides.. it’s all very personal at the end of the day!

  • Paul Bonham says:

    Did you ever try using SPD pedals with a decent quality carbon soled shoe? I certainly don’t have any “”walnut for a pedal” sensations using mine. The ability to walk around in mtb shoes is a huge positive for me.

    • Andrew Montgomery says:

      Hi Paul – I certainly agree with that – my mountain bike shoes were very comfortable and safe to walk in.

  • You guys are doing it properly, we feel ashamed as a family but all ended up using the oversized double-sided Shimano SPDs, the ones that look like a normal pedal but have the clip part in the middle. Doesn’t matter which way up the pedal is, just tickle it with your toe then push and you’re in. Reason is if you are setting off at a junction and don’t get the clip first time, you can just use it as a standard pedal to get going and slip the clip in afterwards when rolling properly. Wifey got the first set then we all tried the alternatives and followed suit. You purists will cringe at our klutziness but we use MTB shoes but always go for the ratchet side ones to get proper clamping on the foot, mine are Shimano, hers are Scott branded in a natty white pearl. We see fatties at cafes in team Lycra clopping around on racer cleats but prefer not to pretend to be Tour De France types and stick with the burlier deep soled shoes so you can walk around pretty normally.
    Depends on your riding, we ride for exercise, charity and fun, but no doubt snobs will spot our excessively convenient footwear and clip less pedals and dismiss us as beyond the pale…

    • Andrew Montgomery says:

      Thanks Kevin. And the ‘no gits’ policy on Sportive Cyclist hopefully means that there won’t be too many snobs in this neck of the internet woods. Whatever works for you is absolutely the best choice. And I’m a massive fan of excessive convenience. You can’t get enough convenience….

    • Richard Biron says:

      What shimano pedal part number would it be ?

  • James says:

    Nice article, Monty. I rode Shimano SPD (mountain bike) pedals for years, and still have them on my rain bike. I “upgraded” to Shimano Ultegra SPD-SL pedals (almost identical to the 105s you reference) a couple of years ago on my road bike, but cannot detect any difference in terms of efficiency. The pedal platform size is irrelevant if your sole is sufficiently rigid, as any good cycling sole should be (and that certainly includes my Sidis). Instead, what I got from the Ultegra pedals was: less float, inability to walk in the shoes without waddling like a duck (and occasionally falling down), and the requirement to replace the plastic cleats every year or two (whereas the metal MTB cleats are recessed and never wear out). Unless you’re a weight weenie, I’d say the MTB version wins hands-down over the road version, at least for Shimano.

    • Reiffel Range says:

      Yes to that, James. I put my cycling shoes on in my condo (hardwood floors) and walk 200 m to the bike room to get my bike. MTB shoes allow me to do that without scuffing my clips or incurring the wrath of my wife for making little dints all over our hardwood floors. Hell, even I wouldn’t like the dints! MTB shoes and pedals are the ticket for me, and have been for ~ 20 years.

  • Tom Metcalfe April 3, 2014, 11:41 am

    One things add is that the size of the platform (or contact area) is important in terms of comfort because it’s more stable: I’m sure any one who has used SPDs had has the sensation of having a walnut for a pedal and hence the SPD-R, a direct copy of the LOOK pedal. I’m not sure how speedplay match up in this regard.

    Clips are lethally dangerous. If you fall off, often the bike remains attached and they do not do well will running shoes.

    I’d say look pedals and those cleats with the rubber (non-slip better lasting), relatively cheap are the best option for the sportive cyclist.

    • Andrew Montgomery April 3, 2014, 6:30 pm

      Thanks Tom. With the Speedplays, the contact area is increased by the cleat (where the sprung mechanism is). These are larger than the pedals and effectively envelop them when you clip in.

  • roninsteel April 3, 2014, 3:50 pm

    As a fellow stainless speedplay pedal owner I recommend the grease gun they sell for lubricating the pedals as the bearings are prone becoming dry or corroded if you enjoy salty winter riding.

    I always keep a spare set of shoe cleats as they do the clipping in and out best lubricant for them is chain lube sprayed on before every ride

    • Andrew Montgomery April 3, 2014, 6:31 pm

      Thanks Ron (Ronin?). Good advice, particularly around the chain lube before each ride.

      • roninsteel April 3, 2014, 8:03 pm

        As a guy who makes wildcat 4×4’s I’m full of useful comments ! But my real joy is cycling dartmoor and south Devon.

  • Kristian April 3, 2014, 11:17 pm

    Can you use the Speedplays with normal shoes? If yes how does pedaling feel compared with flats?

    Any suggestions for a flat/SPD clip in pedal? Best of both worlds, where for short distances or in city would simply use the flat bit and for sportive the clip in side?

    • roninsteel April 4, 2014, 9:43 am

      the thing with speed plays once you have used them they become second nature, even in traffic its like having sticky shoes

    • Andrew Montgomery April 4, 2014, 1:33 pm

      Hi Kristian,

      No, you can’t use the Speedplays with normal shoes – the pedals themselves are small; the cleats are larger (forming the wide, stable base through which to transmit the power). You could probably cycle a few meters with them using normal shoes; any more than that would be a nightmare.

      Rather than a flat/clipless hybrid pedal, my thought would be to go for a clipless pedal and buy an adaptor that converts it into a flat pedal. I’m pretty sure that’s what I have on my hybrid – I think I have a standard SPD and then the plastic flat bit clips in to one of the sides of the pedal.

      I’ve never tried this for the Speedplays, but here is a Chain Reaction link for the ‘platformer’ adaptor that they use to convert a Speedplay Zero (clipless) pedal into a flat platform version: Speedplay Platformers

  • paul keeler April 4, 2014, 12:21 am

    I went with the showman 105s , purely to match the rest of my bike (gears , brakes ).
    I find them very comfortable to time long distance and it feels like I can put more power through them.
    Also easy to set up .

  • Paul keeler April 4, 2014, 12:23 am

    The auto texting changed shimano to showmanship.
    Sorry about that.

    • Andrew Montgomery April 4, 2014, 1:34 pm

      ha ha! I quite liked the description of them as showman 105s!

  • Ian April 9, 2014, 9:03 am

    I got some cheap look keo copies when I first got my bike, now upgraded to the Look Keo Carbons.. costly but fantastic quality and the platform size does improve comfort on longer rides.. it’s all very personal at the end of the day!

    • Andrew Montgomery April 9, 2014, 8:34 pm

      Thanks Ian. You’re right – different horses (pedals) for different courses (people)…

  • Paul Bonham April 11, 2014, 9:40 am

    Did you ever try using SPD pedals with a decent quality carbon soled shoe? I certainly don’t have any “”walnut for a pedal” sensations using mine. The ability to walk around in mtb shoes is a huge positive for me.

    • Andrew Montgomery April 28, 2014, 7:26 pm

      Hi Paul – I certainly agree with that – my mountain bike shoes were very comfortable and safe to walk in.

  • Kevin Armstrong April 15, 2014, 12:54 am

    You guys are doing it properly, we feel ashamed as a family but all ended up using the oversized double-sided Shimano SPDs, the ones that look like a normal pedal but have the clip part in the middle. Doesn’t matter which way up the pedal is, just tickle it with your toe then push and you’re in. Reason is if you are setting off at a junction and don’t get the clip first time, you can just use it as a standard pedal to get going and slip the clip in afterwards when rolling properly. Wifey got the first set then we all tried the alternatives and followed suit. You purists will cringe at our klutziness but we use MTB shoes but always go for the ratchet side ones to get proper clamping on the foot, mine are Shimano, hers are Scott branded in a natty white pearl. We see fatties at cafes in team Lycra clopping around on racer cleats but prefer not to pretend to be Tour De France types and stick with the burlier deep soled shoes so you can walk around pretty normally.
    Depends on your riding, we ride for exercise, charity and fun, but no doubt snobs will spot our excessively convenient footwear and clip less pedals and dismiss us as beyond the pale…

    • Andrew Montgomery April 28, 2014, 7:29 pm

      Thanks Kevin. And the ‘no gits’ policy on Sportive Cyclist hopefully means that there won’t be too many snobs in this neck of the internet woods. Whatever works for you is absolutely the best choice. And I’m a massive fan of excessive convenience. You can’t get enough convenience….

    • Richard Biron August 25, 2015, 9:11 pm

      What shimano pedal part number would it be ?

  • James April 24, 2016, 10:57 pm

    Nice article, Monty. I rode Shimano SPD (mountain bike) pedals for years, and still have them on my rain bike. I “upgraded” to Shimano Ultegra SPD-SL pedals (almost identical to the 105s you reference) a couple of years ago on my road bike, but cannot detect any difference in terms of efficiency. The pedal platform size is irrelevant if your sole is sufficiently rigid, as any good cycling sole should be (and that certainly includes my Sidis). Instead, what I got from the Ultegra pedals was: less float, inability to walk in the shoes without waddling like a duck (and occasionally falling down), and the requirement to replace the plastic cleats every year or two (whereas the metal MTB cleats are recessed and never wear out). Unless you’re a weight weenie, I’d say the MTB version wins hands-down over the road version, at least for Shimano.

    • Reiffel Range July 18, 2016, 2:16 pm

      Yes to that, James. I put my cycling shoes on in my condo (hardwood floors) and walk 200 m to the bike room to get my bike. MTB shoes allow me to do that without scuffing my clips or incurring the wrath of my wife for making little dints all over our hardwood floors. Hell, even I wouldn’t like the dints! MTB shoes and pedals are the ticket for me, and have been for ~ 20 years.

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