Do the pedals you use make a difference to your riding performance? As cycling technology has progressed throughout time, there are more and more ways to optimize your riding experience.
The most common pedal types are flats, clips/ toe clips, and clipless. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages but, what a lot of people want to know, when picking out which pedals to go for, is ‘which ones will make me faster’?
Toe clip pedals were the first to evolve from standard pedals and have since inspired the creation of clipless pedals but, lots of people still use clip pedals today.
These pedals have a simple caged design attached at the front of the pedal for your toes to fit into, hence the name.
They keep your feet square within the cage to stop them from sliding sideways or slipping off altogether. They’re useful for indoor cycling in particular such as spinning.
The main benefit of this is the ability to channel your energy into the entire pedal movement, making every pedal more efficient and ultimately enabling you to pedal faster.
Toe clip pedals are also a great transitional pedal if your ultimate goal is to go from flat pedals to clipless.
Clipless pedals, despite the name, use a clip in system, that attaches your foot firmly to the pedal at all times which gives the rider better control.
Do you go faster with clipless pedals?
Clipless pedals have been proven to make you go faster than other pedals such as flats and toe clips. However, it depends on a number of factors that may be different for every rider.
Clipless pedals are great because they allow the rider’s shoes to be in constant contact with the bike. This, as a result, allows the rider to propel throughout the entire pedaling motion.
Clipless pedals are also loved for their ability to help you ride faster over longer distances.
This is because they allow you to climb and sprint easier, meaning you can take advantage of the flatter sections to recover, increasing your average speed overall.
Do clipless pedals give more power?
Clipless pedals can be much more efficient than other pedals. This is because they are designed to keep your feet firmly attached to the pedal at all times.
This enables you to have as much power on up-strokes as you do on down-strokes, giving you more power overall.
This is particularly useful on steep hills because the increased upstroke power will help you to push harder and faster, and use the flatter sections as active recovery.
Should I switch to clipless pedals?
If you’re using flats or toe clip pedals, you may be tempted to try out clipless pedals. Lots of pro riders will swear by them, and it’s only natural for an avid rider to want to be doing what the pros are raving about.
Whether clipless pedals will benefit you depends on what type of bike you ride and what your goals are.
Clipless pedals are without a doubt the better pedals when it comes to road biking and the majority of road bikes will come with these pedals as standard.
As we’ve already mentioned, clipless pedals deliver a range of excellent benefits to improve your ride.
Switching to clipless pedals as a road rider or even a mountain biker can result in better efficiency and more power and speed.
However, if you don’t plan to use your bike for road riding, or you’re new to riding, clipless pedals may actually present more problems than pros.
For example, clipless pedals require proper set up in order to work efficiently. Poorly set up clipless pedals can actually result in discomfort and even injury.
It’s not uncommon for clipless users to complain about knee injuries, although there are ways to correct this as well as exercises that can minimize knee irritation.
These pedals also aren’t a good option for beginners. It can be hard to get the hang of clipping in and out and, failure to unclip fast enough can result in lots of falls.
If you’re a less confident rider it would be a better idea to transition from flat pedals to toe clips first, and work your way up to clipless.
If you’re a mountain biker, switching to clipless could be beneficial as the extra power and efficiency will help with rougher terrain.
Plus, going over bumps can easily cause your feet to fall off flat pedals so clipless will prevent this.
That being said, you may want to consider going for double-sided clipless pedals to get the best of both world.
Double-sided clipless pedals are good because they enable the rider to go between the clipped side and a flatter side depending on where you’re riding.
These come in really handy if you know you’ll be doing a bit of walking in between riding, so wearing cycling shoes with cleats wouldn’t be suitable for this.
Alternatively, flat pedals are super versatile, and you may find they are better suited to your riding style than clipless pedals.
Being able to position your foot wherever you like on the pedal can be a great advantage, particularly when mountain biking.
Plus, landing jumps and keeping your balance on rougher terrain would really benefit from being able to dab your foot down when needed.
There is no ultimate pedal type, all variations come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Standard flat pedals may seem basic, but they have a lot of great uses.
Mountain bikers will generally find that either flat or double-sided clipless pedals work best for them.
Clipless are a popular option that are best suited to professional riders looking to optimize their performance.
That’s not to say they can’t be advantageous to recreational riders too but, if you’re going from flat pedals, it’s a good idea to try using toe clip pedals first to help you get used to being attached to your pedals before switching to clipless.