Pedals make a difference to cycling in the same way that shoes will make a difference to how you walk. There are several types of pedals that are designed for different bikes and cycling purposes.
Platform pedals are the most common type of pedals for mountain biking. They don’t require attachment to the foot, so you can put your foot down easily, and they are usually wide enough to provide enough balance to your whole foot. They come with studs that provide grip to your shoes, so you can focus on balancing on rocky and uneven terrain. However, the lack of attachment means you have less control over the pedals as you can only push them downwards.
Clipless pedals are for any cyclist who wants maximum control with their pedaling, as they are equipped with a connection for your shoes. The only issue is that you will need specific cleats to attach to these pedals. Clipless pedals allow for the most control when it comes to cycling, and they can come in a two-cleat or three-cleat design.
Cage pedals are standard for road and city bicycles as they don’t provide as much grip for mountain biking. These are lightweight and slimmer versions of platform pedals, and sometimes come with straps or cleats to attach to the shoe.
Of course, skill level will play a huge part in the way you cycle. However, skilled cyclists will swear by specific pedals as they all serve different purposes depending on the type of cycling. Some might find that platform pedals are the best for providing stability to the whole foot, which is why they are preferred by beginners. Clipless pedals are popular for experienced cyclists, as they appreciate the grip from the cleats to their shoes that allows for more control.
What’s more, a high-quality pedal will be able to maintain the impact from your feet and leg power, which will only transfer the energy into the wheels for a smoother and faster ride. Weaker pedals that rotate and feel flimsy won’t control the bicycle in the way you’d want it to.
Are bike pedals important?
A bike without pedals is like a human without feet - it just won’t work. Pedals are possibly the most important part of a bike, because a bike relies on the rotation of pedals to turn the gears attached to the chain, which then rotates another set of gears to move the wheels forwards or backward.
Without pedals, the bike cannot move. Or, you’re putting your foot on a really sharp and thin piece of material that is impossible to grip onto. Think of it like this - you wouldn’t wear stilettos that only feature the high heel part without the shoe, so why wouldn’t you cycle with pedals?
The type of pedal you have will depend on the type of bike and your intended style of cycling. Mountain bikes will feature different pedals to road bikes, for example. Generally speaking, a pedal needs to be wide enough to support at least the front half of your foot as most of your power will come from your toes.
The three main types of pedals include platform pedals, cage pedals, and clipless pedals.
Platform pedals are common with beginners as they offer the most surface area. Whilst they don’t offer a clip to attach to your shoe, they do allow the user to use different parts of their feet if they are experiencing fatigue. The lack of clips might mean that you have less control compared to other pedals, but it does mean you can take your feet off the pedals quickly.
Cage pedals are the slimmer and lighter version of platform pedals. They often come with cleats or straps to provide more grip to the shoe, and are best used for cycling on roads and in cities. These pedals aren’t suitable for mountain biking or racing.
Clipless pedals feature a connection that attaches a specific cleat shoe to the pedal. Whilst it might mean you can’t take your feet off the pedals as easily, this also means the rider has more control over the bike. These pedals are mostly used by experienced riders.
Do bike pedals matter?
The quality of bike pedals will matter more than anything else when it comes to bikes. Think of a bike like an ecosystem - when one part goes down, the entire system collapses. Pedals are the main reason why bikes work the way they do.
Bikes require leg and foot power to move. The pedals rotate the gears to the chain, which then rotates more gears to rotate the bikes forwards or backward.
Not only does the practicalities of pedals matter, but the comfort of the pedals is very important for the quality of the biking experience. There are three main types of bike pedals that are used for a variety of purposes because of their design.
Platform pedals are the most common pedals for beginners and those wanting a standard bike. They offer the widest platform for your feet, which means you don’t have to rely on a specific part of your foot to power the wheels. Cage pedals are the slimmer version of these, which are the best option for road biking activities.
Some pedals, such as clipless pedals, will come with built-in connectors that attach a specific shoe to the pedal. Though this will make removing your foot less easy, it also means you have the most amount of control over the bike. Without cleats or straps, you need to focus on keeping your foot on the pedal.
Picture the pedals of your bike like your shoes. You wouldn’t wear stilettos out running, so why would you use weak, low-quality pedals that provide no stability for your feet? Sure, if you’re only looking for a bike for the morning commute, you might not care so much about the pedals. For those who intend to use their bike regularly, the pedals will change the way you cycle - for better or worse.