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The Best Road Bike Pedals of 2024

If you are a road cyclist, finding the right pair of road bike pedals can enhance your efficiency and comfort on the bike.
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If you are a road cyclist, finding the right pair of road bike pedals can enhance your efficiency and comfort on the bike. This seemingly simple component is a critical workhorse on your bike as it is subject to many thousands of revolutions and all the pedaling forces applied from your legs.

Along with your road bike shoes, your road bike pedals form one of only three contact points between you and your machine, and it is particularly important when it comes to efficiency. Creating a mechanical connection between the sole of your shoe and the pedal, clipless road pedals help to maximize your pedaling effort throughout the pedal stroke while keeping your foot in the optimal position for transferring your power into the drivetrain.

With stiff axles, lightweight bodies, and broad platforms, road bike pedals also provide stability, comfort, and control, while adjustments to cleat positioning, float, and entry/release tension allow you to optimize their fit, feel, and performance to your specific needs.

With so many options to choose from, finding the right pair of road bike pedals can be a challenge. To help, we rounded up a diverse selection of models from Shimano, Look, Time, and Speedplay to test and compare side by side. Whether you’re new to clipless road pedals or are upgrading from an old pair, there are great options to suit all riding styles, performance needs, and budgets.

After months of testing, we’ve chosen our favorite models, which are listed below, followed by the best of the rest that are all worthy contenders as well. To see the specs of the models we tested at a glance, check out our handy comparison chart. If you need help deciding what to buy or simply want to learn more about road bike pedals, our buying advice and FAQ section have the info you need.

Editor’s Note: This Guide was originally published on our sister site, BikeRumor.com. It was first published here on GearJunkie on June 6, 2024. Additionally, we added our impressions of the recently updated Look Keo Blade Ceramic pedals.

The Best Road Bike Pedals of 2024


Best Overall Road Bike Pedals

Shimano Ultegra SPD SL

Specs

  • Weight (pedals only) 248 g
  • Weight (cleats and hardware) 72 g
  • Spindle Stainless steel
  • Body Carbon composite and stainless steel contact plates
Product Badge The Best Road Bike Pedals of 2024

Pros

  • Excellent stiffness-to-weight ratio
  • Simple cleat installation
  • Quiet
  • +4mm spindle option offered
  • More affordable than Dura-Ace

Cons

  • None
With a mid-range price and top-shelf performance, we feel the Shimano Ultegra pedals are the best choice for most riders; (photo/Bennett Shane)
Best Value Road Bike Pedals

Shimano 105 SPD-SL

Specs

  • Weight (pedals only) 265 g
  • Weight (cleats and hardware) 72 g
  • Spindle Stainless steel
  • Body Carbon composite with steel contact plates
The Best Road Bike Pedals of 2024

Pros

  • Reasonable price
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Adjustable release tension
  • Similar performance to higher priced siblings at lower price

Cons

  • Slightly heavier weight
Shimano’s 105 SPD-SL pedals have an amazing price-to-performance ratio, making them the best value on the market, in our opinion; (photo/Bennett Shane)
Runner-Up Best Road Bike Pedals

Time XPro 12

Specs

  • Weight (pedals only) 188 g
  • Weight (cleats and hardware) 85 g
  • Spindle Titanium
  • Body Carbon
The Best Road Bike Pedals of 2024

Pros

  • Excellent stiffness
  • iClic offers easy clip-in
  • Lightweight
  • Aero design
  • Adjustable tension with 3 settings

Cons

  • Floaty feel can take some getting used to
  • Max rider weight of 90 kg (198.4 lbs.)
  • Expensive
Time XPro 12 road bike pedals product detail shot
While similar to Look and Shimano pedals, the Time XPro 12 has a more unique design and very distinctive looks; (photo/Bennett Shane)
Best Race Specific Road Bike Pedals

Look Keo Blade Ceramic

Specs

  • Weight (pedals only) 230g
  • Weight (cleats and hardware) 70g
  • Spindle Hardened chromoly steel
  • Body Carbon
The Best Road Bike Pedals of 2024

Pros

  • Light
  • Stiff
  • Easy in/out
  • Sleek looking and aero

Cons

  • Noisy stock cleats
Look Keo Blade Carbon Ceramic blade detail
The Look Keo Blade Ceramic pedals use carbon “blades” that can be swapped out to adjust release tension; (photo/Bennett Shane)
Best Road Bike Pedals for Adjustability

Wahoo Speedplay Nano

Specs

  • Weight (pedals only) 170 g
  • Weight (cleats and hardware) 163 g
  • Spindle Titanium
  • Body Carbon composite
The Best Road Bike Pedals of 2024

Pros

  • Light and very low-profile pedals
  • Low stack height
  • Clean looks
  • Dual-sided engagement

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavier cleats create higher system weight
  • Complicated cleat setup
  • Not well suited to dirty conditions
  • Maximum rider weight of 82 kg (180 lbs.)
Wahoo Speedplay road bike pedals cleat parts detail shot
Setting up Speedplay cleats is a more complex process than other brands, but they allow the greatest level of adjustability; (photo/Bennett Shane)
Best Road Bike Pedals for Beginners

Time XPresso 2

Specs

  • Weight (pedals only) 230 g
  • Weight (cleats and hardware) 85 g
  • Spindle Steel
  • Body Glass composite
The Best Road Bike Pedals of 2024

Pros

  • iClic makes clipping in super easy
  • Very affordable
  • Similar design and performance to Time's higher-end options

Cons

  • Floaty feel may not be for everyone
  • Not self serviceable
Best Splurge Road Bike Pedals

Shimano Dura-Ace SPD SL

Specs

  • Weight (pedals only) 235 grams
  • Weight (cleats and hardware) 72 grams
  • Spindle Stainless Steel
  • Body Carbon Fiber/Stainless Steel
The Best Road Bike Pedals of 2024

Pros

  • Great stiffness to weight ratio
  • Simple cleat installation
  • Quiet
  • +4mm axle option offered

Cons

  • Fairly expensive
Shimano Dura-Ace pedals detail shot
The Shimano Dura-Ace pedals top the charts with excellent performance and proven reliability at a light weight. Plus, they look pretty good too; (photo/Bennett Shane)
Best of the Rest

Look Keo 2 Max Carbon

Specs

  • Weight (pedals only) 252 g
  • Weight (cleats and hardware) 70 g
  • Spindle Chromoly+
  • Body Carbon with stainless steel contact plate
The Best Road Bike Pedals of 2024

Pros

  • Fairly light and stiff
  • Simple, proven retention system
  • Easy to operate
  • Relatively affordable

Cons

  • Cleats can be noisy
  • Not the lightest

Wahoo Speedplay Comp

Specs

  • Weight (pedals only) 233 g
  • Weight (cleats and hardware) 163 g
  • Spindle Chromoly
  • Body Grivory (composite)
The Best Road Bike Pedals of 2024

Pros

  • Affordable Speedplay performance
  • Low stack height
  • Micro-adjustable
  • Dual-sided engagement

Cons

  • Cleats disengage too easily
  • Complex cleat installation
  • Heavy cleats create heavier system
  • Cleats not suited to dirty conditions

Look Keo Classic 3 Plus

Specs

  • Weight (pedals only) 280 g
  • Weight (cleats and hardware) 70 g
  • Spindle Chromoly
  • Body Composite
The Best Road Bike Pedals of 2024

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy cleat setup
  • Intuitive use
  • Stainless contact plates add stiffness

Cons

  • Noise from the cleats
  • Slightly heavier than more expensive options

Road Bike Pedals Comparison Chart

Pedal ModelMSRPWeight (pedals, pair)Weight (cleats and hardware)SpindleBody
Shimano Ultegra SPD-SL$200248 grams72 gramsStainless SteelCarbon composite and stainless steel 
Shimano 105 SPD-SL$150265 grams72 gramsStainless SteelCarbon composite and stainless steel 
Time XPro 12$317188 grams85 gramsTitaniumCarbon
Look Keo Blade Ceramic$252230 grams70 gramsHardened Cromoly SteelCarbon
Wahoo Speedplay Nano$450170 grams163 gramsTitaniumCarbon composite
Time Xpresso 2$69230 grams85 gramsSteelGlass composite
Shimano Dura-Ace SPD-SL$280235 grams72 gramsStainless steelCarbon composite and stainless steel
Look Keo 2 Max Carbon$137252 grams70 gramsChromoly+Carbon and stainless steel 
Wahoo Speedplay Comp$150233 grams163 gramsChromolyGrivory (composite)
Look Keo Classic 3 Plus$83280 grams70 gramsChromolyComposite

How We Tested the Best Road Bike Pedals

For well over a decade, our cycling team has been reporting on the latest news, technology, and products across all disciplines of cycling. Our staff is made up of passionate riders who enjoy all types of riding and are obsessed with finding the best products to enhance their experience and performance on the bike.

From bike frames to wheels, shoes to bib shorts, and everything in between, we know that having the right gear can make a huge difference. We also have the luxury and privilege of testing the latest and greatest products, including pedals, for product launches, individual reviews, and buyer’s guides.

Our road bike pedals buyer’s guide tester and review author, Bennett Shane, has over 2 decades of road cycling experience. While his racing days are largely behind him, he still enjoys putting in big miles, long climbs, and fast mountain descents on roads throughout the Pacific Northwest near his home in Portland, Ore. In addition to his wealth of cycling experience, Bennett has worked for several prominent brands in the cycling industry which has given him unique insight into the design, materials, and construction of products across categories spanning from apparel to components.

Combined, his industry and cycling experience give him the ability to understand products from both sides of the table, but most importantly, as a consumer, and he has developed an excellent ability to tease out the often subtle performance differences in the products he tests. Bennett has spent an inordinate amount of time on his road bikes this year, testing and reviewing a variety of road cycling gear, including high-performance road bike shoes, protective road bike helmets, and the best cycling bib shorts.

After rounding up 10 of the best road bike pedals on the market, Bennett mounted them up on his small fleet of road bikes and hit the pavement. Each model was tested over the course of several months, switching regularly between models for comparison. Back-to-back testing provides the opportunity to truly compare products side by side and identify performance differences that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Each model’s design and construction were also examined and scrutinized, along with adjustments and features, to see how effective they really are. After extensive testing, favorites were identified, and our findings are presented here.

Bennett Shane testing the best road bike pedals
Our road bike pedals buyer’s guide author put each model through its paces over the course of several months of comparative testing; (photo/Ben Guernsey)

Buying Advice: How to Choose Road Bike Pedals

Finding the right pair of road bike pedals can enhance your comfort and efficiency on the bike. While many seasoned road bikers probably already have a brand preference, those looking to switch it up or who are just jumping into clipless pedals for the first time have some decisions to make.

Assuming you are ready to purchase some pedals, what factors should influence your choice? We know that navigating the myriad models, materials, and marketing jargon can be confusing, so let’s dive into the details so you can make an informed purchase decision.

The Look Keo Blade Carbon Ceramic Road Bike Pedals
Most road bike pedals share the same basic design with broad bodies, stiff axles, and similar triangular 3-bolt cleats; (photo/Bennett Shane)

What Are Road Bike Pedals?

Along with road bike shoes, road bike pedals are a very important component as they serve as one of just three contact points between your body and your bike. They are an essential part of the energy transfer system between your legs and your drivetrain. But what exactly are road bike pedals, and how do they differ from other types?

Pedals generally fall into three categories. There are clipless road bike pedals (3-bolt cleats), clipless mountain bike pedals (2-bolt cleats), and flat pedals. Whether you are a serious or recreational road cyclist, we recommend using road bike-specific clipless pedals because they are designed and purpose-built for the task.

That’s not to say that you can’t road bike with any type of pedals, because you certainly can, it’s just that road bike pedals are specifically made for the application. Clipless road bike pedals differ from their clipless mountain bike counterparts in several ways.

The 3-bolt sole of the Shimano S-phyre RC9 road bike shoes
Most road bike pedals use a large 3-bolt cleat that is compatible with 3-bolt soles on road bike shoes; (photo/Bennett Shane)

One of the main things that sets clipless road pedals apart is the 3-bolt cleat “standard”. With the exception of Wahoo Speedplay pedals that use a 4-bolt cleat (and come with a 3-bolt adaptor to work on most road bike shoes), nearly all road bike pedals use a 3-bolt cleat and work on road bike shoes that have a 3-bolt hole pattern on the sole.

Shimano, Look, Time and a handful of smaller pedal manufacturers use similar, but definitely not the same, cleats that are triangular in shape. These large cleats aim to maximize the shoe-cleat-pedal interface and contact area, which helps to distribute pedaling forces over a larger area with the goal of increasing efficiency, stability, and comfort. Road bike pedals, of course, are designed to work in unison with their specific cleats to match their dimensions and create the super important connection between your legs and the cranks.

Most road bike pedals are one-sided, meaning that the cleat can only engage on one side of the pedal. The other side of the pedal is typically smooth and somewhat aerodynamic. Generally speaking, the front of the cleat engages first before pushing the rear of the cleat down onto the retention mechanism. The exception here is the Wahoo Speedplay pedals that allow for dual-sided engagement.

A selection of clipless mountain bike pedals
Clipless mountain bike pedals come in a range of shapes, sizes, and retention mechanisms aimed at different types of riding. While they are not the same, they all use 2-bolt cleats; (photo/Jeremy Benson)

Clipless mountain bike pedals differ from road bike pedals with their 2-bolt cleats. These cleats are smaller and mount to shoes that are designed with a 2-bolt interface. Most mountain bike pedals allow for dual-sided engagement, and they come in a wide variety of styles with different-sized platforms designed to meet the differing needs of varying riding styles and preferences. Given the smaller size of the cleat, the soles of the shoes often interface with the platform of the pedals for additional support.

Wahoo Speedplay Nano road bike pedals axle detail
Stiff axles, or spindles, are a key element of a road bike pedal as they bear the brunt of the pedaling force. A variety of materials are used for axles, including titanium on the high-end Wahoo Speedplay Nano pictured here; (photo/Bennett Shane)

Axles

Pedal axles, or “spindles,” connect the body of the pedal to the crank arm of the bike. The outboard end sits inside the pedal platform and is exposed between the body and the crank arm, eventually threading into the tip of the crankarm. Stiffness is important here because of the way the axle is positioned — perpendicular to the direction of the force applied to the pedal body.

More expensive pedals will feature stiffer Titanium axles, which benefit racers who apply repeated doses of explosive power. For recreational riders, steel or chromoly axles are sufficiently stiff, incurring a slight weight penalty while saving enough money to make choosing them a no-brainer. 

Quality bearings keep your pedals spinning smoothly. Most use stainless steel bearings, with some high-end models, like the Look Keo Blade Ceramic, using ceramic bearings; (photo/Bennett Shane)

Bearings

Axle bearings allow the pedal to rotate against the circular motion of the crank arm, keeping the rider’s foot stable and promoting a fluid pedal stroke. If these bearings wear out, the axle may wobble and may produce noise. Most pedal axles can be overhauled, but unless you are doing it yourself and using high-end pedals, the labor bill won’t be much less expensive than replacing the pedals altogether.

So, high-quality bearings are something to look for in a pedal that you want to install and never think about ever again. Most pedals use stainless steel bearings, with some high-end options going with ceramic bearings. While they are significantly more expensive, ceramic bearings are claimed to be more durable, lighter weight, and lower friction, potentially providing a marginal performance gain that may appeal to racers or anyone seeking a competitive advantage.

Shimano Dura-Ace pedal body detail shot
Pedal bodies are made from a variety of materials, including carbon fiber, as the Shimano Dura-Ace pedals pictured here. Small steel contact plates are also employed to add stiffness and durability to the contact areas; (photo/Bennett Shane)

Body Material

Along with every other bike part out there, pedal bodies have become more commonly made of carbon fiber in recent years. While carbon certainly isn’t a poor choice of material, its benefit is less obvious than parts that have more dynamic characteristics, such as frames and rims.

Pedals are not an area of the bike where weight is of the utmost importance (although it is still certainly a consideration). Also, make sure that if you are choosing a pedal because it’s “light” you are looking at the weight of not only the pedals but the combined weight of the pedals and cleats. 

While carbon fiber is becoming the material of choice for high-end pedals, many models are made from other composites. Regardless of the material used in the pedal body’s construction, many also include small steel plates on the contact area where the cleat and pedal interface. This is generally done to add stiffness as well as durability over time.

Road bike shoes detail shot
A quality pair of road bike shoes will complement a good set of pedals. There are lots of options on the market, so you can be sure to find a pair that fits well and suits the demands of your riding style, as well as your personal style; (photo/Bennett Shane)

Shoes

It’s important to use road bike pedals with the appropriate shoes. Much like road pedals, road bike shoes are designed to optimize pedaling efficiency and comfort on the bike. When paired together, they form the system that is the important connection between your legs and your drivetrain, transferring your pedaling power into forward momentum.

Of course, road bike shoes come in a huge range of styles, constructions, materials, and price points, with models made for everything from racing, sprinting, and endurance riding to more casual, recreational riding. Finding a pair that fits well and suits your style is critical.

If you are buying both pedals and shoes, you want to make sure these items are compatible with each other. Nearly every road bike shoe (with the exception of those made specifically for use with Speedplay pedals) features a triangular set of three threaded holes in the forefoot of the outsole, meant to accept a 3-bolt road cleat.

Each new pair of pedals comes with cleats that are made specifically to work with that pedal, and generally speaking, those cleats are not cross-compatible between different brands. Speedplay cleats are an outlier as they are rectangular with a 4-bolt pattern and require an adapter to convert the 3-bolt pattern on most road shoes. This adapter is included with every pair of Speedplay pedals. Some brands offer Speedplay-specific shoes that feature a 4-bolt sole, and thus, no adapter is required. 

Giro Cadet road bike shoes sole detail showing both 3-bolt and 2-bolt cleat compatibility
The affordable Giro Cadet road bike shoes can accept both 3-bolt and 2-bolt cleats; (photo/Bennett Shane)

There are some road bike shoes, typically on the lower end of the price spectrum, that are both 3-bolt and 2-bolt compatible, meaning they can work with both road bike pedals and clipless mountain bike pedals.

Adjustability

Most road bike pedals offer a few adjustments that allow the user to dial them into their preferences. These typically include entry and release tension and float. Additionally, the cleats themselves can be adjusted on the sole of the shoe to get them in the perfect spot for comfort and efficiency. Before heading out for your first ride, we recommend that familiarize yourself with all of the adjustments that your pedals offer and set them up how you like.

A shimano cleat mounted to the sole of a road bike shoe
Cleats for most road bike pedals, like the Shimano blue cleats shown here, offer a small range of adjustability, fore-aft and side-to-side, to optimize their position on the sole of the shoe; (photo/Bennett Shane)

Cleats

Having your cleats in the right location is important for the alignment of your leg for comfort and injury prevention, as well as to optimize the power of your pedal stroke. Most cleats offer a small range of fore-aft and side-to-side adjustability so the user can line them up in their preferred location underneath the ball of the foot.

Often, the small metal inserts in the soles of the shoes can be moved slightly as well. Additionally, the angle of your cleats can also be adjusted slightly, toe-in or toe-out, if needed. Most quality road bike shoes have small alignment markings on the soles that can be helpful when dialing in your perfect cleat placement.

The retention adjustment on the Shimano Ultegra road bike pedals
The small screw on the retention mechanism of the Shimano Ultegra pedals allows you to increase or decrease the tension to your liking; (photo/Bennett Shane)

Retention

Most road bike pedals feature a tension adjustment that controls how easy it is to clip in and out of the pedal. The level of tension is typically a personal preference that may depend on the type of riding you do. Too much tension could lead to the dreaded situation where you’ve stopped the bike but are unable to get a foot out of the pedal and down to the ground.

Conversely, riders who produce a lot of power will want to make sure there is sufficient tension to keep the foot in the pedal during explosive efforts. The majority of pedals have a small screw on the cleat retention mechanism that can be turned to tighten or loosen the tension to the desired setting.

Look Keo Blade pedals are a little different in that they use carbon “blades” that can be swapped out to change the tension. Once again, Speedplay is an outlier in this regard, as the tension is dictated by which cleat you use. They offer both “standard” and “easy” tension options.

Shimano Blue cleats with 2 degrees of float
Float is often adjusted by using different cleats. The Shimano blue cleats, for example, allow +/- 2 degrees of float. They also offer cleats with 0 degrees or 6 degrees of float; (photo/Bennett Shane)

Float

All pedals offer some way of adjusting the “float,” which is the degree of angular movement the pedal allows the cleat to make. Float is important because foot movement can prevent or cause problems, depending on how much of it happens and for how long. Foot movement, or lack thereof, affects everything up the chain, from the knee to the hip and even the lower back, and it can be a process of trial and error to find what works best for you.

Like anything else, personal preferences vary and often depend on the type of riding you’re doing, racing versus casual, or the desired feel from your pedals. Less float provides a more secure, locked-in feel that is typically preferred by high-performance riders and more intense power output (track races, criteriums). Having less float leaves a little less margin for error in cleat positioning, so the setup can be more challenging.

Higher degrees of float are considered more forgiving, allowing more freedom of movement and generally less tension on the joints. Higher float is usually preferred by those with joint issues and anyone undertaking long, steady endurance rides or lengthy road races.

Wahoo Speedplay roab bike pedals cleat detail
Speedplay pedals and cleats are unique, and they offer the largest range of adjustability; (photo/Bennett Shane)

The float in most pedal systems is dictated by which specific cleat is used. Most manufacturers offer two or three cleats that allow float from zero to 8 degrees or thereabouts. Look, for example, offers their Keo cleats in 0, 4.5, or 9-degree float options, which are color-coded in black, gray, and red, respectively.

Similarly, Shimano offers three different cleats with 0, 2, and 6-degree options denoted by the colors red, blue, and yellow, respectively. Time offers two cleat options, “free” cleats with 5 degrees of float or “fixed” cleats with 0 degrees of float. Speedplay is unique in that the cleat itself is adjusted to dial in the float in very fine increments, and the float can be quickly tailored to each shoe.

Practicing with road bike pedals
If you are new to riding with clipless pedals, we recommend spending a little time practicing with them to get the hang of clipping in and out; (photo/Bennett Shane)

Practice

If you are new to clipless pedals, doing a little practice to get used to the way they function is never a bad idea. While it eventually becomes second nature, clipping in and out of pedals can be relatively awkward at first, but thankfully, the learning curve is steep. Though it might seem silly, taking a little time in a controlled environment to familiarize yourself with the process of clipping in and out of your pedals could be invaluable and potentially help prevent embarrassment or injury (bruised body and/or ego) while out on a ride.

Yes, it is as simple as deliberately twisting your foot to release the cleat from the pedal, but just about everyone has experienced an awkward, slow-motion fall when they couldn’t get their foot out of the pedal as they were learning. Trust us, a little practice is worth your time.

Value

As with all things in cycling, road bike pedals can be expensive. You can easily spend upwards of $300 for the lightest, stiffest, and fanciest pedals on the market, and many people will. Those seeking marginal performance gains or reductions in weight, typically high-performance riders and racers, will see the most benefit from spending more.

If you’re not battling for podiums, however, you can spend less for nearly the same performance and with just a slight weight penalty. Take Shimano’s pedals, for example. The range-topping Dura-Ace model sells for $280 and delivers a top-of-the-line, well-refined performance at a light weight. Two tiers down, the Shimano 105 pedals look nearly identical, provide almost the same level of performance, and weigh only about 30 grams more for the pair while costing roughly half the price at $150.

For this reason, we feel the Shimano 105 is one of the best values on the market. Those new to road cycling or who ride less frequently can spend even less for a model like the $69 Time XPresso 2, which is super user-friendly and gets the job done at a fraction of the price.

Road bike pedals are a key component on any road bike, and finding the right pair can help transform your ride; (photo/Ben Guernsey)

Frequently Asked Questions About Road Bike Pedals

Why should I use road bike pedals?

If you are riding strictly on the road, it makes sense to use dedicated road pedals. This style of pedal provides a broad platform that spreads out the pressure of your pedal stroke evenly across your forefoot, preventing hot spots from developing during long rides involving tens or even hundreds of thousands of pedal revolutions.

Combined with a well-fitting pair of road bike shoes, they work as a system to efficiently deliver your pedaling energy to the cranks and propel your bike forward. So, along with pedals, the right shoes will help to enhance your efficiency, stability, control, and comfort on the bike.

Why are they called clipless if you clip in?

The term clipless is undoubtedly a confusing one given the fact that you actually clip in to clipless pedals. Well, prior to the advent of clipless designs, most pedals were essentially flat pedals that had what was referred to as a “toe clip” that wrapped up and over the front of the toes.

This toe clip helped prevent the foot from sliding forward on the pedal while also holding the foot more securely to help maximize pedaling efficiency through the whole pedal stroke. When clipless pedals came around, they did not have the toe clip and became referred to as clipless as a result.

Can I just use mountain bike pedals?

Yes, absolutely. Many people use mountain bike style clipless pedals that use 2-bolt cleats on their road bikes. Generally speaking, people will use small, XC-style pedals in this case because they are lighter weight compared to those with larger platforms.

If you already have shoes that you like that use a 2-bolt cleat, this may also be the most cost-effective solution. Many modern cross-country mountain bike shoes are essentially more rugged versions of road bike shoes and they can easily meet the demands of road, gravel, and cross-country riding.

How do I install my pedals?

Installing a new set of pedals is a fairly simple process, but it is very important to know that the left (non drive side) pedal is reverse-threaded while the right side is threaded regularly. And, due to the threading of the spindles, and also to the design of the pedals, they are right and left side specific. Once you have identified which pedal is which, apply some grease to the threads and screw the spindle into the crankarm.

Most pedals use an 8mm hex, although some outliers use a 6mm hex or a 15mm pedal wrench, to tighten them down. You generally want to get pedals fairly tight, and Shimano recommends a torque range of 35-55 Nm for their pedals, for example.

It is important to note that you can damage your pedals and/or your crankarms if you cross-thread them during installation or try to install the wrong pedal on the wrong side of the cranks. The pedal should thread into the crankarm very easily, and if it does not, don’t force it! You should stop and check the alignment of the threads to avoid any potentially expensive problems.

How do I walk in road bike shoes and cleats?

Awkwardly, carefully, and as little as possible. Yes, walking on road cleats is awkward, tedious, and even unsafe on some floor surfaces. This is because the size of the cleat precludes compatible road shoes from incorporating tread onto their outsoles. Additionally, the size, shape, and position of the cleats themselves prevent a regular walking motion. This is not to say that you can’t or shouldn’t walk in your road bike shoes, you’ll just want to be careful if/when you do.

Thankfully, most road bike shoes have a small traction pad on the heel, and many road cleats also have a small amount of grippier material applied to the contact points to add a tiny level of grip for walking. With some practice, it does become easier, but it never stops being awkward.

Can I use road bike pedals on my gravel or mountain bike?

While you certainly can use road bike pedals on your gravel or mountain bike, it is generally not recommended. The primary reason is that road bike shoes and road bike cleats are already awkward enough to walk around in on firm, flat surfaces, so walking in them on gravel roads or trails is even worse.

The cleats and the soles of your shoes will be susceptible to damage and premature wear. We always recommend riding your mountain or gravel bike with clipless mountain bike pedals with 2-bolt cleats, and mountain bike shoes or gravel bike shoes that are more appropriate for off-road use. Yes, some gravel riders and racers will use road bike pedals and shoes for certain gravel rides — typically consisting of smooth gravel with little likelihood of needing to walk in your shoes — but there are usually better options.

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