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All information about clipless pedals

What types of clipless pedals are there? What should I look for when buying? Here you can find all the information about the topic

All information about clipless pedals

What are the benefits of clipless pedals?

Clipless pedals: They promise better performance and optimum posture. And even if at first glance the shoes of some cyclists seem original, more and more athletes are using models with integrated cleats. What can be disadvantageous when running brings various advantages on the bike. Integrated cleats allow the footwear to be connected to clipless pedals. As a result, more power is converted into propulsion while cycling. In addition, the fixation helps to maintain an optimized posture.

Click pedals bring real added value not only in the road bike sector. There are clipless pedals on the market that are adapted to the needs of different types of bikes. Whether MTB or city bike, in various disciplines you benefit from the positive aspects of the system pedals. Among clipless pedal newcomers comes up again and again the fear of increasing their risk of injury by the foreign system. Delayed dismounting poses a certain danger in hectic situations. Beginner-friendly models and gentle adjustments can make it easier to use the winning bicycle pedals. For whom the conversion is worthwhile, important facts and proven models you will find here.

1. what are clipless pedals?

Click pedals are the modern answer to strap pedals, which were found a few decades ago among competitive cyclists in the racing bike sector. What then had to be tightened awkwardly by hand, now works by pure foot movement. Clipless pedals can be mounted on the crankset instead of the classic platform pedals. The matching bicycle shoes can be snapped onto the pedals. Click pedal systems work according to a uniform principle. There is a spring-loaded clip in the pedal. The matching counterpart on the shoe is a cleat, also called cleat. If the cleats on the shoes press on the clipless pedals, they lock into place. If you turn the shoe, the spring in the pedal relaxes. The fixation is released. The release hardness can be adjusted on the pedal. This refers to the force needed to click out of the pedals. A screw on the top of the pedal regulates the release hardness. If the screw is turned clockwise, the release hardness increases. Turned the other way, it decreases.

It is important to purchase clipless pedals and cycling shoes that are compatible with each other. Different manufacturers rely on different threads within the cleats. In addition, there are differences between road bike shoes and mountain bike shoes along with the pedals matched to them. For clipless pedal newcomers, the promising system often seems threatening. In hectic situations, the feet can not be brought to the ground as quickly as one is accustomed to conventional pedals. The question often arises whether the risky gadget is even legal. There are no legal regulations that speak against the use of clipless pedals.

The only thing that remains is subjective uncertainty. Anyone who rides unpracticed with clipless pedals risks tipping over with the bike. Those who are convinced of the advantages of clipless pedals despite doubts will no longer have any worries after a short familiarization period. The way they work becomes automatic. Falls due to clipless pedals are rather an exception. So, unlike standard pedals, the shoes are fixed while cycling. As a result, the entire pedaling force is converted into propulsion. If one leg pushes the pedal down, the other leg pulls the clipless pedal up with it. This process is called the round pedal. It brings an optimal power transmission with it. The performance increases. Unlike standard pedals, there is no empty travel.

Photo by Imre Tömösvári / Unsplash

2. when are clipless pedals worthwhile?

Click pedals bring some advantages for cyclists. Thanks to the fixed connection, they enable the so-called round pedal. The pedals are therefore not only pressed down during the ride, but also pulled upwards. However, it is a myth that clipless pedals permanently help to achieve a round pedal stroke during a ride. In the long run, pedaling and pulling the pedals would take up a disproportionate amount of energy. Science provides little clear evidence that clipless pedals are more efficient than platform pedals. Nevertheless, anyone who has tried clipless pedals will notice the improvement in their own performance.

Clipless pedals provide improved use of the entire leg muscles and a more easily variable cadence. In addition to optimal power transmission, the fixed footwear provides improved posture. The ideally precisely tuned, healthy position of the feet is maintained, since you can not move them. Along with the handlebars and the saddle, the pedals are one of the points of contact between the bike and the rider. As such, they have a significant influence on body posture. For a pain-free, high-performance ride, the balls of the feet should be positioned centrally over the pedal axles. The feet should be parallel to the crank. On the bike shoes, the cleats can be moved up or down a few millimeters to allow for individual adjustment. The cleats should be at the level of the metatarsals. Standard pedals become very slippery, especially in bad weather and wet conditions.

Many athletes find it difficult to maintain the ideal position, and slipping is inevitable. Exhausted muscles can also lead to a relieving posture, which is disadvantageous for the entire body. Clipless pedals prevent this. The prerequisite, however, is that value is placed on the appropriate foot posture during installation. For this, an additional look at the other contact points between rider and bike is worthwhile. The saddle height and the handlebars including stem offer room for optimization. Even bicycle frames that are unfavorable for the rider can be adjusted in this way. If the rider is not in an optimal position, knee problems usually follow. Clipless pedals stabilize the rider during passages that are covered out of the saddle. This includes mainly sections of the route in which slope is climbed or descended. In bumpy trail descents already times the shoes come off the pedals, thanks to click system remains stable and secure. Click pedals are often particularly small and light. Thus, weight is saved, which is particularly interesting for road cyclists.

Some tricks are easier to learn with clipless pedals. In MTB riding, there is the so-called bunny hop. First the front wheel, then the rear wheel is released from the ground. Obstacles can be easily jumped over in this way. If the feet are fixed to the bike , this can be lifted much better and higher. If the rear wheel is to be moved, this also succeeds more accurately with clipless pedal system. In general, better control over the bike is given for jumps of all kinds. The fixation of pedal and shoe also brings disadvantages.

The foot can only be taken off the pedal after disengaging. There is a risk of falling in the event of accidents, red lights, at your own front door or other turbulent moments. Beginners risk injuries due to delayed disengagement. Particularly on mountain bikes, experienced handling of clipless pedal systems is indispensable. Falls are part of wild trail descents, to be able to roll off properly, you have to release from the pedals in time. In the forest it is challenging to run with clipless pedal shoes, because the cleats are rather slippery. Also the pollution by mud can become a problem on the trails. If you have once clicked out and too dirty cleats, the re-clicking is made much more difficult. A soft setting and beginner-friendly pedals can prevent a fall. In addition, the Ausklicken after some practice becomes an automatism.

Although falls can occur in careless moments, they are generally rather the exception. Who wants to switch to clipless pedals, must expect higher acquisition costs than with standard pedals. Most clipless pedals can only be used in conjunction with the appropriate footwear. Normal cycling shoes without integrated cleats do not get a proper grip, because clipless pedals usually have particularly small appearance surfaces. There are combination pedals, which on the one hand click pedal shoes can be engaged, and on the other hand allow driving with normal shoes. Since clipless pedals are generally not combinable with all clipless pedal shoes, it is essential to pay attention to the compatibility before buying.

Different manufacturers install systems modified from each other. Click pedal shoes are often uncomfortable when walking. They can scratch soft floors such as linoleum or laminate. Due to the hard sole, the ball of the foot can not roll optimally. So carrying a pair of alternate shoes is worthwhile if you want to get around without the bike. In summary, clipless pedals are worthwhile for ambitious cyclists who want to increase their performance. Whether on a road bike, mountain bike, cyclocross, cross country, trekking bike or gravel bike. Anyone who spends a lot of time on the bike and wants to get everything out of a tour will find fun in clipless pedals. However, you become faster and more powerful through training, not through an optimized bike.

Chris' bike taking a break
Photo by Tim Foster / Unsplash

3. what clipless pedals are there?

There are various applications in which clipless pedals can be used. The market offers different models geared to meet the diverse requirements. Here are the differences of the various clipless pedals explained.

Combi pedals

Combination pedals can be driven on different types of bikes. Both on the road bike, as well as on the mountain bike they are often seen. The special thing about combi pedals is that they can be used both as a clipless pedal, as well as a normal platform pedal. One side of the combi pedal has the click system integrated, the other side provides a standing surface. This can be used with any footwear.

Clipless pedals with small footprint

Clipless pedals can have particularly small footprints. This saves weight without sacrificing rider life.

Click pedals with large footprint

Pedals with particularly large footprints are particularly suitable as MTB clipless pedals. Whether hardtail, enduro or freeride, the large footprints favor a better stand.

Clipless pedal systems

Various click pedal systems are available on the market. So before buying must be ensured that the click system on the pedal is compatible with the cleats on the bike shoes. Common climate systems are from Shimano PD, SPD, SPD-SL and Look Keo. While SPD pedals are more common in the MTB and trekking area, you can find click systems of SPD-SL and Look Keo more on road bikes.

Clipless pedals for the road bike

Especially on road bikes, you want to save weight wherever possible. With clipless pedals for the road bike, one therefore relies on models with small footprints, which should be very light. From the manufacturer Shimano, the click system SPD-SL has proven itself. From the manufacturer Look there is the Keo. The Shimano SPD-SL as well as the Look Keo offer lightweight clipless pedals and yet have slightly larger footprints. This offers the driver more stability. The brand Speedplay manufactures clipless pedals that can be engaged on both sides of the footprint.

Clipless pedals for the mountain bike

MTB pedals feature sturdy materials as well as large footprints to meet the demands of the terrain. The Shimano SPD system has proven itself in the mountain bike sector. The manufacturer Crankbrothers produces the so-called Eggbeater pedals. They are also popular mountain bike pedals, since dirt can settle only with difficulty. The pedals from Time ATAC offer similar advantages.

4. what are the best clipless pedals for beginners?

For beginners and people with knee problems, it is worth setting the release hardness on the pedal low. This makes it easier to release the shoes from the pedals. Gradually, the release hardness can be adjusted. Many skilled clipless pedal users prefer particularly hard set pedals. Before buying clipless pedals should also pay attention to the freedom of movement. What is called float in technical jargon means the angle at which you can turn your foot before clicking out. If you already have knee problems, it is advisable to focus on more freedom of movement. The Shimano SPD click system is well suited for beginners. It is used especially In mountain biking and trekking. The cleats are kept rather flat, so they interfere less when walking.

With Shimano SPD clipless pedals, the release hardness can be adjusted particularly softly. LOOK clipless pedals have their release hardness specified by so-called blades. If you want to change the hardness, you must purchase new blades. These blades are available in a variety of strengths, measured in Newton meters. Shimano SPD SL is a click system specifically for road bikes. The release hardness can be adjusted on a screw on the pedal. The LOOK Keo is also popular among road cyclists. Click pedal shoes are available in a wide variety of price ranges. The perfect shoe should not be too small. In addition, there are differences between mountain bike and road bike footwear. Before buying, it must be clear for which type of bike the shoes will be used. Weight, anatomy and material affect the price and create a wide range from entry-level model to high-end shoe.

Photo by Luca Beani / Unsplash

5. which clipless pedals are worthwhile?

Mountain bike clipless pedals

The Shimano PDM520 are suitable for beginners and in mountain biking. They are inexpensive and thus ideal to try out the benefits of this system as a clipless pedal novice. The Shimano PD-EH500 are solid pedals from the mid-price segment. The Crankbrothers double shot 3 are also designed for mountain bikes and extremely robust. This makes them suitable for rough trail descents. Shimano XTR pedals are particularly designed for speed in the MTB sector. You can find them especially in the cross country and race sector, for example, the Shimano Deore XT PD- M8100 pedal. Shimano T421 are combination pedals. The Time ATAC MX8 Carbon are among the high-end pedals for off-road. XLC builds clipless pedals with both SPD and Look system. Other interesting manufacturers for MTB clipless pedals are HT, Magped and Hope.

Road bike clipless pedals

The inexpensive Shimano SPD SL PD R540 pedals are suitable for entry-level road cycling. Ambitious road cyclists, however, these pedals will be too heavy. The Look Keo 2 Max have a good price-performance ratio. In the high-end range for road cyclists are the Speedplay Zero. From Look there are the X-Track Race pedals made of carbon. They are extremely light and are just as far ahead when it comes to clipless pedals for the road bike.

6. are there road bike pedals without click?

Even if clipless pedals are very popular in the road bike sector, there are also small pedals without click. For example, city or trekking pedals can also be mounted on the road bike. They are also quite small and light. Grip is to be generated by non-slip rubber inserts on the standing surfaces. The general name for pedals without click system is platform pedals. Bear paws, also called flat pedals, are wide, sturdy pedals. They contain prongs and metal pins on the standing surface. Shoes with profile have thereby particularly much grip during the journey. If you ride a road bike and want to slowly get used to riding with clipless pedals, you can first mount combination pedals and ride them with MTB clipless pedal shoes.

As a click novice, it is easier to learn the process with MTB shoes. MTB click shoes have a softer sole than road shoes. The cleats are recessed in the sole, as they are smaller than in road shoes. Running is easier with the MTB shoes. In addition, the force it takes to click in can be adjusted lower. Incidentally, there are also systems that are suitable for both MTB pedals, as well as for road bike pedals. In the road bike sector, you will hardly find an ambitious athlete who rides without clipless pedal system. Road cyclists like to use the many advantages such as the lighter weight of clipless pedals as well as the ideal positioning of their feet and better acceleration. By not slipping off the pedals, a higher cadence can be achieved. Climate systems are standard on the road bike.

7. can I ride clipless pedals on the e-bike ?

Doubts about whether clipless pedals are suitable for the E-bike have their raison d'être. After all, you have to be particularly careful with an E-bike . A delay in putting your foot down can really hurt here. E-bikes are usually heavier and accelerate faster than conventional bikes of any kind. Nevertheless, clipless pedals on e-bikes make perfect sense. Precisely because e-bikes are heavier, clipless pedals can provide more stability and safety when accelerating.

You can now of course mount on your bike at home clipless pedals. Or you can get a new bike ;) Feel free to take a look at our website. There you will find your new dream bike - whether with or clipless pedals! If you have any questions, our team is always there for you. Until then, we wish you: Happy browsing, happy cycling!