A lot of bike owners aren’t aware of the difference something as seemingly insignificant as pedals can make to your riding style.
Most bikes will come with flat pedals as standard which have a lot of advantages but, if you’re looking for better power and speed, flats will only be able to get you so far.
Fortunately, there are better pedals out there! Switching to clipless pedals is a great way to improve your ride, especially if you do a lot of road riding or even some mountain biking.
Despite the name ‘clipless’, clipless pedals work by clipping onto your cycling shoes and locking your feet in place. This allows for more control, as well as more efficient pedaling power, so you can pedal faster and harder without worrying about your feet slipping off the pedals.
However, understanding the complicated terminology and knowing what features to look out for can be pretty daunting, so we’ve done all the hard work for you! Keep reading to find our top five clipless pedals on the market right now.
We’ve taken into consideration the price, design and additional features to find the best option for all budgets and needs.
We’ve also included a handy buyer’s guide to make things that much easier. Follow this simple guide, and you’ll be able to find the perfect pedals for you!
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
The Look Keo Classic 3 Road Pedals are the ideal option for beginners. They’re super easy to use with the option to adjust the cleat entry/release tension to a lower setting for easier clip in/out.
Not to mention, the surface area is nice and flat and larger than most clipless pedals, providing great pedaling stability.
These pedals make for a great first purchase if you’re just starting to transition from flats, the added stability and easy release means you’ll have much more confidence in your ride and the fear of slipping off or falling over when you come to a stop shouldn’t be a problem with these pedals.
With the Keo Classic 3, Look have created a new method of fitting the spindle into the pedal body for added durability, so you should be able to rely on these pedals for as long as you need them.
Made up of an oversized steel axle with miniature ball bearings and a needle bearing, these pedals also have improved wear resistance.
- Simple to use - adjust the cleat entry/release tension to low to make clipping out easy
- Stability - a larger, wide contact surface provides excellent pedaling stability even for beginners
- Affordability - reasonably priced option that doesn’t compromise on safety or style
- Durable - improved wear resistance thanks to an oversized steel axle and miniature bearings
- Float - these pedals don’t offer a fixed float, so there will always be some movement regardless of what float option you go for
Much like the Look Keo pedals, the Venzo Dual Function clipless pedals have a larger platform than most clipless pedals, ensuring better stability for the rider, making them another great option for riders that are less confident using clipless pedals.
As the name suggests they’re also dual-function pedals meaning you can ride them with both cleats and regular trainers depending on your preference.
So, if you’re going on a ride where you know you’ll need to get on and off the bike a lot and do a lot of walking in between riding, you have the option to ride with regular trainers instead of cleats which would be pretty uncomfortable.
On the other hand, you’ll still have the option to ride with cleats for long commutes or even road racing. Using them with cleats will allow for a more efficient energy transfer to the pedals, so you will notice the difference compared to regular cycling shoes.
These pedals will enable you to peddle faster and with more power. You can adjust the cleat tension too, for an easier clip in and out every time you ride. All you need to do is alter the screw on the side of the pedal!
What’s also great about the Venzo pedals is the super sturdy, quality aluminum alloy body because it is very strong but still looks great on any bike.
With quality replaceable pins, these pedals also have a great grip. They’re also compatible with Shimano SPD type cleats.
The Venzo pedals are also very lightweight without compromising on durability and the bearing is super smooth and reliable. Plus, they come with a very attractive two-year warranty!
- Dual-function - ride them with or without cleats to suit your individual needs
- Stability - large platform for increased stability, particularly useful for less confident riders
- Adjustable - cleat tension can be adjusted for easier clip in/out
- Durable - quality aluminum alloy body is super strong to last longer plus a 2-year warranty!
- Grip - quality replaceable pins for a great grip
- Platform - while these pedals do boast a good platform for stability, compared to other options in this review they are more on the narrow side
The Shimano SPD SL clipless pedals are a popular choice due to their technical features and affordability. They are another great option for less confident riders to try out clipless pedals without spending too much money.
Similarly to the Look Keo pedals, the Shimano SPD SL pedals use a three bolt cleat system.
Again, these pedals have a nice, broad platform making them comfortable to use while still offering greater power transfer, so you can still use them for road riding, commuting and even racing.
They’re compatible with Shimano SPD SL cleats and shoes and come with the option to adjust the cleat tension.
Also included with your purchase are six-degree angular float SPD SL cleats and screws. You can also purchase the cleats in three different colors and levels of float to suit you.
You can feel comfortable that these pedals will last you too, due to the robust steel axle and aluminum body and sealed cartridge bearing.
Moreover, these pedals require very little maintenance making them the perfect clipless pedals for casual riders looking for a good quality, low price option.
- Broad platform - broad platform increases stability while providing greater power transfer
- Adjustable tension - adjust the spring tension & cleat tension for easier clip in/out and comfort
- Extras - compatible with Shimano SPD SL cleats & six-degree angular float cleats and screws included
- Easy to use - very broad contact area for optimum pedaling power transfer
- Weight - these pedals aren’t particularly heavy, but they are not the most lightweight option, so that’s something to consider if weight is important to you
The Look Keo Blade Carbon Ceramic clipless pedals are slightly more complicated than others mentioned in this review, in terms of adjustability but, you do get to choose from specific cleat tensions as a result.
By using a carbon blade instead of the more common metal spring, it’s super lightweight, aerodynamic and powerful.
Acting as a leaf spring, it applies pressure against the rear retention clip to help keep your foot in place, allowing you to pedal faster and harder without worrying about your foot slipping off the pedal.
Included with these pedals are interchangeable blades that provide different levels of force, so you’ll be able to customize how easy it is to clip in and out.
These pedals come with a 12 mm blade installed, but you’ll have the option to swap to a 16 mm blade for harder release tension and a 20 mm blade for the track.
Simply slide the blade into the ridge on the front end of the pedals, and it will hook onto the rear retention clip. So, when force is applied at the rear, both ends are pushed together as it flexes.
The only downside is compared to other pedals, the Look Carbon Ceramic pedals are nowhere near as easy to adjust cleat tension.
Other pedals in this review can be adjusted by simply turning a screw, whereas these pedals require you to switch out different blades to find the right tension.
- Tension release adjustment - available in three tension release levels: 12, 16 & 20
- Carbon blade - super lightweight, aerodynamic & powerful for better foot placement
- Adjustable tension - adjust the spring tension & cleat tension for easier clip in/out and comfort
- Quality design - carbon blade ceramic has been redesigned around an oversized axle saving 2 watts at 100 RPM
- Adjustability - compared to other pedals on the market, adjusting the tension release is much more complex than simply turning a screw
The ultimate lightweight option are these Shimano Ultegra PD-R8000 Pedals. These pedals are very reasonably priced while coming close to the top end models in terms of design and performance.
Thanks to the adjustable spring, you can change the amount of force required to release your foot and three different cleats included allow you to customize the range of float from 0-6°.
The extra-wide carbon composite platform provides the rider with a large surface area, making clipping in much easier, so you’ll be able to roll away at a moments notice without worrying about clipping in quickly.
Plus, a larger surface also allows for better power transfer for more efficient pedaling and better distribution of pressure, so your feet will stay comfortable for longer. Not to mention better stability, even for new riders.
With a body made from durable, integrated stainless steel, these pedals prevent wear and reduce flex while providing a nice smooth surface for the cleats.
An adjustable entry/release tension also lets you reduce the tension for an easier release or heighten the tension for a more secure fit.
The combination of the quality materials and professional at a lower price design makes these pedals the perfect choice for serious riders that don’t want to break the bank.
- Lightweight - weighing only 248 g these are a great lightweight option that remain durable
- Extra-wide platform - allows for better power transfer, pressure distribution & stability
- Professional design - design mirrors top end models for a fraction of the price
- Durable - integrated stainless body plate reduces wear, weight and flex
- Clip in - some users found them tricker to clip in to quickly, at changing traffic lights, for example
When it comes to buying clipless pedals, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. Fortunately, we’ve compiled this handy buyer’s guide, so you know exactly what to look out for before settling on your new pedals. Keep reading to find out.
The size of the pedal surface area actually has a huge impact on a rider’s confidence and comfort when riding and even when stopped.
The larger or wider the platform, the better the relationship between your foot and the pedal. For example, beginners prefer a larger surface area because it provides better stability.
Another advantage to wide platforms is that you get better pressure distribution, so you won’t have to deal with hot spots on your feet from exerting too much pedaling pressure in one spot.
A larger platform will also often deliver the most efficient power transfer, allowing you to pedal faster and harder.
This is something that practically all clipless pedals will feature, but some have better systems than others.
This feature is particularly useful for new riders because it can allow for much easier clip in and out, making them feel more confident, particularly when stopping and starting quickly.
That being said, it can also be a very useful feature for more confident riders too because a stiffer release tension offers more security when pedaling during sprints.
The release tension will either be provided by a steel spring or a carbon spar. Traditionally, clipless pedals utilize a spring, but more high-end models will typically go for the carbon option.
There are pros and cons to both systems. Spring tension is great because to adjust the release tension all you need to do is tighten or loosen a screw situation to the side of the pedal.
However, a carbon tension system is much lighter and aerodynamic but, adjusting it requires swapping out carbon blades which takes longer and demands more of your time and effort.
It’s a good idea to choose a pedal system that offers a good range of release tension, so you have the option to adjust it as you become more confident over time.
The ‘float’ of a pedal system is measured in degrees and refers to how rigidly your feet are locked into place. A cleat and pedal system with a fixed float will completely ‘fix’ your foot into place with no room for movement, this is also referred to as zero-degree float.
This can be what some riders want, but others will benefit from a bit more room for maneuver.
A higher float will allow the rider to move their heel from side-to-side a little more without completely releasing their foot from the pedal.
If you’re not sure how much float you would like, it’s recommended that you go for a cleat and pedal system that offers multiple float options, so you can try them all and decide on which best suits your riding style.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have to wear cleats on clipless pedals?
Wearing cleats with clipless pedals is recommended but riding without them isn’t impossible, it will likely feel pretty uncomfortable and unstable though.
That being said, there are different types of clipless pedals to choose from and some will require cleats more than others.
Going for single-sided clipless pedals will require cleats to be able to use them properly due to their minimalist design and small surface area. Without cleats your feet will be prone to slipping off the pedals which can be frustrating and dangerous at times.
Other clipless pedals include double-sided models. These are flatter on one side, so you have the choice to go between either side depending on which best suits you at the time.
So, if you know your ride will involve lots of walking and getting on and off the bike, just using the flat side of the pedals will allow you to wear regular shoes. But, if you plan to use your bike for long-distance riding like commuting, you can utilize the cleats for a more secure ride.
Why do people use clipless pedals?
Clipless pedals are great for lots of reasons and are a popular choice for professional riders and causal enthusiasts alike.
They’re popular because they provide a firm grip between the rider and the pedals, allowing them to feel more comfortable and stable while being able to pedal more efficiently.
They also provide consistent foot positioning, so your feet won’t fly off the pedals once you reach certain speeds, so you can pedal faster with more power, which is much more energy efficient.
Clipless pedals ultimately offer more control and a more professional feel.