Road bike pedals: 6 of the best tested and rated
Master the art of clipless pedalling and take advantage of increased power transfer from leg to drivetrain when cycling. We clip into six of the best...
There are plenty of pedal system options on the market, but many of us stick to the cheap set of SPDs that come with our first bike. If you are in the market, though, you need to know what you’re looking for. If you want float (your feet’s ability to move on the pedals), Time and Speedplay are the two best options: Time offer a 5° angle of angular float and another 2.5° lateral float that you can’t change, while Speedplay have a 15° range so you can adjust from fixed right up to that limit. But be aware that Time also have an extremely light clip-in and release mechanism. Whereas one of the best things about Look-style pedals, inc. the Shimano, Exustar and Ritchey pedals here, is that they have adjustable clip in/release tension, making them ideal for all manner of riding situations.
Shimano Dura-Ace 9000
With a wide platform, adjustable tension and an 8.8mm stack height, Shimano’s Dura-Ace platform is what makes the Japanese manufacturers’ pedals so great. At 249g for the pair, they’re not the lightest, but they more than make up for it with reliability and comfort. We’ve run a set of these for the last three years with no trouble at all, needing little maintenance and even surviving a couple of crashes. The large platform makes for a very solid and comfortable pedalling experience, while the adjustable tension is a must if you have a preference on the ease-of-release. They’re definitely our favourites on the road, but with Shimano’s Ultegra and 105s providing a similar level of performance for a marginal weight increase and considerable price drop,
it’s hard to give these top marks.
Verdict: Fantastic pedals, but the bargain is to be found with the Ultegra versions 85%
Speedplay Zero Aero Stainless
The clue is in the name, but Speedplay’s Zero Aero’s USP is that they’re more aerodynamic than your average pedal. Not that we’ve ever been deeply concerned that pedal drag is holding us back, but Speedplay have nonetheless addressed it. They don’t put a number on the aero savings, though, so we’ll have to take their word for it. One claim we can definitely verify is that the new cleats are easier to walk in, which is great if you tend to enter/exit transition with your shoes on your feet, rather than attached to the bike. If you like float in your cleats, Speedplay offer by far the greatest amount as well as adjustability. The pedals themselves are light at 204g but on the flipside the cleats are easily the heaviest here, which brings the system’s total weight up.
Verdict: Quality pedals and a good overall system, but pricey 79%
LifeLine Essential Road
At 1p shy of twenty quid these are the cheapest pedals on test by quite some margin. Sure, they might be a bit blocky and not the prettiest on the eye, but if you simply want a set to get out on the bike with – or are new to clipless pedals – cost is probably much higher up your list than aesthetics. The release tension is adjustable, which is a great feature considering the price, and the hold they provide is firm enough to keep your feet securely in place. The cleats are a little industrial, however, lacking rubber bumpers that’d make them easier to walk
in. On the plus side, though, they’re made to be sturdy, so the chances are they’ll last you several seasons’ worth of training and racing. Sure, they’re pretty heavy at 291g, but what more could you demand for £20?
Verdict: Solid, entry-level pedals that perform efficiently – a bargain! 71%
Continue reading our guide to this year's best clipless pedals (2/2)