Best clipless pedals for triathlon

3 of this year’s best clipless pedals, tested and rated by our expert reviewer

Best clipless pedals review

Already a convert or thinking about foraying into clipped-in comfort? Either way, Rob Banino has clicked on the cleats and tested three sets…

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Why are clipless pedals called clipless?

What are the advantages of using clipless pedals?

  

Clipless (or, more accurately, clip-in) pedals attach to your cycling shoe, keeping your feet firmly on the pedal and therefore allowing you to use energy more efficiently.  Weight differences between pedals tend to be so small that it’s not worth the extra cash for high-end models; most manufacturers use a very similar mechanism on all their pedals, with the only change being the materials used. 

Shimano 105 SPD-SL Carbon

£109.99

Shimano’s 105 SPD-SL Carbon pedals are the biggest and heaviest here at 274g. Their broad bodies have been built from carbon but they still end up over 20g heavier than the Look Keo 2 Max Carbon pedals. The steel spring mechanisms mean most of their weight is at the back so they hang at a convenient angle to make entry easy. It takes less pressure to get your feet into these than into the Look pedals but they need more of a push than the Time Xpressos.

Foot retention is rock solid, however, and although the yellow-tipped cleats supplied allow 6° float, it feels like less than that. You really notice the retention when it comes to unclipping – you’re not in danger of slipping out of any of the pedals here but getting out of the 105s takes noticeably more effort. Which is something to bear in mind when you’re approaching T2.

Verdict: bigger and heavier pedals that are easy to get into but harder to get out of 80%

Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk

  

Look Keo 2 Max Carbon

£94.99

Look’s Keo 2 pedals have had a facelift. The steel faceplates on these carbon-bodied pedals have been stretched outwards and upwards, giving them their broad appearance. The new shape is to provide a bigger platform to push against and results in a faceplate 60mm wide, an increase of about 3mm over the previous model. Any difference it makes is imperceptible through your feet, however, and in a practical sense it’s intangible.

The new Keo 2 Max are a smart pair of pedals, nevertheless – they make an unmistakable snappy click upon entry, use steel springs for simple tension adjustment and weigh 253g. The worst you can say about them is the carbon body only saves a few grams over the cheaper plastic-bodied pedals and the facelift has deprived them of their distinctive looks. lookcycle.com

Verdict: positive entry and exit but the new look offers little improvement 83%

Find out more information at www.lookcycle.com

Time Xpresso 6

 £99.99

Swapping steel springs for carbon blades saves enough weight to make Time’s Xpresso 6 pedals the lightest here – 218g for the pair. It takes next to no pressure to engage these good-looking pedals but they’re by no means the easiest to get into. The main problem is that they’re too evenly balanced so they don’t hang at a convenient angle and often need to be flipped about to get them into a suitable position. The other gripe is that entry feels vague and sounds dull compared to the other pedals here – the only indication you get is a soft ‘thunk’, rather than the snappy clicks produced by Shimano and Look. Once you’re in, though, your feet are perfectly secure in Xpresso 6 pedals and comparatively free to move about – laterally and rotationally – without disengaging. In short: great in use but getting into them can be tricky, especially if you’re rushing out of T1.time-sport.com

Verdict: light and plenty of float but they’re not the easiest for gaining entry 75%

Buy from www.merlincycles.com

How to pedal efficiently

Is there a ‘right’ way for triathletes to pedal?

A triathlete’s guide to bike cadence

For lots more of the best tri kit currently available, check out our triathlon gear guides

Best clipless pedals review 2015

Already a convert or thinking about foraying into clipped-in comfort? Either way, Mike Anderson has clicked on the cleats and tested five sets…

Clipless (or, more accurately, clip-in) pedals attach to your cycling shoe, keeping your feet firmly on the pedal and therefore allowing you to use energy more efficiently. It’s a two-part system, so if you choose, say, a set of Speedplay-specific shoes (like the Gaerne Composite G.Platinum’s pictured), you’ll be committed to those pedals. 

Three-bolt shoes can, however, be used with Speedplay cleats using an adapter – worth noting if you’d like to try both but don’t want to be stuck with one. Or you could just buy more bike shoes! Weight differences between pedals tend to be so small that it’s not worth the extra cash for high-end models; most manufacturers use a very similar mechanism on all their pedals, with the only change being the materials used. 

Speedplay Zero Cromoly

Price: £109 from www.i-ride.co.uk

A complete departure from the other pedals on test, Speedplay has an entirely different engagement system that can take a little bit of getting used to if you come from another pedal design. On Look-style pedals, the cleat engages when you put the nose into position and press down with your heel. Here, though, the cleat engages at the front and back. 

The pedals are also double-sided, meaning there’s slightly less messing about needed, and you can adjust float – in other words, how far your heel can move in or out from the central position – at the cleat by adjusting two small screws, allowing 0–15° pivot depending on your preference. You can then limit float in a specific direction. So, if you wanted, you could have zero float inwards and max outwards.

The point is that Speedplay offers a range of adjustability unmatched in the market. Plus you can use its cleats with any three-bolt shoe, despite the four-bolt mounting system, as the V2 cleats come with an adapter. We tested ours using both the adapter cleats and a pair of Speedplay-specific Gaerne shoes and they worked well with both.

Verdict: Excellent double-sided pedals with unmatched adjustability, 85%

Exustar E-PR2CKTI

Price: £199 from www.rsi-cycles.co.uk

Exustar has a huge range of Look Keo-compatible road pedals, starting at £40 and going all the way up to these very expensive offerings. The pedal body is a carbon fibre/nylon composite designed to be hard-wearing despite the lack of a metal plate on the contact point between cleat and pedal.

However, that does help to keep the weight down to just 100g per pedal, which is really rather impressive. Also helping in the weight stakes is the titanium axle which, as with the Mavics, is another reason for the huge price tag. Although Exustar claims that the contact area is larger than a standard road pedal, from a quick comparison it’s clear that both the Look Keo Blade 2 and Shimano 105 pedals on test have larger contact areas. 

The dual-bearing system is also sealed, which means you won’t have a huge amount of maintenance to do. They’re a really nice set of pedals to use, and the classic Look-esque clip system’s extremely capable.

Verdict: Very nice set of pedals, but with a huge price tag, 80%

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