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...

Credit: Enrique Díaz / 7cero / Movement / Getty Images

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.

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Shimano Dura-Ace 9000

£179.99 

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

£229.99 

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

£19.99 

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%

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Exustar E-PR2 CKTI

£79.99 

If you’re after a lightweight, affordable pedal set then you’ll struggle to do better than Exustar’s E-PR2s. Stand-alone, they’re not the biggest name in the pedal world, but when you consider they make the pedal bodies for Garmin’s Vectors, as well as LifeLine’s here, you know there’s some pedigree behind the brand. The pedal body on the E-PR2s is engineering thermoplastic, meaning it’s built to last and more durable than a carbon fibre equivalent. What really impressed us, though, was the weight. Exustar claim 266g for the pair, but on the scales they weighed in at 203g and only close to the original figure with cleats included (one fixed set and one with 6° of float come with the package). Engagement is secure, and the adjustable tension makes clipping in and out a doddle. 

Verdict: Spectacular on the scales, and great on the bike as well 89%  (220 BEST ON TEST)

Time Expresso 8 Pro

£119.99

Time’s pedal system is a little bit polarising; with easily the swiftest clip in/out feel of anything on test, some will love it, some might feel a little uneasy at its ease of efficacy. For us, there’s nothing functionally wrong with the system and it worked supremely well on the fly. The closure system uses a carbon blade, which is why the pedals are so light, and the strength of their hold was impressive. The cleats are difficult to walk in, though, and we know from experience they don’t tend to be that hard wearing either. Plus, the lack of a protective plate on the main body might keep things light, but makes us worry about how quickly these will wear with regular use. Still, they’re a different system that some may prefer to the more orthodox options here.

Verdict: Good pedals, but we have concerns over their durability 72%

Ritchey WCS Echelon Road

£105.00 

If you didn’t know Ritchey made pedals, you do now. In fact, they have two road models – these, and the even fancier Echelon Carbons. Here, Ritchey have opted to use alloy bodies rather than some kind of composite, resulting in one of the hardest-wearing pedals on test. Plus, they’re still only 257g for a set, so you don’t have to worry about weighing yourself down unduly by not choosing carbon. Those alloy bodies are complemented by a carbon retention clip, though, so you won’t be totally forgoing everyone’s favourite resin-infused treat. In use, the platform isn’t quite as large as the Dura-Ace pedals but is perfectly adequate. The cleat integration is excellent and the cleats supplied are of a high quality, which makes securing and clipping in/out an easy process. 

Ritchey WCS Echelon Road

£105.00 www.paligap.cc

If you didn’t know Ritchey made pedals, you do now. In fact, they have two road models – these, and the even fancier Echelon Carbons. Here, Ritchey have opted to use alloy bodies rather than some kind of composite, resulting in one of the hardest-wearing pedals on test. Plus, they’re still only 257g for a set, so you don’t have to worry about weighing yourself down unduly by not choosing carbon. Those alloy bodies are complemented by a carbon retention clip, though, so you won’t be totally forgoing everyone’s favourite resin-infused treat. In use, the platform isn’t quite as large as the Dura-Ace pedals but is perfectly adequate. The cleat integration is excellent and the cleats supplied are of a high quality, which makes securing and clipping in/out an easy process. 

Verdict: Quality set of pedals with a hard-wearing alloy body 83%

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