The Best Clipless Pedals: Taking Your Cycling to The Next Level

Best clipless pedals
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

You can increase your riding experience to new heights by taking a chance with one of the best clipless pedals. How may you ask?

While there are many ways to improve the way you ride, these nifty puzzle pieces can assist your power transfer, add more efficiency to your ride, and increase your security.

Whether you ride on the roads or intense terrain, you can count on these pedals to create a free flowing excursion that anyone can enjoy.

What Are Clipless Pedals?

Many people may not understand what this term means, exactly, and it can be even more confusing for those who find out how they work. Despite being called “clipless,” you actually clip in to the cleats on the pedals, similar to how you strap your feet into ski bindings when you’re skiing.

Clipless pedals

The way it works is that a plastic or metal cleat is mounted onto the bottom of your shoe and is snapped into place on the pedals with a set of spring-loaded clips. This may seem restrictive in the way you pedal, but these pedals are anything but.

They can provide you with a high level of control over your bike so that you can minimize the risk to yourself.

Two Kinds of Clipless Pedals

Just like there are on-road and off-road bikes, there are also two different kinds of clipless pedals.

Kinds of Clipless Pedals

They are called walkable and road.

  • Walkable clipless pedals: these are the most popular, and feature cleats that are recessed into the bottoms of your shoes. This way, your cleats don’t come in contact with the ground while you walk so that it’s easier to get around when you’re not only our bike.
    These re perfect for off-road biking, commuting, and touring. Many of them use double-sided pedals so that you can use either side depending on whether you’re wearing regular street shoes or special cleated shoes.
  • Road clipless pedals: these are designed to be used on road bikes so that the weight is reduced and you can go faster. The pedals and shoes in this system are made to be stiffer and lighter, as the shoe soles aren’t lugged.

How Can Clipless Pedals Better My Ride?

Many pedals have different features. However, the overall improvement of the attachable pedals do not compare to traditional pedals.

Clipless pedals benefits

Take a look at the following differences that set the clip-less pedals away from the pedals of the past.

  • Use Your Power Train Like You Mean it! When you make the change to the new attachable pedals, you can guarantee a strong connection to the power train of your bike. This connection is extremely weak with normal pedals.
    Your legs are negatively working against each other with traditional pedals. With clipless pedals however, your legs are working together because there is no pressure because your foot is attached to the pedal.
    You have a continuous cycle that can use your energy to move your bike swiftly as you pedal.
  • Stay Efficient By Lessening Your Energy Output. With your foot attached to your pedal, your stroke is improved compared to when you are riding with a normal pedal.
    With a traditional pedal, the downward motion is what keeps you going. With attached pedals you are able to lift your foot and the entire motion powers your ride. You are also engaging other muscles when lifting the pedal so you have a better workout. By taking the spotlight off your quads for a while, you can enjoy riding for a longer period of time and strengthen other muscles in the process.
  • Be Secure While You Ride. When you have more control over your body and bike, you can avoid hazards by dipping, dodging, or bunny hopping around small obstacles in your way.
    Because your feet are attached to your pedals, you can take control in dangerous situations. With traditional pedals, your feet can easily bounce off the pedals, leaving you unable to respond. When you are attached to your bike you have a greater chance of staying safe.

Now that you know a few of the great benefits you can reap with attachable pedals, consider the following products.

The best clipless pedals can fit your style of riding and your cycling habits. To find the best option for you, use the following information to find your ideal attachable pedals.

Top Products of 2017

Shimano PD-M520 Pedals

Shimano PD-M520 Pedals

Price: $31

Weight: 1.2 lb.

Dimensions: 1.9 x 4.6 x 6.2 in.

Specific Features: one size fits all, steel and aluminum construction, comes with cleats for your shoes.

Best Use: Works for mountain biking, cycling, and recreational biking.

Description: The PD-M520 Pedals are a great option because they are easy to use and offer the same entry and release mechanism for each use. The price is very reasonable so there is never a complete loss if there is a failure.

However, this product is similar to those of higher prices when the pedals are well lubed and taken care of.  Cleaning and lubrication is standard and doesn’t take much effort.

For convenience, each pair of pedals comes with a set of cleats to attach to your own tennis shoes. However, you are provided with the option of buying compatible shoes that attach to the pedals or your own set of cleats for your own tennis shoes. Because the pedals are one size fits all these are perfect for the family.

Shimano PD-T400

Shimano PD-T400

Price: $35-$70

Weight: 1.2 lbs.

Dimensions: 10 x 7 in

Specific Features: dual-sided entry, pop up cages to grab and release your cleats easily and quickly, adjustable spring tension, included cleats.

Best Use: Can be used in accordance with bike touring, commuting, and leisure riding.

Description: This Shimano PD-T400 was created to be an easy product to use. The pedals are flat and a bit chunky in size. While the pedals are double-sided, the gripping material is extremely light and easy to release.

This product is ranked so highly because any user can engaged the cleat to the pedal without much confusion. Many people enjoy using these pedals for winter bikes and commuter bikes regardless of their bulky appearance.

These pedals are relatively cheap, so you wont have to spend a pretty penny and can invest in a sleeker style of pedals that provide a smoother ride. For those who do not ride for speed, this product is perfect for them. The PDT400 is available in 2 colors. You can get either black or white to match your bike.

Time Xpresso 2 Pedals

Time Xpresso 2 Pedals

Price: $53

Weight: .85 lbs.

Dimensions: 2.36 x 7.48 x 5.51 in.

Specific Features: extremely lightweight, easy to adjust and engage for your highest quality performance, large area of platforms for stability, supportive pedaling platform.

Best Use: Cycling, bike touring, and commuting on the road.

Description: These Time Xpresso 2 Pedals are great for riders who are new to riding on the road with attachable pedals. They are light, not very bulky, and easy to adjust depending on your own feet preferences.

While the pedals are light, they are not the lightest. However, they are the perfect weight for a perfect bike excursion. While almost every clip-less pedal is hard to get adjusted to, the pay off is worth putting in the time and effort to learn.

The Xpresso 2 is seemingly durable, but the low price leads many to believe the durability is limited. The pedals have a steel axle and a spring blade for retention, but they are not made to last long with a lot of use.

These pedals are perfect for learners who don’t want to invest too much money right off the bat in their biking journey.

Shimano M324 Clipless SPD-Flat MTB Pedals

Shimano M324 Clipless SPD-Flat MTB Pedals

Price: $39

Weight: 1.17 lbs.

Dimensions: 2 x 5 x 7 lbs.

Specific Features: sleek aluminum body, cleat retention adjuster for riding on any terrain. caged platform and SPD pedal on either side of the pedal for quick trips down the road for recreational use and go on extensive rides.

Best Use: Everything from easy and conventional riding to long and extensive trips on a variety of terrains.

Description: These are solid pedals for a dependable commute and biking excursion. Switching between cleats and flats is not a typical option for bikers, so the Shimano M324 Clipless SPD-Flat MTB Pedals is rare and dependable for a reasonable price.

These pedals do not offer much color and style and they only come in one size. With such basic features, it may be disappointing to some that they can get pedals that look similar to this for a cheaper price.

However, these pedals are constructed more thoroughly than the similar looking cheaper options. They will also last longer, so you are getting a better quality for your money if you choose the PD-M324 for your commuting or long distance touring.

Look KEO 2 Max Blade Road Pedals

Look KEO 2 Max Blade Road Pedals

Price: $63

Weight: .95 lbs.

Dimensions: 2 x 5 x 11 in.

Specific Features: made with a body of composite polyamide and features stainless steel wear plates and axel, cleats are compatible with the pedal and matches the shoes made specifically for the pedals, stainless steel cleat contact area.

Best Use: Mainly used for road training and racing.

Description: This is an extremely durable product that offers a lightweight and lower price compared to similar options. This Look KEO 2 Max Blade Road Pedals is different than coil-spring pedals because there is no adjustment screw.

The engagement and disengagement can be difficult if you have never used other KEO products, but once you get a hang of it, it is worth it. You can also change the blade if you want to alter the resistance.

The larger width of the platform, gives the rider more support for an easier ride. Instead of focusing the power of pedaling in one specific spot, it is spread throughout the foot.

Many may call this stiff, but it can also be considered structure. With this structure, there is no rocking when riding. Getting used to the stiff feeling is easy to overcome with the KEO 2 Max.

Time Xpresso 15 Carbon/Titanium Road Pedals

Time Xpresso 15 Carbon Titanium Road Pedals

Price: $397

Weight: 1.3 lbs.

Dimensions: 3 x 5.5 x 8 in.

Specific Features: extremely lightweight, easy to adjust, ergonomics are easy to engage between the pedal and cleat, carbon pedal body and a titanium pedal spindle, platform is large and sturdy for easy clipping,  resistant rubber edges.

Best Use: Bike tours, riding through different terrain, and commuting

Description: While these Time Xpresso 15 Carbon/Titanium Road Pedals may be more expensive than others on this list, they offer an easy going ride that allows the clipping in and twisting out to be a breeze.

The pedals are lightweight that encourage excessive use. However, with excessive use, the cleats and rubber wear off faster than other brands. Considering what these babies are made of, the hollow titanium axels and carbon bodies are lighter than most.

This can be a huge turn on to some riders. The Xpresso 15 also offers a carbon strip instead of a metal spring to provide tension that works well for these pedals. The float with these pedals stands above the rest, giving you a free flowing ride.

So even though this set of pedals is more expensive than most, they offer a durable ride and a reliable metal.

Speedplay Zero Stainless Steel Pedals

Speedplay Zero Stainless Steel Pedals

Price: $254

Weight: 1. 16 lbs.

Dimensions: 1.97 x 6.18 x 6.3 in.

Specific Features: Similar to the Zero Titanium pedals, Speedplay Zero Stainless Steel Pedals are identical except for the stainless steel spindle. By taking the place of the titanium spindles, the Zero Stainless Steel creates a lower cost pedal.

Unlike many other pedals, the Zero Stainless offers a float up to 15 degrees. The pedals are double sided and give the rider a lightweight, and easy engagement and disengagement.

These pedals also are equipped with a cornering clearance of 37 degrees for high speeds.

Best Use: Criterium racing, commuting, cycling, marathons, and races.

Description: The Speedplay’s circular shaped pedals are a great choice. However, they are innovative in more than the distinct shape. Instead of the retention mechanisms being located in the pedal, they are located in the cleat.

The cleat is attached to the pedal with four bolts instead of the normal two or three bolt pattern. They are also dual-sided, which is not unheard of, but is also not a trend.

While it may seem you need the compatible shoes, the Speedplay brand comes with a choice of adapters for most soles of shoes, so there is nothing to worry about if the cleats are a little out of your price range.

Another great benefit is the amount of float that these pedals offer. You can align your foot however it feels most comfortable.

Speedplay Nanogram Zero Titanium Pedals

Speedplay Nanogram Zero Titanium Pedals

Price: $1190

Weight: 1.1 lbs.

Dimensions: 10.43 x 13.39 x 17.91 in.

Specific Features: lightweight, features a low stack height, unbelievable cornering clearance, aluminum bowties.

Best Use: road biking and biking that includes quick turns

Description: Similar to the Zero Stainless, the mechanism is in the cleat rather than the pedal, which makes the Speedplay Nanogram Zero Titanium Pedals very simple and easy to use.

The Zero Titanium also has up to 15 degrees of free float with an elementary attachment to and from the pedals. However, this Zero Titanium is equipped with everything to save the weight of the pedals for an airy ride.

Because the axels are titanium, they are lighter (not to mention, more expensive) and they also use aluminum for the screws and cleat engagement instead of steel.

They come in one size and work like a charm if you are willing to pay a pretty penny. If lightweight gear and last minute decisions are important to you, these pedals may be worth the extra shillings.

Xpedo GFX DH Clipless Platform

Xpedo GFX DH Clipless Platform

Price: $130

Weight: 1.5 lbs.

Dimensions: 3 x 5 x 5.5 in.

Specific Features: chromoly steel spindle, dual-sided, flat pedal, 4 adjustable pins, an aluminum body, 3 cartridge pedals, come in a variety of colors.

Best Use: Cycling, racing, commuting, and recreational biking.

Description: The Xpedo GFX DH Clipless Platform  offers the users with a wide aluminum body that is easy to get adjusted to. The mechanism is spring-loaded and makes sure the bow of the pedal is higher than the back so the engagement and disengagement is a breeze.

When you are locked in the pedal, your cleats provide up to 6 degrees of float for your comfort. Even though the pedal is flat, the aluminum body offers a great deal of traction.

You can adjust the height and level of grip with ease.  These pedals are made to keep your feet in place while on rough terrain. Because the large platform, your feet get more support and you are locked in tightly while riding.

There are no opportunities for awkward moments of trying to readjust while riding. This reasonable priced offers is a pedal that can suit any rider in any terrain.

What Now?

Clipless pedals are a one of a kind invention that can help your cycling improve in many ways.  The array of product options are made to fit different individual’s needs and their budgets.

Choose your Clipless pedals

If you are interested in upgrading your cycling potential, attachable pedals are definitely the way to go. Now that you know the benefits clipless pedals can bring to your life, your next step is to go out and purchase the pair that fits your lifestyle best.

Once you get started, you won’t know how you were able to pedal without them. If there are any features or information you would have liked to be in this article please let us know below.


Jerry Mueller

Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.