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As with many cycling-related topics, there is no unified agreement in cycling communities about what the best clipless pedals for beginners are. The reason being is that everybody’s needs and skills are different and what works for one person will not necessarily work for the other.
To choose the clipless pedals that will work for you, we suggest to:
For example, If you are not very confident on your bike, then going for fully clipless pedals can be quite dangerous. On the other hand, if your bike handling abilities are great and you cycle regularly for at least 15 miles per session then trying clipless pedals is not a bad idea at all.
For beginners we suggest 3 types of clipless pedals to choose from:
Hybrid pedals – clipless and flat at the same time
These are perfect for cyclists who are still learning to handle the bike and don’t feel comfortable with being fully clipped in. Also, you can use these pedals with your regular shoes. Essentially, you get the best of both worlds and these pedals are also great for a smooth transition into the fully clipless option.
Clipless mountain biking pedals
If you are a road cyclist, don’t let the name “mountain biking” scare you off. In reality, a lot of road cyclists prefer MTB shoes and clipless pedals to road ones. The main reason for this is that MTB shoe shoes come with a recessed cleat (hidden into the sole), which allows you to walk while off the bike. This is actually a really good benefit for many people. As a beginner, you will also get the benefit of easier clipping in and out because of a double-sided pedal design.
Clipless road pedals
The last option you can choose from as a beginner is the road clipless pedals. This is the most popular type of pedals for road cycling and many beginners get used to them after a few rides. However, we would suggest going for this type of pedal system if your bike handling skills are really good and you plan to spend a few hours per week on your bike with minimum walking in between.
Keep in mind that all of the clipless pedals require cycling-specific shoes and cleats (most pedals are sold with cleats already). While shopping for cycling-specific shoes make sure they are compatible with the type of pedals you bought or about to buy. For more information check out the frequently asked question section at the bottom of this article.
Shimano Dual EH500 SPD/Platform Pedals are perfect for beginners looking to upgrade their current flats. You get the benefit of a flat surface on one side and a clipless SPD system on the other.
They require little maintenance, allow you to practice clipping in and out and the black color will match most bikes.
If you are still not very confident with your bike handling abilities, plan to commute on your bike, and will need to walk from time to time while cycling, then these pedals are a great choice.
Shimano M324 Combination Pedals are ideal for cyclists who want to use regular cycling shoes from time to time and also don’t feel comfortable diving fully into the clipless pedals just yet.
With these pedals, you get a flat platform on one side and the SPD clipless option on the other. However, to fully benefit from the clipless side, you will need to get MTB cycling shoes.
These pedals are very sturdy, price competitive, and require little maintenance.
Shimano PD-M520 Pedals are used by many road cyclists even though they are primarily made for mountain biking. They are easy to clip in and out, which attracts many beginners and you also get the benefit of being able to walk easier in the compatible MTB cycling shoes.
Overall, these pedals are durable, lightweight, relatively inexpensive are easy to maintain. They are not as efficient as a fully clipless road pedal system, but this is not a big issue for many riders.
Shimano PD-ME700 Clipless is another great MTB pedal choice that could be used for road cycling. Similar to the Shimano PD-M520 Pedals they are easy to clip in and out and you can get the benefit of being able to walk easier in the compatible MTB cycling shoes.
The wider surface area provides more efficient power transfer and secure clipping in mechanist. On the downside, they are slightly heavier and expensive than some other alternatives.
Look’s Keo Classic 3 road pedals is a great pair of pedals for beginners ready to tackle the fully clipless system. These come with a tension adjustability mechanism so you can tighten or loosen them depending on your bike handling skills.
They are one-sided, which is similar to SPD SLs, and come with a 3-bolt design for attaching cleats. There are 3 types of Look cleats with different angles of float: black = 0°, grey = 4.5°, red = 9°. This particular pair comes with one set of grey (4.5° float) cleats. We explain what float is at the bottom of this article.
Overall, Look’s Keo Classic 3 is an excellent choice for the money, and most amateur cyclists are happy with them.
Shimano pedals are one of the most popular cycling pedal brands and the majority of cyclists prefer this safe and reliable option. This particular pair is high quality, reliable, durable, and a choice you will not regret.
Similar to Look’s Keo Classic 3, these pedals include a tension adjustability mechanism so you can tighten or loosen them depending on your bike handling skills.
These pedals are compatible with 3 color cleat choices. Each color represents a different degree of float ( red = 0°, blue = 2°, yellow = 6°). This particular pair comes with a yellow cleat, which is the best option for a beginner.
Upgrading your pedals to clipless can greatly improve your riding experience. As a beginner, you are faced with a few types of pedals to choose from. What works for your friends might not be the best choice for you. When choosing the best clipless pedals we suggest assessing your bike handling skills and thinking about the type of cycling you plan to do.
We hope you found this article helpful. Stay healthy, happy, and active.
Frequently asked questions:
The best clipless pedals for beginners differ depending on the bike handling skills and the type of cycling you want to do. All of the pedals have upsides and downsides, but we think that these 3 options are the best for beginners to choose from:
Upgrading to clipless pedals can definitely be a good idea, but it of course depends on your cycling style and needs. You need to take into account the duration, distance, and frequency of your rides, your bike handling skills, and what your typical cycling sessions look like. If you cycle a few times per week regularly and your bike handling skills are good then starting with clipless pedals is a really good idea.
Clipless pedals are meant to be used with cycling-specific shoes. In combination, they really make a difference in power transfer efficiency. The clipless pedals ensure your foot is looked in an ideal position and a stiff road cycling shoe sole creates a better power transfer. Also, with clipless pedals, you can pedal not only by pressing down but also while pulling your leg up.
Clipless pedals can be more dangerous than flat pedals, especially for beginners. They require the additional skill of clipping in and out. This can be especially hard for new cyclists who are still learning to handle their bikes. That’s why it is always a good idea to first try clipless pedals on a parking lot or in areas with little or no traffic. After a few rides, you should be pretty comfortable with clipless pedals and the risk of injuries or dangerous situations on the road should decrease.
SPD stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics and nowadays commonly means mountain-biking clipless pedals. This type of pedal is also clipless meaning you need to clip in your shoes into the pedals, but they are using a 2-bolt cleat design. The road cycling pedals are mostly using a 3-bolt cleat design, have a wider surface area, and provide a slightly more secure clipping-in mechanism.
Float in pedals means how much wiggle room you have while clipped in. However, it is mostly determined by the cleats and not pedals themselves. Most pedals come with an included colored cleat system. For example, Shimano Road pedals (SPD SL) are compatible with 3 color cleat choices. Each color represents a different degree of float (red = 0°, blue = 2°, yellow = 6°).
Float on cleats means how much wiggle room you have while clipped in. For example, a 6° of float means that your feet can move sideways 3° in each direction. The higher the float the more sideways movement you have while clipped in. As a beginner, we recommend going for a higher degree of float.
We recommend all beginners start with cleats that offer some degree of float. Starting with a 0-degree float can cause unnecessary strain on your joints and lead to injuries. Also, it is quite easy to attach your cleats incorrectly and an additional level of float will provide some wiggle room for your foot. This was you are decreasing the risk of injury.
Despite what the name “clipless” suggests these pedals are meant to be clipped into your cycling shoes or stepped in. They are also called clipped-in pedals and often referred to as “road bike pedals”. In the past, cycling pedals used toe clips as a way to attach the foot to the pedal. The new biding technology that appeared did not use toe clips and was named “clipless”. The design was actually borrowed from ski bindings and the name “clipless” stayed till now.
Tension adjustability means that pedals have a mechanism to make clipping in easier or harder. As a beginner, we recommend going for an easy release option. Once you get comfortable with clipless pedals you can tighten your pedals and clipping out will be harder, but your foot will be locked in more securely.
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