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What Type Of Bike Pedals Should I Use?


Cyclist on a mountain bike, mountain biker
Anna Henly/Photodisc/Getty Images
Question: What Type Of Bike Pedals Should I Use?
Bike Pedals come in three main types, Clipless, platform, and cage. Each type has its place in the industry, but when you're looking for new pedals or buying a bike, the bike pedals you get can make a big difference in how you ride, and how your bike performs.

After all, bike pedals make up possably the most important connection between you and your bike.

Answer: For the average XC and trail rider, clipless bike pedals are usually the best choice. With clipless bike pedals, you snap your foot into place on the pedal. A quick side rotation of the foot releases the connection allowing you to get off the bike or put a foot down.

These bike pedals provide a very stable connection to the bike that allows you to pedal more efficiently. With clipless bike pedals you can use your leg muscles to power the cranks in a more efficient full circle.

Some riders also prefer these bike pedals because they hold your foot to the pedal even in the roughest terrain and they make it easier to hop over obstacles.

If people didn't occasionally crash without getting out of these bike pedals in time, clipless bike pedals would be the only pedals people would use.

The second most common bike pedal type is the toeclip or cage style bike pedal. Honestly, these are usually only found on lower end bikes because they are cheaper for the manufacturer. With cage style bike pedals you slip your foot into a cage that has a strap that adjusts around the top of your foot.

When properly adjusted, cage style bike pedals are slightly harder to get in and out of than clipless style pedals and are not nearly as efficient.

Finally, platform or flat style bike pedals offer no attachment between the foot and the pedal. These pedals are designed to provide a good amount of grip between the pedal and the shoe but that is all you get.

As you might guess, with platform bike pedals, pedaling efficiency is compromised. This becomes readily apparent during technical climbs, but there are some great reasons to use platforms.

Platform bike pedals offer instant removal of the foot for any reason and with no obstructions. This makes platform bike pedals ideal for beginners as well as for riders who want to be able to put a foot down often or very quickly.

Most riders who ride with platforms learn to compensate for the lack of connection between foot and pedal. The inefficiencies of platform bike pedals are not as bad as most people who ride with clipless pedals think they are, but even the best platform bike pedals will never match clipless.

Platform bike pedals are very popular among freeriders, downhillers, and dirt jumpers but are by no means exclusive to these ride categories.

So what pedals should you get?

if you want to do a lot of mountain biking, you don't think you will be in high risk situations where you might need a foot available very quickly, and you don't mind a brief learning curve while getting used to releasing from your pedals, get clipless style bike pedals.

Don't get cage style pedals. If you have to use cages, make sure you adjust them properly. Too tight and you'll get stuck, too loose and you might as well just use platforms, which is what I suggest anyway if you're not going to use clipless.

Use platforms if you are going to ride stunts or any other high stakes terrain. Platforms are also great for beginners who aren't ready to make the move to clipless and for riders who simply like a little extra freedom.

When it comes to clipless pedals, we recommend pedals with good mud clearing capabilities and low lubrication and maintenance requirements. We also recommend clipless pedals that have atleast a minimal amount of platform for the shoe to rest on.

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