Best Pedals for Road Bike Beginners: Clipless or Flat Pedals?

Looking for the best pedals for road bike beginners? Then you came to the right place!

Today, we have selected the five best pedals for road bike beginners to help you get into cycling the right way. We're also presenting you with a detailed buying guide so you can make the most out of your purchase. So let's not waste any time and hop in!

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Quick Comparison: Best Beginner Road Bike Pedals

Brand/Model

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1. LOOK Keo Blade Road Pedals

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2. Xpedo Road Bike Sealed Magenium Pedals

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3. Shimano PD-M324 SPD Dual Platform Pedal

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4. Shimano PD-RS500 Pedals

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5. Wellgo B223P Cr-Mo Spindle 9/16" DU Sealed Road Bicycle Pedals

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Different Types of Road Bike Pedals

If you've spent any time looking for pedals for your road bike, chances are you already came across about half a dozen types of pedals.

While this number can be surprising to beginners who probably didn't see them all that different from one another, you'll be glad to know that not all pedal types are meant for road bikes.

So instead of choosing from 5 or 6 pedal types, your decision for a road bike pedal will most probably come down to either clipless pedals or flat pedals. Now, let's take a closer look at them.

Clipless and flat pedals are the two most common types of pedals to use on a road bike (as well as other types of bikes such as mountain bikes and hybrid bikes).

Choosing one of them depends on your riding and personal preferences, but to help you set foot on the right track (see what I did there?), start by asking yourself whether you want to securely clip your feet into the pedals or leave your feet free.

Once you make up your mind, the following information will help you further understand what each pedal type has to offer.

Clipless Road Bike Pedals

Clipless pedals can be a pretty confusing term since you actually "clip in" your shoes to the pedals cleats, similar to what you do with a ski binding.

So why were they called clipless? Well, that happened decades ago to tell them apart at the time from another pedal type named "toe clips".

How do clipless pedals work?

Clipless pedals work by mounting a small cleat (made of plastic or metal) onto your shoe's sole. Typically, the cleat snaps into a set of spring-loaded clips on the pedal's face.

Clipless pedals are intended to be used with clipless shoes. Also, a cleat on a clipless pedal is designed with either 2 holes or 3 holes.

Why choose clipless pedals?

The main reason cycling enthusiasts opt for clipless pedals is the high level of control you get while riding fast or doing tricks like hopping over logs or curbs.

Using clipless pedals, your feet won't bounce off the pedals when you apply power or ride through bumpy terrain.

Granted, getting in and out of clipless pedals isn't the most natural thing and may take some practice, but they'll feel like second nature once you get the hang of it.

Flat Road Bike Pedals

Flat pedals, also known as platform pedals, are the standard type of pedals that you probably had on your first bike. These pedals offer a wider and more stable surface to support your feet on both sides.

Flat pedals are more "casual" than clipless pedals in the sense that you can use them with nearly any shoe – they're not meant to be used with clipless shoes.

That being said, many road bikers prefer to pair their flat pedals with specially designed shoes having grippy soles or tread. This combination delivers adequate control and traction while being the easiest to get off in case of a crash.

Why choose flat pedals?

If you're a commuter, a recreational cyclist, or a rider who frequently gets on and off their bike, a flat pedal may be the better choice since there's no clipping involved.

Flat pedals allow you to wear more comfortable shoes that are easier to walk in than clipless shoes. Additionally, the lack of an attachment mechanism may make you feel more confident when it comes to avoiding accidents.

Best Pedals for Road Bike Beginners - Top Pedals to Hit the Road

1. LOOK Keo Blade Road Pedals

Description

LOOK is a french company that pioneered clipless pedals back in the 1980s based on their origin as manufacturers of ski bindings. They've maintained huge popularity ever since, producing lightweight pedals with impressive durability.

The Keo Blade Road Pedals are no exception, built from composite materials to give you a more stable and robust pedal – weighing 120 grams per pedal.

The composite material allows for the production of blades with the least rigidity possible, available in release tension 08 to 12. As a result, you get better cleat engagement, and a release feels that falls somewhere between a carbon blade pedal and a metal spring.

LOOK Keo Blade Road Pedals offer easier in and out clipping, improved aerodynamic shape, better foot support for extra security, and less weight compared to traditional spring systems.

Additionally, the platform contact area has been enlarged to deliver excellent pedaling stability.

Features and Specifications

  • Composite body
  • 53 mm Q-factor
  • Keo grips cleats
  • 400 mm² contact surface
  • Weighs 120 grams per pedal

Pros

  • Easy to snap your shoes in
  • Good security
  • Smooth clip out

Cons

  • Pricey

Video: LOOK Keo Blade Pedal - 6 Months Review

2. Xpedo Road Bike Sealed Magenium Pedals

Description

On the more affordable side, we have the Xpedo Road Bike Sealed Magenium Pedals.

These pedals are actually the result of some experts at Wellgo having their own skunkworks team and a mission to develop the finest high-performance pedals.

Sporting a low profile body, the Xpedo pedals are the only pedals made from magnesium to date. The full magnesium body allowed for more strength and durability compared to carbon, as well as a lighter weight compared to aluminum.

To put it into perspective, the Magenium pedals weigh 245 grams per pair, while the Dura-Ace Carbon weighs 251 grams per couple, and the Ultegra (aluminum) weighs 248 grams per pair.

The Xpedo clipless pedals come with two sets of cleats, fixed and 6-degree float, but they're also compatible with LOOK Keo type cleats.

The Xpedo pedals have intuitive locking and unlocking, offering reliable security while riding and easy dismounting when needed. They're lightweight and skillfully crafted with a premium finish.

Features and Specifications

  • Full magnesium body
  • Cromoly spindle
  • Fixed and 6-degree float cleats included
  • Weighs 245 grams per pair
  • 3 cartridge bearing system
  • Available in white or black colors

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Comes with 2 sets of cleats
  • Compatible with LOOK Keo cleats
  • Good release tension

Cons

  • A bit tricky to snap-in

Video: Things You Should Know About Clipless Pedals

3. Shimano PD-M324 SPD Dual Platform Pedal

Description

Another awesome choice for beginners on a budget is the PD-M324 SPD Dual Platform Pedal by Shimano. The key selling point of these pedals has got to be how versatile they are. Thanks to their unique dual platform design, these pedals can offer beginners double the benefits!

See, the PD-M324 features a flat platform on one side, and a SHIMANO SPD cleat mechanism on the other side. This means you can use the flat side when you're uncomfortable being clipped in, then simply flip over the pedals to transform them into the clipless mode.

This dual design offers riders the best of both worlds, making them perfect for beginners who don't want to limit their options.

These pedals also allow you the freedom to ride with normal shoes or shoes with cleats – meaning they're suitable for just about every purpose, whether riding around the corner to run errands or commuting ten miles to work.

The PD-M324 pedals are made out of aluminum, so they're pretty durable, and the CrMo (Chromoly) spindle boosts the overall strength. Moreover, the cup and cone bearings are serviceable to prolong the lifespan of these convenient pedals.

Features and Specifications

  • Aluminum body
  • CrMo spindle
  • SPD cleat type
  • Weighs 568 grams per pair
  • Dual platform design

Pros

  • Clipless on one side and flat on the other
  • Highly versatile
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Budget-friendly
  • Impressive strength

Cons

  • Very heavy
  • The edges can be smoother

Video: Shimano M324 Combination Pedals Review

4. Shimano PD-RS500 Pedals

Description

Another excellent option from SHIMANO is the PD-RS500 Pedals, explicitly designed to provide beginners with just the right amount of control and support while being easier to clip in and out.

The PD-RS500 may not feature the dual-platform design as the PD-M324, but it does utilize an SPD-SL cleat mechanism instead of the original SPD type cleat.

These SPD-SL pedals are tuned with lower spring tension to maintain a secure connection between your shoe and the cleat but with easier engagement and release than other pedals intended for more advanced riders.

The PD-RS500 pedals also feature a larger platform to give you a better view of the mechanism as you learn how to use clipless pedals.

Not to mention, the wider contact area ensures optimum power transfer with every stroke and decreases hot-spots underfoot that usually develop when using narrow pedals.

The durable stainless steel body reduces flex and effectively endures wear and tear. For extra durability, the PD-RS500 includes a cartridge axle with a sealed mechanism, while the cleat retention adjuster guarantees easy application.

Features and Specifications

  • Resin/stainless steel body
  • Chromoly steel pedal axle
  • SPD-SL cleat mechanism
  • Weighs 320 grams

Pros

  • Notably easy to clip in and out
  • Great value for money
  • Easy to adjust
  • Simple installation

Cons

  • The included cleats are mediocre quality

Video: Biggest Advantage And Disadvantage Of Road Pedals

5. Wellgo B223P Cr-Mo Spindle 9/16" DU Sealed Road Bicycle Pedals

Description

Last but not least, the Wellgo B223P series performance bicycle pedals are wide style flat pedals that require no clipping.

This makes them an excellent choice for beginners worried about being connected to their press or riders interested in leisure/commuting riding.

Constructed out of polycarbonate, the Wellgo B223P pedals are durable yet lightweight. They're equipped with Cr-Mo spindle and DU ball bearings for extra strength.

The Wellgo B223P pedals also come with spikes for added support and grip, as well as built-in reflectors for safety. These platform pedals are available in 5 translucent colors (black, blue, green, clear, and red).

Features and Specifications

  • Polycarbonate body
  • Equipped with spikes
  • Wide platform
  • Cr-Mo spindle
  • DU sealed bearings

Pros

  • Strong yet lightweight
  • Spikes provide extra grip
  • Multiple color options

Cons

  • Doesn't spin very smooth

Video: To Clip or Not To Clip

What to Look for When Buying Road Bike Pedals

Here are a few pointers that you should first consider before making a decision:

  • Platform size: the larger the pedal surface area, the more comfortable it'll be after hours of riding, and the more efficient power transfer it'll deliver.
  • Float: a zero-degree (fixed) float will lock your feet in place without room to wiggle. Alternatively, you can opt for a higher-degree float cleat so you can move your feet a bit without clipping out.
  • Release tension: this corresponds to how easy you can disengage from clipless pedals. Make sure your pedals come with a good range of spring tension so you can adjust it as your riding skills develop.

FAQs

What are clipless pedals?

Clipless pedals work by mounting a small metal or plastic cleat onto the sole of your shoe. The snaps into a set of spring-loaded clips on the face of the pedal. Clipless pedals are meant to be used with clipless shoes.

Should I ride clipless or flats?

The choice is ultimately up to your riding style and personal preference.

Go for clipless pedals if you're mainly concerned with control while riding, which is a common issue for beginners. Clipless pedals provide the highest level of control during fast rides or while executing stunts like hopping onto curbs or over logs.

Clipless pedals secure a connection between your shoe and pedal to allow for a dynamic display of power during each stroke.

As for flat pedals, they're better suited for laid back riders who frequently get on and off their bikes since there's no clipping mechanism involved.

Also, flat pedals allow you to wear more comfortable shoes that are easier to walk in than clipless shoes, and they may make you feel more confident when it comes to avoiding accidents because you can quickly get off.

Are clipless pedals dangerous?

Clipless pedals aren't dangerous, but they require some practice and time to get used to having your legs connected to the pedals.

Are clipless pedals really more efficient?

Clipless pedals provide a secure connection between the shoe and the pedal, which translates into an efficient transfer of power as you pedal.

What is the proper pedaling technique?

Alongside pushing, you should also pull the pedals in a semicircular motion.

The end technique should be more like two semicircles pushing down, then pulling back, a left semicircle followed by a right semicircle with a smooth transition from the left pull back to the right push down.

Conclusion and Best Offer

Choosing the best pedals for road bike beginners starts with you deciding between flat or clipless pedals. From here, you should be able to find a suitable match among the candidates on our list.

That being said, we recommend the Shimano PD-M324 SPD Dual Platform Pedal as today's winner since you're basically buying both a flat and a clipless pedal in the same unit.

Granted, these pedals are quite heavy, but the versatility and strength they offer are well worth it once you get accustomed to using them.

Granted, these pedals are quite heavy, but... 

Best Offer


The versatility and strength they offer are well worth it once you get accustomed to using them.

The Alternative

However, if you're not concerned about the whole clipping situation and in need of reliable pedals, you should check out the LOOK Keo Blade Road Pedals. 

LOOK Keo Blade Road Pedals

Not only are these pedals durable, but they're also very lightweight and super easy to snap in and out of.