Shopping for a road pedal system can be a bit daunting even for experienced riders. This decision can become more complicated if making a switch from a previous pedal system to a new one. As athletes, we are always looking for ways to gain an edge on our competition, an extra watt here or gaining an aerodynamic advantage there. Perhaps one of the solutions to these questions lies right under your feet.
Most individuals will begin cycling on flats, or platform pedals. This pedal system makes it easy for new riders to feel comfortable when first getting out on the roads: no fear of clipping in or out, the ability to move the foot around freely, and it is usually the cheapest option. In due time, most cyclists discover the limitations of platform pedals when they start to gain confidence and ride further and faster. With decreased ability to produce consistent power, and the inability to dial in a proper cycling fit, most cyclists find themselves reaching for a clip-in pedal system.
Whether you are looking to become the strongest rider in your cycling club or win the next local crit, each goal is important and should begin with a solid pedal foundation. Choosing the right cleat and pedal system is crucial when putting in long hours and big miles on your bike.
Here are some of the key benefits to using a clip-in pedal system like the Speedplay pedals:
When producing a complete pedal stroke, power is not only important on the downstroke but also continuing the energy transfer and motion in the upstroke. If using a platform pedal system currently, you will not be able to keep the same force on the pedal use to your foot sliding and not having the grip to “pull up” on the pedal. This upstroke utilizes an important muscle group: your hamstrings. This continuous cyclical motion is crucial in setting up your next pedal stroke.
Making sure your seat height is correct is crucial in a bike fit, as well as the countless additional adjustments a professional fitter can make for you. Perhaps the most important adjustment fitters can do for riders is their cleat positioning. Poor cleat positioning can find a rider down a rabbit hole of nagging issues: knee pain, hip pain, tight calves, and the list goes on. Once clipped into a pedal, riders should have a smooth cyclic rhythm between their feet and pedal stroke. If you find you are constantly adjusting your cleat or over-analyzing how your foot and leg feel while riding, then perhaps it is time to consider a new cleat/pedal system. While most pedal companies do offer the ability to adjust cleat positioning or pedal tension this can often come at a price and limitation. Some pedal systems will require riders to purchase a new cleat set if looking for additional float, the range of float can often be limited to 9 degrees. Speedplay Pedals systems offer 0-15 degrees of float, all housed in one cleat. This simple tension adjustability system of Speedplay cleats makes it easy for riders to adjust fore/aft, float, and release angle with two simple limit screws. No need for purchasing additional cleats!
Not all pedal systems offer dual-sided pedal options for road cyclists. Most dual-sided options are strictly within the mountain bike pedal systems. Dual-sided pedals offer increased cornering clearance for riders when leaning into turns, offering ease of mind that their pedal will not clip a corner. They are also advantageous for criterium races where starts can be crucial and less time wasted finding the “right side” to clip into. Finally, think about a group ride or a solo ride in which you stop at a stoplight and then have to quickly get clipped in and rolling again.
Sometimes the best rides are those that end at a coffee shop or bakery to pick up a sweet treat for the way home. Sometimes it is not all donuts and danishes but mother nature that calls us to dismount our bikes. Whatever the reason is, it is important to be able to unclip from your bike and walk around in your cycling shoes since more than likely you were not carrying a pair of sneakers with you. Not all cleat/pedal systems are created equally when it comes to walkable design. Most systems feature an exposed cleat that makes it hard to walk on uneven surfaces, makes it easy to slip on smooth surfaces, and can damage the cleat. Speedplay pedal systems offer walkable cleat covers that cover the base and protector plate ensuring your cleat will sustain zero damage when dismounting from your bike. This cleat cover provides a grip to surfaces making it easy to go from bike pedal to hard ground.