The 11 Best Cycling Pedals to Buy in 2018

Make sure your ride has the perfect pedals

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To get the most out of your ride, you need to be connected to your bike as efficiently and securely as possible, making the pedal a critical component. And there are three types to consider: platform pedals are your general flat pedals featured on beach cruisers, but also preferred by some for mountain bikes. Toe clips (a.k.a."toe cages") are frames for your feet attached to the front of platform pedals that allow you to pull up with your foot in the pedal stroke as well as push down, making them a must have for fixed gear and single speed bikes. Clipless pedals are more accurately described as clip-in pedals, as they’re engineered to work with cleated shoes that attach to the pedal. Clipless pedals come in two-hole models for mountain biking and bike touring and three-hole models for road riding and racing. Which pedal is right for you? We cranked through the best pedals to find best for your ride.

Our Top Picks

Best Beginner Road Cycling Pedals: Shimano PD-R540 SPD-SL

Shimano PD-R540 SPD-SL
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First time clipping in for a road ride? The key to these beginner pedals is their width. The Shimano PD-R500 SPD-SL pedals have an extra-wide platform design for easy foot positioning and a wide cleat entry for easy in and out. They also have a wide range of tension, so you can start with an easy out and in time and ratchet the tension up to stay clipped in tight. A wide bearing placement completes the package providing a uniform load distribution for maximum efficiency with every stroke. The pedals’ aluminum body and chromoly spindle are built to last, and sealed cartridge bearings spin smoothly mile after mile.

Best Commuter Cycling Pedal: Shimano A530 SPD

Shimano A530 SPD
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Every bike commute is different, and these are Shimano’s most versatile pedals. If you feel like clicking in, these pedals have Shimano’s SPD design, and you can flip them over for a concave stable platform pedal. No matter which way you use these pedals, durable chromoly spindles and low-maintenance sealed bearing cartridge axels keep your stroke smooth. They include Shimano SH41 cleats and are compatible with Shimano SH56 cleats (sold separately).

Best Road Cycling Pedals: LOOK Keo 2 Max

LOOK Keo 2 Max
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French cycling stalwart LOOK invented the clipless pedal back in 1986, and they remain a leader on the road race scene. The Keo 2 Max upholds LOOK’s place atop the pedal podium with pro-quality features at an affordable price. The pedals are wide, yet they still spin on a dime, thanks to a tapered bottom, and the advanced spindle built with miniature ball bearings allows for a thick 12 mm axle for increased stiffness under foot. LOOK’s pro pedals are made of carbon fiber for a feather-light feel, but these Keo 2 Max pedals are a composite with steel wear plates — the construction adds a few grams on the scale, but increases durability on the road.

Best Fixed Gear Cycling Pedals: Retrospec Bicycles Classic Road Bike Pedals

LA-based Retrospec Bicycles has revolutionized the fixed gear / single speed bike market with their lineup of low-cost, customizable rigs, and these Classic Road Bike Pedals with Integrated Toe Clips are a functional add-on. Most affordable fixie pedals have simple over the shoe straps to keep your foot on the pedal, but these add an integrated nylon cage and strap system to keep your foot on lockdown. The one-piece polypropylene plastic pedals are paired with a boron steel axle and nylon cage for smooth, easy strokes, and optional easy-to-install reflectors are included for added safety in low light conditions.

Best Budget Road Cycling Pedals: Venzo Road Bike Shoe and Pedal

Since launching in 2013, this Venzo Road Bike Shoe-Pedal system has racked up rave reviews for its great value. The pedals are a nice aluminum with chromoly spindles and ball bearings that weigh 286 grams. They’re Wellgo RC-5 and Look ARC compatible (however, only the Wellgo RC-5 cleats are included). The shoes have a flexible forefoot and running shoe beveled heel for maximum comfort and energy transmission. The uppers are a breathable mesh and synthetic, and there’s also a removable microfiber liner. They’re compatible with all SPD, Look KEO and SPD SL style pedal systems, so you’re not forced to use only the pedals that they came packaged with. One drawback: at 586 grams, they’re among the heaviest you’ll find on the road.

Best Indoor Cycling Pedals: Shimano PD-R540

Shimano PD-R540
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So you just picked up a sweet indoor cycling bike? One of the easiest and most cost effective upgrades you can make is switching out factory pedals. For just under $40, these Shimano PD-R540 pedals bring road riding tech to your workout. The sealed cartridge axle is silky smooth, and the adjustable tension allows you to keep it loose or dial down for performance training.

Best Tech Cycling Pedals: Garmin Vector 2

Are you into metrics? Then you need to click in to the Garmin Vector 2 pedals for your training rides. These pedals revolutionize your workout by measuring power at the pedal, where the force is being applied. Force sensors in each pedal are your direct-measurement powermeter, delivering data from your foot to compatible bike computers. The new metrics allow you to see your weaknesses and strengths by showing you exactly where you’re generating power throughout the pedal stroke. You can also see where force is being applied on the pedal itself, so you can dial in the perfect shoe-cleat-pedal combo. For all that tech, these pedals are tough enough for the road and easy to install — so much so that you can swap them easily from bike to bike for maximum training efficiency.

Best Mountain Cycling Pedals: Crankbrothers Eggbeater 11

Crankbrothers Eggbeater 11
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The beauty of these performance mountain bike pedals is their simplicity. Branded the lightest mountain bike pedal by California-based Crankbrothers, these Eggbeater 11s look simple, but they represent the pinnacle of mountain bike engineering and materials. With the exception of one steel spring, these pedals are all titanium, including their silky smooth needle and cartridge bearings. The pedals’ four-sided binding wings make clipping in simple — they include premium brass cleats for your kicks — and they’re designed for two release angles: 15 or 20 degrees (go with 15 if you’re new to Eggbeater-style pedals). These pedals weigh 179 grams and since they don’t have a platform, mud on the trail won’t muck them down.

Best Budget Mountain Cycling Pedals: Venzo Mountain Bike Shoes and Pedals

Adding clipless pedals to your mountain rig doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Whether you’re dabbling with clipless pedals on the trail, or just looking for an affordable upgrade, you can’t find a much better bang for your buck than the Venzo Mountain Bike Shoes and Pedals for $70. This Venzo setup starts with the WPD-823 Wellgo Mountain Bike Clipless Pedals that are SPD compatible. The body is Aluminum with a chromoly spindle and ball bearing design. Shoes feature a flexible forefoot and running shoe beveled heel for maximum comfort and energy transmission. The uppers are a breathable mesh and synthetic, and there’s also a removable microfiber liner.

Best Mountain Cycling Platform Pedals: Shimano PD-MX80

Shimano PD-MX80
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If you’re navigating a tight single track or flying downhill, you can’t be clipped into your pedals. These platform pedals are Shimano’s third generation update to this lineup, bringing performance to the trail with a durable aluminum body. Nine adjustable traction pins let you customize the level of grip and connection points with your shoes. They’re also engineered to put your foot closer to the sealed bearing cartridge axle with chrome-moly spindle: An open body design keeps mud and dirt from building up under your shoe.

Best Budget Mountain Cycling Platform Pedals: RockBros Mountain Bike Pedals

RockBros Mountain Bike Pedals
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If you’re looking to upgrade your rig, but don’t have a ton of cash to sink into your pedals, check out these RockBros Mountain Bike Pedals. They're aluminum alloy to keep them lightweight and tough enough for mountain trails. The 13 traction pins keep your foot connected to the pedal for mountain performance, but they’re also versatile enough to ride on your BMX bike, fixie and even your cruiser. Best of all, they come in five colors so you can keep your ride stylish without breaking the bank.

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