Whatever type of cycling you do, the right pedals for the job will improve your time on the bike, so it's important that you choose carefully.
You might want new pedals because your current ones have worn out – they don't spin like they once did or they're no longer grippy – or because you want to upgrade to a different type.
Let’s take a look at the options open to you.
There's nothing complicated about a flat pedal – it provides a simple platform for your foot to push against.
Everyone learns to ride on flat pedals, and if the ones on your child's bike wear out or get damaged, B'Twin Kids Bike Pedals are available in various colours.
Flat pedals can be used with ordinary shoes which is handy if you're going to be both on and off the bike and don't want to change your footwear. They’re practical for commuting a short distance to work, for instance, or heading to the shops. B'Twin's City 500 Leisure Pedals are durable and come with rubber strips to stop your feet slipping.
Many mountain bikers use flat pedals too, because it allows them to dab a foot down quickly when tackling technical terrain without the need to release from a clipless system (more on those below).
Mountain bikers still need plenty of grip between shoes and pedals to stop their feet slipping over bumps and in muddy conditions. B’Twin's 900 Alloy Flat Mountain Bike Pedals come with metal pins sticking up from the pedal body to provide plenty of grip on the specially designed rubber soles of mountain bike shoes.
Look out for: a grippy pedal platform, a durable metal construction, compatibility with toe clips.
Clipless pedals keep you attached securely to the bike so your feet never slip, you can pull upwards (which can be a benefit at times), and you gain more control. You might find that they allow you to pedal more smoothly too. They work as a system in combination with a specially designed shoe, so if you're buying the pedals you will need compatible shoes too.
Clipless systems feature a cleat fixed to the sole of a cycling shoe that locks into a mechanism on the pedal itself to hold your foot in place. You push down with your foot to engage, and twist your heel to the side to release. It’s easy enough, although you might take a couple of rides to feel comfortable.
There are several different clipless pedal systems which fall into two camps: road clipless and mountain bike clipless.
Road clipless pedals usually have a mechanism for engaging with the cleat on just one side – so each pedal has a definite top and bottom. Large, plastic cleats attach to your shoes via three bolts and stand proud of the sole, making walking awkward – not impossible, but you’re not going to feel very steady.
Although these systems function in similar ways and offer comparable levels of performance, they’re not compatible with one another: you can’t use Look cleats with Shimano pedals, or Shimano cleats with Look pedals.
Look out for: A wide, supportive body, durable materials, light weight.
Mountain bike clipless pedals are usually smaller than road ones and have a cleat retention mechanism on both sides. This means you don’t need to take your eyes off a bumpy trail to check your pedal is the right way up before fixing your foot in place.
The metal cleats attach to compatible shoes via two closely spaced bolts. The cleats are recessed into the sole so walking isn’t a problem.
The most popular system is Shimano SPD, with their PD-M520 SPD clipless pedals being an excellent inexpensive example. Some mountain bike clipless pedals, like the Shimano SPD-M324, have a cleat retention mechanism on one side and a flat platform on the other, offering you the best of both worlds.
You can fit a Shimano Clipless Pedals Adaptor SMPD22 to double-sided SPD-compatible pedals to provide a flat platform for use with everyday shoes.
Look out for: A double-sided cleat retention mechanism, light weight, durability.
It's also worth considering cleats. Most offer ‘float’, which is movement before they release from the pedal. Float allows your knees to move naturally in order to avoid injury, while still keeping you attached to the bike.
Look’s Kéo Grip road cleats provide 4.5° of float, for example, while the B’Twin Shimano SPD-SL-compatible cleats offer 6°.
If you find that you’re getting sore knees while cycling you could try switching to cleats with more float.
You could also try adjusting the position of your cleats on your shoes. Start out with your cleats in a central position and make any necessary movements from there. If you’re in any doubt, ask for advice from our in-house experts.
Although some people are nervous of switching to clipless pedals, it takes just a ride or two to get used to them, the biggest challenge being remembering to release the cleats before you need to put a foot down at junctions and traffic lights. You can adjust the release tension on most pedals to a level that works for you. It’s a simple job with a small Allen key.
Cleats need replacing from time to time, especially road cleats which are more exposed when you walk than recessed mountain bike cleats, and which are made from plastic rather than metal.
Many cleats have wear markers that tell you when it's time to replace them. For example, Look Kéo Grip cleats feature polyurethane anti-slip pads to stop you sliding around when you walk. Two indicators at the front and two more at the rear will appear to tell you that it's time for a new pair.
You can mark the position of your worn out cleats with a felt tip pen before removing them to make setting up your new cleats easier. Make sure you remove any debris from the old bolt heads to avoid rounding them out.
Road cleats can be slippery on wet surfaces and, made from plastic, they can wear quite quickly when you walk in them. Rubber cleat covers that you fit when you're off the bike both protect the cleat and add grip.
Before clipless pedals became popular, people who cycled for sport used toe clips and straps, and these are still an option today. A toe clip attaches to the platform of a compatible flat pedal and forms a cage around your shoe. The strap tightens it in place.
Toe clips and straps hold your feet securely on the pedals and offer many of the advantages of a clipless system. They also have the advantage of being useable without special cycling shoes. On the flip side, getting your feet in and out of toe clips is a little more awkward than using a clipless system.
You can buy B'Twin 100 Resin Road Biking Pedals with the toe clips already attached, or you can buy the toe clips separately and add them to existing compatible pedals.
And finally...fitting and removing pedals
Your driveside pedal has a normal thread – when facing the crank arm, you install it by turning the axle clockwise and remove it by turning anticlockwise. Remember, though, that the non-driveside pedal has a reverse thread, so the opposite is true.