8 Best Road Bike Pedals in 2021
We may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you when you buy through links on our website. Learn more
Unlike back in the day, people are incredibly spoilt for choice nowadays when it comes to the quality of bike pedals that are available. Many are designed using special engineering techniques that prioritize both off and on-bike use. This makes it easier to find the best road bike pedals for your needs.
On the other hand, you have road pedals that offer a more focused method of pedaling. This makes sense considering the fact that you’re less likely to walk far away from your road bike. As such, it’s designed more for security, stability, and support.
Top road bike pedals are also designed to maintain a close pedal axle position so that you can experience improved biomechanical efficiency.
They feature a unique shape that includes better cornering clearance and well-thought-out design that incorporates aerodynamics and weight as two of the major considerations.
What Are the Best Pedals for Road Bikes?
Trying to figure out the better option between a mountain and road bike is one of the hottest topics at the moment in cycling circles. Which one is better? Well, that’s a topic for another time.
For now, let’s focus in this road bicycle pedals review on helping you to find quality bike pedals first.
1. SHIMANO SPD Pedal Clipless Pedals
The Shimano’s SPD Pedal Clipless Pedals are the best bike pedals for road bikes and work for both mountain and road biking applications. They’re perfect for newbies who don’t really know how to work clipless pedals and you’ll be glad to know that they’re made from rugged materials following a very simple and straightforward design. In fact, these babies are practically bulletproof and that’s not an exaggeration!
Needless to say, these are very well constructed bike pedals that are made to last. They feature an alloy body and a steel axle and mechanics. It’s pretty easy to replace the bearings once they wear out using a simple locking time. Plus, you can also adjust the tension according to your preferences.
Sure, these pedals aren’t exactly lightweight but this shouldn’t be an issue if you’re not a racer. The best part is that you can use them for several other types of bikes as well.
This means you’ll be able to enjoy the same engagement system on each one of your bikes regardless of the type of terrain that it’s designed for. Most of all, we love how straightforward and simple the design of this bike pedal is, and it’s made from some of the best and most durable materials available.
2. SpeedPlay Zero Pedal Set
SpeedPlay outdid themselves with the design of this bike pedal. The clipless mechanism is integrated into the part which connects to the shoe. This makes for a similar setup to SPD pedals where you have dual-sided pedals.
However, caution is needed when treading off the bike to avoid dirt and mug clogs. Should this happen you’ll definitely need to remove it before clipping it back in. But, this shouldn’t be an issue for normal daily or racing conditions.
But, that’s not all. SpeedPlay also added a revolutionary design feature which makes for a longer stack height compared to other pedals. There’s an added 3mm for those with three-bolt shoes and you can use an adapter to lift the height, although not by a lot.
We’re glad to say that this is a low profile pedal that offers maximum cornering clearance. There’s also an adjustable float which oscillates between 0 and 15 degrees. The zeros are mostly favored by those with knee injuries or knee joint issues because the massive float allows for adequate pressure release.
This massive float isn’t only great news for your knees but it can cause your foot to flop around when sprinting. The good news is that you can always adjust the float by either loosening or tightening the cleat’s screws.
3. SHIMANO Ultegra PD-R8000 Pedals
Shimano is one of those brands from which you can expect nothing but the best, and they certainly don’t disappoint with these Ultegra PD-R8000 pedals.
They’re some of the most reliable yet low-maintenance pedals on this list and we must commend this company for improving on their previous design in very noticeable ways.
The three-bolt cleats are easy to attach onto the wide platform, while the included cleats are adjustable by 3 degrees, give or take. Of course, you could always switch these out for other available cleats that offer a zero flat or 1 degree.
These pedals also offer a low stack height so that it’s easier for you to remain stable when turning sharp corners and they’re slim enough to not become an eyesore once you install them. They’re also very well-made and can take a lot of abuse.
4. SHIMANO PD-M324 SPD
The unique Shimano PD-M324 makes use of mountain bike cleats instead of road cleats which is quite a departure from the standard entry-level road shoe design. But, it still deserves to be on this list of the best road cycling pedals and here’s why.
It’s easy to enter and exit, it’s crash-proof and has a stable platform that’ll help to keep you going in the event of a blunder such as being on the wrong pedal side. This makes it the perfect bike pedal for beginners as it helps to build confidence without worrying about getting clipped in.
This also means that this is a reliable and effective pedal that offers safe pedaling action no matter the terrain you find yourself in. You can even wear trainers while riding your bike and you’ll find that it’s that much more comfortable to ride to the shops for groceries or other clipless adventures.
5. Time Xpro 10 Pedals
This is the latest Xpresso series version from Time, a brand which is known for designing lightweight and adjustable pedals that offer versatile performance.
The company has managed to expertly combine performance and racing dynamics to deliver a great value product. This pedal offers incredible power transfer thanks to the large surface area offered by the peal. This also means that it’s easier to climb onto this pedal.
No guessing needed here and you’ll seldom struggle to find the pedal when you need it. A fairing plate has also been added to the bottom of this pedal to protect the carbon blade’s adjustable tension feature. This also makes for a more aerodynamic pedal that’s perfect for regular racers.
It’s also worth noting that this road bike pedal is very different from the Xpro 12 and 15 models in that it comes with a steel spindle construction which is what makes its low price possible. However, this feature does translate to a heavier pedal overall.
You’ll be glad to know that it’s possible to adjust the pedal’s angular joint tension from three positions depending on your experience level. There’s a position for beginners, high-level riders and serious racers. You may also adjust the release angle depending on the type of cleat that you’re utilizing.
The pedal stack features a low height which is designed to make up for the steel spindle’s weight. It also makes for better pedaling clearance when turning sharp corners.
6. LOOK KEO 2 Max Pedal
Look KEO has combined the design of two previous models to create this new and improved pedal set. They’ve swapped the carbon spring blade for a glass-fiber composite blade. The blades are available in 8Nm and 12Nm versions which is great since you can’t adjust the tension after installing the blade.
This pedal set comes with 4.5-degree float cleats which you can always switch out for 0 or 9-degree cleats if you like. It’s worth noting that these pedals sport a wide platform around a Chromoly axle. The wider the platform, the easier it is for you to spread the load over your entire foot. This makes for a very secure fit, even if you have to deal with a tough release tension.
There’s a stainless-steel plate covering the platform to maximize the pedals’ lifespan. You’ll have to buy new pedals though once this cover gets worn out. But, this will only happen after many years of riding your bike regularly and even longer if you’re someone who doesn’t use their bike that frequently.
Keep in mind that these don’t have serviceable bearings so they might wear out long before you have to replace the plate. You’ll notice the back part of these pedals pointing downward upon taking them out of the box which makes it easier to clip them in. All told, these are the best road bike pedals for beginners.
7. LOOK Keo Blade Carbon CR Road Pedals
Do you have a need for speed? Then these are the best road bike pedals for you. They feature a unique, durable, and aerodynamic design.
These are incredibly lightweight pedals that only weigh 100 grams a piece excluding the hardware and cleats. They’re quite small, to be sure, but they do come with great features like ceramic bearings and a carefully thought-out power-to-weight ratio.
The ceramic is designed to facilitate faster and longer rides thanks to the precisely measured ball which can be adjusted using the awlessly-adapted ring. This is a set of round bearings with a much harder texture than traditional balls, making them less responsive to debris and dust on the road. This makes consistent performance possible and you don’t have to worry about corrosion damage.
You also have the advantage of enjoying smoother ceramic when compared to the materials that other materials use for their bearings. In addition to being the lightest road bike pedals they’re great for anyone who wants to enjoy a smooth, friction-free ride no matter how much weight you apply to the bearing.
8. BONMIXC Bike Pedals
This lightweight BONMIXC pedal is where it’s at if you’re shopping on a budget. It only weighs 335 grams and features a 9/16-inch sealing. This means it’s not as durable as most people would like it to be but it still offers good value for money.
We love the fact that it’s available in three different colors, some of which are vibrant and colorful, while others are classic and sophisticated. Other notable features on these bike pedals include a cage-like square platform which is also non-slip and anti-skid nails that offer added adhesion.
You’ll be glad to know that this bike road pedal has a wide platform and wide footing that makes for effortless and safer pedaling. It’s super easy to put the pedals on thanks to the included L and R marking.
The pedal’s texture is quite rough and we’ve noticed a bit of spinning around the axle, but that could be attributed to a loose bearing that you can easily adjust in your own time.
How to Pick the Best Clipless Road Bike Pedals
If you’re serious about buying the lightest road bike pedals on the market, then you’re going to want to keep the following in mind while shopping around:
Platform size is a really big deal because it determines the pedal’s surface area.
A large surface area in a road bike often translates to a better distribution of each pedal stroke which is the exact opposite of what happens with a smaller surface area.
This reduces the chances of your foot getting little hotspots on different areas of your foot when riding long distances.
There’s always a bit of float degree with most cleats and pedals. This refers to your foot’s ability to pivot on either side while riding your affordable commuter bicycle.
Degrees are the official unit of measurement for a float and it tells you how far your foot can go before it unlocks the pedal.
This is important because floats are designed to remove pressure from your knee which in turn helps to prevent knee joint injuries. You might find a lot of float in some cleats and not a lot in others.
A lot of professional cyclists or even women with road bikes prefer a bit of float or alternatively fixed-position cleats. The good news is that pedal manufacturers know how important the customization of this feature is and have different degrees of float integrated into the pedal that you can take advantage when installing them using a home bicycle repair stand.
Q-factor is the distance that separates the crank arms’ pedal attachment points. It’s important to factor this in when looking for bike pedals because it affects the position from which you engage the pedals as well as the stance that you can take.
A wide or narrow Q-factor can lead to knee joint pain due to knees that track too far outward or inward.
Release tension refers to the amount of force required to get out of the best clipless pedals for road bike.
Beginners will need a low tension clipless pedaling system in order to make for effortless exit and entry. As for experienced racers, this translates to easier and faster bunch sprints no matter what bike tires they have.
It’s super easy to adjust pedal tension on most models. All you have to do is look at the pedals to find a small screw that has a +/- sign.
Not only are the Shimano SPD Clipless pedals the best lightweight road bike pedals for bad knees, but they’re very well-designed for perfect load distribution and stability.
These reliable pedals boast a wide and adjustable platform, removable cleats, a conveniently slim design, and durable construction that allows you to traverse through different types of terrain worry-free.
They’re for anyone looking to achieve pro-level proficiency and experience.