Editor’s Note: Some time ago, a Premium Member wrote in to ask if we could update an article we ran in 2011 in which a couple of us on the RBR Crew provided a quick rundown of our favorite tires, and why we liked them.
It was an excellent idea. So good, in fact, that I immediately decided to make it a regular feature – providing a rundown from RBR Contributors on our favorites across the spectrum of components, nutrition, clothing, accessories, you name it. We started a while back with our favorite tires, and today we’ll pick up the series with our favorite pedals.
(Note that for the sake of scope, we’ve kept our choices mostly to what we ride on – or how we equip – our “everyday” or “most-ridden” bikes. Some of us wax on more than others, and some include bikes other than our road bikes.) I’m committed to making this a regular series and will plan to run a different “favorite” each week for the next several.
We also want to hear from readers on your favorites! Join in the fun either by commenting below the Newsletter version of this article or using the form at Tell Us About Your: Favorites (you can always find it in the Talk to RBR section on every page of the site.) We’ll gather up your submissions and run them as a follow-up to this article (and future RBR Favorites pieces).
Enjoy, and let us hear from you about your own Favorites.
– John Marsh
On my road bikes, which see most of the miles I log, I’ve been using Look Keo Classic and Carbon pedals for so long I can’t remember the first pair I bought (I have ridden with be don’t own any Keo Blades). It was an easy choice for me to go with Looks because they’ve worked well for me since my first pair in 1985. Those pedals were one of the first pair of ski-binding-design clipless pedals in the USA, hand-delivered by none other than Bernard Hinault for the official USA launch of the pedals back then. Even with those debut pedals, entry and exit was smooth, easy and positive, and power transfer exceptional. Modern Keos provide the same great performance plus are lighter, lower-profile and even more durable than the originals. Also, regardless of which price-point Keos you choose, you get the same sweet connection.
Coach John Hughes
I’ve always been an ultra racer and tourist, never a road racer. My shortest race was 300 miles. I choose equipment based on comfort, functionality and reliability.
Because of that, I use SPD pedals with MTB shoes; it’s a combination that makes it easy to walk around in.
For my first decade of road riding I used Shimano SPD-SL pedals. Then, after reviewing a pair, I switched to Look KEO-compatible Sampson carbon pedals, which could use any Look KEO cleats (I prefer the “walkable” version, with rubber tips on the 3 corners for better grip while walking). Last summer I decided to try a pair of Look KEO Blade carbon pedals, which allow me to continue using the same cleats I’ve grown accustomed to.
Next Week in RBR Favorites: The Helmets we Wear
I spent my first six years on Shimano SPD pedals (mountain bike pedals) because they came on the used road bike I bought and as a broke college student I couldn’t afford any upgrades. When those pedals finally wore out I bought Shimano SPD-SL road pedals because everyone I rode with used them with no complaints. I went with the 105 SPD-SL’s because it seemed to be the sweet spot of price and weight. Ultegra was significantly more expensive with only a small weight savings.
I learned how to click in efficiently in a couple days and have no complaints about the pedals, the single-sided entry is not an issue at all. The wider platform of the SPD-SL pedals is noticeable and feels much more stable on the road. Living in the Pacific Northwest I have two main bikes that each see about equal riding time, a summer bike and a rain bike. The rain bike has the older alloy 105 SPD-SL pedals and the summer bike has the newer 105 carbon body.
Coach Rick Schultz
Shimano all the way around – Shimano road pedals on my two road bikes (SPD-SL), Shimano flat pedals on my fat tire bike and Shimano SPD MTB on my cross bike.
Coach Dan Kehlenbach
Since I am very much an everyday rider, my equipment has changed over the years to reflect my current style of riding. My road bike is a 2005 Trek 520, and the only things that I haven’t changed are the fork and seat post – everything else has been modified or replaced over the years.
A couple of years ago I switched from SPD pedals to Vice VP platforms, and I wish I had made the switch sooner. I really enjoy the ability to make subtle shifts of my foot placement, particularly when climbing.
Coach David Ertl
On my road bike I used to use Look pedals when clipless pedals first came out but switched to Shimano Ultegra SPD-SL pedals a few years ago. I find the cleats last a lot longer with those. I can get at least a year’s use out of a pair of Shimano cleats. On my mountain bike I use the SPD pedal system. On my gravel bike I have Garmin Vector power pedals (which happen to be compatible with the pile of old Look cleats I still have). So I have three pairs of shoes, each with a different set of cleats.
Time RXS. They are getting harder to find and I only know of one other person around here who uses them. I’ve tried Speedplays but found the pressure of the small pedal in one spot made my foot uncomfortable. The Time RXS have a wider platform, decent float and are quick to engage and disengage. I’ve been a happy user of them for over 10 years now.
Tell us about your Favorites by commenting below the Newsletter version of this article or or using the form at Tell Us About Your: Favorites.
I ride Keo blades, which I love, but upon my last cleat replacement I got the dreaded squeak. It seems like an expansion issue, since it only happens after 25 miles of so. I’ve taken to carrying a candle in my seat bag to wax the contact points when the noise get’s too out of hand. Any advice on how to fix? The torque setting on the screws is (still) correct.
John Tonetti says
I bought Time pedals when they first came tothe US in the late ’80’s because I liked the idea of having a lot of “float”. I’ve ridden on nothing else since, although my cross bike has SPD’s on it, more out of convenience than anything else. I have Time Xpresso 12 on my “main” road bike, and RXS on two other bikes. Only two complaints, ever. The plastic cleats seem to wear pretty quickly (I have to change about 2x per year) and they are not user serviceable for some strange reason. Other than that, I love them, and I’ve never had any knee problems.
Personally, I’ve used Speedplay pedals for over a decade. One reader mentioned experiencing pressure-points using Speedplay pedals. I haven’t noticed that particular problem; however I wear Sidi Ergo shoes, which have a stiff carbon sole. One thing I appreciate about the Speedplay pedals is the ability to freely move my foot to reflect different pedaling situations, and I use that feature continually. Having worn out a number of Speedplay cleats and also rebuilt the pedal bodies, it is obvious that Speedplay needs to update their pedals. While some aspects of the Speedplay pedal design are very good, the pedals also have unnecessary design weaknesses, most of which could be easily corrected – and have long been in need of correcting. One of the more annoying is that the main spring clips tend to break (even when the cleats are properly maintained), and I’ve experienced this failure on several occasions while riding – not fun. So, I appreciate and read these comments carefully, as perhaps someday I will try another brand.
I’ve been riding Speedplay frogs for about 20 years and RAH is right they could use some updating but I still love ’em!.
Keo IIs. I’ve ridden Look pedals for more than 10 years. Just ordered Powertap P1s which, being power meters, are larger and heavier but use the same style of cleat.
Bike Fitness Coaching says
Just to list a data point. As a bike fitter in SoCal, having fit hundreds of cyclists, 90% Shimano SPD-SL, 5% Look, 5% Speedplay. Out of those that have Speedplay, they are usually to the point of being completely worn out and I am able to show them the advantages of going to a wider pedal platform like Look / Shimano. Coupled with the fact that most need a longer pedal spindle, the Shimano +4 Dura-Ace is an easy solution.
John Marsh says
Interesting. I have exactly the same issue. Brand new cleats on brand new shoes my last ride, and they squeaked so bad I had to apologize ahead of time to my riding buddy. Solution? I’ll try some Finish Line pedal/cleat lube, but it hasn’t always worked for me.
Kerry Irons says
Being a long time Campy user, I’ve been on Record ProFit pedals for the last many years. I put 120K miles on the first pair – the bearings are still perfect but the pedals are a little loose. They get a couple thousand miles a year on my roller bike. My second set of ProFits have over 50K miles and are still doing fine. The cleats last a long time and because you can replace just the plastic part, they are cheap to replace. Low stack height, 260 gm, easy entrance/exit, super durability – what’s not to like. The extreme durability of these pedals make them one of the lowest cost to own on the market.
I was a Speedplay user for a long time. But I got ‘hot feet’ too often. Switched to Shimano road pedals a few years ago and they’ve been terrific. A lot easier to service, too!
Richard Zimmer says
I use Shimano Touring pedals, now renamed Shimano PD-A600 Road Pedals. The easy walking advantage of mountain cleats in a wide body road pedal. Perfect for my road biking which involves taking public transportation–BART–to get to the East Bay hills from San Francisco. I can safely carry my bike up and down platform stairs plus enjoy walking during breaks in my ride. I see no downside to using these at all.
Bob Eckhoff says
The Keo pedals with the grippers on the bottom don’t have the teflon inserts that the regular cleats do., Until Look started using the teflon inserts they always creaked but with teflon never.
Michael Povman says
Speedplay Zeros eliminated my knee problems. I find them a bit fussy to maintain compared to other pedals but we’ll worth the slight extra effort. I used to ride SPD A600s then Look Keo.
Question: I’ve been doing more randonneuring recently and nearly everyone is using spd pedals. Can someone explain why? It’s not like you do a lot of walking.
Kevin Simmons says
I use the cheapest (most inexpensive) Nashbar Mountain Bike SPD pedals. I ride them with bike sandals and have had no problems for five or six years now.
until you’re in a jam and there’s no alternative
Steve Sauser says
Probably because I’m an iconoclast, I use Bebop pedals on all my bikes. They are marketed mostly to MTB riders, But actually work better on road shoes. Very low stack height and very light weight. Stainless cleats last more than a season and they have non-centering float which I believe is the solution to most cycling knee problems. Bonus; no one else can ride my bikes!
Jim Langley says
In the brevets I’ve done, there is a lot of walking at the checkpoints, at the food stops at restaurants, at the bathroom breaks, when repairing bikes and so on. Riding all night long sort of forces you to stop, too, unless you’re super fast, but most of us can’t keep that kind of pace. Walkable pedals and shoes are also typically more roomy than road shoes meaning if it gets super hot you aren’t as likely to suffer “hot foot,” and if it gets cold or wet, you can put on thicker socks or something more to protect your feet. Those are just some of the reasons I can think of.
I thought I would be the only one using Campy Profit pedals, but I see someone else has already mentioned how great these pedals are. Too bad they have stopped producing them.
I spoke with the Campy rep at the NAHBS and he said the pedal market was already saturated, so have decided to stop producing them. A shame really.
Thanks Bob. Based on your recommendation I replace my Keo Grip Cleats with the “regular” Keo cleats. I went out on a 20 miler today without and squeaks.