Road cycling pedals explained

Why are they called clipless when you clip in?

Parts Video
The larger platform ensures efficient power transfer.

The larger platform ensures efficient power transfer (click to enlarge).

If you’re new to cycling the term “clipless pedals” may cause confusion, because despite the name you actually do clip in. Turns out the moniker actually derives from pedals of the past, which kept your feet in place using toe clips and straps. Name confusion aside, if you’re buying a pair of clipless pedals for the first time, it can be a little confusing, as there are a host of options, all with varying features. So which will be best for your needs? Watch this video to learn more.

Here is a recap of key points:

  • Road pedals are one sided, which helps save weight
  • The larger the platform the less energy loss
  • Most road specific pedals attach using a three-hole design
  • Some road pedals have adjustable tension
  • Some cleats provide different degrees of float
  • Speedplay pedals are double sided for easier engagement
  • Mountain bike pedals are typically heavier than road
  • Mountain bike pedals have dual-side engagement
  • Mountain bike pedals have better mud clearance
  • Mountain bike cleats use a two-bolt system, so you need a different kind of shoe

Now check out these next two equally important videos: How to clip in and how to unclip:

About the author: RoadBikeReview is an online community of cyclists who share a passion for the sport. Visitors of the site regularly purchase gear to upgrade their bikes, share inspiring photos of rides, and keep up to date with the latest industry and technology news. Which products perform best? Where to buy them? Where to ride? How to ride better? Cyclists come to for the answers.

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  • kvn says:

    SPD-SL are easy to walk on.
    Look cleats are very difficult to walk on.
    Speedplay cleats should be covered before you walk on them because it is very susceptible to collecting dirt which leads to failure.

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