There are a lot of options when it comes to pedals for your road bike. Look KEO, Shimano SPD-SL and Wahoo SPEEDPLAY are just three of many road bike pedal options. In terms of both performance and comfort the best road bike pedals are always clipless. Flat pedals are less efficient than clipless pedals, and a good clipless pedal and shoe combination eliminates hotspots and numbness in your feet.
In this guide we will cover the best pedals for time trials, triathlons, cyclocross, gravel biking and more. In the end, you will be able to identify the best pedal for your bike and cycling discipline. We will even guide you through choosing the best flat pedal, although clipping in is always the recommended riding method.
Which Pedals Are Best For Road Bikes?
Clipless pedals are always the best option for road bikes. More specifically, pedals that accept cleats from the three holed triangle mounting system. They allow for a nice wide surface area for those larger cleat systems to fit in. The larger surface area spreads the pressure point of the pedals out, meaning a more comfortable riding experience. Here are the best pedal/cleat combinations for road bikes:
Best Overall Road Bike Pedal: Look KEO 2 Max ($100) – The KEO 2 Max gives road cyclists the perfect combination of performance and price. The 500mm contact area gives you full power transfer at an affordable price.
Best Cyclocross Pedal: Crank Brothers EggBeaters 2 ($100) With easy release cleats there is no pedal clips in and out faster. That is extremely important for cyclocross riders because they get on and off the bike multiple times during each race. The EggBeater 2 pedals are lightweight, durable and reliable.
Best Gravel Bike Pedal: Crank Brothers EggBeater 2 ($100) Gravel cyclists will prefer the standard release cleat paired with the EggBeater 2 pedals. Traditionally more of a mountain biking pedal, EggBeater 2s are great for any off road cycling. They are easy to get in and out of when mud and muck are present.
Best Endurance Cycling Pedal: Shimano 105 SPD-SL ($150) – The 105 lineup from Shimano is the perfect balance of performance and durability. The 105 SPD-SL pedals are great for long distance riding because they are lightweight, but still durable.
Best Pedal For Triathlons and Time Trials: Wahoo SPEEDPLAY Aero ($279) When every fraction of a second counts you want to have the SPEEDPLAY Aero pedals. They have a large contact area, and a dimpled underside for increased aerodynamic performance.
What Are The Different Types of Road Bike Pedals?
There are a lot of different options when it comes to road bike pedals. Each pedal will have its own cleat, which often times varies by brand. Here is a breakdown of the most popular road bike pedals and their compatible cleats:
The Shimano SPD-SL is a type of cleat that requires an SPD-SL compatible pedal. They are similar in shape and size to another popular road cycling pedal from LOOK, called the KEO. Shimano’s SPD-SL and Look’s KEO cleats and pedals are not interchangeable, even though they look very similar. The same is true for Delta cleats, popular for Peloton owners, but Delta cleats are not compatible with SPD-SL nor KEO pedals.
After Shimano and Look, the next most popular pedal and cleat combination is SPEEDPLAY pedals and cleats. SPEEDPLAY is now owned by Wahoo, but the pedals have remained unchanged. The SPEEDPLAY cleats and pedals have a unique look and
Finally, TIME Pedals is a company worth mentioning. Their cleats and pedals are also proprietary and not cross compatible with other brands. What is unique to TIME pedals is how effortlessly you get clip in. They are the only road bike pedal that clips-in as easily, possibly easier, than SPD pedals. SPD pedals are made for mountain bikes, but it’s okay to use a mountain bike pedal on a road bike as long as it is light weight and aerodynamic.
Best Flat Road Bike Pedals
Some riders may need to ride with flat pedals due to a variety of reasons. Clipless pedals are always recommended, but for those that can’t or refuse here is what you need to look for. A flat pedal for road bikes must be light weight. It also needs to have an aerodynamic profile. Here are the three best flat pedals for road bikes:
- Alston Flat Road Bike Pedals ($25.99 – Purchase on Amazon Here.) This aluminum pedal has a sealed bearing and comes in nine different color options. Alston pedals are laser engraved for the left and right so you never have to worry about cross threading your crank arms.
- Uniwa Professional Bike Pedals ($17.99 – Purchase on Amazon Here.) Another lightweight aluminum pedal, this time with a price tag under $20. The Uniwa Professional Pedals are painted with L and R indicators and come in five color options.
- XEWEA Hybrid Pedal ($32.99 – Purchase on Amazon Here.) The XEWEA Hybrid comes with a flat pedal side and a clip-in option on the opposite side. It is SPD cleat compatible. SPD cleats are made for mountain biking, but the profile of the XEWEA is aerodynamic for road cyclists. Its a great starter pedal for cyclists interested in a clip-in and flat combination pedal.
In conclusion, the best road bike pedals are the ones that provide the most comfort getting on and off the bike without sacrificing performance. I am a huge advocate for Crank Brothers Eggbeaters because they are easy to get in and out of, and they are light weight.