Which pedals do you recommend for commuting?

Hi there,
First of all, amazing blog, I read it almost every day, and I love
all the comments from other cyclist as well.
Very well done, and well presented.
I have recently started cycling for my daily commuting (even though
at the moment, I am more trying to find a good route to use everyday,
because, so far my 12 miles commuting ends more into 20 miles
commuting because I didn’t turn at the correct section, etc….) 12
miles each way from Bromley to London Soho.
I just bought for my birthday, last month, the bike I always wanted
to have, but it came with some clipped pedals, which I never used
before. So here we go, I buy a cheap pair of clipped shoes and I start
riding… first evening, I fell twice, came back home with blood from
both knees. So not such a good experience.
Here is my question:
What pedals do you recommend for commuting?
Thank you
Damien

Your experience Damien is one shared by many. The pedals you refer to are actually called “Clipless”. (I know a weird name considering you do clip-in). They are the most efficient pedals as they provide forward motion as you lift your leg up and also they keep your foot in the optimal position. However, they do take a while to get used to.

What I tend to opt for is flat pedals coupled with Power Grips. I would tend to stay away from all plastic pedals that come with cheap bikes as they are not very durable and provide very little grip.

I prefer having Power Grips because it means I can wear any shoes I want and I can slide in and out of them pretty fast.

Many commuters choose to stick with clipless pedals (what you have now) and take the tough learning curve. Though I’d recommend figuring them out first on quieter roads.

In terms of pedal recommendations I’ll open that up to London Cyclist readers..

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52 Responses to Which pedals do you recommend for commuting?

  1. Gaz 14/10/2010 at 3:43 pm #

    For me it is SPD-SL all day long. Biggest platform for a clip in pedal, it offers best weight distribution and a sterdy platform to put some power down. It’s second nature for me to clip in and clip out and have only had a clipless moment once in 6 years of use.

    BUT pedals are a personal thing, what works for one doesn’t work for the other. I can’t stand toe clips, i can never get my feet it, but i see people using them on a daily basis perfectly fine.

    Because you already have the clipless pedals, shoes etc.. i would suggest continuing with it for a while (not on the commute thought) and see how you get on. A lot of people use some form of clipless pedal so it is must be doing something right.

  2. thereverent 14/10/2010 at 3:45 pm #

    I use the old fashioned clips and straps on my commute bike. I have though about clipless pedals for it (I have them on my much nicer raod bike). But as my commute is only 5 mile at the moment and has so many stops for traffic lights and junctions I find it faster getting my feet into straps than clipless pedals.
    I do notice I am away faster at the lights than people that have to clip in as I can get the power down straight away.

    I might change my mind after I move house and my commute go up to 15 miles. But I might consider a new bike as well (if I can get secure parking at work).

    The not uncliping in time thing will go away with practise. You need to think slightly ahead and once you get use to them you will be fine.

    • Andreas 15/10/2010 at 12:17 am #

      Good advice and also hope the office offers you secure parking ;)

  3. ian 14/10/2010 at 3:46 pm #

    I bought a pair of Shimano M324 combination pedals from ebay a few years back. They provide the best of both worlds and I can wear normal shoes or my cleats without having to change pedals.

  4. Mark 14/10/2010 at 3:47 pm #

    Hi

    I like and use the Shimano M324 Combination Pedals, so either SPDs of flat means you can ride with cleats or normal shoes.

    Have tried just SPDs both sides and egg beaters but don’t offer that flexibilty.

    Mark

  5. Higgs 14/10/2010 at 3:48 pm #

    I tried clipped, flat and clipless pedals. I don’t like clipping in and out with spds (and never found it that comfortable). Currently use flat pedals (DMR V12s) which I find great (stick great to base of my shoes but allow me to get my feet on the ground quickly should the need arise).

    Ultimately think it’s down to personal preference

  6. Matt 14/10/2010 at 3:51 pm #

    I like DMR V8′s. They’re flat beds but are really grippy and come in a variety of lovely colours. Why bother clipping in on a commute? Unless you commute off road, down the side of a mountain it’s more hassle than it’s worth.
    http://www.dmrbikes.com/?Section=products&pageType=item&category=13&CategoryName=Pedals&itemid=PEDV8

    • Jonathan 14/10/2010 at 5:23 pm #

      I don’t agree. It takes a fraction of a second to clip in/out and your foot is placed perfectly and more importantly it doesn’t slip.

  7. Al Smith 14/10/2010 at 3:51 pm #

    I only use clipless for all riding – on and off road, pop round the corner or all day ride. You can wear ordinary shoes on clipless pedals, ignore anyone who tells you otherwise. Get used to clipless and you can go with whatever option suits your mood.

  8. Jackart 14/10/2010 at 3:56 pm #

    Clipless: It’s worth the learning curve. I now feel very unsafe without clips, and as for straps… they terrify me!

    If you want to be quick away from the lights, egg beaters (popular in cyclocross) or double sided SPD pedals are the best because you can wear the cleats with trainer-type shoes. Save the look/time pedals for your sidi road shoes, and you don’t have to faff around with turning the pedal over.

  9. Steve 14/10/2010 at 3:59 pm #

    I have some Shimano M324, they are clipless one side and flat on the other so pretty handy.

  10. Alex 14/10/2010 at 4:02 pm #

    Sorry to spoil the party, but the claim that clipless pedals are “more efficient” is more of a marketing trick (“look at me, I’m riding a professional bike”) rather than reality.

    There have been scientific studies published in sports science journals (like the one below) that show little, if any, improvement in efficiency with clipless pedals.

    https://www.thieme-connect.com/ejournals/abstract/sportsmed/doi/10.1055/s-2008-1038374

    • thereverent 14/10/2010 at 4:12 pm #

      Alex
      I thought one of the benifits of clipless pedals was the shoes have a hard sole. So you don’t lose any energy of the push-down motion like you would wearing normal soft soled shoes (like trainers). I could be wrong of course.

      • Alexander 14/10/2010 at 8:36 pm #

        It’s actually the other way round: if you have a normal wide pedal, you use most of the energy in the push-down motion anyway, but with a clipless pedal you *have* to make the shoe hard, otherwise it wouldn’t be comfortable to press in one place.

        For this and other interesting ideas about shoes & pedals, take a look at:

        http://www.rivbike.com/article/clothing/the_shoes_ruse

        Having read the article, it turns out, there is a benefit to clipless pedals, and it’s that your foot is less likely to slip when you’re racing and spinning the pedals very quickly (where a foot slip will lead to a disaster). But in commuting speeds, most disasters seem to come from not being able to release your foot quickly enough …

    • Nick 14/10/2010 at 4:20 pm #

      So Chris Hoy is wasting his time with those clipless pedals, he could easily hit 40mph on a pair of flat pumps! Science fact I think not, a good pair of hard soled cycle shoes will give you a lot more power than a pair of shoes on clipped pedals.

      • Dave 15/10/2010 at 10:51 am #

        Indeed. Clipless may not be more efficient but it is definitely faster.

  11. jtb 14/10/2010 at 4:09 pm #

    Same idea as the M324, I have some Btwin double function pedals:
    http://www.btwincycle.com/EN/double-function-pedals-9653706/

    At £20 from Decathalon they’re great value, and I’ve had no problems using them over the last 6 months.

    The SPD mechanism means that the pedals will swing to “normal” by default. This is great around the city because when I’m coming upto a complex area (junction, tight traffic, within 100m of any white van) I can unclip and the pedal will swing round. Deal with the danger, pedal through and clip back in on the other side. When I started I rode with one foot clipped in and one normal to get used to it. Also you should be able to adjust the tension with an allen key, which means you can loosen out the clipping mechanism to make it easier to get in and out at the start.

  12. Jackart 14/10/2010 at 4:09 pm #

    Whatever the pedals, these are not the shoes to be cycling in…

    http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/2010/10/on-streetolivia-london.html

    • Andreas 15/10/2010 at 12:19 am #

      That’s what I cycle around in. Nice pic btw

  13. Nick 14/10/2010 at 4:11 pm #

    It’s depends on what type of clipless you’re talking about, MBK clipless are by far the best for city riding but I see many with the older road bike cleats, I used to ride these back in the day and had no end of trouble because the tension was set to super hard and it would take a tree trunk to pop your foot out (it’s great for road racing but not if you have to stop).

    I only ever ride with cleats these days and Crank Bros Candys are the best in my opinion, eggbeaters don’t really offer much of a platform if you want to keep one foot out for drifting through traffic.

    I did have a pair of MKS Track pedals with steel cages and leather straps (really pricey) and they are a beauty to ride, but due to riding track I kind of killed the bearings on them pretty quickly and went back to the cleats.

    Flat pedals are good if you want a big stable platform to stand on, but I wouldn’t waste money on powergrips or the straps, they can be just as tough to get out of as cleats and don’t offer much in the way of pull force, plus you are probably going to have just as much trouble getting out of them as the SPDs. DMRs V8/V12 or the Crank Bros 50/50s are both a good choice, avoid the plastic ones as you will kill them in a month of standard riding, it just depends on your budget.

    I could recommend getting a good pair of shoes as it can make a massive difference, as it could be the clearance on the cleats, if they’re really close you may not be getting the correct connection. Also depending on your pedals you can change the tension of the clip making it easier to pop in and out I know this is the case of shimano spds and with the Crank Bros pedals it’s a case of the right cleat on the right shoe being a 15o or 20o twist.

  14. Phil 14/10/2010 at 4:15 pm #

    Clips on one side, Flats the other. Best of both worlds!

    Ideal for a commuter bikes, SPD’s for the power at the lights and flats so you can hop on your bike to the shops in your trainers easily.

  15. Corin 14/10/2010 at 4:24 pm #

    Old-fashioned toe-clips for me – stop my feet slipping off in the wet and give me that extra boost (I think) on the uplift.

    I’d love to try SPDs/clipless but I’m terrified of toppling over in front of a driver who isn’t paying attention. I like the sound of these dual-sided pedals, however.

  16. Mike 14/10/2010 at 4:28 pm #

    Most flexible is the setup Phil suggests, something like this is spot on:

    http://www.cyclesurgery.com/shimano-m324-reversable-spd-pedal-/pedals/bikes-components-bikewear/fcp-product/19157 I used them on my Airnimal for ages.

    Best thing with SPDs is to go and find a park and practice clipping in and out until it becomes second nature. You shouldn’t ever have to look down to get your feet in or out.

    The advantage of the park is that grass is a lot softer when you inevitably fail to unclip when you’re learning and topple over. I think everyone does that at least once.

    • Andreas 15/10/2010 at 12:21 am #

      I like the park tip. I remember seeing one guy in Richmond figuring it all out for himself and luckily falling onto the grass.

  17. botogol 14/10/2010 at 4:30 pm #

    double sided SPD for me.

    I commute on a road bike which I use for commute / exercise / training, so never have that just going-to-the-shops-what-a-pain-to-change-my-shoes problem.

    once you get used to cleats (and I reckon you only forget the cleats that one time) you never go back, and SPD seem to wrok fine for me (three sets over time and on different bikes)

    BTW – I do have a pair of bike shoes designed for triathlon that have some tread around the cleats, so it’s not uncomfortable to walk on them when needed.

  18. matt_fantastic 14/10/2010 at 5:02 pm #

    still using my “classic” XT 747 SPD’s – 10 yrs old and still doing fine…

  19. John 14/10/2010 at 6:08 pm #

    I use ordinary flat pedals, I like to know that however fast something happens I can get a foot to the ground and as I ride after dark they have the reflectors fitted. They do show up in car lights and if there is an accident after dark it is illegal to be riding without pedal reflectors, it can make the difference from being the innocent party to the one who had a contributory part to the accident.

  20. Fabian 14/10/2010 at 6:09 pm #

    Hate to be a bit of a stick in the mud and all, but Andreas on the day Cycling England is abolished, and the resulting implications this could have on encouraging the next generation of cyclists, you are writing about pedals?

    Your blog has quite a powerful voice – it would be good to hear it used in defence of a very worthwhile scheme!

    • John 14/10/2010 at 6:33 pm #

      Maybe this article was written before today’s news broke, but a very valid point never the less.

    • Wozza 14/10/2010 at 7:12 pm #

      Fabian – Give Andreas a break, he can’t be at his computer 24/7!

      If you feel so strongly, post your own insight rather than ragging on an excellent blog

      • Andreas 14/10/2010 at 7:38 pm #

        Thanks for the defence! If you follow on Twitter I actually mentioned the abolition of cycling England:
        The death of cycling England and the sad implications for cycling http://bit.ly/aCYAGK (By @BikeBizOnline)

  21. Craig 14/10/2010 at 8:21 pm #

    SPDs were a revelation when I started commuting with them instead of just on an MTB trip. The trick is really to back off the tension so you can get used to clipping in and out and should you start to keel over you will find your foot should separate from the pedal nicely. A few rides over some soft grass will give you the confidence, but the keeling over at the lights is a rite of passage. Most of us will have at some point forgotten we were clipped in and so become a cropper. Once you have more confidence, you can rack the tension up a bit more, so that you gain the benefit of the mechanical gain from the full circle of the pedal.

    I tend to ride with SPD shoes and carry spares because winter gets a bit wet, but like others I can use flats on reverse or when doubled sided SPD in use can still use flats at a pinch.

  22. Angi 14/10/2010 at 10:17 pm #

    I’ve been using the Shimano M520 double sided clipless for a good couple of months now. Despite a couple of moments and tumble (most were when I was at a standstill and forgot to clip out) all has been good.
    I’d really encourage anyone who hasn’t tried clipless to try it out. Your feet don’t slip off the pedals, the pedals don’t spin around and hit you in the shins or ankles and it makes cycling that much easier.

    I have the tension set to the loosest setting though as this is best for quickly getting yourself off the pedals in traffic.

    As for shoes…I just carry a spare pair about…the same way I carry my waterproofs with me. Also keep two pairs of shoes at work.
    MBT clipless shoes also have tread so walking about in them (popping to the supermarket etc) is no problem at all…although you occasionally sound like a tap-dancer.

  23. Fritz 14/10/2010 at 10:40 pm #

    I use Mtn Bike flat pedals with decent grip pins, alwyas have and always will…..and for me they work fine…sure i may need to work a little harder than someone clipped in but I am fine with that.

  24. Mike Smith 14/10/2010 at 11:51 pm #

    I use MTB shoes with pedals that have spring loaded clip-ins so I can ride with ordinary trainers on if necessary.
    Like Damien, my first few trips were fraught, with me constantly muttering “clip out, clip out, clip out” as I approached traffic lights and junctions.
    After a couple of weeks though, it became automatic, and the only time I have had a problem in the last couple years is when I’ve had to ‘emergency stop’, and simply don’t have time to clip out!
    The benefits so outweigh the disadvantages that I can’t ever imagine going back to flat pedals.

  25. Andy 15/10/2010 at 10:35 am #

    I love my powergrips. I have had them for years and they are fantastic. I hate having to wear special shoes to cycle.

  26. Adam Sharif 15/10/2010 at 10:49 am #

    I’ve got a pair of pretty bog-standard lightweight metal pedals, coupled with a pair of Power Grips. I’ve got to say the Power Grips make a huge difference – I find I can ride faster and easier, and also they’re so easy to get in / out. I tried toe-clips and hated them, and didn’t even consider clipless. I couldn’t go back to having pedals without any form of attachment though…

  27. Eric 15/10/2010 at 10:55 am #

    Toe clips and straps on my road bike, nothing on my Brompton.

    Would like to try clipless pedals, but defintely don’t like the idea of having to wear silly shiny shoes to take the bike out.

    The reversible pedals look good, but I’m pretty happy with what I have.

  28. Jessie 15/10/2010 at 10:58 am #

    I ride my Trek Soho S to work every day, just a short 6km ride into Tottenham Court Rd. I got the bike in June, and about 8 weeks later had the misfortune of my right pedal (just the one that came with the bike) snapping under me as I took off from a traffic light near Regent’s Park. I hit the road pretty hard and was lucky that the driver of the car immediately behind got out and helped me off the road. The store I got the bike from replaced the pedals with metal ones – don’t know the brand – and I’ve not had any problems since.

  29. Jules 15/10/2010 at 12:34 pm #

    i have the double sided ones.
    i fell off a lot when i was getting used to them – i think it’s part of the fun – with the flat side for the tricky bits until i had the confidence.
    when i got my new bike it had cages which i found a nightmare to get my feet into – it’s all about what you’re used to.
    i think it’s worth sticking with just for those nasty flyovers where it’s good to feel like you’re pulling up as well as pushing down.

    Jules

  30. Steve 15/10/2010 at 4:51 pm #

    Hi,

    SPD’s take some getting used to. I fell off repeatedly at first. But eventually it becomes second nature.

    Recently, when I had to borrow a bike for a few days, I missed the SPD’s.

    S

  31. Ray 15/10/2010 at 5:47 pm #

    I use clips and straps with the right strap fairly tight and the left looser as my balance and stopping foot. I have used them for 20 years and have not bothered to change to clipless.

    I think they are just as good as clipless for power transfer, they allow you to use ordinary shoes, although I do use hard soled cycling shoes for longer rides. They are also just as tricky if you foirget to pull your foot out at the right time, equivalent to twisting your foot in clipless.

    Powergrips in my view are a safer version of clips and straps but maybe not quite so good at power transfer on the upstroke.

    For those of you who haven’t used any sort of clip/clipless/strap then you should as it makes a big difference when peddling fast or uphill.

    Again its just what you’re used to but if you want to cycle in ordinary shoes then a flat platfrom is a must otherwise on long rides you will get a painful ache in the middle of your foot and it will go to sleep.

  32. Markku Klubb 16/10/2010 at 2:37 am #

    I use Phil Wood pedals from the US and they are now, unfortuately, out of production. Used with regular toe clips and straps. No special shoes required so I use my normal offiice/work shoes. Made of a flat extruded aluminum pedal surface, built-in front and rear reflectors, and bearings that have required no work for over 30 years of regular commuting in rainy Seattle Wa. Cycling caused the balls of my feet to become numb so the doctor recommended a completely flat pedal. Phil Wood makes good mechs.

    http://www.classicrendezvous.com/USA/Phil_pedals.htm

    Cost on E-bay? Over $200 when I bought my second pair for my other bike earlier this. Well worth it inmy opinion.

  33. Andy R 16/10/2010 at 3:56 pm #

    I wear cheap astro football boots and have normal flat pedals. The astro boots are
    a) hard soled
    b) have grippy mini-studs that prevent slipping on the pedals
    c) are waterproof
    d) cost about £20 new if you get a cheap pair.
    I was a bit scared about being physically attached to the bike, so avoided getting SPDs or anything like that, and one day tried my old astros – problem solved for me!
    I know lots of cyclists swear by/at SPDs, I’m sure they work really well for some, and who knows, maybe i’d shave a few mins of my commute, maybe I’ll try them in the future!

    • Angi 16/10/2010 at 7:32 pm #

      I don’t think spd is just for shaving off a few sec. Has also been good for me in many other ways…less strain ion my ankles and knees an also no pedals slipping out from under my feet giving me painful bruises and ladder tights. Also so much easier on those uphill stretches. Just tales some te to get used to…totally worth it.:)

  34. Steff Davies 20/10/2010 at 5:40 pm #

    Time ATACs MTB pedals for commuting, Look Deltas on the road bike. Riding flats now feels very odd to me (and is a non-starter on my commuter as it’s a fixed gear).

  35. Phil 21/10/2010 at 9:37 am #

    I use DMR V12s, so that I can wear anything on my feet in any weather, from sandals in summer to walking boots and Sealskinz socks in 4″ snow at -8.

  36. Wenners 24/10/2010 at 5:19 pm #

    Shimano M324 Reversable SPD pedal. Best of both worlds. I used the flat side for nearly a year before I decided to get a pair of cycling shoes, and have never looked back.

  37. Doug Hall 27/10/2010 at 4:37 pm #

    I heartily agree with Wenners, re: Shimano M324 pedals for commuting. I love them with these shoes [http://www.southport-rigging.com/browse.cfm/4,7551.html] for my regular commute, but they are also great with dress shoes, running shoes/sneakers, and even Crocs. Solid! Another great shoe option — http://bike.shimano.com/publish/content/global_cycle/en/us/index/products/shoes/mtb/product.-code-SH-MT42NV.-type-sh_mountain.html. I saw these the other day and want them…badly.

  38. Alex 08/12/2010 at 5:35 pm #

    Flat pedals (if grippy enough) can work fine. I use a pair of DMR V12 (available from any decent bike shop) with the extra long pins. These provide plenty of grip even on my fixed single speed hacking up steep hills.

    You benefit is that you can wear (almost) any shoe, and they you can instantly take your foot off should you need to.

  39. Ade 08/03/2011 at 11:10 am #

    I really like my Shimano PD-A530 pedals, another reversible SPD that offer the best of both worlds.

  40. RRC 01/04/2011 at 4:52 pm #

    Shimano PD-A530. A perfect solution.

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