Your pedals are an important link between you and your road bike. Of the three contact points – saddle, bar and pedals – the latter is by far the most dynamic. After all, the power that you’re working so hard to generate is all going through the pedals to the crank and ultimately propelling the bike. So getting the right pedal is crucial.
Modern clipless pedal systems feature a cleat – fastened to the sole of your shoe – which allows you to clip into and out of your pedals easily, safely and quickly.
Although most clipless systems use similar technology, there are still lots of variations and huge price differences. Here's our pick of the top road pedals we've tested over the last year. (You may like to see our guide on how to use clipless pedals, as well as our buyer's guide to clipless pedals detailing what to look out for before making a purchase too.)
Here are a few of the best road bike pedals we have tested recently. Although not yet comprehensive — we hope to address that soon! — it's a great place to start.
Updated 21 August 2014
Look Keo Blade Carbon/Chromoly road pedals
£179.99 / AU$TBC
Look's Keo Blade pedals are well regarded for the light weight and easy entry and exit that comes from the clever use of a carbon leaf spring instead of a regular steel spring. At 185g the titanium-axle pedals are among the lightest around, but at a pricey £274.99. With a chromoly axle, this new version drops to a slightly less scary £179.99 – and with a bit of shopping around you can find them for £20 or so less than that.
- Weight: 227g (pair)
- Cleat: Look
The Shimano Ultegra pedals are certainly worth a look too. Read our 2012 review.
Shimano Ultegra PD-6700C carbon road pedals
£149.99 / AU$TBC
The latest entry into Shimano's carbon road pedal range, the Ultegra PD-6700C, sits just below the Dura-Ace 7900 model. But with a significantly lower price tag, is it the Ultegra that is now the better bet for the vast majority of cyclists?
The carbon pedal, which uses Shimano's usual SPD-SL system, takes much of the alloy version's design - stainless steel body, extra-wide shoe platform - and wraps it up in a carbon shell that sends total pair weight crashing to 256g from 314g.
- Weight: 256g (pair)
- Cleat: SPD SL, Look 3 bolt
Shimano R550 SPD-SL pedals
£59.99 / AU$99.95
The Shimano R550 pedals are a feature packed, resin bodied road model that sits below Shimano's new 105 5700-C. The Japanese componentry behemoth is no stranger to using trickle down technology, and features that just a few years ago were only available in its top-of-the-line Dura-Ace range are now available in this lower-end sibling.
- Weight: 309g (pair)
- Cleat: SPD SL
BBB Roadking TI pedals
£159.95 / AU$TBC
Dutch company BBB has a limited range of road pedals, but its Roadking Ti models top that line-up and deliver enviable weight savings at a very reasonable price – and look set to give the market leaders a good run for their money.
- Weight: 200g (pair)
- Cleat: Look or BBB's own
Shimano PD-5700C 105 SPD-SL pedals
£89.99 / AU$149.95
Shimano 105 is the Japanese giant's third-tier groupset, and enjoys the benefits of trickle-down technology from its two more illustrious siblings. Which is why it's hard to tell at first that the new carbon-bodied 105 pedal is any different to the Ultegra (£149.99) or the top-end Dura-Ace (£229.99).
- Weight: 276g (pair)
- Cleat: Standard Shimano (SM-SH11)
Exustar E-PR2 pedals
£87.99 / AU$TBC
The Exustar E-PR2 pedals come supplied with fixed and floating cleats that have a large contact area, rubberised grippy walking pads – which are quite hardwearing and excellent off the bike – and wear indicators, as well as integrated replacement position guides.
- Weight: 266g (pair)
- Cleat: Three-bolt Exustar
Shimano 105 SPD-SL pedals
£59.99 / AU$N/A
Weighing a mere 3g more than their Ultegra siblings, the 105s look like amazing value for money. And sporting the same attractive shape as the Ultegras, a finish colour-matched to the 105 groupset, and retaining the stainless steel protective plate, they are far from being an inferior choice.
- Weight: 321g (pair)
- Cleat: Standard Shimano three-bolt
Speedplay Zero Stainless pedals
£149.99 / AU$289
These use stainless steel rather than chromoly axles, losing 15g and improving long-term looks. The cleats too are lighter, but otherwise they share the Chromoly’s dual-sided entry, float that’s adjustable from 0 to 15 degrees, and the possibility of independently adjusting fore-aft, sideways and rotational foot positions without affecting the other settings.
- Weight: 208g (pair)
- Cleat: Speedplay Zero
Time Xpresso 6 pedals
£104.99 / AU$179.99
The Xpresso 6 is a very light conventional pedal, largely due to the use of a carbon leaf spring instead of coiled steel. This remains open until the cleat is engaged, when it snaps closed, providing +/- 5 degrees of smooth angular float, 2.5mm of lateral float and great security.
- Weight: 212g (pair)
- Cleat: Three-bolt
Workshop: How to fit clipless pedals
Workshop: How to fit cleats to road bike shoes
What to look for when buying pedals
The axle has to be strong and stiff to ensure safety and efficiency. At 9/16in with 20 threads per inch to fit into a standard crank, it also supports the bearings that carry the pedal body.
Bearings don’t last long if water and road grime get into them. Extra seals are placed on the inside of the axle to try to prevent the ingress of contaminants into the system and increase bearing life.
3 Locking interface
This is the main assembly for securing the cleat to the pedal. Usually within the pedal, it can also be built into the cleat, as seen on Speedplay pedals. Most pedals allow you to adjust the force required to enter and exit the mechanism.
4 Cleat support surface
The cleat doesn't just sit on the locking interface and the front of the pedal. It should be supported in the middle of the pedal to provide a solid base to support the shoe and increase foot stability.
This feature is based on an article that was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.