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Best road bike pedals 2021 | Top-rated clipless pedals for your bike

The best road pedals from Shimano, Look, Speedplay and Time

Shimano 105 R7000 pedals for road cycling

These are the best clipless road bike pedals on the market in 2021, reviewed by our expert testers.

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You’ll find the best cheap road pedals, the best all-rounders as well as pedals for riders with specific requirements.

Deciding which road pedals to buy can be a headache because there’s so much choice, but our buyer’s guide will tell you everything you need to know and offers options for all budgets.

Of the three points of contact between you and your bike (the saddle, bar and pedals) your pedals have the most work to do.

As well as keeping your feet in place as they spin at up to, and sometimes, over 100rpm, they also have to provide a solid platform to push against, so you can propel yourself and your machine forwards.

This is a long-winded way of saying that choosing the best road bike pedal for your riding is crucial.

What is a clipless pedal?

Clipless (i.e clip-in) pedals evolved out of the old pedal and toe-clip setup that pretty much every road bike had until the late ’80s/early ’90s. Although you do ‘clip in’ to clipless pedals, they get their name from the absence of that traditional toe-clip.

While toe-clips rely on a clip and strap to hold the foot on the pedal, clipless pedals use a cleat that’s fastened to the sole of the shoe and engages with the pedal mechanically, similar to a ski binding.

To clip into pedals, you step on the pedal’s face and push your foot forwards or downwards to engage the cleat. To release your foot, simply rotate it outwards.

Although most clipless pedals use similar technology, there are plenty of variations in design,  construction and price.

Many people quickly come round to the advantages of clipless pedals, but there are some instances where a flat pedal might be more suitable for your riding.

Below you’ll find our pick of the top road pedals currently available, as well as a brief guide outlining what to look for when choosing clipless.

This is a selection of our favourite road pedals from those we’ve reviewed, but there are many more available – read about them in our pedal reviews section.

Look Keo Classic 3 Plus pedal

5.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bike pedals
The Look Keo Classic 3 Plus is a good entry-level pedal.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £59 / $75 / AU$102 as tested
  • Easy to use and reliable
  • Stainless steel plates for stable pedalling
  • Reasonable weight for money

The Look Keo Classic 3 Plus pedals make for an ideal first clipless pedal for a cyclist, or anyone looking for an affordable pedal that has high-end tech.

The pedals have a wide 60mm body that makes for stable and secure pedalling, while the stainless steel plates introduce some welcome durability.

Clipping in and out of the pedals is really straightforward thanks to Look’s classic clipless pedal system. This is helped by the pedal always hanging at the same angle on the crank, so you can be sure to get the correct angle when going to clip in.

Even when climbing gradients of 20 per cent or sprinting, the pedals feel secure, and the amount of float provides ample comfort.

Shimano M520 SPD pedal

5.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bike pedals
There’s nothing wrong with using MTB pedals on the road.
Oliver Woodman / Immediate Media
  • £35 / $48 / AU$61 as tested
  • Best road bike pedals for commuting, gravel, cyclocross and other dirty riding
  • Great performance in mucky conditions
  • Cheap, durable and fully serviceable

If you already have a pair of mountain bike shoes, you like the idea of double-sided entry (ideal for riding in traffic), see yourself riding in particularly unpleasant conditions or prefer the walkability of regular SPD pedals, these are a great choice.

The pedals can be left alone for years at a time with nary a complaint and will perform far better than any ‘road-specific’ pedal, should the going get grimy.

They’re fully serviceable but many treat them as disposable because they’re incredibly long-lived, even if you never bother with a service, and cheap to replace when you finally kill them.

If the slightly higher weight offends you, you can always plump for the lighter and prettier M540XT or XTR pedals. However, for most riders, the extra 40g over Shimano’s cheapest road pedals will probably never be noticed.

Shimano 105 R7000 pedal

5.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bike pedals
Shimano’s R7000 pedals are a 105 level product that strikes a good balance of weight to price.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £120 / $150 / AU$189 as tested
  • Reliable and solid performer
  • Adjustable float
  • Excellent power transfer

Shimano’s 105 R7000 pedals strike a good balance of weight to price. They are reliable and a solid performer, as you would expect from a Shimano product carrying the 105 name.

At this level, all Shimano SPD-SL share the same body design, so you get many of the benefits of Shimano’s higher-tier Ultegra and Dura-Ace designs.

One of these benefits is the wide-body with stainless steel metal inserts. Together, these deliver a very secure and solid base for pedalling and excellent power transfer.

The pedals use Shimano’s three-bolt cleat. They are available in three versions offering different levels of float, but these pedals are supplied with Shimano’s yellow cleats with 6 degrees of float.

The release tension can be adjusted with an Allen key and pedals hang at a nice angle for easy clipping in.

Time Xpresso 2 pedal

5.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bike pedals
The Time Xpresso 2 pedals are an affordable option and feature the company’s unique composite blade technology.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £50 / $65 as tested
  • Easy to use
  • Large stable platform with smooth float
  • Lightweight

The Xpresso 2 pedals bring Time’s unique blade design to a more affordable price point.

At 315g (with cleats), the lightweight design and ease of use mean these pedals will appeal to a wide range of cyclists – especially as a first set of clipless pedals.

The pedals are constructed from a steel axle with a composite body. The choice of materials helps keep the price down but the same technology that underpins Time’s more premium pedals is used in the Xpresso 2s, ensuring excellent functionality.

Shimano PD-5800 105 SPD-SL / PD-R7000 pedal

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bike pedals
105 is a go-to for value and dependability.
BikeRadar / Immediate Media
  • £110 / $150 / AU$189 as tested
  • The best all-rounder road bike pedals
  • Adjustable spring tension
  • User serviceable

As ever, 105 offers a sweet-spot in spec vs price, with design cues borrowed from Shimano’s more expensive Ultegra and Dura-Ace level pedals.

They aren’t the lightest but they’re easy to get on with; well built and user-serviceable. Like many Shimano components, they’re routinely available at heavy discounts.

The PD-5800s we reviewed have now been replaced by the excellent R7000 105 pedals above.

Time XPro 10 pedal

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bike pedals
The XPro is an evolution of the Xpresso pedal range.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £150 / $195 / AU$199.95 as tested
  • Best road bike pedals for weight weenies and racers
  • Stupendously light (and expensive)
  • Very smooth action throughout the range of float

The XPro is an evolution of Time’s Xpresso pedal, with a hollow steel axle.

Central to the XPro design is its carbon flexion blade, which, unlike pedals that use a steel spring, keeps the clip mechanism open until cleat entry snaps it shut.

Without significantly more weight at the rear, the XPros don’t always hang tail-down, but are still easy to pick up, and the new cleats engage with more certainty.

If you really want to splash the cash, you could always go for the significantly lighter and significantly more expensive XPresso 15. This has been replaced by the XPro 15, but the guts of the pedal remain largely the same.

Look Keo 2 Max pedal

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bike pedals
The composite body has been slimmed down and offers great lean angles.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £79.99 / $114.99 / AU$153.99 as tested
  • Excellent pedalling stability
  • Composite body
  • Adjustable spring tension

These are Look’s mid-range version of the Keos and, with this new generation, they’ve continued to improve.

The lightweight composite body shape is more in tune with the Keo’s more expensive siblings, and has a serrated centre to help with shoe traction for ease of entry.

The pedals spin without issue on oversize chromoly axles on a combination of loose balls and needle cartridge bearings. Spring tension is adjustable and they come with Look’s 4.5-degree float cleats.

These offer impressive performance with no hotspots, are easy to use and are relatively light.

Look Keo 2 Max Carbon pedal

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bike pedals
The Look Keo 2 Max is a mid-range pedal from the iconic pedal brand.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £95 / $125 / AU$187 as tested
  • Solid and reliable mid-range pedal
  • Easy to use with plenty of adjustment
  • Secure pedalling

The Look Keo 2 Max Carbon pedals sit mid-range for the iconic pedal brand and deliver its top technology to a more affordable price point.

The carbon body of the pedal is topped with a stainless steel plate that offers an increased surface area compared to the Look Keo Classic 2 model. This increased surface area aims to improve power transfer.

Inside, a chromoly steel axle spins on both needle and ball bearings. Under the most powerful pedalling the pedals spin smoothly.

Engagement is a satisfying ‘click’, and while cycling the connection is secure. Disengaging is similarly straightforward and audible.

The range of float (4.5 degrees) can be adjusted by swapping out the cleats.

Shimano Tiagra R550 pedal

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bike pedals
The Tiagra R550 pedals are one rung up from Shimano’s cheapest entry-level pedals but have a design and performance that echoes the company’s top-end pedals.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £75 / $100 / AU$99 as tested
  • Top-level performance
  • Adjustable float
  • Not the lightest

One up from Shimano’s entry-level pedals, the Tiagra R550 pedals offer very good performance and reliability for the price with a design that echoes the company’s top-end pedals.

The Tiagra R550 pedals are a great set of first clipless pedals, offering everything you need. They have Shimano’s three-bolt cleat system, adjustable float, and adjustable release tension so you can make clipping in and out as easy or hard as you like.

Like Shimano’s more premium pedals, these are wide with stainless steel metal inserts offering plenty of support while aiding power transfer.

The composite body means the pedal isn’t as light as Shimano’s carbon offerings, but this does create a robust and durable pedal.

Shimano Ultegra R8000 pedal

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bike pedals
A good fit-and-forget pedal that’s a happy balance between Dura-Ace and 105.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £157 / $200 / AU$249 as tested
  • Low weight design
  • Adjustable tension
  • Great performing pedals with plenty of float

The Shimano Ultegra R800 pedals hit all the right notes when it comes to performance. Like their equivalent groupset, the pedals are cheaper than the Dura-Ace pedals while being lighter than 105.

The pedals have a sleek carbon composite body with three non-replaceable stainless steel plates to provide durability, smooth float and power transfer.

Shimano provides its familiar yellow plastic cleats with these pedals, which provide a generous 6 degrees of float.

Clipping into the pedals is easy thanks to the pedals hanging nose up. The force required to unclip is determined by an adjustable spring, so the pedals can be tweaked to suit different skill levels and abilities.

The price of the Ultegra R8000 pedals is high and if performance is what you’re after as opposed to weight savings, it might be worth considering the well-performing, but slightly heavier Shimano 105 R7000 pedals.

Speedplay Zero Stainless pedal

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best road bike pedals
Speedplay’s pedals reverse the usual cleat-pedal arrangement.
Paul Smith
  • £199.99 / $214 / AU$384.99 as tested
  • The best pedals for those that want the most adjustment
  • Fully adjustable, non-centring float
  • Said to be the most aero pedals out there

Speedplay’s pedals reverse the normal arrangement, so the clip mechanism is bolted to your shoes and the pedals act as the cleat.

Bike fitters love Speedplays because they have far more adjustment than any other pedal, allowing anything between 10 to 15 degrees of float, as well as plenty of fore/aft and lateral adjustment.

If you have aero concerns, these Speedplay pedals are reputedly the most slippery through the air, especially if you pair the Zero Aero model and its golf-ball-like dimples with the company’s Walkable Cleat covers.

The pedals run on needle bearings, which might need some maintenance in the long run. When used on three-hole shoes, the pedals have a stack height of 11.5mm.

The pedals have recently seen an update, as a result of Wahoo purchasing the company back in 2019, but they still very much resemble the original design.


Best power meter pedals

Here is BikeRadar’s selection of the best power meter pedals.

Measured in watts, power is the most insightful metric to use to measure how you are performing on the bike.

Power meter pedals have grown in popularity due to the fact they can be switched between bikes, compared to chainring and crank-based power meters.

Favero Assioma Duo

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bike pedals
The pods on the Favero Assioma spindles house the power meter electronics.
Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
  • £639 as tested
  • Accurate power readings
  • Rechargeable battery
  • A dedicated app that is easy to use

The Favero Assiomo Duo pedals have the power meter electronics housed in pods attached to the pedal spindles. With a power meter on each pedal, The Assioma Duo will give you a precise reading and account for any difference in power output between your left and right leg.

The pedals’ readings were accurate and consistent during testing, even after switching the pedals between bikes.

Favero has a dedicated smartphone app for the pedals which is intuitive to use. The app allows you to update firmware, check battery levels and access product support.

The battery in the Favero Assioma pedals is rechargeable, which is appealing when compared to other power meter pedals that use a coin cell battery, and is said to last 50 hours between charges.

The cleat system on the pedals is similar to Look pedals. They aren’t as adjustable as Shimano SPD-SL cleats, but this should only be an issue for riders running the most extreme cleat positions.

Garmin Rally RS200

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best road bike pedals
Garmin Rally RS200 power meter pedals have a clean look and are easy to install.
Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
  • £969.99 as tested
  • Best in class cleat compatibility
  • Easy installation
  • Accurate power data

The Garmin Rally RS200 pedals are the first native Shimano SPD-SL power meter pedal.

This is great for any Shimano fans but Garmin has gone one step further too. The pedal has changeable pedal body options so it can be converted to a Shimano SPD pedal for off-road use on mountain and gravel bikes.

According to Garmin, this is what justifies the name change from its outgoing Vector pedals. Otherwise, the two pedals are very similar when it comes to their clean looks, and their power functionality too.

The readings from the power meters are accurate, but testing found the pedals can take a few seconds to start transmitting data. This will make little difference to the majority of cyclists but might be a concern for racers who take part in short distance races (e.g. on the track or hill climbs).

The premium price tag might also be off-putting when other more affordable power meter pedals are available, but it is reflective of how the pedals are class-leaders in many ways.


What to look for when buying clipless pedals

Cleats

Best road bike pedals
Most road cleats use a three-bolt pattern and come in a variety of different floats.
ProBikeKit

Road cleats vary in design depending on the pedal, but the majority fasten to the soles of your shoes with three bolts.

Look first came up with this three-point fastening and it’s become pretty much the standard for road pedals, with Shimano, Time, Mavic and others all using the same arrangement.

Some brands, like Shimano, use smaller cleats that fasten with two bolts. There are various reasons you might choose a smaller two-bolt cleat over a three-point fastening cleat. You can find out which would be best for you in our Shimano SPD and SPD-SL explainer.

Speedplay is the notable exception, with its four-bolt pattern (but then the US company effectively reverses the entire system by mounting the clip mechanism onto your shoes, leaving the pedals to act as the cleats).

To use these, you’ll need four-bolt shoes or the adaptor, which is included with every set of Speedplay pedals.

Float

Float is measured in degrees and refers to the amount your foot can move before it’s released from the pedal.

It’s there to allow your feet to fall into the most natural, comfortable position while pedalling and to reduce the stress on your knees if your cleats aren’t perfectly positioned.

Some cleats are ‘zero-float’, or fixed, which means they release your foot with only the slightest of movements. They need to be very carefully set up for the sake of your knees. Most cleats, however, offer something in the range of 3 to 9 degrees of float.

The thing to bear in mind is the more float you have, the further you have to twist your foot in order to release it.

If you’re unsure about how much float you need, don’t worry, your pedal choice won’t lock you into one particular setting and you can experiment by running different cleats and adjusting the settings on your pedals.

Release tension

Most pedals allow you to adjust the pedals’ release tension – the amount of force required to disengage your foot from the mechanism. If you’re a beginner, start off with a low tension for easier release.

This will also make it easier to clip into the pedal. As you become more confident riding with clipless pedals you can increase the tension for a more secure connection between you and your bike.

Stack height

This is measured from the middle of the pedal axle to the sole of the shoe. The lower the stack height the better because it places your foot closer to the axle for the best possible efficiency.

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You may need to adjust your saddle height if you change pedals because every model has a slightly different stack height.