The pedals of a road bike are one of its most crucial components since they sit near the crankset and act as the physical bridge between your legs and the wheels. To achieve a smooth power transmission, every piece of the chain needs to work smoothly, and having the best road bike pedals attached to your feet will greatly contribute to a fluid and enjoyable ride, giving you the feeling that your body is seamlessly connected to the tires and the road.

For beginner riders, choosing the best pedals for road bikes may seem somewhat confusing, since at first glance they usually look quite different than the flat ones you may be used to seeing on mountain bikes. In this article, we have put together a list of the top rated pedals for road bike that you can get your hands on today, as well as a guide to steer you through all the technical ins and outs that you’ll have to choose between. Read on to discover how to find the road cycling pedals that are the best match for your skill level and riding style.

How To Choose Road Bike Pedals – Buying Guide



Beginner riders may be taken aback by some of the models listed in our road bike pedals reviews, because of how different they look from the most basic pedals we are all used to looking at. There are, however, many options that allow you to stick close to what you know, which excellent flat pedals that still help your performance considerably while being very simple to use. For those looking to get into clipless pedals, we recommend using one that are not too tight in the beginning, since this will make it easier to understand how to get in and out of them safely.


Thanks to clipless pedals road bikes have the potential of being extremely fast machines, letting the rider transfer a maximum amount of power to the wheels. For racing situations, there is no replacing the impact they can have on performance. To get the best out of your bike we recommend setting the pedals to grip the cleats as tightly as possible since this will let the rider feel the bike as a part of his or her body and also reduce the risk of feet accidentally slipping out at high speeds.


Road bikes come in all shapes and sizes and can be used for many different kinds of riding, such as bike touring or even bikepacking, so knowing where you plan to use yours with be very useful in determining what kind of pedals you need. Flat pedals are more versatile, and can be a good option if there are parts of the road you’re on that are not paved. Clipless pedals, on the other hand, really shine when it comes to pure speed and power, and are the natural choice if you only plan to be riding on smooth roads.


The flat part of the pedal correlates directly to the amount of power that travels to the crankset. This is because a wider surface area will disperse your weight more evenly while a smaller one will concentrate it more in a single spot, translating into more force being applied on a smaller surface. This, in turn, means more power arrives at the crankset and then to the wheels. The only downside of a smaller flat area is the possible development of uncomfortable hotspots on your foot.


Most clipless pedals work with cleats that have either two or three bolts in them. Three-bolt cleats provide a stronger hold on the pedal, but they stick out from under the sole of the shoe and are uncomfortable to walk with. To resolve this problem two-bolt cleats were introduced, which merge much better with the shoe and make the rider able to walk much more freely. This also makes clipping in and out of the pedals much easier. There exist also four-bolt systems but these are used by very few manufacturers nowadays.


The float of a road bike pedal is the amount of “wiggle room” the foot has while still remaining clipped in. This can be regulated by adjusting the strength of the binding mechanism, but there will always be a little space to move since this prevents the knee from being subjected to excessive strain. Having the ability to let some of the energy escape by moving the foot ever so slightly can make a big difference in the risk of injury, so don’t worry if your bike pedals don’t feel like solid cement, it’s meant to be that way.

Release Tension

A pedal’s release tension is the amount of force required to twist the shoe out of the binding mechanism. This can usually be adjusted with a simple Allen key, and we recommend keeping it low in the beginning if you have never used the system before. As your skills increase you can tighten the grip, as this will give you a better feel for the bike and the road, making you feel whole with the machine and reducing the risk of slipping out of the pedals at high speeds. 

Stack Height

The stack height is the distance between the tip of your foot and the pedal axle. This influences how you can leverage on the pedal so t is directly linked to the amount of power that gets to the wheels. A shorter stack height usually makes your footwork better, and pedals sometimes come with an extra axle to let you replace the existing one if it provides you with a better fit.



Q: What Pedals Do Pro Road Cyclists Use?


Pro road cyclists need to feel that the bike is an integral part of their body to get the most out of it at every push, so they will use pedals that grip the feet tighter than what most amateurs would like to feel, with minimal float. This lets them feel every small variation in the road as well as transfer the maximum amount of power to the wheels. Pro riders will usually prefer pedals with a three-bolt system since they provide a very strong grip on the shoe.

Q: Which Is Better SPD Or SPD SL?


An SPD pedal is slightly more versatile than an SPD-SL model since the cleats that clip into it don't protrude as much from the bottom of the rider's shoe. This makes SPD users able to walk around longer in their bike shoes without damaging the cleat. SPD-SL pedals offer a better and stronger grip but the cleat is very prominent under the shoe, making walking around more complicated. Overall, SPD-SL pedals are better for pure performance, while SPD pedals are more flexible, so the choice comes down to your needs and personal preference.

Q: What Is The Difference Between Clipless And SPD Pedals?


All SPD pedals are clipless, but not all clipless pedals are SPD. The name clipless indicates, somewhat confusingly, pedals you can actually clip into. This is because, in the past, the “clip” was a series of laces that would tie the toe to the pedal, and these were removed as pedal design evolved. SPD stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics and is the name the manufacturer uses to any one of the clipless pedals in their lineup, but there are many other clipless pedals not made by Shimano and so not SPD.

Globo Surf Overview

We hope that our comprehensive overview of the top road bike pedals available on the market has helped you clear up your mind on the options at your disposal and make an informed choice. Having the right set of pedals can make a significant difference to your ride, and we are confident that by following our tips and tricks you’ll select a pair that can take you to the next level.

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!