12 Best Road Bike Pedals in 2017

Bicycles seem pretty simple when you are a kid. You obviously have to be able to keep your balance, but it is mainly about pedaling and steering once you get rolling. The handlebars are an important component on any bike, but so are the pedals. They are one of the most important parts of your bike as anyone knows who has ridden with the wrong kind of metal underfoot.

The type of pedal you want on our bike depends on where you’ll be riding first and foremost. If you are in the mountains, you’ll want something grippy and sturdy while the best road bike pedals are built for speed and pedaling power. While you can still buy flat pedals with great grip for road use, many riders have gone clipless, which make up about half our list.

Before we get into technical terms, our list is for those who choose to do their riding on the road. Whether you are going for distance, speed or just casual rides we have included something that fit everyone’s riding style. A few of our models will let you go offroad as well, so if you need the best of both worlds, go straight for the hybrids.

Top 12 Road Bike Pedals Table

Design Name Pedal Type Cleats Rating (1-5)
   1. Shimano SPD-SL Light Action Road Bicycle Pedals  Clipless     3-bolt  4.8
   2. Shimano Pd-Mx80 Platform Pedals  Platform  Pins  4.7
   3. Shimano PD-R550 SPD-SL Road Pedals  Clipless  3-bolt  4.7
   4. Shimano A530 SPD Pedals  Hybrid  2-bolt  4.6
   5. Look KEO 2 Max Pedal  Clipless  3-bolt  4.6
6. Shimano PD-R540 SPD-SL Road Pedals  Clipless  3-bolt  4.6
7. Shimano PD-M324 SPD Dual Platform Pedal  Hybrid  2-bolt  4.6
8. Shimano 105-5800 Road Pedal  Clipless  3-bolt  4.6
   9. MEETLOCKS Bike Pedal, Injection Magnesium Alloy Body  Platform  Pins  4.4
   10. MKS Sylvan Road Pedal Alloy Forged Silver  Platform  NA  4.4
   11. Shimano PDT400 Clickr Pedal  Hybrid  2-bolt  4.4
   12. Commuter Road Bike Pedal  Hybrid  2-bolt  4.0

How to Choose Pedals for Road Use

Bicycle pedals are not as simple as they used to be. You don’t have to be confused; just consider three key areas when buying new road pedals: the type of road bike pedals out there, your cleats and your shoes.

Types of Road Bike Pedals

If you have been out of the loop for a while or are new to the biking work, this one can be a doozy to wrap your head around. Any bike you had as a kid and most adult bikes off the rack come with flat pedals. There are other types however with the confusing “Clipless” pedal, Toe Clip pedals and Hybrids.

  • Flat or Platform Pedals – These can be used on any bike, including ones built for the road. They are easily recognizable due to the flat nature and the fact that some are spiky across the top: this is for grip (and taking the skin off your legs if you aren’t careful).
  • Clipless – Don’t let the name fool you. While they are “clipless” as they don’t clip over your toe like the toe clip pedals, you actually clip them into a special shoe. Yes, it locks your feet onto the pedals, which is not going to be ideal to some (and scary to most). That said, they are extremely efficient and your best bet if you want to generate serious power with a minimum amount of effort.
  • Hybrid – These pedals offer up the best of both words and a great way to go clipless without committing. The styles vary, but most will be flat on one side with pins or ridges while the others side lets you clip in.

Cleats

There are two types of cleats you’ll deal with when you decide to go clipless.

  • 3-Bolt. The main one you’ll find among our picks is the 3-bolt system aka SPD-SL if you are shopping Shimano. These are made especially for the road and as the name implies, have three cleats for three connection points which ensure for a more stable platform. On the flipside, they are not fun to walk in for obvious reasons.
  • 2-Bolt. Two-bolt cleats are more for mountain bikes or MTB’s, but can also be found on some types of road pedals. They are mainly found on hybrids however where one side is a platform and the other sports two cleats for connecting. Due to their smaller profile, they are easier to move around in when you are off the bike. Cleats are important, as it ties directly into our next section with shoes.

Shoes

Once you have wrapped your head around what you want out of a pedal and where you plan to do most of your riding, it’s time to take a look at your shoes. You can ride a road bike in about any type of shoe imaginable (heels aside) if you have the proper pedal. The ideal type of shoe, however, depends on what is underfoot.

To keep it simple, if you are going to buy clipless pedals, you are going to need to purchase shoes to go along with them unless you already have a set to match. Hybrid and platform pedals will work with regular kicks along with Toe Clip pedals although cycling shoes are still your best bet for the latter and some hybrids.

Top 5 Best Road Bike Pedals Reviews

1. Shimano SPD-SL Light Action Road Bike Pedals

The Shimano SPD-SL Light Action Road Bike Pedal is considered a bit of a hybrid as it’s a platform pedal but one that lets you clip-in as they are one of the clipless pedals we mentioned. Actually, they are one of the top pedals of this nature and have a wide platform for increased stability. That results in a better connection and more pedaling power overall.

These road bike pedals come with the proper cleats for a 3-hole pattern provided you already have the shoe. They also live up to their light namesake at 330 grams per pair, so they won’t weigh you down and are available in White or Black.

2. Shimano PD-Mx80 Platform Pedals

If you are not ready to jump feet first into the wild world of clipless pedals, Shimano has a fine alternative for you. The Shimano PD-Mx80 Platform pedal is a regular old platform pedal, but one built with the same attention to detail put into the big high dollar clipless units.

These aluminum pedals are dubbed “Saints, ” and while they are flat, they do come with removable “pins” for traction. There are nine of them, and they are adjustable to a degree as well which ensures a proper grip for different types of shoes. Needless to say, you don’t need cleats or specialized footwear for these road pedals.

Although these pedals are built for the road, they can be used off of it as well and have sealed bearings to keep dirt and grime away. The concave platform will increase your pedaling efficiency, which in turn results in more power and longer riding time. On the downside, these are a little wider than some may be comfortable with but it is a great road bike pedal.

3. Shimano PD-R550 SPD-SL Road Pedals

Our second set of clipless road pedals come from Shimano and carry the model number PD-R550 SPD-SL. That means they are in the company’s SPD range and they are going to be tougher than many pedals on our list. It has an “extra wide” platform which makes transitioning a little easier if you are used to rolling with flat or platform pedals. There is also a large entry target for clipping in, another perk for newbies to the world of clipless pedals.

As mentioned, the Shimano PD-R550 road pedals are sturdy, and that’s due to their quality construction and materials used by Shimano. The body is made from a resin composite with a stainless steel exterior to keep the pedals fresh from damage – and your leg free of scrapes. Other notable features include a replaceable cleat plate and a wide range of tension adjustments.

The PD-R550 SPD-SL pedals are only available in one size and color with Black. They use the 3-bolt setup and come with Yellow cleats sporting a 3-degree float.

4. Shimano A530 SPD Pedals

You are going to see a lot of Shimano on our list of the best road bike pedals, so it should come as no surprise they are the first to drop a hybrid pedal in the Top 5. The Shimano A530 SPD pedals can offer up the best of both worlds to riders that enjoy or want to try clipless but are not ready to leave their platform pedals behind.

The clipless side of the Shimano A530 pedals sport the SPD cleat system with an adjustable float and quick release. These are 2-bolt pedals, so keep your cycling shoe in mind as many road shoes are geared towards 3-bolt systems. Clipping aside, the other side of the pedal is designed for mountain use but will work just as well on the road. The sealed cartridge bearings and steel spindles will keep dirt out and ensure the pedals hold up for years to come.

These pedals are a great all-around option that can suit many styles, including those that prefer clipless road riding but also hit the trail on occasion. These pedals are available in Black or Silver and weight in at 383 grams.

5. Look KEO 2 Max Pedal

Shimano may have a stranglehold on the bike pedal market, but Look Cycle managed to sneak the Look KEO 2 Max onto our list of the best road bike pedals. It’s another clipless pedal, and one of the lightest to make the cut at only 240 grams. Appreciate a bit wear plate? Well, you will dig this one then as it offers up a 12% increase in when it comes to the contact surface on its steel wear plate.

Another advantage of the Look KEO 2 Max is the level of adjustment. While you do have to stick with a triangle 3-bolt pattern for your shoes, it has 12 tension settings. That means you can set it to light if you are not used to the clipless style and want to be able to engage easily and disengage from your pedal.

Looking for something a little more vibrant than the usual Black? Look has you covered with Black & Green, White & Red, Carbon, White, Black & Grey and solid Black or White.