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Bike Pedal Basics: A Guide for Different Pedal Types

Most cyclists usually overlook the key component when they are having fun with their bikes. In this article, we’ll talk about the key component: bike/bicycle pedals.

Most cyclists usually overlook the key component when they are havinfg fun with their bikes.

In this article, we’ll talk about the key component: bike pedals.

an older bike pedal in a bike

Bike pedal provides the connection between the rider’s foot and the crank. So they can turn the bottom bracket spindle and propel the bike’s wheels.

Bike pedal plays an important role in transferring the power from a cyclist’s legs to the drivetrain. It has a huge impact on rider’s performance as well as comfort and safety on the bike.

How Many Types of Bike Pedals Are There?

A group of bike pedals

Why do bike pedals come in different types?


Just as bicycles come in different styles, there are different types of pedals for them.

Different bike pedals could provide different styles of riding.

They also can make a huge impact on your riding experiences. Such as power transfer, greater stability and increased comfort.

We usually divide bike pedals in two distinct styles: Clipless and Platform.

Let’s dive deeper.

Platform Pedals

Flat Bike Pedal under feet

Platform pedals are probably the most commonly seen pedal types on every bike. They are also called flat pedals.

You can tell a platform pedal from its appearance. It has a large flat area for the rider’s foot to rest on. Cyclists can wear any shoe with the stable, wider surface provided by the flat pedals.

However, you can not use clipless shoes.  We’ll talk about them later.

Platform pedals are most commonly seen on BMX, urban, dirt jumping, freeride, and mountain bikes.

Budget models may be made of steel or aluminum and include reflectors for safer nighttime riding on streets, as well as complying with some traffic laws.

Platform pedals that are less expensive are generally considered disposable and cannot be rebuilt when they wear out.

Platform pedals for mountain bikes are more expensive and come with replaceable metal traction pins and cartridge bearings. Some types are created through machining.

A red machining flat bike pedal
TWOOC (CNC) Machining Flat Bike Pedal

Unusual metals such as magnesium have been used to create lightweight pedals for freeride and downhill cycling.

Clipless Pedals

A pair of clipless bike pedal

Charles Hanson invented the clipless pedal(also known as the clip-in or step-in) in 1895. Clipless refers to a locking mechanism that has replaced the toe clip(age).

It had a rotational float and allowed the rider to twist the shoe to lock and unlock it(the freedom to rotate the shoe slightly to prevent joint strain).

Clipless pedals could offer greater stability on descents, improved power transfer, and consistent foot placement.

It is more efficient and less difficult to pedal powerfully through rough terrain. Your feet will not be knocked off the pedals, saving you from being hit by the pedal, which is terribly painful.

Because of the system’s attached nature, it is important to practice clipping in and out to develop the muscle memory to place your foot for quick and accurate cleat engagement with the pedal.

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