What type of pedal is best?
Firstly lets look a some of the different types out there:
A basic standard pedal
Standard metal pedal offering more grip
Strapped in pedal
Clip-less (clipped in) SPD pedal
Shoes with cleats (the orange bits) to clip into clipless pedals
The last pedal is an SPD system which means you need the correct type of shoe with Cleats to fasten you onto the pedal. There are a number of different systems and all require different styles of matching cleats, however they all do roughly the same thing.
So which pedals should you use?
Well for the normal (if there is such a thing) rider any of the above are fine. If you the next Bradley Wiggins and want to maximise you efficiency then clip-less are for you. Mountain biking is another area where Clip-less pedals should be used, as it prevents feet slipping off over rough terrain.
So why does everyone who wears cycling gear feel the need to use clip-less? They are more expensive as are the shoes. Shoes and cleats need replacing as they wear out. Advertising, peer pressure and fashion is the answer. I’ve probably upset a few cyclists who have used them for years and swear by them (sorry).
Most people go through life never realizing that most of “reality” is nothing more than their take on things, shaped by physical and mental experiences. For example, most people would think that running a marathon is extremely hard, if not impossible. Based on their lack of endurance and experience running, plus the extra 20-30 pounds they are likely carrying, their mind forms the reality that a marathon is “hard”.
However, someone who trains for a marathon and runs them regularly probably has a different opinion on the subject. Each person has their view on reality…and it can change.
If the first person decided to train hard and make it happen they could get to the physical and mental place where they too feel than running a marathon isn’t “hard” any-more. If the second person broke their leg and had to take a lot of time off their physical and mental state would change and what used to be easy is once again hard. Your reality isn’t permanent and it can be changed rather easily.
So, what the heck does all this have to do with Cycle pedals?
Clipless pedals let you pedal with more power.
Absolutely not true…there is nothing that shows that clip-less pedals definitively let you produce more raw “power”. Although manufacturers will claim that they can increase performance by up to30% ( think about it if you pedal at an average speed of 15mph will clip-less pedals really up your average to 19.5 MPH)? However they do let you artificially strengthen the weak link of the feet to pedal which allows you to pedal longer before power starts to wane (making them more efficient), which is useful for multi-hour/ multi-day racing, but there is absolutely no raw “power” advantage in clip-less pedals. The fact that you can’t climb that steep hill without them is more in your head and lack of pedaling technique.
You need to be able to pull up on your pedals to produce max power.
Again, this is simply not true no matter how many times it gets repeated. When studied, the best peddlers are not pulling up and producing power on the upstroke. They are instead getting the trail leg un-weighted and out of the way for the far more powerful down stroke of the lead leg. They can finish the pedal stroke off with their hips, which makes the pulling motion unnecessary. Less skilled peddlers use the clip-less interface as a crutch to bypass the hips and place extra stress on the already chronically tight hip flexors (buttock muscle).
There are a lot of studies done on clip-less pedals on the net, read them but understand most are funded or carried out by pedal manufactures.
Ok rant over, the reality is most will probably end up using clip-less (I have). Make sure if you do, that you can un-clip easily, practice un-clipping and clipping back in. Be prepared to fall over getting it wrong, it can hurt and your street cred takes a bashing.
Dont follow trends think about how you ride, be safe and enjoy what is a fantastic sport or hobby.