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Which Pedals & Cleats? Cycling Pedals & Cleat Buying Guide

Pedals can be a confusing topic due to the various options that are available. So, what pedals should you choose?

Shimano road bike pedals

How do clipless pedals work?

Clipless pedals comprise of two important parts – one is the pedal, the other is the cleat. The cleat is attached to the bottom of your shoe and when offered up to the pedal and pressure applied, a spring mechanism ‘clicks’ you into place. This will then hold you into place until you clip yourself out, usually with a twisting motion from your heel.

They do take a bit of practice getting used to them, and most people have a few wobbles when they forget to unclip when coming to a stop, but if you persevere, you’ll be pleased for making the jump.

Shimano cleats

What are the benefits of clipless?

Essentially they are far more efficient, with flat pedals you lose much of the power you generate on each pedal stroke. When clipped in you transfer much more of this energy into forward motion. A flat pedal is OK for short journeys but the transformation when you make the change to clipless is incredible and changes the ride quality.

Which shoes and pedals are compatible?

Look Pedals

Road and Track Pedals

Predominantly used by road and track cyclists and makes use of a large cleat that is fixed to the bottom of the shoe by three bolts. The pedals are only one sided, but are weighted to the rear to make it easier to clip in. They are not designed to be walked in.

Shimano XT Pedal

Mountain and Cyclocross

More popular with off road riders such as mountain bike and cyclocross riders. The cleats on this style of pedal are much smaller, and fixed to the shoe by using two cleat bolts. In most cases, the cleat is recessed into the shoe making it much easier to walk in them, perfect for technical terrain where this might be required.

Shimano XT Pedal


The traditional flat pedal remains popular with mountain bikers who feel more confident with not being clipped in place. Or commuters who travel to work intoer shoes or trainers.

The type of shoe you are using needs to be matched to the type of pedal. Some style of shoes are compatible with both the road and mountain bike style of cleat, whereas more performance orientated shoes are only compatible with one or the other.

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Posted by Andy Mc

Andy Mc

Andy is the Product Specialist and Content Writer at Ribble. He takes part in all disciplines of cycling, but can mostly be found either on his road bike or on the mountain bike trails.

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