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Bicycle touring has some special requirements for pedals. Cycle tourist are not just riding their bike but they are also traving and just using their bivycle to get around town to shop or do laundry/ Sometimes you are riding several hors a day and other times you are just using you bike to get you to the trail heads at a National Park for a walk or day hike More than one pair of shoe is carried to accomadate this car free lifestyle.
I have used a variety of different touring bicycle pedals on tour. If I am mostly riding I like a duel sided mt bike style. I have never had a Shimano SPD clip mechanism fail on me but if it ever did there is still the other side of a duel sided pedal. They also do not need to be flipped over because either side is good – I can clip in and out faster than most can flip around their one sided pedals. The only disadvantage is they can only be ridden short distances in non bike shoes like sandals or tennis shoes.
Bicycle touring pedals and shoes and ought to be considered together. They will work together as the primary link between the muscles in your legs and the crank on your bicycle.
New to Bicycle Touring and
This is a wonderfully large flat pedal made just for you. Big enough to keep your foot in the correct place and much higher quality than those flimsy things on the kids' bikes, these high-friction platforms keep your athletic shoes of choice firmly planted where they need to be. Anyone who's ridden a bike with old fashioned spiked platform pedals knows the pain of catching a sharp spike in the shin or calf.
Professional cyclists all use a clipless pedal and shoe system. A cleat is mounted on the shoe's sole. It snaps in to the spring-loaded clips on the pedal. This system lets you pedal with maximum efficiency and keeps your feet firmly attached to the pedals while riding over uneven terrain. Mountain bike, commuting, and touring shoes have recessed cleats to make walking easier.
As I grew up enmeshed in the world of cycle racing, my natural choice is a nice stiff cycling shoe combined with an SPD cleat and pedal. A stiff soled shoe is excellent for racing, terrible for walking in. Since I can't cycle tour in racing shoes, I use mountain bike shoes with SPD pedals. Still compatible with an SPD cleat, MTB shoes give you a little more flexibility off the bike since the cleats don't stick out beyond the sole of the shoe.
You'll sometimes see SPD (stands for 'Shimano Pedaling Dynamics') pedals called 'clipless pedals.' This is a bit of a misnomer, since clipping is exactly what you do to attach your shoes to the pedal. The name arises from the fact that cyclists used to attach their shoes to the pedals using toe clips or straps. The new system was called 'clipless' and this confusing name has stuck since then.
The reason I prefer the SPD system is that it is widely available throughout the world. I haven't ever tried the eggbeater system or other new products for that exact reason: it seems a big risk to rely on a system that I haven't seen commonly sold in cycle shops in developing countries. Pedals are not usually repaired or even serviced. They can be but they usually just wear out.
One pedal system I like is the dual sided mountain bike pedal. One side is flat, compatible with any old type of shoe – flip-flops, hiking boots, high heels, whatever you happen to be wearing at the moment. But twist that pedal around and -ta dah! - there's a clip for your SPD cycling shoe. This makes your bike much more versatile, as a quick trip to the store for beer and chips won't require changing into different shoes.
With both the dual sided or flat pedals, the name of the game is flexibility – a necessity for cycle tourists. Both give you the freedom to buy replacement shoes on the road, should your first pair go missing or broken mid-tour.
For more shoe options, see my Cycle Shoe page.
Dual Purpose Touring/Town Pedal Dual Purpose Touring/Town Pedal
Mt. Bike Pedals Mt. Bike Pedals
My pedals usually perform flawlessly until about a year of continuous bike touring they start showing signs of wearing out. The higher end models have chromoly axles and sealed cartridge bearings that will last a few years before wearing out. The “click click click” on every revolution on the right or left will reveal which leg is stronger. This is also the first sign of the pedal wearing out.
Keywords: bicycle touring pedals, spd, clips, clip-in pedals, platform pedal, flat pedal, BMX pedal, cleats,
Pedals are closely related to shoes which I have
SPD is common
Can by spd pedals in foreign cities. Even India will have a hand full of shops and Nepal has one.
Becase of carrying a load a bike tour can wear ot a pedal qickly.
Pedals are not usually something that is repaired or even serviced. Thay can be but they usually just wear ot after awile.
My pedels usally perform flawlessly bt after more than a year of continous bike touring they slowely show signs of wearing out. The higher end models have cro molly axils and sealed cartridge bearings will last me a few years before wearing them out. The “click click click” every stroke on every revoltion on the right or left will reveal which leg is stronger. This is also the first sign of them wearing out.
I have used a vieriety of different touring bicycle pedals on my trip. If I am mostly riding I like a duel sided mt bike style. I have never had a Shimano SPD clip mechanism fail on me but if it ever did there is still the other side of a duel sided pedal. They also do not need to be flipped over because either side is good – I can clip in and out faster than most can flip around their one sided pedals. The only disadvantage is they can only be ridden short distances in non bike shoes like sandles or tennis shoes.
The newer high end pedals are removed with a 8 mm allen key for removel instead of a pedal wrench which save room in your bag and/or can be found in all countries.
No pedal last me mch more than 2 years of continos toring.
Tennis shoe platform pedal Pedal
Milti Purpose Pedal – SPD ot tennis shoe
Dual sided Mt bike Pedal
I grew up racing road and track bikes so I have a hard time with anything but stiff high performance cycling shoes. Because road shoes are hard to walk in, I like a stiff SPD mountain bike shoe meant for Mt bike racing. SPD is surprisingly available in most higher end bike shops throughout the world but, in all my years on the road, (10 year this spring) I have never had the SPD mechanism fail. I usually replace my pedals every 2 or 3 years. I also carry sandals and trail running shoes for off bike times. I know this is a lot of shoes to carry but this is not a temporary vacation for me - the 3 pairs of shoes, and everything else in my panniers, are all I own. http://www.downtheroad.org/Equipment/Clothes/Shoes_Bicycle_Touring_Travel_Bike_Camping.htm
I really like the idea of a dual sided pedal (explain in previos sentence) but I do not know of one that is high quality. I like cro mo spindal and sealed cartridge bearings.
Bearings wear out on cheap pedals steel sealed cartridge is prefered Cro-Mo spindle, sealed bearings
Pedal shoppers usually fall into one of several groups: 1) Those making the switch from flat to clipless pedals, 2) Those who are outfitting a new bike (many new road bikes do not come with pedals), or 3) Those upgrading from one shoe-pedal system to another. Here's what to consider when shopping.
Who Needs Clipless Pedals?
If you ride using flat (platform) pedals, you've no doubt seen riders zipping by you with their feet firmly anchored to their pedals and wondered if that might be a wise choice for you. Fear not, bike shoes and clipless pedals are part of a natural progression to make your riding more efficient and less tiring.
Cycling shoes are usually paired with a compatible pedal to hold your feet securely on the bicycle. The so-called "clipless" shoe-pedal combination offers unmatched control with a minimum amount of your pedaling energy lost before it reaches the rear wheel.
You can start your shopping process with either shoes or pedals. Just make sure you keep shoe-pedal compatibility in mind as you decide. For information about bike shoes, see the REI Expert Advice How to Choose Bike Shoes article.
The Misnomer of Clipless
"Clipless" is admittedly a confusing name for these pedals since you actually "clip in" to the pedal's cleats much like you do with a ski binding. The origin of the name goes back a few decades when pedals with "toe clips" were a cyclist's only choice for improved pedaling efficiency. The then-new clipless pedals dispensed with toe clips by offering a direct attachment between shoe and pedal. For better or worse, the clipless name has lived on ever since.
There is a brief-but-necessary learning curve associated with clipless pedals. For tips, see below for our How to Use Clipless Pedals video and text.
In a hurry? Here's an overview of the most popular shoe-pedal attributes:
Road Biking Mountain Biking, Casual
Clipless pedal style 3-hole (Look style) 2-hole (SPD style)
Shoe outsole Smooth Lugged
Shoe sole Very stiff Stiff
Cleat style Protrudes from sole Recessed into sole
For a closer look at your options, read on.
Non-clipless Pedal Options
These "flat pedals" are the ones you probably had on your first bike. The most basic pedal system, they provide a wide stable surface to support your feet on both sides. They are not intended for use with clipless shoes.
Technology, however, has not left the platform pedal untouched. New versions use lightweight materials, sealed bearings to keep out moisture and grime, and even replaceable pins on the surface for increased grip in slippery situations you might encounter on the trail.
Many downhill mountain bikers prefer this type of pedal mated with a specifically designed shoe. This combination provides ample grip and control while remaining the easiest to get off of in the event of a crash. While clipless pedals will release in the event of a crash, platform pedals may give you the confidence to help avoid a crash.
Toe Clips and Straps
Toe clips (also called "toe cages") are small frames that attach to the front of a platform pedal and surround your toe. They allow you to pull up with your foot in the pedal stroke as well as pushing down, effectively doubling your efficiency. With the addition of an adjustable strap that threads through the top and bottom of the clip (encircling the ball of your foot), you have a basic retention system that is lightweight, affordable and durable.
Using toe clips requires righting the pedal first as the weight of the system causes the pedal to hang upside down. This is achieved with a quick flick of the toe. To remove your foot from a toe clip you simply pull it straight back.
Shop REI's selection of pedal accessories .
Platform/Clipless Dual Pedals
This hybrid approach combines the flexibility of platform pedals with the efficiency of a clipless system. It's an excellent transition pedal for anyone looking to ease into clipless. While most folks thinking of clipless pedals go "all in" or not at all, these offer an alternative for those who don't always ride with a cycling shoe.
Clipless Pedal Options
Clipless pedals are the most advanced pedal-retention system on the market. The system works by mounting a small plastic or metal cleat on the sole of your shoe. This cleat then snaps in to a set of spring-loaded "clips" on the face of the pedal.
Clipless pedal benefits include:
• You can pull up and push down during the pedal stroke for maximum energy efficiency.
• It offers a high level of control while executing moves like hopping up on to curbs or over logs.
• Improved safety: Your feet are not able to bounce off the pedals while riding through the bumps and will not slip off as you apply power in rain or snow.
For Mountain Biking
The most versatile MTB clipless pedal system is the 2-hole cleat design . It can be used for all types of riding including road cycling, mountain biking, touring or commuting. The recessed cleat option when paired with some shoes also makes walking easier (and less noisy).
The 2-hole design is often referred to as the "SPD" system (short for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics). Shimano was one of the first companies to develop this system and continues to be a leader in the market today. Other manufacturers (like Crank Brothers' Candy pedals and Time's ATAC system) have developed very similar systems that work on the same principles.
For both mountain and road bikes: Screws are placed through the 2 holes securing the cleat to 2 tracks or slots in the bottom of a compatible shoe. This lets you slide the cleat back and forth slightly to achieve the proper angle and placement for maximum comfort and ease of engagement to the pedal.
Ideally, the cleat is mounted directly under the ball of the foot but that may not be the most comfortable position for every user. You can experiment to find the ideal position to engage the cleat most easily and pedal with the most comfort. The lateral or "twist" adjustment on the cleat allows them to be set to accommodate different pedaling styles. Some people pedal with their toes slightly inwards; others have them pointing straight ahead; still others have their heels farther inboard than their toes.
For Road Cycling
Road cyclists most often use a 3-hole cleat design . This is often called a "Look" type cleat, after the company that pioneered its use. These cleats are larger, made out of the plastic and protrude farther from the sole of the shoe than a comparable 2-hole design. Other companies have since developed 3-hole cleats, such as the Shimano SPD-SL design.
The advantage of the 3-hole design is that the large cleat is able to spread the force load being applied to the pedal over a wider area. This reduces pressure on the connection points and allows a secure connection during the high stress loads that pedaling a road bike very hard can create. If you do not push your road bike to the edge of its performance envelope, you may opt for a 2-hole cleat system instead since it allows easier walking.
One final consideration is pedal float . When you step on a cleated pedal, the cleat locks into the pedal's mechanism and is held firmly in place. Float refers to the amount of angular rotation allowed to the foot on the pedal. A few systems hold the foot at a fixed angle; others allow fixed amounts of float and a few allow customizable ranges of float. This largely becomes a personal preference as you become a more experienced rider.
Tip: Cyclists with knee issues should use cleats with built-in float.
Most cleats release laterally. The so-called multiple-release cleat is very similar to these models except that it releases a bit more easily and at slightly increased angles (your heel can move outward or inward and slightly upward as well). The differences are subtle. The bottom line is that they do seem to be somewhat more forgiving than their lateral-release cousins.
Reminder: Be sure your pedals, cleats and shoes are designed to work as a system.
How to Use Clipless Pedals
The barrier most people encounter when using a clipless system is that engaging and disengaging your feet from the pedals takes practice. To disengage your shoe from the pedal, simply twist your foot, starting by pressing or turning your heel outward, away from the bike. When you reach a certain number of degrees the clip system disengages and your foot releases from the pedal. This motion is simple to learn, but it must be practiced to develop muscle memory and confidence in the process.
A note of caution: While learning how to use your clipless pedals, it is recommended that you find a level, grassy field for practice. It is possible you may fall a few times while learning, and soft ground can help prevent injuries. If you are unsure of the process, a bike specialist at your local REI store will be happy to show you how to use your new pedal system. Another option, if available to you, is to practice clipping in and out while on a magnetic or fluid bike trainer.
Tip: To develop the proper muscle memory for clipless pedals, try getting in and out of each pedal 50 to 60 times. Once you have achieved this number of repetitions, your legs will begin to be trained to do the right thing without you having to think about it.
Cleats are bolted to bottom of the shoe but must also match the pedals properly if they are to engage and disengage safely. For this reason, cleats are supplied with the pedals and not the shoes.
To create a full clipless pedal system, you need 1) Shoes that are drilled to accept the kind of cleat you are buying, and 2) Compatible cleats and pedals (which are sold together). If you wear out your cleats, replacements are sold separately.
Proper positioning of the cleat on the shoes is necessary for the correct functioning of a clipless pedal system. An incorrectly positioned cleat and/or pedal-release tension can cause release issues and knee pain. If you have any questions, consult with your local REI store or other reputable bike shop for help.
If it becomes difficult to engage or disengage your cleats, the pedal may require cleaning and lubrication. First inspect the pedal for obvious signs of damage. If you do not find any, give the pedal a good scrub with warm water to remove any mud or debris. Let the pedal dry and add a drop of light lube to the clips on the pedal. Remember to lube both sides if you have a dual-sided system. If you are still having trouble getting in or out of your clipless pedals, check with your local bike mechanic for solutions.
Tip: If you do not own a cleaning brush kit, an old toothbrush makes an excellent tool for cleaning pedals.
These are relatively maintenance free. Occasionally give a dab of light lube on the buckle of your toe-clip strap. You should also check the mounting nuts for tightness—they can manage to work themselves free.
Shop REI's selection of bike lubricants .
Cycling Pedal FAQs
Q: What should I shop for first: shoes or pedals?
A: Shoes traditionally have been the first step for those making the transition to a clipless pedal system. Recently, however, pedal choices have expanded to the point where we now feel that you may want to consider the pedals first. For example, many road commuters now prefer a 2-sided MTB pedal for ease of entry. Pedals must suit your riding preference and type of bike, and their features and benefits are perhaps more significant than those offered by shoes. Once you find a suitable pedal, you can then consider cycling shoes based on their pedal compatibility, comfort, features and price.
Q: Are there entry-level clipless pedals that may be easier to use than others?
A: Most clipless pedals function in the same way. They have adjustable spring tension to make it easier or harder to click into the pedal with the cleat. However, dual-sided pedals make it easier for beginners to clip in to whatever side of the pedal your foot lands on. Some beginners also like a bit more platform around their clipless pedals so that they have something to stand on even if they are not able to clip in right away when starting off.
Q: Is pedal installation as simple as unscrewing the old ones and screwing in the new ones?
A: Yes. In most cases, you can use a pedal wrench or a thin-headed crescent wrench to loosen old pedals and install new ones. Pedals feature opposite threads so as not to unscrew while you ride. To loosen your pedals, put the wrench on the spindle and the handle of the wrench facing up. Grab the crankarm in one hand and the wrench in the other and rotate the wrench handle towards the back of the bicycle. The new pedal spindles are marked with an "L" and an "R" to let you know which pedal goes on which side. These directions assume you are sitting on the seat riding the bike (often referred to as "rider's right" or "rider's left"). Simply thread the pedals in by hand and finish tightening them with the wrench. If you have any problems, consult your local REI store or other bike shop for help.
Q: Why do clipless pedals range from $50 to $300 or more? What are the differences?
A: As clipless pedals rise in price, many small but significant changes take place. The pedals become lighter, they use more advanced materials for both strength and durability, their bearings are longer lasting and the aesthetics become more important. If you plan to ride lightly and not very often, a less expensive pedal should be sufficient. If you ride regularly in demanding conditions, a more expensive pedal may offer better value in the long run.
Q: When do cleats need replacing?
A: Cleats need replacing if they are worn to the point when disengaging from the pedal happens inadvertently. They must also be replaced if they break or crack since damaged cleats may not function properly or even fail unexpectedly. Avid riders may need to change cleats as often as once per year. Casual riders can have cleats last up to 5 years before they need to be replaced.
Q: How do I find a compatible replacement cleat?
A: Finding a replacement cleat is pretty easy at REI or other bike shops. Cleats match the pedals, so be sure to know which pedal you have before you go cleat shopping. There is often only one choice for the proper replacement cleat for your pedal. If you're unsure how to identify your pedal, bring your shoes to REI or another reputable bike store or take a picture of the pedal and cleat and a bike specialist will be able to help you identify th
If you’re just getting into bike touring, you may be amazed to discover how much choice there is when it comes to pedals.
Like most things, ask 100 people which pedals they prefer and you’ll get 100 different answers. The only way to know for sure is to try a few out for yourself. You may try several systems before you find the one that fits you best.
We’ve tried almost every system going, and we have two current favourites:
#1. Pedals With Cleats
Pedals with cleats or spikes have more grip than normal flat pedals. You feel like you’re cycling with cages or clips, which is especially nice on a rainy day, when you don’t want your feet sliding over the pedals. When you want to release your feet, it’s easy. You’re not actually locked or strapped into the pedals, so you can lift your feet off quickly at any time.
We ordered a set of DMR Pedals from Wiggle (£25.19). REI also stock Wellgo pedals ($22).
Advantages: Reasonably priced. Lots of grip, while still leaving your feet free to move (unlike pedals with straps and clips that keep your feet in one place).
Disadvantages: If you hit your legs against the pedals when you’re pushing the bike, it’s going to hurt. Ouch! Also, if you use your bike both for touring and commuting, be warned that these pedals will scratch any nice shoes you might wear to work!
#2. Ergon’s PC2 Pedals
Ergon’s PC2 Pedals ($79.95) are flat pedals, with a twist. They have a unique contoured surface and a sandpaper-like coating that helps your feet stick to the pedals, without the need for special shoes.
Friedel started using these in late 2011, when she realised that her pedals with cleats were ruining her dress shoes (she uses the same bike to tour and to commute to work).
So far we can only give first impressions but they’re positive. There’s a high ‘sticky’ factor, and the pedals are very comfortable, if a bit larger than most other pedals. We’re looking forward to testing them more over the coming winter months, and writing a full review on the blog in 2012.
Advantages: Very comfortable and good grip. Can be used with any shoes, and won’t ruin or scratch good dress shoes.
Disadvantages: A bit expensive, and relatively large. People who are particularly into aesthetics may find them ugly.
Other options include:
Ordinary Flat Pedals
Found on most low to mid-range bikes, this style of pedal should be familiar to everyone who has ridden a bike. The only thing you need to know about picking out this type of pedal for a bike tour is don’t go with the very cheapest one. The bearings are not good quality in cheaper pedals.
You don’t need the most expensive either but spending an extra $10-20 will go a long way. Aim for a metal pedal, not plastic. (After trying all the other options, a flat pedal like the one pictured is what Friedel used for our world bike tour).
Advantages: Can be used with any type of shoe. No learning curve. Easily replaceable anywhere in the world.
Disadvantages: Not as efficient as clipless pedals. Feet can slide around on the pedals in wet conditions.
Straps & Cages
If you want to kick things up a notch, you can add Power Grips straps or more traditional Cages to your flat pedals.
Power Grips - These simple straps ($26 from REI) are loved by many mountain bikers and some cycle tourists including Tara & Tyler of Going Slowly.
Advantages: Cheap. Durable. Can be used with any shoes and normal pedals.
Disadvantages: Can cause injury if not properly adjusted. (We think improperly adjusted Power Grips contributed to some trouble Friedel had with tendinitis).
Cages are a common choice for beginners who don’t feel entirely comfortable with being clipped in. You just slide your feet into a cage and there’s a strap to adjust the tightness of the fit.
Advantages: Inexpensive. Widely available. No special shoes required.
Disadvantages: Can be frustrating trying to get your feet into the pedals. Not as efficient as clipless pedals (see below).
These are the choice of many bike tourists. The name is a bit confusing. They’re called ‘clipless’ when in fact you secure your feet to the pedals by clipping in, but the ‘clipless’ term is a reference to the fact that these pedals don’t have toe clips or cages.
There are many different types, one of the most common being Shimano’s SPD system. Other common brands include Eggbeaters and Frogs. They all work on the same premise: cleats in your shoes attach to the pedals. While attached, pedaling is more efficient because you put energy into the upward stroke as well as the downward stroke. When you are ready to stop, you release your feet with a small outward twist.
Andrew uses Shimano M424 pedals ($70 from REI). The first pair lasted over 30,000km before a new pair was needed. The Shimano M324 pedals ($85 from REI and £41.24 from Wiggle) are also popular among touring cyclists because they have an SPD attachment on one side and a normal platform on the other side.
Advantages: Makes your cycling as much as 15% more efficient. Can help keep your feet secure on the pedals in wet or bumpy conditions.
Disadvantages: The pedals, and the shoes that go with them, are more specialised than other types of pedals. If you need a replacement, they may be hard or impossible to find in less developed countries. The learning curve of clipless pedals means you’ll probably fall once or twice as you learn to clip in and out. The pedals can cause knee pain if they are not properly adjusted.
Tips & Advice
I have used several brands of bicycle panniers and
highly recommend Ortlieb.
See Why I switched to Ortlieb waterproof Panniers?
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