Best Clipless Pedals 2017 – How to Pick The Right Ones!

Clipless pedals become more popular and highly recommended in both road and sportive cycling due to their efficiency and safety. They are attached to cycling shoe cleats and secure rider's feet firmly in place, while allowing easy and quick release rather than system of straps and slotted cleats. 

In this article, you can find reviews of best clipless pedals 2016 on the market today and all useful information on how to choose the product that is right for you!

*** You'll find the detailed review of each product below, but you can also click on the product name above to check prices and read more customer reviews on Amazon***

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Different Types of Clipless Pedals

There are two main types of clipless pedals. The major difference between these two types is the number of bolts in their soles. Understanding how each type works helps you to pick the suitable one. 

Three-Bolt

This three-bolt design complies with the original concept of road racing pedals introduced in 1984. As the name implies, the cleat is firmly attached to the sole of the biker’s shoes by three bolts.

This provides a rather firm connection having a very rigid sole, and much more connection ports. This modification provides sheer performance and is larger road-specific as the cleat spreads more pedaling load over the pedals, and allows the biker to be in total domination of the controls.

However, the major cons that this design has include the difficulty in getting out of the pedals just as much as it requires a bit of attention to get into them. This can be a huge problem especially when you have to stop at the lights, or move in traffic. The three-bolt clipless pedals also do not provide the best platform for walking because there is no extra rubber around the cleat of the sole to make them walkable. After hours of cycling, this could be frustrating; depending on the distance, you have to walk.​

Two-Bolt

Shimano introduced the Shimano Pedaling Dynamics design in 1990. It featured a small cleat with two bolts. This two-bolt design is not entirely an upgrade of the three-bolt clipless pedals, but it is definitely easier to clip in and unclip after use. The recessed cleat helps guide the biker’s shoes into the mechanism, making it very easy to clip in. 


Benefits of Using Clipless Pedals

Let's find out why you should switch from standard into clipless pedals. 

Benefits of using clipless pedals

Efficiency & Power

For maximum efficiency, the balls of your feet have to remain connected to the center of each pedal. Platform pedals cannot guarantee this connection for long because there is a huge chance that your feet moves as you pedal through bumps and curves on the road.

However, clipless pedals keep your feet in the correct position for maximum cycling efficiency for as long as the cleat of your shoe sole remains connected to the bolts in each pedal. Instead of pushing each pedal with one foot at every stroke, the pedal system helps you pull the other pedal up with the other leg as it rebounds for another stroke.

This double effort increases your speed and control as opposed to the platform pedals where all the pushing power comes from one stroke. This alone reduces the stress that each foot has to go through during cycling and make for an easier and more efficient biking experience.​​

Safety

While cycling with the flat pedals, one of the most dangerous and frustrating moments is when you are power cycling up a hill, and your feet slides off the pedals. The outcome of that alone can be very dangerously unpredictable, especially when it is raining and the pedals, your shoes and the ground are wet.

Another safety benefit of the clipless pedals is its advantage over the toe clips. In the same scenarios as explained below, you need to hold a safe stance as soon as it happens. You can easily get out of the clipless pedals and hold your ground. The same goes for traffic light stops and maneuvering terrible traffic.​​

Comfort

If you have not used the toe clip pedal to cycle, you might not be able to able to relate to this. Summarily, for maximum efficiency on the toe clip, you have to tighten the straps to your feet. It might seem like a perfect fit when you start, but after few minutes of cycling and your heart begins to beat faster, pumping more blood throughout your body and your veins expanding and contracting, it becomes unbearable especially when the road is not smooth. Clipless pedals, on the other hand, allows your feet position comfortably and reduce restrain on your feet. 


Key Attributes to Look For When Buying Clipless Pedals

These attributes are the fundamentals you should carefully take into consideration when looking for a pair of clipless pedals. 

Cleat

The cleats are one of the most important parts of a pair of pedals and they vary in size depending on the pedal. They majorly help you secure your foot to the pedals for more efficient transmission so you have to be smart about your choice. The three-bolt clipless pedals are standard road pedals that guarantee smoother performance, but you have to be conscious of the fact that they are not so easy to take off.

Therefore, if you would be planning to cycle in the city filled with cars, traffic laws and crazy drivers that prefer the throttle to the brakes, you should not go for this option. The three-bolt clipless pedals favor professional racers because speed and efficient transmission for curves and bumpy roads.

However, the two-bolt clipless pedals would fit perfectly for this particular purpose as it does the job to satisfaction and has a smoother harness for engagement and disengagement.

Stack Height

This is the measured height from the sole of the shoe to the middle of the pedal axle. A smaller stack height keeps your foot closer to the pedals, and subsequently keeps it locked on harder for smoother transmission, just as it would with the three-bolt clipless pedals. Put this in mind when you go shopping for bike pedals.

Float

One of the few things that come to mind when introduced to clipless pedals is that your feet is going to be locked on the pedal for as long as you are cycling. Comfortability becomes an issue especially when you have to cycle for a long time.

This is where the float comes in. The float helps you slightly rotate your feet to whatever available position you see fit. However, getting off the cleats of the pedal might require just the same amount of movement required to disengage so you need to familiarize yourself with the movement so that you do not disengage accidentally while cycling on high speed.

Zero-float cleats are fixed. These would only release your foot for the slightest movements. Some others are in the range of three to nine degrees on float. However, irrespective of the degree of float, it has to be carefully set up for the sake of your knees and ankles. Note that the higher the degree of float, the more you would have to twist your foot in order to release it. However, if you are not familiar with these adjustments, you can try on different cleats and adjustment settings.


How to Install

The installation process is quite simple and does not exactly require professional skills of any sorts. Under regular circumstances, the bike shop should have an attendant fix it up for you in line with the specification you want i.e., mountain biking or road biking. This particular feature mostly concerns the cleats and is set with respect to the distance between the cleat and the sole of your shoe, as explained in their different categories below.

How to install clipless pedals

For Road Bikes

Start by placing the cleat under the ball of your foot. Make sure its straight. As soon as you have both cleats on, get on your bike and pedal backwards for a few minutes. Afterwards, adjust your saddle heights as well as the fore and aft of the cleats until you are comfortable with the newly adjusted settings.

For Mountain Bikes

The setting explained above is the simplest form that regular and smooth road users should use. However, for mountain biking ad rough rides and hardcore races, you might want to adjust the cleats to fit the track and your pedaling paces. You can position the cleats in three different directions. The fore and aft in relation to the axle as explained in the road pedals category above, and lastly, the cleat’s angle in relation to your shoes.

​Note that you have to keep the bolts tight to keep all parts in place. However, do not overdo that in case you want to readjust it come other time. That is why carbon sole shoes are advisable.

After clipping the cleat to you shoe, get on your bike, balance yourself against the wall, and clip in to the pedal. Make sure that there is no stress on your jones as they hang naturally on either side. Check for float on either side and make sure that it is even. If you still feel uncomfortable in them, adjust the cleats until you are good to go.​

For new pair of shoes, you will need to find the best space to position the cleat under the soles. To do this, put your shoes on and get on your bike. With your feet placed on the pedals in a pedaling position, mark out the spot on the sole as it fits you. Whatever position you choose, make sure the cleats sits under the ball of your foot.​


Tips for Effective Use

Clipless pedals are not like shoes that you put on and you are good to go. However, the following tips are aimed at guiding you through your cycling experience.

  • Try double pedals first: Double pedals can help you adjust to the cleat addition to your biking experience and make your transition easier especially if you are a newbie.
  • Practice clipping in and unclipping before going on a ride with the clipless pedals: Just as you do with the treadmill, you can also practice this with your bike resting on the wall. Practice clipping in your soles to the pedals and unclipping them as you would in real time scenarios while you cycle. This would help you build more confidence when you decide to test your new accessories out. Use the positive outwards turn on the pivot or your knees, rather than otherwise with a slow and gradual movement.
  • Do not walk too far in your shoes after attaching the cleats to them. It might be uncomfortable for you and probably damage the cleats. In addition, it feels like walking in women’s shoes so it makes noise especially when you are walking on hardwood or cemented floors.
  • Do a proper maintenance on the shoes occasionally. Keep it clean; check the lugs to see if the rubber soles are no getting in the way of the cleats. You can use a knife to cut it out to a better working condition.

Best Clipless Pedals 2016 - Our Top Picks

These products reviewed below are a perfect blend of the benefits and considerations explained above. They have been tailored to give you the best cycling experience at a very affordable cost.

Shimano Unisex PD-M520 MTB SPD Pedals

The Shimano Pedaling Dynamics Brand was one of the first clipless pedals mass-produced in the nineties. Putting them first on this list, only means that they have managed to maintain their high quality standards since inception. They are quite popular for their durable performance on track.

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PROS​

  • ​Very competitive price (under $50)
  • It has a compact body-build with an open binding for easy and adjustable entry.
  • Easy engagement and disengagement tension settings with a double-sided entry.
  • Quality mud and debris shedding for self-maintenance.
  • It comes with the SM-SH51 and SM-SH56 SPD cleats, and is just as compatible with both.
  • It does not require much maintenance and there has not been much complains about the bearings, which usually require replacement over time.
  • They are wide enough to be used with regular shoes and do not create a fuss when they are used in that order.
  • It is compatible with both road bikes and mountain bikes.

CONS

  • The cleat is quite small and is not fit for bumpy roads or speed performances.

Diamondback Trace Dual Sport Clipless Pedals

The Diamondback Trace Dual Sport clipless pedals don't just work only for sport related activities as the name suggests. Quite literally, it works fine for any purpose you have in mind. The basic features that make this brand a multifunctional accessory include the dual sided pedal with an alloy body that adds to the durability of the design. The duality function of the diamond back features one side with an SPD pedal and the other with a standard flat pedal, depending on whatever uses that you have for your bike.

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PROS

  • ​The price is very reasonable, just around $50. 
  • Additional cleats included, compatible with Shimano SH-51 cleats.
  • Easy Installation.
  • It features 4-degrees of float for easier adjustment, engagement and disengagement from pedal.
  • It also features a chromo axle as well as sealed cartridge bearings.
  • Made from alloy steel, and prevents abrasion just as much.
  • Multipurpose for both sport and normal recreational activities.
  • Dual sided pedal.
  • The pedals have Minimal weight for easier transmission.

CONS

  • The bearings are a bit stiff.
  • The principle of operation behind the indicator for tightening the pedals is not exactly common.

Time Xpresso 10 Carbon Pedals

The Time Xpresso 10 pedals are the best option for bike newbies because they are light and cheap considering the many benefits that they feature. Another major feature of this brand that makes it a good option for the newbies on training wheels is the sportive pedaling platform. The iClic model and ATAC system (with mastery of engagement and release) makes it much more convenient for both professionals and relative beginners.

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PROS

  • It has fair durability featuring a steel axle, composite body and sprung retention blade.
  • Adjustable release tension settings.
  • Oversized and replaceable pedal platforms with interchangeable stainless steel plate to protect the body from abrasion.
  • It has a small lateral cleat adjustment for better feet adjustment, engagement and disengagement.
  • Additional cleats are included.
  • Adjustable Q-factor.
  • +/-5 degrees of smooth float for bikers with knee concerns.

CONS

  • The pedals are only replaceable but not serviceable.
  • The price is a bit high (around $250) but totally worth its value. 

Wellgo WPD-823 MTB CR-MO Clipless Pedals

Unlike our first review, the Wellgo WPD-823 MTB CR-MO Clipless pedals have durability and performance standards high enough to meet mountain biking conditions. With this in mind, they would be better for smooth roads and less bumpy cycling. The Cr-Mo Spindle axle featured in the bearings increases their performance and make for an ultimate pedaling experience. This aluminum brand features the following benefits and cons, with respect to user experiences and reviews.

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PROS

  • Easy to install
  • Comes with additional (98A)cleats for your shoes
  • Easier clip in and adjustability settings
  • Cheap and cost-effective
  • SPD compatible pedals
  • The cleats are not uncomfortable to walk in

CONS

  • It is a bit heavy, such that its weight is noticeable while paddling

Speedplay Zero Chromoly Pedals

The Speedplay pedal has made it to this list because they have severally proven to be one of the most efficient brands in the market today. They are light with low stack height and an incredible cornering appearance. The personalization feature that also makes it stand out among other brands is fueled by the double-sided nature of the pedals bot for professional and recreational activities.

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PROS

  • Very light-weight.
  • It features a dual fix for a micro-adjustable float or a fixed position throughout your cycling activity and adoptable for people with knee related issues.
  • Large and stable pedaling platform.
  • Easily maintainable.
  • The dual nature allows it to fit more shoes without inconveniencing the driver.
  • True locking mechanism for hardcore cycling experience.
  • Three foot axis independence.
  • Easy installation and set-up for use.
  • Highly customizable.

CONS

  • Belongs to the higher price range (around $200).

Verdict

All the products reviewed above were selected carefully and are the best in their categories.

However, the Shimano brand, which has been around for a very long time and has survived the evolution of bikes and pedals, has a lot of experience and real-time upgrade in its design. More importantly, their prices are very affordable

Their cleats and floats are one of the best designs as bike accessories. Most importantly, they come at a rather reasonable price considering how much credibility and customer trust they have gathered over the years they have been in circulation.

​Hopefully this post has delivered all useful information that helps you make the right purchase of best clipless pedals. Don't forget to share this post to those who might need this! 

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