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Bike Pedals: How to Choose

Are you looking for the pedaling efficiency of clipless pedals, or the ease and maneuverability you get with platform pedals? Perhaps you want the benefits of both. Learn more in this video about choosing the right bike pedals for your style of riding, and shop REI’s assortment of bike pedals at Hi, I’m Braden, with REI. We think a lot about getting the right bike but choosing the right pedals is also important. Whether you’re mountain biking, road racing or just cruising around the neighborhood, the right pedals will make your ride a whole lot more fun. There are two types of pedals. Platform and clipless. Platform pedals come standard with many bikes and are an ideal choice for beginners, casual riders and mountain bikers. They have a wide stable base and since your feet stay free, you can ride with almost any shoe. For riders looking to get more bang for their buck, clipless pedals are a great option. When paired with the proper shoes, you can essentially lock your feet to the pedals. This increases pedal efficiency because each foot can now pedal while pushing down and while pulling up. You’ll also have more control at higher speeds and when clearing obstacles. The term clipless is confusing because technically, the pedal does have a clip that holds onto the cleat at the bottom of your shoe. Now, they’re called clipless because they were designed as a more comfortable and efficient alternative to toe clips which have a cage that mount to a pedal to securely hold your foot. When shopping for clipless pedals, there are two types of pedal systems to choose from: 2-hole and 3-hole. Remember that you can buy either cycling shoes or pedals first but you need to make sure that they both use the same system. 2-hole systems use a small metal cleat which is held onto the shoe with two screws. These pedals are a favorite of mountain bikers, commuters and casual riders because not only do they increase pedal efficiency, they’re also easy to get in and out of. Because the cleat is recessed into the shoe, they’re easy to walk around in. 3-hole systems are the go-to for many road bikers. These pedals use a larger plastic cleat that spreads force over the entire pedal and keeps your foot locked in, even when pedaling hard. The extra pedaling power has its price though. The 3-hole cleat sticks out from the sole and makes walking awkward. If you like the idea of clipless pedals but you want to be able to ride with your normal shoes for shorter trips, there are hybrids that have a 2-hole pedal one one side and a platform on the other. For more information, visit your local REI or REI.com.

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