Best Road Bike Pedals Reviewed 2020: Your Buying Guide

Road cycling covers a lot of ground. It includes recreational rides, commutes to and from work, and even racing. To get the most out of these rides, you’ll need to use the best road bike pedals.

But it’s not that easy to take a pick.

After all, there are tons of different pedal models and designs. So, how will you know what suits you best?

Luckily for you, I’ve already compiled a list of the top 10 road bike pedals for you to choose from.

Let’s get in the game and help you take a pick.

Product Review Table

  • Best for beginner:Shimano PD-A530 Pedals
  • Best for racing: Shimano SPD-SL PD R-540 Pedals
  • Best for long hours: Meetlocks Magnesium Alloy Bike Pedals
  • Best flats: Mzyrh Mountain Bike Pedals

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 05:11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Types of Bike Pedals

Before we get to our bike pedal reviews, it’s important to outline a few buying tips. Let’s begin with the types of bike pedals so you’ll have insight as to which one suits you better.

For starters, there are two basic types of bike pedals, namely, flat pedals and “clipless” pedals.

Flat Pedals

In “normal,” everyday commuting bicycles, you’ll find those “flat” types of pedals. Literally, they have flat platforms for your shoes to rest on. Nothing too fancy in terms of the overall shape. Just flat. And usually wide, too.

But many safety-oriented flat pedals have “pins” on them. These are meant to make the pedals feel grippy on your shoes and hence, provide you security.

Flat pedals (a.k.a. “platform” pedals) are most suitable for casual riders and bicycle commuters. Since they can be used with regular shoes like sneakers or even office shoes, they’re pretty convenient for leisurely rides and rides off to the grocery store or to your workplace.

With flat pedals, you can easily alternate between walking and cycling.

Clipless

Clipless pedals are a little more interesting. Some time ago, road bike pedals had “bike clips” in them that work to clip the toe-end of the rider’s shoes. These clips also got straps that hold the shoes to the pedals.

As long as you’re strapped in, your feet are stuck until you release the straps. This means you just can’t remove your feet off as quickly as you would’ve wanted to.

Eventually, clipless pedals were invented around the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. “Clipless” pedals got rid of those metal cages or “toe clips,” as well as the leather straps. The old system was abandoned in favor of a cleat — a little tool attached to the sole of your shoe, which in turn locks into a new clipping mechanism in the pedal.

Although you still “clip in” to clipless pedals — that is, by stepping on the pedal’s face and pushing your foot forward or downward, engaging the cleat — the term “clipless” was more widely adopted.

As if to scoff off the old clip system.

Still, I prefer the name “clip-in pedals,” but for the sake of the majority, I’ll just refer to these pedals as “clipless” throughout the rest of the article.

If you’re wondering why clipless pedals have to be the way they are — well, it’s all about giving you security and maximizing your pedaling power. Hence, they’re meant for serious cyclists, mountain bikers, and athletes such as road racers.

A more versatile class of pedals are combo types — those that combine the convenience of flat pedals together with the locked-in security of clipless pedals.

The Advantages of Using Excellent Bike Pedals

Pedals are among the most important points of contact between your body and your bike. If your shoes can’t take a firm grip on them, it’s too easy to lose control and find yourself in a crash.

According to ROSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), about 50% of cyclist fatalities occur on rural roads, while 75% of fatal or serious accidents occur in urban areas.

It doesn’t take much analysis to conclude that in order for you to take better control of your ride and avoid becoming one of those statistics, you better have your bicycle parts upgraded. And that includes — or rather necessitates — the upgrade of your bike pedals.

With top-quality bike pedals, you can:

  • Increase your pedaling efficiency
  • Bike more comfortably
  • Ride with more control and improved security
  • Prevent slipping
  • Avoid road accidents
  • Level up to more advanced rides with greater confidence
  • Save on replacement costs in the long run

Indeed, excellent bike pedals are a worthy investment. So do yourself a favor and make the right choice.

How Do You Choose the Best Road Bike Pedals?

Now that’s the next big question.

Here are my quick tips.

1. Ensure Adjustability of These Components

Every cyclist has his own comfort zone. Speaking of road bike pedals, it’s important to define that zone of comfort for yourself by experimenting with adjustable components.

When choosing a pair of bike pedals, examine the following parts first. (The first three are only related to clipless and combo-type pedals.)

Cleat

A cleat is one of the two major components of clipless (remember, it’s really “clip-in”) pedal systems.

The other is the clipping mechanical set-up in the pedal. As for a brand like Shimano, this set-up is called the SPD or the Shimano Pedaling Dynamics. Other brands have their own mechanisms.

In most kinds of clipless systems, the cleat is fastened to the sole of your shoe. Among road cleat designs, the three-point fastening system has pretty much become the standard.

To provide your feat the most comfort and security when using clipless pedals, you need to set up the cleats with the correct angle. Adjustable cleats allow you to prevent leg and foot injuries and even increase your pedaling power.

Float

Think of the “float” as a measurement of your foot’s freedom to move before it’s fully released from the pedal. It’s expressed in degrees.

The float allows your feet to fall into a natural position so you can reduce the stress on your knees while pedaling.

Some cleats are fixed or “zero-float,” and they allow only the slightest of movements. Set them up carefully for the sake of your knees.

Luckily, however, most cleats offer a float of 3 to 9 degrees. The more float, the more you can move your feet sideways. But too much float can still cause knee complications. The important thing is for you to discover just how much float works for you.

Release Tension

The release tension is the amount of force required so you can disengage your foot from the clipping mechanism of the pedal.

Low tension pedals require less force and are therefore more suitable for beginners. They also allow you to “clip out” or disengage the pedal more quickly.

When you’ve mastered riding clipless pedals, you might want to increase the tension so you can have a stronger and more secure connection with your bike.

Stack Height

The stack height is the distance from the center of the pedal axle to the sole of your shoe. The lower the stack height, the closer your foot is to the spindle, and therefore the greater the pedaling efficiency.

Think of trying to pedal with 100mm of blocks piled on top of your pedals. Now imagine how difficult that would be. And yes, that is the concept.

With a lower stack height, your energy is applied more directly to the pedal.

You may, however, want to prefer several centimeters of spacers so you can have a more relaxed and easier riding position. You can fine-tune the height with an adjustable headset.

2. Determine if the Platform Size is Ideal

A more solid and larger platform prevents your foot from slipping. Simply put, it gives you a more stable interface. It also receives more of your energy over a wider area, thereby increasing your pedaling efficiency.

Finding an ideal platform size depends, of course, on the size of your feet. It’s not enough to simply choose the widest pedals available. In fact, if your pedals are too big, it would be much harder for you to control and get off them.

3. Base Your Selection Largely on Quality

If you’re on a tighter budget, it’s easy to be tempted to go cheap. But expensive doesn’t always translate to quality, either.

So how will you know if a pair of bike pedals are of excellent quality?

The first criterion is craftsmanship and materials. Pedals need to be solidly built and feel light at the same time. Plastics or composites of them (such as nylon) may be light but they’re not as solid as metals.

On the other hand, metals such as steel are sturdier but they weigh a little more than plastic. Aluminum seems to have a good balance of both, but Chromoly steel can be a better (though more expensive) option.

Another thing to consider is spindle quality. It’s the part that attaches to the crank’s arms. Again, Chromoly spindles are the topmost choice as they’re more durable and rigid than steel ones.

Pedals also have ball bearings, making them spin. It’s important for these bearings to be sealed and weatherproofed so that they could last a lot longer.

10 Best Road Bike Pedals Reviewed

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with those pedalling essentials, it’s time to explore ten of the most excellent bike pedals you can choose from.

1. Shimano PD-A530 SPD Pedals (Best for Beginners)

Key Features

  • Weight: 380g
  • Bolt pattern: 2-hole
  • Platform: 93x78mm alloy
  • Release angle: 4
  • Includes 54g cleats

The Shimano PD-A530 Pedals feature a clipless system on one side and a wide alloy platform on the other. Because of this combo pedal set-up, the PD-A530 suits a wide range of riders.

Whether you’re a bicycle commuter, an amateur road cyclist, or just someone who wants to tour around the city, this pair could be a great choice. Especially if you don’t want to be clipped in at all times.

The platform side is slightly concave in shape and has ridges, so your feet can still rest on them and keep away from slipping — even when it’s lightly raining.

The weight seems pretty good considering the fact that it’s a dual-purpose pair. If you’re still a beginner in the world of cycling, you might want to try these versatile and easy-to-use pedals.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Sleek design
  • Easy to flip to the other side
  • Can be used with regular shoes
  • Rock-solid build
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to clip in and out
  • Value for money

Cons

  • Smaller platform than a purely flat pedal
  • Default tension from shipping could be far too tight (needs to be adjusted for beginners)
  • The black paint can chip away with aggressive cornering

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 02:06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Shimano PD-M520L MTB Pedals

Key Features

  • Weight: 374g
  • Main material: Aluminum; Axle: Steel; Body: Alloy
  • Cleats included; Cleat material: Steel
  • Bearings: Sealed Cartridge
  • Float: 4 degrees
  • Adjustable tension: Yes

The Shimano PD-M520L (same as the PD-M520, just that it’s black) is a popular clipless pedal preferred by many mountain bikers, but its double-sided entry system has also drawn the attention of road riders, commuters, and recreational cyclists.

By double-sided — I mean these pedals have a clip on both sides.

One great thing about the PD-M520 is its ease of entry. The cleat can sit into the clipping mechanism with an audible click. Exiting is also easy, as there’s no mini-cage around the clip-in system to hang upon. As when clipping in, disengagement can also be confirmed by an audible click.

Using a 3mm Allen wrench, you can adjust the tension on the M520. Soften it if you’re a newbie, or crank it up if you’re a seasoned rider.

Another excellent thing about the M520 is that it can bring out a consistent performance through the years. If you wish to venture out from road biking to an occasional visit to mountainous trails, the M520 might be the choice for you.

Pros

  • Decently lightweight
  • Value for money
  • Easy to clip in and out
  • Clips on both sides
  • Spins smoothly
  • Tough
  • Audible click when clipping in
  • Able to shed mud and debris easily

Cons

  • May require significant maintenance to keep ticking sounds away
  • Beginners may need to adjust the tension

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 05:11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. Imrider Lightweight Polyamide Pedals

Key Features

  • Type: Flat pedals
  • Plastic (polyamide) body
  • Pins: 8 pcs on each side (plus 2 extra pins)
  • Bearing: single, sealed
  • Traditional platform style

The Imrider Lightweight Polyamide Pedals are flat pedals that still offer a sure grip, thanks to the screw-in pins. They’re arranged in a unique 5-3 formation, which in turn maximizes your traction and improves your control over the pedaling experience.

Indeed, the nail surface prevents skidding.

This Imrider pair also has a traditional platform design that provides a wide area for your feet to rest upon. This can multiply your pedaling power with greater ease.

Made of a corrosion-resistant polyamide, these pedals can resist abrasion compared to other kinds of plastic pedals.

Here’s just one thing that you might not be happy about. These pedals got only single bearings, which could wear down fairly quickly.

In that sense, the Imrider Polyamide Pedals can be more suited to casual riders and may not be the best for more serious and more challenge-freak cyclists.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Well-built
  • Strong grip
  • Can take slight hits in rock gardens
  • Affordable
  • Wide platform
  • Easy to install and uninstall with a pedal wrench
  • Scratches won’t look as bad as in metal ones
  • Performs well even when wet

Cons

  • Single bearings aren’t very smooth
  • The studs are sharp and could hurt your legs with poor riding techniques
  • Doesn’t include washers
  • Only 2 extra pins (you might need more if you’re a rough rider)

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 05:11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Shimano PD-M530 Mountain Pedals

Key Features

  • Type: Combo pedals
  • Weight: 453g
  • Weight of Cleats and Bolts: 50g
  • Includes a mini-platform
  • Clips on both sides

The Shimano PD-M530 Pedals have a clip mechanism that simply works and a level of float that gives your ride comfort. They belong to the mini-platform, combo-type line of pedals by Shimano.

And like the other Shimano mini-platforms, the M530 includes a small cage that works to guide your foot toward the clipping mechanism.

Interestingly, the clipless mechanism is just in the right spot. As your shoe engages the cage on the pedal, it goes to flatten the pedal against your foot.

Meanwhile, the spring tension adjustment is pretty useful for beginners and expert riders alike. Again, a 3mm Allen key is the key.

Well, these are not the lightest combo pedals, but they’re not the heaviest either.

Like its cousin M520, the M530 emits an audible click upon engagement with the clipless system. It’s quite an outstanding way of confirming that the pedals are now ready for your ride.

Pros

  • Dependable and reliable
  • Great engagement
  • Affordable
  • Easy to clip in and out
  •  Audible click in response to clipping
  • Easy to install and adjust with an Allen key
  • Double-sided (clips on both sides)
  • Can still be used with regular shoes

Cons

  • Less foot support than a full platform pedal
  • Not the lightest pedal you can find for the size
  • The painted surface can feel slippery when wet
  • No traction pins

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 05:11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. Schwinn SW76173-4 Universal Pedals

Key Features

  • Type: Flat pedals
  • Anti-rust composite body
  • CPSC-approved reflectors
  • Includes pins
  • 9/16 pedal adaptor

The Schwinn Universal Pedals are solidly built flat pedals. The package includes a 9/16 pedal adaptor that allows the pedals to fit almost all models and types of bikes. 

These Schwinn pedals are pretty basic, platform-type pedals that can be used for lighter and more casual rides. They’re also pretty affordable, so you may use them as spare pedals.

What I like about the pair is that it comes with well-glued reflectors that improve your visibility when riding at night or during other low light conditions.

Moreover, the composite body adds an anti-rusting bonus to what you can get from these pedals.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Low price
  • Comes with reflectors for increased visibility
  • Good-looking design
  • Can hold up well
  • Acceptable traction
  • Suitable for light rides
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Not the sturdiest pedals
  • Not suitable for heavy-duty cycling adventures
  • The pedal surface isn’t very aggressive in terms of grip

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 05:11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6. Shimano SPD-SL PD R-540 Pedals (Best for Racing)

Key Features

  • Weight: 336g
  • Type: Clipless
  • Material: Alloy Chromoly Steel
  • Wide pedal, low-profile platform
  • Wide bearings and with sealed cartridge axle unit
  • Includes 3-bolt cleats and tension adjustment

The Shimano R540 Pedals are great all-around performers. They work around the same principles and mechanisms as most Shimano pedals but without the use of the more exotic and expensive materials.

The model has a pretty standard set-up, but the pair is pretty easy to use.

One great feature of the R540 is the adjustability of the release tension. You may simply use a 2.5mm Allen key to tighten or loosen the spring action, depending on the setting you’re most comfortable with.

So, these pedals can be great for a beginner, but at the same time, it can cater to more experienced riders.

The low-profile platform even allows you to speed up through your races. The pedals also feel secure while giving you enough float to avoid knee pain.

With smooth bearings and excellent sealing, the R540 gives you more value for your money. The pedals can run smoothly even through winter and springtime as they do in the summer.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Easy-to-adjust float
  • Feels sturdy
  • Wide cleat
  • Good bearings
  • Value for money
  • Easily adjustable spring tension
  • Easy to engage and disengage
  • Great for road cyclists and racers

Cons

  • The cleats may feel bulky (although they give you a secure clip)

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 05:11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

7. Meetlocks Magnesium Alloy Bike Pedals (Best For Long Riding Hours)

Key Features

  • Type: Flat pedals
  • Weight: 392g
  • Magnesium alloy injection body
  • Comfort platform shape
  • Good-gripping replaceable pins
  • Ultra-sealed bearings

The Meetlocks Magnesium Alloy Bike Pedals are flat pedals sporting an anti-skid concave design.

They also include stud-like pins that add grip, letting your shoes hold onto the pedals much more securely. These pins are also replaceable.

The addition of magnesium to the pedals’ alloy body has contributed to the pairs’ overall resistance to overuse. That means they can endure a number of heavier rides.

The pedals’ strong framework also provides quite a comfortable and smooth ride. So they might be a good option if you’re planning to stay on the road for long hours. Think of leisurely tours. Or longer road adventures.

Like most flat pedals, Meetlocks’ pair have reflectors in them. Luckily, these reflectors don’t fall off even after months of usage — despite the fact that they appear to be made of plastic.

Pros

  • Large surface area
  • Easy to pedal
  • Goes with a practical shape
  • Rugged construction
  • Feels grippy
  • Eliminates foot slippage; pins stick to your shoes
  • Attractive
  • Great price

Cons

  • Some units may carry manufacturing defects upon delivery
  • Creaking sounds may be observed after a number of rides

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 05:11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

8. Mzyrh Mountain Bike Pedals

Key Features

  • Type: Flat pedals
  • Weight: 408g
  • Material: Aluminum alloy
  • 3 smooth, lubricated sealed bearings
  • Anti-skid pins
  • Available in multiple colors and two-toned combos

The Mzyrh Mountain Bike Pedals are excellent for beginners, as they put the rider’s safety as a top priority. Made from high-strength aluminum alloy, these pedals can take a beating and still remain in shape.

With grippy, anti-skid pins, they can hold your shoes in place without you getting the fear of slipping. Meanwhile, the wide platform design encourages a more efficient pedaling.

The pedals are also uniquely lined with reflectors. So, they can increase your visibility during night-time road adventures.

All these features mean one thing: the Mzyrh Pedals can improve your cycling safety.

They’re quite easy to install as well. Pretty convenient to rest your feet on, and quite suitable for commuter rides, leisurely adventures, as well as those little more challenging trips on the road.

Yep — they’re versatile, even if they are named as “mountain bike” pedals.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Can take a beating
  • Excellent and secure grip
  • Spins smoothly and freely
  • Wide platform support
  • Affordable
  • Attractive color options
  • A great option for switching from clipless to flat pedals

Cons

  • Studs may be loose upon arrival (they need to be tightened)

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 05:11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

9. Bonmixc 9/16 Sealed Bearing Bike Pedals

Key Features

  • Type: Flat pedals
  • Weight: 336g
  • Material: Aluminum alloy
  • 4 sealed bearings
  • 16 skid-proof pins
  • Triangular architecture

The Bonmixc Pedals have a design language similar to the Mzyrh Pedals we’ve just reviewed above. They’re also meant for mountain bikers, but their versatility makes them suitable even for road cyclists.

These pedals sport durability as well as a rather grippy ride, thanks to the plentiful skid-proof pins. These pins can keep your feet firmly adhered to the platform, even as you journey through rocky mountain roads.

Because the Bonmixc pedals have four sealed bearings each, they manage to provide a balance between spin and torque, which help you pull off a speedy ride.

Durability is also one of the Bonmixc pedals’ greatest strengths, which can be attributed to their aluminum-alloy body. This construction material allows the pedals to stay lightweight.

Meanwhile, the pedals’ triangular architecture gives them the ability to transfer shocks throughout the body without suffering from bends or warps.

Pros

  • Allows more comfortable speedy rides
  • Solid and high-quality build
  • Excellent grip even with regular sneakers
  • Anti-slipping
  • Good-looking
  • Wide surface area
  • Gives a quiet ride
  • Endures rough trails
  • Smooth bearings
  • Smooth spinning action
  • Works well even for senior riders
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Has some sharp edges
  • May develop a wobble and a clicking sound
  • May not endure abuses (such as BMX racing, freestyle, or jumping)

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 05:11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

10. Retrospec Resin Bike Pedals

Key Features

  • Type: Flat pedals
  • One-piece resin body
  • Platform: 100x76mm
  • With grip nodes to prevent slipping
  • With ergonomically designed cage for a foothold
  • Built-in reflectors
  • No straps required

Built for road cross, track, fixed-gear, and touring riders, the Retrospec Resin Bike Pedals sport a quite unique design feature. They’re made of a unified resin body with a wide platform and cage, housing your feet in a uniquely secure fashion.

The model is a one-size-fits-all type and requires no straps considering the presence of the cage. If you find yourself not liking the cage that much, the good news is that you can remove it in under 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, the pedal platform includes grip nodes that work to keep your shoes from slipping.

The pedals work well with regular shoes, so there’s no need for you to buy a new fancy pair.

Overall, these pedals may not be for the performance-driven types of riders. But, they could work well with you if you’re more into weekend workout rides, daily bicycle commutes, or occasional trips to the park.

Pros

  • Easy to get in and out of
  • Affordable
  • Keeps feet from slipping off
  • Can provide a bit more pedaling power on the upstroke
  • Works with regular shoes
  • Easy to install
  • The pedal surface gives great traction
  • The toe cage is flexible and can be removed
  • Works great for casual riders and bicycle commuters

Cons

  • The plastic toe cage is not the sturdiest
  • Not for heavy-duty and performance-oriented use

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 05:11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Which One is the Best?

Now that we’ve run through the best features (as well as the cons) of the top road bike pedals in the current market, it’s time to make a verdict.

Well, so far, there’s not one pair of pedals that suits everyone. It turns out that the “best” bike pedals for yourself are those that match your kind of ride.

So, here’s what I’d recommend based on rider type.

  • Beginner. If you’re a beginner, you’ll have plenty of options. But if you don’t want to stay a beginner, try the Shimano PD-A530 Pedals. They’re easy to adjust and provide the best of both flat and clipless pedals. So why don’t you let these pedals level up your experience?
  • Racing. Go for the Shimano SPD-SL PD R-540 Pedals for maximized pedaling power. They offer an easy and secure clipless engagement plus enough float for you to avoid knee pain while you’re off for the chase.
  • Sportive or Gran Fondo. If you like cycling on the road for extended hours, go for the Meetlocks Magnesium Alloy Bike Pedals. They’re both comfortable and secure to pedal on. You can easily move your feet around whenever you feel tired since they got no clips for you to unclip from.
  • Flat. Still a fan of flat pedals? Give the Mzyrh Mountain Bike Pedals a try. Even former clipless pedal users love them. They’re grippy and secure, durable and versatile, and give you wide platform support for a more efficient pedaling experience

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 05:11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Perry
Perry
Hello, my names Perry and I've been a freelance writer for the past 5 years and a cycling enthusiastic since I can remember. I love the road, but my main passion is mountain biking.