The ultimate pedal and shoes discussion

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Yes, there are numerous threads discussing pedals on this Forum. Most of them are at least two years old and forgotten. Perhaps we could start all over? As many of you are aware, there are four main categories of pedals:

  • Flat pedals, which most of us use. Regular or even casual shoes may be worn with flat pedals. Better flat pedals offer enhanced grip (e.g., "sandpaper" finish).
1580201689239.png

A Specialized "sandpaper" finish flat pedal
  • MTB dedicated flat pedals or proper platform pedals. These are equipped with adjustable pins, so the pedal fits the sole precisely as the pedal offers a concave support for the foot. Pins hold the foot firmly in place but the pins can destroy the sole. As @JayVee explained to me, dedicated cycling shoes for MTB platform pedals are available, for instance:

Ideal platform MTB pedals should be as flat as possible (to avoid contact with terrain obstacles such as tree roots, logs etc), as lightweight as doable and equipped with quality sealed bearings. They are typically larger than city/trekking flat pedals.

1580202134905.png

A Crankbrothers Stamp 7 Large pedal, dedicated for big feet

  • MTB variety of "clipless" pedals, that is MTB SPD system. You need dedicated cycling shoes, and you need to mount a cleat inside the shoe sole. You need to clip the shoe into the pedal prior to the ride. MTB clipless shoes are to some extent walkable (the cleat is hidden in the sole) as the mountain bike rider needs to release a shoe sometimes for example to support himself on cornering or to walk the bike up the hill. MTB SPD pedals can be one-sided, double-sided, single-release action (you need to twist your heel outwards) or double-release action (twisting heels or sharply pulling the foot upwards).
1580204750275.png

Shimano PD-EH500 SPD pedals for MTB. These are flat on one side and allow clipping in with cleats on the other, double action release
  • Finally, the road-cycling variety of "clipless pedals" which only allow riding with shoes clipped in. Such pedals are extremely small but the cleats are enormous. Special thing about this variety of cleats is these can be fitted at the shoe for optimal horizontal angle of the foot related to the pedal, and they can also be fitted forward-backwards for optimal contact of the foot with the pedal. Road clipless pedals are one-sided, single release action. It is hardly possible to walk in clipless road shoes. The intention is the rider stays seated for long hours of riding.
1580205560659.png

Shimano SPD-SL R550 road-cycling clipless pedals and cleats

The clipless pedals are believed to improve the transmission of the leg power into the cranks and ensure the most firm hold of the feet on pedals. True fact is, a mountain cyclist may pull the pedal upwards while climbing, thus adding more power to pedalling. Experienced MTB cyclists feel more confident with their feet clipped in, especially during jumping or a technical ride.

Now, I had a single ride in road-cycling shoes/pedals and I hated the whole concept from the beginning. As a commuter, I need to start and stop frequently. Road-cycling shoe sole is slippery and the large plastic cleat does not help while stopping. It is very hard to clip the previously released foot back into the pedal, as the latter is always upside down.

The MTB clipless pedal concept appears to be more appealing. Still, riding in clipless pedals I felt more effort and my butt hurt, which has not happened to me for a long time. I own several different pedals, of which the Crankbrothers Stamp feel the best for me, the Specialized "sandpaper" flats in the second place.

What are your experiences with pedals and cycling shoes? Is there anybody liking the SPD?
 
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antboy

Active Member
All my riding these days is either mostly casual cruising (with some VERY MINOR off-road trails), or running errands, so I'm happy to stick with flat pedals.

For shoes, even in the winter time, I've given up on boots, and am wearing my Vessi shoes.


Though they have laces, they're entirely decorative as the shoes are slip-ons. I originally got them to wear to work, but after taking them for a ride in -2C weather (no special socks either), was extremely impressed. I was out in this temp for about 2 hrs, and my feet weren't cold.

The 100% waterproof claim so far has been true. They held up in slushy water at red lights, and are actually pretty grippy, even on my cheap folding pedals.

The only thing that prevents me from giving them a ringing endorsement is not knowing their durability over time, especially under cycling conditions.
 

MechaNut

Active Member
I prefer MTB style flats. The pegs on the pedal are enough to keep my feet in place with the shoes I wear. One bike has a set of Stamp 7's and the other has the alloy Wellgo Platforms it came with. Even though I know there is better power transfer with clipless I'm not enamored with the idea of being attached to the bike and having a specific set of shoes just for cycling.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
You must have very good blood circulation @antboy. Mine hardly exists, especially in the toes. I'm on a ride now and thick merino socks, solid mountain boots and Gore-Tex covers have my toes not freezing - the first time this winter! I'm on Stamp 7 Large now.
 

sc00ter

New Member
I replaced the boring metal pedals on my ebike with FBM plastic Shimano DX style pedals. Best part is the pedals are the Metallica-Ride the Lightning tribute blue with lightning bolts pattern. My wife has Odyssey Twisted plastic pedals with floral print and somewhere in the garage I have the Twisted plastic pedals with donut print. I run fun and weird pedals on all my bikes.
 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
You must have very good blood circulation @antboy. Mine hardly exists, especially in the toes. I'm on a ride now and thick merino socks, solid mountain boots and Gore-Tex covers have my toes not freezing - the first time this winter! I'm on Stamp 7 Large now.
I find electric socks work well for warmth.
been thinking of getting these guys sicne I have 13 feet. https://pedalinginnovations.com/
 

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antboy

Active Member
You must have very good blood circulation @antboy. Mine hardly exists, especially in the toes. I'm on a ride now and thick merino socks, solid mountain boots and Gore-Tex covers have my toes not freezing - the first time this winter! I'm on Stamp 7 Large now.
I've always been more tolerant of the cold than the average bear. I attribute it to coming from a long line of North Atlantic fishermen. :)

I seriously AM loving these shoes though, and hope they're durable in the long run.
 

christob

Well-Known Member
I replaced my stock pedals with the SPD type -- they have clip/bracket on one side of the pedal, and a traditional flat on the other side. Ostensibly so I could wear regular shoes for a quick ride -- or else put on my clip shoes for those longer rides... (The release is the one-motion, rotate heel outward.)
Well, I'd say I've probably used the flat side of those pedals maybe 3 times in nearly 2 years. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the clip-in! (My riding is mostly office commutes on paved trails, and long leisure rides on paved trails.) Yes, there was a little learning curve to get the hang of smoothly clipping in and quickly unclipping, and yes, sometimes the pedal has rotated around at a stop, so the bracket is facing downward -- but I've adjusted to all of that so it is all second nature now, and I can clip in without looking at the pedals now, and I unclip smoothly and quickly. I love the measurable difference in feel, as I pedal... I feel much more of my effort going into the bike than with tennis shoes on flat pedals before. (And I like the ability to, sometimes, try and "pull on the upstroke" with my legs on a climb.
{EDIT: I have Shimano shoes with cleats mounted. Can't remember the shoe model, but they're compact and I can walk in them when needed... they're mildly perforated for ventilation, so on the coldest rides I usually add an over-shoe cover to block the wind. But on most rides, my alpaca socks are usually sufficient.}
 
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Nova Haibike

Well-Known Member
I have always been clipped in, starting in the 70's with toe clips and cleats that I had to nail into my shoes. Then I went clipless. So I always thought it was better. Then I got my e-bike and decided to give flats a try; I run Race Face Chesters. I am not really noticing any difference in performance (with a stiff-soled shoe). If there is any, I think that is more due to me being older than anything else. That said, If I ever get a road e-bike, I will put clipless pedals on it.
 

batmick1

Active Member
I love riding clipped in, both road and mountain bike. For my e-bike commuter I installed the Shimano PD-T8000 touring pedals, which have one side SPD and one side with a platform and adjustable pins. That way I can click in during my commute but can also easily ride regular shoes whenever I feel like it.
My favorite pedals, though, are Ultegra road pedals with the SPD-SL cleats paired with Sidi Genius shoes. Best power transfer and the shoes just fit like a glove. But I only put those on when I don't plan to do any extensive walking.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
Although I started out with toe clips, went to SPD 1st gen and hated it and went back to toe clips, got on board with gen 2 clipless (egg beaters and Sidi's) and used them for primarily mtb'ing over the years of riding motor assist bicycles I have ended up being just fine with flats with pins and whatever footwear I have on, including sandals, well maybe not them for mtb. I am saving my favorite Sidi's and a set of Crank Bro's pedals however incase I ever decide to ride un-assisted some day.
 

linklemming

Active Member
I started out with toes clips with the huge cleats in the 80s on my road bike.

I ran with toes clip and sneakers when I started MTBing in the early 90s.

Around 1994 I started using clipless, eventually settling on the shimano SPD system. I used this on my road and mountain bikes up to early 2019. Only ever had issues unclipping on the most demanding technical terrain. Always loved the connected feeling. My feet always seemed to get cold in the winter even with every possible accessory (toe warmers, booties, hothands warmers). Getting nice insulated shoes for SPD is $$$.

In early 2019 I had several crashes (due to lack of attention), no serious injuries except for the last one where I fractured my pelvis (2 months using a walker). Looking back I probably would have been better of running flats so I decided to convert to flats after my pelvis healed. Reason being, my reaction times are not what they used to be and this will only get worse.

Im now running Five Ten Freeriders in the summer and Five Ten EPS Hightops (insulated) in the winter. I can ride down to 40F without toe warmers and down to about 15F with toe warmers.

Im now using the CrankBros Stamp 1 Large composite pedals on my more road/gravel oriented bikes and OneUp pedals on my strictly offroad bikes. I have also tried race face chesters but they are too small for my size 13 feet causing numbness on the outer unsupported part of my feet.

I prefer the composite pedals because:
They are cheap...I have 5 bikes and the savings add up.
They dont show scruff mars from all the rocks I encounter out here
I prefer the bolt/nut pins as opposed to the grub-screw pins on aluminum pedals. Easy to replace even if bent by a rock (just dremel the pin/bolt flush with the nut and then remove).
Super easy to buy different length bolts/pins to get a custom feel and grip. No need to buy expensive replacements, just buy cheap bolts/pins on amazon or ebay.

I actually find the Oneups too grippy and replaced the bolts/pins for a few $ (going from 10mm to 9mm).
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Yes, there are numerous threads discussing pedals on this Forum. Most of them are at least two years old and forgotten. Perhaps we could start all over? As many of you are aware, there are four main categories of pedals:

  • Flat pedals, which most of us use. Regular or even casual shoes may be worn with flat pedals. Better flat pedals offer enhanced grip (e.g., "sandpaper" finish).
View attachment 44643
A Specialized "sandpaper" finish flat pedal
  • MTB dedicated flat pedals or proper platform pedals. These are equipped with adjustable pins, so the pedal fits the sole precisely as the pedal offers a concave support for the foot. Pins hold the foot firmly in place but the pins can destroy the sole. As @JayVee explained to me, dedicated cycling shoes for MTB platform pedals are available, for instance:

Ideal platform MTB pedals should be as flat as possible (to avoid contact with terrain obstacles such as tree roots, logs etc), as lightweight as doable and equipped with quality sealed bearings. They are typically larger than city/trekking flat pedals.

View attachment 44645
A Crankbrothers Stamp 7 Large pedal, dedicated for big feet

  • MTB variety of "clipless" pedals, that is MTB SPD system. You need dedicated cycling shoes, and you need to mount a cleat inside the shoe sole. You need to clip the shoe into the pedal prior to the ride. MTB clipless shoes are to some extent walkable (the cleat is hidden in the sole) as the mountain bike rider needs to release a shoe sometimes for example to support himself on cornering or to walk the bike up the hill. MTB SPD pedals can be one-sided, double-sided, single-release action (you need to twist your heel outwards) or double-release action (twisting heels or sharply pulling the foot upwards).
View attachment 44646
Shimano PD-EH500 SPD pedals for MTB. These are flat on one side and allow clipping in with cleats on the other, double action release
  • Finally, the road-cycling variety of "clipless pedals" which only allow riding with shoes clipped in. Such pedals are extremely small but the cleats are enormous. Special thing about this variety of cleats is these can be fitted at the shoe for optimal horizontal angle of the foot related to the pedal, and they can also be fitted forward-backwards for optimal contact of the foot with the pedal. Road clipless pedals are one-sided, single release action. It is hardly possible to walk in clipless road shoes. The intention is the rider stays seated for long hours of riding.
View attachment 44647
Shimano SPD-SL R550 road-cycling clipless pedals and cleats

The clipless pedals are believed to improve the transmission of the leg power into the cranks and ensure the most firm hold of the feet on pedals. True fact is, a mountain cyclist may pull the pedal upwards while climbing, thus adding more power to pedalling. Experienced MTB cyclists feel more confident with their feet clipped in, especially during jumping or a technical ride.

Now, I had a single ride in road-cycling shoes/pedals and I hated the whole concept from the beginning. As a commuter, I need to start and stop frequently. Road-cycling shoe sole is slippery and the large plastic cleat does not help while stopping. It is very hard to clip the previously released foot back into the pedal, as the latter is always upside down.

The MTB clipless pedal concept appears to be more appealing. Still, riding in clipless pedals I felt more effort and my butt hurt, which has not happened to me for a long time. I own several different pedals, of which the Crankbrothers Stamp feel the best for me, the Specialized "sandpaper" flats in the second place.

What are your experiences with pedals and cycling shoes? Is there anybody liking the SPD?

Well done summary! I use both Platform and SPD MTB pedals... each has advantages. ;)

A few tips:
  • Try the using Platform pedals with the molded-in pins... much friendlier on legs and clothing with no blood loss.
  • Try SPD MTB pedals that are dual-purpose... one side is clipless and the other is a standard platform type pedal.
  • Try SPD MTB shoes that have an aggressive tread designed to provide traction when unclipped and walking around.
 

Amazer98

Member
For years I rode my acoustic road bike with Shimano SPD road cleats. I found using cleats (aka 'clipless pedals') to be necessary for good power delivery while pedaling at a brisk cadence. Without cleats, your feet tend to fly off the pedals at faster cadences. Plus, you have no ability to pull up on the pedal as you round the 6 o'clock position.

I've tried platform pedals with pins recently on a MTB bike I rented to try out some trail riding. They're not bad at all, and for trail riding I would definitely prefer NOT to be 'cleated-in', just in case I have to get my foot down on the ground quickly.

But back to cleats... about 10 years ago, my knees started to bother me after riding 10 miles or so. This was annoying, to say the least. I did some research and read about Speedplay pedals. Their 'free float' design was purported to exert less stress on the knees, and as an added bonus, made the pedals especially easy to detach from. The old SPD design required that you twist your heel outward against the binding spring pressure that tries to center your foot. But the Speedplay design has no centering spring, so it's very easy to twist out of (but I've never had an unintentional release).

Rather than move to a Speedplay road pedal, I bought MTB shoes (they range the gamut from shoes that look like road-racing shoes to designs that look like robust hiking shoes) and bought compatible Speedplay Frog pedals. My knee pain went away! Plus, I much prefer the MTB design, as the cleats are smaller and located closer to the center of the sole, allowing you to walk perfectly normal... unlike road cleats that force you to waddle with the toes of your shoes an inch off the ground.

Now, some purists will say that MTB pedals don't allow you to apply force to pedals as efficiently as road SPD pedals, but I've never noticed this. I feel I pedal plenty efficiently and can spin fast when I feel like it, and my feet are positively attached to the pedals. Plus, it's very easy to detach in a flash, should the need arise.

So... check out Speedplay Frogs.
 
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