As many cyclists would agree, the most noticeable upgrades to your cycling almost always comes in the form of bike frames, wheels or even shoes. More often than not, the bike pedals are neglected and are seen as an off-hand component when it comes to upgrades.
And with good reason.
Your bike pedals can last a very long time. With proper maintenance, many pedals can still be serviceable even after five to ten years of regular use!
That is why it can become difficult to determine whether or not one should upgrade their existing pedals that they are so used to. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any reasons to.
When you get to truly understand the significance bike pedals have on the overall riding experience, you will see that even the smallest of upgrades can bring about large differences to your cycling. As such, some considerations that you have to make that can prompt you to upgrade your pedals are:
- You are rocking an older design
- Your pedals have worn out
- You have changed your biking discipline
Or simply, you are looking to get more out of your cycling experience.
Reasons to Upgrade Your Bike Pedals
1. Older Design
Whatever the toe-clip pedals achieved, be it stability or performance, the clipless pedal does better. Way better.
Unlike the clipless design, toe clips do little to nothing to retain a cyclist’s good posture. Your knees and ankles are bound to be affected.
They are very unsafe too. Imagine having your feet caged in place as you hit a bad bump on the road or when you feel your bike slipping away from under you. Your feet are stuck, you cannot disengage them from the pedals easily like you can on a clipless pedal. A sprained ankle is the least of your worries.
Since we are bashing on toe-clips, let’s put another con on the table. Extended use of toe-clipped pedals will damage your shoes. The constant friction is sure to wear on the front half of your $100 cycling shoes.
To summarize, please move on from the toe-clips.
2. Pedals Wearing Out
The bearings are the first thing you notice wearing out regardless of the type of pedals you have. Feeling resistance or hearing a gravelly noise when turning your pedals is a sure sign that the time for an upgrade is near.
But a straight up upgrade or replacement is not really necessary. Regular maintenance is always the way to go to improve the longevity of your pedal bearings. A good pedal with regular maintenance will see itself last for many years.
Onto the main body of the pedal itself.
Friction is always the enemy. The more you pedal the more likely it is that you will wear them out, it is a very natural phenomenon. This happens faster if you are moving your feet more often, like on a flat pedal or a clipless pedal with a lot of float.
However, wearing out your pedal body takes a very long time, especially if it is of a higher-grade quality like metal alloy or carbon fiber. Wearing usually happens around the inner edges where you are constantly clipping in.
As for flat pedals, the pins wear out faster more often than not as you are relying on them for grip. While ceramic flat pedals are great, metal threaded pins are not only adjustable but also more robust.
There is no real way to determine whether your pedals have actually worn out beyond use, other than your feel of them of course. If you feel like your feet are moving around more often than it is necessary, it is time to get yourself a replacement or an upgrade.
3. New Challenges
Now onto the more mundane, but quite understandable, reasons to get yourself a pedal upgrade.
Let’s say that you have just recently started cycling, either out of need or a hobby. You are now finding yourself getting sucked deeper into this new found passion of yours. Understandably so, we did too. Now you see yourself pushing to reach greater heights and you notice that your old hand-me-down bike is just not cutting it.
This is exactly when you should be looking to upgrade your pedals. Not only is it cheap to upgrade, but it is best bang for your buck change that you can invest in if you are on a tight budget.
If budget is not an issue, then why stop at pedals?
But that is a topic for another time, today is all about pedals.
Coming back to our story.
If you have been road cycling, upgrading to a better clipless pedal is the way to go. With an investment of as low as $60, you can see noticeable improvements to your comfort as well as performance.
If your interest is in going off-road, you get even more options. Off-road or MTB clipless pedals are some of the easiest to use. If clipless are not your thing, there are a plethora of MTB flat pedals as well for all your enduro and DH needs.
4. Better Experience
Speaking of new experiences, let us talk about the things that the bike pedals contribute to improving your riding experience.
- Efficiency: The best mechanical way to improve your efficiency in cycling is by getting better pedals. The pedals are the point through which you transfer power from your body to your bike. The better your pedal the more returns you are getting for your effort.
- Weight: A good pair of pedals will make you feel like they aren’t even there. This is especially important when it comes to road biking. Getting yourself a lightweight pair of pedals will see significant improvements to your time performance. However reducing the weight of the pedals does come with a price, and a hefty one at that.
- Safety: We cannot stress how important safety should be in your list of considerations. The biggest downside you can have with a flat pedal without enough grip is slipping off and hitting your shin. But that can be remedied with a pair of clipless pedals. On the other hand, many newcomers to the clipless style worry about having their feet always attached to the pedals. Know that it is only a matter of time and practice to get used to this new style of pedaling.
We have utilized an entire article trying to convince you why you should be upgrading your pedals. Be it for performance, experience or just to be with the trend of having newer and better pedals.
But the bottom line is, if you are happy with your existing pedals, why change them?
Like they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, right?
The best you can do in that regard is to ditch the old ones and get a new pair of the same model. But then ask yourself this, if I am already changing, why not get a better pair?
As you can see, at the end of the day the choice is ultimately resting on your feeling and preference. So we hope that we have left you much more enlightened in regards to upgrades of your bicycle pedals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1) Are most bike pedals universal?
Ans.: Bike pedals are not universal. From a more generalized perspective, adult bike pedals differ greatly from children’s bike pedals. On top of that, adult bike pedals usually come in two distinct sizes: the 9/16 inches and the 1/2 inches. These measurements come from the size of the thread that attaches the pedal to the bike.
There is also the fact of types of pedals available: flat pedals, toe-clip pedals and clipless pedals. Each with their own unique design and purpose.
Q2) Can you ride clip pedals with normal shoes?
Ans.: Yes, you can. However it will not be very comfortable. Unlike flat pedals, clipless ones have a very unique design, many of them don’t even have a platform, like the Shimano SPD.
So if you have those pedals and couple those with thin soled shoes, the discomfort would be unimaginable, let alone damaging to your shoes.
If you are using a clipless pedal with a larger platform however, the discomfort may not be as noticeable.
Another option available nowadays is that you can temporarily convert your clipless pedals to normal ones with adaptors.