Best Bike Pedals for Commuting: Reviews and Guide 2020
Last Updated on
Commuting to work by bike offers multiple advantages such as getting in a workout and avoiding traffic congestion. It also saves you money on fuel and reduces environmental impact.
However, the right bike pedals are crucial to ensuring a comfortable and smooth commute.
But how do you make the right choice when there are so many options? What features should you look for? And what pedal types are best suited to commuting?
We searched high and low to compile a list of the best bike pedals for commuting to get started on your search.
As a bonus, this post also provides a guide on how to choose bike pedals for commuting.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Types of Pedals are Good for Commuting?
The main choices when it comes to commuting bike pedals are platform and clipless pedals. Most commuter bicycles are equipped with clipless pedals. They have a grippy surface that holds your feet, and are a popular choice among professional and experienced cyclists. If going for clipless pedals, you need special shoes that attach your feet to the pedals.
Platform pedals are more versatile and a great choice for the all-round cyclist. They are good for running errands around town, going to and from work, and more. Larger, thinner platforms with sealed bearings are a good choice for those who want better performance on mountain trails.
You can also opt for dual-sided pedals, which are a combination of clipless and platform pedals. They offer better flexibility than platforms and clipless pedals.
8 Best Bike Pedals for Commuting
1. Shimano PD-A530 SPD Dual Platform Bike Pedal
Shimano is a household name in the world of cycling and understandably so. The brand offers a wide variety of durable bike products. Their PD-A530 SPD Dual Platform Bike Pedal offers a great riding experience. It comes with a SPD cleat that clips in when going on more serious outdoor adventures.
This is one of the lightest pedals available on the market. It is slightly concave and ridged, ensuring a firm foot hold even in wet conditions. You can adjust clip retention to suit your skill level.
The pedal comes with a couple of cup-and-cone bearings for smooth pedaling. Both are serviceable and lightweight. This Chromoly spindle has an all-steel body for strength and longevity.
The float, entry and release are adjustable, hence suitable for different riding styles. The bearing movement is good and unlike other pedals, this one doesn’t flip to the heavier clip side. All things considered, the Shimano PD-A530 is great for casual trips to the store as well as competitive rides on rough terrain.
2. Shimano PD-M520 SPD Clipless Pedal
The Shimano PD-M520 is an incredibly versatile SPD clipless pedal that is durable and affordable. It works well for all kinds of bikes ranging from commuter and road bikes to cross-country bikes. It only weighs 7 ounces, making it one of the lightest on the market.
It comes with two 3mm Allen bolts that allow riders to adjust the tension. Reducing the tension makes it easier to unclip while increasing the tension prevents accidental release. Of course, there is nothing wrong with experimenting until you find a setting that works for you. The 6mm Allen key slot on the crank end makes installation easier.
This pedal only needs to be serviced once or twice a year for optimal performance. It boasts an open binding mechanism that sheds mud effectively. Also featured is sealed bearing cartridge axle that is low maintenance.
3. RaceFace Chester Mountain Bike Pedal
If you love a soft and flexible shoe, then the style and durability of the RaceFace Chester Mountain Bike Pedal will appeal to you. It is good looking and it pops right out of the box. It comes in six bright colors that stand out.
The pedal is made from a combination of chromoly steel and composite nylon, ensuring durability and longevity. This also helps shed off some weight. It embraces a large platform, and uses a 8-hex pin system to provide firm traction and grip.
The bushing and bearing system is serviceable for optimal performance. This pedals uses a fully sealed cro-mo axle that provides great performance without compromising durability or adding too much weight.
4. Imrider Lightweight Polyamide Bike Pedals
The Imrider Polyamide is one of the best platform bike pedals for commuting you’ll find. Sold as a pair, the biggest advantage offered by this pedal is its anti-skid abilities. The nails crossing both sides ensure that your foot doesn’t slip during rides.
The design has a freestyle BMX influence, making this a great choice for BMX and MTB bikes. There are multiple colors to choose from, all of which are bright and striking on any bike. As the name suggests, the pedal is made from polyamide. The material is not only durable, but also lightweight and abrasion resistant. Unlike metals, it is not prone to corrosion.
The hard spindles offer a strong grip that prevents your foot from slipping. You don’t have to worry about the pedal scratching your floors since it’s made from a plastic. What really makes it stand out is that while built for BMX and MTB bikes, you can use it on any type of bike. This includes cruisers, city bicycles and mountain bikes.
5. Shimano Unisex PD-R540 SPD-SL
The Shimano Unisex PD-R540 are entry-level pedals designed for all-round performers. While more affordable than most of the company’s pedals, they work in exactly the same way. The only difference is that they are not as lightweight or made with exotic materials.
These provide plenty of tension release adjustment for both beginners and professional cyclists. The bearings are incredibly smooth and the sealing great. They can be serviced for improved performance.
The pedals are easy to install and uninstall thanks to light action. They don’t unclip in the middle of a ride either. They come with a cleat retention adjuster that allows for a comfortable fit and better stability.
The PD-R540 pedals are constructed for durability with aluminum and chrome. They include 5deg float cleats and low maintenance sealed cartridge axle. Shimano backs them up with a 2-year limited warranty.
6. MEETLOCKS Bike Pedal
This is a top quality road bike pedal that is designed to provide reliable performance. It offers the best when it comes to improving your biking skills with flat pedals. It helps beginners get used to the weighting of their bikes and achieve more balance.
The MEETLOCKS Bike Pedal is made from magnesium alloy. This results in a lightweight body with superior strength and durability. It has a high damping capacity, and is resistant to dents. Magnesium is also preferred for its environment friendliness.
There are two colors to choose from i.e. titanium and black. Each pedal weighs about 200 grams. The package includes three ultra-sealed bearings as well as Cro-Mo 9/16 inch screw spindle that is CNC machined.
Also featured are replaceable pins that provide a firm grip and prevent your feet from slipping. The concave 4’x4’ platform shape offers comfort on longer rides while the skid resistance design allows for pedaling efficiency.
7. Look Keo 2 Max Pedals
If you are looking for optimal comfort and efficiency, the Look Keo 2 Max Pedal is a good contender. It is one of the best flat pedals for commuting and offers value for your money. Highlights include a blade design helps reduce overall weight.
It is made from carbon fiber, a material that’s both lightweight and durable. It only weighs 122 grams. The pedal is redesigned with a wider stainless steel mid-foot plate. This increases the cleat contact area, thus providing more stability and ensuring you foot doesn’t slip.
This is a great purchase for beginners and professionals alike. There are two colors to choose from including black and white. Also featured is a fixed release tension on the carbon blade spring. The resistance of rear spring can be adjusted using an Allen key.
The bearing has a conical spacer that reduces friction while improving longevity of the pedal. Carbon injection process is utilized during construction to further reduce weight.
8. Newsty Bike Pedals
Commuters who favor the added efficiency offered by toeclip pedals will love the Newsty Bike Pedals. They are made using a lightweight aluminum alloy while the actual toeclips are crafted from plastic resin. The overall weight is low and doesn’t weigh your feet down.
Adjusting and cinching the toeclips is easy thanks to the one-way clip and nylon webbing. All you have to do is pull down the webbing until you achieve the desired tightness. These pedals offer a firm grip with wide metal teeth.
Another notable feature is the built-in reflector that provides added visibility in low-light conditions. The pedals are compatible with bikes that have 9/16 spindle.
What to Look for Before Buying
Choosing bike pedals is not an easy task, especially since there are so many options to choose from.
In this section, we break down important features to consider during your search...
Flat vs. clipless pedals
Otherwise known as platform pedals, flat pedals come in many varieties. They are a great choice for casual bikers since they make it easy to get on and off the bike. Flat pedals also work with any kind of footwear. Mountain bikers who need wider bases and pins are better off with these pedals. They offer better maneuverability and solid footing.
Clipless pedals allow users to clip in and out with special shoes. You can push and pull with each rotation, thus optimizing power and smoothness. This also increases efficiency and speed. Riding clipless pedals requires special shoes known as cleats, and a slight learning curve. They are a good choice for someone who favors riding at higher speeds. They are versatile, hence preferred by most commuters, cross-country and mountain bikers.
This is a must-have feature when purchasing clipless pedals. Cleats are small pieces of plastic or metal that attach to the soles of your shoes, and ultimately the pedals when cycling. Most pedals include cleats, but you can purchase aftermarket cleats. The ideal cleats should fit your bike shoes and pedals. They need to work together and if one doesn’t fit, you won’t be able to ride.
Most pedals come with 2-hole cleats and are great for general commuting or trail cycling. Pedals with such cleats are sometimes known as Shimano Pedaling Dynamics (SPD). Some cleats have 3-holes in a triangle design and are often referred to as Lock Systems. They offer increased foot engagement, thus increased power with each stroke.
When it comes to choosing cycling products, the quality of materials and craftsmanship should always be a top priority.
The best platform pedals are made steel, aluminum and composite materials. Cheaper models are made from composite nylon.
Some are made from carbon fiber and due to the lightweight yet durable nature of the material, are more expensive than most.
This is the part that attaches to the crank arms, hence an important consideration during purchase. It’s best to choose chromoly spindles since they are more durable and rigid compared to steel spindles.
This refers to the amount of angular rotation required to lock the cleat and hold it firmly in place. Some systems are designed to hold your feet at a fixed angle while others allow room for customizing the float. The choice comes down to personal preference but ultimately, the ability to customize pedal float is great.
Otherwise known as toe cages, toe clips attach to pedals and help to increase pedaling efficiency. They hold down your feet, ensuring they stay in the right position during the duration of the ride. Consider investing in pedals with toe clips if you are not used to cycling with clipless pedals. They provide added efficiency while allowing you to get used to clipless pedals.
It is important that you choose pedals with adjustable tension. This is particularly important if you are just getting started on clipless pedals. You can use low tension for easier engagement and release, and gradually increase it as your skills improve.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I add toeclips on platform pedals?
Platform pedals don’t usually come with toe clips and straps. They don’t have an eyelet that would allow you to add a toeclip. On the other hand, most pedals that come with a toe clip allow for removal of the toeclip with a screwdriver.
2. Does pedal weight affect cycling efficiency?
While lightweight compared to the bike’s overall weight, pedal weight has a direct impact on cycling efficiency. This is because it determines the amount of work your legs need to do to keep the bike moving. If the pedals are too heavy, your legs will have to work harder.
3. How do I choose between SPD and SPD-SL pedals?
The choice ultimately comes down to the shoes you plan on wearing. SPD pedals are your best bet if wearing commute-specific shoes. SPD-SL pedals are a better option for someone who is constantly changing between commute and office shoes. This is because they provide a larger contact surface area.
When it comes to investing in the right pedals, there are multiple factors to keep in mind if you hope to find the best. Craftsmanship should be at the top of your checklist. Look for pedals made from durable and lightweight materials like aluminum, steel, carbon fiber or composite nylon.
Keep in mind that the lighter the pedals, the more money you’ll have to pay. Speaking of money, you should go for a product that fits within your budget range.
Pedals with a higher float are a better choice if you don’t have a lot of experience with clipless.
Check our compilation of best bike pedals for commuting currently available at the market.
And don’t forget to maintain your pedals for optimal performance. This means occasional cleaning and lubrication. Mounting nuts should also be retightened every now and then.