May 152010

Question: “The bike I am looking at getting does not come with pedals. Do you have any suggestions as to what kind of pedals I should get? What about cycling shoes too?”

Most bikes purchased these days from the shop are offered as a complete package. This includes the frame, wheels, component set, etc. You then realize that you bike has 1 major component missing. You either were given the 20-dollar pair of plastic pedals or you are looking at 2 crank arms with gaping holes in them.

I would definitely recommend investing a few extra bucks into purchasing a decent set of pedals with clip in capacity, or “clipless” as they are often referred to. Why they are called clipless is a mystery to me? Of importance is that they allow the rider to pedal with much greater efficiency as power can be applied in the upward phases of the pedal stroke. It is also important to keep in mind that your feet will be in these same shoes/pedals for every mile of every bike ride, until replaced, you should aim for a pair that will suit your needs as well as will be comfortable to wear over and over and over again.

Keeping these facts in mind lets review some of the important factors to consider when purchasing pedals/shoes for your bike.

What type of environment will you be using them in? If you are a mountain biker then you are likely going to want the Shimano spd style cleat which is a small and embedded in the shoe which allows for more comfortable walking in the shoe off the bike on hard surfaces.

If you are a road cyclist or a triathlete, who will be spending 99% of the time in the shoe clipped into a pedal then you have the option with the single sided clip, such as the spd-sl, and the larger shoe contact area for quick engagement and greater efficiency in pedaling. Once you have selected the style of pedal, you will need to pick a price range. This can vary greatly…the biggest differences coming from durability and weight of materials used.

Now that the pedals are installed, you need a compatible shoe. Some points to consider when looking at shoes are:

  • Fit and comfort. Your foot will swell slightly during use but you don’t want the shoe to be too tight that it hinders circulation. If you are a triathlete and require quick transitions, then Velcro straps are usually the way to go.
  • Quality: High-end shoes will be made of lighter and more comfortable materials, such as carbon fiber soles, for light and rigid soles.
  • Ventilation. Are there air vents allowing for your foot to breathe? Will you be wearing the shoe barefoot or with a sock? Try it on both ways if they allow you too.

It is a good idea to sit down and do a little bit of research on what kind of shoe/pedal combo is best for you as well as what is available at the store you plan on making your purchase. This will help to avoid any surprises in costs and help you find the best choice to fulfill your requirements.

Chris Pickering
Triatlhon Coaching – Transiton Myself Training
Progressive Cycling Program – Indoor Rider