The 6 Best Gravel Bike Pedals to Buy in 2021 (Clipless, Flat, Hybrid)

Look X-Track Race pedals

Below are the best gravel bike pedals from various price ranges compatible with clipless bike shoes.

Whether you are looking for pedals that withstand heavy usage or budget pedals, I got you covered.

The best gravel bike pedals overall are Shimano M520 SPD pedals. They are easy to clip into, durable, and you can adjust their unclip tension.

This guide also includes crucial details to know before buying gravel bike pedals.

Let’s get started!

NOTE: This selection doesn’t include flat and road bike pedals. If you are interested in using them on a gravel bike, visit the best mountain bike flat pedals or the best road bike clipless pedals article.

What Are the Best Gravel Bike Pedals?

In this section, you find the summary of features, advantages and disadvantages of all the pedals to help decide what pedals are suitable for your riding style. Please read the buyer’s guide section first if you don’t know what to look for exactly.

Shimano M520 SPD (Best Overall)

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Main Features

  • Adjustable tension for an easy entry and exit
  • Sturdy clip entries for robust retention
  • Good mud-shedding ability
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 0.86lb (380g)
  • Material: Aluminum and steel
  • Recommended cleats: Shimano SM-SH51 or SM-SH56

If you are looking for pedals that offer a good value for money, then the Shimano M520 SPD pedals are for you. They are well-known in the mountain biking world but are perfect for gravel biking too.

Their installation is simple, and they don’t require much maintenance, thanks to their robust and durable bearings.

They are made from sturdy aluminum and stainless steel, so they will last you for years and still deliver the same performance.

Of course, you can set their release tension based on your preferences. I recommend lower tension for beginners for easier release. You avoid crashes caused by an inability to unclip on time.

Finally, they come with a pair of durable recessed cleats compatible with a 2-hole cleat configuration.

Their biggest downside is their weight which is much higher than the weight of Crankbrothers Candy, for example.

These features and their affordable price make them the perfect option for most beginner and advanced gravel riders.

Also available at jensonusa.com, rei.com, performancebike.com, and wiggle.co.uk


You might also be interested in this selection of the best clipless mountain bike pedals.


Crankbrothers Candy

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Main Features

  • Lightweight to lower fatigue
  • Spring design for enhanced mud shedding
  • Customizable release angle and float for a better fit
  • Available in multiple colors
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

Crankbrothers’ Candy 1 pedals offer one of the best price-weight ratios from all pedals in this selection. As a result, they will be perfect for you if you look for lightweight pedals for a limited budget.

At only 0.65lb (294g), they are much lighter than Shimano M520. Yet, they are not the lightest pedals on the market (e.g., Crankbrothers Eggbeater 11 pedals weigh only 179g). So, they are perfect for long, all-day adventures.

While they may not appear as sturdy as the Shimano M520 pedals, they will still hold up well, thanks to the one-piece plastic composite. In addition, they come with a Chromoly steel spindle and stainless steel spring for better durability.

They have platforms that may offer your feet support if you miss clipping in on time. And, the spring clip provides a minimal surface for mud to occupy. As a result, they allow you to clip in with ease in any weather.

These pedals have an extended warranty period of five years, so if they break, you can contact the seller and issue a refund.

Cranbrothers Candy pedals are available in multiple options that are made of more premium materials (steel, titanium, etc.). These include Candy 2, Candy 3, Candy 7, or Candy 11. They mainly differ in their price, weight and other small details.

Their main disadvantage is that you can’t adjust their release tension.

Also available at competitivecyclist.com, rei.com, performancebike.com, and wiggle.co.uk

PRO TIP: Combine Crankbrothers or Time ATAC pedals with Crankbrothers shoe shields. They will protect your shoe insoles so your shoes will last you longer while maintaining the same level of cleat’s adjustability.


Shimano PD-M530

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Main Features

  • Adjustable tension to suit different riding styles
  • Platforms for more feet support
  • Sealed axle to minimize maintenance
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 1lb (455g)
  • Material: Aluminum and steel
  • Recommended cleats: Shimano SM-SH51 or SM-SH56

Shimano PD-M530 pedals are very like Shimano M520, but they differ mainly in the platform. As a result, it helps you get more stability and feet support as you clip in and in technical descents.

Thanks to the platform, you can also use them with casual shoes that have soft soles. This is a huge plus if you use your gravel bike to commute.

You also won’t experience hotspots. Instead, the platforms will spread the force you put into every pedal stroke to a larger area.

I can’t forget to mention that you can set the release tension level as you need (this is a feature that you won’t get with Crankbrothers pedals).

If you are looking for light gravel bike pedals, these are not the best option. At 1lb (455g), they are some of the heaviest petals on the list. But their price to value ratio is excellent.


Look X-Track Race

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Main Features

  • Adjustable tension to fit your riding style
  • SPD compatible hence flexible
  • Extended 5year warranty
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 0.79lb (360g)
  • Material: Carbon, aluminum, and steel

Are your cycling shoes still okay, but are you looking for a replacement for your current pedals? The SPD-compatible Look X-Track Race pedals may be an excellent alternative.

A bigger surface than the Shimano M520 pedals is a significant advantage of the Look X-Track Race pedals. Hence, they provide a larger contact area with your shoe so you will feel more confident.

They are pretty easy to clip in and out, and of course, you can adjust the release tension to suit your riding style.

Look X-Track Race pedals have a sturdy construction and sealed bearings. So, they need little maintenance and last for years.

The cleat engagement is quite good but not as great as Shimano pedals. It has a fair amount of rigidness and doesn’t flick as freely as the Shimano pedals. However, this is nothing that will likely affect you while riding.

Also available at competitivecyclist.com, performancebike.com, and wiggle.co.uk


Crankbrothers Eggbeater 1

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Main Features

  • Light to ease riding
  • Spring design for better mud-shedding
  • Customizable clip design for comfort
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

Crankbrother’s Eggbeater is a collection of clipless pedals that includes several options based on your budget and demands. 

The Eggbeater 1 is one of the top picks if you want the best affordable gravel bike pedals that are super light at the same time.

Their minimal size, which is the tiniest in this selection, is quite a cool feature. Also, thanks to their design, they are exceptionally great at mud-shedding. So, they are perfect for riding in any weather condition and terrain.

An advantage of their rotating spring design is the ability to clip in from any side with ease. But, if you fail to clip in, their zero-platform design won’t provide your foot with any support.

The good news is that Eggbeater 1 pedals don’t have a rider’s weight limit. So, they are suitable for all gravel biker.

If you decide to spend a little bit more on Eggbeater 2, 3, or even 11, you can also take advantage of traction pads, more premium materials, and lower weight.

Also available at jensonusa.com, performancebike.com, and wiggle.co.uk


Time ATAC XC8

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Main Features

  • Light to lower fatigue
  • Adjustable tension for comfort
  • Easy to enter and exit
  • Minimalistic for better dirt shedding
  • Cleats included

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 0.63lb (286g)
  • Material: Carbon and steel
  • Recommended cleats: Time ATAC

Time ATAC XC8 pedals function like the Crankbrothers Eggbeater 1 pedals, besides a few differences.

They have an angular float of +/-5° and lateral float of 6 mm to ease the pressure on your knees. As a result, entry and exit into them is quite a cinch. They also come with two release angles of 13 and 17-degrees, allowing you to set an angle that suits you best.

At 286g, they are a convenient selection for anyone looking to cover large distances. While they may be slightly challenging to grasp when switching from SPD pedals, they are still a good choice for gravel bikes.

Owners praise especially their durability and reliability. These two features are very important if you are tens of miles away from home. You can rely on XC8 at any time.

Also available at performancebike.com


My Verdict

Shimano M520 SPD pedals are the best pedals for gravel bikes overall:

They are relatively budget-friendly and very durable.

Despite lacking a platform, they are slightly broader than pedals like the Crankbrothers Eggbeater. Resultantly, they offer a bit more support as you try to clip into them.

They are popular among mountain bikers, but people use them for gravel, stationary, even road bikes. 

Thanks to their excellent mud-shedding, they are perfect even for riders who are not afraid of riding in demanding conditions and technical terrain.

Overall, they offer the best combination of price, durability, and functionality.  

To find out more about choosing gravel bike pedals, feel free to read the following section where I explain bike pedals in detail.


How to Choose the Best Gravel Bike Pedals?

This section will help you orient yourself in the bike pedals. I explain what you should look for when choosing gravel bike pedals in detail to help you make the best buying decision.

Clipless, Hybrid, or Flats?

Choosing the correct type of pedals for your riding style is essential. Gravel bikes are highly versatile, so you can use them for short commuting, maintaining your fitness, all-day trips, bike packing, etc.

You can choose from 3 types of pedals:

  1. Clipless (a clip-in mechanism)
  2. Flats (platforms)
  3. Hybrid (clip-in mechanism + platform)

So which type is right for you? 

Clipless pedals allow you to take full advantage of pedaling in circles technique. You will feel like you are one with the bike. It takes some time to get used to clipping in and off, but there is a high chance you start enjoying clipless pedals within right during your first ride.

Watch the following video to find out more about the proper pedaling technique.

Clipless pedals (like Shimano SPD) allow you to adjust the spring’s tension. Racers prefer stiffer tension to avoid unintentional cleat release. However, beginners and casual riders benefit from lower tension. Learn more about the release tension.

A few words about road bike pedals on gravel bike…
Some riders prefer using road clipless pedals on their gravel bike. They are great for larger distances thanks to their large platform that provides your feet with better support. Road bike pedals are fine if you ride routes that don’t require you to get off your bike. Their main downsides are that you can clip into them from one side only. Furthermore, road bike shoes are not suitable for walking due to the raised cleats and stiff soles.

Flat pedals, sometimes also called platforms, are not popular only on hybrid or mountain bikes, but some riders use them on their gravel bikes.

Their main advantage is that they allow you to take your feet off the pedals quickly. So if you need to stop often, you don’t have to be afraid of forgetting to clip off. In other words, they are very beginner-friendly. 

But, due to the lack of attachment mechanism, your feet may slip off pedals in some situations. Therefore, go for flat pedals with pins that improve the traction and your overall grip. 

You may be interested in this selection of the best gravel bike shoes.

Hybrid pedals combine the features of clipless and flat pedals. They allow you to clip in from one side of the pedal. The other part is flat. This means you can use them with flat shoes or with clipless shoes.

They are perfect for people who combine gravel biking with walking or hiking, or for commuters who need to often stop at traffic lights, intersections, etc.

The following table shows the pros and cons of different types of bike pedals.

Type of PedalsProsConsRecommended for
Platforms (flat pedals)• You can use them with almost any type of shoes.
• You don't have to clip into them so you can take your feet of them easily. This increases your safety and confidence.
• You learn the right echnique and tricks more easily.
• You can't pedal in circles (you cannot pull up).
• Your foot can slip off more easily.
• Shin injuries from pins.
Beginners, commuters, BMX riders, MTB riders, downhill riders
Road pedals (clipless)• You will feel like you have better control over your bicycle.
• They are lightweight to lower your fatigue over long distances.
• You can pedal in circles.
• They are longer than MTB pedals, so they provide more support for your foot.
• You can't clip in from both sides.
• Expensive - You will have to buy pedals, road bike shoes, and cleats.
• It will take you some time to get used to them.
Road cyclists
MTB pedals (clipless)• You will feel like you have better control over your bicycle.
• You can pedal in circles.
• You can clip in from both sides.
• Expensive - You will have to buy pedals, mountain bike shoes, and cleats.
• It will take you some time to get used to them.
MTB and gravel riders, cyclocross riders
Hybrid pedals (flat + clipless)• You can decide what type of shoes you use (normal footwear or specialized cycling shoes).• They are heavier compared to clipless road and MTB pedals.
• They are bulky.
Commuters, bike packers, people who like bike trips and hiking, mountain and gravel bikers

Material and Weight

Clipless pedals are usually made of metal (aluminum, steel, titanium) or composite (carbon). Either way, they have to be durable to withstand the force you put into them and efficiently transfer it to the forward movement of your bike. 

Some gravel bike pedals like Crankbrothers Egg Beater 11 come with titanium axles reducing the overall pedal weight. However, they are limited by the rider’s weight limit, so keep that in mind. 

More expensive pedals are usually lighter and made of higher quality materials than cheaper, entry-level pedals. For example, one of the lightest clipless pedals on the market are the Crankbrothers Egg Beater 11 that weighs only 179g (pair). 

In the table below, you can see the average weight of different types of pedals. 

Type of PedalsAverage Weight (g/pair)Average Weight (lb/pair)
Flat3770.83
Clipless w/o platform3080.68
Clipless with platform4460.98
Hybrid (clip in + platform)4440.98

Note: I calculated the average weights based on this list of pedals.

Release Tension

The pedals release tension indicates how difficult it is to unclip. Manufacturers such as Shimano, Time, Look (and others) allow you to adjust it. This brings many benefits:

  • Beginners who are not used to clipless pedals can lower the release tension for easy unclip on intersections, traffic lights, or terrain where they need to tap with their feet to maintain balance.
  • Riders with knee problems can lower the tension for easy unclip to avoid further knee problems.
  • Advanced riders and racers can increase the tension to avoid unintentional exit.

On the other hand, Crankbrothers pedals won’t allow you to adjust the release tension. This is one of their main disadvantages compared to the pedals of the above-mentioned manufacturers.

Cleats Release Angle & Float

Cleats release angle and float are sometimes mixed up together. But these two features differ.

The cleat release angle is the angle at which the shoe releases from the pedal. But there are also release modes.

Release mode means that you can release your feet from pedals with an outward movement only or by twisting your heel in any direction.

For example, Shimano SM-SH51 cleats allow outward release only, while SM-SH56 release in any direction. This means that SM-SH56 cleats are better for beginners who are not as used to clipless pedals. 

Crankbrothers has several types of cleats as well in its offer. Check the following table.

Crankbrothers cleatsRelease angleFloat
Standard 6°15°
Standard 0°15°
Easy 6°10°
Easy 0°10°

Source: Crankbrothers

Cleat float allows you to move your heels sideways when you are clipped into the pedal. Riders with knee problems benefit from cleats with larger float because they allow your heels to rotate and prevent injuries.


Gravel Bike Pedals FAQ


This post is regularly updated to provide you with the most up-to-date tips on products. If you find a product that is not up to date, please, contact me.

The preview picture was kindly provided by Look.

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