The 6 Best Road Bike Pedals & Cleats (Roadie Selection) [2021]

Look Keo Blade pedals

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After comparing 30 pedals, I selected the best road bike pedals from different manufacturers, including Shimano, Look, Speedplay, and Time.

The best road bike pedals overall are the Shimano Ultegra R8000 SPD-SL. They provide an excellent price-value ratio in terms of durability, weight, and performance.

But, if you look for the best adjustable road bike pedals, go for Wahoo Fitness Speedplay Zero. They will allow you to ‘play’ with the fit and settings a little bit more, and you can clip into them from both sides.

Also, feel free to read more about clipless pedals – why you should ride with them, what types are there, the pros and cons of different types of road clipless pedals, and much more.


What Are the Best Road Bike Pedals?

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Look Keo Classic 3

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

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Shimano Ultegra R8000

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

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Wahoo Fitness Speedplay Zero

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

Read More

Skip to the comparison table…


Shimano Ultegra R8000 SPD-SL (Best Overall)

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Main Features

  • Weight: 248 g (pair)
  • Float available: 0°, 2°, and 6°
  • Adjustable tension

Compatible Cleats

Shimano Ultegra R8000 SPD-SL are one of the most popular road bike pedals on the market. I use them too, and they are great. They are well balanced, so clipping in is easy because they stay in the right position.

Yes, they are a little bit heavier compared to Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 SPD-SL pedals. But, they are not as expensive. You would have to be a very experienced rider to notice the difference.

Yet, I have to admit, when I switched from pedals that weighted around 300 g, I felt that every pedal stroke was easier than before.

However, Ultegra pedals offer as much foot support as the Dura-Ace pedals, thanks to a similar-sized platform. And you can use them with the same range of cleats.

The cleats with screws and screw washers weigh around 70 g, so the whole set weighs a little over 320 g.

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


Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 SPD-SL (Best Performance)

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Main Features

  • Weight: 228 g (pair)
  • Float available: 0°, 2°, and 6°
  • Adjustable tension

Compatible Cleats

The Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 SPD-SL pedals are the highest range of road clipless pedals from Shimano. They are designed for pros and the most demanding riders.

They are 20 g lighter than the Ultegra R8000 SPD-SL pedals and more expensive. However, thanks to their large platform, they provide efficient energy transfer for every pedal stroke.

They have earned their popularity mainly due to their reliability, low weight, and ease of use. Dura-Ace 9100 are well balanced, so they always turn in a way that allows the easiest clipping possible.

Pedals with cleats and fastening material weigh around 70 g. So the weight of the whole set is a little over 300 g.

The Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 SPD-SL are one of the most widely used clipless pedals among pro riders.

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


Look Keo Classic 3 (Best Budget)

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Main Features

  • Weight: 278 g (pair)
  • Float available: 0°, 4.5°, and 9°
  • Adjustable tension

Compatible Cleats

If you are a beginner, I can recommend the Look Keo Classic 3 pedals. These are ideal entry-level pedals combining good value for money.

Besides, they are available in several colors (red, white, black), so you can match them to the color of your road bike and cycling kit.

The pedals are relatively well balanced, so they rotate in a way that makes it easier for you to clip into. They are compatible with Look cleats offering three float levels to reduce strain on the knees and joints.

Keo Classic 3 weighs approx. 350 g together with cleats and screws.

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


You might also be interested in the best road cycling shoes for men and women.


Look Keo 2 Max Carbon (Best Price/Weight Ratio)

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Main Features

  • Weight: 250 g
  • Float available: 0°, 4.5°, and 9°
  • Adjustable tension

Compatible Cleats

Look Keo 2 Max Carbon provide one of the best price/weight ratios of all pedals in this selection.

You can use them with cleats that offer 0°, 4.5°, and 9°, so they are good for sprinters, experienced riders, and even beginners.

The Key 2 Max Carbon pedals have a 25% larger contact area compared to the previous version. This means they provide efficient energy transfer, good support, and stability for your feet.

Of course, you can clip into them easily thanks to their good weight distribution and adjust the clip-off tension.

Together with the cleats, these pedals weigh a little over 310 g.

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


Wahoo Fitness Speedplay Zero (Best Adjustable)

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Wahoo Fitness Speedplay Zero | Source: rei.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 216 g (pair)
  • Float available: 0° to 15°
  • Adjustable tension
  • Available in 7 colors

Wahoo Fitness Speedplay Zero pedals are the lightest pedals in this selection. But, if you use them with 3-bolt system road shoes, you need to use adapters. The weight of the complete set is then around 330 g.

When using these pedals with road bike shoes designed for Speedplay pedals (4-bolt configuration), the weight is around 280 g.

Speedplay pedals are standardly available with a spindle width of 53 mm. However, there are other widths available (read more).

Zero and other Speedplay pedals will allow you to set the float from 0 to 15 degrees. If you manage to set the right saddle height, etc., the cleats’ position, and the right float, your knees will not hurt.

Furthermore, Speedplay Zero are available in 7 colors, so it is easy to match them with your bike.

NOTE: Wahoo Fitness acquired Speedplay in 2020.

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


Time Xpro 10 (Most Underrated)

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Main Features

  • Weight: 226 g (pair)
  • Float available: 0°, 5°(angular), 2.5 mm (lateral)
  • Adjustable tension

Although Time pedals are not so often seen in the professional peloton, they also deserve attention. Time Xpro 10 are lightweight pedals with similar features to Dura-Ace pedals or Look Keo 2 Max Carbon.

They provide a large enough platform for efficient energy transfer of each of your pedal strokes. Unlike the other pedals in this selection, they also allow 1.25 mm lateral movement in both directions. It helps to reduce the stress on your knees.

Of course, Xpro 10 pedals are well balanced, so they are easy to clip into. At the same time, they are very light. Together with cleats, they weigh around 310 g.

For these reasons, I think Time Xpro 10 are worth buying.

Also available at performancebike.com


ProductWeight (Pair)Estimated Weight With Cleats 
Shimano Ultegra R8000 SPD-SL248 g
320 gCheck Price
Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 SPD-SL228 g300 gCheck Price
Look Keo Classic 3278 g350 gCheck Price
Look Keo 2 Max Carbon250 g310 gCheck Price
Wahoo Fitness Speedplay Zero216 g330 g (3-hole road cycling shoes)
280 g (4-hole road cycling shoes)
Check Price
Time Xpro 10226 g310 gCheck Price

My Verdict

I selected the Shimano Ultegra R8000 SPD-SL as the best road bike pedals overall because of the following reasons:

  • They are relatively affordable (compared to Dura-Ace pedals). Yes, there are cheaper pedals, but these offer the same features as the high-end road clipless pedals.
  • The pair of Ultegra pedals is just 20 g heavier than the Dura-Ace pedals that are the highest-end pedals from Shimano used by pros.
  • R8000 SPD-Sl pedals offer a large platform. This means excellent support for your feet, excellent power transfer, and comfort.
  • They are also durable, well balanced, so it is easy to clip into them, and you can use them with 0°, 2°, or °6 float cleats.

To find out more about why you should use clipless pedals and what types of pedals are available on the market, read the following section.

See the full list of considered road bike pedals (on request only).


Why Should You Ride with Clipless Pedals?

Riding a road bike when you are clipped into clipless pedals brings many benefits. I’ve summarized the main pros and cons of using road bike shoes with clipless pedals compared to riding in non cycling shoes in the table below.

ProsCons
• They improve pedal stroke efficiency thanks to the stiff soles and fixed position on the pedal.
• They improve comfort. Road cycling shoes are made to be lightweight, ventilated, and comfortable.
• They improve your safety because your feet won't slip off the pedals and you can control your bike more easily.
• It takes a while to get used to clipping in and clipping off.
• They tend to be more expensive compared to non cycling shoes.
• They are not suitable for walking.

Source: Richard’s 21st Century Bicycle Book

The study shows that using stiff-soled cycling shoes combined with clipless pedals improved the maximum sprint power by 10.2% compared to running shoes with classic aluminum quill pedals with toe clips and straps.


Basic Types of Bike Pedals

The type of pedals you use on your bike significantly affects how comfortable your ride will be. There are 3 main types of bike pedals:

basic types of bike pedals
These are the basic types of bike pedals available on the market

I focus on different types of road clipless pedals more in detail below.

Pros & Cons of Different Types of Bike Pedals

The following table summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of different 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

Pros and cons of different types of bike pedals | Sources: Bicycling, Skedaddle, Active, Singletracks


Road Clipless Pedals Compatibility & Types

Road cycling shoes are usually manufactured in a 3-hole configuration (see the picture below). This allows you to attach cleats compatible with road clipless pedals like Shimano-SPD SL, Look Keo, Time, etc.

The MTB shoes are manufactured in a 2-hole configuration. They allow you to attach MTB cleats. Those are smaller than road cleats and compatible with the MTB clipless pedals.

A separate category consists of 4-hole configuration cycling shoes that were designed specifically for Wahoo Speedplay pedals. You can also use 3-hole configuration shoes, but you have to use special adapters to make them compatible with a 4-hole configuration.

cleat hole configuration edited
Cycling shoes cleat hole configuration (click to enlarge)

Q Factor, Spindle Width & Stance Width

When choosing your new pedals, you will often encounter with so-called q factor. It is often mistakenly mixed with spindle width.

The q factor is defined as follows:

The Q factor is the width between the inside faces of the cranks where the pedals screw in.

The spindle width (also called spindle length) is the distance from the outside of the cranks to the pedal center.

And the last important term is the stance width. It is the width between the centers of the pedals.

spindle width q factor stance width
Important measurements – spindle width, q factor, and stance width

The table below shows the spindle widths (often wrongly called q factor) of different pedal brands.

BrandSpindle Width
Shimano52 mm (standard)
56 mm (longer axle)
Look53 mm (standard)
Wahoo Speedplay50 mm (custom)
53 mm (standard)
56 mm (custom)
59 mm (custom)
65 mm (custom)
Time51.7 mm (standard)
54.3 mm (longer axle)

Spindle widths of various pedals manufacturers | Sources: Shimano, Look, Wahoo Speedplay, Time

Pros & Cons of Different Types of Road Clipless Pedals

I read dozens of bike forums and manufacturer websites to find the pros & cons of different types of road clipless pedals. The following table summarizes the experiences of riders worldwide.

Type of PedalProsCons
Shimano SPD-SL• They are compatible with 2°, 3°, and 6° float cleats.
• They are better balanced compared to Look pedals, so they are easier to clip in.
• They are the most popular and easy to get almost everywhere.
• You can clip in from one side only.
Look• They are compatible with 0°, 4.5°, and 9° float cleats.
• Look pedals are available in various color combinations.
• Look cleats are compatible with Garmin Vector pedals that have integrated power meters.
• You can clip in from one side only.
• Classic Look Keo cleats don't have rubber pads, so they are slippery when walking.
• Look cleats are easy to wear out and don't last as long.
Wahoo
Speedplay
• You can clip in and out from both sides.
• They offer the best fit adjustability out of all pedal systems.
• They are easy to clip in and out.
• Speedplay offers walkable cleats.
• Speedplay pedals are available in various colors.
• They are more expensive compared to other pedal systems.
• You have to buy 4-bolt configuration road shoes (limited selection) or use special adapters.
• The contact area is the smallest compared to other pedal systems.
Time Sport (SRAM)• They have the largest contact platform.
• They provide angular (+- 5°) and lateral float (2.5 mm), so they are good for your knees.
• They allow you to move your feet further away from cranks than Look and Shimano SPD-SL pedals.
• You can clip in from one side only.
• They are not as widespread as Shimano SPD-SL or Look, so they may be harder to get.
• They lack adjustability.

Pros and cons of different types of road clipless pedals | Sources: shimano.com, lookcycle.com, wahoofitness.com, time-sport.com, various bike forums

Shimano SPD-SL

Shimano SPD-SL road clipless pedals are often confused with Shimano SPD MTB clipless pedals. These two types belong to one of the most popular on the market.

Surprisingly, Shimano was not the first company that introduced clipless pedals (read more in the Look section). Shimano came up with their first clipless pedals three years after Look in 1986 with their Dura-Ace 7401.

Nowadays, Shimano offers several types of pedals. They differ in the materials used, which affect the weight and stiffness of the pedals. To use the Shimano SPD-SL pedals, you can choose from one of the three cleats with 6°, 2°, or 0° float.

shimano spd sl cleats
Shimano SPD-SL cleats float

The larger float will provide you with more comfort and eases the pressure on your knees. It allows your feet to rotate along a vertical axis without clipping off. However, you can experience some energy losses with every pedal stroke.

The 0° float cleats (SPD-SL SM-SH10) are popular among sprinters because they need the most efficient energy transfer possible.

I use yellow cleats because I prefer comfort over performance. Which cleats are your favorite?

Only a few millimeters can decide whether you lose or win a race. One of the closest finishes was between Marcel Kittel and Edvald Boasson Hagen on the 7th stage of the 2017 Tour de France. Marcel Kittel won by 6 millimeters.

Look

Did you know that Look was inspired by skiing when developing clipless pedals? Their development began in 1983, and their first clipless pedals were launched in 1984.

At first, the clipless pedals did not get much attention from riders in the pro peloton. However, this changed thanks to Bernard Hinault. He participated in developing their design and won his fifth Tour de France while wearing Look pedals.

Currently, Look pedals are relatively widespread. They are very similar to Shimano pedals and offer three different cleat floats 0°, 4.5°, and 9°.

Look cleats float 9°, 4.5°, 0°
Look cleats float

Do Shimano cleats fit Look pedals?
No. Even though these two pedals are very similar, you can’t clip Shimano cleats into the Look pedals and vice versa.

Wahoo Fitness Speedplay

The American company Speedplay (acquired by Wahoo Fitness in 2020) patented its first clipless pedal (Speedplay X) in 1989. They came up with the lightest pedal at that time in 1991 – the iconic Speedplay Frog.

In one of his interviews, the company’s founder, Richard Bryne, said that 22 companies refused to license his Speedplay X pedals. His wife suggested he license them by himself. And it paid off.

Speedplay pedals are currently popular, especially among professional bike fitters. They allow them to set the float in the range of 0°-15° exactly according to the rider’s needs.

I recommend you watching the following video to find out more about Shimano SPD-SL vs. Speedplay.

Time

French company Time develops pedals since 1987. Their pedals feature a large platform area that improves power transfer, stability, and comfort.

These pedals differ from the brands mentioned above because they also provide a sideways movement (up to 2.5 mm) and angular float. This makes them kinder for your knees and joints.

Time cleats angular and lateral float
Time cleats angular and lateral float

NOTE: There are also other types of road clipless pedals on the market. Unfortunately, they are mostly copies of one of the above-described types.


Road Clipless 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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