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This is the selection of the best road bike pedals from manufacturers like Shimano, LOOK, Wahoo Speedplay, and Time.
I selected them after comparing 30 pedals, talking with dozens of road (pro) cyclists, and using different pedals by myself.
- 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 longevity.
- The best budget road bike pedals are LOOK KEO Classic 3. These are great entry level pedals you can rely on available in multiple colors.
- If you look for the best adjustable road bike pedals, check out Wahoo Fitness Speedplay Zero. You can clip into them from both sides and they will allow you to ‘play’ with the fit a little bit more than standard pedals like Shimano SPD-SL or LOOK KEO.
Below, you learn more about different types of road clipless pedals, their pros, and their cons.
What Are the Best Road Bike Pedals?
The best road bike pedals have to provide you with adjustable spring tension, so you can make it easier or harder to clip out, depending on your riding style and preference. In addition, they should be well balanced for easy clipping in and lightweight so that you won’t get tired as quickly. Last but not least, they should be durable to last you for years.
All pedals below meet these conditions.
Shimano Ultegra R8000 SPD-SL (Best Overall)
- Weight: 248 g (pair)
- Estimated weight with cleats: 320 g
- Float available: 0°, 2°, and 6°
- Excellent price-value ratio
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.
They are about 20 g heavier than Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 SPD-SL pedals, but much more affordable. You probably won’t even notice the weight difference.
However, if you switch from pedals weighing around 300 g, you will feel that every pedal stroke is easier and feels lighter (until you get used to this lower weight).
Ultegra pedals offer the same foot support as the Dura-Ace pedals thanks to the same platform size. Of course, you can use them with the same range of Shimano cleats.
The cleats with screws and screw washers weigh around 70 g, so the entire set (pedals and cleats) weighs a little over 320 g.
Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 SPD-SL (Best Performance)
- Weight: 228 g (pair)
- Estimated weight with cleats: 300 g
- Float available: 0°, 2°, and 6°
- The lightest Shimano SPD-SL pedals on the market
The Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 SPD-SL pedals are the highest range of road clipless pedals from Shimano. If you look for the best Shimano road bike pedals, these are the ones.
They are designed for pros and the most demanding riders and are about 20 g lighter than the Ultegra R8000 SPD-SL pedals. Naturally, they are also more expensive.
Thanks to their large platform, they provide efficient energy transfer for every pedal stroke and sufficient foot support to prevent hotspots.
They have earned their popularity mainly due to their reliability, low weight, and ease of use.
Dura-Ace 9100 SPD-SL pedals are well balanced, so they always turn in a position that allows the easiest clipping possible.
The entire set of Dura-Ace pedals and cleats weighs a little over 300 g.
LOOK KEO Classic 3 (Best Budget)
- Weight: 278 g (pair)
- Estimated weight with cleats: 350 g
- Float available: 0°, 4.5°, and 9°
- Highly affordable
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.
Classic 3 are balanced in a way that allows you easy clip-in. They are compatible with LOOK KEO cleats offering three float levels.
The general rule of thumb is to use larger float to reduce strain on your knees and joints.
They are available in several colors (red, white, black), so you can match them to the color of your road bike or clothes.
Their main downside is higher weight than other pedals on this list. They weigh approx. 350 g with cleats and screws.
You might also be interested in the best road cycling shoes for men and women.
LOOK KEO 2 Max Carbon (Best Price to Weight Ratio)
- Weight: 250 g
- Estimated weight with cleats: 310 g
- Float available: 0°, 4.5°, and 9°
- Excellent price-weight ratio
LOOK KEO 2 Max Carbon pedals provide one of the best price-weight ratios of all pedals in this roundup.
You can use them with cleats that offer 0°, 4.5°, and 9°, so they are good for sprinters, experienced riders, and beginners.
The Key 2 Max Carbon pedals have a 25% larger contact area than the previous generation. This means they provide efficient energy transfer, great feet support, and stability.
You can clip in and out of them easily thanks to adjustable spring tension and balance that ensures the ideal position of the pedal for clipping in.
Together with the cleats, they weigh a little over 310 g.
Wahoo Fitness Speedplay Zero (Best Adjustable)
- Weight: 216 g (pair)
- Estimated weight with cleats:
- 330 g (3-hole)
- 280 g (4-hole)
- Float available: 0° to 15°
- Highly adjustable
- Allow you to clip in from both sides
Wahoo Fitness Speedplay Zero pedals are the lightest pedals in this selection. The Speedplay system is popular among bike fitters thanks to its high adjustability and flexibility.
Riders lean towards Speedplay pedals because if set right, it often resolves knee pain issues.
Furthermore, they allow you to clip in from both sides, just like on MTB clipless pedals.
Wahoo Speedplay pedals will allow you to set the float from 0 to 15 degrees. This flexibility is not possible on Shimano or LOOK pedals.
Speedplay pedals are standardly available with a spindle width of 53 mm. However, there are other widths available (read more).
If you use Wahoo Speedplay pedals with shoes designed for them (4-bolt configuration), the weight is around 280 g.
Keep in mind that if you use them with 3-bolt system road shoes, you will need to use adapters. The weight then jumps to around 330 g.
NOTE: Wahoo Fitness acquired Speedplay in 2020.
Time Xpro 10 (Most Underrated)
- Weight: 226 g (pair)
- Estimated weight with cleats: 310 g
- Float available: 0°, 5°(angular), 2.5 mm (lateral)
- Large platform for excellent foot support
- Lateral movement in both directions helps reducing stress on knees
Although Time pedals are not often seen in the professional peloton or maybe even among your cycling peers, they deserve your attention.
They provide a large enough platform for efficient energy transfer of each of your pedal strokes and foot support that prevents hotspots.
Unlike the other pedals in this article, they also feature 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.
NOTE: SRAM acquired Time in 2020.
Also available at performancebike.com
|Product||Weight (Pair)||Est. Weight w/ Cleats||Cleats|
|Shimano Ultegra R8000 SPD-SL||248 g||320 g||Shimano SPD-SL||Check Price|
|Shimano Dura-Ace 9100 SPD-SL||228 g||300 g||Shimano SPD-SL||Check Price|
|LOOK KEO Classic 3||278 g||350 g||Look KEO||Check Price|
|LOOK KEO 2 MAX Carbon||250 g||310 g||Look KEO||Check Price|
|Wahoo Fitness Speedplay Zero||216 g||330 g (3-hole)|
280 g (4-hole)
|Time Xpro 10||226 g||310 g||XPRO & XPRESSO||Check Price|
I chose 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 or Wahoo Speedplay pedals) considering their weight and durability.
- They have a large platform. This means excellent support for your feet, efficient power transfer, and riding comfort.
- They are 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.
Why Should You Ride with Clipless Pedals?
Riding a road bike when you are clipped into clipless pedals brings many benefits. I 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.
|• 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.
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.
How to Choose Road Bike Pedals?
In the following part, I will guide you through the options available on the market and help you decide, what road bike pedals to choose.
Road Clipless Pedals Compatibility & Types
Road cycling shoes are usually manufactured in a 3-hole configuration (see the picture below) that allows you to use cleats compatible with road clipless pedals like Shimano SPD-SL, LOOK KEO, Time, etc.
A separate category consists of 4-hole configuration cycling shoes that were designed specifically for Wahoo Speedplay pedals. You can also use them with 3-hole configuration shoes, but you have to use special adapters.
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 Pedal||Pros||Cons|
|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 KEO||• 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.
|• 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.
Shimano SPD-SL Pedals
Shimano SPD-SL road clipless pedals are often mixed up 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). They 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 used materials, 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.
The larger float will provide you with more comfort and reduce 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 sprinters need the most efficient energy transfer possible.
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.
Most beginners prefer comfort over performance, so they opt for yellow cleats.
LOOK KEO Pedals
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 SPD-SL pedals and offer three different cleat floats 0°, 4.5°, and 9°.
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 Speedplay Pedals
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 bike fitters. They allow them to set the float in the range of 0°-15° exactly according to the rider’s needs. This is not possible on Shimano SPD-SL, LOOK KEO, or Time pedals.
If they are set right, Speedplay pedals can solve knee issues some riders experience.
I recommend you watch the following video to find out more about the Speedplay pedals system and how it stands up against Shimano SPD-SL.
Time (SRAM) Pedals
French company Time develops pedals since 1987. In 2021, Time was acquired by SRAM.
Time pedals feature a large platform area that improves power transfer, stability, and comfort.
They differ from Shimano, LOOK, and Wahoo Speedplay pedals because they also provide a sideways movement (1.25 mm per side) and angular float (of up to 10°). This makes them kinder for your knees and joints.
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.
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.
The table below shows the spindle widths (often wrongly called Q factor) of different pedal brands.
|Shimano||52 mm (standard)
56 mm (longer axle)
|LOOK||53 mm (standard)|
|50 mm (custom)
53 mm (standard)
56 mm (custom)
59 mm (custom)
65 mm (custom)
|Time Sport (SRAM)||51.7 mm (standard)
54.3 mm (longer axle)
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.