There is more than a few Bike Pedal brands trying to get there piece of the pie! Sponsoring Pro teams and Pro Athletes is the way they get there brand noticed which leads to sales. From my perspective as a coach and bike fitter I’m not fussed about what Pro teams ride but the actual fit of the bike pedal to the rider. This is where you wonder what I’m on about. Without boring you with too much detail I’ll explain.
People come in different shapes and sizes yet most bike pedal brands only come in one axle length and have limited amount of movement. Some shoe brands don’t help by moving their 3-holes to far forward making it even harder to get the desired cleat position. I think the least large pedal manufacturers can offer is a range of axle lengths. This is key to a good bike pedal brand.
The Ideal Road pedal would have the following features all in the one Pedal system:
- Easy to Enter and exit
- Low stack Height
- Good Lateral and Rotational Adjustment
- Multiple axle lengths
- Good fore and aft adjustment
- Long lasting cleats & durable pedal
- Serviceable and replaceable parts
- Aerodynamic features
The two brands that fit the above criteria are Keywin and Speedplay Brands.
Other brands work well, just some work better for a wider range of riders than others.
There are many brands of Pedals but I’ll just go through 5 options and give you what I think the Pro’s & Cons of these.
The Speedplay brand was ridden to TDF and Olympic wins then people started wanting this brand in bigger numbers.
The model I’m talking about is the zero which come in 5 axle lengths in the Stainless Steel and one length for Titanium and chrome alloy.
They have a 4 hole cleat screw design for specific 4 hole shoes but come with a 3mm high adapter for 3 hole shoes that has plenty of fore and aft for most people. Lateral and rotational adjustments are separate which is a great feature for a bike fitter trying to line the cleats up to suit the rider. They also offer a track version of the zero which is just a little tighter fit in where the cleat spring touches the pedal.
You can also get a base plate that extends the fore and aft which is very handy for those that choose the shoe brands with screw holes too far forward. Fitting Shims and wedges is also made easy with the Speedplay fit kit. (Photo here #5 )
The pedal is double sided which none of the others feature.
The down side is they are expensive and the ongoing costs of the cleats are very expensive in comparison to Keywin. The cleat has a weak point where the spring anchors up against, which for some people seem to break too often. They can be fiddly to set up if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The spare parts are expensive but at least you can service them.
The make the lightest pedal cleat combo if you disregard the 3 hole adapter and use 4 hole shoes otherwise it’s Keywin that just pips look on my scales.
So which Pedal you ask? Well it really depends on you hip width and riding style. Some people can ride any of them and some are limited to brands like Keywin and Speedplay that offer more options.
It can be a waste of money if you are tiny through the waist and end up with wide cranks and “normal” pedal axles. Same goes if you’re extremely wide boned and you try to fit on “normal axle” lengths. The brands that offer different axle lengths are catering for 99% of people where the single axle length brands are saying everyone should ride this length and adapt their bodies! This brings me to Q-Factor, the same thing happens with crank width. The manufactures make their cranks in different widths with some brands being 141mm and other brands being wider at 145, 147.5 and 151mm etc. For those of you who don’t know what Q-Factor means here it is.
Q-Factor: is the distance from the outer edges of the pedal thread between the left and right crank arms (measured Parallel to the BB axle) pedal washers included.
This is why it’s important to deal with a bike fitter rather than a bike shop that want to sell the brand they promote and push for whatever reason. Before you buy a bike it’s best to get sized up to find out which brand of pedals and cranks suit your body best.