Clipless road cycling pedals can keep your feet secure while riding, increasing your pedaling efficiency and power. Many high-quality clipless pedals cost well over $100, but you can also find budget-friendly options to suit your riding preferences, skill level, and financial limitations.
The best clipless road cycling pedals for under $100 are Shimano Dual Platform Pedals. They’re multipurpose, made of durable steel and aluminum, easy to install, and offer a firm connection using the included two-bolt cleats.
Shimano Dual Platform Pedals may not be the best choice for all cyclists. For example, you may want to choose an alternative pair of pedals if:
- You’re on a tight budget. Choose the Zeray Carbon ZP-110C Road Bike Pedals (available on Amazon).
- You’d prefer to use SPD-SL pedals. Choose the Shimano SPD-SL Clipless Pedals (available on Amazon).
- You enjoy using clipless platform pedals. Choose the Venzo Platform Pedals (available on Amazon).
- You’re new to road cycling. Choose the Look Keo Classic 3 Road Pedals (available on Amazon).
This article will explore the factors you’ll want to consider when choosing clipless road cycling pedals for less than $100. I’ll also discuss why Shimano Dual Platform Pedals may be the best choice for most cyclists and offer alternatives that may be better suited to your specific needs and preferences.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Clipless Cycling Pedals
Though price might be your primary consideration when searching for clipless road cycling pedals under $100, there are several other factors that you’ll want to consider. Some of the most crucial things to think about when browsing clipless pedals include:
- Pedal type
I’ll discuss each of these factors in greater detail to explain how they can impact your riding experience and why they’re essential to finding the best pair of pedals for your bike and body. That way, you can select clipless pedals that best suit your needs and preferences.
Clipless pedals can add significant weight to your bicycle, as many are made of metal parts and steel ball bearings.
If you’re accustomed to using flat plastic pedals, you may want to opt for a lightweight plastic option instead of a metal pair of pedals. Doing so can help you transition from standard bike pedals to clipless pedals.
Naturally, if durability is one of your primary priorities, it may be better to choose a pair of metal clipless cycling pedals. While these can be challenging to push and lift, especially if you’re new to road cycling, they’re bound to outlast plastic models and withstand daily use.
Many clipless road cycling pedals are about 60mm wide (2.4in), which isn’t wide enough to support the entire sole of your foot. The primary exceptions to this trend are platform (also called flat) clipless pedals.
Cyclists looking for maximum support during their rides may want to choose wider pedals than standard clipless pedals.
It’s also vital to consider cleat width and size. Some clipless pedals come with extra-wide cleats that are almost as wide as the sole of the average cycling shoe. These can keep your feet comfortable and well-supported, reducing pressure-point pain that often comes after using thinner pedals and cleats.
One of the most important questions you’ll need to ask yourself when searching for affordable clipless road cycling pedals is: Can I walk around immediately after cycling?
For example, some clipless pedals are compatible with cycling shoes that have recessed cleats. These types of cleats don’t make direct contact with road surfaces. As such, they’re easy to walk around in after or before cycling.
Alternatively, you can choose clipless pedals that come with attachable cleats. These tend to house the cleat attachments inside a hard plastic or rubber frame.
When you dismount your bicycle, this frame is one of the first parts of your shoe to make contact with the ground. Because cleats only cover a small area of your shoe sole, walking around in raised cleats can be uncomfortable and shorten the lifespan of your cleats.
For this reason, you’ll want to consider how often you tend to dismount and walk around between cycling sessions. For example, if you regularly commute to work on a road bicycle, you may want to opt for recessed cleat shoes that are compatible with platform pedals.
There are three primary types of cycling pedals from which to choose and offer unique benefits and potential drawbacks. Depending on your cycling style and personal preferences, one of these types may stand out as a better choice than the others.
The most popular type of clipless cycling pedals might be SPD pedals. SPD is an acronym for Shimano Pedalling Dynamics.
These types of pedals tend to pair with two-bolt clips and smaller clips. As such, they’re easy to slip in and out of. Notably, many SPD pedals are made of thick metal, making them a durable (but heavy) option.
SPD-SL pedals are a lighter version of SPD pedals. In fact, the SL denotation stands for SuperLight.
For that reason, they’re often a popular option for road cyclists and competitive road cycling competitions. In addition, SPD-SL pedals typically utilize a three-bolt cleat attachment that’s slightly wider than SPD cleat attachments.
Clipless platform pedals are nearly identical to standard plastic platform pedals found on most entry-level mountain and road bikes. They’re wide, flat, and often multipurpose, with one side allowing for clip attachment while the other is compatible with any type of cleat-free shoe.
Consequently, platform pedals are an excellent choice for those looking for versatile, easy-to-use clipless pedals. They also tend to offer more sole support than SPD or SPD-SL pedals.
It’s crucial to consider brand names when choosing high-quality clipless cycling pedals. There are a handful of brands that are well-known for producing top-notch pedals, including:
- Look Keo
- TIME Sport
Choosing from among these brands is an excellent way to ensure you’re selecting a quality pair of pedals that’s backed by a long-term warranty and helpful customer support team.
Best Overall: Shimano Dual Platform Pedals
Shimano’s cycling pedals are some of the best, which is why they’ve become a subtype within the broad category of clipless pedals. These dual-function platform pedals are an excellent example of why Shimano is one of the most trusted brands for cycling pedals. Are you looking for a classic pair of slim, two-bolt SPD pedals? If so, you can’t go wrong with these Shimano pedals.
Though they’re heavier than competitor options, weighing about 266g (0.6lbs) each, the bulk of their weight comes from their thick steel and aluminum construction. This metal frame (and internal ball bearings) make these pedals a durable option that can withstand impacts, heavier cyclists, and daily usage.
Cyclists can clip into these pedals using the included two-bolt cleats, but they can also decide to go without and use the non-clip platform side instead. As such, the walkability of these pedals is far higher than standard SPD pedals. Release tension adjustments are straightforward and require a 3mm Allen wrench/key. That said, some users find that tension remains high, even after adjustment. As such, this pair of pedals may not be the best choice for those looking to enjoy clip release.
Still, it’s challenging to find a better pair of multipurpose, SPD-compatible clipless road cycling pedals. Besides, every Shimano pedal is backed by a two-year limited warranty, a significant plus for anyone hoping to get the most out of their new pedals.
- These are dual-function pedals that allow cyclists to ride with and without cleats
- More durable than plastic or semi-metal pedals
- Utilizes a standard SPD two-bolt attachment site for optimal SPD compatibility
- Made by one of the most trusted cycling pedal brands, Shimano
- Users may struggle to release from the pedals easily and quickly
- Heavier than carbon or composite pedals
Best Budget-Friendly Choice: Zeray Carbon Road Bike Pedals
If you’re shopping for clipless road cycling pedals on a tight budget, you can spend far less than $100 and still come away with an excellent pair of pedals.
These Zeray carbon pedals might not be the longest-lasting option, but they are an affordable introductory pair of clipless cycling pedals. The reinforced carbon fiber polymer construction is resistant to mild impacts and can withstand rain and humidity far better than pedals made entirely of metal.
If you’re a beginner-level rider or someone looking to reduce bicycle weight, you’ll also appreciate how light these pedals are. Each pedal weighs about 142g (0.31lbs).
The width of toe platforms is also something that makes them a solid pick for beginners and casual road cyclists. While some pedals only offer about an inch of support for your upper foot and toes, these have a total platform area of 950mm² (1.5sqin).
- The design offers more significant support to the upper foot and toes
- Each pedal weighs less than 150g (0.33lbs)
- Some of the most affordable clipless pedals available
- The carbon fiber polymer can degrade faster than metal
- It may not be strong enough for competitive cycling
Best SPD-SL Pedals: Shimano PD-R550 Clipless Pedals
Are you looking for a classic pair of slim, three-bolt SPD-SL pedals? If so, you can’t go wrong with these Shimano pedals.
These are the Shimano Tiagra 4700 series with a durable stainless steel body plate reducing flex and wear. They weigh at 310 grams/pair and offer an extra-wide platform increasing stability and power transfer.
These are an excellent pedal for beginner road cyclists with the wide platform offering stability and support at an affordable price.
- Offer a wide platform for stability
- Covered by Shimano’s two-year original owner warranty
- Easy to install and comes with cleats
- A classic, simple pair of SPD-SL pedals
- Composite body so may not be as durable as carbon or metal
- Pedal pivot pin may work it’s way out over time
Best Platform Clipless Pedals: Venzo Platform Pedals
If you’re looking for a lightweight dual-function platform pedal, you may want to check out these thermoplastic Venzo pedals. Each pair weighs a total of 350g (0.7lbs), making them an excellent option for those hoping to lessen their road bike’s weight.
They’re far wider than standard SPD cycling pedals, with a width of 95mm (3.7in), ensuring that those cycling with or without cleats and clips can enjoy a smooth pedaling experience. They utilize two-bolt clips, making them compatible with most SPD cycling shoes.
Release tension is fully adjustable, with the adjustment screw located on the outer edge of each pedal. This placement makes it easy for riders to quickly adjust each pedal’s release tension, ensuring maximum comfort and stability during each ride.
That said, these Venzo Platform Pedals are more prone to breaking than metal cycling pedals. For that reason, they’re best suited to occasional road cyclists, not competitive riders or commuters.
- It is far more lightweight than solid metal clipless pedals
- It is wider than the average SPD pedal, offering more support for those with wider soles
- The tension release screw is located on the outside of the pedal for quick adjustments
- The thermoplastic body can crack or separate from metal components
- Pedals do not come with cleats so make sure your cleats are compatible
Best Choice for Beginners: Look Keo Classic 3 Road Pedals
These Look Keo pedals attach easily to your bike’s crank arm, and you’ll only need an Allen wrench to tighten them. In addition, the included three-bolt cleats offer a wider surface area than many other clipless cleats, making it easier for riders to engage and disengage from the pedals.
While these pedals are made of plastic (as opposed to metal), this design makes them far lighter than other clipless pedals. Look Keo pedals only weigh about 0.09lbs (40g). As such, riders that haven’t developed exceptional ankle or leg strength can move them with ease.
Release tension is adjustable, allowing you to customize your preferred attachment strength. To adjust each pedal’s release tension, you’ll need to twist the hex head screw at the rear of the pedal. To do this, you’ll need an 8mm Allen key.
And unlike many other clipless pedals, the Look Keo comes in three distinct styles: All black, black-and-red, and black-and-white. As such, you can choose a pedal style that complements your bicycle.
- Easy to install onto most road bikes
- One of the most lightweight clipless pedals
- Available in multiple colors
- Wide cleats are well suited to beginner-level cyclists
- The plastic material may splinter after extended use
- Pedals may emit clicking noise during use
I’ve found that Shimano Dual Platform Pedals are the best overall choice for most road cyclists due to their multipurpose design, durability, and easy-to-use cleats. In addition, Shimano is well-known throughout the cycling community for producing some of the highest-quality clipless pedals, and these are no exception.
While you may prefer to invest in a different pair of clipless pedals, Shimano Dual Platform Pedals offer more riding options and SPD compatibility than standard clipless pedals, making them a solid choice for most cyclists.
Find Shimano Dual Platform Pedals on Amazon now.
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