Gravel bike riding involves exploring spaces like unpaved roads, untouched trails, forest roads, and some parts of mountains. Just like mountain bike riding, it requires getting off the bike every now and then and walking your bike on the path. Because gravel roads are often muddy and difficult to walk on, they require sturdy shoes and good pedals for your bicycle.
Gravel bikes are fully manufactured with pedals. However, these pedals can be changed according to the bicyclist’s preference. Choosing the right pedals for your gravel bike is important to get the best experience of riding.
The best way to choose pedals for gravel bikes is to make sure they are in accordance to mountain bike shoes. Riders who explore mountainous and rugged areas on bikes require strong shoes because they have to walk around alongside riding. These shoes need to be comfortable and easy to slip onto pedals when you get back on your bike.
The Three Pedal Options for Gravel Bikes
Pedals for gravel bikes are largely categorized into three options, which are then later catered in excruciating detail by pedal manufacturers, quite easily and widely available on Amazon.
Platform/ Flat Pedals for Gravel Bike Riding
Flat pedals are made up of aluminum and have pins that give grip to the peddler. It is important that if you are choosing flat pedals for gravel bike riding, they are durable and grip your shoes firmly when riding. These flat pedals, when riding on a steep slope, help stop feet from slipping through the pedals. Thinner flat platforms give better control on the ground, as the foot gets closer to the axle.
Clipless Pedals for Gravel Bike Riding
A clipless pedal requires cycling shoes with cleats. For bicycling on gravel or off road, it is recommended to use cycling shoes equipped with two-hole cleats since this type of cleat will be recessed in the sole of the shoe enabling the rider to comfortably walk when off the bike. When purchasing clipless pedals, be sure the pedals, cycling shoes, and cleats are compatible with each other. Clipless pedals attach the shoe cleat to the pedal. This allows more transfer of power through the entire pedal stroke. This type of pedal is not suitable for beginner cyclists.
Dual Platform Pedals for Gravel Bike Riding
Dual platform pedals are made up of stainless steel or aluminum or titanium. They offer the rider the choice of wearing cycling shoes with cleats or not. This type of pedal is a good option for cyclists who would like to use their bike without being clipped in all the time.
Pros and Cons of the Three Pedal Options for Gravel Bikes
Every bike rider has their own set of criteria to fulfill when they choose a pedal type. The three categories of pedals have their own uniqueness and properties that distinguish them from each other. Their pros and cons will help decide which pedal to buy easier.
Flat pedals are easiest to clean because of their shape, and any mud or dirt can come out easily. They are easier to put feet onto and hardly require adjustments. The aluminum protects the pedal from bad weather conditions and from wearing out too quickly. Flat pedals have more variety in designs because they are the typical, most common type in the bicycling world.
Flat pedals can chip more easily if they are not very good quality. On extremely rugged terrains, flat pedals give less foot control.
Clipless pedals secures the cyclist’s feet on the pedal and there is no wasted energy/power through the entire pedal stroke. There are many styles of clipless pedals to choose from. Most styles are easy to clean and are resistant to chipping because of their material. They are also usually versatile enough to fit onto to any type of bike.
They are slightly difficult to adjust to, so if you are a beginner, it is better to choose either the flat or dual type for your initial gravel bike riding experience. These pedals also need a little care while clipping in. Clipping in and out should not be done rashly.
Dual Platform Pedals:
Dual platform pedals enable the rider to wear shoes with cleats or without. This type of pedal have a clipless setup of one side and a platform on the other side. They are friendlier to use and easily adjustable. They have a good platform to place feet on, therefore more comfortable to ride the bike with.
These pedals are slightly towards the heavier side and can make the rider weary if they are riding on a very rugged gravel terrain.
Overall Checklist for Best Gravel Bike Pedals
Even when you`re done choosing which pedal type you want to get for your bike, there are certain things that you should take into consideration before finalizing your purchase. Some characteristics of these pedals should be present regardless of how amazing the product looks for your gravel bike riding experience.
The Functionality of the Pedal
The best pedal will be one in which you yourself feel the most comfortable and which can endure rough and tough conditions of the road. When choosing your pedals, you don’t have to get into too many characteristics because that will only confuse you even more. What you are looking for is a platform that keeps your feet size in consideration and spins smoothly on harsh landscapes.
The Weight of the Pedal
It is important that the pedals you purchase are lightweight. This will be a lifesaver in the long run because the pedals add to the weight of the bike. It takes more energy if you are bicycling on a rugged path or steep slope, and therefore it is efficient to keep the bike weight minimal.
With a heavyweight bike, the pedaling will become strenuous, and the extra weight carried will ruin the bicyclist`s experience. Titanium is a lightweight material and used in pedals. It can be a good option for pedals. Also, a lightweight pedal will be easier to clean and generally handle as well.
The Durability of the Pedal
Gravel bike riding is a rugged job and bicyclists are likely to get into tight spots, or generally scrape through paths with their bikes. The handlebars and pedals are usually the first to be effected in cases of accidents or fall downs because they are the protruding parts of the bike. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the pedals you buy for your bike or the existing pedals on your gravel bike are durable and solid enough to not waste away because of minor mishaps.
Considering the nature of this sport, safety gear is essential as well alongside the durability option of your pedals and bike overall.
The Price of the Pedal
It is good to invest well in the right type of pedal for gravel bikes. This is because very cheap pedals are usually fragile and breakable. Good quality pedals will call for a higher price as well; therefore, it is better to save up and get pedals that are moderately pricey but not too expensive either.
The Ability to Clean the Pedal
Even though it doesn’t sound like an important feature, mud dispersal becomes one of the most important requirements of a bicyclist who regularly journeys in mountainous and gravel path regions.
The muddy and dirt-filled roads get into the shoes and pedals and can make the bicyclist uncomfortable. Therefore it is good to look for pedals that are convenient to clean during bicycling and after it.