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Why Don’t Road Bikes Come with Pedals?


What an odd thing to see road bikes being sold without pedals, but there is a logical reason behind this. It is beneficial to the consumer pedals are sold separately actually.  Road bikes are more often used for cycling on paved surfaces like streets and roads.

Why don’t road bikes come with pedals? Road bikes do not come with pedals, so the cyclist can pair the pedals with their existing shoes. There are several different standards that require the cleats to match the pedals accordingly. This allows the cyclist to not have multiple shoes.

For new bikes, a rider can either buy pedals or use pedals from a previous bike. In most cases, higher-end bikes are sold without pedals. Although lower end bikes usually often come with pedals with toe clips. There are a variety of shoe and pedal combinations to choose from that enhance your cycling experience. View source

Types of Pedals

Initially, when deciding on what pedal to choose for your road bike, you should consider what type of activity you will be using it for. Invest the time in determining this to get the most out of the pedal you choose.

The three main types of pedals include:

  • Clipless Pedals
  • Platform Flat Pedals
  • Toe Clip Pedals

When road biking, there are a couple options of pedals to choose from. While there are flat platform pedals for maneuverability and ease, there are the clipless pedals that provide power and efficiency.

When choosing clipless pedals, you need to keep in mind that the shoe, cleat, and pedal will work as one unit. The toe clip pedals are older style but still efficient.

Cleats can be sold with the pedals or separately, mainly with mountain bikes. However, there are different choices of shoes to go with your type of pedal. To limit the number of shoes you need, choose a pedal that is either compatible with your current biking shoe or pair the shoe with a pedal of your choice.

Clipless Pedals

Clipless pedals provide more structure as they connect the shoe and pedal together with the cleat. They securely clip the pedal to the shoe. Allowing you to mechanically attach your foot to the pedal. Providing more power to be transferred when you pull up or push down on the pedal.

Clipless pedals contain two categories:

  • Road Pedals
  • Mountain Bike Pedals

Road pedals have a three to four-hole cleats and are often one-sided, providing more surface area for great power transfer. Cleats with three-holes have been known to provide the most power transfer.

Mountain bike pedals use two-hole cleats designed for more than one side. These are typically smaller cleats than road bike pedals. They are easier to walk in for the commuter and recreational cyclist.

Overall clipless pedals provide a higher level of control when riding quickly for in race. Your feet won’t risk slipping off the pedal when performing races. However, if you take a tumble, just remember you are mechanically attached to your bike and will go down with it.

Platform Flat Pedals

These pedals, as you guess by the name, are flat. They offer a more wide, stable surface to support your feet. These pedals can typically be used with any shoes, with the exception that they are not compatible with clipless pedal shoes.

Although they are not compatible with clipless pedal shoes, pairing these flat pedals with a shoe designed to have more tread and provide a great combination when mountain biking, especially on downhill slopes. This allows the cyclist to have more confidence in the mobility of their feet in the event of a crash to catch their fall, unlike the clipless shoes where the shoe is interlocked with the pedal itself.

Platform flat pedals are most used for recreation cyclists or commuters who get on and off their bikes often. These cyclists tend to wear a more comfortable shoe so they can walk easier. They are the easier pedal to use and more common choice mainly because they do not require a specific shoe.

Toe Clips

In addition to the platform flat pedals, an accessory can be attached to them to prevent your foot from slipping without connecting the shoe to the pedal itself. This accessory is called toe clips. Toe clips attach to the front of the platform pedals and is a cage-like structure.

This structure is designed to surround your toes. It’s another pedal choice to go with if you’re unsure you want to have cleats but would also like more control of your feet on the pedals. This style is outdated compared to the others and was deemed less safe due to the risk of feet getting caught in the cages during a wipeout. View Source

Cycling Shoes

Pedals correspond with the type of shoe the rider has. You can wear tennis shoes or other sneakers, but there are benefits to the rider when pairing the pedals and shoes. One benefit includes a rigid sole that prevents your foot from flexing in riding shoes, allowing the cyclist to last longer on their routes without foot cramps or other pain.

Additionally, these shoes optimize the transfer of energy into the pedal. They prevent your foot from slipping because they have cleats that clip onto the pedals. These types of shoes are especially good for racing.

Types of Cycling Shoes

Depending on the activity, you may want a certain style shoe. There are road bike shoes which are stiffer and not as easy to walk in because the cleat protrudes from the sole of the shoe. These are ideal for races or activities made to work in one position.

An alternative that has a little more flexibility are mountain bike shoes. They also have cleats but are built into the lugged sole. These were designed for dismounting during mountain bike courses where the rider may needed to walk during the stretch.

However, it comes down to preference. You may be thinking because you have a road bike you must have road shoes. It comes down to what is most comfortable for you. The mountain bike shoes are slightly less stiff compared to the road bike shoes but are still significantly stiff to limit foot flex.

They both have cleats so that they can latch onto the pedals. And the mountain bike shoes do not have to have the cleats when they are bought; you can get them installed later than when purchased. It just comes down to what is best for you, personally, whether you choose the road bike or mountain bike shoes.

Brand of Road Bike Pedals

There are several brands of road bike pedals to choose from. The most known include:

  • Look
  • Shimano
  • Keo
  • Time
  • Speed play

Among each manufacture come many brands for each category of pedals. It ultimately comes down to what activity you will be doing most on your road bike and what comfort level you are looking to achieve. There are many pedals to choose from, but don’t let that overwhelm you.

Most bike stores can assist you when deciding which pedal is best for your bike. Tell them what activities you’re interested in, and they a help pair you with a brand that’ll maximize your experience. Also, an additional perk, some if not most stores, may even offer installation of the pedals to your bike.

All these brands are good choices. But to break down their popularity and brand mark, please refer to the link below:


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Do Road Bike Pedals Come with Cleats?

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