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It used to be simple choosing bicycle pedals. The ones that came on your bike were the pedals you used. The scene changed drastically, though, in the mid-1980s when pedals went clipless. Now, more than a dozen manufacturers offer a wide variety of clipless pedals leaving you with the question: What's best for me?

Richard Bryne, CEO of Speedplay, Inc. and inventor of Light Action, Zero, X-Series and Frog Pedal Systems, offers the following advice on choosing pedals:

First, he says, look for a clipless pedal system that is user friendly. "If the pedals aren't easy to get in and out of don't bother with them. Whether you're bicycling pavement or a dirt trail, you're going to want to enter and exit your pedals quickly and easily."

"Many clipless pedal systems force you to overcome a 'spring-restrained' jaw system when engaging and disengaging. This action not only makes it harder to get in and out of the pedals but can also put strain on the knees. In contrast, a 'true-locking' mechanism doesn't rely on spring tension for engagement, thereby making the system both user and knee friendly."

Second, you'll want dual-sided pedals. "You don't want to have to look down and kick at a pedal trying to locate the platform after every stop. It can be dangerous and annoying. With dual-sided pedals you just step down and go. No looking, no kicking, just one easy, natural motion. In short, dual-sided pedals let you keep your eyes on the road or trail, which is a safer way to ride a bike."

Third, when choosing a clipless pedal system you'll want to consider float, and the type of float: recentering or non-recentering. "During the pedal stroke, feet follow their natural path, eliminating knee strain. Float improves pedaling efficiency by coaching you to a smoother pedal stroke. Some pedal systems use recentering float in which a spring centering action forces your feet into an unnatural riding position. Non-recentering, or "free float" allows your feet to find the most comfortable station."

Other features Bryne says to look for in clipless pedals:
1) Weight. "The lighter the pedal, the less weight you carry up hills."
2) A secure locking mechanism. "You don't want your foot releasing inadvertently."
3) Stable cleat-to-shoe contact area. "It increases foot stability and reduces fatigue."
4) And lastly, he says, check out a pedal's foot-spindle distance. "The closer your foot is to the pedal spindle, the more efficient your pedal stroke."

Speedplay Pedals

Speedplay Light Action, Zero, X-Series and Frog Pedal Systems are simple, lightweight, and easy to use. Speedplay pedals are comfortable, easy to get in and out of, dual-sided, and offer free float, secure retention, a stable cleat-to-shoe contact area, and minimum foot-spindle distance. For a comparison of popular road pedals see, "Road Pedals Comparison"; for a comparison of popular all-terrain pedals see,"MTB Pedals Comparison."


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