ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Benefits Of Using Clipless Vs Flat Pedals For Bicycling

Updated on August 27, 2012
CyclingFitness profile image

Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. A keen cyclist, runner, and obstacle racer, he ran his first ultra-marathon in 2016.

Why should you consider changing to clipless pedals?

Many cyclists entering the sport grew up riding bicycles with the traditional style flat pedals. Flat pedals offer a stable platform for the foot to be placed on while cycling with the benefits of being able to take your foot away from the pedal quickly for when you stop or in case of problems.

However as beginners edge towards the more performance related sides of cycling sees the use of clipless pedal systems such as Look Keo road pedals and Shinamo's SPD clipless pedal systems for Mountain Bikes. These pedal systems often make beginners very anxious to switch from the relative security of flat pedal systems.

This article looks at the advantages of switching to clipless cycling pedals vs flat pedals.

What are the benefits of clipless pedals vs flat pedals?
What are the benefits of clipless pedals vs flat pedals? | Source

The key benefits of switching to clipless cycling pedals

There are a large number of benefits to switching to a clipless cycling pedal system

  1. Improved pedalling efficiency
  2. Improved bicycle control
  3. Increased cycling power output
  4. Improved comfort over longer rides

Improved pedalling efficiency from clipless pedal systems

As a clipless cycling pedal keeps your foot connected with the pedal constantly you're in constant control of your pedal stroke. Every muscle used in the pedal stroke can be utilised to it's full potential to drive the bicycle forward.

Using a flat pedal means that the upstroke of your pedal stroke is neglected as your foot can pull up away from the pedal and become unattached. Using clips and straps on flat pedals helps to negate this effect however it doesn't make the action perfect unless you tighten the clips and straps so you're almost at the point of losing circulation in your toe-box.

Platform type pedals limit the use of the hamstring muscles and hip flexors in the 'up phase' of the pedal stroke.

Improved bicycle control from clipless pedal systems

The clip in nature of clipless cycling pedals improves the control of your bike by keeping you constantly attached to the bicycle. Your feet can't slip off a wet pedal so there's a lower chance of having an accident.

You will likely have heard lots of riders' anecdotes about the time they couldn't unclip from their clipless pedals. These are often rare, however it seems a rite of passage amongst cyclists as are mistakes learning any skill. The good thing is that very quickly you learn how to get your feet out of the pedals. Some pedal systems can also have the entry and access point adjusted so it's easier to unclip if you're dubious about using them.

If you're using platform pedals with toe-clips you also have the need to release the tension from the strap before you can remove your pedal which adds additional difficulty in reaching down to loosen the straps while you ride.

Clipless pedals can improve your cycling power output

Improve your cycling power output by investing in clipless cycling pedals
Improve your cycling power output by investing in clipless cycling pedals | Source

Increased cycling power output from clipless pedals vs flats

Having increased your effiency of pedalling by choosing clipless vs flat platform pedals you are instantly able to increase your cycling power output due to being able to utilize every possible cycling muscle within your leg for pedalling. Particularly your hamstrings and hip flexors which do a significant amount of work as part of the cycling pedals stroke. The glutes and hamstrings get the attention, however many people misunderstand the importance of the hamstrings and hip flexors whilst cycling.

Improved comfort over longer rides of clipless vs platform pedals with toe clips

Clipless pedals help to provide additional long distance comfort when compared to platform or flat pedals fitted with toe clips and straps as clipless pedal systems allow a degree of natural foot movement while pedalling in the form of 'float'. Flat pedals force the rider to constantly place pressure through the foot to hold it in one place. Whereas clips and straps force the foot to be held within one place continuously.

Great Shimano cycling pedals for beginners

SHIMANO SPD-SL PD-R540 Clipless Pedals (White)
SHIMANO SPD-SL PD-R540 Clipless Pedals (White)

Shimano's entry level road cycling pedal is great for beginners with a sensible level of float and a sensible price tag

 

Types of clipless pedals for beginners

If you're a beginner or looking to step up from flat pedals to clip in style cycling pedals you need to be aware that there are effectively two types of clipless cycling pedals

1. Road Cycle Cycling Pedals

Road cycling clipless pedals are usually single sided to save weight and often feature a wide thermoplastic cleat design to provide solid contact with the pedal for a reassuring pedalling action.

2. Mountain Bike Style Cycling Pedals

Mountain biking often features double sided clipless pedals which allow the user two options for ease of pedal access. The double sided nature also allows water and mud to pass through the pedal to ensure it doesn't get clogged up.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • BRIAN SLATER profile image

      Brian Slater 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi, great article. After putting my mtn bike in the garage this summer I bought a road bike, my first!. Still getting used to it averaging around 25-35 miles per day at 5 weeks. My bike has flat pedals with toe clips which are ok, but if you have to stop suddenly and can't get your foot out quickly enough, they can cause you to panic for a moment. What I'm looking for is my first spd pair and wondered if you had a good suggestion. Also I'm using trainers with a smooth sole and would like to get a pair of cycling shoes that match my new pedals, any ideas?

      Thanks inadvance.

    • CyclingFitness profile imageAUTHOR

      Liam Hallam 

      6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Thanks for the feedback Carol, glad you liked CF

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Some good info here. We use regular pedals as we ride the neighborhood and often have to stop. I have a racing bike with stirrup pedals and I like them..Have to remember that I change back and forth. Great hub with great pictures and information. Voted UP

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)