There’s a moment in a cyclist's life when, desiring to push themselves beyond their own limits, a critical choice must be made with respect to switching to clipless pedals. But which ones to choose?
As with everything, it’s always a good idea to evaluate your needs before making a decision.
Define what type of bike you want to change pedals on and if you’ll ride this bike on city trips or only for training. Will you have to walk a lot with your cycling shoes on your feet? Will you be riding mainly on asphalt, gravel roads or mountain trails? All these questions will help you make a more informed choice about the type of pedals (and shoes) you’ll need.
If your ultimate goal is to change your pedals to increase your power when riding a road bike, then pedals like the Look Keo or Delta, Speedplay or one of the Shimano PD-R550 (or other Shimano road variants) will suit you. Look and Shimano pedals can clip on one side of the pedal, while a model like Speedplay can clip on both sides. To accompany your road pedals, you’ll need shoes that are compatible with them. Be careful to choose a model that can accommodate a road cleat.
If you want to ride on gravel or dirt roads, a classic model like the Shimano SPD M520 (and its higher-end variants) would be the ideal pedals for you. Other variants of this same type of pedal are models like the Time Atac or the Crankbrothers Eggbeaters, which are just as good for the same needs. These three models all can clip in on both sides for fast starts in all circumstances.
The shoes that can be used with this type of pedal are much more varied in appearance. There are models with a mountain bike look, a cyclocross look or a more urban look. Whichever look you choose, make sure they have two parallel vertical slots to accommodate the “mountain” cleat.
For those who like the option of varying between cycling shoes and regular shoes on the same bike, hybrid pedals are the perfect choice. The most popular models on the market are the PD-EH500, PD-M324 and the Shimano Click'R PD-T421. The cycling shoes that can be used with this type of pedal are the same as for mountain pedals.
Making the jump to clipless pedals isn't a major step in cycling, but once you get the hang of it, chances are you won't go back to flat pedals!