Are Shimano Clipless Pedals
the Best Pedals?
Shimano clipless pedals are the most well known clipless pedal system. Although Shimano has historically been the leader in clipless pedal systems, there are now many other great clipless pedals on the market that are definitely worth considering, such as Ritchey, VP, Time ATAC pedals, and Crank Brothers Eggbeater pedals.
Which clipless pedals are the best for you depends on your riding needs and preferences.
The Shimano company has its own design that is called SPD, which stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics.
The SPD design consists of a small cleat that fits into a recessed area in the sole of a mountain biking shoe, as shown in photo on left.
Shimano was the first company to come out with the recessed clip design, which makes it easier to walk in areas where you have to dismount your bike. Almost all mountain bike pedals made today are compatible with the SPD design, meaning if you buy SPD mountain bike shoes, you should be able to use them with almost any mountain bike clipless pedals and not only with Shimano clipless pedals.
I have the
Shimano XT Pedals
on my mountain bike. I really like my Shimano clipless pedals because the release resistance can be adjusted, which was nice when I was beginning to use clipless pedals. I started out with a very low resistance so I could get my foot out quickly and easily and gradually increased the resistance. I also like these pedals because the contact area for my foot is large enough to be comfortable, but still lightweight and efficient for cross country riding.
There are other companies, like Ritchey and VP that make clipless pedal designs with a similar mechanism to SPD. Some riders like them better and some swear by Shimano clipless pedals. Many riders feel very strongly that one company is better for their own personal reasons.
An important thing to consider when shopping for mountain bike pedals is the amount of float they provide. While pedaling, the foot naturally has some lateral motion. Clipless pedal systems that take this movement into consideration are said to have a certain amount of float. More float means that you can rotate your foot more before it unclips. Too little float can cause knee pain in some riders. If there is too much float, you have less efficiency.
Some companies are well known for making mountain bike pedals that have more float than others, such as Time ATACs, which also distinguish between angular and lateral float, providing perhaps a more customized fit than other designs. If you already have another brand of clipless pedals and are having knee pain or are prone to knee problems, you may wish to give
Time ATAC XS pedals
a try. My riding buddy, Francisco, has them and really likes them because of their adjustability options.
Crank Brothers has a clipless pedal that is called the
type of pedal.
The eggbeater is a good option if you live in a wet climate and often ride in muddy conditions because the more open design, which does look a lot like an eggbeater, sheds mud easier than an SPD type design.
The tension is not able to be adjusted on Eggbeater pedals; however, many riders claim that they do not have difficulty getting in or out of the pedals, and they like the simple design. Eggbeater come with 6 degrees of float and the option of a 15 or 20 degree release angle.
Some riders complain that the traditional Eggbeater pedals can be uncomfortable because of the small area that the foot rests on. Some Eggbeater pedals have platforms designed to add comfort and to make life easier if you aren't able to get your foot in the pedal right away. The
, for example, have a small platform and are sometimes preferred when riders want a little more comfort and stability.
Other pedals have an eggbeater design with large platform that is the size of a regular platform pedal. Although these types of pedals are often used for downhill and freeride mountain biking, many riders also prefer them for cross country riding.
Platform clipless pedals are also great because they can be used with regular shoes if you are running a quick errand with your bike and don't want to put on your shoes with cleats. They are also a great option if you are new to clipless pedals. The disadvantage is that they are heavier than non-platform clipless pedals. The
Crank Brothers Mallet pedals are a great selection if you are interested in trying a more heavy duty platform clipless pedal.
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