Types of Bike Pedals
Before we begin talking about which bike pedal to choose for your biking needs, let’s first take a look at the different types of pedals available:
Platform Bike Pedals
Platform pedals are “flat” pedals and have been the basic pedal design forever. I had these pedals on my first bike when I was very young. These pedals provide a stable surface for your feet to push against and are compatible with virtually any flat soled shoe. Platform pedals allow your feet to remain free from constraint, which allows you to bail easier in the event of a crash. For this reason, platform pedals are the preferred choice amongst downhill mountain bikers.
Clipless Bike Pedals
The term “clipless bike pedal” is confusing because you are in fact clipping into the pedal. You clip into the pedal using a cleat (made of hard plastic or metal) that snaps into spring-loaded clips on the face of the pedal. The setup is similar to a snowboarder clipping into his or her bindings. The clipless bike pedal takes some practice to get in and out, but once you have the hang of it, the process is quite easy. The advantage of the clipless pedal is that it offers greater control, versus the platform pedal, because your feet don’t bounce off the pedals. This is a great feature for keeping your bike in control while executing jumps, or just ripping down a trail. I would advise a rider who isn’t familiar with clipping in and out to practice before attacking more technical trails, as crashing while attached to your bike isn’t fun (trust me, I know).
Clipless/Platform Hybrid Pedals
Just as the name implies the clipless/platform hybrid pedal combine both pedals into one. One side of the pedal is flat and the other side is clipless. These are great pedals for anyone to have, but can make the transition from flat to clipless a lot easier, and less scary.
Pedal Toe Clips
The pedal toe clips are essentially a conversion kit for your platform pedals. These are frames that attach to your pedal and allow you to lock your foot into the place. There is a retaining strap that goes over the top of your foot to keep it from coming off the pedal. I’m personally not a big fan of these types of “pedals”, but they do have merit for someone on a budget or someone who is riding more cross country type trails.