Moving up to better pedals

Hi everyone,

I’ve got a somewhat basic trainer setup, with my hybrid along with fairly low-mid range equipment. I have an Elite Direto XR-T that costs more than my bike, but I’m not quite there in terms of getting a new bike.

In terms of upgrading my current setup, I was thinking of getting some new pedals, and going clipless. Would this make my pedalling a lot more efficient? Which type do I go with to start with?

HI @Chris_Dolby

I would Suggest shimano SPD. Like the MTB pedals. They are easy to clip in and out and you can walk with MTB shoes.

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We can find data and statistics across the web that would give a strong “yes” or a “not really” in reply to that good question. Annoying, I know.
The strongest solid argument for using clipless pedals seems to be in explosive/sprint situations (keeping permanent contact with the platform), while the arguments for efficiency gains don’t seem to be overwhelming. (If you want to read a strong opinion against clipless, here’s a classic: https://www.rivbike.com/pages/the-shoes-ruse)

Clipless systems do also help with position/fit, knowing that you’re always connecting at more-or-less the same physical pivot point with your bike – although one can also argue that this locked-in aspect might increase the risk of overuse injury if the fit is really poor, especially if using cleats that allow little or no ‘float’.

Don’t get me wrong, I always use clipless road pedals and shoes indoors because I like to have the same fit and physical experience as on my outdoor set-up. I like the feel. I first started using clipless in 1999 because all the serious cyclists I was riding with in a local club that I joined were using them. It’s nice never to slam my shin with a spiky-toothed pedal cage (ouch), like I did countless times on a BMX when I was a child. But I don’t believe that I’m now far more efficient with clipless than if I were to ride with with non-clipless pedals and firm-soled shoes with good grip. I agree with @Gerrie_Delport_ODZ that MTB-style clipless have benefits, with no downsides when riding indoors.

What shoes are you currently using when riding indoors?
If going clipless, do factor in the cost of well-fitting shoes to use with them. And just in case you have particularly wide feet, buy with care. Not many road cycling shoe manufacturers seem to cater for for this and the pain of being stuck in narrow shoes while your feet swell during a long ride is deeply unpleasant and you can even cause long-term damage to nerves if you ride through the pain. Don’t ask me how I know. :wink:

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Thanks, both of you. I may look into some cheaper SPD pedals and shoes to give it a whirl. I’m likely going to upgrade to a road bike at some point but this is what I have for now. I’m certainly not in a competitive position for racing yet but I’d like to get there!

On some workouts, the rapid switch between power and cadence levels sometimes leaves me slipping. I’m using a pretty firm based shoe (technically a weightlifting shoe) but maybe this kind of workout would benefit from something holding me on the pedals.

Sounds like a good plan. Almost all road bikes are sold without pedals, so if you go for SPDs now, you’ll be able to transfer them to your next machine easily with no loss/waste.

By the way, you could try a very affordable halfway-house solution for your current pedals and shoes. I once mounted clips (minus the straps) on a commuter bike that I was using with various shoes. Essentially, it’s a lightweight metal cage shape for holding your toe caps in the right place, but with no locking mechanism. You just need to have pedals that have holes in the right places for the mounting bolts. It worked surprisingly well for me.

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That’s really helpful. Thanks so much for the feedback and the useful hints. Time to go shopping!

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I think proper pedals are important or at least, get out of improper shoes.
I too was late to go clipless and rode (out doors) using retired running shoes.
The goals of a running shoe and a cycling shoe are polar opposite and the difference was very noticeable.
The first thing I noticed was increased responsiveness.
Top speed didn’t change but I was able to hold a higher speed longer because my efficiency was improved.
This was outdoors and I’m not sure how the responsiveness plays out in Zwift because there seems to be a lag in game with many set ups.

Luckily my existing shoes are better than running shoes, though they do have a weightier sole due to being designed for deadlifts etc.

I’ve ordered some nice Giro MTB shoes and some Shimano pedals, so will give them a try once they’re here. I assume they’ll make some of the cadence and power shifting in workouts a little easier!

That Riverdale shoe article is interesting.
Maybe my old shoes weren’t so bad.
I MTB with platform pedals and old running shoes and have foot cramps if I have not ridden in a while.
I don’t think I would ride a MTB on a trail with sandals or crocs.