Pedals are something that we can easily take for granted when we get our first road bike. As long as we have something to use to make the wheels go round then that’s fine, right? Unfortunately, some bike brands play into this idea and put the most basic pedals on their bikes as an afterthought. Where possible, you should upgrade and find the best flat pedals for road bikes to get a much better experience. With the right pedal, you are more likely to enjoy a comfortable ride with a good grip and smooth motion. With a bad pedal, your foot might slip off too often, the bearings might come loose, or it could fall apart in a month or two.
In this guide, you will learn more about finding the best road bike pedals to improve your experience. There are 8 products here that offer comfort and quality while also proving to be easy to fit. There are small differences between them so we can compare and contrast to help you find the best fit. From there, there is a short buyer’s guide about the various features and considerations when choosing a top road bike flat pedal. First, let’s learn more about the benefits of flat pedals vs clipless pedals.
Why Choose a flat pedal for your Road Bike?
Before we take a look at the different flat pedals that you can get for road bikes, we need to talk about why you need a flat pedal, to begin with. There are two different types of pedals that you could attach to your road bike – flat pedals or clipless pedals. While you may hear experienced riders talking about the benefits of clipless pedals, they aren’t the best choice when starting out.
A clipless pedal is a small pedal that essentially comes in two parts. You have the pedal itself that attaches to the bike and then the cleat on the bottom of your shoe. The idea is that the cleat on the shoe slots into the depression in the pedal for a snug fit. Some riders will call this clip-in pedals because of the way they clip themselves in. whatever the name, there are benefits here for riders that need a fault-free ride when they are at one with the bike. Professional riders, particularly those that ride in competitions, can see a difference here because they are less likely to slip off and mess up the rhythm of their pedaling.
However, there are also downsides here, especially for those that are less experienced. The biggest issue is that you are connected to a pedal and don’t have the response time to protect yourself if you fall. It also takes some time to get comfortable riding in such a rigid way with these shoes, which isn’t really worth the effort if you’re only riding on the weekends or commuting to work.
You are better off choosing a flat pedal for your road bike because they are so much better for inexperienced and casual riders. Flat pedals are just that, a flat platform to rest your foot on and push off against as you ride. Some keen riders don’t like them because it is too easy for feet to slip off, which can lead to the pedal catching you in the back of the leg. There is also the fact that it is easier to push off and get force uphill with clipless pedals because of that strong connection. But, they are worth this risk for the benefits gained.
If you ever need to stop suddenly, or find balance during a skid, you can immediately put your foot on the ground and give yourself a better chance of avoiding injury. They also mean that you aren’t stuck wearing cleats on your shoes when riding. This could be impractical when heading to work and they aren’t that fun to walk on. Flat pedals are compatible with any shoe, so you could even ride your road bike in sandals in the summer if you wanted. Now that you have seen why we are keen to promote flat pedals for your road bike, especially if you are new to riding, we need to find the best product for the job. Below are 8 models that have the features and quality necessary for a good job.
8 Best Flat Pedals For Road Bikes:
This first pedal is a great choice for those that want to cut the weight as much as possible. An aluminum construction means that the pedal is light and well-made. It also helps that this is a three-piece system, rather than one with a wider range of components. That is because fewer parts should mean fewer risks of breakages in the long-run. As a result, you get a pedal that is reliable and built or repeated use. On top of that, there is a good grip here on the anti-skid surface, so this should allow for a more fluid motion and user safety. Also, the pedals seem to be simple enough to install with ease.
One issue that we do have with this product is that there is no reflector. There is an orange screw cap on the side that might give the impression of one, but that is about it. This isn’t going to help get you noticed in the same way as a full strip at the back. Also, it doesn’t help that some riders say that it can fall off. Perhaps it is more decorative than practical.
- Light in weight thanks to the aluminum construction
- A good grip to help you stay in a good rhythm
- Easy to install
- No reflectors for added safety on the roads
There are some great features here that sure ensure that riders are safe on the roads and able to pedal with ease. Like the model above, this is a tough choice that should last a long time. This durability comes from the Use of the high-strength nylon fiber material with and a secure seal to prevent water and dust from getting inside and causing damage. From there, users can also enjoy the benefits of the anti-slid structure and wide platform the combination of the two should allow you to rest your foot with no worries of it coming off. Also, those 16 nails for a strong grip are on both sides of the pedal for added support. Finally, while this is sometimes sold as a mountain bike pedal, it is actually a universal fit so more than capable on road bikes too.
One of the problems here is the color of the pedals. They will look great on the right bike with their bright green or bright orange. However, it is quite an acidic green and orange that stands out for the wrong reasons. It will look a bit weird on a black bike or anything with a more minimalist style.
- A universal fit for different types of bike
- Nice wide platform
- Great grip on both sides with the strong pins
- Weatherproofing and dust proofing for enhanced longevity
- The colors are a bit intense for the average road bike
One of the stand out features here is the use of adjustable pins. This means that you can adapt the height and the grip provides a better grip and build more confidence. Those pins are ideal because they are made of aluminum, as are the other components here. This means the strength you need and also high quality, with two curved CNC machined aluminum plates and the same quality in the bearings. Also, you can be sure of an easy installation process and few worries about repairs thanks to the additional Repair Kit package. Overall, it is a lightweight, quality item that should be a great choice for your first road bike.
Unfortunately, some riders have had issues with the size of these pedals. It always helps when brands offer a range, but they also need to be sure that their larger sizes correspond to larger shoe sizes. If not, your foot could slip off or the pedals could feel too larger. Be aware of that risk when ordering these pedals.
- High-quality aluminum for a lightweight pedal
- Engineered parts that are built to last for a long time
- A decent amount of grip with the adjustable pins
- Easy to install with the added benefit of a repair kit in the box
- The sizes of these pedals can be a little bit inconsistent
The stand out benefit with these pedals is the quality on offer. There is a strong aluminum alloy that provides durability while remaining lightweight. There is also the use of an oxidizing process on the surface of that metal for enhanced abrasion resistance. This is also a universal product, so while some will put this stylish black or blue pedal on their mountain bike or BMX, it is just as at home on a good road bike too. It also works on folding bikes. Then there is the grip on this wide platform, with 24 stainless-steel head bolts for a better grip than some other pedals.
There is no doubting the fact that there is plenty of quality in these pedals. This could be a good thing for new riders that want to be sure of a durable and reliable product. However, a higher quality item does also mean that you are going to pay more for the privilege. So, make sure that this is still within your budget.
- There are two color choices here that are much nicer than the bright orange and green above
- There is a universal fit so you can use this with ease on your road bike
- There are more pins for a better grip
- High-quality component throughout to ensure longevity
- This is going to be more expensive because of that higher price.
This next pair of flat pedals for road bikes is a little bit different. They might look more familiar if you are fairly new to riding, or haven’t ridden since you had a bike as a child. They are simple, cheap, and black with a basic shape and connections. These ones are universal, so you should be able to fit them on your bike with no problem at all. There are actually more studs here that it might appear at first, so the grip should be good enough for your needs as a commuter. Also, you get the benefit of a big strip of orange reflective material on the side. This should make a big difference for visibility in low light. Most of the pedal is aluminum for lightness, but not entirely.
This model has the complete opposite issue of the one above. There are concerns with this product that the parts are a little too cheap and likely to break. Some of the connections are plastic, in what we can assume is a cost-cutting measure. But, plastic snaps under pressure and doesn’t go through the same treatments as quality metal parts.
- A good amount of studs on the surface to provide enough grip
- Aluminum for the most part for a lighter product
- A nice wide strip for a reflector at the back of the pedal
- Easy to install with the universal design
- Too much breakable plastic to keep the costs down
What is immediately noticeable about this product is that there is hardly anything to it. The design is wide enough to allow for a decent platform and security for your foot. But, there s a lot of empty space in the middle of the pedal to reduce the weight. That secure feel is enhanced by the use of the concave shape and the little pins along the edge for a better grip. There are great comments from users that like to pick up speed and don’t want their pedals slowing them down. There is also the fact that these pedals come in a choice of fun bright colors as well as the more typical black.
This pedal is expensive compared to some of the other options in this guide and is sold as a high-end model for keen cyclists. As such, it might be a bit too much for those that are casual riders on a budget. It is worth keeping this one in mind if you ever decide to make an upgrade in the future and get a more competitive road bike, or if you simply want to improve the one you have now. Most feel that the price is warranted, although a few do question the durability long-term.
- A more high-end option with a nice design
- Lightweight with very little in the way of a body or components
- A decent grip with the pins and concave shape
- A range of colors to choose from
- The high cost
This pedal is another lightweight option that has a few different uses. It is a simple pedal that works on both mountain and city bikes, so you can enjoy this wide flat platform on road bikes too. There is some grip here with the texture and the use of pins on the outside. Finally, this option comes in a variety of colors that is much broader than anything above. There are common colors like black, red, and blue, but also the acidic yellow and neon pink. This gives lots more choices to match something to your style.
There will be mixed opinions on the decision to use a plastic nylon composite for the pedals. It does allow for a molded pedal that has fewer parts and a nice shape, but it also means it is probably not as durable as an aluminum version. With that said, the price tag fits the design and features on offer and you can make a bold statement here without paying much at all.
- The pedal is molded pretty well with a nice grip and texture
- It is a universal fit for mountain bikes and road bike
- It is light and doesn’t have too much impact on the performance of the bike
- There are lots of colors to choose from
- The use of plastic instead of aluminum, which does end up bringing down costs
This final model is a lot like the one above in terms of its purpose and design. It might say that it is for mountain bikes but there is no reason why you can’t also use it on a road bike. The design looks pretty minimal until you see the grip on the wide platform. That grip is adjustable and you can choose pedal sizes to match your shoe size. The largest is more than enough room for those with bigger feet. But, the thin profile means that there isn’t too much weight either. The quality bearings should help with durability and there are even more color choices here.
A potential issue here is that you only get 9 pins on each side of the pedal for the grip. This could end up being more than enough for a casual ride across town. But, it might be noticeable in wetter weather. Other models here have around 16 pins or even as many as 24. So, 9 seems like they are cutting back for no good reason. Still, this is a cheaper pedal around the same price as the plastic on above.
- A wide platform that can accommodate larger feet
- thin profile to keep the weight down
- Lots of different colors to choose from
- Good bearing and connections to help with durability
- Fewer pins that could result in a less reliable grip
Buyer’s Guide: Things To Consider When Choosing The Best Flat Pedals For Road Bikes:
As you can see from the models above, the materials used in the main body and the connecting parts make a big difference. Ideally, you will want to find a pedal that uses aluminum – either high-end or alloy – for combined strength and weight reduction. It also helps if the bearings and connections are strong metal that is treated to withstand water and shock. Cheaper pedals will use a lot of plastic.
The weight of the pedal isn’t going to make a massive difference to all riders. First-timers looking for a reliable commuter bike aren’t really going to notice the loss or gain of a few grams here and there. But, competitive riders do. They want to shave off weight from their bike wherever possible. That is why you get so many wide pedals with as little metal as possible and lighter aluminum.
The size of the pedal is a great starting point. You need to be sure that there is enough room to place your foot securely on the pedal without feeling like it will go over the edge. This is important when putting pressure on the pedal in that downward motion so don’t slide off. There doesn’t have to be much going on in the middle of a pedal, so this can lower the weight a bit, but the width is important. It has to be a good fit for your shoe size.
The grip is essential here. It doesn’t matter how big the pedal is and whether it is the right size if your foot just slides straight off again. Different pedals have different approaches for grip. The best use a series of pins that stick out and provide a tread. As you saw with the models above, the number of pins varies, and the more the better in most cases. Some are also adjustable for a better result.
With all this focus on the features, grip, and comfort of these pedals, it is easy to overlook the issue of installation. You need to be able to remove the old ones and replace them with no problem at all. This means a simple, clean process where you instantly get a smooth motion and no weird grinding or juddering. It
might help to look for products that have a universal fit. This means that you might see flat bikes sold as mountain bike pedals that actually work on road bikes too.
Remember that you are buying these as a replacement for the cheap, questionable pedals that came with your bike. There is no point if they don’t offer greater durability and longevity. Durability comes from the strength of the parts and design. Look for pedals with as few components as possible to minimize weak links. Also, see if the metals are treated with any weather or dust proofing to extend their life.
Reflectors might be a lesser feature for a lot of riders, and they certainly aren’t high on the list in many product descriptions. But, a good reflector can provide a little more security and peace of mind in darker conditions. You might not see the point during the summer months when you’re commuting home in bright sunshine. But, they could make a difference in the darker winter mornings. Look out for bright wide strips that are easy to see.
The meaning of the word expensive ultimately comes down to your personal budget and expectations. If you are looking for a high-end upgrade to the flat road bike pedals that came with your bike, you might be happy to spend a little more than others. But, you don’t want to pay too much when the quality isn’t there. See how the price relates to the materials, features, and quality on offer. Make sure there is value there.
As long as you follow the advice above in what to look out for, you should be able to find a flat pedal for a road bike that is comfortable, easy to install and provides the reliable performance that you need. You may find precisely what you need within the products above. Or, you might want to look at other options with these models as guidance. Once you find the right fit – figuratively and literally – you can say goodbye to the cheap and useless ones in the box and ride with confidence.