The most basic pedal design is simply a platform for your foot. However, modern pedals are available in an assortment of materials, including plastic, aluminum and ultra-light carbon fiber. The basic design concept has not evolved much over the years, and these pedals are largely cheap and widely available. Options may include teeth on the platforms to grip your shoes, reflectors and an assortment of colors. Pedals with high-performance materials can be expensive, but a basic plastic model can be obtained from any cycle supply shop for $20 or less.
The advantage of strap-in pedals is that the cyclist can pull up with one foot while pushing down with the other, which is more efficient and effective, especially for hill climbing. Strap-in pedals can be bought complete, or you can add a strap-in mechanism to your existing pedals. The strap-in mechanism consists of a toe brace to hold the foot, with a strap going across the top of the foot from one side of the pedal to the other. A more advanced version is simply a toe "cage," in which the rider inserts the tip of the foot. The disadvantage of the strap-in pedal is that the mechanism is only on one side and the weight of the mechanism causes it to hang strap down, requiring the cyclist to flip the pedal with the foot before inserting the toe of the shoe into the strap. These pedals are widely available at any cycle supply shop, and prices start at around $30 for a set.
These pedals function similarly to skis and ski boots. You wear a special shoe that matches a cleat on the pedal. The shoe locks into place on the pedal, keeping your foot secure. This allows you to both push and pull as you pedal, similar to a foot strap. Clip-in pedals are available in two-sided and four-sided designs. The four-sided models allow you to more easily lock your foot into place by feel. You release yourself from the pedal by pointing your toe.
Because you have to buy shoes as well as pedals, this is the most expensive pedal option. Shoes can be found at any cycle supply shop and start at just under $100 dollars. Clip-in pedals can be found for less than $50 a pair. Package deals can often be found. Pedal and shoe sets using advanced, lightweight materials and cutting-edge technology can cost more than $500.
Article Written By Beau Prichard
Beau Prichard has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He specializes in fiction, travel and writing coaching. He has traveled in the United Kingdom, Europe, Mexico and Australia. Prichard grew up in New Zealand and holds a Bachelor of Arts in writing from George Fox University.