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Clipless pedals allow a rider to maximize the efficiency of their pedal stroke by being able to pull up in addition to pushing down, creating a more fluid and circular motion. Once a rider has become comfortable and confident with traditional pedals, moving to a clipless system offers many advantages to the trail rider and racer alike. There are many different designs and styles of clipless pedals tailored specifically for a variety of riding styles. These pedals require special clipless shoes made to accommodate a cleat that links the shoe to the pedal. Whether for competition or recreation, switching to a set of clipless pedals will likely put some wind in your sails and take seconds off the clock.
There are three main types of clipless pedals depending on their intended use. Although they are designed differently and may look different, the clipping mechanism remains the same throughout a brand's lineup.
The first type of pedal is designed primarily for cross-country riding and racing. These pedals are made to be as light as possible; they do not have a platform surrounding the clipping mechanism and are designed for stiff-soled racing shoes.
Next are pedals designed for trail or all-mountain applications. These models have a small platform around the mechanism, which both protects it and offers a place for the foot when a rider is unclipped.
Finally, there are downhill specific pedals. Intended for the abusive nature of downhill racing, these pedals are more heavy-duty. They offer a large platform and are heavier than cross-country and all-mountain pedals.
The spindle size is standard on all bikes. With the exception of children's bikes, which use 1/2-inch spindles, every pedal in the world should have a 9/16-inch threaded spindle. This makes them easy to swap and replace. Clipless pedals do use cleats designed specifically for one type of clipping mechanism, so not all cleats work with all pedals. Luckily, pedals come with a set of cleats and these are easily installed on a pair of clipless bike shoes.
Clipless pedals, because of their somewhat complex designs, use a multitude of materials in their construction. Platforms are available in aluminum, magnesium, resin, plastic and carbon fiber, and spindles and springs can be either chromoly or titanium.
Pedal manufacturers ease the selection process by classifying pedals by the type of riding they were intended for: cross-country, all-mountain and downhill. Different manufacturers, however, may not use the same system to connect shoes to their pedals. Despite their technical differences, all clipless systems have the same result: keeping your feet on the pedals. Before purchasing, make sure to look find a model that suits your riding style and personal taste. Trying out a friend's pair is always a good way to do research on the subject.
Clipless mountain bike pedals range in price from $40 to $400. In the $40-$100 range, both cross-country and trail/all-mountain models are available from a handful of brands. These models can satisfy entry-level riders and trail enthusiasts alike by providing high-end function at an affordable price. The $100-$250 range includes high quality models for all riding disciplines. These pedals incorporate aluminum, magnesium, titanium and carbon fiber parts to reduce weight and improve performance. There are many top of the line models in this range, especially for trail and downhill riders. Pedals in the $250-$400 range are top of the line products designed to provide unparalleled performance at ridiculously low weights by using only the highest quality materials and most precise mechanisms.
Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you've purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.
We hope you've found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn't answered in this guide, our mountain bike forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.
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