Are Clipless Pedals Better Than Normal Pedals

Picking the right pedal is going to help you have the best experience for you personally while riding your bike.

Now, there are several types of pedals you can choose from, but the three most common options are flat, caged and clipless pedals. 

As a new bike enthusiast, you may be uncertain about which pedal is the right one for you. Often it will depend on the type of cycling you plan to do and your personal preference such as on-road cycling or mountain biking.

However, for this article we are solely going to be talking about indoor cycling and what pedal is best for you.

So, let’s take a look at some of the differences and similarities between flat, caged and clipless pedals so you can make the right decision for you. 

What are Flat, Caged & Clipless Pedals Exactly?

Flat Pedals

Flat Pedals

Flat pedals include just a simple platform for pedalling, without any of the bindings.

They do include a little non-slip design on them and even dull metal pins to make sure your feet stop from sliding all over the place.

You may see these made out of plastic and metal and they work with any type of athletic footwear that you want to use. If your feet are strong enough, you can use these flat pedals without any shoes at all.

Caged Pedals

Caged Pedals

Caged pedals are generally what you find on a standard exercise bike.

You simply slip your feet in and pull the straps at either side to tighten and fasten your feet into the cage.

These pedals give a greater overall comfort to the foot but also allow for greater force to be applied through the pedals as you are able to use your push motion but also pull motion of your pedalling.

Clipless Pedals

Even though there is the word “clipless” in the name, you will use these pedals in a way that helps your shoe can actually clip into the pedals themselves, helping them get locked onto the feet instead of moving around.

The reason we see this term is because this pedal allows the rider to get rid of the toe clips and straps over the shoes to keep things in place. 

These pedals pictured above are the Favero Assioma power pedals.

Not only are these clipless but also connect via Bluetooth and ANT+ to show cycling performance…hence the name ‘power pedals’.

You can check out my review of them here.

If you choose to go with the clipless pedal, there are two options to go with. These include the single-sided and the double-sided.

They are both useful for cycling, but it will depend on the type of riding you would like to do.

You will need to get the right shoes as well to go with these clip-less pedals by connecting with cleats so the cost is often higher than with flat or caged pedals. 

Setting Up of the Pedals

Flat Pedals

If you use a flat pedal, you can just place the foot where you like on the platform and start cycling.


Caged Pedals

The caged pedals are, as I mentioned, just a matter of strapping your feet into the cage itself and that’s you.

Clipless Pedals

Now with the clipless pedal, your foot will have more limits on where it can be placed.

If you do not have the correct pedal setup, it can make your ride uncomfortable. 

You may need to experiment a little bit to make sure everything fits on the bike well. For example, you may need to consider a different type of cleat or different float size. Having the right cleat size for you, allows you to connect to the pedals better, provide a fully effective cycle and rotation of the pedals and also to come off the bike easier.

Having this set up well can make the ride more comfortable. 

The Benefits of a Flat Pedal

Many bike enthusiasts like to work with flat pedals.

While there are several benefits to the clipless or caged pedals, there are times when a flat pedal is a better option.

First, these flat pedals are often less expensive since you only need the pedal and not a special type of shoe to go with it.

For those who want to stay on a budget, these are a better choice. 

Another benefit is that these pedals do not hold your feet in place. While this can put you at a disadvantage in some cases, it will help if you need to frequently stop and put your feet down while cycling.

Now, these type of pedals are more used for outdoor cycling.

For example, if you are cycling around town and need to start and stop often while going around others, you do not want your feet locked into the pedals all the time.

This is where the flat pedal will come into play. 

The Benefits of a Caged Pedal

When it comes to pricing, caged pedals are going to be your most affordable option.

Now, like I said most standard indoor cycling bikes already have caged pedals fitted – it’s then your choice if you wish to keep them or swap out for either flat or clipless pedals.

Caged pedals are also great at promoting a full pedal stroke where you’re driving the most force you can generate from all of your leg muscles.

You see, as you have the cage around your upper foot, it allows you to pull against it to help raise the pedal back up faster hence activating your hamstrings on the backs of your legs more.

The Benefits of a Clipless Pedal

There are a lot of great benefits to choosing a clipless pedal over a flat or caged pedal.

It does depend on the type of ride you plan on doing however.

Some of the options include: 

  • Helps you ride faster: These pedals help you get added power as you are activating all of your legs muscles from your quads at the front to your hamstrings at the back.
  • More foot comfort while riding: Clipless shoes provide a more rigid frame compared to other athletic shoes. This helps to move all of your weight across the foot instead of on the ball of the foot. This helps reduce foot pain after a tough cycling session. 
  • Increases your efficiency: If you want to be more efficient, then clipless pedals are better as by having the secure platform between your foot and the pedal, it’s helps promote the push motion of the pedalling but even better for the pulling motion when bringing the foot back up.
  • Keeps your feet on the pedals: The cleats are great because they will make sure your feet stay attached to the pedals, no matter how hard your pedalling.
  • Apply more power: These clipless pedals help you to keep the feet in the best position for cycling, which gives you a stronger pedal stroke.
  • Gives you more control: These pedals help you have complete control as they basically become a part of you (as strange as that sounds) as you’re fully connected to the bike.

Which Pedal Is Better to Use?

So this all really depends how you use your bike.

Is it solely indoor cycling you’re into or do you like to train outdoors also?

For Indoor Cycling

Well, if it’s solely indoor cycling you’re doing I would advise either the caged or clipless pedals.

You see these pedals are going to give you full activation of leg muscles here.

You’ll be using your quads, hamstrings, calves and bum to really drive your force applied into the pedalling to put out a really good workout.

As an indoor cycling bike is stationery, there is no real urgency to take your feet off the pedals for any reason so these types of pedals are best for indoor cycling.

For Indoor & Outdoor Cycling

If you’re combining indoor training with outdoor training then you may want either the clipless or flat pedals here.

Once again, clipless pedals give that extra secure grip and connection to the pedals so there’s no worrying about your foot coming off the pedal.

However, some cyclists prefer the flat pedal as it’s as simple to just remove your foot off the flat pedal surface if you need to put your foot down.

You see, with clipless pedals there is some ‘backheel shaking’ to release your foot from the pedal and this can become nerve-wracking if you need to put your foot down fast as it runs the risk of you toppling over.

Choosing a Pedal

Now don’t not worry about having to pick the right indoor or outdoor bike with the exact pedal that you want.

Often you may fall in love with a bike that has everything you want, but it has the opposite pedal.

For example, the bike may have all the features you want but comes with a flat pedal when you want a clipless pedal. 

The good news is that no matter what type of bike you use, whether it is an indoor or an outdoor bike, you can purchase individual pedals separately and then swap them out for whatever is on the bike.

This allows you to go back and forth between the flat, caged and clipless pedals if you want more flexibility or just to replace the pedals already found on the bike. 

Knowing the different types of pedals that are available can make it easier to get the best riding experience.

Often the type of cycling you choose to do will help you pick out the right pedal, though some bike enthusiasts have one that they prefer over the other.

All these pedals can make your cycling fun but also really get the best performance out of you!

If you do have any questions, please drop me a comment and I’ll be sure to get back to you.

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