Home > Components > Best Commuter Bike Pedals – For A Better Work Ride

Best Commuter Bike Pedals – For A Better Work Ride

Updated on:

Choice of pedals is always a personal thing.

The pedals you might prefer for one type of riding are not always the same ones you’d use for another.

So, what about pedals for bike commuting?

Rides into work are probably unlike the rides you do entirely for fun, unless you’re lucky.

The various obstacles you’ll encounter on a bike commute, the terrain you’ll ride and your level of confidence as a cyclist are all factors that will help you decide on the best commuter bike pedals for you.

Top Picks:

Top 8 Best Bike Pedals For Commuting To Work

The best bike pedals for you are always going to be about the commuter bike you ride, the route you take on your commute and what you’re comfortable with. Below we look at eight potential commuting pedals suitable for different bikes and budgets.

1. Shimano PD-M8120 XT Trail Pedals (best mountain bike SPD pedals)

CHECK PRICE AT REI

• Weight: 438g
• Type: SPD

Featuring a large platform for efficient power transfer, the Shimano PD-M8120 XT Trail Pedals in a clipless SPD fit is a good choice for your commute. The wide, stable base is useful for sudden accelerations and stop-start riding over any terrain.

This pedal is a candidate for most durable, too, what with its robust chromoly spindle, hardwearing retention claws and an integrated cage that shields the binding mechanism from impacts.

Engaging and disengaging with the pedal is smooth and easy. You can adjust tension settings to make clipping in easier if you’re unaccustomed to it, or to make your cleated shoes fit a little better through tightening.

Should you plan going off-road on your commute, this pedal is also known for its mud-shedding ability. The binding mechanism is not easily jammed, despite the pedal being longer than many others.

What We Like:

  • Stable – wide contact between pedal and shoe for efficient power transfer and confident riding.
  • Easy – the ability to engage/disengage smoothly is desirable on commutes.
  • Durable – robust manufacturing and caged design provides longevity.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Weight – heavier than a non-platform SPD pedal.

2. Shimano Ultegra PD-R8000 Pedals (best road bike SPD-SL pedals)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

• Weight: 248g
• Type: SPD-SL

Robust and lightweight at a medium-range price are the Shimano Ultegra PD-R8000 Pedals. A carbon composite body helps keep the weight of these pedals down, while the wide platform fitted with steel plates helps with stability and power transfer.

Again, these Ultegra pedals promise great durability, and you’ll probably use them for thousands of miles with no ill effect. It’s easy to service Shimano road pedals, too, should you notice any noise – at which point they’ll probably spin too freely as well.

You can adjust the tension on these pedals, which affects how easy it is to clip in and out. They come with Shimano’s yellow cleats, which offer a generous 6 degrees of “float” (the amount of foot movement they allow when engaged).

The Ultegra PD-R8000 has a lower ‘stack height’ than previous or other models, which helps to deliver better power transfer, as the foot sits closer to the pedal axle.

What We Like:

  • Material – carbon composite pedals are light and strong.
  • Broad – the wide platform of the Ultegra pedal provides stability.
  • Power – lower stack height cuts potential power loss between foot and axle.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Price – Shimano 105 pedals are an excellent alternative.

3. Hope F20 Platform Pedals (best pedals for durability)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

• Weight: 390g
• Type: Platform

Amid some tough competition, Hope F20 Platform Pedals get the nod in our “most durable” category. These beautifully made pedals from top UK manufacturer Hope Technology should reward you with years of commuting service.

The pedals have a platform that is CNC-machined from 2014 T6 aluminum, known for its strength-to-weight quality. A fully-sealed chamber in each pedal houses a Norglide bearing and three cartridge bearings for smooth performance and long life.

Strong axles add to the durability of Hope F20 pedals. They’re made from heat-treated and plated chromoly, which also has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio.

A series of 20 pins on the pedal help you to achieve a secure grip whilst riding with flat shoes or sneakers.

What We Like:

  • Construction – build quality in these pedals is second to none.
  • Grip – twenty pins help secure your foot to each pedal, even when wet.
  • Shape – slightly concave shape for foot support.
  • Light – relatively lightweight compared to some rival products.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Preparation – installing the 20 pins is time consuming.

4. Look Geo City Grip Pedals (best flat pedals for commuting)

CHECK PRICE AT JENSON USA

  • Weight: 538g
  • Type: Platform

For flat commuting pedals that are colorful, durable and efficient, look no further than the Look Geo City Grip Pedals. They come from a renowned French manufacturer well known for their premium bike frames and innovative pedals.

Look Geo City Grip Pedals are covered with a replaceable Vibram XS Trek compound rubber grip. Grooves run at different heights and directions to keep your foot steady, and the soft finish lends comfortable support to your foot.

Channels in the rubber surface of the pedals help water to quickly disperse, maintaining your grip on a rainy day.

What We Like:

  • Stability – plenty of surface for confident control.
  • Grip – Vibram rubber grip keeps your foot on the pedal without needing pins.
  • Color – bright colors to cheer your mood on a regular bike commute.
  • Nighttime – built-in reflectors help with visibility after dark.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Weight – heavy, though lightweight components are not a priority on most commuter bikes.

5. Shimano PD-EH500 SPD Pedals (best hybrid pedals)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

• Weight: 383g
• Type: SPD / Platform

If you want the choice of being clipped into pedals or riding them flat, the Shimano PD-EH500 may be for you. The pedals have an SPD binding mechanism on one side and are flat on the other. The light-action mechanism makes clipping in and out easy.

There may be sections of your commute where you’re constantly stopping and starting. In that situation, perhaps you’ll want to ride the flat side of these pedals. Then, connect yourself to the bike on longer stretches for extra pedaling efficiency.

You can adjust the tension in these pedals to ensure a good fit for your cleated shoes. Setting it loose at first makes it easier to clip in until you’ve gained confidence. On the flat side of the pedals, traction pins ensure good grip even in the wet.

These pedals are made with an aluminum body and a chromoly steel axle.

What We Like:

  • Versatile – ride the flat side with regular footwear or clip in with SPD shoes
  • Grip – traction pins on platform side of pedals.
  • Easy – light-action binding mechanism makes it easy to clip in and out.
  • Ideal – perfectly compliant with Shimano CT (Country Touring) or MT (Mountain Bike) shoes.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Tension – max pedal tension not tight enough for some (erring on the side of easy entry and removal).

6. YBEKI Pedals With Toe Clips (traditional pedal clips)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

• Weight: 390g
• Type: Platform with toe clips

If you want to be connected to the pedals whilst still being free to wear any shoe, the YBEKI Pedals With Toe Clips are worthy of consideration. The toe clips help center your foot on the pedal and will help with cranking efficiency.

Offering excellent value for money, these pedals are made with a sturdy aluminum alloy body, a resin cage and strong nylon toe straps. The sides of the pedals include reflectors for added nighttime visibility.

What We Like:

  • Price – good value for money.
  • Efficient – boost pedaling efficiency without needing to wear cycling shoes.
  • Visible – reflectors will help you to be seen during dark winter commutes.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Construction – possibly not as durable as other pedals in this list, which may be a risk worth taking for the price.

7. Race Face Chester Composite Flat Pedals (best value pedals)

Race Face Chester Composite Flat Pedals in Black Color

CHECK PRICE AT JENSON USA

  • Weight: 340g
  • Type: Platform

If you’re after tough, lightweight commuting pedals at a reasonable price, give the Race Face Chester Composite Flat Pedals a look. They have a durable nylon composite body and come with steel traction pins for extra grip.

The platform of this pedal has a subtly concave shape for natural foot support, and is large enough to provide stability (110mm x 101mm). The axles are made from robust chromoly steel.

Moving parts in these pedals are fully sealed for smooth and trouble-free use, though they are easily serviceable if the need arises. The pedals use cartridge bearings and DU bushings, protected from trail grime and the elements for lasting performance.

What We Like:

  • Price – durable and lightweight pedal for a fair price.
  • Grip – steel pins help keep your feet on the pedal in all conditions.
  • Profile – slim and concave profile for efficiency and support.
  • Style – slick-looking pedal available in several colors.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Center – slightly raised axle housing in the middle intrudes a little on the concave profile. Many won’t notice it in use.

8. Hiland Plastic Bicycle Pedals (best budget pedals)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Weight: 320g
  • Type: Platform

Anyone looking for a pedal that doesn’t hurt the bank balance can check out Hiland Plastic Bicycle Pedals. The body of each pedal is made from a molded PP plastic (Polypropylene), which is both lightweight and strong.

The pedals come in two colors (green or orange) and with 9/16” or 1/2” spindles, so you should check the size you need for your bike. They also have built-in reflectors to aid with visibility at night.

For extra grip, these pedals come with built-in plastic studs. You don’t have to fiddle with installing metal ones. Unlike some pedals, you can install these with either a 6mm hex key or a 15mm wrench.

What We Like:

  • Price – can’t go far wrong with low price and decent quality.
  • Grip – built-in studs help keep your feet in place.
  • Visibility – integrated reflectors help with low-light safety.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Smoothness – you may have to service bearings for best performance.

Types Of Pedal: What To Consider

You may be installing pedals on your commuter bike for the first time or replacing an old set. That being the case, what sort of pedals should you go for?

Read more: Best cycle shoes for commuting

Clipless vs Flat

One of the most likely decisions you’ll be faced with when pondering new commute pedals is whether to go clipless or flat. So, what are the merits of each?

Clipless Pedals

Contrary to their name, with clipless pedals you have to attach your foot to the pedal with cleats on your shoes. In other words, you “clip in” to clipless pedals.

The pedals are so-named because traditional pedals feature(d) cages for your feet called “toe clips”. Modern clipless pedals don’t have these cages. The idea in either case is to square your foot on the pedal and improve pedaling efficiency.

Do clipless pedals improve pedaling efficiency?

A common difference between the pedaling of top cyclists and leisure riders is that the former apply more force through the top and bottom of the pedal stroke. That’s easier with clipless pedals.

You’ll often hear sprinters saying they can pull up on the pedals in a sprint, too. That ability might be useful if you’re putting in sprint intervals on your commute.

Video: Why Use Clipless Pedals?

Types Of Clipless

Even if you decide to go clipless, you’re still faced with which type of clipless pedal you want. Here are some of the common choices:

  • Shimano SPD-SL – these are  road pedals, providing a low-profile and wide platform for efficient power transfer and stability. Corresponding shoes are virtually impossible to walk in unless you carry cleat covers. The binding mechanism is only accessible from one side of the pedal.
  • Shimano SPD – these are primarily MTB pedals, but many roadies and other cyclists use them because the cleats are recessed in the shoes, making it easier to hop off your bike and walk into cafes or shops. Most of these pedals are dual sided, so you can clip in without flipping the pedal over.
  • Speedplay – these distinctive circular pedals are dual sided (same benefit as above), have a low stack height for pedaling efficiency and are easy to engage and disengage with. A notable feature is the amount of float they offer, which may help in alleviating knee pains.
  • Look Keo – sometimes preferred over Shimano pedals for their looks, price and light weight. The lifespan of cleats and bearing quality makes Shimano pedals serious competition, however.
  • Time – Time offers ranges of clipless pedals for different bike types and budgets. A feature of Time pedals is the Bioperformance system, combining angular float (side-to-side heel movement), adjustable Q factor and lateral freedom for the whole foot.

Clipless Pros:

  • Secure – your foot is held securely on the pedal irrespective of weather.
  • Efficient – pedaling efficiency may be improved a little and the cleat position holds the ball of your foot over the axle for optimum power transfer.
  • Sprint – potentially useful if you’re getting fit on a commute via sprint intervals.

Clipless Cons:

  • Locked in – being physically attached to the pedal often causes inexperienced cyclists to fall over.
  • Walkability – some cleated shoes are hard to walk in without adaptors.

Flat Pedals (Platform Pedals)

Gray Metal Bike Pedal (Flat)Pin
Courtesy: Pixabay

The chief benefit of flat pedals is being able to wear any shoes you like. If you’d like to wear casual shoes that are well adapted to riding, something with a high-friction, fairly stiff sole is ideal. Five Ten MTB shoes are an example.

Some of the features to look out for on flat pedals are these:

  • Wide platform – around 100mm+ width provides a stable pedaling base.
  • Traction pins – usually removable metal pins to help keep your feet in place.
  • Reflectors – a common feature for extra visibility on dark commutes.
  • Profile – a slightly concave profile is common for natural foot support.
  • Depth – less material underfoot theoretically means better power transfer.

To help you decide whether flat pedals are for you and your commute, let’s look at some pros and cons.

Flat Pedal Pros:

  • Freedom – wear whatever shoes you like (within reason).
  • Casual – no need to wear sporty cycling shoes.
  • Safety – no risk of falling over through being attached to the bike.
  • Visibility – reflectors are a common feature.
  • Knees – freedom of movement creates fewer problems for knees.

Flat Pedal Cons:

  • Grip – possibility of foot slipping off pedal during rain or hard efforts.
  • Efficiency – harder to drive through the top of the pedal stroke or keep the foot in an optimal position.
Video: Clipless Pedals vs Flat Pedals & Sneakers

Hybrid Pedals

Hybrid pedals often have an MTB binding mechanism on one side and a large platform on the other. There are few drawbacks to giving yourself this choice, though in the end you’re quite likely to favor one over the other and try a dedicated pedal.

What About Old-Fashioned Toe Clip Pedals?

Traditional toe clip pedals with cages and straps are still favored by many, especially on a vintage bike. The main benefit of these pedals from a commuting angle is the ability to improve pedaling efficiency without wearing special shoes.

A “disadvantage” specific to toe clip pedals is their contraption-like appearance. They’re not for minimalists.

Other Features To Think About

There are a few other things to consider in your pedal choice.

Mud & Snow Clearance

If you go off-road on your bike commute or maybe have a bike for deep winter riding, the ability of a pedal to shed mud and snow is a consideration.

Pedal Strikes

Beveled or angled edges in a pedal can help prevent pedal strikes, particularly when you’re on rocky or root-ridden terrain.

Sharp Edges

Sharp-looking pedals are fine unless they’re literally sharp, when you might find them damaging your ankles and shins.

Float

Float refers to the amount of movement the pedal and cleat allows your feet to move in degrees (angles).

More float tends to be easier on the knees, though this isn’t always the case. Less float requires more precision when setting up the cleat position.

Commuter Pedals: FAQs

How Do You Change Commuter Bike Pedals?

Normally you remove and replace pedals using a 6mm hex key or a 15mm wrench. The left spindle should be reverse-threaded, so with both pedals you pull the wrench towards the rear of the bike to undo.

Is It OK To Use Flat Pedals On A Road Bike?

There is no problem whatsoever with using flat pedals on a road bike. At a push, you can even treat road pedals (e.g., SPD-SL) as a one-sided flat pedal, though it’s inadvisable over long distances for reasons of stability and foot support.

Are Clipless/Clip Pedals Dangerous?

Clipless or toe clip pedals are not dangerous if you practice using them in a quiet area first. In traffic, unclip your foot (the one you’ll rest on the road) as you approach a stopping point rather than try to free yourself in the last moment.

Signing Off…

Revisiting our top 8 best pedals, a mountain bike pedal like the Shimano PD-M8120 XT Trail Pedal gives you that clipless feeling of efficiency and connectivity while still letting you wear walkable shoes on your commute.

There are many contenders for best road pedal, but Shimano Ultegra PD-R8000 Pedals or their 105 equivalent offer great all-round performance. Part of the reason for this double Shimano whammy is exceptional bearing quality and pedal durability.

Some products inspire huge confidence through their workmanship and build quality. Hope F20 Platform Pedals fall into this category whilst also giving you freedom to wear casual, non-cleated shoes.

We hope this article was useful to you. Please feel free to comment or share.

Best Commuter Bike Pedals - For A Better Work Ride - Pinterest Pin Small ImagePin
Bike Push - Mark W
Mark W
I’m a cycling enthusiast, and the founder and chief editor of Bike Push. If I’m not working on this website, then I’m out on the bike clocking up the miles. I want to help others get the most out of cycling.

Leave a Comment