Try riding a bike without pedals 🙂 Its pretty useless and begins to look a lot like riding the original 1817 bike the “Draisine”. Pedals are an essential part of your bike riding experience so you should know something about them.
There are 2 main types, Flats and Clipless:
Most history books credit the invention of pedals, mounted on opposing cranks to the Parisian Pierre Michaux in 1863. He attached cranks to the front wheel pedals on a draisienne. This invention was known as a velocipede.
The clipless pedal was invented by Charles Hanson in 1895. Not much happened with it until 1971 when Cino Cinelli developed the M71, in 1971. Referred to as “death cleats”, this pedal was designed mainly for track racing as cyclist had to reach down to them to unclip them.
Clipless refers to the toe clip (cage) having been replaced by a locking mechanism. “Clipping in” changes the way a cyclist is able to pedal, with push down and pull up, being available to transfer power into the bike’s gearing and rear wheel.
Even with these two basic types there are plenty of options.
|Flats||Without toe clips||These are the most basic option. Flat pedals provide a platform for a cyclist’s leg and foot to push down on. They can be used with most kinds of footwear (Although I can honestly say, that I’ve never tried them with high heels :-). These are recommended, if you need to hop on and off trains, walk or ride in work clothes. Generally, they are the cheapest option.|
|With toe clips||French cyclist Eugène Christophe is viewed as the inventor of the toe-clip. In 1925, he sold his invention to Poutrait-Morin (known now as Zéfal). The next step from flats are toe clips. These consist of flat pedals with a basket-and-strap “cage” attached to which hold the foot in place.|
|Road||Look and Look-a-likes||The first modern clipless pedal was designed by the French company Look. Look applied downhill snow skiing binding or cleat technology to pedals. Bernard Hinault’s victory in Tour de France in 1985 then helped secure the acceptance of quick-release clipless pedal systems by cyclists. Look cleats and their many Look-alikes (tee hee…couldn’t resist) are large and protrude from the sole of the shoe, unlike SPD. This provides a larger platform for transferring power through to the pedals. The protruding cleat makes these shoes impractical for walking, as doing so can damage the cleat. These are recommended for competitive road cyclists looking to improve their performance.|
|SPD||SPD stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics pedal system. Released in 1990, these clipless pedals are arguably the most versatile and best suited to urban commuting or mountain biking. SPD cleats are small and could be fitted in a recess in the sole, making it possible to walk reasonably comfortably. SPD Pedals are the next step up for the average cyclists. They can be single or double sided. This enables a cyclist to clip in with cleats or use the flat side with normal shoes. They allow for a large range of adjustment to make ‘clipping in and out’ much easier. SPDs are recommended for cyclists ‘clipping in’ for the first time, commuters and mountain bikers. Cyclo-cross rider tend to prefer them as well.|