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  1. #1
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    Pedals and Shoes Question/Recomendations

    Hi guys, newbie here, picked up my first road bike last fall and so far I'm having a blast with it. Spent my budget on the bike so it just has plastic flat pedals, looking to add clipless pedals and shoes now and I have a few questions.

    I'm usually a believer in buy good quality once instead of going cheap and then getting something better later. Although I realize sometimes you don't really know what you want until you have had something and tried it out. Am I better off buying a good set of pedals and shoes right off the bat, or should I just get some entry level stuff and then look to upgrade later?

    I have done some research online and it seems like Shimano and Look pedals seem to be popular, which one would be better for someone who has never clipped in before?

    Any features in either pedals or shoes I should be looking for? Must haves or things to steer clear of?

    Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    I like Speedplay light action. Double-sided entry, easy to clip in and out, lots of float, and durable if you keep it greased.

    Strongly suggest that whatever system you go with you get from lbs. You'll need help setting it up (cleat placement, etc) and you'll want to try several shoes.

    Edit: Forgot to mention there's no shame using mtb pedals on a road bike. Walking is much easier.
    Last edited by mtrac; 06-20-2017 at 04:34 PM.

  3. #3
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    ^that mostly... especially the point about mtb pedals, they are pretty simple and can be more practical (depends on the person though)

    you don't need to go too spendy on pedals, generally they have the same action through the range, they just get lighter the more $$$ you spend. But shoes always the diminishing returns, but go for decent quality not cheap. And try heaps, you're going to be spending time in them, you want them comfortable.
    All the gear and no idea

  4. #4
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    The first decision point is whether you want a "walkable" shoe -- i.e., a mountain-bike type with the cleat recessed into the shoe, or you can live with a road-type shoe and pedal, in which the cleat protrudes and makes walking somewhat awkward. There's nothing inherently wrong with either approach. Road shoes tend to be lighter and have stiffer soles, but there are plenty of very functional MTB shoes. It really depends on your intended use.
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  5. #5
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    Make sure you size the shoes with the socks you'll be wearing to ride in.
    If in doubt about if you care about being able to walk I'd error on the side of mountain bike style. It's not like you can't walk in road style though so don't worry one way or the other if you just need to go into stores and stuff like that.

    It's hard to beat shimano for durability, simplicity, and ability to get cleats at any shop. Both road and mountain style. As far as road goes they are much better than any other I'm aware of when it comes to stepping in mud or something like that. Speedplay are the worse for that. You need cleat covers to walk around.
    Presumably and mountain cleat is fine for walking in slop but I'm not sure.

  6. #6
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    If this is your first road bike, I would wait until you get used to your bike first. Ride it as-is for about 6 months.

    If you have never used clipless pedals, I would try mountain bike pedals and shoes first. They are much easier to clip in and out of, and as others have said, mountain bike shoes are easier to walk in as the cleat is recessed. They also have more float which is easier on your knees since it doesn't lock your feet in an exact position.

    Inexpensive pedals do the job just fine, but don't go cheap on shoes. My $25 Shimano PD-M520's have given me thousands of miles and have never let me down. More $$ generally gets you lighter weight and not much more.
    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein

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  7. #7
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    I've been using Speedplay Frogs for 3 years on my road bikes. Frogs are double sided and quite possibly the easiest pedal on the market to clip in and out of. I use Pearl Izumi and Shimano mountain bike shoes with Frog cleats... easy to walk around in.
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  8. #8
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    When I decided to finally clip in, I went with MTB shoes for their ease of use and walkability. Now that I am more comfortable clipped in, I've made the switch to road pedals (Shimano) as I prefer the larger contact point for my foot and stiffer shoes.

    If you go with Shimano, it's hard to beat the bang for the buck of the 105s. I have them and Ultegras, you'll be hard-pressed to tell the difference I think.

  9. #9
    pmf
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    The big advantage of road pedals over mountain bike pedals was road pedals had a larger surface area and were more comfortable. These days, shoe soles have gotten so rigid that there's no advantage to one over the other. I have four road bikes and they all have Time ATAC pedals on them. I commute a lot and part of my trip to and from work involves walking on a marble floor. When I used to use road pedals, I'd have to take my shoes off to navigate that. My wife uses Shimano mountain bike pedals (XTR and XT).

    I don't buy the top of the line pedals. Usually they're twice as much as the next level down and the only difference is a few grams saved by a titanium spindle. With Time, I have the XC8's. My wife likes Shimano pedals and I see very little difference between XT and XTR except for cost.

    I do buy top of the line shoes. They last for years -- literally. It's worth spending money on good shoes. I like Shimano shoes. They come in wide and normal widths (I have a wide foot). I think a carbon soled shoe is worth the money -- very stiff and comfortable. The last pair I bought was the XC90 and I've been happy with them. The big problem with shoes is that you usually can't find a store that sells more than one kind. For example, my LBS stocks Specialized shoes. They suck. The salesman will even tell you that, but they're a Specialized dealer so it comes with the territory I guess. Most on line vendors will accept returns. You can order two sizes, or two different brands and just return the pair you don't want. My wife did that when she bought her last pair of Sidi shoes (that brand is way too narrow for me).

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by noOriginalNames View Post
    Hi guys, newbie here, picked up my first road bike last fall and so far I'm having a blast with it. Spent my budget on the bike so it just has plastic flat pedals, looking to add clipless pedals and shoes now and I have a few questions.

    I'm usually a believer in buy good quality once instead of going cheap and then getting something better later. Although I realize sometimes you don't really know what you want until you have had something and tried it out. Am I better off buying a good set of pedals and shoes right off the bat, or should I just get some entry level stuff and then look to upgrade later?

    I have done some research online and it seems like Shimano and Look pedals seem to be popular, which one would be better for someone who has never clipped in before?

    Any features in either pedals or shoes I should be looking for? Must haves or things to steer clear of?

    Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.
    There a probably some primers on this if you search the web.

    A few notes. There are two bolt patterns: the so called Look 3-bolt which covers Shimano and Look pedals and the 4-bolt Speedplay pattern. You need to get shoes that match the bolt pattern. All 3 companies make great pedals. I like Look but that is a personal thing. The massive float on Speedplay may take some getting used to. I agree with the other posters that you don't need to spend a ton on pedals. More money just makes them lighter. Spending less than $100 is fine. While I do buy stuff on the internet when it come to shoes fit and comfort is everything. Go to the bike store and try them on. An awesome $400 shoes will totally suck if the fit is off. A stiff sole is definitely a good thing but there are some cheaper options out there that might use a reinforced fiberglass sole vice all carbon. Other than your saddle your shoes are probably the most important thing to comfort. If you are a first time buyer don't spend big money but I would suggest not going much below $100. I personally like Giro shoes but there are many good brands out there. When you get the pedals, make sure you practice somewhere safe (not a busy road). Eventually you want have to even think about it, bit when you first start you need to consciously think about clipping out

  11. #11
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    There are two bolt patterns: the so called Look 3-bolt which covers Shimano and Look pedals and the 4-bolt Speedplay pattern
    .

    And also the 2-bolt SPD pattern.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCavilia View Post
    .

    And also the 2-bolt SPD pattern.
    I was trying to turn the OP away from the dark side (MTB stuff)

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveG View Post
    The massive float on Speedplay may take some getting used to.
    As a blanket statement that's wrong. Speedplay makes a lot of pedals. Some do have unlimited float, some 15 degrees, and some are adjustable from 0 to 15 degrees. Or something like that.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveG View Post
    I was trying to turn the OP away from the dark side (MTB stuff)
    With all due respect, this is purist, elitist nonsense. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using MTB pedals/shoes (2-bolt SPD) on a road bike. Many riders do. For beginners, they are the most forgiving.

    I also dispute the importance of shoes with stiff soles. This may improve efficiency, but the improvements are minuscule unless you are a racer. For long rides, comfortable shoes make more sense and these are usually the less stiff ones.
    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein

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  15. #15
    JSR
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    With all due respect, this is purist, elitist nonsense.
    Of course it is! We are roadies. It's what we do.
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with using MTB pedals/shoes (2-bolt SPD) on a road bike. Many riders do. For beginners, they are the most forgiving.
    Agreed. Also, there is nothing like clomping around the farmers market in your road shoes to ruin an otherwise nice Saturday morning.

    I also dispute the importance of shoes with stiff soles. This may improve efficiency, but the improvements are minuscule unless you are a racer. For long rides, comfortable shoes make more sense and these are usually the less stiff ones.
    Do you not think stiff soles prevent hot spots induced by cleats penetrating and flexing soft soles?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    With all due respect, this is purist, elitist nonsense. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using MTB pedals/shoes (2-bolt SPD) on a road bike. Many riders do. For beginners, they are the most forgiving.

    I also dispute the importance of shoes with stiff soles. This may improve efficiency, but the improvements are minuscule unless you are a racer. For long rides, comfortable shoes make more sense and these are usually the less stiff ones.
    I was thinking that the laughing emoji would inform people that I was joking. I guess I was wrong.

    I have owned lots of shoes over 3 decades of riding. Those that were less stiff often resulted in hotfoot. That is especially important if you go with MTN shoes and SPD pedals which have a very small platform

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSR View Post
    Do you not think stiff soles prevent hot spots induced by cleats penetrating and flexing soft soles?
    To be honest, I would not know the answer to this since I have never had the problem of "hot spots induced by cleats penetrating and flexing soft soles". Maybe this is because I use insoles. But I guess if you are talking about soles that are really soft, this could be a problem. Making the soles thicker would solve this problem, though the weight weenies would kick and scream.
    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein

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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    To be honest, I would not know the answer to this since I have never had the problem of "hot spots induced by cleats penetrating and flexing soft soles". Maybe this is because I use insoles. But I guess if you are talking about soles that are really soft, this could be a problem. Making the soles thicker would solve this problem, though the weight weenies would kick and scream.
    years back I had a touring bike with a SPD pedal setup. I bought a lower end pair of Shimano shoes. The sole was so flexy that I could feel the cleat pushing into my foot on the down-stroke. Thankfully the soles eventually cracked from the flexing and I bought some better shoes

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    I also dispute the importance of shoes with stiff soles. This may improve efficiency, but the improvements are minuscule unless you are a racer. For long rides, comfortable shoes make more sense and these are usually the less stiff ones.
    I'll guess you don't put much power down into the pedals or haven't actually done long rides?
    Obviously comfortable is better than not comfortable. I think we all got that. And as anyone who's tried both with otherwise equal fit for long rides while putting decent pressure on the pedals could tell you; stiff soles help for comfort.
    Even the worse 'cycling shoes' are very stiff compared to street shoes. It's what makes cycling shoes cycling shoes. There's a reason for that.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    I'll guess you don't put much power down into the pedals or haven't actually done long rides?
    Obviously comfortable is better than not comfortable. I think we all got that. And as anyone who's tried both with otherwise equal fit for long rides while putting decent pressure on the pedals could tell you; stiff soles help for comfort.
    Even the worse 'cycling shoes' are very stiff compared to street shoes. It's what makes cycling shoes cycling shoes. There's a reason for that.
    Most of my weekend rides are in the 40-60 mile category with an occasional 70+ mile ride and I do plenty of hill climbs.

    I am not disputing that bike shoes in general are, and should be stiffer than street shoes. My remark was mainly a jab at the "road shoes are so much better than MTB shoes because their soles are sooooo much stiffer". ;-)
    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveG View Post
    years back I had a touring bike with a SPD pedal setup. I bought a lower end pair of Shimano shoes.
    There was your problem right there.
    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein

    "Beware of geeks bearing formulas."
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    "Education is what you get when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get when you don't. -- Pete Seeger



  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveG View Post
    I was thinking that the laughing emoji would inform people that I was joking. I guess I was wrong.
    Emoji acknowledged. I just couldn't help taking my jabs at the purist elitists. ;-)
    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein

    "Beware of geeks bearing formulas."
    -- Warren Buffett

    "Education is what you get when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get when you don't. -- Pete Seeger



  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    My remark was mainly a jab at the "road shoes are so much better than MTB shoes because their soles are sooooo much stiffer". ;-)
    Okay, fair enough. Lots of MTN bike shoes are plenty stiff for any riding.

  24. #24
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    I see the OP has not posted again since the original question 2 days ago. I hope we haven't scared him off by all this insider discussion and re-hashed controversy, as sometimes happens with newbies here. noOriginalNames, it's not as complicated as we may be making it sound.

    If you decide to go the walkable MTB SPD route (a very sensible choice, IMO), and if you expect sometimes to want to ride the bike in sneakers or other "regular" non-cycling shoes, consider one of the dual-function pedals like the Shimano A530, with a SPD mechanism on one side and a nice platform for street shoes on the other. I use them on my rainy-commuter and errand bike, and they work great. I use Looks and road shoes on my road bike, and I like them best, but honestly the A530s with MTB shoes give up very little in efficiency.

    Good luck, and keep having fun.
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    Not scared off, just been really busy the last few days. So the consensus is, there is no consensus...

    Seriously I appreciate the input. I'm thinking I'm going to start with the shoes and then purchase pedals to match. I'm out of town for the weekend but next week I will have to stop by some local shops and see what they have.

    Thanks for the feedback!

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