Reviews You Can Rely On

The 4 Best Road Bike Pedals of 2024

We tested road bike pedals from Look, Shimano, Wahoo, and more to find the ideal models for your asphalt adventures
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Best Road Bike Pedals Review
Credit: Luke Hollomon
By Luke Hollomon ⋅ Review Editor
Friday May 17, 2024

Pedals are the main point of contact between you and your road bike, so you should have the absolute best option. We've independently tested and rated this entire lineup of pedals to find the best ones to speed you along comfortably and quickly. Read on to find out what to look for in a road bike pedal, how we tested these for you, and which pedals would be best to have on your bike. We evaluated each on ease of entry and exit, adjustability, platform size and feel, build quality, and weight to see which rose to the top.

Shopping for pedals is challenging. You know that and we know that. There are lots of people out there telling you lots of things and it's really hard to figure out if any of them matter to you. If you're like us, you probably started on the clipless pedal that your riding buddy or bike shop friend suggested and you stuck with it for years. But is it really best for you? Or maybe you're new to all this so-called clipless stuff, stepping up from flats and cages, and feel lost in the marketing-speak so rampant in the cycling industry. No matter how you ended up shopping for pedals, our expert panel is here to be your guide. We have dozens of years of cycling experience on dozens of types of pedals, and we put that experience to work for you. We purchased and personally rode with all the pedals we've reviewed, so the marketing does not sway us, just the facts please. So let's dive into the reviews and find the pair of pedals that would be perfect for your bike and budget.

Pedals are only one piece of a complete road bicycle kit. We also created reviews of the best cycling shoes and top-ranked road bike helmets. If you're in the market for a type of gear related to a different genre of biking, check out our list of the best bike gear. See our Best Bike Pedals review for a round-up of all the different types of cycling pedals.

Top 8 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 8
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $200 List
$200.00 at REI
Check Price at Backcountry$150 List
$101.00 at Amazon
$79.42 at Amazon$64.00 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Incredibly light, high-quality bearings, steel and carbon combinationDual entry, low stack height, incredibly adjustableLightweight, buttery smooth, durable bearings, great clip in/out actionExcellent platform, well-designed entry, metal strike plate for durabilityInexpensive, time-tested design, easy in and out
Cons Pricey, so-so stack heightHeavy, pricey, cleats can jam upExpensive, average stack height, slippery cleatsHigh stack height, exit worsens as cleat wearsHeavy, all plastic body, smallish platform
Bottom Line A top-tier road pedal constructed of carbon and steel with smooth entry and exitYou won't find a more adjustable pedal out there when it comes to bike fit, and the stack height is second to none, a great pedal if you need customizationThe best pedals in the game for a long time, these just keep getting better with durable construction, fantastic bearings, and reliable entry and exitQuite a good pedal, though not exceptional, the platform is comfortable and it always hangs perfectly for entry, but the stack height is high and it performs worse as cleats wearA classic design and quite a good pedal for not that much money. This pedal is excellent value with its easy clipping in and out, and adequate platform
Rating Categories Shimano Ultegra PD-... Wahoo Fitness Speed... Shimano 105 PD-R700... Look Keo 2 Max Look Keo Classic 3
Ease of Entry (25%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Ease of Exit (20%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Adjustability (20%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Weight (15%)
9.1
5.3
7.9
8.6
7.1
Platform (10%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Build Quality (10%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Specs Shimano Ultegra PD-... Wahoo Fitness Speed... Shimano 105 PD-R700... Look Keo 2 Max Look Keo Classic 3
Weight per Pair 248 g 232 g 265 g 260 g 280 g
Weight of Cleats and Bolts 72 g 142 g 72 g 68 g 68 g
Total Weight 320 g 374 g 337 g 328 g 348 g
Cleat Type SPD-SL Speedplay Cleats SPD-SL Look Keo Look Keo
Platform Dimensions 70mm x 90mm - 2.75 x 3.5 40mm x 40mm 68mm x 90mm, 2.7 x 3.5 64mm x 83mm, 2.5in x 3.25in 60mm x 85mm - 2.375 x 3.375
Stack Height 15.8mm 11.5mm 16.5mm 17.3mm 17.8mm
Q-factor 53mm or 57mm 53mm 53mm 53mm 53mm
Total width from Crank Arm 87mm 73mm 87mm 86mm 84mm
Entry 1 sided 2 sided 1 sided 1 sided 1 sided
Adjustable Tension Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Bearings Sealed cartridge Triple sealed cartridge and Needle Sealed cartridge Sealed cartridge Sealed cartridge
Body Material Carbon Composite with Steel Plates Grivory Carbon Composite with Steel Plates Plastic Composite Plastic Composite
Pedal Wrench Type 8mm Allen Key 8mm Allen Key 8mm Allen Key 8mm Allen Key 8mm Allen Key


Best Overall Road Bike Pedal


Shimano Ultegra PD-R8000 SPD-SL


83
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Entry 8.0
  • Ease of Exit 8.0
  • Adjustability 8.0
  • Weight 9.1
  • Platform 8.0
  • Build Quality 9.0
Weight: 320 grams | Stack Height: 16mm
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight
Carbon and steel construction
Buttery smooth bearings
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
Average stack height

The Shimano Ultegra PD-R8000 SPD-SL is the newest in a classic line of top-notch pedals, and it's classic for a reason. Pedal aficionados have been using Shimano's Ultegra level pedals for years because of their lightweight, smooth, durable sealed bearings and large platforms. While Shimano has a few similar pedals in their lineup, we have found the Ultegra PD-R8000s to be the best compromise of price and features. They use a combination of carbon and stainless steel construction to be durable while staying light, have easily adjustable release tension, and come in multiple Q-factors so you can pick the best position for your knees. Entry and exit are predictable and smooth whether your cleats are new or a bit worn, and they rest in a position that makes it easy to clip in at any time.

In terms of price, these pedals are one of the most expensive options on the market. The combination of durability and features makes them worth it, but know that not everyone will agree. Some other options in our lineup have a better stack height, and their one-sided entry makes them harder to get into than the dual-sided pedals we tested. If a lighter weight is not a key factor in your decision-making, these might not be the ones for you. Ditto if you need the lowest stack height or want a dual entry to get off the line quickly. Even with these drawbacks, we think they're the best option for most road cyclists, earning them the top spot in our review. If you love Shimano products and want to spend less, check out the Shimano PD-RS500 SPD-SLs.

road bike pedals - the ultegra pedals area a classic for a reason, and this new one...
The Ultegra pedals area a classic for a reason, and this new one continues in the wake of the olds
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Best Bang for the Buck


Look Keo Classic 3


75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Entry 8.0
  • Ease of Exit 8.0
  • Adjustability 7.0
  • Weight 7.1
  • Platform 7.0
  • Build Quality 7.0
Weight: 348 grams | Stack Height: 17.8mm
REASONS TO BUY
Time-tested design
Smooth bearings
Adjustable tension
REASONS TO AVOID
All plastic body
Less durable cleats
Big stack height

When Look, the company that brought us the first widely used clipless pedals in 1984, calls a pedal “Classic,” you should take notice. And that's how we feel about the Look Keo Classic 3. It's the budget pedal in Look's lineup, but we are very impressed with how it performs day in and day out. It's got a nicely sized platform, customizable release points, and tension, and it comes in three different colors to match your bike as best as possible. In our experience, they performed just as well as their more expensive siblings at a fraction of the cost.

We found these pedals very impressive, but they're far from perfect. Their all-plastic bodies are less durable than others, the cleats wear out fairly quickly, and the stack height is quite high. Their cleats don't adjust as widely as others, nor does their release tension, and we wish their platform was just a little bigger when it comes to distributing force through your foot. Still, the Look Keo Classic 3 are quite impressive if you're shopping for an inexpensive way to get into the clipless market or just want a good set at a very good price. If you're searching for a bare-bones, entry-level clipless pedal, look to the Zeray Carbon.

road bike pedals - this pedal is just very good, even without considering the low cost...
This pedal is just very good, even without considering the low cost. It's durable, smooth, adjustable, and hangs just right every time. We were very impressed
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Best for Adjustability and Stack Height


Wahoo Fitness Speedplay Comp


81
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Entry 9.0
  • Ease of Exit 9.0
  • Adjustability 9.0
  • Weight 5.3
  • Platform 7.0
  • Build Quality 8.0
Weight: 374 grams | Stack Height: 11.5mm
REASONS TO BUY
Incredibly adjustable
Double-sided entry
Ridiculously low stack height
REASONS TO AVOID
A bit heavy
Small pedal platform
Very expensive cleats

The Wahoo Fitness Speedplay Comp is a cult favorite pedal design that is truly unique in many ways. With a completely adjustable float, an incredibly low stack height, and double-sided entry, these pedals are just different from just about everything else on the market. What really sets them apart, to us, is the way that you can tune the release point to be exactly where you want it to be, unique amongst pedals we've tested. The cleats are also adjustable fore and aft, left and right, and even rotationally, which is fairly rare. If you've had trouble getting clip-in pedals set up correctly, you could be in luck here.

All of these things come with some drawbacks, though. The cleats are very expensive, and the set provided with the least expensive “Comp” version that we reviewed has the easy tension cleat, meaning you have to spend a significant amount of money to increase release tension. The cleats also fill with dirt and debris easily, making clipping in difficult if you walk anywhere unclean. The adjustability does come with the drawback of needing to be adjusted just right, too, giving too much freedom for some people — this isn't a “plug and play” pedal system. Lastly, the platform is a bit small. The large cleat helps make up for this, but in some less stiff shoes, you may feel the pedals' impressions in your feet on really long rides. We think these pedals are best for people seeking the ultimate in low stack height or adjustability. If you've had trouble getting things set up right in the past, these could be the best pair for you. The weight of the Wahoos can be a bit alarming to ounce-counters. If you're trying to keep your grams slammed, the Time Xpresso 2 is about as light as they get.

road bike pedals - it&#039;s unique and bold, but the speedplay style has a cult following...
It's unique and bold, but the Speedplay style has a cult following for a reason. We love their incredible adjustability
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Best for A Really Big Platform


Time Xpresso 2


75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Entry 7.0
  • Ease of Exit 8.0
  • Adjustability 5.0
  • Weight 9.5
  • Platform 9.0
  • Build Quality 8.0
Weight: 315 grams | Stack Height: 13.5mm
REASONS TO BUY
Huge, confidence-inspiring platform
Low stack height
Surprisingly light
REASONS TO AVOID
Sharp edges on pedal
Limited adjustability
All plastic construction

We were very surprised by how excellent the Time Xpresso 2 pedals were, a dark horse in this competition. None of our testers had used Time pedals before and walked away very impressed by this unique pedal. They have a huge platform, low stack height, and adjustable release tension at a very affordable price. The clip-in process is smooth and secure, and the cleats are quite durable, too. Their size belies their lightness, as they're one of the largest and somehow lightest pedals we've tested.

We don't love how sharp their edges are, leading to a couple of skinned shins during our testing process. Also, the cleats aren't very adjustable, with very limited rotational and lateral adjustability, though the fore-aft is quite easy. And though the release tension is adjustable, it moves in three distinct settings, which is fewer than some others we've tested. The release is also a little strange, as it's all or nothing. There isn't a spring tension build-up like you have in other cleats, so it took some getting used to. Considering everything, we think these pedals are an excellent choice if you're looking for a large platform and great, smooth bearings at a very good price. Still, the shape of these platforms isn't for everyone. If you want a decent-sized platform in a more traditional shape, we recommend the Look Keo 2 Max.

road bike pedals - the unique carbon leaf spring design in this pedal is excellent, we...
The unique carbon leaf spring design in this pedal is excellent, we just disliked its sharp edges
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
83
Shimano Ultegra PD-R8000 SPD-SL
Best Overall Road Bike Pedal
$200
Editors' Choice Award
81
Wahoo Fitness Speedplay Comp
Best for Adjustability and Stack Height
$150
Top Pick Award
80
Shimano 105 PD-R7000 SPD-SL
$150
79
Look Keo 2 Max
$115
75
Look Keo Classic 3
Best Bang for the Buck
$65
Best Buy Award
75
Time Xpresso 2
Best for A Really Big Platform
$69
Top Pick Award
71
Shimano PD-RS500 SPD-SL
$65
65
Zeray Carbon
$36

road bike pedals - so many pedals to test, so many miles to ride in this update
So many pedals to test, so many miles to ride in this update
Credit: Luke Hollomon

How We Test Road Bike Pedals


We've thrashed these pedals over the course of months to determine which are the absolute best for you. We tested these pedals in the wet, the dry, in races, and on commutes. They traveled from Oregon to Virginia this spring and were ridden all over both states. They also spent time in the heat of a California summer and were used on road, crit, trainer, and even gravel bikes. We sprinted, coasted, climbed, cornered, and descended on them, testing their stiffness and stack heights in every which way. Throughout all that, we carefully scrutinized their performance and ranked them based on our predetermined metrics. We considered how the edges and surfaces affected ease of entry, adjusted them with Allen wrenches and screwdrivers, assessed how their build held up in the field, and weighed each pedal, bolt and all. All you have to do is sit back, read, and find the best one for you.

We use six different metrics:
  • Ease of Entry (25% of overall score weighting)
  • Ease of Exit (20% weighting)
  • Adjustability (20% weighting)
  • Weight (15% weighting)
  • Platform (10% weighting)
  • Build Quailty (10% weighting)

Why You Should Trust Us


Author and lead tester Luke Hollomon is a physical therapist and physiologist by trade, so he knows how to analyze information and push things to the max. He's also a USA Cycling coach and has been riding and racing all over the country for over a dozen years. He knows how to push a set of pedals to the max, and that's exactly what he did with these, supported by the GearLab team. The team has decades of experience analyzing cycling gear to find what would be best for you.

We compared, assessed, weighed, measured, and rode every one of these pedals over and over.

Analysis and Test Results


Even though they're the main contact point we have with our bikes, we don't spend a lot of time thinking about our pedals. Probably because we don't look at them much, and it's a shame because they're so interesting and important. We recommend reassessing your pedals every couple of years just to make sure they're still the best ones for you. There are a lot of options out there now, and an upgrade or replacement can make a real difference in your riding experience.


Value


Price isn't a factor in how we rate the products we test, but we, like anyone, like a good value. Usually, price is correlated with performance or durability, but that's not always the case with pedals. The Time Xpresso 2, for example, present excellent performance at a very good price. Likewise, the Look Keo Classic 3 pedals cost half or one-third of some other ones we looked into. Higher up the pricing scale, the Shimano 105 PD-R7000 pedals perform almost as well as the Ultegra PD-R8000 set while coming in at a significantly lower cost.

road bike pedals - you can clearly see the differences between the lower level 105 and...
You can clearly see the differences between the lower level 105 and higher Ultegra pedals here. A thinner body, more metal contact points, and a better axle raise the price of the Ultegra set, but the 105s are still very good
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Ease of Entry


Stabbing your foot uselessly at your pedal over and over sucks. Problems clipping in are annoying at best and dangerous at worst. So, it was important for us to assess this effectively. We started by using them on a stationary trainer so we could learn how to efficiently get into the pedals without the stress of real-life situations. After that, we took them onto the road and practiced in the wet, the cold, the hot, and the dirty to see if any of those conditions interfered with our ability to get in. We also made sure to wear out our cleats so we could test them the way they'll actually be used.


Ease of entry doesn't just include the amount of force it takes to get your foot in. It's important that pedals hang correctly so you can pop right into them and that the platforms won't slice open your shins if you miss them. Dual-sided pedals, like the Wahoo Fitness Speedplay Comp, were easy to stomp into from any position. And while we love the Time Xpresso 2 pedals for many reasons, the sharp edges on the platform isn't one of them. Be careful, because they'll cut ya.

The weight distribution of the pedals was key, making sure they hung so that you could naturally swing your foot forward and into them. This is something that the Look Keo 2 Max did well with, while the Look Classic 3 pedals ended up upside down more than we liked. It's a game of little details here, but they definitely add up.

road bike pedals - the time expresso 2 pedals always hang perfectly to slide your foot...
The Time Expresso 2 pedals always hang perfectly to slide your foot in. It's a great design
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Ease of Exit


Another safety and comfort-related metric, ease of exit, is essential to your ability to ride your bike. Every new road cyclist has messed up an unclipping and ended up laying on their hip on the roadside, but that should only happen once. You need to be able to get your foot out reliably and quickly to make sure you're safe out there.

Road pedals present the additional challenge that they shouldn't be too easy to get out of. One of our testers is a pure sprinter on the road, with a maximum 10-second power of almost 1500 watts. He also likes a big gear in a sprint, pulling up as hard as he's pushing down. A shoe popping off a pedal unexpectedly in those conditions could lead to a disaster in the sprint, so they'd better stay securely fastened down.


The pedals we've tested approach this problem in many different ways. Some, like the Shimano pedals, have adjustable release tension, so you can program it exactly as you'd like. Others, like the Wahoo Speedplay set, feature an adjustable release point but not adjustable release tension. They're incredibly easy to fine-tune to exactly what you need. Meanwhile, the Look pedals all use cleats that come in three different release point settings, but the pedals themselves are not adjustable. And the Time Expresso 2 pedals aren't adjustable in this metric at all. We'll have more on overall adjustability below as well, as it's an important rating category for us.

The Shimano PD-RS500 pedals are the ultimate in easy exit — they're designed for beginners to clipless pedals and have a lower release tension than any others we tested. They're still adjustable but adjust to lower values than the other pedals we've reviewed. This is really nice if you're new to clipping in and are nervous about it, but the lack of available tension could be a problem for more powerful cyclists, as it's easy to accidentally pop out. We don't recommend them for anyone who will be sprinting, mashing up mountains, or racing, but they're a very good option for commuters, new cyclists, and fair-weather riders who want an easy way out of their pedals.

road bike pedals - that red area on the ultegra r8000 pedals shows the release tension...
That red area on the Ultegra R8000 pedals shows the release tension. It's a great visual display that's easy to use
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Adjustability


This is a category where road cycling pedals feature huge variation. You can adjust your pedals in very different ways, and the pedals that we've reviewed run the gamut of available types and ease of adjustment. You can move the cleat fore and aft, side to side, or even twist it a bit on the diagonal. Some pedals, like the Wahoo Speedplay set, feature fully adjustable float, while others, like the Look Keo 2 Max, change float in steps by changing cleats. Float, for those not already in the know, is the amount the cleat allows your foot to twist before unclipping. Some people like a lot of freedom here, some people just a bit.

When it comes to float, some people say that the adjustability of the Wahoo Speedplay pedals is excellent for people with knee pain, and this may be true, but it's also easy to mess up the settings, and they require a fair bit of fine-tuning no matter what. Meanwhile, the simplicity of the Shimano pedals lack of adjustable float can be nice since it's one less thing to fiddle with, but that's also restrictive for some. Most of our testers didn't mind the lack of exit adjustability featured by the Time Expresso 2 pedals, but some just couldn't make them work well for themselves.

If you've never wished for minute tweaks to your foot release position, you probably don't need it now. And if you've never had trouble yanking your foot out of the pedals too easily or not at all because it's too tight, again, you probably don't require adjustable release tension. It is a nice feature to have, though, as you can adapt the amount of tension based on your activity or as you improve as a cyclist. One of our testers dials up the tension for criterium racing, for example, while dialing it back down for training. To each their own here.


The area of adjustability we haven't really dug into yet is cleat-based. Most of these pedals use different cleats that feature different slot sizes, allowing more or less adjustability depending on the design. The Wahoo Speedplay pedals have good lateral adjustability via their cleats, but it's annoying to access, and the screws are easy to strip if you don't have exactly the right screwdriver. Meanwhile, the Time Xpresso 2 pedals don't have as much lateral adjustment, but what they do have is easily accessible. The Time pedals fall short on rotational adjustment due to the way they're designed. The cleats from Shimano and Look all handle this well, providing adequate medial/lateral and fore/aft adjustability while being easy to access and tweak.

Lastly, in this area, let's talk Q-factor. Q-factor is most simply described as how far out your knee is relative to your pelvis. For pedals, the best way to adjust Q-factor is via axle length. The axle tweaks how far the center of the pedal is from the bike. While you can buy aftermarket adapters for this, we really like that the Shimano Ultegra PD-R8000 pedals come in two different Q-factors: the standard 53mm and a wider 57mm. Most people won't even need to think about this, but if it's something that has come up for you on a bike fit, it's nice to have the wider option.

road bike pedals - the three part cleat of the wahoo speedplay comp is hard to set up...
The three part cleat of the Wahoo Speedplay Comp is hard to set up (and photograph) but is the reason why it's so adjustable and wins that category
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Weight


Most pedals weigh more than you'd think. If you're a weight-weenie, you're probably looking to get your bike weight down to around 18lbs (~8kg), and your pedals can be a large part of that. The Shimano PD-RS500 set, for example, weigh 320 grams, over 11 ounces! That's most of a pound, and it doesn't include the weight of the cleats. Since pedals are rotational weight, their weight matters more than the weight of something like a saddle when it comes to acceleration, so it's something to keep in mind. We weighed all of the pedals independently of their cleats and then also combined the weights with the weight of the cleats and hardware so you'd know exactly what you're getting into.


The Wahoo Speedplay pedals only weigh 232 grams, the lightest pedals in the test, until you factor in their 142-gram cleats. That makes them one of the heavier sets that we tested. Leading the pack in this category, surprisingly, were the inexpensive Time Xpresso 2 pedals at just 315 grams all in. That's almost exactly 11 ounces. The Shimano Ultegra PD-R8000 comes in second place at just 320 grams, including the cleats, even though they have more metal contact points than the less expensive Shimano 105 PD-R7000 pair. Both sets of pedals have a carbon composite construction, so Shimano has found a smart way to shave weight on the pricier pair.

We believe the weight of your pedals is important but not a huge factor when all is said and done. Even so, it is a good differentiator of the details, and that's why we make sure to measure it independently and get the weights just right. Outside of the heavy Wahoo Speedplay and Shimano PD-S500 sets, all of the pedals we've reviewed are within about 25 grams (1 ounce) of each other, so they're fairly close.

road bike pedals - the pedal weights alone are interesting, but not the whole story...
The pedal weights alone are interesting, but not the whole story. The Speedplay Comp pedals are very light until you add on the cleats that are necessary to use them
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Platform


The pedal platform is an under-considered element of road pedals; it's more often seen on the mountain biking side of the ledger. But that doesn't mean it's not important. By platform, we're talking mostly about the size and feel of the pedal underfoot, with a little bit of the stack height thrown in. Even though you're clipped in, the pedal platform does matter. Smaller platforms can lead to foot hotspots or fatigue, and they're often harder to clip into. There's something confidence-inducing about having a large platform underfoot; it just feels nice.

Stack height is another important factor, which is even more important if you're a racer. Stack height is the total height from the bottom of the pedal to the bottom of your shoe. If you're turning corners tightly at speed, you want a low stack height pedal so you don't risk clipping your pedal on the ground. Q-factor can play into this as well, so keep that in mind if it's an option for you based on your bike fit. Most people will never have a pedal strike, or very rarely if they're turning an off-camber corner tightly and fast. But people who race criteriums or down mountain passes should take it under consideration.


In the platform world, there's a lot of variation. The Wahoo Speedplay pedals have famously low stack height, and our measurements bore that out. Their overall rating is complicated by having such a small pedal platform. The very large cleat makes up for that somewhat, but some of our testers found that the pedal gave them foot pain on very long rides as the contact of the pedal on your shoe is quite focal. One tester even had a small bruise over the ball of their foot after a really big ride when they were new to the pedals. That's not to say they're not good for long distances — far from it. Professionals use them, and they definitely go the distance. But they are a set that can take some getting used to.

The Wahoo Speedplay isn't the only pair that deserves a call-out, though. The Time Expresso 2 had the most impressive platform and maintained an exceptionally low stack height. They are very confident underfoot and just feel nice. You can also go deep into a corner without worrying about getting thrown out of it. The Shimano Ultegra PD-8000 are also good contenders here, with large, confidence-inducing platforms and a pretty good stack height, about 1mm lower than their little brother, the Shimano 105 PD-R7000. Across the Look line, the Keo 2 Max are the lowest and largest, though still higher and smaller than Shimano or Time, and the Keo Classic 3 are the smallest and highest in the bundle from our recent test.

road bike pedals - these road pedals have a unique design.
These road pedals have a unique design.
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Build Quality


This category is a summation of our perspective on durability, bearing quality, and platform and axle design. We didn't put enough miles on any of these pedals to wear them out completely, but we did induce some wear over the months that we used them and started to see which pedals would break down over time. We also assessed bearing smoothness by hand and looked at cleat wear to see which took a beating out on the road.


Most pedals performed pretty similarly in this category, with small differences throughout. The Shimano Ultegra PD-R8000 pulled slightly ahead with its increased use of metal on the platform's contact points and very smooth, sealed, durable bearings. Shimano's pedals are famous for lasting a very long time, and we saw very little wear in the time that we used them. We had some hopes for the Zeray Carbon pedals as a cheap alternative to Look's design, but they were bad right out of the box. The bearings were crunchy, and the plastic they're made from scratch very easily. Amongst the other pedals we've tested, there were no clear standouts on either end of the scale; some were just slightly better than others.

road bike pedals - at the end of the day, pedals are designed to empower you to get out...
At the end of the day, pedals are designed to empower you to get out and ride, so do it, okay?
Credit: Luke Hollomon

Conclusion


The decision-making process that goes into choosing the best pedals for you is often truncated and not as deeply analyzed as items like the wheels of shoes, but we believe it deserves more thought and laid out our testing results here. After over six months of using, abusing, measuring, and weathering these pedals, our experts were able to find some significant differences. We think you'd be happy with quite a few of the pedals we assessed in this review, with our Editors' Choice award going to the Shimano Ultegra PD R-8000 as they were the best pair overall. When it's time to change, add, or upgrade your main contact point with the bike, assess what's most important to you and pick the set that's just right. We'll be your guide to every detail.

Luke Hollomon