The Best Pedals for Gravel Riding

Do you have a new BACKROAD? The only thing you're missing now is the perfect set of pedals. Because you can’t do without it! There are many different types of bike pedals – ranging from clipless pedals to flats. We'll help you find the right pedal system for your needs.

Gravel Bike Pedals

What is important to you when gravel riding?

When looking for the right pedals, you should consider where you’ll be riding your gravel bike and whether maximum freedom of movement or efficient power transfer is more important to you. Do you prefer to ride on technical off-road terrain or long gravel sections? The different types of pedals perform differently on different terrain and have various pros and cons.

Gravel Offrad Gravel Road

Clipless Pedals

If you choose clipless pedals, you want to have your feet firmly attached to the pedals for more efficient power transfer and maximum performance, because you can additionally pull with your legs. The attachment are called cleats. They are mounted to your clipless cycling shoes and allow you to clip in on your bike pedals.

In this way, your feet are kept secure in an optimal position when going on adventurous off-road tracks or riding fast over gravel roads. This prevents your feet from slipping off the pedals and at the same time ensures an ergonomic foot position, as you can individually adjust the position of the cleats as well as the float. Please note, however, that not all pedals have release spring tension adjustment which allows you to adjust the cleat tension and thus change the clip in/out action.

What are the types of clipless pedals?

There are two main types of clipless bike pedals: MTB pedals and road bike pedals. There are various manufacturers such as CRANK BROTHERS, LOOK, Ritchey, ROSE, SHIMANO, TIME and XTREME. Before purchasing a clipless pedal system, make sure it is compatible with the cleats on your MTB shoes or road shoes. In our shop you can choose between clipless pedals for road cycling and clipless pedals for mountain biking or bike touring. Among MTB/bike touring clipless pedals, there are also so-called dual-sided pedals.  

What is a dual-sided pedal?

A dual-purpose bike pedal – also called hybrid pedal – has a clipless system on one side and a platform on the other. This means that one side of the pedal has a flat pedal, and the other has a clipless mechanism. This type of pedal is a great option when you don’t want to be tied down to one pedal system or if you want to benefit from the advantages of both a clipless system and a platform pedal. It allows you to widen the range of use of your bike, as you can use it with standard shoes as well as with mountain bike shoes. However, if you are a very performance-driven cyclist, a dual-sided pedal could easily bother you when you have to search for the right pedal side in challenging situations when gravel riding.

Dual-sided pedal

MTB/Touring Clipless Pedals

MTB/Touring clipless pedals have been developed for riding in dusty, dirty conditions, e.g. when mountain biking or gravel riding, and are especially designed for off-road riding. The cleats of this clipless mechanism are recessed with the sole of the MTB shoe, allowing you to walk comfortably when you have to get off your bike. Unlike road bike clipless pedals, MTB clipless pedals often feature cleats made of steel with a spring release tension adjusted to unexpected situations that require quick reactions and easy unclipping. The shoe can be released from the pedal with left and right movement and upwards motion.

MTB/Touring Clipless Pedals

Road Bike Clipless Pedals

Road bike clipless pedals are not necessarily suitable for riding in muddy off-road conditions, but are rather used on paved, flat surfaces. The cleats are exposed on the sole of your road bike shoe and have a larger contact area, giving you a more secure hold on the pedal to achieve maximum power transfer when pedalling. In addition, the larger contact area between shoe and helps guide your foot on to the pedal. However, with the cleats exposed, road bike clipless pedals are not practical for longer sections where you have to push your bike. 

Road Bike Clipless Pedals

MTB Platform Pedals

Flat pedals are a great option when you don’t want to have your feet firmly attached to the pedal. This may have several reasons. Do you want to ride your gravel bike comfortably with your casual everyday shoes or do you simply feel more comfortable without clipless pedals? Platform pedals have a very large contact area with mostly small pins that reduce the risk of slipping off the pedal and provide grip even when riding without clipless pedals. When using flat pedals you benefit from maximum freedom of movement, but you also lose power transfer.

The different types of pedals are suitable for gravel bikes, but also for mountain bikes or hybrid bikes. In the end, it all depends on your type of riding and on the type of shoes you prefer.