Picture this: you’re out on the trail, the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and beneath you, your trusty e-bike, humming along quietly as it carries you across the land. You love the smooth, assisted ride that the electric motor provides. Still, there’s another crucial component you may not have considered: your pedals.
Pedals are your direct point of contact with an e-bike’s powertrain. They can make a big difference in your riding experience. Pedals with a large platform and grip will provide more confidence on your ride.
In this article, I will delve into the world of pedals, unearthing the best options for your e-bike and demonstrating how the right choice can transform your ride from good to fabulous. Ready to step up your e-bike game? Let’s pedal on.
Ride eMTB Recommendation: One of the first things I bought for my eBike was a larger flat pedal with pins to grip my shoes. What do I roll with? 👉 ROCKBROS MTB Pedals Mountain Bike Pedals
There are probably more types and brands of pedals than there are bikes. That is, I felt this way the last time I researched pedals. Despite the variety, a few types are predominantly better than others, but it depends on your preferences.
The plethora of pedals on the market fall into one of four general categories: clipless, flat, hybrid, and metered. Here’s the down-low on each.
Clipless pedals are bike pedals that have a cleat-locking system that works with special biking shoes. Predominant in the road bike circuit, clipless pedals let you attach special shoes directly to the pedal. You might think, ‘Why would I want to lock my feet in place?’. Well, consider the power you could add to your pedaling if you could help the leg push down by adding upward force to the other leg. That’s the concept behind clipless (where you clip in, I know, it’s an ironic name).
Clipless pedals are typically lighter than flat pedals and have a smaller profile for aerodynamics. As mentioned, they are popular with the road bike crowd. Still, I have also witnessed many serious mountain bike riders using them. I like them a lot, but you do need to purchase special shoes to work with them, so they aren’t for everyone.
Flat pedals are the oldest type of bike pedal and the most common. You can use (almost) any shoes with them, save for the high-heeled variety that ladies tend to wear).
What I like about hybrid pedals is that they are usable as both flat pedals and clipless. So, they are great if you want to get into clipless but don’t always want to wear special shoes.
Hybrid pedals look like flat pedals, but they have a built-in cleat-locking device in the middle. They are heavier than flat and clipless, but due to the features, most people don’t seem to mind the added weight.
A relatively new invention is the metered pedal. These pedals are very interesting because many will work with specific smartphone apps. They have sensors that measure your pedaling power and deliver answers to your device.
As mentioned earlier, clipless pedals enable you to ‘clip-in’ your specially-cleated bike shoes. This system provides the best efficiency of the pedal types. Here are a few other noteworthy benefits:
Power Transfer – The cleats lock your feet in the perfect position. It means that you can both push the pedals down and pull the pedals up on the other side of the rotation. In other words, you can add extra power with the leg on the ‘up-side’ of the revolution of your crankset.
Control – There’s nothing like the feeling of being locked into your pedals. It helps make the bike feel like an extension of your body. It provides the most authentic feel to the ride, which gives you greater control over the bike.
Safety – You might think it odd, but clipless pedals are safer in some situations. Consider riding, and your foot slips off the pedal – it’s happened to the best of us. Your foot slams to the ground, and if you’re unlucky, the pedal jambs against your shin, giving you a nice sting of pain and a scrape. Add tread knobs to the pedal like most flat pedals, and you could clean up the blood from scraping your shin open.
Comfort – Most clipless pedals and shoe/cleat combinations are somewhat adjustable. You can move the cleat slightly on the shoe to make it mesh with the pedal in a more suitable and comfortable position.
The problem with clipless pedals is that you can’t walk on them long. The added cleats stick out from the base of shoes, and if they are made of plastic, as many are, they wear down quickly when you walk on them, so you have to attempt not to walk on them much.
Most electric bicycles come with flat pedals from the manufacturer. In fact, I’m hard-pressed to find one with another type of pedal. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t upgrade to a better version; here’s why you might want to consider an upgrade:
Grip – Most ‘stock’ pedals on e-bikes are flat and straightforward. However, some may not have a decent grip to mesh with your shoe’s soles. So, upgrading to a better-quality flat pedal is a good idea.
Weight – Most pedals that come with e-bikes are generic and heavy. Upgrading to a lighter aluminum or composite pedal can make quite a difference in weight.
Style – Many people choose pedals due to style. The fancy anodized blues, reds, and other colored pedals can stand out, making a bike look sharp. I must admit, I might have purchased pedals because of how cool they looked, even if I’m too embarrassed to admit it. Oh wait, I just did!
As mentioned, hybrid pedals are a combination of clipless and flat. I like to think of them as transitory pedals because they allow you to switch between regular and cleated bike shoes. This marriage of systems means that you aren’t locking yourself into one type or another but allowing yourself the flexibility of choice.
Probably one of the coolest things to come out of the marriage of technology and bikes is the advent of the metered pedal. These pedals have sensors and usually work via Bluetooth with your smartphone. Most have accompanying apps you can download and install to your phone.
When you go for a ride, the pedals sense how much torque you use and send a signal to your phone. This feature lets you track the power you use, which makes calculating calorie use much more precise and scientifically accurate than the bold assumptions we make without such sensors working for us.
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With so many brands on the market, choosing good pedals for your electric bicycle can be challenging, even downright frustrating. So, I’ve checked out a bunch and thought I’d throw my hat into the ring here. Here’s what I found when testing different types. To save you time, I’m only going to show the ones I recommend, not the ones I don’t.
My favorite choice is the MTB clipless double-sided—easy and quick clip-in.
Shimano SPD Pedals 👈 I Use These if I Want to Ride Aggressively
These pedals are like the industry standard. Double-sided, you don’t have to worry about ensuring they are right-side-up. The pedals shed mud better than others and easily clip in and out.
Look Pedals 👈 Serious Roadie? Check Them Out with Amazon Link
The look has been a mover and shaker in the road pedal world since the 1980s. They are lightweight, strong, and reliable. The downside is that you can only clip in with the pedals oriented right-side-up. In other words, if they are upside down, you’ll need to flip them over quickly to get clipped in.
Rockbros Aluminum Flats 👈 My Favorite for eBiking Shortcut Link to Amazon
Rockbros is a brand I’ve trusted for my MTB for years. They make a decent, lightweight aluminum alloy and composite pedals with built-in micro cleats to give you a great grip. The sealed bearings are also a nice touch- helping protect your bearings from sand, mud, dirt, and water.
SHIMANO XTR PD-M9120 👈 (Link to Amazon for More Info)
Having a clipless pedal and shoes can hurt your foot for longer rides. At least, that’s what I found when I did a half-day ride – I felt it in my foot’s arches because the cleats were under the ball of my foot and did not provide my arch with any support. However, introduce a hybrid clipless flat pedal; now you have the support for longer rides and the control of being clipped in. Furthermore, there’s never a concern about jumping on your bike for a quick ride in your standard running shoes.
The downside is that you get the extra benefits at the cost of weight. Hybrid pedals are typically considerably heavier than the road, MTB clipless, or quality flats. However, you make up for what you lose from the weight with features, so many, like the hybrid, aka enduro pedal.
Favero Assioma Uno 👈 (Link to Amazon to Check Prices)
Okay, who doesn’t want to have their bike talk on their phone? Pretty cool, right? I’ve used exercise and health apps for a while now, but adding a cool metered pedal so I can know more precisely how many calories I’m burning is a very neat feature. Although to be honest, I found that I didn’t bother checking after the first few rides. It’s not like my leg suddenly became stronger overnight. So, the novelty wore off for me, but they are still a neat addition to your e-biking experience.
The downside to these metered pedals is that they are higher priced. In actuality, you can expect to pay ten times what you would for a regular clipless or flat pedal. So, if your wallet is busting at the seams, you won’t mind these, but if you don’t have a wad of cash to burn, you might want to consider tracking your workout differently.
One More Crank on the Pedals
Choosing the right pedals for your e-bike is key to a great riding experience. There are different types to consider. Clipless pedals, used by road bikers, allow you to lock in special shoes for added power. Flat pedals are the most common and work with almost any shoes.
Hybrid pedals are a versatile option, combining flat and clipless features. And there are also power meter pedals, which measure your pedaling power and connect to smartphone apps. So, finding the right pedals for you will take your e-bike game to the next level.