An often-overlooked aspect of bicycles is the pedal. The right one is essential to make sure the rider will experience a relatively streamlined and smooth experience. For example, the recommended pedal will differ if you will be biking through the road or the uneven terrain of mountains/off-road. There are two particular types of this essential bike part that you will come across – the clipless and flat platform.
Each of these variations provide particular advantages and learning their differences will be crucial in your biking experience. If you are just a beginner mountain biker and is unsure how to approach picking the right pedal, we have you covered.
We will be going through all the factors that you will need to consider when buying the proper bike pedal. Read on below to know more.
Importance of Having the Correct Pedal for your Mountain Bike
As we have stated earlier, the right pedal is an essential factor in bikes, especially with mountain bikes. Mountain bikes are designed to traverse rough terrain, so having the correct configuration of bike parts is crucial if the rider wishes to conquer a particularly tricky off-road track effectively.
Clipless and Platform
According to mymixify.com, there are two primary types of bike pedals that you can use. Each has its specific strengths and weaknesses which we will be discussing down below.
The clipless pedal provides the rider with top-notch control as it is designed to snap securely to a specialized bicycle shoe. Rather than using straps, this type features a unique type of cleat that can lock onto the bike shoes. Detaching the shoe is equally easy as the rider need only to twist their feet to the side for the cleats to release.
Of course, this type might feel awkward for beginners and will take some time to get used to for some riders. The advantage that clipless variation provide is with its excellent handling. As you will be going through rough terrain, having your shoes secured to the bike will considerably help in maneuvering tricky routes. It will also ensure that your feet won’t slip off whenever you do bunny hops.
Also, clipless pedals are significantly smaller and lightweight. Thus, making traversal through rocky terrain relatively more comfortable with the added sense of control. That being said, if you are to choose clipless variants, make sure that your cleats are compatible before making a purchasing. One of the most common brands that manufacture clipless versions is SPD. You should check them out first, especially if you plan on customizing your rig a lot in the future.
The platform pedal is typically the default one that you will find installed in most mountain bikes. Because of this, you can consider this version as the entry-level option. Platforms are usually made from either metal or sturdy plastic.
Unlike the clipless pedal, the platform does not require riders to use specialized cleats/shoes. This type of can be used for any shoes that you prefer. One of the main advantages here is that the rider can quickly bail out if needed. This is necessary for beginners trying out new tricks or for downhill riders.
Another advantage attributed to using the platform version is that it is designed for beginners and is quite affordable as well. With its lightweight and sturdy construction, it has definitely come a long way. Modern entries into this type also include a tweak with its surface design to provide enhanced grip for added control.
What’s impressive about platform pedals is how it continuously re-invents the wheel time and time again. You may not even recognize it from its predecessors from a decade ago. Overall, the platform variation will provide the basic needs in regards to the typical type of terrain mountain bikes will navigate through.
Also, there is another type that is recently making the rounds in the market. These are called the combo or hybrid variants.
Combo or Hybrid
This one is relatively new in the industry and provides a blend of both pedal types into one. Combo or hybrid models can be distinguished by its broad base and the addition of a clip mechanism. There are two variations of the hybrid models in the market: the first one is the standard platform and side clip design while the other one integrates the clip into the platform itself.
If there is one aspect of the hybrid pedal that we consider as its weakness, it is with its added weight. Some riders even find using combo models to be quite cumbersome. Still, this is a step in the right direction and will surely hit its potential with a few more tweaks. Even with its current iteration, the hybrid can offer a particular advantage that riders should certainly check out.
Which Type of Pedal is the Best for Mountain Bikes?
Truth be told, either one can be the best suited for your mountain biking. It all depends on how and where you will be riding. There are times when the ability to bail out at any moment is crucial, which makes it sound as if the clipless model may be more of a hazard. Then again, there is an equal number of situations wherein having your feet clipped can provide better safety.
Here’s the best way to approach this little conundrum we have with mountain bike pedals, if you are a beginner or someone learning new tricks, I highly recommend you stay with the platform type. One of the most basic bike techniques, the bunny hop, is an excellent example of why you should start with using the platform models first.
If you try to bunny hop with a clipless model, you will find it to be considerably easier to perform. However, the chances are that you won’t be learning the proper form of executing this trick. A proper bunny hop requires sudden burst and sweeping movement to propel your bike up to the air. This can only be adequately learned with a platform pedal.
Overall, the clipless pedal will suit your needs if speed and control is your primary goal when riding. If you are freestyling, you might want to stick with platform pedals as it can help you sharpen your array of tricks and maintain your skill.