Clipless pedals newbie

Hi everyone,

I’m new to cycling. I bought a bike last September and haven’t stopped riding, I love it! The next upgrade I’m saving for is new pedals and shoes. Decided I want to get MTB pedals, but not sure which ones. Does having a bigger surface area on the pedal help with comfort/minimise hot spots during long rides? Initially I looked at the Look X-Track En-Rage pedals and others that were similar e.g. HT TI Enduro. Or is this not something to worry about and I should just get good old Shimano M520s? The Shimano pedals have good reviews and the general consensus is they’re very reliable. Also, does shoe material affect comfort? Would it be better to have a carbon sole or rubber?

Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m pleased with M520’s and plastic soled Giro Cylinder shoes. No hotspots at all. Around 300 W FTP and 1200-1300 W sprint.
Consider starting with SH-56 cleats if you’re afraid of falling over clipped in. Switch to SH-51 when you become afraid of getting accidentally un-clipped at speed.

I assume you’re road bike riding. You don’t say specifically.

I do recommend going with a road pedal vs mtn pedal. Yeah it’s a little harder to get used to at first but long term you’re gonna have a bigger platform and less hotspots vs a mtb pedal. Dual sided and walkability are other reasons for getting a mtb pedal, but are overrated in my mind on a road bike.

Carbon soles are stiffer and offer better power transfer, so I recommend them. But plastic soles are great too.

Also you’re young in your cycling journey, so likely if it sticks you’ll upgrade all these at some point in the future too.

I’m riding a gravel bike - I enjoy on and off-road cycling, which is why I was thinking MTB pedals. Thanks for the tips :+1:t3:

Thanks for the advice :+1:t3:

I have the Look X-Track En-Rage pedals. They are solid and I have found the pedals are 1) easier to clip in and 2) give you a bit more power transfer and stability on it. The short answer is that they are great pedals and I’d highly recommend them.

As for going road vs mtb, I’d say give your purposes (and in light of my experiences as well), just go MTB rather than faff with road pedals. Road pedals are finicky and the cost of an exclusive shoe, specific pedals, and the downsides of being unable to walk anywhere out of the bike just aren’t worth it.

I say this after having started MTB then moved to road to be more “serious”. Went from SPD-SL to Speedplay to try and find something that worked. It never did work out and I kept regretting that I moved from MTB pedals. The Look en-rage pedals were bought after my 3rd time falling over due to being unable to get out of my speedplays even after doing everything possible to make them easier to deal with.

I do gush about the En-rage pedals because the platform on those is quite large and the power transfer feels pretty solid. Works with any mtb type shoes and, in a pinch, others since you now have a platform. (Edit: the platform is so large in fact, I honestly felt as though I could hammer down harder than I could with a speedplay or SPD-SL pedal. My feet are also quite large (size 12 USA) so it is quite noticeable how much extra platform you have)

Only other notable thing is that it does have a bit of height so you may need to raise your saddle a bit if using them.

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Just get M520 and the normal SH-51 cleats. There is no need to start with the multi-release ones, I think it just builds bad habits. Turn the tension down on the springs, so clipping out is easier. It is very intuitive and will come naturally quickly.

Considering you’re posting on here, I assume you do ride indoors? If you’re nervous about it, just put your bike with the new pedals on the trainer, and practise clipping in and out - no risk of falling off. Then, practise riding on the grass and coming to a stop and starting, you’ll soon feel comfortable.

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We tend to make things bigger then they are. I have a pair of second hand shoes that I got from a friend when I started cycling 2 years ago. Although I could buy a new pair, there was no single moment I was hindered by my shoes. ‘Hotspots’ - lol! I am always wondering how much watt you push out before you start talking about hotspots.

Considering things and thinking things through makes it more interesting. But if you have to save money for buying shoes I would pick a cheap pair of rb shoes and not over do it. Better buy a more useful item such as for instance navigation device - but thats my view.

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Hey Jess212!

I’ve just got myself onto clipless as well having ridden flats (MTB) for the past couple of years.

But since I got onto the trainer and trainer road, I’ve since started to use crank brothers candy pedals with the easy release cleats and that has been a great transition. I also use this same combination on the road and on my gravel bike without any issues. Basically having the same system throughout makes it much easier to manage!

If you’re worried about the surface area, at the start when I was transitioning, at super tech areas I would actually ride unclipped and was well sufficient. Shoes I’ve used with is were the Giro Privateers and FiveTen Kestrals Pros.

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This is more down to the shape of people’s feet, how well they fit in the shoes, how they handle the positioning and size of the pedal, and how and where force gets distributed by the foot/shoe/pedal combination. Some people are lucky and have what the industry has decided are “normal feet”, so they can find shoes that fit and pedals that line up properly without any trouble; some people are not.


Yes I ride indoors and was thinking of using the trainer to practice - falling off onto grass in your own backyard is less embarrassing! Thank you

This is great info, thank you! Just wondering, what shoes do you use?

Honestly, it’s easier than you think. Good luck!

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I use this one the Giro Empire but I got this on heavy heavy discount (something like 125 dollars).

Good shoe that is solid and I can walk in it. I do, however, miss having boa dials instead of shoe laces as boas are so much easier to adjust on the fly. I’d suggest getting like a CX shoe or something with boa dials if you can.

But, tbh, my cheap 50 dollar mtb shoes that I started with were more than enough (and are still kicking so I keep them around). As you move up the price you get things like a carbon sole and less weight. IMO, those are perks that are great to have but are better earned over time rather than going all out first. Plus, gives you time to learn whether you like a certain style of pedal or not.

As for the clipping in part, it becomes second nature after a while. Part of a cyclist’s rite of passage is to fall over once or twice because of a failure to clip in. MTB pedals are very forgiving in this respect compared with a road shoe.


I can add one thing, regarding my and others comment about sole stiffness and hotspots. I don’t have issues with plastic soles and SPD because my cleats are on the ball of the foot (as far forward as they go) - my feet and calves can take it. If i push the cleats toward mid-foot, I might want a stiffer sole to avoid the shoe flexing over the arch.

So, hotspots/comfort should be put in relation to where you place your cleats. If you get numb/strained toes or achilles/calf issues, your cleats are too far forward.

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Can’t go wrong with the M520s. Those things are dirt cheap and completely bomb proof. The only reason I stopped using mine (road bike only) was because I switched to powermeter pedals.

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