Do cheap pedals on a trainer make a difference

On my road bike, i use Assioma’s, and on my tacx bike I am using the cheapest Look Keo pedals I could find (as weight doesn’t matter). Cost was around £20 from memory and they are very rigid and plastic.

If I was to upgrade these to carbon equilviant, is there any better ‘feeling’. Compared to the cheaper versions? Or would I just be paying for a weight decrease I wouldn’t notice?

Hypothetically it depends on your trainer setup and how much power you’re producing on a ride, but practically speaking its unlikely that you’ll notice. of course there is always a factor of what will make you feel good and happy to be riding the trainer, and for some people that’s worth a lot of money for however small a perceived change.

It’s possible there is a change in qfactor or stack height that you could notice even between two different Keo pedals, but somewhat unlikely if you are already using two slightly different pedals.

I’ve got a bike fit this afternoon and the different in pedals was somthing i was going to raise, i find on the trainer i get a slight pain on the outside of my foot that I dont get on the road. Assumed it was likely Q factor or something.
Thanks :slight_smile:

probably Q factor, also be very wary of plastic pedals, they wear a lot quicker than metal/carbon.

I developed a long standing injury from using worn pedals, my foot was able to rock way more than it should have been able to.

Function wise… No.

I have used a pair of Shimano M520 SPDs for years on the trainer. $50 and work fine. Once I’m clipped in I don’t notice.

Even out in the wild better pedals hardly make a difference.

Fit will be the only real difference. Stack height, q-factor, etc. I’m not overly concerned about the millimeters of difference between different bikes/pedals but others may be.


Related, I’ve ridden and raced on the road for 4 seasons with the same set of $20 spd pedals. Problem?


Maybe in terms of comfort & since it’s a contact point I’d encourage you to spend a little extra to get something that feels comfortable.

But in terms of performance, there is no difference on the trainer & in fact I’ll go one step further: no pedal I’ve ever tested makes a material performance difference in any capacity. Also, no crankset. Fit can make a difference (pedal placement, crank arm length, etc) but just the nature of the pedal doesn’t matter.

I have some data from Jason somewhere comparing pedals. I don’t think the biggest difference amounted to even a watt.

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On a trainer, no as long as fit is good for you.

But in the spirit of marginal gains, on my XC Race Bike I did cut out 3/4 of a pound between pedals and shoes. I’ll take all the help I can get there.

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Q-Factor: See the Specs section for each

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I swap between look keo’s and faveros very often and don’t notice any difference.

But I suppose the faveros aren’t actually amazing pedals either?

I’ve never been tempted by expensive carbon pedals - really don’t know what they could possibly add? Which is weird - because I’m usually a sucker for spending money on bike parts that make so difference whatsoever?

No, no difference. Save some $$. The blade pedals use a slightly bigger platform, but that won’t translate into anything given the plastic cleat. The cheaper pedal uses less metal in the contact area, so you’ll probably have more traction getting on/off bike, but the float might be slightly less free.

SPD or SPD-SLs? SPDs (I.e. The MTB version) appear to be pretty much bulletproof in even the cheapest model. SPD-SL I’ve had the cheaper plastic models fall apart fairly quickly but have an ultegra set that must be nearly 20 years old with many 10s of thousands of miles on them and still work perfectly.

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I have a set of these on my gravel bike I’ve been using continuously on one bike or another for 12 years. They’ve been crashed, smashed, left out in the rain, ridden through streams, etc. An occasional bit of lube on the pivot points and they keep on going. Cheap SPD pedals FTW!


Yep. I’ve had anotber set for a decade+ as well that have lived on my commuter bike or my bike polo bike the whole time. The sides are shredded beyond recognition, they’re rusty, but they just keep going.

I “treat” my nicer bikes to nicer pedals but it’s pretty much vanity and saving a few meaningless grams. In a blind test I couldn’t tell the difference between the M520s and the XTs I have. I probably wouldn’t even notice a difference between those and my Leo Carbon Blades either other than when clipping in and out.

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Just the regular cheap shimano spds. I think they actually are 520s? My only issue is they get squeaky sometimes.

Me too. I use Look Keo Classics that are easily 15 years old on my trainer bike and Assiomas outside.

No issues swapping and no fit issues swapping in between bikes (they have the same geometry though)

I would say yes/no, but to a point. I’d put 105-level/equivalent pedals on it. Often cheaper pedals have cheaper bearings and a less robust construction. 105 pedals are indestructible and need no maintenance in my experience (Shimano pedals just keep working).

I used cheapest possible look pedals whole winter in indoors rides. I got them while i needed new cleats and individual cleats w/o pedals was not available.

Sure they weight more and had higher Q factor. So now when changed to outdoors and look with lower Q factor i felt i had to drop the saddle few mm.

I do/did not “feel” really any difference. Except on sprinting when the the pedals with carbon spring is just much tighter but i think this is more to do with cheap keos release adjustment screw position that i have not bothered to tune due lack of full sprints indoors.

I think bigger difference is the actual cleat type and the shoes. The difference between top of the class and cheap ones might be in aerodynamics, robustness and longevity on top of the weight.

There is no difference but if you’re really curious why don’t you put the Assioma’s on your tacx bike and test ride it.

I’ve had rental bikes before with worn & lower end shimano SPD-SL pedals that felt really loose and had way more float feel than my own newish Ultegra ones.

It makes a massive difference, on long rides and when you’re stuck in the saddle grinding up a mountain or something especially. Would never not use my own pedals again.