MTB/Gravel Pedals for Road Riding - How does it feel?

NB: I believe starting a new thread rather than asking this on another thread where I am discussing a gravel bike for road would be more appropriate.

Anyway, I’m considering getting some off-road power pedals - either the Garmin Rally XC or something similar to install on my bike. I want these pedals because I intend to ride off-road. However, I also want to use them for road cycling, fast-paced group rides, participating in crits, etc. Additionally, I want to be able to walk without damaging my cleats. It’s challenging to walk on surfaces like wooden floors and shop floors without causing damage.

My road cleats wear out quickly if I walk just a few steps on gravel. That being said, I’m not concerned about weight or other marginal gains. I want to be able to clip in and clip out like with road pedals. What has your experience been like?

Just do it and see?

Sounds like you already have a set of road pedals, so you can do back to back.

I thought I could feel a difference, then when I got into gravel, I realized it was the shoe, not the pedal that made the biggest difference for me. Shimano claims their shoe lugs match up w/ their SPD pedal bodies to form a bigger platform, I can’t tell if it does or not since I’ve never run anything other than SPD.

Plenty of people do it with no issues….you’ll likely never notice any power loss or similar performance related issues. You can also get SPD adapters and run road shoes with the MTB pedals if you want.

That said, if you really want to use them in crits, you have to be really careful in turns. The higher stack will cause pedal strikes at shallower lean angles than road pedals. This is especially true with the Garmin pedals which have an even higher stack height than SPD.

I would recommend looking into the new new Favero Assiamo MTB pedals if you decide to go this route.


You’re going to race a gravel bike in a crit?

It’s not impossible but it’s certainly going to be a major disadvantage unless you swap out the tires, at which point you might as well swap out the pedals back to road.

I use SPD 2-bolt (not the SPD-SL road) on all my bikes. It works fine. The pedal platform is a little bit less stable than a 3-bolt road pedal, but not by enough to make a difference for me.

For pedals, Favero just released off-road power pedals that cost a good bit less than the Garmins. I think they become available outside EU later this Spring?

Another option - use cleat covers on your road shoes. Work well for post-ride coffees, though I wouldn’t want to pull them on/off for hike-a-bike sections.

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People I know who’ve raced CX/gravel bikes in crits have usually had a second wheelset for road tires. Which is way less annoying than swapping pedals back and forth.

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It’s a non issue. They should be the go-to for everyone not actively in a race.

MTB pedal downsides: they rock left right a bit, slightly less aero, don’t have that solid rear hook that feels good when you throw down some instant power, shoe covers don’t fit over the shoes (cuz MTB, cx, gravel riders evidently never go out in the cold).
Road pedal down side: The cleats have no feel on engagement (except speedplay) / harder to find the pedals front hook, the shoes aren’t walkable (except speedplay), The cleats will die shortly if you walk off road in them. The pedals are single sided (minor issue usually).

MTB upsides: durable, walkable, easy to click into (especially if you’re in an urban environment with stops everywhere)
Road upsides: slightly lighter, feel good when you get on the power, more float if you want it, less rocking side to side, shoe covers fit.

Road pedals are generally a bad choice (except speedplay).

The cleats won’t damage your floors because the lugs on the side. Though the lugs can pickup rocks inbetween them.

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Heads up… my local club’s Google Group got a Lagos fraudster trying to sell a pair of XC200 pedals.

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I wear shoe covers over my mtb shoes all the time. A bit slower to pull on, since you have to work them over the cleats and knobby sole, but hasn’t been a problem. They do wear out a bit faster.

I don’t know if they’d fit over a thicker trail style shoe but they go over my Giro Sectors and Mavic Furys.

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Adding to the options are the growing number of “gravel” shoe options which seem like a hybrid of MTB & Road shoes which may be more attractive, sleek and such vs pure MTB options.

And I can’t remember specific brands or models, but there are a few “road” shoes that include the 2-bolt SPD mounting that might be worth a look.

And a 3rd option is the converter that could be used on 3-bolt road shoes:

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The PI velcro ones do, but the toe flips up on you mid ride. The rest self destruct or fit funny.

Gore partial windstopper full shoe covers work too.

I think SPD is far better for gravel. The shoes are way more walkable, the cleats last longer, they handle mud better and the shoes are far more walkable. I use SPD on the road quite often because my knees don’t like road pedals as much, but I can definitely tell the difference and wish I could stick to Keo/SL pedals. As mentioned above, my feet feel much more secure in road pedals.

I use toe covers on my mtb shoes, but they do wear out much faster as the lugs /contact points wear holes in the bottom. I just put a new set every season.

As others have mentioned, I’d buy the far cheaper Assioma MTB pedals over the Garmin.

I think the benefits of having power on the road greatly outweigh the very marginal gain of road shoes and pedals. Which really is weight/aero in my opinion.

I have ridden for years with SPDs on a road bike. My gravel bike is currently set up as a commuter, and I usually have Rallys on it, though I just moved them over to an XC bike. It only takes a minute to move them around from bike to bike. The only reason they are not on my road bike is because my road bike has a Quarq PM in the spindle.

I got used spds specifically for the more comfortable shoes for walking, and if I am doing social rides are lower paces, I use those. I do ride SPD-SLs with fancy shoes for long road rides.

I feel more locked in on SPD-SLs, but on gravel and dirt, thats less a concern, as I don’t have as smooth a pedal stroke off asphalt.


I’m currently using Bontrager covers without issue.

I’ve also used the PI Amphib and the only time I had the toes flip up was when walking on a mountain bike trail. Never happened while on the bike.

So, I guess YMMV, but it’s been a non-issue for me.

Thanks for the heads up!

I do have a spare wheelset with road tires on them so I can easily swap them.

I’ve been considering the Assioma option. Currently, I have a Favero Assioma Uno, but it’s a road pedal only. I reside in Canada, and on the website, it indicates that the estimated availability time is around two months. I’ve already signed up for email alerts. My experience with the Garmin Vector 3S road pedals wasn’t satisfactory. Despite Garmin’s supportive customer service and them providing replacements, the issue wasn’t effectively resolved. With the Rally pedals, there’s a concern about the power meter being damaged due to inevitable vibrations.

This is a good idea and I’ve used cleat covers before for my road cleats. Certainly useful when I am walking in big stores, coffee stops, etc. But as you said, it wouldn’t be practical during gravel races.

I live in a big city, and it takes a while for me to get to quieter roads. It is quite an inconvenience when clipping in and out on my road pedals take a lot of cognitive load in busy traffic environments.

I started cycling on MTB, so on my first road bike I simply put some old SPD pedals and used my mtb shoes. If you don’t know any better there are zero issues. If you do know better the issues are pretty insignificant I guess

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Road shoes are going to be marginal gains. Just go with the off-road pedals and enjoy.

I do use SPD-SL on the road, but over the winter I use spd on all my bikes. In my case, I have one set of winter boots, so cheaper and easier to swap the pedals than buy a second pair of 3 bolt boots! I can’t say I really notice much difference on spins (no hot spots or anything), but would caveat that I haven’t raced in them.

Speaking from experience of new spd pedals on the commuter, and a comedy fall, spd pedal tension can be pretty tight too - in the touring shoes I couldn’t clip out even when I wanted too :face_with_peeking_eye:

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speedplay are also good for city duty.