Road Cycling Buying Guides

Road Cycling Pedal Systems: Look, Shimano, Speedplay or Time?

So many options - which to choose?!

Clipless pedals offer a great many benefits – they allow you to use your full pedal stroke, rather than just the ‘push down’ phase, your feet will never slip, and as long as your bike is set up correctly they can limit injury by ensuring correct movement.

You can choose to ride with mountain bike pedals, which are a bit easier to clip and out of, and many commuters go for this option. Pedals and cleats designed specifically for road cycling offer a wider base – giving a greater power transfer.

Ask the Expert: Which Clipless Pedals are Best for Me?

There are various different options available for road cyclists – here’s a look at the most popular:

Look Keo

Probably the most commonly used, Look Keo pedals and cleats use a simple three-bolt system. The cleat is fairly large – which equates to great power transfer, and not-so-great walking capabilities…

Cleats come in three colours, depicting the amount of ‘float’ – or movement allowed in the pedal – black (lots of movement), grey (middling) and red (your feet are pretty much planted!)

Classic pedals will set you back around £50, and will come with the first set of cleats included.


Shimano’s SPD SL pedals are pretty similar to Look Keo’s – in that they use a three bolt system and the cleats are available in varying colours depending on the float you want. Blue cleats give you the most movement, Yellow being the middle option, and Red is pretty fixed.

The cleat and pedal surface is much wider than that of the Look Keo – which arguably can provide greater power transfer – however, walking around becomes even more treacherous!

You can get the cheapest entry level pedals for around £22.



Where most brands have gone for variations on the ‘three-bolt’ system, Speedplay have jumped outside the box. The ‘lollipop’ style is pretty different – in that the wide base actually comes from the cleat, not the pedal. This means you can clip in on both sides of the pedal, and the position is super adjustable – which is great if you’re finding you struggle with knee issues and need your position set back, forwards, outwards or inwards.

Pedals are a bit more expensive, and closer to the  £90 mark, though you can choose between many colour options!


Back to the ‘three bolt’ system, Time pedals still look pretty different to the Look and Shimano offerings.

Similar to Speedplay, Time offer greater adjustability – you can adjust the cleats from side to side, and the distance between the sole and the pedal axle is much smaller than on other systems, which Time claim increases efficiency.

There are many different options available, and this set of ‘Time RXS’ pedals comes in at just £39.99.

Want to know more about cycling clipped in? Check out our guide on How to Master Clipless Pedals.


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