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I’ve been thinking of getting new pedals as mine are worse for wear. What are the best factors to consider when choosing pedals?

I’m on an electric cargo bike and ride fairly fast and aggressively.

I’m not interested in pedals with clips..

  • have you managed to make a pedal choice based on the answers given below? If you need clarification on any of the answers below please let us know by means of a comment. – Maarten -Monica for president Dec 15 '19 at 23:57
  • "I’m not interested in pedals with clips.." That means no pedals with toe clips or no clipless (=without clips) pedals? – Vladimir F Dec 16 '19 at 12:57
  • "worse for wear" - the kind of wear you are seeing indicates what to look for in a new pedal. Is the pedal cage/platform beat up? Is the axle bent? Does the pedal spin freely (bearings beat up)? More information will enable a better recommendation – David D Dec 16 '19 at 19:48
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My personal preference goes out to MTB Flat-pedals because they offer good grip and a large platform for the foot (which is more comfortable for the foot in my experience). Make sure to get them with metal (replaceable if possible) pins if possible, some cheaper models have plastic 'pins' which are part of the pedal's plastic body (so they are non replaceable) and they wear really fast compared to their metal counterparts.

This is what they look like (mtb flat pedals):

enter image description here

When getting metal pins it is best to get the pins which have the screw head (the head used to unscrew the pins from the pedal) on the bottom side of the pins (the side of the pins facing the middle of the pedal) such that the head does not get damaged when scraping the pins against concrete and such, if the head is on the 'wrong' side this is not such a big issue though since the pins can still be removed with pliers in almost all cases. If you want cheap replacement pins you could consider getting some threaded rod in the correct size and cutting it to length/using it as pedal pins but it's probably not worth the effort since the pins are not that expensive to begin with.

I would definitely recommend aluminium body pedals over plastic pedals, the plastic variant tends to break (around the axle in general since it's the weakest there) when you strike the pedal against something (a curb, bollard etc.). Similar to photo below. This is quite an extreme case usually a crack forms along where the axle is located and you can use the pedal for some time after but eventually it will fall off and you'll have only the axle left.

enter image description here

There are versions of flat pedals which only have a bearing on one side but I would strongly recommend getting the 'regular' version which has a bearing on both sides since it will last longer and is stronger and also cheaper in most cases.

Make sure the pedal is 'servicable' as in you can remove the pedal body/bearings from the axle to lubricate/service/replace the bearings. Some cheaper models cannot be disassembled and need to be replaced entirely when the bearings are at the end of their life.

My personal preference goes out to cartridge style bearings since they require no maintenance, are relatively cheap and easy to replace. But cage/ball bearings are not so bad either, if you have a relatively common ball size (sounds weird :P ) the replacements should be easy to find and cheap.

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  • That pedal looks good and I like the adjustable pins, which I'd use to keep from gouging the bottoms of the boots I'd ride in. But that one wouldn't let you attach reflectors or a toe cage would it? (I've been shopping so that's on my mind.) – compton Dec 13 '19 at 19:04
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    @compton indeed the pedals shown in my image (shimano saint) do not offer such options. however similar flat pedals which do allow for cage/reflector installation exist, such as these: allputer.com/images/additional/… You could also go for something like this: images.yaoota.com/UV9KsogXXGIb1vXrXIQ5YbtL4PE=/trim/… but they offer less grip in my opinion, have smaller surface are for support and pins non-replaceable – Maarten -Monica for president Dec 13 '19 at 20:20
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    You would probably not want good such as those with a cage, They are designed to not let your foot slide at all. if you got your foot in, you would never get your foot out. – mattnz Dec 13 '19 at 21:44
  • @mattnz good point. one big advantage of platform over clipless is that you can easily 'jump off' the pedals. Using toeclips on this type of pedals would in a way defeat their purpose – Maarten -Monica for president Dec 14 '19 at 13:57
  • Another disadvantage of adding toe clips (imo) is that the pedals usually tend to (when your foot is not on them) rotate in such a way that the toe clip is always on the lower side of the pedal (in my experience) meaning you'll have to rotate the pedal with your foot before being able to slide into the toe clip. – Maarten -Monica for president Dec 15 '19 at 23:55
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Factors that make a good pedal:

  1. Matching Thread size for your cranks - Your pedals will 99% likely be 9/16" thread, mirrored. If its a kids bike then they may be 1/2" thread, but that's unlikely.
  2. Weight - lighter is "better"
  3. Reflectors - for road use, some countries mandate pedal reflectors. Some pedals don't have them.
  4. Build quality - metals tend to beat plastics for durability but some more costly plastics work well
  5. Spares - some brands are disposable, and others can be serviced.
  6. Spin - A no-load spin test tells you something about how free-spinning the bearings are, or if its a cheap bushing-based design. Power wasted is power lost.
  7. Grippiness - a good pedal should not be slippery when dry, and not too slippery when wet. So tread/pins/some way to retain your foot is important.
    However avoid sharp pedals, because they can cut if they smack into your leg.
  8. Stealibility - Pedals should only be quick-release if you really need that functionality.
  9. Platform shape - some pedals are wider, or deeper. Some have more unusual shapes like MKS Lambda pedal
    Even platform pedals can be flat or dished, so you need to decide what is most comfortable for you.
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    iirc bmx's also use 1/2" thread pedals. – Maarten -Monica for president Dec 14 '19 at 22:59
  • @Maarten fair point, but OP says they have an electric cargo bike, so that's very unlikely to have kid-sized pedals. I'd guess its a minimum of 25 kilos for the bike, possibly double that, so the larger size pedal shafts make a lot of sense. – Criggie Dec 15 '19 at 2:01
  • ♦ yes indeed you are right – Maarten -Monica for president Dec 15 '19 at 8:43
  • @Maarten not in general. Hard to tell, but 9/16" seems more common nowadays, just by looking at whats available. 1/2" used to be way more common like 25 years or more ago on 1-piece cranks but things changed since then. – stijn Dec 15 '19 at 8:45
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One of the nicer “standard” pedals, or “Oem” pedals you might want to have a look at before you buy anything is the newer Bontrager platform pedal that comes standard on their mid level hybrid road and hybrid mtb bikes. They’re grippy, but don’t have robust metal pins in them. They’re also a bigger platform and work well with any type of shoe, whether you’re wearing sandals, running shoes or fancy leather brogues.
Edit- the pedal is called the Bontrager Satellite Pedal. Which reminds me about the Ergon platform pedals, which are also a bit larger and will definitely be a good value despite being a bit more expensive than an entry level $10.00 pair.

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Pedals are pedals are pedals, especially for road type cycling when you do not want clips.

Get good metal pedals with large platform size.

If riding in snow/dirt, check that the pedals have good grips (metal pins ...)

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    Yeah, and make sure the metal has sharp edges, to gouge your ankles if you get a toe strike while stopping. – Daniel R Hicks Dec 14 '19 at 22:42
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I prefer platform pedals with a good rubber coating on the surface to give your feet plenty of grip without having things sticking up to damage the soles of shoes which have a softer nature.
Of course, if all your shoes have sturdy soles, you may prefer some rougher surface on the pedals.

The size of the platform should coincide with your cycling style. I want to be able to use a bigger area to push against (recumbent) or stand upon (upright bike) not a small area where I need to rely on heavy soles in my shoes to transfer the power or pressure.

An additional consideration, reflection in the pedals. There are even pedals out there with leds, powered by the movement of the pedal itself, (so no batteries needed.)

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  • addition regarding pedal size: the wider the pedal is the more likely you are to strike the pedal against an obstacle or alternatively against the ground (when cornering), even though this is quite unlikely given the average riding style on a cargo bike it might be something to take into consideration. – Maarten -Monica for president Dec 15 '19 at 23:53

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