Best flat road bike pedals 2022: road-focused flat pedals for every need

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(Image credit: Josh Ross)

The best flat road bike pedals might be the best solution for you. As cyclists get more serious about cycling the mantra of clipless pedals feels almost unwavering. The best road bike pedals are always clipless and that's what everyone rides, isn't it? If you are feeling like the odd one out because you are searching for something different, the first thing to understand is that you aren't alone.

There are lots of people who ride flat pedals for lots of reasons. If you are commuting it might make more sense to keep things easier with a simple flat pedal. You'll never have to think about unclipping at a light or needing to change shoes at the office. You might also want to switch to flat pedals if you are having knee issues and need to give your body a chance to heel up. Lachlan Morton famously did just that during his alt-tour in 2021. There's also a growing movement among adventure cyclists to make the jump to flat pedals. Often that will mean pairing them with the best gravel bikes but not always.

Whatever your need, there's no reason to think you are alone. You are in good company and we've put together a list of some of what we think are the best flat road bike pedals. Keep reading to see our choices.

Best flat road bike pedals you can buy today

Why you can trust Cyclingnews Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Redshift Pedals

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

Redshift Sports Arclight Pedals

The best flat road bike pedals if you want integrated lights

Specifications

Weight: 730g including light modules
Platform Size: 97x95 mm
Platform shape: flat
Material: ADC12 Aluminium, High Strength Steel Axle, Sealed Bearings

Reasons to buy

+
Inexpensive for the features
+
Removable light module makes charging easy
+
Auto on/off

Reasons to avoid

-
Flat raised grip can allow slipping

Redshift is best known for its suspension stem and seatpost that it brought to market by way of crowdfunding. Now it is back with a new project and it's another marvel of engineering. At the core is a flat aluminium pedal but the real trick is that there are two cavities in the pedals. The space allows for a set of light modules to magnetically secure inside. There are other pedals with lights on the market but what makes the Redshift Arclights special is that all four lights are both red and white. After securing the lights in the pedals, just start riding. The lights will turn on automatically and the front light will turn white with the rear turning red. Spin the pedals and the lights will switch colours as needed. Battery life ranges from 3-36 hours depending on mode and when it's time to charge, just pull the modules and they charge via an integrated USB port. If you need the lights somewhere else on the bike, Redshift sells a mount that holds the lights in other locations. 

Look Trail Grip flat pedals

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Look Cycle Trail Grip Pedals

The best flat road bike pedal with plenty of grip and no pins

Specifications

Weight: 530g including light modules
Platform Size: 107 x 103mm
Platform shape: concave
Material: [spindle] chromoly, [body] composite, [platform] Vibram rubber

Reasons to buy

+
Massive platform size
+
Built in reflector
+
Replaceable pad

Reasons to avoid

-
Replacement pads are expensive

Look pioneered the clipless pedal decades ago, and it continues to create new products covering all kinds of pedal needs. At the end of 2020, the company released a system of three flat pedal options. All the options use the same, huge, pedal size and exterior shape and they all use a pad to interface with your shoes that draw on the experience of Vibram. The trail option, pictured here, uses a concave shape with large Vibram lugs. Following a rounded path through the centre, there are four hard plastic points that help add even more traction when it's wet. What's great about the Trail Grip pedals is that they give almost as much traction as a pin system but there's much less chance of snagging a pant leg or drawing blood on a shin if you manage to slip off. You can also unbolt the top pad and buy replacements if you want to change colour or style. Just keep in mind that the pads represent about half the price of the system. 

Best flat road bike pedals: Shimano PD-EF205

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Shimano PD-EF205

The best flat road bike pedals with understated style

Specifications

Weight: 612g
Platform Size: 95x95 mm
Platform shape: flat
Material: Aluminium

Reasons to buy

+
Colours available
+
Good look for a lot of bikes
+
Comfortable with casual shoes

Reasons to avoid

-
Reflectors are available but not included

The Shimano SPD-SL system wasn't the first clipless system on the market but it's one of the most popular in today's world. Less people know about the urban cycling components that Shimano makes but it is just as big of a force in that market. Driven by manufacturer relationships and quality components at good prices Shimano has a big presence in every market it attacks.

Shimano's EF-205 gives a wide aluminium platform to provide comfort and stability when pedalling. A textured surface on the pedal platform and the resin pads provide grip to stop your feet slipping off. There's also colours available and a style that looks great on any urban bike. You might not think of pedals as stylish but this option from Shimano definitely is. 

Best flat road bike pedals: Crankbrothers Stamp 1 pedals

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Crankbrothers Stamp 1 pedals

The best flat road bike pedals if you want to match to your foot size

Specifications

Weight: 329g
Platform Size: recommended shoe sizes: 5-10 (us) or 37-43 (eu) for size small
Platform shape: convex
Material: composite

Reasons to buy

+
Colours available
+
Price
+
Size specific options

Reasons to avoid

-
Raised axle

If you want to go a bit more aggressive than an urban flat pedal you are moving into mountain bike territory. The Crankbrothers Stamp 1 is an entry-level pedal with lots of open space to shed mud and debris. While some people may find mud an issue on a road bike, for most people that won't be the big draw. What is likely to be a big draw are the 9 per side 10mm traction lugs. They should provide plenty of grip no matter the shoes but if you want even more aggressive lugs 12mm are also available.

Crankbrothers is one of the leaders in size-specific pedals and if you want a smaller pedal the Stamp 1 is a good option. Thickness is only 13mm and there's both a small and a large available depending on the size of your foot.

Best flat road bike pedals: OneUp Composite Pedals

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OneUp Composite Pedals

The best flat road bike pedals when traction is of the utmost importance

Specifications

Weight: 351g
Platform Size: 115x105mm
Platform shape: convex
Material: composite

Reasons to buy

+
Colours available
+
Price
+
Easy to rebuild bearings

Reasons to avoid

-
Missing reflector isn’t great for urban riding

There is a debate over what shape is best for mountain bike pedals. On one side of the fence are those that advocate for the thinnest possible pedal even if it means a bump for the axle. On the other side is the argument that the axle bump can be a hot spot and it's better to have a thicker design.

The OneUp composite pedal splits the difference with a convex design. There's no clear axle bump but the pedal swells as it comes to the centre and thins out toward the edges. The convex shape naturally fits in the arch of your foot/shoe and gives you a better more grippy connection between your foot and pedal. This is even more noticeable with flexible shoes. Along with the shape there are 10 pins per side and an easy-to-rebuild bearing system. There are no sizing options so you'll have to decide if the 115x105mm pedal is right for your foot.

Best flat road bike pedals: Fyxation Mesa MP Subzero

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Fyxation Mesa MP Subzero

The best flat road bike pedals for winter riding

Specifications

Weight: 351g
Platform Size: 106x101mm
Platform shape: convex
Material: High impact nylon

Reasons to buy

+
Good for winter commuting
+
Chamfered front of pedal to help with pedal strike
+
Easily serviced

Reasons to avoid

-
Missing reflector isn’t great for urban riding

One of the reasons to choose a mountain bike-style pedal is winter commuting. Rain and snow mean big boots and less traction. The more aggressive lugs and open design are a necessity. Fyxation recognised the need and designed the Mesa Subzero just for this use.

The Mesa Subzero starts with a nylon body that's built to take abuse and won't ever complain about the weather. The edges of the pedals feature a chamfered edge to help reduce pedal strike. Nylon also has the advantage of not conducting the cold to the base of your foot. At the centre of the pedal body is an electroplated cro-moly spindle with a sealed bearing. The plating helps protect against the weather plus gives an opportunity for a pop of colour. The same plating shows up on the replaceable stainless-steel pins.

shimano pd-eh500

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Shimano PDEH500

The best flat road bike pedal if you are learning to clip in

Specifications

Weight: 383g
Platform Size: 178mm x 152mm
Platform shape: flat
Material: Chromoly steel/aluminium

Reasons to buy

+
Double action flat or SPD
+
Adjustable entry and release tension settings
+
Pins for plenty of traction on the flat side

Reasons to avoid

-
Colour isn’t actually black

For many people, double-action pedals are the gateway to using clipless pedals. If you like the idea of clipping in for some rides but still want a flat pedal for other rides then the Shimano PD-EH500 is a good choice. No matter what kind of shoes you happen to be wearing, or what kind of ride, the choice to clip in, or not, is entirely up to you.

The pedals include a set of Shimano SH56 multi-directional cleats which make it easier to unclip from the pedal. Loosen up the retainer and if you start to fall then give your foot a panic yank, it will come loose. Perfect if you are starting out and nervous about falling over while still connected to the bike.

Bontrager pedals

(Image credit: Josh Ross)

Bontrager Commuter Pedal

The best flat road bike pedal if you want a Shimano compatible double-sided option without pins

Specifications

Weight: 310g
Platform Size: 92 x 73mm
Platform shape: flat
Material: aluminium

Reasons to buy

+
Double action flat or SPD
+
Adjustable entry and release tension settings
+
No pins are better for softer shoes but might lead to slipping

Reasons to avoid

-
Not much support in the centre of the foot

The SPD design is ubiquitous and there are a lot of options on the market for SPD-compatible pedals beyond the pedal offerings from Shimano itself. If you like the idea of having the choice to clip-in or not, the Bontrager Commuter Pedal is another option.

A lot of things about the two pedals are similar but the biggest difference is in the flat pedal side. While the Shimano option uses a more aggressive treatment with pins Bontrager has gone for a pinless design. If you expect to ride in softer, flatter, shoes most of the time the Bontrager design may be more comfortable. 

Best flat road bike pedals: Crankbrothers Doubleshot 2

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Crankbrothers Doubleshot 2

The best flat road bike pedal for Crankbrothers cleat users

Specifications

Weight: 395g
Platform Size: 94 x 78mm
Platform shape: concave
Material: A380 aluminium

Reasons to buy

+
Double action flat or Eggbeater
+
Colours
+
5-year warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
Non-adjustable retention

Crankbrothers has a reputation as a mountain bike company but it also caters to the road cyclist, gravel rider and cyclo-crosser. If you ride Crankbrothers pedals on another bike the Doubleshot makes sense for a double-sided pedal. Crankbrothers offers three levels of the Doubleshot pedals but all options come standard with a stamped steel pedal body with moulded pins - they are a robust option that are up for abuse and all-weather riding. No matter which version you choose you can rest assured with the company's 5-year warranty.

What you need to know about the best flat road bike pedals

What Size Pedals?

There's a bunch of differently sized flat pedals. How does someone decide what size pedal to choose?

The first consideration is actually terrain. On gnarly downhill terrain where control is king, a big pedal is helpful. There's more contact with the foot and better stability but it comes with a cost though: pedal strikes. The bigger the pedal size the greater the probability of a pedal strike, so for road cycling we recommend opting for something diminutive. However, there is a catch - sometimes going to small can result in a bit of guesswork when trying to find the best position from which to pedal. Our advice: shop around and try to find something that feels natural and intuitive.

What Kind of Pins?

The pedal action is a complex dance that involves more than simple downward pressure. There are a variety of techniques that keep the foot connected but it all comes down to friction. Some pedals will have replaceable metal pins, some will have moulded plastic ridges while others use a high-friction material. What will work for you is going to depend on the type of shoes you are likely to wear as well as what kind of weather you will be riding in.

Sticky summer shoes against a dry pedal with some kind of high friction material will work pretty well. If you do a lot of riding in the rain the wet pedals will have less friction and something with more purchase will be required. If your shoes don't have large lugs then either small pins or moulded ridges might be enough. If you plan on riding in winter boots with large lugs then look for something with a high pin that can make contact with the sole through the lugs.

It's also best to avoid the temptation to choose the biggest pins possible. An overly large pin could create a hotspot on your foot and cause pain over time. Try for the right solution instead of more than needed with the idea that bigger is better.

Is it ok to use flat pedals on a road bike?

 Absolutely. We talked about this in the intro but there's tons of legitimate reasons to use flat pedals on a road bike. They are a frequent love of commuter cyclists who don't want to deal with separate shoes and unclipping at every stop. They are also a new trend that's seeing more uptake among the adventure cycling crowd. For many in that group it means easier never having to think about unclipping in technical off-road sections but it could also be for touring cyclists who have some of the same concerns as commuters. Even many cyclists who are comfortable and experienced with clipless pedals will switch because of injury. Above all else though, the most important reason might just be because you want to. Whatever makes you comfortable on the bike, go with your gut. 

Are flat pedals slower?

You'd think this is an obvious yes or no but it's more like a maybe. When your feet are connected to the pedals of a bike the idea is that you are more efficient because you can use all sides of the pedal stroke. It's possible to pull up and push down. In reality though most people don't have the most efficient pedal stroke anyway and the differences are likely minimal. The bigger conversation tends to be about the shoes available. When riding longer distances a stiffer shoe that's specifically designed for cycling is more comfortable. If you are comfortable with flat pedals then there's no need to feel like you have to make a change.  

How did we test?

Pedals are an easy product to spend time with. Those of us at Cyclingnews are a dedicated bunch of cyclists. We swapped pedals on our commuter bikes and spent time seeing what each one was like to use. Some of these options have designs with an eye towards off-road cycling but that wasn't what we were testing for in this case. Instead, we headed to the store and down the bike path. When the weather cooperated, we tried them in the rain. We spent time with them in regular life and brought you our favourites.  

Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutia of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes.
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 140 lb.
Rides: Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Enve Melee, Look 795 Blade RS, Priority Continuum Onyx