Best flat road bike pedals - 12 options if you don't want to go clipless

Whenever you buy a new bike it tends to come with the cheapest, worst pedals you can imagine. The manufacturers assume these will be swapped out with extreme haste, but they have to give you something at least. Normally for road bikes people opt for some of the best road bike pedals, clipless ones that attach your shoe to the pedal, but this isn't for everyone. If you've bought a gravel bike there are the best gravel bike pedals to choose from, but the majority of them are clipless too.

I've picked 12 options that should cover all bases. Many are mountain bike pedals, but that doesn't mean you can't use them on the road, while others feature lights, or are easily removable for storage if you have a folding bike. As ever, I've tried to answer any burning questions that may arise at the bottom of the page if you need a little direction.

How to choose

Still unsure? Don't worry, if you've got any questions I've done my best to answer at least the most common ones surrounding the use of flat pedals on road bikes. If you're not chasing performance, and are thinking more from a commuting standpoint then you really can't go wrong with any of the pedals above. If you're trying to get speedy without committing to clipping in then the choice is a little more considered.

What size pedals do I need?

Bigger pedals give a bigger platform, so offer greater stability and more grip, so the theory goes. If you've got small feet though they can feel cumbersome, so look for a pair that has a small version - either the Crank Brothers Stamp or the OneUp Composite fit the bill here. On the flip side, if you've got very large feet look for something in the bigger size, a standard Stamp or the Catalyst for example. If you're bang average like me then most flat pedals will be roughly the right size.

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

Absolutely, though it's not necessarily the norm. Road cyclists tend to clip in to their bikes for greater efficiency, and the ability to pull up on the pedals on tricky climbs offers an advantage. But those systems aren't for everyone. They mean you have to wear dedicated shoes every time you ride unless you have a double-sided set like those above.

Are flat pedals slower?

It's not so much a case of being slower, but rather the standard claim is that clipless systems are around 30% more efficient. This received wisdom isn't necessarily totally true, but there is a reason you don't see any pro riders using flat pedals. That being said, if you're not hunting KOM/QOMs and want some added versatility, then the moderate sacrifice in efficiency may well be a small price to pay for a more useable bike.

What are flat pedals good for?

While clipping in has advantages, flat pedals allow you to put your foot down more easily, adjust your foot placement, and wear all kinds of different (not cycling-specific) footwear. They're also much more handy if you regularly get off and walk, as standard shoes are just better designed for walking than cycling shoes are.

How do we test flat road bike pedals?

Well, I don't have a car so I get around by bike. I've tried these pedals on my road bike, as well as various commuter bikes while getting around town and with plenty of different shoes too. Nothing tests out a pedals grip like a rainy ride without mudguards!

Will Jones
Tech Writer

Will joined the Cyclingnews team as a reviews writer in 2022, having previously written for Cyclist, BikeRadar and Advntr. There are very few types of cycling he's not dabbled in, and he has a particular affection for older bikes and long lasting components. Road riding was his first love, before graduating to racing CX in Yorkshire. He's been touring on a vintage tandem all the way through to fixed gear gravel riding and MTB too. When he's not out riding one of his many bikes he can usually be found in the garage tinkering with another of them, or getting obsessive about tyres. Also, as he doesn't use Zwift, he's our go-to guy for bad weather testing... bless him.

Rides: Custom Zetland Audax, Bowman Palace:R, Peugeot Grand Tourisme Tandem, Falcon Explorer Tracklocross, Fairlight Secan & Strael