Choosing the right pedals is important to improve the performance levels and reduce pedalling effort. Even more crucial is the correlation between the shoe, pedal and seat, because when a cyclist presses the pedals incorrectly, he or she runs the risk of physical trouble, such as knee pain, which is very common. With the help of Stefano Casiraghi, the mechanic from the Colpack Ballan Team, it will be easier to choose the most suitable pedals and shoes, and also to understand which adjustments an amateur cyclist can make to this component.
There are obviously various priced pedals to choose from, and how expensive they are depends on their mechanical characteristics: “These days - Stefano explains – the choice of pedal even takes into consideration how to gain more aerodynamics”. But, as for all the cycle components, it depends on the bicycle: “You don't fit a 500-Euro bicycle with race pedals with a titanium axle”; it would be like fitting Formula 1 tyres on a small city car, in other words totally unnecessary. Stefano's main piece of advice, therefore, as regards the choice of pedals, is to opt for two parts which are similar in terms of value and technical characteristics to those of the bicycle.
As mentioned earlier, the shoe-pedal correlation is vital for a comfortable, top-performing pedalling action. First of all, not all shoes are compatible with all pedals, so you need to be sure of this fact before anything else. Then Stefano suggests you contact a biomechanic: “Take your bicycle and shoes with you to try them on-site”. Another vital aspect are the soles of your shoes, because there are specific versions to eradicate certain compensation problems. These are highly personal aspects, linked to the way each cyclist pedals and to his or her own specific body shape, which is why the biomechanic can help create a tailored configuration. The soles, in particular, help acquire a perfectly symmetrical posture.
Foot mobility or float
Depending on the cleats (which differ for each manufacturer) you can give your feet more or less lateral rotation, or float. Stefano refers for example to Look, which provides three different cleats. The first one, the red one, affords a float of 9 degrees: “I recommend it for the more novice cyclists: in this case, the foot in fact has a little “play” and allows the cyclist to be comfortable even when their position on the bicycle is not perfectly correct”. Then there's the grey cleat, the one nearly everyone uses (including professionals), which halves the amount of “play”, allowing float of 4.5 degrees (usually the right compromise). Last but not least, the black one, which keeps the foot completely still, is not recommended for amateur cyclists and is usually chosen by riders used to cycling on the track.
This adjustment can be made on mid-range pedals and upwards, because it is unavailable on cheaper pedal models. Essentially, you can adjust the spring that completes the attachment when you place your foot on the pedal. The mechanic from the Colpack Ballan Team recommends less expert cyclists leave it a little looser, to clip their foot on and off more easily, whereas a racer with plenty of strength who needs to stay attached to his or her bicycle whatever the circumstances can tighten it fully. How? Simply by using a two and a half or a size three spanner on the hex socket screw at the rear, unscrewing it a little to loosen it or screwing it tightly in place.