'You’ll only ever try to walk on a wet, tiled Café floor carrying coffee in Speedplays once to swear to never do so again' - why Shimano and Look are our preferred pedals

In a contest of best road pedals, these are the clear winners

(Image credit: Future)

"CW asks" is a feature series where our seasoned staff answers a range of questions. The series isn't just about delivering knowledge; it's a chance for us to share a bit of our personality and our passion with you. As we dive into some questions, please feel free to send in some questions of your own to anne.rook@futurenet.com

Question 20:  Road pedals: Shimano, Look, Speedplay - which do you use and why? 

Stefan Abram, Tech Features Editor

The Look Keo 2 Max pedals on a white backgroundStefan Abram

(Image credit: Future/ Look)

Shimano was always my go-to. I really liked how easy it was to service the pedals, the reliability was great in between times, and it was easy to find them on a good offer. Some people don’t like the size of the cleat, others are evangelists for the ‘stability’ but I don’t really have a strong feeling either way on that front.

But as most power meter pedals all used the Look cleat system (Garmin, Favero, PowerTap), I ended up making the switch for practicality reasons. I do think that Look’s ‘Memory Eyelet’ is a very neat feature, but disappointingly I’ve not actually had the necessary fitting on any of my own shoes!

Hannah Bussey, Technical Writer

look keohannah hussey

(Image credit: Paul Norman for Future)

Look Keo’s all the way. Back in the early 2000’s Shimano seemed to have got stuck in the past with its chunky and wide platform, especially when you have size 39 feet. Look seemed more progressive in its narrow cleat design, which was still comfortable and stable, so it just kind of stuck with me. 

A lot of people raved about Speedplay about 12 or so years ago, hailing them as the saviour of cyclists knees. However, as a Tech Writer, who is perpetually changing shoes, I have neither time or patience to set a pair up Speedplate cleats correctly or be bothered to oil on a regular bases. You’ll only ever try to walk on a wet, tiled Café floor carrying coffee and cake in Speedplays once to swear to never do so again.

Anna Abram, Fitness Features Editor

look keo classic 3Anna Abram Fitness Features

(Image credit: Look)

For road cycling, I now only use Look! I started out with Shimano, but I made the swap to Look a few years ago simply because I wanted to invest in Garmin’s Vector 3 power meter pedals (which was only available as a Look-style pedal and pairs with Look’s cleats). 

Swapping pedals is more faff than I want to do on a weekly basis, so I switched to Look Keo pedals for my winter bike to make it easy hopping between the two. A bit of an investment but certainly worth it for simplicity! 

The latest iteration of Garmin’s power meter pedals, the Rallys, can now of course be purchased with a Shimano SPD-SL body and so if this was the case back then I might not have moved away from Shimano myself. But now I’m too invested in Look - the pedals are lasting well, so I don’t see myself needing new ones anytime soon and therefore I’ll be sticking with Look now. 

Tom Davidson - News and Features Writer

Shimano SPD-SL pedals and cleatsCycling Weekly writer Tom Davidson riding on Zwift indoors

(Image credit: Future)

The pedals I have on my bike are my biggest embarrassment. I run a set of Shimano SPD-SL road pedals that I probably bought five years ago. The pedals themselves are fine, and I got them because my brother had a similar set and vouched for them. In the time I’ve had them, however, I’ve bashed them to pieces. 

In my hometown, there’s a concrete outdoor velodrome on which I once slid down the banking, ripping the black paint off my pedal and the skin off my knee. The skin healed, but the shredded pedals have gotten worse with each wall I’ve leant them on, and now, the sun beams off their scratched, silvery surface. Still, as people always say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and they continue to work just fine. I’ll probably upgrade to another Shimano set when the time comes.

Joe Baker - Tech Writer

close up of pedals being held in handJoe Baker

(Image credit: Future)

Without a shadow of a doubt, my top choice will always be Shimano pedals - and for good reason. Over the last few years, I have used Shimano and Look pedals. I've ridden thousands of kilometers on both and put simply, Shimano pedals just last longer (in my experience at least). 

While both Look and Shimano offer great retention systems, I have never managed to get more than one year out of Look pedals, thanks I'm sure, in no small part to the grueling British winters! 

I like these pedals so much, you can read my love letter to the Shimano pedals, here.

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