In this article I’m going to dive into the budget road bike clipless pedals. I’ve taken a look at the biggest brands in the business and looked at how they stack up against each other.
When you compare all the different features of budget versus premium pedals it’s remarkable how little they differ from each other. Besides the ease of use of the cleat system, the bearings are probably the most important aspect of a pedal, since they directly equate to its durability and how fast you’ll need to service or replace them. And all these budget models have the exact same bearings as their more expensive counterparts.
The cleat systems are also the same, with the same float, release mechanism and cleat options. So there isn’t much that distinguishes the cheaper pedals from the more expensive ones here as well.
Where you do see changes in the pedal body and spindle, with the lightest options available for more money. But we’re talking about maybe a 100 grams weight difference and you’ll find a very lightweight option in this article as well.
All in all what you’ll find is that in terms of functionality these pedals are almost as good as pedals which cost 2 or 3 times as much, if not more. So with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the list of the best budget road bike clipless pedals.
The Shimano PD-RS500 is the Japanese brand’s entry level clipless road bike pedal.
For over 2 decades Shimano has offered road bike pedals with the SPD-SL system, a much larger cleat than the standard SPD technology. The SPD-SL is a much larger cleat offering far more stability and specifically meant for road racing. It’s a much copied design providing the rider with an excellent power transfer.
There are 3 variations of the cleat, offering float between 0° to 6°, with the standard yellow cleats offering the most float. A single 2.5mm allen key suffices to adjust the release tension
It’s a good example of an entry level product where you get basically all the functionality you’ll ever need in a much more affordable product. The chromoly spindle and bearings are the same across the entire lineup except for the most expensive Dura-ace version.
It means these pedals with a composite body are very durable and long-lasting. Something Shimano is known for.
Furthermore the pedals offer a 16.5 mm stack height in combination with a standard 53 mm stance.
The slightly more expensive Tiagra R550 version has a stainless steel plate for added longevity. Otherwise it’s exactly the same pedal as this one.
The only downside might be that at 320 grams per pair they are the heaviest road bike pedals I’ve researched, but the difference in weight is 100 grams or less with comparable options.
You simply cannot fault these pedals, and the fact they’re entry-level says nothing about their superb quality and high value.
Time XPresso 2
The Time XPresso 2 is the entry level road bike pedal in the gran fondo category.
As with the Shimano PD-RS500 the difference with the XPresso 4 is the lack of stainless steel plate for added durability.
This doesn’t detract from the overall value of the pedal, which uses the proprietary ICLIC cleat system used throughout the entire lineup. The large body of the pedal is just a bit more difficult to get in the right position for cleat engagement. But once you’ve rotated it correctly the open system is extremely easy to get into and fastens with noticeable less force.
The elongated body of the pedal offers an excellent platform to transfer the rider’s power. And dual cleats are available. Besides the standard cleat offering 10° of float, there’s also the fixed 0° option. The large amount of float is less stressful on the knees and offers a lot of freedom, which doesn’t detract from the overall stability on the platform.
At 230 grams they are the lightest budget road bike pedal and a very lightweight pedal in general. And the 13.5 mm is also incredibly low.
The single cartridge bearing and bushing won’t last as long as your average Shimano bearing, which is probably the biggest downside of these otherwise solid pedals.
Look Keo Classic 3
The Look Keo Classic 3 sits in the “road comfort” category, which is probably because of its budget-friendly price and rather large stack height of 17.8 mm. It means they’re counting on you not going to fast into corners to prevent pedal strikes.
They are not nearly as long as the Time pedals, but look rather similar to the Shimano PD-RS500, with a very similar cleat system. The Shimano pedals offer 3 different types of cleats, Look also offers 3: the standard 9° degree float or a max grip of 0°, with a 4.5° version in the middle. It could be one of the reasons you’d choose this pedal over the Shimano version.
The single bearing and needle bearing doesn’t mean they have better bearings though, and at 280 grams they have an average weight they are 50 grams lighter, which is probably negligable.
So apart from the wider range of options in float, I’d argue that the Shimano pedals win.
Clipless Pedals Weight Rating
Saving weight is an ever important thing to strive for when buying bicycle products, and of course you want the lightest clipless pedals available. Yet there are a couple things to keep in mind. It’s very difficult to make strong yet lightweight products. The lightest pedals are usually also more expensive than heavier ones. And you have to ask yourself how much you’re willing to pay extra to save 50 to a 100 grams or more.
The lightest pedals like the Crankbrothers Eggbeater 11 and Time XPRO 15 use titanium spindles, and a titanium or carbon body. And in general clipless road bikes, cross country and/or gravel pedals are lighter, simply because they either have a small platform, or no platform at all to add weight.
In the following graph you can find all the pedals mentioned here and their weight ranking. A ranking of 0% means you’re looking at the heaviest pedal. A ranking of 100% means it’s the lightest.
Clipless Pedals Bearing Rating
An important aspect of pedals is their internals and bearing setup. Almost all pedal manufacturers sell bearing kits, and it’s nice that you can rebuild your pedal internals if you need to.
What’s even better is that the quality of the bearings are of such a nature that you either don’t have to rebuild the internals at all, or after years of service. This saves you both time and money, and you simply enjoy your pedals more.
High-end Shimano pedals are known for their longevity and according to my personal experience pedals from Hope are at least just as good if not even better.
In the following graph you can find the bearing ratings in relation to the highest quality setup. The bearing rating is calculated based on the bearing setup and the maximum load it can endure. It’s an approximation of the quality of the setup that does not take into account how well the internals are sealed from outside elements. The setup deemed best receives a 100 percent rating.
Specifications budget road bike clipless pedals
Bearings and bushings
Buy at Amazon
2 cup and cone bearings, 1 bushing
0° – 6°
Time XPresso 2
fiberglass / composite
1 cartridge bearing, 1 bushing
0° – 10°
Look Keo Classic 3
1 cartridge bearing, 1 needle bearing
0° – 9°
Johan van Seijen
Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His passion for cycling in general, and restoring older bikes turned into a website to share his knowledge with a broader audience. Starting out on his father’s road bike and riding classics as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege he has shifted his attention to trail, XC, and gravel riding since. No matter how much he loves writing about everything related to cycling, nothing beats actually using his ever-expanding bicycle collection.
You might also like
One of the more confusing aspects about clipless pedals is the name. Alongside the reason for that name I’ll be covering everything you need to
In this article I’m going to delve into the best clipless pedals for commuter bikes. Since I run single-sided clipless pedals on my own commuter bike, they are heavily featured in this article as well