The Short Answer is:
While it is possible to use road bike pedals on a gravel bike, it is generally not recommended due to the fact that road pedals can only clip in on one side, making it more difficult to clip in and out of. Gravel bike pedals, on the other hand, have clips on both sides of the pedal, making it easier to clip in and out, which is important for gravel bike riding. Therefore, it is better to use gravel pedals on a gravel bike. Clipless pedals are the most popular type of pedals for gravel bikes, allowing for better power transfer than flat pedals. The most common type of clipless pedals for gravel bikes are SPD-style MTB pedals with metal, two-bolt cleats, or SPD-SL road-style pedals with plastic, three-bolt cleats.
Gravel biking is a rapidly growing discipline that requires a specific set of gear to ensure a comfortable and safe ride. One of the most important components of a gravel bike is the pedals, which are one of the main contact points between the rider and the bike.
In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of using road bike pedals on a gravel bike, as well as the best pedals for gravel riding.
Table of Contents
Understanding Pedal Compatibility
When it comes to choosing pedals for a gravel bike, there are a few things to consider. While road pedals can be used on a gravel bike, it’s more common to use gravel pedals. Road pedals are designed for road shoes, which are almost impossible to walk in, making them less practical for gravel riding.
Gravel pedals, on the other hand, have clips on both sides of the pedal, making it easier to clip in and out of. They also allow for more comfortable walking on foot. Clipless pedals are the most popular type of pedal for gravel bikes, allowing you to engage the pedal with cleats mounted on the soles of your gravel bike shoes.
This gives a better power transfer than flat pedals, enabling you to power smoothly through the entire pedal stroke, including the upstroke. SPD-style MTB pedals with metal, two-bolt cleats, or SPD-SL road-style pedals with plastic, three-bolt cleats are the two types of clipless pedals.
However, for more technical riding, being able to move your feet off the pedals to dab or shift weight can be helpful. Flat pedals are a good option for this type of riding. The best pedals for gravel riding are generally those that work with recessed cleats and can shed mud easily.
Flat pedals are also a good option for off-road riding, especially for technical MTB-style riding, where you can easily dab or ride through mucky patches without having to worry about clearing out your pedals for them to work.
In general, it is possible to use road pedals on a gravel bike, but it’s not recommended, especially if you’re new to riding off-road. Road pedals can only clip in on one side of the pedal, making it more finicky to clip in and out of. You also need to be more careful when clipping and unclipping your shoes, and you need to ensure that the pedals are the right way up before clipping your shoes in.
Ultimately, the best pedals for a gravel bike are the ones that work for you and your riding style. It’s important to consider the type of riding you’ll be doing, the type of shoes you’ll be wearing, and the type of cleats that work best for your needs.
Pros and Cons of Road Pedals on Gravel Bikes
Here are some pros and cons to consider when installing road pedals on a gravel bike:
- Road pedals are generally lighter and more aerodynamic than gravel pedals.
- Road pedals provide a larger platform for your foot, which can be more comfortable on long rides.
- Most road pedals can only clip in on one side of the pedal, whereas gravel bike pedals have clips on both sides of the pedal. Therefore, road pedals are a bit more finicky to clip in and out of.
- Road shoes, which are required for road pedals, are not ideal for walking on rough terrain.
- Gravel pedals are far easier to get your foot in and out of, which is important when riding on gravel roads that require frequent stops and dismounts.
In general, it is possible to use road pedals on a gravel bike, but gravel pedals are better suited for the terrain and riding style of a gravel bike. If you do decide to install road pedals on your gravel bike, make sure to use road shoes and be aware of the pros and cons of doing so.
Considerations for Using Road Bike Pedals on a Gravel Bike
Gravel biking involves riding on rough terrain that has a lot of small stones, twigs, leaves, dirt, and mud. Therefore, the choice of pedals becomes more critical as the clipless mechanism of the pedal will need to cope with all that dirt and dust.
Gravel bike pedals have larger spaces in the pedal, which allows debris to pass through more easily, without getting stuck. This makes them far easier to get your foot in and out of, which is important as gravel riding requires a rider to frequently put a foot down for stability, or dismount from their bike due to unpassable terrain.
Road pedals can be used on a gravel bike, but on a gravel bike, it’s more common to need to take your foot in and out of the clip and to walk on foot. Road shoes, which are required for road pedals, have oversized cleats that make walking difficult and can be damaged by debris.
Some riders prefer a flat pedal for gravel riding, which can be particularly handy if you’re planning on tackling more technical terrain, are riding in muckier conditions, plan on doing a fair bit of hike-a-bike, or are relatively new to riding.
Flat pedals are very simple to use, so are perfect for those who are new to gravel riding, because they can inspire more confidence when tackling rougher terrain than cycling with cleats.
In conclusion, gravel pedals are the best to use for gravel bikes. Road pedals can be used on a gravel bike, but they are not ideal for the terrain and conditions that gravel biking entails. Flat pedals are also an option, especially for those new to gravel riding or tackling more technical terrain.
Pedal Options for Gravel Bikes
Pedals are an essential component of a gravel bike, and there are different types of pedals available for gravel bikes. The most popular type of pedal for gravel bikes is clipless pedals, which allow you to engage the pedal with cleats mounted on the soles of your gravel bike shoes.
This gives a better power transfer than flat pedals, enabling you to power smoothly through the entire pedal stroke, including the upstroke. These typically come in two types: SPD-style MTB pedals with metal, two-bolt cleats, or SPD-SL road-style pedals with plastic, three-bolt cleats.
With the exception of the fastest, smoothest gravel races, where riders know they won’t need to unclip for the duration, SPD-style pedals are by far the best option for gravel riding.
These MTB-style clipless pedals offer easy entry, with the ability to clip in on both sides of the pedals, and the smaller metal cleats are both far more durable than plastic road-style cleats and recessed within the shoe for easier walking off the bike.
Some of the best clipless pedals for gravel bikes include Shimano PD-M520, Shimano PD-M540, Shimano XTR M9100, and Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3.
When it comes to testing the best pedals for off-road riding, factors such as ease of use, comfort, stability, and durability are important considerations for any bike pedal. Other factors specific to gravel riding, such as clearance and how well the pedal sheds mud, are also important.
Some of the best gravel bike pedals include Shimano PD-M520, Ritchey Comp XC, Shimano PD-ME700, Shimano PD-M530, and Look X-Track Race pedals. For those who prefer flat pedals, some of the best options include HT PA03A, Race Face Chester, and Crankbrothers Stamp 7.
Ultimately, choosing the best pedal for your gravel bike depends on your personal preference, riding style, and the type of terrain you will be riding on.
Installing Road Bike Pedals on a Gravel Bike
If you want to install road bike pedals on a gravel bike, it is possible, but there are some things to consider. First, you will need road shoes to be able to use road pedals, as road shoes only fit into road pedals.
Steps to Install Pedals
Here are the steps to install pedals on a bike:
- Identify the right and left pedals. The right pedal has threads that turn clockwise to tighten, while the left pedal has threads that turn counterclockwise to tighten.
- Use a 15mm spanner to remove the old pedals. If the pedals have parallel faces on the spindle between the pedal body and the crank, you will need a 15mm spanner.
- Clean the threads on both the crank and the pedals. Grit or dirt can damage and wear out threads over time.
- Apply a thin layer of grease or anti-seize to the threads on the pedal axle.
- Screw the pedals into the crank arms by hand, making sure they are threaded correctly.
- Use a pedal wrench to tighten the pedals securely.
Maintenance and Care for Road Bike Pedals on a Gravel Bike
Maintaining and caring for your road bike pedals on a gravel bike is essential to ensure they continue to perform well and last longer. Here are some tips to help you keep your pedals in good condition:
- Regularly clean your pedals: Use a soft brush to remove any dirt or debris from your pedals. You can also use a damp cloth to wipe them down after each ride.
- Check for wear and tear: Inspect your pedals regularly for any signs of wear and tear. If you notice any damage, replace the pedals or the worn-out parts immediately.
- Lubricate your pedals: Apply a small amount of lubricant to the pedal bearings and cleats to keep them running smoothly.
- Check the cleats: Check your cleats for any signs of wear and tear. If they are worn out, replace them immediately to avoid any accidents.
- Tighten the pedals: Check the tightness of your pedals regularly. Loose pedals can cause accidents and damage to your bike.
- Store your bike properly: Store your bike in a dry and cool place to avoid any damage to the pedals.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your road bike pedals on a gravel bike remain in good condition and continue to perform well. Remember to inspect your pedals regularly and replace any worn-out parts immediately to avoid any accidents.
Frequently Asked Questions Related to the Topic:
Can you use road bike shoes with gravel pedals?
As a general rule, it’s not possible to use road shoes on a gravel bike. The clip that road shoes have is a completely different shape from gravel bike pedals. Road shoes only fit into road pedals.
And gravel pedals only fit into gravel pedals. Road pedals and gravel pedals have different clip mechanisms. So, if you have road pedals you need to wear road shoes.
Do road bike pedal work with mountain bike shoes?
Road bike pedals and mountain bike shoes are not always compatible. Most road pedals use a 3-bolt pattern cleat, while mountain bike shoes use a 2-bolt pattern cleat. Therefore, it is important to check the compatibility of the pedals and shoes before using them together.
What are the advantages of using road pedals on a gravel bike?
Gravel bike pedals offer more convenience and comfort for short trips, while road pedals are lighter and have more space to allow debris through. However, in general, you can use road pedals on a gravel bike.
In conclusion, while it is possible to use road bike pedals on a gravel bike, there are some significant disadvantages to consider.
Road pedals can only clip in on one side, making them more difficult to clip in and out of, and they have a smaller connection that concentrates the force, making it harder to generate force when riding on rough terrain.
While road bike pedals may offer a slight advantage in terms of power transfer, this is only a minor advantage, and the difference is very small. Ultimately, the choice between road or mountain bike pedals on a gravel bike will depend on personal preference and riding style.
Riders who value walkability and ease of use may prefer flat pedals, while those who prioritize power transfer and efficiency may prefer clipless pedals. Regardless of the choice, it is important to practice clipping in and out of the pedals to avoid accidents and injuries.