[This article was last updated on April 11, 2018]
A change of pedals can lop a chunk of weight off your bike and also give you a chance to switch to pedals that work better in other ways such as providing a broader platform for your shoes or user-friendly double-sided mechanism.
In the selection of lightweight, high-end pedals below we’ve picked pedals designed to save weight but that also improve over regular or less expensive designs in other ways.
For example, Look’s latest Keo Blade pedals have a very large steel contact plate, which in theory makes the cleat — and therefore the shoe — steadier on the pedal.
The Hairsine ratios for these pedals are based on Shimano’s 330g R540 pedals, except for the Ritcheys which we’ve compared with Shimano’s 374g M520s.
Weight: 208g Hairsine ratio: 2.54
The Ritchey WCS Micro Road Pedals are lightweight, sleek pedals for SPD-cleat users. At 208g (plus cleats), they’re are at the lighter end of heavy; they’re almost certainly the lightest option if you want to use shoes you can easily walk in.
Once clicked in they feel just as good as any other high-end SPD-style pedal, with a decent amount of float, no fore-aft slop and clean entry/exit even with grime underfoot. Being single-sided you have to look a bit, and without the SPD-SL's large rear end they don't hang ready to clip into.
We didn't find flipping them over to engage to be any hassle, the compactness meaning they didn't want to spin all the way over under their own gravity. Double-sided SPDs might be a boon off-road where you are clipping in-out frequently, but for even moderately-experienced road users the single-sidedness of the Ritcheys shouldn't be an issue.
The Pro version we reviewed is no longer available, but the WCS model is lighter and has recently had a bearing and axle upgrade to prolong its service life.
Weight: 208g Hairsine ratio: 0.81
Those who love Speedplays rave about the low weight, adjustability, and shallow stack. But it's undeniable they need more looking after than most pedals, the large cleat is awkward to walk in (the new aero cleat is a big improvement on the original naked cleat though) and they're susceptible to clogging from even the smallest amount of dirt.
But if you have knees that are in any way fragile, or you want pedals that are incredibly easy to enter and release but fit stiff-soled road racing shoes, their free float and double-sided designs make Speedplays well worth considering.
Weight: 228g Hairsine ratio: 0.68
This is the lighter successor to the previous carbon-composite Dura-Ace pedals, with 20g less material around the go-on-forever internals that have always made Dura-Ace pedals long-term good value.
The pedal body is 63mm wide, which is exactly the same width as Look Keo Carbon Blades, so you get a shed-load of stability. Your cleats just don't rock on these pedals; it's an absolutely rock-solid platform (as is the Look design). Where Shimano scores over its French rival is that the stainless steel plate across the centre of the pedal body — over the top of the axle — is replaceable. If you eventually wear it down, you can fit a new one without the need to buy a whole new set of pedals. That makes a lot of sense.
The SPD-SL cleats you get in the box have 6 degrees of float - meaning that you can pivot your foot 3 degreees in either direction before becoming unclipped. I've always found that to be plenty for keeping the old knees happy although, of course, you might be different.
Weight: 184g Hairsine ratio: 0.82
Despite their conventional steel springs, these carbon-bodied Look Keo clones from the upmarket arm of Taiwanese pedal giant Wellgo are very light, thanks to their pared-down carbon fibre bodies and titanium axles.
Out on the road these provide you with a whole lot of stability. That wide pedal body gives you a solid platform underneath your foot for putting down the power, with no rocking from side to side. The mechanism hangs on to your cleat securely, and if you wind up the tension there’s virtually no chance of your foot disconnecting unexpectedly.
Weight: 180g Hairsine ratio: 1.07
This is the lightest incarnation of Look’s Keo pedals, and uses a weight-saving carbon fibre leaf spring to provide the retention force in place of the usual steel coil.
We like the less expensive Keo Blade and these have even more bells and whistles, including a very large steel contact plate for stability (700mm2 rather than the Max’s 400mm2) and titanium axle.
The latest versions of the Keo Blade Carbon and Keo Blade Carbon Ti have interchangeable leaf springs; they come set up with 12Nm springs, but there's a 16Nm spring in the box, and a special tool to help make the job easy. You can also buy a 20Nm spring, but Look warns that you shouldn’t come crying to them if you crash because you can’t get out of the 20Nm version.
Weight: 140g Hairsine ratio: 0.95
The Time Xpresso 15 pedals are extremely light and clipping in/twisting out could hardly be easier. The downside is the price, and the cleats wear noticeably faster than those of other brands.
At just 140g for the pair, they're phenomenally light thanks to carbon bodies, titanium axles, aluminium top plates and ceramic bearings. Clipping in is very easy thanks to a spring mechanism that stays open after you click out.
Weight: 120g Hairsine ratio: 0.39
At just 120g/pair these race-day-only pedals are Speedplay's demonstration that the Zero design can be made extraordinarily light. Speedplay has often displayed superlight bikes at trade shows; these pedals help make bikes like those even lighter.
The low weight is achieved by the use of every lightweight material you can think of: carbon-reinforced thermoplastic bodies; ceramic bearings; titanium axles; titanium bolts; and aluminium top plates. The cleats have been lightened too with carbon fiber replacing the plastic and aluminium fasteners instead of steel. They're bonkers expensive, but you have to admire the fanaticism.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.