Switching to a pair of the best high-performance lightweight clipless pedals can lop a chunk of weight off your bike. It's also 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.
For our purposes, high-performance lightweight clipless pedals means the lightest one ortwo models of each major clipless system: SPD, SPD-SL, Look, Time and Speedplay
Big, powerful riders should probably steer clear of many of these, especially pedals with titanium axles whose makers set weight limits
Most road bike pedals are single-sided but we've included double-sided models here too, from Speedplay, Crankbrothers and Xpedo
Factors such as the size of the contact area, the clip-in and release action and the amount of float are also important; see our guide to clipless pedals for more
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 Xpedo M-Force 8s and Crankbrothers EggBeater 11s which we’ve compared with Shimano’s 374g M520s.
Weight: 208g Hairsine ratio: 0.74
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 design make Speedplays well worth considering.
Weight: 228g Hairsine ratio: 0.57
Shimano's top-level Dura-Ace R9100 pedals offer loads of security and stability and they're a few grams lighter than the previous version, although still not quite as light as some of their biggest rivals.
The pedals feature an injection-moulded carbon composite body with three small stainless steel plates across the centre to provide protection from wear. These plates are moulded in and aren't replaceable (the screwed-on plate of the previous generation Dura-Ace R9000 pedal wasn't replaceable either).
The pedal platform is 66mm wide – a little wider than previously – and provides plenty of stability. That broad platform is one of the best things about these pedals, and is especially welcome when you're riding out of the saddle.
Weight: 174g Hairsine ratio: 1.04
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: 0.58
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: 175g Hairsine ratio: 0.57
The XPRO 15 pedals are the successor to Time's Xpresso 15 pedals and are your lightest option if you prefer the entry and release action of Time pedals.
At just 175g for the pair, they're very 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: 0.42
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.
Weight: 215g Hairsine ratio: 1.06
With the Ritchey Micro pedals discontinued, these are now the lightest pedals we can find that are compatible with Shimano's SPD system.
Xpedo is the the upmarket arm of Taiwanese pedal giant Wellgo, so there's a decent level of pedalsmithing competence there, and we liked Xpedo's upmarket road pedals when we tested them a few years ago.
Perhaps the biggest caveat here is that with titanium axles, these pedals have a rider weight limit of 85kg.
Weight: 179g Hairsine ratio: 0.50
If you want to ride in walkable shoes then Crankbrothers' mud-shedding pedal design is a viable alternative to Shimano's SPD system, and this is the lightest version.
However, they have a rider-weight limit of 90kg, and it's a really good idea to use Crankbrother's £8.99 Shoe Shields with them to protect your soles.
The 280g Eggbeater 3s (~£87) are the cheapest version without a rider weight limit.
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Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.