Choosing Pedals/Shoes Help


New Member
Mar 21, 2014
I'm sure this topic must come up non-stop, but I have been unable to find a guide I can understand or a thread here that really helps me. I recently purchased a road bike and have been having a blast on it. I did twenty-five miles yesterday (my longest ride yet) but am currently riding on regular flat pedals. I did that so that I could move the purchase price over the course of a couple of months rather than all at once. It's getting to be about time for me to purchase pedals and shoes, and frankly, I'm stumped.

I know I'd like a pair of clipless with the cleat recessed to enable easier walking, but past that, I really don't know what I'm reading. It also makes it difficult to walk into my local shop, because I don't even know the proper terminology. SPD, MBT, mountain bike, road bike pedals... I don't know where to begin. I'm finding this more difficult that buying the actual bike to be honest.

My purposes with the bike are more general fitness and touring and less racing. FWIW, I got a 2012 model Trek 2.3c. I've seen many recommendations for the Crank Brothers Candy/Egg Beaters, but don't have any idea how to pair them with shoes or how their cleats match.

Anyway, if you could point me to another thread that lays this out like I'm an ignoramus, I'd appreciate it. Alternatively, if you could recommend a set that you think would work for me, I'd be even more grateful. Thanks for any replies!
It's a bit hard to judge what you're actually asking about. Don't know where to find a "pedals and shoes for dummies" thread. Shoes with recessed clears are in the MTB/touring and perhaps even fitness category. Even spinning shoes have recessed cleats but might prove too airy and/or lacking in durability for real riding use. Matching pedals and cleats should be a non-issue if buying new stuff from a shop. Pedals are generally sold with cleats included. Road shoes outstanding feature is the lack of treaded soles. Some of these will be drilled to take both the small MTB-style cleats and the bigger road-style cleats. Crank Brother pedals are easy to click in, great at mud/snow clearing, and have all the float and retention force I've ever needed. However, durability isn't their strong side. On my commuter I'm happy if I get 6 months between rebuilds. Slightly offset by rebuilds being fairly simple and inexpensive. If I ever get around to switching sides, I'd probably go for Time pedals instead. Very similar mechanism, and seems to last just about forever. The egg beaters have a very small platform, so they can feel a bit wobbly. But entirely rideable and not a problem as such. Candies are better as they offer a bit of rideability in regular shoes as well. Wellgo, as a budget option, is generally considered to give good value for money both in shoes and pedals. Road shoes are generally a bit stiffer than the average MTB shoe, as they're optimised for on-the-bike performance, and as such don't need to offer any walking comfort. Although a performance oriented (= more expensive) MTB shoe can easily be just as stiff as a road shoe. Some are actually the same, apart from drilling and treads.
First, your local bike shop is there to help you...not make fun of your lack of knowledge, experience or terminology.

Cleats and shoes come in several styles. Basically, they are divided among mountain and road types with a few variations in each category.

Flat bottom cycling or street type 'walkable' shoes can be used with flat pedals equipped with toe clips and straps. This style has been successfully used for over 100 years. Here's a couple of primers on pedal/shoe types:

Since you are already doing 25-mile road rides and expressed an interest in clipless pedals that engage a recessed cleat, you might want to look at the SPD style clipless system with a road touring style shoe. Touring shoes are available that are designed for both cycling and walking.
I went the SPD route so I could use the same shoes with my mountainyeque hybrid (which I basically use as a mtb at this point). I have Shimano M088 mtb shoes and they are quite stiff. No issues or hot spots on long road rides with M520 pedals. I actually just ordered a set of A320 pedals, hoping the larger platform will be of some benefit and I'll just look so much cooler without mtb pedals on my road bike.
Only downside to these shoes is that, in spite of being mtb shoes, because the soles are nearly as stiff as road shoes, they very uncomfortable and awkward to walk in for more than very very short distances.

Also, I agree with campybob - if you can't walk into your local shop with zero knowledge and receive some help and guidance, go to a different shop. I was in the same place last year and I walked into my local shop with nothing more than "I want some of those shoes that clip in" and was assisted by a cute girl that had no problem explaining the terminology and letting me test out different types of shoes.
The SPD cleat system may not be the newest or sexiest out there, but it is hard to beat in terms of value, versatility and durability. If you plan on using the same set of shoes for touring, MTBing, road riding and to spinning class it is the only option.
Just don't tie/strap/cinch them too tight. I had battled a hot spot for several months, constantly fiddling with the placement of the cleats in my shoes, when I finally figured out that by tying my cycling shoes (Specialized with SPD cleats) snugly, my feet were swelling somewhat on longer rides, causing the shoes to be much too tight. Now I tie them with just a hint of wiggle room and they are fine, even for a century. They're definitely comfortable for walking, too, and allow me to laugh at my fellow cyclists who wear road shoes and try to walk on a wet treated-lumber deck. ;)
Hello, We must be twins GCO! I ride a 2012 Trek Apex 2.1 and also prefer SPD pedals because of the recessed cleat. I have the Crank Brother Candy 3's and Giro Carbide Shoes. Solid combination imo. The Candy 3's could not be any easier to get out of and I have not had any problems with them 2500 miles later. The platform on the 3's are made of steel so they are much more sturdy than the 1's or 2's imo. I tried on many pairs of shoes and the Carbide were the only ones that my heel did not move which is a huge pet peeve of mine. They also fit nice and snug and I have not had any problems with them.
This is just an opinion of course.

You now know what to ask for, but if want a pedal that will allow you to wear shoes you can walk around in then you need MTB shoes with SPD cleats. MTB shoes are not as stiff as road bike shoes but you can get inserts to stiffen up mtb shoes to the level of road bike shoes. Or a touring shoe like the Shimano MT71, or the Lake MX60's; here is a list of more to consider: .

As far as pedals go to match the shoes I happen to like SpeedPlay Frogs, their very easy to get in and out of, their full float (some people don't like full float), they can be greased and rebuilt, plus they won't get clogged with dirt and fail to work. I got the Stainless Steel spindle model and not the cromoly due to rust possibility and not the titanium spindle because I couldn't justify the cost vs so little in weight loss.

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