Pedals are an essential bicycle component as they transfer cycling power
to the bicycle's drive train. Different styles of bicycles utilize
different pedal styles, with the most basic being a platform design.
These pedals allow the cyclist's feet to rest on them and do not require
any special shoes or clips. Platform pedals may be found on older
ten-speed bicycles, as well as some mountain and BMX bicycles. They only
transfer power to the drive train on the front half of the downward stroke.
Pedals that are connected to a cyclist's feet allow muscle power to be
transferred on the upward stroke as well, making for more effective
pedaling. Clips and cleats are two means of attaching the foot to
the pedal. Toe clips are cages attached to the front of the pedal
which enclose the cyclist's shoe. These clips can be easily adjusted
and do not require any special type of shoe. Cleats lock the feet into
the pedals and are attached to the sole of specially-designed cycling
shoes. Cleats are often used in racing, as they transfer power more
efficiently than toe clips, but toe clips are preferred for recreational
cycling, as ordinary shoes can be worn.
Another type of pedal is the clipless version. Special shoes attach
to clipless pedals by stepping down onto the pedal with the cleat mounted
to the bottom of the shoe. The cleat will lock onto the pedal.
The foot is removed by a twisting motion. This shoe/pedal combination
delivers the same or better efficiency as the cleated combination, but
allows the cyclist to get out of the pedals without reaching down to
loosen the clip straps. One disadvantage to the clipless styles is
that they are difficult to ride without special shoes, but for the avid
cyclist, the benefits of this style make it a popular choice.