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Shimano SPD vs. SPD-SL pedals: what’s the right system for you?

Shimano SPD vs. SPD-SL pedals: what’s the right system for you?

❚ The products mentioned in this article are selected or reviewed independently by our journalists. When you buy through links on our site we may…

Sunday, Mar 06

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❚ The products mentioned in this article are selected or reviewed independently by our journalists. When you buy through links on our site we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our opinion.

Shimano’s SPD and SPD-SL clipless pedals are a popular choice for bike riders across a range of disciplines.

They’ll hold your feet in contact with the pedals better than a flat pedal, providing a secure connection and potentially improving your pedalling efficiency.

But why are there two different systems for Shimano clipless pedals? And which one is likely to work better for the type of riding that you do? We’ll answer both questions in this article.

We’ll also have a quick look at pedal systems from other manufacturers. While ‘SPD’ and ‘SPD-SL’ refer specifically to Shimano’s road and mountain bike pedal systems, the terms are often used to broadly describe similar systems from other brands, even if they are incompatible with one another.

These pedal systems are referred to as ‘clipless’ because they’ve largely replaced the earlier system of toe clips and straps, used by road racers such as Eddy Merckx. In a clipless pedal system, the pedal has a mechanism that locks it to a cleat screwed into the underside of the shoe.

Read our guide on cycling with cleats for more on how to use clipless pedals. And if you’re fitting your first set of clipless pedals to your bike, read our guide on how to remove and change bike pedals . Looking for the best pedals? […]

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