Monday, November 26, 2012

SPD Pedals and Platform Support

When it comes to SPD-style clipless pedals, there is some discussion about the benefits of models with integrated platforms versus without. For example, here is an email I received from a reader last week:
...I see in your photos that you use both the Crank Brothers Eggbeaters and Candy pedals. Which do you recommend for a beginner? My boyfriend likes Shimano A-520 pedals because of the extra platform support. His thought is that the Candys provide the same level of support, but not the Eggbeaters. Do you agree?
To answer this question, let me backtrack a bit. The Eggbeater and Candy pedals from Crank Brothers are identical, except that the Candys (right) have a flat platform built around the bindings and the Eggbeaters (left) do not. When choosing pedals, I heard several arguments in favour of the Candys, including that the platform offers extra foot support, that as a beginner I would have an easier time clipping into a larger pedal, and that the platforms would allow me to ride in regular shoes.

I have now ridden with Candys on my own roadbike for the past 9 months. Over that time I have also borrowed friends' bikes with Eggbeaters (including a 100K ride). In the very beginning, the Candys were indeed easier for me to clip into. However, this advantage was short-lived and just weeks later I already had no problem using Eggbeaters and could not distinguish between them. I can also confirm that the Candys are much easier to ride in street shoes, on the rare occasions I find myself doing this on a roadbike. But as far as foot support, I feel absolutely no difference between the two models. I thought that I would, but I don't.

The Eggbeaters have their own advantages. The lack of platforms makes them considerably lighter. They offer more points of entry. And they are easier to clean. Overall, I think that I prefer them, although really I am fine with either.

While not the same as the Crankbrothers system, you could draw parallels to this comparison with Shimano SPDs. There are pedals that consist of bindings alone, and those that incorporate a platform. Some claim the platform provides additional foot support and allows for more power to be transferred, making it similar to a road pedal. Others argue that this is not the case, as the platform sits too far below the binding to provide significant support. I have no comment on the mechanics of this at large, but can only say that with my style of riding, and my specific pedal and shoe combination, I cannot feel the difference. As a beginner, I would suggest trying lots of pedals and figuring out what feels better to you.

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