Clipless, Platform Pedals for Touring Bikes and Bike Commuting
First and foremost is the ever popular "to go clipless or not to go clipless" question. Let's get one thing made clear clipless pedals are for riders who "spin" their pedal stroke. For most bike commuting and touring conditions this how you evaluate your own riding style regarding your pedal stroke. There are some seasoned riders who will tell you they could "never spin worth a damn" but can "mash" their pedals all day every day. These are the two basic categories of determining one's own pedal stroke. Cadence or pedal rhythm, fore and aft position of pedals all get learned from experience and time spent on the bike and has much more to do with riding a clipless pedal. For those who don't know what a clipless pedal is, it is a pedal designed to be worn with special shoes in which the cleat matches up with the pedal receiving the cleat. Shimano SPD system being the most popular and typically most affordable for beginners to try first and is all that will be discussed for the purpose of this article.
For a "regular pedal" I always recommend a nice big platform pedal for both touring bikes and bike commuting. For casual trail riding or off road use or for wet weather, a slightly studded platform pedal is excellent for maintaining foot to pedal contact under varying conditions. This includes frequent stop and go riding such as when waiting for traffic. There are plenty of experienced bike folks who enjoy both bike touring and commuting and prefer to use platform pedals for their commute and clipless pedals for their bicycle tours.
Reason I like these so much for bike touring is that if for any reason some mishap such as losing a cleat screw from a shoe or wanting to take a break from riding clipless due to "hotspots" causing foot pain or numbness simply put on some flip flops and pedal on the flats for awhile. For bike touring and commuting the more versatile and convenient the options of a component or accessory the better.
I like platform pedals on old classic cruiser style bikes where strolling along with a handlebar basket simply does not require a clipless system. I have some nice pedals from Wellgo installed on a few bikes from my shop and if I know the person doesn't ride clipless and are in need of new pedals this is the pedal I put on. For twenty bucks they've held up fine for trails and urban curb hopping. I can ride them wearing work boots, flip flops, whatever, flat pedals are offered in different materials including manganese and can cost anywhere from twenty to over a hundred dollars. As most of these style of pedals have been designed with downhill, BMX and mountain bike riders in mind the pedals ore very stout so that when used for everyday bike commuting they will most likely provide solid performance for several years or more.
Links related to this Article:
Kent's Bike Blog "Clipsplaining Explained"
To Go Clipless or not