What Is Clipless Pedals? | Beginner’s Guide

A person riding a mountain bike in the woods.

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on clipless pedals — a valuable resource for cycling beginners who want to dive into the world of this pedal system. What is clipless pedals? Clipless pedals may be one of the crucial components for your mountain bike set up. If you are eager to improve your pedaling efficiency and foot stability, you can’t miss out this informative guide.

In this article, we’ll explore the fundamental workings of clipless pedals, and walk through their pros and cons. Additionally, we’ll explore the various types of clipless pedals available and offer insights into selecting the most suitable option for your cycling needs. Finally, we’ll provide practical guidance to start your journey into the exciting world of clipless pedal cycling. Let’s begin this exploration together!

What is Clipless Pedals and How Do They Work?

A bicycle with an orange mamba pedal attached to it.

What is clipless pedals? Clipless pedals operate with their cleat and clip-in mechanism, and offer cyclists an enhanced level of control and efficiency. The cleats on the cycling shoes can firmly attach to the pedals, and create a direct and secure link between your feet and the bike while pedaling. This connection offers efficient power transfer, as it enables you to smoothly apply force not only during the downstroke but also when pulling up on the pedals.

A person riding a mountain bike in the woods.
Image source: Shimano official website
As a result, you can generate power throughout the entire pedal stroke, and ultimately improving your speed and endurance. Additionally, the stability provided by clipless pedals ensures that your feet remain securely on the pedals, even during rapid pedaling, greatly reducing the possibility of accidental slips and enhancing overall riding confidence.

Should I Use Clipless Pedals?

Using clipless pedals can be a game-changer for many cyclists, with advantages including improved power transfer, enhanced pedaling efficiency, and increased foot stability and security. However, there’s a steep learning curve, an initial cost involved, and difficulty in putting down your foot quickly.

A man riding a mountain bike in the woods.

If you’re primarily into road cycling, mountain biking, or any discipline where efficient power transfer and control are essential, clipless pedals are definitely worth considering. To develop deeper into the pros and cons of clipless pedals, be sure to check out our detailed guide: “Flat vs Clipless Pedals: The Ultimate Guide From Experts!

Different Types of Clipless Pedals

Clipless pedals come in various types like Shimano SPD, Time, and Crankbrothers. In Funn’s pedal selection, we’ve chosen the SPD system due to its widespread popularity. This system offers a broader choice of compatible shoes and makes it easier to find replacement parts. Some noteworthy models in our pedal selection are the Mamba, Mamba S, and Ripper pedals. In the upcoming sections, we’ll explore the unique features of these commonly used clipless pedal systems.

Shimano SPD:

Shimano SPD pedals are well-known for their versatility and user-friendliness, making them an excellent choice for mountain bikers. These pedals provide riders with the confidence to tackle challenging terrain while enjoying the benefits of secure clipless engagement.

Shimano SPD pedals
Image source: Shimano official website


Crankbrothers is well-regarded in the cycling world for their distinctive clipless pedal system. Characterized by an eggbeater-style mechanism, it provides straightforward engagement and disengagement, a feature particularly appreciated by mountain biking enthusiasts. The system is notable for its dependable performance and excellent mud-shedding abilities.

A pair of yellow pedals on a white background.
Image source: Crankbrothers official website


Offering versatility suitable for both road and mountain biking, and boasting a unique “two-bolt” cleat design with adjustable tension and excellent mud-shedding capabilities. Nonetheless, they may not be as widely available as other brands and models.

A black bicycle pedal with the word time on it.
Image source: Time official website


Speedplay pedals are highly regarded not only for their lightweight but also for their remarkable float adjustment range. Allows cyclists to achieve a comfortable foot position while pedaling, enhancing overall riding efficiency and comfort.

A pair of stainless steel pedals on a white background.
Image source: Speedplay official website

Choosing the Right Clipless Pedals

Choosing the right clipless pedals is essential for a comfortable and efficient cycling experience, especially for beginners. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice based on your riding preferences:

Identify Your Riding Style:

Understanding your intended use is essential, as different pedal systems are designed to meet the unique demands of mountain biking. For downhill enthusiasts, selecting pedals like our Mamba and Ripper model, known for its large platform, maximum stability, and secure foot engagement, is crucial. This design ensures your feet remain firmly in place during the most rugged rides.

Conversely, cross-country riders often prefer pedals with a minimal platform size and lightweight design for efficient power transfer, such as our Mamba S model, tailored for speed and agility. Understanding your particular riding style is key to choosing pedals that not only improve your performance but also increase your enjoyment on the trails.

A man riding a mountain bike on a dirt trail.

Float Adjustment:

It’s important to consider whether you prefer pedals equipped with a float adjustment feature. This allows your feet to pivot slightly when clipped in, significantly reducing joint stress and enhancing comfort. Many clipless pedals adjust the float using various types of cleats. All Funn clipless pedals, for instance, come equipped with a 5-degree float, offering a balance of stability and flexibility for your rides.

For mountain bikers, this added flexibility enables riders to pedal with greater ease and less fatigue, making challenging terrains feel more manageable. The ability to pivot your feet with each stroke ensures a more comfortable riding experience.

Spare Part Availability:

When selecting your preferred pedals, take into account the availability of spare parts. Popular clipless pedal systems like SPD often have readily available spare parts, which you can easily purchase online or at local bike shops in your area. Having convenient access to spare parts ensures that you can quickly attend to any maintenance or replacement needs, helping you keep your pedals in optimal condition.

By keeping these factors in mind, beginners can understand what clipless pedal is and confidently select the clipless pedal system that aligns with their riding preferences, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable cycling experience.

Getting Started with Clipless Pedals

Getting started with clipless pedals can be an exciting but slightly challenging transition for beginners. Here’s a clear guide to help you transition smoothly:

Choose the Right Cycling Shoes:

Once you’ve chosen the right pedal system for your riding style, make sure your cycling shoes work perfectly with those pedals. This is an essential step to ensure your rides go smoothly and efficiently. Your choice of shoes is vital for improving your comfort and performance while cycling.

Practice Clipping In and Out:

In a controlled environment, like your driveway or a quiet street, start slowly by setting the pedal tension to the lowest level, allowing for easy clipping in and out. This step helps you become comfortable with the motion and build confidence gradually.

A person's feet on a mountain bike.

Anticipate Stops:

Plan ahead to unclip before stopping. As you approach a stop or intersection, shift your weight to the foot that will remain clipped in. At the same time, gently unclip the other foot and rest it on the pedal. This move ensures a quick dismount. As your bike slows to a stop, step forward with your free foot. It provides stability and comfort while waiting to clip in again when it’s time to continue your ride.

Practice Riding with Clipless Pedals:

Spend some time riding on routes you know well and consider safe. This will help you become more familiar with your new pedal system. Concentrate on pedaling smoothly and maintaining your balance throughout the ride. This practical experience will boost your confidence and make using clipless pedals feel more natural.

Two mountain bikers riding down a trail in the woods.


In conclusion, we’ve developed the world of clipless pedals, gaining insights into their various types, advantages, and essential considerations for beginners. Clipless pedals offer improved power transfer, control, and efficiency, making them a valuable addition to your cycling gear. The benefits they bring to your riding experience are well worth the initial learning curve. Whether you’re hitting the road or tackling the trails, clipless pedals can enhance your performance and enjoyment on the bike. So, clip in, and go on a new and rewarding cycling journey!
A man riding a mountain bike in the woods.

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