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The Best Pedals for Cyclocross Racing

Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist as well as being a lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.

The demands of cyclocross need to be addressed when you're choosing the right pedals.

The demands of cyclocross need to be addressed when you're choosing the right pedals.

You Have to Choose the Right Pedals for Cyclocross Racing

The unique demands of cyclocross racing require equipment that will give you a safe yet enjoyable riding experience. One of the most important components to consider is your pedals.

Whether you're a newbie looking to set up your first bike or a regular rider looking for the ideal pedals, this guide should help you find what's right for you.

The best pedals for cyclocross are:

  • Shimano SPD PD-M520
  • Crank Brothers Egg Beater
  • Crank Brothers Candy Pedals
  • Shimano XTR Race Pedals

What Makes a Good CX Pedal?

The best cyclocross pedals need to:

  • Provide a reliable connection with your bike for power and control. This rules out platform pedals.
  • Be able to deal with regular dismounts and remounts. This rules out a clipless, single-sided road cycling pedal.
  • Be able to shed mud well, depending on the demands of the course.

Due to these requirements, many riders use a clipless pedal system (much like you'd find on a mountain bike) for cyclocross, as it offers a stable connection between the rider and bike and, depending on the model, has a double-sided entry. Even if you think you have the right pedals, muddy conditions could quite easily clog up some pedal systems.

The pedals on your cyclocross bike needs to be able to cope with the mud.  Pictured: Bruce Dalton of Kinesis Morvelo Project.

The pedals on your cyclocross bike needs to be able to cope with the mud. Pictured: Bruce Dalton of Kinesis Morvelo Project.

Great Pedals for Beginners

If you're new to cyclocross, getting the right equipment can be a headache—especially if you're working with a tight budget. Not everyone who takes up cyclocross will find it to be the right activity for them.

Shimano's SPD PD-M520 is a mountain bike pedal system that is very popular with beginners. The Shimano SPD pedals offer a reassuring clip between the pedal and a hard-wearing metal cleat, and their design allows mud to pass through the body, which is great for newcomers.

The PD-M520 is renowned for long-lasting, good-quality bearings despite a relatively low price tag. It is also a low-maintenance pedal. In case a beginner would like to continue, the brand offers upward progression along its line of excellent mountain bike pedals.

The Ultimate Mudshedding Cyclocross Pedals

When winter takes its toll on racing conditions, you need pedals that will be able to handle all the mud you throw, kick up and spray all over them.

Enter the Crank Brothers Egg Beater. These minimalist mountain bike pedals offer fantastic performance. With four-sided entry, their rider interface differs from many double-sided pedals on the marketplace. These are performance-orientated cyclocross pedals.

The only downside of Crank Brothers pedals is their longevity. Many riders have been unimpressed by the longterm wear of this system. However, the latest models of Egg Beaters have improved bearings and seals.

Bruce Dalton of Kinesis Morvelo Project making good use of his Crank Brothers Candy Pedals for cyclocross.

Bruce Dalton of Kinesis Morvelo Project making good use of his Crank Brothers Candy Pedals for cyclocross.

Heavy Duty-Pedals

A favourite with seasoned CX racers is the Crank Brothers Candy pedal range. They feature a larger platform than the pedals mentioned above, which gives the feeling of added security, especially when remounting in a race—there's a chance you might not get the pedal entry quite right!

The outer platform on these pedals also provides a degree of bash protection, as the internal mechanism can be susceptible to damage from rocks and in crashes. Despite the protective outer platform, Candy pedals are lightweight compared to other pedals at a similar price point.

What Pedal Does Sven Nys Use?

When it comes to choosing the best equipment for your cyclocross bike, it's wise to ask yourself, What pedals does Sven Nys have? It's natural to want to use what the top professional European CX riders use.

Sven Nys has been using Shimano's top mountain bike pedals—the XTR line. However, as one of the sport's top riders, Sven is able to get his hands on prototype equipment fitted with special adjustments. Whilst Shimano hasn't yet brought out a cyclocross version of its renowned SPD pedal system, many pros still opt for the XTR race pedal, which is offered at a great value and performs reliably in the mud.

© 2012 Liam Hallam