Choosing Pedals For Winter Cycling

26 Sep

Note: This is the third installment in a series of articles on winter cycling. I hope to have the entire series finished by November and then publish it as a free PDF book that you can download from this website (the working title is, “A Guide To Winter Cycling”).

If you are going to ride your bike in the winter you need to give serious consideration to your choice of pedals or cleats. Shortly after I started cycling I began using Shimano SPD cleats and pedals. However, as I started spending more time riding in the mud and light snow I needed a pedal/cleat system that could handle these conditions better, so I switched all of my mountain bikes over to Crank Brothers Eggbeater 1 Mountain Bike Pedals (I use Look Keo 2 cleats on my road bikes).

Crank Brothers Eggbeater Mountain Bike Pedals

Crank Brothers Eggbeater MTB Pedals

The open-body design of Crank Brothers Eggbeater pedals shed mud like nothing else, so if you love muddy singletrack you will probably love these pedals as well. The pedals have a wide adjustable release angle (15 to 20 degrees) and a forged chromoly spindle with cartridge bearing seals to keep the dirt out. Because your cleats can engage the pedals on all four sides you never have to look down before clipping in. A pair of these pedals weight just 256 grams. Crank Brothers Eggbeater 1 Mountain Bike Pedals retail for $60 a pair (including brass cleats) and come with a two-year warranty.

While Egg Beaters shed snow, they are not so great when it comes to shedding ice. If you have to get off your bike and walk in slush for very long there is a good chance your cleats are going to clog up with solid ice, and I’ve found that very difficult to get rid of. So, if you are going to have to ride (or walk) through slush you might be better off with a BMX pedal.

Odyssey JCPC Pedal For Fat Bikes And Winter Cyclists

Odyssey JCPC Pedal For Winter Cyclists

If you are on a tight budget you can use Odyssey JCPC Pedals. The body of these pedals is made of an injection-molded fiber reinforced polymer composite that is extremely durable. This pedal is heavy—they weigh a little over 8-ounces per pedal. Odyssey JCPC Pedals retail for around $35. Two problems, in addition to their weight, is that they use fairly low-quality screws and their customer service is non-existent.

45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals

45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals

My favorite winter pedals for Fat Bikes or Mountain Bikes is the Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals, made by 45NRTH, a young company that specializes in gear for cold weather cycling. They have brought a lot of exciting new cycling products to the market, including winter tires, chains, boots, pedals and balaclavas. The Heiruspecs is a wide flat pedal that has 16 replaceable alloy pins per pedal for an amazing grip. The CNC-extruded body is made of aluminum and weights only 358 grams per pair. The pedal itself is black and comes with orange pins, but replacement pin kits are available so you have your pins match your bike. Replacement pins are available in several colors, including red, blue, green, orange, silver, black, and pewter. The 45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals retail for $99 a pair.

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Another good choice is the Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals. Premium Slim Pedals are made from extruded and CNC machined aluminum (6061 alloy) and have a CNC machined chromoly spindle for added strength (with sealed bearings). Like the Heiruspecs, there are sixteen removable and replaceable metal pins per pedal (eight per side) for a great grip. The pedal body varies in thickness from 14mm to 17mm. These pedals weight 8.3 ounces (236g) each, which is two ounces per pedal heavier than the 45NRTH Heiruspecs. In all honesty, the main reason I bought these pedals was the beautiful red anodized finish. These pedals perfectly match several other red anodized items I’ve recently added to my Surly Necromancer Pugsley (spoke nipples, rim tape, water bottle cages, and seat clamp). Premium Slim Pedals are available in five colors (Black, Silver, Red, Teal, and Purple) and retail for around $100 a pair.

Regardless of what brand of pedal you choose, you need to apply a thin layer of an anti-seize compound to the threads before installation. I use the Park Tool Anti-Seize Compound—it forms a protective barrier around small parts to protect them from rust and corrosion (this product is safe for use on steel, aluminum, and Titanium).


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10 responses to “Choosing Pedals For Winter Cycling

  1. Lisa

    September 27, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    Dude, we’re still reaching 90 for the high some days. You’re making me jones for some sweater weather.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      September 27, 2013 at 2:36 PM

      We won’t see 90 till sometime next July or August! On the other hand, the snow probably won’t be here till Thanksgiving — but sometimes with have it for Halloween (there is something weird about sending your kids out Trick-or-Treating when their costume is barely able to fit over their winter coats).

  2. thehomeschoolingdoctor

    September 27, 2013 at 6:05 PM

    Boy, I’m not thinking I’ll be doing winter riding this year!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      September 27, 2013 at 7:46 PM

      My wife tells me that I have AADD (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder). I have to get outside every day, regardless of the weather, or I just don’t feel right.

  3. Joboo

    September 27, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    Amen to getting outside everyday; I’m the same way!!
    I have to 2nd the 45NRTH Heiruspecs!!
    Grip like you wouldn’t believe. Sometimes I’ve actually thought I was clipped in still….with my warmer winter boots!
    Bring on the cold and snow!!
    There’s nothing quite like riding through the quiet stillness of the snow covered woods. This will sound weird, but the silence is almost deafening!!
    Riding a frozen creek or lake is something everyone should experience also.
    Riding the woods and frozen lakes of northern Mn. is something very special!!
    Pedal On!!

  4. CultFit

    September 28, 2013 at 6:48 AM

    Fantastic and informative post, thank you!

  5. simonnurse

    October 3, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    Good post. I’m rather hoping we don’t get any of the white stuff this winter – South Wales struggles with preparation – but if it does, I’m with you on the Premium Slims.

  6. eatpedalpaddle

    November 9, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    I picked up a pair of Eggbeaters in the spring that I used for 8-10 rides this season At first glance they seemed like they ought to be the perfect pedal to replace the OnZa H.O’s that I’ve been using on all of my bikes since ’95. Light, minimalistic and great at shedding mud/dirt/snow but I have never been more frustrated by a pedal or any other piece of bike equipment! I think the cleat is too low profile to engage easily. Often when I push down to engage the cleat just slips past the pedal. I think a shim to raise the cleat might do the job but after the frustration I’ve had I just can’t be bothered to try to save them…. Instead I finally got some road pedals for my road bike. Wow! I wish I’d picked up these Time Pedals years ago! That’s obviously another story since you’re discussing winter pedals here… I like the flat pedal option for winter riding, then you can wear any boot you want. Those 45NRTH look great – big platform and lots of traction.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 11, 2013 at 10:38 PM

      I hope you give the Eggbeaters another chance — I have them on four of my bikes. I’ve found that they do take about 200 miles to break in.


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