The Pedals are the part of the bicycle that the rider uses to propel the bicycle by applying pressure with their feet. This is connected to the crank arm of the bicycle allowing that force of the riders feet to be transfered throughout the bicycle and drive the rear wheel.
The first bicycle pedal to receive a U.S. patent was invented in the 1960 by Pierre Lallement. This pedal set was made of brass and rotated directly on the spindle of the bicycle. Since then there are now thousands of different designs of pedals. Just like the rest of the bicycle over a century of new technology has evolved the Pedal. Shown in the pictures below are some of the earliest pedals compared to some of the most advanced pedals of today.
The spindle of the pedal is usually 9/16" diameter. The right pedal is right hand threaded to screw into the crank arm, while the left pedal is left hand threaded to screw into the left crank arm. This is necessary to prevent the left pedal from loosening during riding.
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Types of Pedals
Platform - Platform or flat style bicycle pedals offer no attachment between the riders foot and the pedal. They were first invented in the 1930's and have since evolved greatly. These pedals come in many different styles and prices, the material can be anything from plastic to steel or aluminum. Flat on both sides with short studs offer good amount of grip between the foot and the pedal. These types of pedals do lower the pedaling efficiency due to the fact that they are not connected to the foot and there is no force pulling the pedal upwards during rotation. They do however offer instant removal of the foot from the pedal. Because of this Platform pedals are popular among BMX riders, dirt jumpers, mountain bikers and beginners, but are not exclusive to these type of riders.
Quill - Like platform pedals, quill pedals consist of a simple flat area placed on a rotating axis. The difference between the two is that quill pedals have a cage or toe clip added to them. Quill pedals are usually fitted with a toe strap that secures the riders foot in place. This allows the rider to apply power on the upswing of the crank arm. Some quill pedals require special shoes that lock the shoe into the pedal along with the straps. Non specialized shoes can also be worn with quill pedals. The main problems with quill pedals are: the weight of the straps makes the pedal hang upside down causing inconvenience mounting, when used properly they must be loosed by hand in order to dismount, and without properly tensioning the straps the efficiency of the quill pedals is lost.
Clipless - Clipless Pedals also known as clip-in or step-in require a specific shoe to match the pedal to lock the two together. They are referred to as 'Clipless' because they do not have the to clips that the Quill pedals do. The first clipless pedal was invented in 1895 and initially had a twisting mechanism to lock the shoes to the pedal. Since then many companies have experimented with different ideas of how to secure the two and some of todays most advanced pedals come in this form. This type of pedal is said to maximize the pedaling efficiency of the rider and are usable for both mountain biking as well as road riding. The way these pedals are connected to the shoe can be as simple as just stepping right onto the pedal, or an adapter may be required .
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