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Pedal Plates are a quick, cheap and lightweight way to make your SPD-SL (as tested) or Look Keo 3-bolt cleat pedals rideable in normal shoes or even bare feet. Not everyone will need them, but if you do they could come in very handy.
We've all been there: needing to ride a bike with Shimano or Look 'road' pedals even a short distance, but with only normal shoes on. Or possibly no shoes at all. The problem being, there's no traction on either side of the pedal for normal shoes let alone bare feet, making pedalling any distance uncomfortable or downright hazardous, especially if you need to put some power down to ride up a hill, over rough ground or in slippery conditions.
For three-bolt road pedals several options have appeared – recently Shaun reviewed the Pedal Dabs system, handing out three stars for the rather bulky £20 product. Other systems such as Fly Pedals cost a lot more, are even larger and require a set of cleats to be bolted to them, further hiking the cost.
In mid-2017 Dutch cyclist Marc van der Heide ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for Pedal Plates, striking a nerve amongst people who wanted more utility from their pedals, at a lower price and with a smaller – ahem – footprint. He openly admits on his website that 'not everybody has a use for the pedal plates', but for those who do, these are a genius solution.
As cycling accessories go, it's hard to think of anything simpler: they snap into your pedal where the cleat goes. It helps if you back the tension off a bit, but I have my Ultegra SPDs cranked up pretty high and snapping them in was no problem.
Getting them back out is either by hand, pulling back on the rear of the pedal where the tension mechanism lives, or inserting a 5mm or smaller hex key or screwdriver and twisting out.
Once in they offer you a grippy, flat surface to pedal on. Assuming your bearings aren't shot, the pedal still hangs at an angle ready to push against and get going, no flipping around needed, unlike some SPD-flat dual-platform designs. Riding in normal shoes, bare feet or even the official road.cc test flip-flops presented no problems at all – a new experience on a road bike.
No, you probably wouldn't want to do a century on them, but for shorter distances they do the trick, offering grip and a nice flat platform for the ball of your foot for going fast or the central arch area for cruising.
Their suggested use cases include:
That last use case, for beginners, is worthy of unpacking. For many people new to road cycling, that first road bike is likely their first SPD-SL bike. Combine the learning curve of narrow drop bars, combined shifters and skinny tyres, what you really don't need on those first few rides are silly shoes to learn as well – particularly when the consequence of getting it wrong could be painful.
Buying or borrowing a set of Pedal Plates to use on those first confidence-gathering rides until you're ready to clip in could make learning to ride a road bike a much more pleasant experience. Of course you could fit flat pedals to start with, but then they're pretty much of no future use, whereas some Pedal Plates could come in very handy.
My personal anecdote where Pedal Plates would have been worth their weight in a reasonably pricey substance occurred when I had to collect a rental bike while on a work trip overseas. I finished work dressed in a suit and slick-soled shoes, got public transport across town to the bike, then rode it back to my hotel a number of miles through rush-hour traffic.
Despite taking care, I nearly came a cropper on several occasions when my foot slipped from a slick SPD-SL pedal. I'd have paid £11 a few times over for a sure footing and the ability to put the gas down at sets of traffic lights. If I'd come off as a result of a misplaced pedal the ensuing suit replacement would have run to the value of the bike.
Measuring 7 x 7cm, Pedal Plates will fit easily into a pocket, saddlebag or bartop-bag, and at 43g for the pair they're hardly going to slow you down or push you over your luggage limit. They come with a lifetime warranty against breakage, and a three-year warranty against wear and tear. That could be a lot of in-out pedal action, and if you've thrashed them enough to wear out after three years you've had more than your £4.50 per year of value.
The £11 price (plus £2.50 p&p) backed by the lifetime/wear and tear warranty beats the pants off any no-warranty knock-offs you might find online. The genuine article is only available in grey at time of writing (more colours planned) via the UK or EU distributors listed or direct from the Pedal Plates website.
The assessment of 'value' will be utterly subjective depending on what Pedal Plates enable you to do. Being able to ride a road bike in normal shoes might well save you money, time, an injury or taking another bike/set of flat pedals and associated pedal tools for removal. If you get by with one bike to rule them all and like three-bolt cleats, the Pedal Plates could save you interminably swapping pedals, causing wear to soft alloy crank threads. Whatever your use case, they are small, light and just work.
A well-executed solution to the problem of riding a bike with three-bolt cleat pedals but not the shoes
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pedal Plate SPD-SL compatible
Size tested: SPD-SL
Tell us what the product is for
They turn your clipless pedals into flat pedals for use with normal shoes (or no shoes), sandals, flip-flops...
Pedal Plate says:
This Pedal Plate converts your Shimano SPD-SL compatible pedals for use with all types of shoes by creating a flat surface with grip to enhance comfort and safety.
Pedal Plates have a lifetime guarantee against breakage and 3 years on tear and wear.
The Pedal Plate will increase the Fun On Investment for your road bike as soon as you start using it:
on your holidays
showing off during leisure time
sharing your bike with friends and relatives
One-piece, robust and affordable solution providing flat surface with grip to enhance comfort and safety.
No compromises by chasing 'one solution fits all'. The Pedal Plate is purely focussed on delivering the optimal solution for each of the Shimano SPD-SL and the Look Keo (2Max) pedal systems.
The Pedal Plate will not change your pedals center of gravity. No hanging upside-down so you can use the same routine for bringing your foot to the Pedal Plate as you do with your cycling shoes on.
Light and compact
A set of Pedal Plates only weighs 41grams and is very compact. That makes them easy to store or take with you in your saddle bag, jeans, jacket or jersey.
With a retail price of only € 14,95 and no need to buy additional cleats, the Pedal Plate is also the most cost efficient solution.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Versions to fit Shimano SPD-SL or Look Keo cleats (choose your model)
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't fault it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Otherwise flawless, the only drawback would be removal from a tensioned pedal if you didn't have a hex key or thin screwdriver handy. Granted, this is unlikely if you're riding a bike anywhere.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling
Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.