Pedal Straps vs. Cages – a Detailed Guide to Help You Pick the Right One for Your Needs

When it comes to cycling, it is important to decide on the type of pedals to use as it determines how we experience our ride. Using pedal straps or cages increases your grip and control making cycling easier and allowing you to go faster. They also provide safety by protecting your feet. In this article, we will compare pedal straps vs. cages, to see their suitability for regular cycling and for bike-hiking. 

When comparing pedal straps vs. cages, pedal straps are easy to use, generally more comfortable, and often cheaper. The benefits of using cages include protecting your toes, and better support of your feet for improved power transfer and easier pedaling on steep terrain.

What Are Pedal Straps?

Pedal straps can be attached to your bike to improve your cycling experience. Proper modification of pedals has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of knee and other problems caused by cycling.   

Pedal straps are accessories that are typically made of pieces of cloth or material that can be attached to bike pedals. They improve pedaling efficiency, help feet stay attached to the pedals, and decrease the risk of slipping. Pedal straps also protect feet and prevent injury in the case of a cycling accident. 

This article from the Journal of Sports Medicine takes an in-depth look at injuries sustained while cycling, and this article from the Journal of Excercise Science and Fitness shows that optimizing peddling can decrease your risk of injury. Using pedal straps could help to alleviate these problems and with the different types of pedal straps available, you should be able to choose one that best suits your needs. Check out our detailed guide on whether pedal straps are good to find out more. 

Velcro Strap

A Velcro pedal strap like this is a type of strap that uses a hook-and-loop system to attach to the pedals. The Velcro strap is easy to use and can be quickly attached and removed from the pedals.

Buckle Strap

A buckle strap is a type of strap that uses a buckle to attach to the pedals. The buckle strap is more difficult to install than the Velcro strap but is more secure.

Clip-in Strap

A clip-in strap like this is a type of strap that uses a clip to attach to the pedals. The clip-in strap is the most difficult to install and the most secure.

Mountain bike pedal straps go over the middle section of your foot and cages go over the front part of your foot.
Pedal straps like these keep your feet attached to the bike’s pedals for increased power transfer. Image from Santafixie.

What Are Pedal Cages?

Pedal cages offer great benefits for pedaling, especially when traversing rocky terrains. When attached to your bike you will notice how they support your feet making cycling easier.

Pedal cages are pedal accessories that include a cage to support feet. Pedal cages improve power transfer when cycling on steep terrain. They also protect the feet and secure the toes. 

Pedal cages are also known as clips or toe clips because they fit into the same category according to this article from Scada, a manufacturer of bicycle components. Product designs may vary but cages and clips are very similar in their purpose. There are different types of pedal cages available and by reading through our article that talks about the different types of mountain bike toe clips, you can choose the one that best suits your needs.


A two-bolt pedal cage like this is the most common type of pedal cage. It is easy to install and remove and is secure.

Three-Bolt & Four-bolt

These pedal cages are less common but are more secure than a two-bolt cage. They are also more difficult to install and remove. They are also compatible with clipless pedals.

When comparing pedal straps vs. cages, these toe clips are compatible with clipless pedals and offer you a secure grip when compared to pedal straps.
Pedal Toe Clips Cages allow for increased power transfer and protect your toes. Image from Amazon.

Pedal Straps vs. Cages

We will now discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both pedal straps and pedal cages in detail. These products fall into the same category but their qualities are slightly different.

When comparing pedal straps vs. cages each has distinct advantages. Pedal straps can be used with regular shoes which makes them convenient to use, they support both sides of the foot, and cost less than other options. Pedal cages protect toes better, support feet, and make it easier to cycle uphill.

Advantages of Using Pedal Straps over cages

Pedal Straps Are Easier to Use than Pedal Cages

Pedal straps are easier to use than pedal cages because they are simpler in design and installation. Pedal straps use a hook-and-loop system to attach to the pedals, while pedal cages are attached with bolts.

Pedal Straps Support Feet From Both Sides

Pedal straps support the feet by providing a stable and secure attachment to the pedals. This helps to prevent feet from slipping off of the pedals and also protects against potential injuries in the event of an accident. Additionally, pedal straps can help to improve pedaling efficiency by supporting the feet from both sides and allowing for better power transfer.

Pedal Straps are more suitable for People Who Cycle on a Daily Basis

Pedal straps are typically made from durable materials, such as nylon or polyester, which helps to ensure that they can withstand frequent use. In addition, the hook-and-loop system used to attach the straps to the pedals is very strong and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. 

Pedal Straps Offer More Flexibility For Your Feet And Thus Better Control 

Tightening or loosening the pedal straps offers more flexibility for your feet. You can adjust the straps to find the perfect fit for your feet, which helps to improve comfort and control while cycling. Additionally, pedal straps use a hook-and-loop system to attach to the pedals. This means that they can be used with any type of shoe.

If you have decided that pedal straps are going to be suitable for you then check out our step-by-step guide on how to thread a pedal strap

Pedal straps go over the middle of your foot and hold your foot securely onto the pedal.
Pedal straps can be used with your regular shoes and are comfortable to use. Image from Wired.

Disadvantages of Pedal straps

Pedal Straps Are Generally Not Suitable For Mountain Bikes And Traversing Steep Surfaces

Pedal straps can be good for everyday cycling, but they might not work as well on steep terrain. The pedal strap system is simple and easier to use than pedal cages, but it does not attach your feet as securely as pedal cages. When pedaling up steep hills, your shoes may slip off the pedals when using pedal straps, or a loose pedal strap can get caught in the pedal or gear and cause an accident. 

You can read about other pedal options in our article that discusses how to choose mountain bike pedals for grip maximization and as a matter of interest, this article from the Journal of Footwear Science, claims that clip-in pedals are the best types to use during an uphill sprint.

For riding on steep terrain toe cages offer better control and pedaling power than pedal straps.
When cycling uphill, using cages can help maintain your momentum. Image from TrainRight.

Pedal Straps Can Be Difficult To Tie And Adjust To The Proper Size 

If pedal straps are not correctly installed or adjusted, it may cause problems while cycling. The straps need to be tight enough so that they don't slip, but not too tight that it is difficult to pedal. So, while they can be used with multiple kinds of shoes, this also means that you need to adjust them every time you change shoes.

Advantages of Pedal Cages

Pedal Cages Provide Your Feet With Extra Support When Compared To Straps

According to this article by Scada, pedal cages provide more support to your feet than straps since the former consists of both a case and a strap to support your feet. Pushing hard on the pedals will not cause your foot to slip out as easily as it would with a strap. This support allows for better power transfer and makes pedal cages the best option for hiking trips.

Pedal Cages Protect Your Feet From Damage Caused By Friction From Your Shoes

Tightening the bolts on a pedal cage will help to keep your feet in place and prevent your shoes from rubbing against the cage. This can help to protect your shoes from wear and tear, as well as prevent blisters and hot spots on your feet. Pedal Cages also protect your toes. 

Disadvantages of Pedal Cages

It Can Be Difficult To Adjust Pedal Cages To Your Feet, If Done Incorrectly It May Tire Your Feet Or Cause Soreness 

In this chapter of  "Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation: A sport-specific approach", authors Walker and Dave describe how it is common for cyclists to develop Morton neuromas, foot pain, and numbness, from improper cleat (or shoe) position, irregular soles (due to shoe damage or improper flexing), and tight shoes (due to tight straps or cages). If you are looking for a more efficient way to ride your bike, then you should consider getting clip-in pedals. Clip-in pedals provide a more secure connection between your feet and the pedals as we explain in our article that outlines the benefits of clipless pedals on a mountain bike.

It Can Be Difficult To Get Your Feet Out Of The Cages Quickly When Forced To Brake

The biggest disadvantage of using pedal cages is that, in an emergency situation, it can be difficult to get your feet out of the cages quickly. This can be dangerous if you have to make a sudden stop or avoid an obstacle. You can minimize the risk of an accident by making sure that your straps are properly adjusted before every trip. 

When to Choose Pedal Straps vs. Cages

Consideration Will Pedal Straps Help? Will Pedal Cages Help?
Increased uphill speed and power transfer Not as much Yes
Increased safety  No, straps can increase the risk of accidents  No, cages can increase the risk of accidents. They protect toes against minor injury.
Increased speed on flat roads Yes Yes
Better grip on the pedals Yes Yes
Easy to install Yes Cages are more difficult to install than straps. 
Example Products Fyxation Gates Pedal Strap Kit with Red Pedal and Black Straps  Marque Cycling Pedal Toe Cages 

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