Coaches Panel: Pedals for a bow-legged rider

Paul Swift answers a reader question about what pedal system is best for bow-legged riders.

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I was wondering what pedal system you would recommend to increase comfort and efficiency for someone who is a bow-legged rider. Loving the ride, I just can’t go the distance because of pain.

Paul Swift responds:

Dear “Loving the ride,”

I feel like Dr. Phil answering this question. I love it since I too ride bow-legged (or rather I used to ride more bow-legged).

Regarding pedal systems, there is only one choice and that is Speedplay. For the road I recommend the Speedplay Zero model with variable length spindles, 1/8-inch, 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch longer than standard. I use a 1/4-inch longer spindle on the left and a 1/2-inch longer on the right because you can individualize them if one leg needs more width. Speedplay has a great Web site for information on pedal features and the link to the pedal page is on the bottom of their home page (Ultimate Fit Tech Videos).

I am not here to spout off about a particular brand or company but this is by far the best Web site on pedals you will find. You will need to find an informed Speedplay dealer to order these pedals, but they are available.

But hold on! There is one other possible solution. Pedal Spacers may be used. The shortest spacer you will find is 20mm, which would make your pedals a few millimeters wider than even the widest Speedplay Pedal. Occasionally you will find these spacers called “Knee Savers” but we just call them pedal spacers and list the length. However, these spacers only work with pedals you install using a pedal wrench and will not work if your pedals install with an allen key only, as you need access to a flat surface to tighten into the spacer and into the crank arm.

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Paul Swift
Paul Swift

A former 8-time National Elite Cycling Champion and founder of, Paul developed the Bicycle Fitting System (BFS), which includes products like the Cleat Wedges. The BFS helped bring the “front view” of a cyclist into the bike fitting world. offers tools and education for bike fitters worldwide, helping them to better position humans on bicycles.