Under Test: iSSi Clipless Pedals

iSSi II clipless pedals Shimano SPD GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder

Shimano’s SPDs may be the Kleenex of the off-road clipless pedal space, but newcomer iSSi is looking to shake up the status quo with their line of pedals. The iSSi II model pictured above features 4° float, adjustable spring tension, and is available in three chromoly spindle lengths: standard (52.2mm), +6 mm and +12 mm.

Stay tuned…

First Impressions: Paul Component Quick Release Skewers

Paul Price–the namesake of Paul Component Engineering–has been designing and manufacturing bicycle parts and components in Chico, California, since 1989. Price’s first products–quick release skewers–were followed by a host of CNC’d components including brakes, hubs, levers, and even derailleurs. On the company’s 25th anniversary, Price brought the skewers back with an updated design and limited-release color selections.

Like their original skewers, the updated Paul versions feature an internal-cam design. Internal-cam skewers are generally preferred over external-cam designs due to the former’s higher clamping force. Compared to external-cam skewers, internal-cam skewers perform more consistently in dusty and dirty conditions. The Paul’s oval 7075 alloy heads put material where it’s needed, and stainless/alloy handles provide a balance of ergonomics and weight savings. Internal friction elements keep the adjustment nuts in place when the wheels come off and matching o-rings insure a slip-free grip. Paul Component Engineering produces skewers ($50 MSRP) in four lengths: 100 mm, 130/135 mm, 170 mm, and 190 mm.

Clamping action on the Paul skewers was smooth and consistent. Whether paired with rim- or disc-brake hubs, the skewers remained tight and creak-free. The curved handles tucked in out of the way, but didn’t interfere with our test rigs’ spokes or rotors. We tested the 100 mm and 130/135 mm length skewers with a variety of frames and forks. The Paul skewers were long enough to accommodate thick aluminum dropouts and carbon fiber fork tips, but a few millimeters extended beyond the adjustment nuts when used on slender steel frames and forks. This didn’t affect the skewers’ performance in any way, but you may want to consider trimming the ends if you’re using them on steel frames/forks.

By now you’re probably asking yourself, “What does a $50 Paul skewer do differently than, say, a $20 Shimano skewer?” Good question. The Paul skewers are a little lighter than a pair of XT skewers (120 grams vs 125 grams). And while they both do a great job of keeping your wheels securely attached to your bicycle, Paul skewers do it with a little more style. The fact that Paul skewers are made in America with US-sourced materials will certainly appeal to some consumers. If your fancy boutique hubs didn’t come with quick-release skewers, you could easily spend more for ones that don’t work as well.

Disclosure: Paul Component Engineering provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.

First Impressions: Gevenalle Brake Pads

Disc brakes may get all the attention these days, but rim brakes aren’t going away anytime soon. For those riders looking to improve their brakes’ performance–or appearance–Gevenalle has just the ticket with their new road and cross pads.

Founded in Portland, Gevenalle started out as Retroshift. The company initially made a name for itself by offering affordable integrated brake/shift levers. In recent years, they added derailleurs and cassettes to the mix. Now Gevenalle is showing love to rim brake riders with their colorful brake pads.

Gevenalle’s brake pads are available in two models–road or cross. The former are compatible with standard caliper brakes, and the latter are designed for use with cantilever or linear-pull brakes. Both models feature Kool-Stop inserts, and cross models are available with steel or titanium hardware. Prices range from $48-$120 depending on hardware and pad choice.

And then there are the colors… When I was a BMX-riding shop rat, the coolest parts were available in red, blue, or gold anodized finishes. During the mountain biking CNC heyday, rasta and 3D violet (aka, purple) were the hot colors. Gevenalle can help you relive those glory days with no less than eight anodized finishes (all featuring laser-etched logos).

Rather than reinvent the wheel, or in this case, brake pads, Gevenalle spec’s Kool-Stop inserts for both the road and cross pads. Salmon and triple-compound pads are available for alloy rims, along with Kool-Stop’s carbon-compatible #1003 red formula. During this test period, I spent most of my time on road pads with triple-compound inserts.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder Gevenalle Kool-Stop brake cross cx

Grey road holders with triple-compound inserts.

Installing the Gevenalle pads was quick and uneventful. Any differences in thickness between the old and new pads required only a turn of the brakes’ barrel adjusters. Like all Kool-Stop pads, break-in time was minimal. While the Gevenalle’s holders lacked wheel guides, I didn’t notice their absence when installing wheels on any of my bikes.

Kool-Stop pads and inserts are often recommended for improving braking power and modulation. The company’s salmon compound is a favorite for wet-weather use, but I prefer the triple-compound pads as they tend to be less grabby and quieter in cold weather. An added benefit of the triple-compound inserts is that they’re extremely durable–mine show virtually no wear after hundreds of miles.

If your brakes came with molded, one-piece pads, the Gevenalle pads will be a huge upgrade. You can expect better power, quieter braking, and less wear and tear on your rims thanks to Kool-Stop’s rim friendly compounds. And if you want to just add a little pizzazz to your bike, Gevenalle has got that covered, too.

Disclosure: Gevenalle provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.