First Impressions: iSSi Clipless Pedals

How does a new company stand out in the sea of off-road clipless pedals? Well, if you’re iSSi, you do it by offering SPD-compatible pedals in a variety of sizes and colors. In addition to their original XC-style pedal, the Minneapolis-based company now offers a mid-sized Trail model. iSSi pedals are available with your choice of sealed bearings and bushings or with three sealed bearings. For maximum pedaling efficiency and comfort, spindles come in standard (52.5 mm), +6, or +12 widths. And for those fashion-conscious riders, iSSi pedals are available in eight colors.

I tested the minimalist iSSi II pedal ($75.00 MAP) in the bright silver colorway. With so many colors available, you’re probably wondering why I chose the plain silver finish. To be honest, I originally requested some of iSSi’s other colors, but due to their popularity, they happened to be sold out. So whoever said that cyclists don’t care about their bikes’ looks was either wrong or lying. At 308 grams for the pair, our sample pedals with 52.5 mm spindles came in under the advertised 312 gram weight. The Shimano SPD-compatible cleats weighed in at 52 grams including mounting hardware.

Right out of the box, clipping into the iSSi pedals proved easy and intuitive. As the cleats and retention claws broke in, entry became smoother and required less effort. Even with the pedals’ adjustable tension set to their easiest, audible and tactile feedback left no doubt that the cleats had engaged properly. Testing the iSSi pedals with mountain bike shoes from Five Ten, Louis Garneau, and Pearl Izumi didn’t reveal any difficulties clipping in or out. Despite running the release tension at the stock (i.e. lightest) setting, I never experienced any unwanted or unplanned exits. Unlike some pedals, the iSSi pedals’ tension builds up gradually as you approach the release angle (which is very easy to detect). This allows for plenty of body English in technical terrain, but doesn’t require that you crank down the tension to keep your feet securely planted (which can make entry more difficult).

With the majority of my testing taking place during late summer and early fall, dry trails were the norm. What little mud I did encounter didn’t affect entry or exit, but look for a follow-up review after the iSSi pedals have been through a typical Colorado winter. Despite a lack of wet weather testing, the pedals’ seals and bearings did survive multiple bouts with my gas-powered pressure washer. Should you need to service your pedals, only a 6 mm hex key and 9 mm socket are required. Like many clipless pedals on the market, the iSSi’s pedals are installed or removed with an 8 mm kex key. While I definitely prefer traditional wrench flats, swapping the pedals between multiple bikes was easy with the aid of a shop-length Allen wrench.

If you find traditional clipless pedals (or cranks, for that matter) to be too narrow, iSSi offers both models with +6 and +12 spindles. These add an extra 6 mm or 12 mm per-side, which can be particularly useful on fat bikes or for riders who have large feet or unique biomechanical requirements.  Best of all, the wider versions cost significantly less than similar pedals from competitors. I tested the stock 52.5 mm spindles with the aforementioned shoes, and found the clearance to be adequate on road, gravel, and mountain bikes (despite my heels-in pedal stroke).

Whether you’re looking for a wider stance or just want to add some color to your bike, iSSi’s line of pedals has a lot to offer. Stay tuned for a follow-up review after I’ve been able to log some winter miles on the iSSi pedals.

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

Under Test: GT Grade Bicycle

GT triple triangle GT head tube

GT Bicycles may be synonymous with mountain bikes and BMX, but the company is looking to make a name for themselves in the growing all-road market. Dubbed Enduroad, all seven models feature the brand’s iconic triple triangle frame design. Prices range from $880 for the Shimano Claris-equipped model to $3,800 for their carbon-framed Ultegra model. Pictured above is the $990 Grade Alloy Sora, which features a Shimano/FSA drivetrain, Tektro disc brakes, and a carbon fork.

Stay tuned…