It used to be that there were two kinds of flat pedals: the fancy ones sporting alloy platforms and metal pins; and the more basic, composite models with molded-in pins. If you wanted lots of traction, that meant ponying up for the pricier, all-metal pedals. But then, manufacturers figured out how to combine replaceable metal pins with more affordable composite platforms–a win/win for thrifty (or crash-prone) riders. In addition to being less costly, composite pedals are often lighter than their metal counterparts, and many companies now spec nylon-bodied pedals with the same high-quality bearings and spindles found in their pricier, alloy models.
Based on the popularity of last year’s flat pedal roundup, it’s safe to say that more and more gravel/adventure riders are making the switch from clipless to flat pedals. Why? There are many reasons, but as I mentioned in Part-I of the 2018 roundup, modern flats are bigger, grippier, and offer support that rivals–and in some cases, exceeds–clipless pedals’ performance. OK, but what makes one pedal better than another? The answer is, it depends. Some riders want maximum grip, others favor light weight, while some place more value on ground clearance. Whatever your criterion, though, you’re bound to find at least one flat pedal that meets your particular needs.
In Part-I of GRAVELBIKE’s flat pedal round-up, we covered the basics of platform design and profile, materials and bearings, pin types, and installation. Now, in Part-II, we dive into the nitty gritty details of the nine pedals I’ve been testing for the past six months. My seat-of-the-pants test methodology was pretty straightforward: ride each pedal on a variety of terrain including pavement, gravel, and technical off-road trails. The test rigs included several different drop-bar gravel/adventure bikes, as well as my Jeff Jones rigid MTB. When it came to footwear, I relied on Five Ten’s Freerider Pro shoes for the majority of my testing. Weather conditions during the six-month test period included rain, snow, and countless miles of dry, dusty roads and trails. Continue Reading “2018 Flat Pedal Roundup (Part-II)”
Not so long ago, being a cycling enthusiast meant that your bike absolutely had to be equipped with clipless pedals. Whether you rode pavement, dirt, or gravel, those clipless pedals (and shoes) were a sign that you had made the transition from newbie to serious cyclist. But then, a few years ago, flat pedals began to enjoy a resurgence in popularity. Riders of all disciplines rediscovered the benefits–and freedom–of flat pedals.
I must admit that I have a soft spot for LOOK‘s off-road pedals. In the mid-nineties, I chose the French company’s big red S2R Moab model over Shimano’s more popular SPD. Why? More float for one. But to be completely honest, the Moabs’ glossy red finish just looked cooler than the matte-black SPDs. So when I was invited to preview LOOK’s re-entry into the MTB clipless space at last year’s Interbike trade show, I was very curious to see which direction the company would take.
Thanks to their adoption by mountain bikers, BMXers, and urban riders, flat pedals have enjoyed a major resurgence in popularity. Unlike those oldschool platform pedals, modern flats deliver vastly improved grip and performance that often rivals their clipless counterparts. One key contributor to flat pedals’ performance is size. Bigger platforms offer additional support, which translates into better grip and more comfort. Unfortunately, bigger almost always means heavier. It’s not uncommon for a pair of MTB-style pedals to weigh 400 grams or more. To reduce the weight, manufacturers often scale down the platform size (reducing traction) or utilize exotic materials (increasing cost). But Taiwanese pedal giant Xpedo flips the script by offering weight-conscious riders an affordable option with the company’s $79 SPRY platform model.