When I tested Crankbrothers’ Candy 3 pedals two years ago, I found them to be good, all-around pedals for off-road use. My only real gripe with the system was dialing in the shoe/pedal interface as the cleats and shoes wore from use. Even with the aid of Crankbrothers’ cleat shims and optional stainless steel Shoe Plates, finding the right blend of support and ease of entry/exit was largely hit or miss. So when Crankbrothers announced their new Candy 7 pedals (MSRP $165 USD) with configurable traction pads, I jumped at the chance to give them a try.
The Candy 7 and 11 pedals’ improvements aren’t limited to the aforementioned traction pads. To address durability issues, the company partnered with bearing giants igus and Enduro to develop a new system designed to excel in the pedals’ low-speed, high-torque environment. New seals were also added to keep water and debris from entering the pedal’s bearings The iconic Candy pedal bodies also get some fine tuning in the form of added ribs for better traction when unclipped, and chamfered edges to reduce rock strikes.
Clipping into the new Candy 7s feels a lot like clipping into the older Candy 3s. The rotating-wing design allows conventional, toe-down entry, or you can scrape the cleat along the top of the pedal. Once you’re clipped, you really notice the improved stability afforded by the traction pads. Crankbrothers includes thicker traction pads with the 7s, but I found that the stock inserts provided plenty of support for the Five Ten and Pearl Izumi shoes that I tested. Between the new pedals’ traction pads, cleat shims, and optional Shoe Shields, fine tuning the shoe/pedal interface is much easier. The combination works so well, in fact, that traction was almost too good on shoes with extremely sticky soles such as Five Ten’s Kestrel.
If you’re wondering why Crankbrothers went from needle and cartridge bearings to a bushing and (cartridge) bearing combination, you’re not alone. The reason for the switch was improved durability. Pedals with low stack heights typically require the use of very small bearings. Those tiny bearings often need frequent maintenance, and can fail if neglected. According to Crankbrothers, their testing revealed that the igus sleeve-type bearings actually performed better in adverse conditions. To help keep those bearings rolling smoothly, Crankbrothers fitted the 7s with a double inboard seal system. That combination has proved to be extremely effective, as my sample pedals are still rolling smooth after five months of testing.
The Candy 7 and 11 pedals retain the company’s premium brass cleats, which can be configured for a 15° or 20° release angle. If the stock cleats’ 6° of angular float (aka, rotation) isn’t your thing, an optional 0°-float cleat is also available. As with Crankbrothers other clipless pedals, the new Candys lightly tensioned tensioned float has a very linear feel This is good for riders who like to apply lots of body English without running up against the hard stop typically found on SPD-style pedals. While I prefer free float when I’m riding road or gravel, I find that Crankbrothers’ tensioned rotation works better for me on technical, off-road terrain.
Over the past five months of testing, the Candy 7s have seen–and survived–their fair share of abuse. The bodies’ chamfered edges certainly provide more ground clearance than their predecessors, but the retention wings are no less prone to rock strikes. And while it’s too soon to comment on the new bearings’ long-term durability, my initial impressions are favorable (look for an update after a full summer’s use). Although the pedals’ magenta-and-black colorway has zero effect on performance, they’re the first set of pedals that have garnered actual compliments from fellow riders.
Disclosure: Crankbrothers provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.