Friday, April 8, 2011

Magic Pedals aka Pedal Choices

Well, this was supposed to be posted yesterday but the internet went out. It was saved on a word document till the internet went back up. So here goes:

You may be wondering about today's post title, "Magic Pedals" and while they might not be magic, I have been thinking over pedal choice for a couple of weeks and found a very good all around pedal serving all the possible functions. Fair warning, this is a long read of how I got to that choice. If you just want to see what I decided on and why it's good, skip to Option 4. Being that this bike is supposed to be multi-functional, for the random ride down the street, or in dress clothes to the hospital I'll be doing a rotation at, or for a century ride with a group of people - most would say I'm going to either need two bikes or two sets of pedals (with a set of road shoes). So here are the different considerations:

Option (1): Your standard platform pedal you used to have on your bike as a kid. Flat, works with any shoes, inexpensive for the most part. You can get them in plastic, metal, rubberized. However, it does have it's downfalls. In terms of using it for a century ride, you cannot use road shoes with these pedals as they do not have a clip, and your feet would probably slip straight off. If you had cleats sticking out you'd probably have more grip, but you loose the power on the upstroke of your pedal which is the whole purpose of "clipless" pedals and road shoes. So... no go with road shoes.

Shimano DX Platform Pedal

Option (2.1): Pedals with clips. Just like Option (1) except they have a metal loop up front with a strap to keep your foot secured properly to the pedal. This has it's bonuses, now you're using your legs a bit more on the upstroke, but not nearly as well as "clipless" pedals. This route allows you to put some very vintage/retro/classic (whatever you want to call it), leather straps. However, unless the clips are leather wrapped or rubberized, you're going to scuff your shoes. Even then you're likely to scuff your dress shoes in them and keep you from looking extra spiffy on those important days. Good part is it can be used with any shoes, but still not effective with road shoes. Strangely enough, they are bigger than your standard pedals or "Option 1" and while your standard pedals look like clunky metal bricks compared to your "clipless" pedals, these do not. I think the vintage feel to them distracts from that, almost like we expect older things to be bigger and bulkier and not be a bad thing. I'm not a nut about weight, but I prefer to minimize it if possible. If I were to select this kind of pedal with clips I would get Brooks clips along with Brooks straps, or possibly from Velo(much cheaper). I like keeping things in sets unless I find that one is a better set than the other in general. Since other items I've purchased have been Brooks I would stick to them unless Velo or another company offered a significantly better product.

Brooks Toe Clip (with leather add-ons) and Leather Strap - Unknown Source

Option (2.2): I consider this option nearly the same thing as 2.1 except that instead of a metal clip it's just a strap. One with really good reviews is made by Power Grips and supposedly doesn't rub your shoes too much, but I do suspect that if you're wearing some black/brown dress shoes it will at least dull the shine a bit. I'd rate these better than option 1 in terms of keeping up your performance, but not as good as "clipless" pedals which are to be discussed. The perk to this is it can be used with any shoe except the "clipless" road shoes.

Power Grips - Stock Photo

Option (3): So for the history lesson every person goes into: "Clipless" pedals have cleats that clip into the pedals. Pedals with clips, or "clipped" pedals are the ones that have the metal/plastic loop on the front of the pedal with the strap. Originally there was the standard platform pedals, option 1. Then the clipped pedals with their straps came out. Later, the world developed some shoes with cleats allowing you to secure your foot to the pedal at all times. These are now referred to as "clipless" pedals despite the fact that the cleats "clip-in" to the pedal.

You HAVE to have road shoes in order to use these. There are a couple of different systems depending on the cleat system. The perks of this system is that when you raise your leg, the pedal is moving with it, increasing your power to the wheel at all times. Best in terms of performance/power and designed to be lightweight. Negatives are that the shoes are expensive, however they are usually very light. These shoes are not meant for walking in unless they are touring shoes and even then some of them are not all that comfortable (that or they look like hiking boots). Some have recessed cleats and others have protruding ones (part of the difference in the systems). Unfortunately if you select this option and you're in dress pants, you will have to change shoes somehow. This can be done either by toting them along and switching shoes at the workplace or destination, keeping them at the frequent destination or getting shoes that can be worn as dress shoes (and let me tell you this was a very difficult search for this last option). These pedals would not have the classic look so much, but since it is such a small item it would hardly be noticeable since it'll just be looking like another piece of tiny metal on the bike.

In terms of pedals in this category I would select the Speedplay X/1 Titaniums, extremely lightweight, don't stick out very far and would reduce taking away from the classic look of the bike. Considering they're titanium they'll cost you $330 new. Price drops all the way to $185 if you go stainless and they weigh 198 g for the set rather than 150 g for the set. The Chrome-Moly drops to $115 at 220g. Either way, all of them are likely to be lighter than any other pedal choices mentioned on this page. All depends on the cash in your wallet.

Speedplay X/1 Titanium - Stock Photo

In terms of the wonder shoes I was alluded to above, these are the Dromarti Sportivos. A handmade, Italian leather roadbike shoe available in black or brown. They will be wearable for a period of time, but I don't think ideal for being on my feet all day long at a hospital. I may or may not get them just because they're awesome. However, they are also extremely expensive at about $210 a pair. This is equivalent to getting most expensive road bike shoes you can from Specialized. These however, are handmade, leather and extremely durable.

Dromarti Sportivos in Brown -

Dromarti Sportivos in Black -

This is normally the last option which leaves people debating between the three options (or four depending on how you want to look at the 2.1/2.2 numbering). Recently, there have been dual platform / "clipless" pedals that have been developed. Mostly for mountain bikes, usually bulky, blocky, modern or ugly looking. However, Shimano has proven itself once again:

Option (4): Shimano A530, a dual platform / "clipless" pedal. Available in black or simple silver (either would fit the look of my bike). Not big and bulky, clunky looking or like it should be on a Mountain bike. You can hop on to go to the corner store, ride down the street, commute a short distance to work on the platform side. Once arriving home at the end of the day you can switch into some road shoes and clip in on the opposite side of the pedal and have all the performance for the sport riding. This leaves you able to purchase any road shoes you want (the Dromartis have a classic feel and I believe also work with this cleat system) and able to wear normal dress shoes when you need to, flip flops to get something from a nearby store, regular shoes to meet up with friends, trainers for when you're going to workout at the gym. You could keep a second set of pedals (some platforms and some "clipless"), but I'm pretty sure we'll all agree switching shoes would be much simpler. 

This 2-in-1 acts as both extremes of pedaling style, convenience vs. performance and weigh in at 380 g, putting them at a lot more than the Speedplays mentioned above. The Speedplays are in general a very tiny pedal though and some people don't like them because they feel like they've got too much "float." Unless you're paying hundreds for your pedals and you really like the Speedplays, the weight is going to be a lot closer to most "clipless" pedals. And if you're paying that much, you can afford to have an all out race bike as well as a commuter. Unless you like a very multifunctional bike and/or don't ever want to change your pedals, then these pedals are for you! They also are obtainable from direct from for about $56 dollars with free shipping. They go for at least $65 on eBay without shipping.

Shimano A530s

Listed below is a weight comparison of a lot of pedals, pictures not included. This list was obtained from The Care Exchange, but these are manufacturer's specifications so permission is not needed to reprint these numbers - I still wanted to give credit where it was due though.

  • Shimano PD-M515 SPD - MSRP $55 - 415 grams / pair
  • Ritchey ATB Logic Comp V2 - MSRP $65 -  375 grams / pair
  • Shimano SPD-R535 Road - MSRP $85 - 327 grams / pair
  • Campagnolo Daytona - MSRP $99 - 326 grams / pair 
  • Look PP206 - MSRP $99 - 320 grams / pair
  • Ritchey Logic Road - MSRP $99 - 238 grams / pair
  • Speedplay X/3 Road - MSRP $99 - 220 grams / pair
  • Time ATAC Alium ATB - MSRP $99 - 416 grams / pair
  • Speedplay Frog - MSRP $128 - 416 grams / pair
  • Look PP 357 Road - MSRP $140 - 360 grams / pair
  • Shimano Ultegra PD-6600 Road - MSRP $149 - 335 grams / pair
  • Time ATAC Carbon ATB - MSRP $150 - 396 grams / pair
  • Shimano A530 Dual Platform/"Clipless" pedal - $56.12 w/free shipping at - 380 grams / pair

As you can tell, I'm going with the Shimano A530s, but I hope my research was of some use to others who need an all-around bike. These should serve us both well.

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