Monday, May 21, 2007

New Look Keo Sprint Pedals

Summer came early to SoCal this year with record tempuratures in April, but things have definately cooled down the last couple weeks, and we even had a light rain last night. I missed my normal Saturday morning ride this past weekend because my bike was in the shop and I picked up a new club cycling jersey over the weekend so I was really looking forward to my ride this morning. When I opended the garage door and saw the wet drive, I was thinking, "who has been spraying down the drive?" Silly me. I guess it has been so long since it rained last, that I just wasn't expecting it. The rain wasn't enough to actually bring me indoors, in fact, if you lived almost anywhere else in the country you would probably have been embaressed to even call it rain -- more of a light sprinkling. But it still makes the roads slick, and so I was extra careful.

Over the weekend I also installed some new pedals. The just look spot on fantastic on my new bike. I have been using Shimano SPD pedals for a while now. These are the style of cleats commonly found on most mountain bikes, and they were probably a good choice originally because I did much of my riding on the spin bikes at my gym, and the SPD cleats are compatible with most spin bikes. But now I try to ride as much as possible on my actual bike and lately the shortcomings of the SPD system have become more and more apparent. First of all they are pain to engage because the cleat and the pedals themselves are so small. I have never been able to engage them easily because I have to get this tiny metal thing somewhere on the bottom of my shoe to engage with this tiny metal thing on the petal all without actually being able to see it. The cleats are also metal and so you can slip on them really easily when you walk and they will dig a hole in what ever they get near (like your bike!). I have some rubber "pontoons" on the sides to help with walking, but they sometimes interfere with the engagement of the petal. I also don't like how much float the cleats have. For those of you who don't know, float is the amount of movement your heal can move in or out without the cleat disengaging. The SPD pontoon cleats generally come in two forms, no float or about 7 degrees of float. I want some float, because it is better for your knees, but 7 degress is too much. Moving your heel out that far is very uncomfortable so usually I move my heal in, but then with that much float my heal hits my bike frame before the cleat will disengage. It is very annoying. So I figured with the new bike I should get some real road pedals.

There is actually a guy from my neck of the woods who has invented his own style of pedal that looks really interesting, but they are too rich for my blood. So my choice was between the traditional Look style pedals, Shimano SPD-R pedals or Speedplays. Shimanos are out because it is just too weird to have a campy bike with Shimano pedals. That is probably just silliness on my part, but it doesn't seem to me that Shimano offers anything more than a copy of the traditional Look pedal so really, why go there? I seriously considered Speedplays for a while, but a few drawbacks kept me away. First is the cost. They are definately more expensive for the quality of the pedal. They also are a little heavier. Most people think the Speedplays are really light because in the reported stats the Speedplay pedals are around half the weight of their competitors, but that is usually because the cleat that attaches to the pedal is not counted. The cleat on Speedplays is a large brass plate which is rather heavy, along with a three hole shoe adapter (unless you have four hole shoes, which are very rare). So the whole package is usually the same weight or more than a traditional Look pedal. Speedplays do have the advantage of dual sided entry, but the float is not adjustable except on the high end models, and I have heard of other triathletes complain that they slide around when trying to walk on their bike shoes with Speedplay cleats. So for all of these reasons I figured I should just go with the tried and true Look pedals. I was thinking of getting some cheap generic pedals through Bianchi that had the traditional Bianchi celeste blue (while it looks green to me, Italians call it blue -- traditional Italian biking lore has it that it is the color of the Milan sky) to match my bike. But then I was looking at the Look Keo website and I really liked the design of the new Keo pedals. They are similar to the traditional Look pedals, but have some design improvements, such as more contact between the cleat and pedal, shorter stack, more turning clearance, a lighter weight and ease of engagement. So I pulled the trigger and go a pair of Look Keo Sprints. (I did not know it at the time, but I also just found out that they received the 2006 Editors Choice award from Bicycling Magazine for petals under $200) I wasn't sure about the bright red color on my black, white and celeste Bianchi, but actually it really brings out the red decals on the wheels, and looks really cool. I'll have to post some photos. Edit: Photos Added

This morning was their first test, and if they continue to perform like they did today, I'll be estatic. They engage easily with a solid snap, and feel really solid. Disengaging is really fast and simple and the 4.5 degrees of float in the standard cleats is just perfect for me. It gives me the float that I want, but not so much that I have to over twist my leg. So far a great pedal.

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