TriRig's Pedal Shootout

 Jul 29, 2012 article & images by Nick Salazar

Aerolite pedals have some benefits, but could use some improvement, especially where cleats are concerned.

I've already written an in-depth review of the Aerolite pedals during the Lighten Up series. But they are also included here because they represent a unique flavor among pedals, and I think readers should know about them. Astonishingly, they are being manufactured the same way today as they were 25 years ago. It makes me happy to see a design with such longevity, but also a little sad that in 25 years the company hasn't innovated beyond it.

The reason they haven't changed is largely due to the adamant belief of Aerolite's owner, Bill Goldfoos, that they are basically perfect the way they are. Talking to Bill, one can get the sense that he's long-since made up his mind about this stuff, and sees no reason to change it. I think that at his eighty-some years of age, he's earned the right to a little deference. So I won't be complaining to him about his design. Instead, dear reader, I'll complain to you.

To recap, Aerolite pedals are basically a titanium spindle, wrapped in a plastic bearing, which is clasped by a one-piece nylon cleat. It's the simplest pedal design ever made, and has the advantage of being ridiculously light weight. The entire system weighs about 100g. That's pedals, cleats, and all mounting hardware. And yes, that's less than half of what the Speedplay Nanograms weigh.

The downside to this 25-year-old pedal is ... it's too old! The cycling world has moved on, and these pedals have stayed the same. Attempting to mount the arcane four-bolt cleats onto a modern shoe is an exercise in frustration. You actually have to drill into your shoe to do it. And if you want to re-adjust the mount, you have to drill again. If you have enough room to do it. The screws are prone to fall out, the cleats prone to feeling sloppy on the shoe, and that's just the beginning. The cleat design is also such that if you aren't careful, they can actually slide off the pedals while riding. That's not just annoying, it's downright dangerous.

But perhaps the most common reason people shy away from these in the first place is that they don't have any float. Fixed only. Before I got my first pair, I was highly skeptical, thinking they would be too painful to ride, and I would chuck them in a heartbeat. At the time, I was having problems with my iliotibial band, which would flare up in pain while riding. I figured eliminating the much-lauded float of my existing pedals would exacerbate them. But in fact, just the opposite occurred. When I went to fixed pedals, my IT band issues went away. I'll get into that more on the next page.

And despite the very real list of drawbacks, I just haven't been able to tear myself away from these things. Almost two years after my first ride, and I was still putting up with the little quirks. Why? Because the ride is just so good. My legs feel great, the11mm stack height is sublime, and they drop about half a pound versus most other pedals. However, I'm always tempted by the lure of more user-friendly options, and for me, the Zero is perhaps the most attractive of these, with the Keywin a close second.

But it would be really fantastic if someone made an update on the Aerolite style ... and in fact, TriRig is already working on producing one. That's all the info you'll get for now, but we'll supply some more teasers in the near future. Until then, the conclusion to draw from this article is that the market already has some very good options, from all the brands mentioned here. Deciding which one is right for you really depends on your particular priorities and fit needs.

But of course, now that I've teased you about a possible TriRig pedal based on a fixed-cleat technology, it's worth talking more about why I've become a believer in fixed. And so finally, as promised, I will broach the subject of pedal float. Hit the jump for the final section of this article.

Tags » aerolite,  keywin,  pedals,  shimano,  speedplay
  • Dura Ace pedals are the gold standard: rock solid function, bombproof dependability, and beautiful looks. Unfortunately, they're a bit pricey, and not very light compared to other offerings.
  • Dura ace pedal tension is set by a single hex bolt.
  • The ski-binding clamshell is a design that has been around for decades, and works well.
  • No more exposed spring; Dura-Ace keeps things tidy and protected from road grime.
  • A replaceable wear plate extends the life of these already very durable pedals.
  • I ride fixed, so for Shimano's pedals that means using the red cleats. Float is achieved by using the yellow cleats, which have a smaller 'nose' up front.
  • Dura Ace Carbon pedals have a rather large platform, although in our opinion platform size is a bit of a red herring, especially as carbon soles become so much stiffer.
  • The distinctive profile of the Dura-Ace pedals is impossible to miss. Their stack height looks super low, but is actually in the middle of the road.
  • The new Keywin Carbon pedals. I'm a big fan of Keywin's bold willingness to stick to their guns and use a unique pedal mechanism. It works well, and keeps the weight low.
  • Most of the Keywin pedal consists of injection-molded plastic parts, and the new version also has carbon in the mix for lighter weight and a stiffer body.
  • Instead of using the ski binding style to retain the pedals, Keywin uses a novel locking system that is effective, durable, simple, and very light.
  • Keywin's pedal allows for float tension to be controlled or removed via adjustments at the pedal itself. Here, I'm removing the 6-degree float insert, which will be replaced by my preferred fixed insert.
  • With the insert out, you can see the interior of the pedal. Installing the fixed-pedal insert was a snap - literally.
  • The thin cleats look easy to walk on, but might be a little slick on smooth surfaces, until they get roughed up with use and develop a little more grip.
  • Maintenance of the Keywin Carbon pedals is easy, most of it is accessible through the screws and nuts on the underside of the pedal body.
  • There are tons of pedals on the market, but most of them share one of a few different mechanical concepts.
  • TriRig decided to take a look at four distinct pedals, each with a different mechanism, and uncover how their strengths and weaknesses play out for triathletes.
  • Aerolite is the undisputed king of simplicity and light weight, but unfortunately is very inconvenient to use.
  • With only three parts, and about 40 grams per pedal, there's nothing that even comes close to beating the Aerolite, for those who can tolerate its eccentricities and inconvenient mounting.
  • Aerolite's primary disadvantage is that you have to drill your shoes in order to use them. TriRig will soon be manufacturing a pedal that uses this type of retention mechanism, but eliminates the drawbacks.

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