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Choosing Pedals For Winter Cycling

Note: This is the third installment in a series of articles on winter cycling. I hope to have the entire series finished by November and then publish it as a free PDF book that you can download from this website (the working title is, “A Guide To Winter Cycling”).

If you are going to ride your bike in the winter you need to give serious consideration to your choice of pedals or cleats. Shortly after I started cycling I began using Shimano SPD cleats and pedals. However, as I started spending more time riding in the mud and light snow I needed a pedal/cleat system that could handle these conditions better, so I switched all of my mountain bikes over to Crank Brothers Eggbeater 1 Mountain Bike Pedals (I use Look Keo 2 cleats on my road bikes).

Crank Brothers Eggbeater Mountain Bike Pedals

Crank Brothers Eggbeater MTB Pedals

The open-body design of Crank Brothers Eggbeater pedals shed mud like nothing else, so if you love muddy singletrack you will probably love these pedals as well. The pedals have a wide adjustable release angle (15 to 20 degrees) and a forged chromoly spindle with cartridge bearing seals to keep the dirt out. Because your cleats can engage the pedals on all four sides you never have to look down before clipping in. A pair of these pedals weight just 256 grams. Crank Brothers Eggbeater 1 Mountain Bike Pedals retail for $60 a pair (including brass cleats) and come with a two-year warranty.

While Egg Beaters shed snow, they are not so great when it comes to shedding ice. If you have to get off your bike and walk in slush for very long there is a good chance your cleats are going to clog up with solid ice, and I’ve found that very difficult to get rid of. So, if you are going to have to ride (or walk) through slush you might be better off with a BMX pedal.

Odyssey JCPC Pedal For Fat Bikes And Winter Cyclists

Odyssey JCPC Pedal For Winter Cyclists

If you are on a tight budget you can use Odyssey JCPC Pedals. The body of these pedals is made of an injection-molded fiber reinforced polymer composite that is extremely durable. This pedal is heavy—they weigh a little over 8-ounces per pedal. Odyssey JCPC Pedals retail for around $35. Two problems, in addition to their weight, is that they use fairly low-quality screws and their customer service is non-existent.

45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals

45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals

My favorite winter pedals for Fat Bikes or Mountain Bikes is the Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals, made by 45NRTH, a young company that specializes in gear for cold weather cycling. They have brought a lot of exciting new cycling products to the market, including winter tires, chains, boots, pedals and balaclavas. The Heiruspecs is a wide flat pedal that has 16 replaceable alloy pins per pedal for an amazing grip. The CNC-extruded body is made of aluminum and weights only 358 grams per pair. The pedal itself is black and comes with orange pins, but replacement pin kits are available so you have your pins match your bike. Replacement pins are available in several colors, including red, blue, green, orange, silver, black, and pewter. The 45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals retail for $99 a pair.

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Another good choice is the Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals. Premium Slim Pedals are made from extruded and CNC machined aluminum (6061 alloy) and have a CNC machined chromoly spindle for added strength (with sealed bearings). Like the Heiruspecs, there are sixteen removable and replaceable metal pins per pedal (eight per side) for a great grip. The pedal body varies in thickness from 14mm to 17mm. These pedals weight 8.3 ounces (236g) each, which is two ounces per pedal heavier than the 45NRTH Heiruspecs. In all honesty, the main reason I bought these pedals was the beautiful red anodized finish. These pedals perfectly match several other red anodized items I’ve recently added to my Surly Necromancer Pugsley (spoke nipples, rim tape, water bottle cages, and seat clamp). Premium Slim Pedals are available in five colors (Black, Silver, Red, Teal, and Purple) and retail for around $100 a pair.

Regardless of what brand of pedal you choose, you need to apply a thin layer of an anti-seize compound to the threads before installation. I use the Park Tool Anti-Seize Compound—it forms a protective barrier around small parts to protect them from rust and corrosion (this product is safe for use on steel, aluminum, and Titanium).

 
 

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Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

A few months ago I put a pair of Rolling Darryl rims on my Surly Necromancer Pugsley and red (burgundy) Surly PVC RIm Strip that you can see through the cutouts. To add a little more color to the rims I installed red anodized spoke nipples. I thought I was done upgrading the bike—and I was until I saw a pair of Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals.

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

During most of the year I ride with Crank Brothers Eggbeater Mountain Bike Pedals, but once the snow and ice starts falling I switch over to wide flat pedals. Back in November I put a pair of 45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals on my Pugsley—they have a great grip, but a really thin finish (it started chipping off after just a few rides). Since I am in the local bike shop several times a week anyway, I asked them to help me find a pair of wide flat pedals with a more durable finish and they suggested the Premium Slim Pedals.

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium Slim Pedals are made from extruded and CNC machined aluminum (6061 alloy) and have a CNC machined chromoly spindle for added strength (with sealed bearings). There are sixteen removable and replaceable metal pins per pedal (eight per side) for a great grip. The pedal body varies in thickness from 14mm to 17mm. These pedals weight 8.3 ounces (236g) each, which is two ounces per pedal heavier than the 45NRTH Heiruspecs. In all honesty, the main reason I bought these pedals was the beautiful red anodized finish. These pedals perfectly match several other red anodized items I’ve recently added to my bike (spoke nipples, rim tape, water bottle cages, and seat clamp).

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium Slim Pedals are available in five colors (Black, Silver, Red, Teal, and Purple) and retail for around $100 a pair. These pedals are sold at bike shops all over the United States and you can use Premium’s dealer locator to find an authorized dealer in your area.

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium has a fairly simple warranty on their bike products, they are “100% guaranteed against manufacturer’s defects for life to the original owner.” However, the rest of their warranty says, “If you buy a Premium product and it breaks, bends, or dents because you were jumping it off roofs, trying to learn tailwhips, or sliding down a rail, you’re out of luck. If you break a used Premium product your friend gave you and you can’t prove you bought it with a copy of the original bill of sale, you’re out of luck.”

 

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Crank Brothers Eggbeater 1 Mountain Bike Pedals

I used Shimano SPD cleats and pedals for several years without any problems. However, last year I started spending a lot more time riding in the mud and needed a pedal/cleat system that could handle these conditions better, so I switched all three of my mountain bikes over to Crank Brothers Eggbeater 1 Mountain Bike Pedals.

Crank Brothers Eggbeater Mountain Bike Pedals

Crank Brothers Eggbeater MTB Pedals

The open-body design of Crank Brothers Eggbeater pedals shed mud and snow like nothing else, so if you love muddy singletrack you will probably love these pedals as well. The pedals have a wide adjustable release angle (15 to 20 degrees) and a forged chromoly spindle with cartridge bearing seals to keep the dirt out. Because your cleats can engage the pedals on all four sides you never have to look down before clipping in. A pair of these pedals weight just 256 grams.

While these pedals shed snow, they are not so great when it comes to shedding ice. If you have to get off your bike and walk in slush for very long there is a good chance your cleats are going to clog up with solid ice, and I’ve found that very difficult to get rid of. So, if you are going to have to ride much in slush you might be better off with something like the Odyssey JCPC Pedal (no cleats).

Crank Brothers Eggbeater 1 Mountain Bike Pedals retail for $60 a pair (including brass cleats) and come with a two-year warranty. If you have several mountain bikes you would like to change over to these pedals, talk with your local bike shop about buying them all at the same time—you will probably get a better price.

If you are a Weight Weenie you might be interested in the insanely lightweight Crank Brothers Eggbeater 11 pedals. The four main parts of this pedal are made of titanium and they only weigh 174 grams per pair. The downside is that they cost $425 a pair (I don’t plan on purchasing these anytime soon).

 

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Odyssey JCPC Pedal For Fat Bikes And Winter Cycling

Throughout most of the year I ride with clipless pedals on all of my bikes. I use Look Keo 2 cleats on my road bikes and Crank Brothers Egg Beaters on my mountain bikes. The Egg Beaters are great for riding in mud and sand, but I’ve had the cleats on my shoes clog up while riding in heavy snow and slush (usually after I had to get off the bike and push). When I got my new Surly Necromancer Pugsley a few weeks ago I decided to try a new pedal and the guys at the local bike shop suggested the Odyssey JCPC Pedal.

Odyssey JCPC Pedal For Fat Bikes And Winter Cyclists

Odyssey JCPC Pedal For Winter Cycling

The body of the Odyssey JCPC Pedal is made of an injection-molded fiber reinforced polymer composite that is extremely durable. This pedal is heavy by road bike standards, weighing in at a little over 8 ounces per pedal. However, these pedals shed mud, snow, sand and slush better than anything I’ve tried. The metal pins on this pedal are like superglue for your shoes—I’ve not had my feet slip a bit with these pedals. In fact, I liked these pedals so much a bought a second pair for my old ice bike (a mountain bike with steel studded tires). In case you are wondering, I’ve not noticed any damage done to my cycling shoes as a result of the pins on this pedal.

These pedals are available is several colors, including the standard Black, White and the just introduced Red, Blue and Ocean Blue. If you are the artistic sort you can mix the colors—just take the pedals apart and you can have Red on one side and White on the other. The pedal comes apart by removing 16 metal pins with a 3mm hex. This might seem rather frivolous, but since you can also use these pedals with the metal pins on just one side you could use the different color to easily identify which side has the pins poking through. Personally, I would not suggest riding with pins on just one side since you lose a good bit of traction when you ride without the metal pins under your shoes.

The Odyssey JCPC Pedal retails for around $35. If your local bike shop does not carry them you can find them at numerous places online.

 

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