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).
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.
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.
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.
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).