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The future is near.
A few years back, we were speaking with an American moto, mountain, and components pioneer who shall remain nameless to protect his identity. He commented that, in time, just about everything will be made of carbon fiber—even bottom bracket spindles. The carbon bottom bracket of the future isn't here just yet, but the steel spring might be on the way out, indicating that the pan-carbonium future may be near. Case in point: Look Cycle has figured out a way to use a carbon fiber leaf spring to replace the spring in its top model, the Look Keo Blade Carbon Ti Road Pedals.
As a top-tier model, this pedal has everything: Carbon fiber body, titanium axle, stainless steel wear plate, and a carbon leaf spring (the titular Blade) that flexes against the retention plate to hold the cleat in place. The combination of materials (Hello titanium!) and design helps make the pedal crazy light without costing it any durability—with the big weight savings coming by eliminating the heavy, coiled steel spring that tensions traditional pedals.
We admit that the lugged-frame, Reynolds 531 traditionalists at the CC office had initial fears that the blade presents an obvious weak spot; however, we've found that it'd take some serious work to accidentally disengage the blade or break it. And we're not alone. Pedals equipped with Look's carbon Blade leaf spring have become conspicuous in head-on bike-throw photos of sprint finishes under the likes of Sagan and Greipel. Those mythical figures have yet to break the Blades, so we mortals don't stand much of a chance. It'd take a literal hammer blow to just the right spot, and we prefer to confine our bike-related hammering to the figurative realm.
The materials and engagement aren't the only sign of the future being upon us. This pedal's platform is wider than the previous Keo, which was itself 17% wider than its predecessor. This ups the surface area from 402mm² to a Gorilla-approved 700mm², providing a more generous base for the huge watts guys like Greipel throw into their bikes. The carbon body is also reinforced at the pedal-contact point with a stainless steel plate, furthering guaranteeing structural integrity against big wind-ups and long, mashing climbs alike.
Despite the pedals' expanded platform, the cornering clearance is actually better because the extra width is on the top of the new pedal rather than the bottom, so your shoe will drag before the pedal. A reduced stack height also helps here; Look drops it from the previous Carbon Ti's 15.7mm to just 13mm. In addition to being lightweight and stiff, the pedals now further encourage aggression through corners. The spindle remains relatively unchanged. Since Look saw fit to tinker with every other aspect of the pedals, we see this as a testament to the spindle's quality rather than an oversight on the French manufacturer's part. It tapers from 12mm and a pair of roller bearings on the inboard side to an outboard needle bearing. The greater diameter ensures stiffness without impacting stack height, and it also eliminates the rider weight limit caveat that accompanies many other top pedals.
The Keo Blade Carbon Ti pedals come with a set of Grey Look Keo Grip anti-slip cleats. They have 4.5 degrees of float. If you're into getting wiggly, the Keo Grip cleats are also available with 9 degrees of float (the Red cleats); if you prefer stability, the Black cleats eliminate float altogether. The grip cleats earn their reputation by preserving yours: The cleats' rubberized fore and aft contact points eliminate the ice-skate effect that older cleat generations produce on slick café floors, so you can navigate the latte line without taking a spill and spilling your flat white all over your bibs.
The cleat also has Look's Memory Clip built in to the center pad, which, depending on your shoe, can simplify changing cleats without obsessing over whether or not you've got it just right. This feature is particularly welcome as it eliminates the formerly obligatory mid-ride stops to tinker with the cleat angle, scuffing your shorts on a concrete curb while your bright-white socks gather grime in the gutter.
Finally, a note on engagement resistance options. Look offers the Keo Blade in options ranging from the light, springy 12Nm through the medial 16Nm to the positive engagement of the 20Nm model.
- A top-tier racing pedal proven by the peloton's top fastmen
- Leaf spring design eliminates traditional steel spring
- Carbon body and leaf spring shed additional grams
- Titanium spindle is a final nod to superlative weight savings
- Steel face plate protects the carbon fiber body from cleat wear
- Increased surface area rewards big watts with a stable platform
- Reduced stack height encourages aggression in corners
- Options for light, medium, and firm engagement