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CrankBros Smarty Pedals (+++++) May 24, 2007

Posted by Chief in .
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Just so you know what I am comparing these pedals to, these are my first “clipless” pedals. Ever. I’m 36 years old and all I’ve ridden was platform and toe-clip pedals. Earlier this year, I ordered the CrankBros Smarty pedals, and a pair of Kingston Forte shoes, and will never go back to platforms or toe-clips.

CrankBros Smarty Pedals

My hesitation to convert was based on a couple irrational worries. 1) Knee and/or ankle pains. 2) Falling over.

As for the first one, I had no reason to think that any particular pedal would cause me to have any kind of discomfort or cause any amount of pain with extended use. I had simply read here and there that some riders have developed “hot spots” or pains from riding with their feet locked onto the pedals. So, I thought that clipless pedals in general did not offer any amount of movement for the feet and that the shoes were effectively locked to the pedals in one position.

This is, of course, wrong. In fact, depending on the type of clipless pedal you choose, there are many different variations and ranges of motion allowed. Even better, the position of the cleats on the bottom of the shoes I bought are adjustable. If I needed to move them inward (therefore moving my feet outward), I could do so by simply loosening the screws, moving the cleat half an inch, and re-tightening the screws.

The CrankBros Smarty’s offer a total heel travel arc of 35°, with 15° in one direction and 20° in the other. In fact, you choose whether the shorter 15° arc is on the inside or the outside simply by selecting which shoe you put which cleat on.

As far as getting clipped onto the pedal, there are no strange movements or tricky incantations, I simply put my foot on the pedal and start pedaling. When I’m ready to clip-in, I slide my foot back slightly, causing the cleat to engage one of the four hoops, then the action of the pedaling clips me in. To get out, I simply kick my heel out. I don’t have to jerk it (I did the first time, expecting resistance and knocked my head into the wall I was holding myself up against).

And then there’s the second worry, falling over. Yes, I’m tempting the kharma gods here, but I haven’t fallen over yet. In fact, I have only come close once, and I jerked my shoe straight up out of the clip (not the way it should release, unless you force it), and was able to keep from falling over. My worry was irrational when you look at how likely you are to fall over as a kid while learning to ride a bike – but we did it. So, sure you might fall over, but just like learning to ride, the more you practice the less likely you are to fall over.

Things I like about the Smarty’s… the platform is “right-sized”. Not too big, not too small. I’ve only used the platform (riding without cleated shoes) once. It was during my tour of Oahu, on the gravel trail up around Keana Point, and I needed my walking shoes on because I had to get off the bike frequently and walk it due to the sand, so I simply pedaled in my street shoes. The medium sized platforms worked perfect, the egg-beaters didn’t get in the way, and I was able to safely bail from the bike when I encountered the hidden patches of sand under the gravel.

As far as installation, I was going to take the bike in to The Bike Shop to have them put on, but was sitting around bored one night, read the instructions, and decided to attempt it. Not too hard. Make sure you have anti-seize for the threads. Other than that, if you have the right sized wrench, understand the difference in the left threads and right threads, and are careful – you can install them yourself. I did.

So, overall, I don’t have anything negative to say about these pedals. I’ve never used any other kind, so I’m kind of biased, but my experience with these has been better than I expected. They are (based on my experience) the best beginner pedals for those who want to try out clipless.

I strongly recommend them.

Website: www.crankbrothers.com
Model Tested: Smarty
Specs: www.crankbrothers.com/smarty_black.php

Ease of Use: +++++
Comfort: +++++
Design: +++++
Quality: ++++
Features: +++++
Accessories: not tested
Value: +++++
Support: not tested

Best of it: Allows decent amount of movement
Worst of it: none

Overall Rating: +++++

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Arkel Panniers (++++) May 23, 2007

Posted by Chief in .
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Coming Soon…

Arkel T-42’s:
Arkel T42

Arkel T-28’s:
Arkel T28

Website:
Model Tested:
Specs:

Ease of Use: ++++
Comfort:
Design: +++++
Quality: +++++
Features: +++++
Accessories:
Value: ++++
Support: +++++

Best of it:
Worst of it:

Overall Rating:

Specialized Sirrus (+++) May 23, 2007

Posted by Chief in .
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This one really deserves two reviews. One as a commuter/errand-runner the way it was meant to be, and one as a fully loaded tourer. The reason is because I give it different ratings for each use. To be perfectly honest, I’m basing most of this review on using the bike as a fully loaded tourer. To be perfectly fair, I’m telling you the bike was not designed for fully loaded touring.

2006 Specialized Sirrus

Website: www.specialized.com
Model Tested: 2006 Sirrus (base model)
Specs: www.specialized.com
Price Paid: $500 (10% military discount at The Bike Shop)

Ease of Use: ++++
Comfort: +++
Design: +++
Quality: ++++
Features: ++++
Accessories: +++
Value: ++++
Support: +++++ (via The Bike Shop)

Best of it:
Worst of it:

Overall Rating: +++ (as a tourer)

My Bike(s) May 23, 2007

Posted by Chief in .
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…new bike…

I’ve deleted the info about my last two bikes (Specialized Sirrus, and Giant OCR3), and will soon be updating to show you my new bike. I’ve recently put a 62cm Surly Long Haul Trucker in utility blue on layaway in a bike shop in Minnesota.

Here’s a stock photo:

surly_bk0658_07_m

Any thoughts?