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By John Stevenson, December 11, 2001
It's been a while since someone handed me a bike component and my immediate reaction was "Damn, that's clever." Call me cynical, but it seems to me that most of the developments in bike components over the last decade or so have been incremental improvements (nine speed instead of eight yeah it's nice, but you can live without it); cosmetic changes; or even steps backward (don't get me started on some top-dollar wheels )
It's refreshing when something pierces my jadedness, and Crank Brothers have managed it with the minimalist, nifty and downright clever Egg Beater pedals.
Egg Beaters are different from other clipless pedals in that they have no body to house the engagement mechanism. Crank Brothers has stripped the design down to bare essentials: an axle, bearings, just enough metal to hold the bearings and a mechanism to engage and release the cleat.
The mechanism uses thick steel bars to catch the cleat, and is reminiscent of a Time pedal's. Crank Brothers' trick is that two of the bars are part of the pedal's body, while the other two are spring-loaded and able to pivot round the axle. This leads to an interesting wrinkle: the pedal is effectively four-sided. The bars are at 90 degrees to each other and it doesn't matter if the moving bar is at the front or back of your foot when you click in.
The cleat touches down in the only place available in this minimalist structure, the body areas either side of the spring.
Crank brothers claims the main advantages for the design are low weight, easy entry and mud-proofing. The weight aspect is undeniable, and easy to verify. Our sample pair weighed 285g. Claimed weight for Shimano's new PD-M959s is 346g/pr; for Time ATAC carbon/titaniums it's 352g/pr. The Speedplay Frog comes in lighter at 250g, but you have to add 46g of cleat to that, making it a draw for all practical purposes. Frog Titaniums are 204g, but US$60 costlier than the Egg Beaters.
Crank Brothers is planning a titanium version of the Egg Beaters, some time in 2002. The company claims that pedal will win the weight war at under 200g. Also in development is a cleat for road use, with rubber pontoons to allow easier walking.
So much for the weight, what about the riding? Getting into the Egg Beaters is straightforward find the pedal with the cleat and press. It's not, however, quite as easy as getting into a Shimano pedal because the lack of any substantial body around the mechanism means there's nothing to guide your foot and the cleat into place. If we were breaking this review up into departments, the score so far would be five jerseys for weight, but only three for ease of entry it's good, but not stellar.
Once you're in, though, the Egg Beaters feel great. The cleat sits firmly on its two small but widely-spaced contact areas and there's a nominal six degrees of float that feels like a lot more because the pedal doesn't release till you're well past the ends of the float. Your foot can easily slide around on the pedal without releasing, but when you do want to come out, it's a simple matter of twisting and you're free. Unusually, there's no exit click; your foot simply slips free, sliding out in an almost buttery-smooth motion. Five jerseys for feel and exit characteristics.
The obvious advantage of the Egg Beaters is mud-clearing and this is where they truly excel, and why it's a safe prediction that they're going to be popular in muddy parts of the world. My local trails aren't usually muddy, but I managed to get out just after rain, find a mud-puddle on a fire road and deliberately go wading to attempt to clog up the cleat. No dice a little grinding and the cleat found the pedal, the mud squishing out of the way through the pedal body. The Egg Beaters are impressively mud-resistant. Another five jerseys.
The only major drawback is that the pedal is so small you are effectively pushing entirely on the cleat. That's not a problem with stiff-soled shoes, but more recreationally-minded mountain bikers may find the flexible shoes that work fine with larger pedals are too flexible for comfort with Egg Beaters. It's not too hard to imagine version of Egg Beaters with a lightweight platform around the mechanism, though. Maybe next year
The slightly fiddly entry won't bother the racers who'll be salivating over pedals this light. If you live in a wet climate and mud is your trail environment, then you now have a solid alternative to the mudder's previous favourite, the Time ATAC. If your priorities are low weight and mud clearance, then Egg Beaters are definitely the pedals for you.
Weight: 285g/pr (without cleats)
Price guide: About $120 (USA)
Pro: Very light; utterly mud-proof, solid attachment
Con: Entry is less simple than some
More information: Crank Brothers' website
What do you think of the the Crank Brothers Egg Beaters? Let us know