Look Keo Blade Carbon Pedals Pro Review – By Twain Mein
- MSRP: $399.95
- Weight: 190 grams (claimed), 187 grams (actual)
- Larger surface area
- Innovative “leaf spring” retention system
Look revolutionized cycling in 1984 with the creation of the clipless pedal. It is incredible to think that Fignon and Hinault and all of their predecessors used toe clips and straps prior to this invention! I finally made the switch from to Looks in 1990 — my friend helped me drill holes into the plastic insole of the classic Detto perforated and laced leather shoes to mount those babies up. I later switched to early Sampson Ti pedals but, though light weight, the cleats would catastrophically break. In the mid-nineties, I switched to Speedplay X2′s (198 grams) and enjoyed their massive float, ease of entry, and incredible durability. But they were prone to “hot spots” and walking in the cleats is flat out dangerous.
Fast forward to 2004, and I went back to Look with the Keo Carbon Ti pedals. At 196 grams, they were fractionally lighter than the Speedplays and offered a larger shoe-pedal surface area. For the most part, I was pleased with the new Keo’s though I had a few complaints. When climbing, the cleats sometimes “shifted” or seemed to slide back. Compared to the Speedplays, they also require a bit more finesse to snap into from a stoplight. And the cleats wear very quickly, requiring annual replacement. For commuting, however, they are reasonably safe to walk in. Seven years later, they have become a bit creaky, and I was interested in Look’s latest offering, the Keo Blade.
It is remarkable that the Keo Carbon Ti reigned supreme for Look for many years. But the engineers and designers went back to the drawing board to create a new way to skin the cat. Introduced last year, instead of compressed metal springs to retain the cleat, the Blade features a long carbon fiber leaf spring. Leaf springs were commonly used in trucks and cars during the ’60′s and ’70′s; leaf springs provide good load handling but aren’t so great for lateral movements. In the bike pedal application, though, the spring isn’t really needed for anything but retention. Kudos to Look for looking at this challenge from a whole new perspective. Look also offers spacers to increase Q-Factor (distance of cleat from crank arm) from 53 to 55mm.
On the road with the Keo Blade Ti
With my old Keo Carbon Ti’s a bit creaky, I was anxious to upgrade to the new Blades. To be honest, my expectations were fairly low. I thought the Blades would be pretty much identical in feel to the older model, just newer and creak-free. But the new Blades are significantly better. They offer a much wider pedaling platform; fully 10mm wider (65 vs 55) than the older model. This gives a newer, freer feeling under the ball of the foot. The wider platform displaces weight and pressure and you really feel more connected to the pedal. The larger surface area also makes the pedals slightly easier to clip in to. Speaking of clipping in, I chose the firmer 16 Nm (newton-meters) versus the stock 12 Nm. For my 155 pound weight, they clipped in with ease. The pedals are also marginally lighter; mine weigh in at 187 grams, 9 grams less than the my old pair of Keo Carbon Ti’s. On the road, the new Blades have less side-to-side friction and with the Grey cleats (4.5 degrees of float) and my shoes moved around more freely. Finally, the new pedals had none of the slip while climbing that the last generation did.
Look revolutionized cycling pedals back in 1984. Since then, there really hasn’t been that much to substantially improve upon except marginal gains in weight and float. The new Blades offer a step up in comfort, with the wider platform, better security, and marginally lighter weight. They look pretty cool, too!
4.5 out of 5
4 out of 5 (pricey)