My first experience with the CrankBrothers did not start well, but Lord did I want it too. I’ve long held them in the “jeeze, this stuff is cool” category, but it just wasn’t meant to be… At least not right away.

I had a birthday a few months ago where Smart had gifted me a beautiful pair of Candy SL pedals. As a long time SPD (Shimano) clipless rider, I was a little reluctant to toss the new ones on the bike, but they were just so purdy I couldn’t hold out for long.

I started by mounting the pedals to my commuting/road rig on a Sunday night – all primed and ready for Monday’s commute to work. When I woke the next day and clipped in all was good, but not 3 blocks from my house I found myself floundering through an intersection as I watched one of my new pedals skitter off the road.

Now, I’m no rocket scientist, but I thought I at least had the skills to put some pedals on my bike. I guess I was wrong. I’m sure it was no fault of the pedals, but it certainly soured my first impression of them.

Not one to easily give up I firmly secured them the next day and have now been riding with them for a few weeks – I also have a pair on my mountain bike, to test them under some different and more technically challenging terrain.

From somebody coming from a Shimano clipless, the difference is quite substantial, and though I wasn’t sure I would like them initially, now that I’ve given myself some time to get used to them I have to say I like ’em a lot.


There were three main things that stood out for me about these pedals:

1. Inability to adjust the spring tension = No problem
I liked my Shimanos dialed in pretty tight, and the looser feeling of the Candy SL’s were definitely something that I had to get used to. While I had to consciously force my cleats in before, they almost seem to melt into the cleat, and the disengagement is so smooth one might even say it’s buttery. CrankBrothers claims that the mechanism is designed negates the need for this type of adjustment, and though I was initially skeptical, I am now converted.

2. Increased (or more noticeable) pedal float = Happier knees
It’s entirely possible, that my problems were due directly to the position of my cleats and the tension I had my Shimano pedals set at, but the Candy SLs give you ~6° of foot movement and I have to say that my knees are rejoicing. I’ve even found it handy in tight technical terrain where before I would have to twist my leg around obstacles and contort myself to pedal correctly, the Candy SLs allow my foot to move a little more and hence my pedal stroke manages to feels a lot more natural.

3. Four-way entry = Who cares?
This was the one thing that I felt was a little over-hyped… I’ve never really had any issues clipping into pedals, or finding that I inadvertently clip into the ‘wrong end’ of the pedal… With that said, I felt that the Candy SLs were pretty much the same as any other pedal. I suppose you might save a fraction of a second because the pedal doesn’t need to flip over as much? I can see this being more of a benefit on the Eggbeater pedals rather than the Candy SLs, since the SLs still have a platform to contend with.


Mmmmmmm

After trolling the web a bit, there were only only two negatives that seemed to surface with any regularity. The first was surrounding the brass cleats that they come with ? The number one concern being wear and longevity. Even after a couple of weeks I can tell that these cleats are wearing more quickly than any SPD counterpart that I’ve used (something that might be expedited even more in an urban area if you tend to walk a lot on your shoes). But I mean, come on people, the cleats *are* made out of brass, which is a pretty darned soft metal and probably part of the source of the smooth engagement/disengagement that I love about these pedals. Granted it would be nice to see some sort of alloy that upped the longevity of the cleats.

The second was regarding cleat disengagement under duress (ie. pulling up a climb, technical sections, etc.), which I can’t say I’ve had happen at all. I feel like I’ve put the Candy SLs through a pretty decent stress test, but time will tell… My cleats are still in pretty darned good shape and this may be something I encounter down the road. I’ll keep you all posted, I guess!

Pros

  • Look hot!
  • Good platform (even if you’re not clipped in)
  • No need for tension adjustment
  • Easier on the knees
  • Affordable
  • Super easy entry/exit

Cons

  • Cleats wear quickly