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Keo Blade Ti
Look revolutionized cycling in 1984 with their clipless pedal. Imagine, Fignon and Hinault and all of their predecessors used toe clips! In any case, I finally switched to Look's innovative clipless pedal back in 1990 after riding traditional toe clips and the classic Detto perforated and laced leather cycling shoes--my friend helped me drill holes into the plastic insole 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
Value: 4.0 stars (pricey)
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