Start date of review: 7th July 2002 Beating eggs or finally beating mud?

The Introduction
The Eggbeaters are intended to be Crank Brothers’ answer to the age-old problem that have plagued mountain bikers since the clipless pedal concept made its way onto dirt. Time has led the way so far in terms of all weather performance, Shimano is still scrambling to catch up. We’re going to see if Crank Brother’s new standard can hang with the big dogs.

A look at the box features sees a claimed weight of 290grams per pair. It offers 6 degrees of float, is fully rebuildable, and made of stainless steel. Crank Brothers offers a generous 2-year warranty on the pedals? The price? These pedals retail at SGD160.

The Look
Sparing the kitchen utensil comparisons, these pedals look minimal. All you see is an axle wrapped with what seems to be very thick wire, and more than once, I’ve had non-cycling enthusiasts ask me “Where are the pedals?”, to which I have to show the cleats on the bottom of my shoes by way of explanation that these are clipless pedals.

The Works
These pedals work as simple as they look. And its so simple you’ll wonder why Time’s pedals, which basically work on the same concept, but several years ahead, never developed their pedal to a final form similar to the Eggbeater.

What you get is a brass cleat mounting on the bottom of the cleat cavity in your shoe, that mates to jaws on the pedal. That’s as far as the similarity to Shimano and its clones’ SPDs go. The Eggbeater finds retention on a U-shaped retaining frame, one in front and one and the back. These are forged steel pieces, despite them resembling bent steel bars. Where the Eggbeaters step away from the norm is the four-sided entry points, meaning that you never need to kick your pedal around to find the clipless surface to clip in. You also don’t need to clip in with the front of your cleat first; the manual claims you can clip in with the rear end of the cleat if you so desire. However, due to my SPD habits, front is the way I got comfortable with.

The lack of a pedal body akin to Shimano’s SPD, or Time pedal makes this possible, but also raises the question of durability of the exposed components against rocks, logs and other trail obstacles. Where this setup scores is in the gunk-clearing department, since there there is no flat surface to prevent the cleats from engaging.

Rider Impressions
The focus of this review will be how the Eggbeater fares where the market-standard Shimano SPD has thus far proved unsatisfactory, despite several renditions of basically the same concept.

Crank Brother’s solution of exposed pedal components meant we paid close attention to damage as well as durability in normal use.

In use, the Eggbeaters work and feel remarkably similar to SPDs with a less mechanical feeling when clipping in. In dry conditions there little difference between the two are discernible, but wet and dirty conditions is where the Eggbeaters leave the SPD in the dust (or mud?).

The latter half of 2002 proved amazingly wet, with regular rainfall to provide the required conditions to test the cleat retention system of the Eggbeaters to the limit. And so it delivers, with performance a magnitude above Shimano’s SPDs.

Naturally, with a shoe packed with mud, pedal entry is not instantaneous, but if you can clip in, you can clip out, it is that simple. In muddy conditions slight persuasion was needed to clip in, but is a minor annoyance compared to the near impossibility of clipping in with Shimano pedals.

The simple construction also means little mud and junk gets caught in the pedal, even in between the metal coil springs that provide a fixed tension for the cleat retention system.

Despite clouting the pedals against rocks countless times, such as a carelessly lowered pedal during cornering, or during pedaling, the pedals have kept their shape and looked remarkably well off after half a year’s of cross country usage.

What does not work for the Eggbeaters is that you must clip in to get any sort of grip from the pedals, for your foot may slide off the pedals once the pedal body starts rotating! This means you cannot have a foot ready to dab in a technical ascent or descent, should it come to that. However with the pedals being so easy and so natural to clip out of, riders should re-think this technique and learn to trust the pedals in all conditions.

The only way you can adjust release angle is via the changing of cleats, which allow either 15 or 20 degrees, plus a fixed 6 degrees of float. It is not tunable to the nth degree as in Shimano’s SPD. By exchanging cleats left-to-right, the release angle is adjusted. It is worth noting that because the pedals can be released both inward and outward, such a setup means that you will get a 20 degree outward release angle with a 15 degree inward release angle, or vice versa, all with the same stock pair of cleats!

Durability rated as excellent, as previously noted, with the pedal body displaying remarkably little wear and damage. The pedals we reviewed are the first-generation Eggbeaters and had some issues, such as pedal cage body play, as well as lateral bushing play.

Oddly, the pedal cage play is on one moving spring-loaded sections, and only on one pedal.

The lateral bushing play on the axle occurred around two months into the pedals’ test period and confirmed by the local distributor as an issue of manufacturing tolerances that has since been rectified. As a stopgap, a small rubber o-ring is placed against the offending bushing to take up the gap, which dampens but does not eliminate the play. However, the bushing play is not noticeable while riding, whether with or without the o-ring fix.

The brass cleats exhibited notable wear consistent with the direction of clipping out, and Crank Brothers would rather have the cleat than the pedal body wear out. With cleats costing much less than a pedal body, I think most riders would agree this is a good way to go.

The pedal is easily stripped down without requiring specialized tools, as can be seen in the pictures.

Another example of a well-used Eggbeater pedal was shown to me by the local Crank Brothers distributor, as used by a local XC racer. This particular pedal was one of the earliest batches made, and saw 9 months of hard use. The bearings on one side of the pedal was seized up, and the other had so much bushing wear that the pedal body play could be seen visibly. What was remarkable was that the pedal body was still straight, remarkable un-scarred in any way that would detract from its performance in clipping in and out.

Conclusion

In a sea of SPD clones, as well as bargain priced authentic Shimano SPD pedals, the Eggbeater may seem like an un-necessary extravagance. But viewed as a legitimate contender as a cross country racing pedal, which pits it against the likes of Shimano’s 959, and the Time racing series, it slots in nicely with great mud shedding ability, and light weight as its main selling points.

The 2-position cleat release points make this a less than desirable pedal for someone just getting into clipless pedals, but for a rider already well versed in the nuances of SPD, but looking for weight savings as well as better wet weather performance, this may be it.

Update
Since the writing of this review, Crank Brothers have introduced several new models in addition to re-working their pioneer model. As such, the model we tested is 2nd from the bottom in the pecking order, with the higher end models offering even lighter weight such as titanium bodies and hardware. Visit www.crankbrothers.com for more details.

Special Thanks to Gilbert from Hup Leong Company, local distributor for Crank Brothers pedals as well as other bicycle equipment, for providing our test sample for an extended review.

We’ve come to the end of this review, as well as my tenure as reviews guy for Togoparts. I would like to thank Zishin for the opportunity to ride and write about high price bike exotica of which I would otherwise have had no chance to properly test out. I hope that the reviews that I’ve written have helped riders in one way or another, and don’t forget to say Hi if you see me on the trails or in the shops. Till then, Leong