Saturday, August 8, 2015

Shimano vs. Crank Bros. Pedals by Scott Shaw - Captain Ahab 08-08-2015

Shimano vs. Crank Bros. Pedals

                TeamBOR recently had a battle of which are the better pedals out of Shimano and Crank Bros.  There was no decisive victory, but we each have our favorites.  I did a lot of research on the two before I sold all of my Shimano pedals and bought Crank Bros. Eggbeaters.  I bought a set of Eggbeater 3’s for each of my bikes and a set of 2’s for my cyclo-cross. 
So here you go, this is my honest opinion about both for what it’s worth. 

                Shimano; why did I sell them all?  A long time ago, when I first started out mountain biking, I had Shimano’s with the cages around them ($60 - prices are what I paid on sale), but the cages broke off almost immediately.  Then I had the cheap $25 PD-520 for years on several of my bikes.  These performed well for many years with a lot of abuse.  This is a great pedal for the price and if you’re on a budget, then this is the way to go.   Later I had some nice XT’s on my race bike ($70), I found that they were much harder to un-clip from than the cheaper 520’s even when loosened completely, and yes I ran the correct cleats.  Also, the larger ends took more abuse and not as well as the cheaper pedals; they were smoother running though.  I also had Road 105’s ($90).  Let me say I HATE ROAD 105 PEDALS!  They were terrible!  They sucked to clip into, the cleats are crap for durability, I just hated them altogether and considered them death traps, so I went back to mountain bike pedals on my road bike.  The nail in the coffin for me on mountain bike Shimano’s was I was sick and tired of not being able to clip in when the ride was muddy, snow or ice covered. 

Shimano Pros = fairly inexpensive, low to no maintenance, easy to clip in when clean and dry, adjustable tension.

Shimano Cons = sometimes hard to unclip when clean and dry, two sided means you have to sometimes flip the pedal, sucks to clip in when mud or snow covered, road pedals suck!  I never tried to warranty any of my pedals so I don’t know how Shimano responds to issues.

                Crank Bros Eggbeaters 3, why did I buy them? I did a bunch of research on pedals that would work well with snow, ice, and mud and Crank Bros. kept coming up with good reviews.  However, the reviews also said the pedals need service and regular maintenance and the multiple listings for rebuild kits confirmed this.  The pedals were more expensive than Shimano, but I got to choose from Smartys, Candys, and Eggbeaters.  I decided that since I was making this switch with 7 sets of pedals for shedding properties, then Eggbeaters were the way to go.  I kind of wanted a bigger platform, like the Candy, to hit with my foot, but I didn’t want to give up any shedding ability.  I then had to decide between 1, 2, and 3’s and I decided all my bikes would get 3’s, even if they are more expensive, for the forged stainless body and the bearings.  I also can use the same shoes on all my bikes and never have to change my cleats.  I bought my cyclo-cross and really wasn’t putting miles on it so I got some cheaper 2’s for that bike for comparison ($60).  I then chose different colors to match my bikes as best as I could without spending a crazy amount of money.  I bought almost all of them from Ebay, and Nashbar, new, and got them much cheaper than anywhere else ($80-$90).  I took some of them and switched the parts to color coordinate them a little better but some I got so freaking cheap that they don’t match the bike they are on at all what-so-ever.  So here goes one of my first complaints, why paint, or anodize, the spring when the covering comes off as soon as you clip in?  I really don’t care that I am going to have to maintain them, because I do all of my maintenance anyway.  I found them slightly difficult to clip in at first, but I have been getting used to them and the four sides really help out until one of them snags on something.  Un-clipping is a breeze and the adjustable float cleat is a nice touch.  Shedding is way better than Shimano.  I haven’t used them enough yet to have to maintain them, but when I do I will come back here and tell you how it went.  My teammate used his Smarty’s for 5 years with no maintenance and high miles and eventually broke the spindle.  Yes that sucks, but Crank Bros. is rebuilding them for free.

Crank Bros. Pros = variety, cool colors, 4-sided, adjustable cleat float, easy to unclip, easy to clip in while in mud, snow, and ice, seem stronger when snagged or crushed and less damage, great warranty and service.

Crank Bros. Cons = more expensive, maintenance required, snagging, slightly more difficult to clip in at first, spring needs to be bare and the color moved elsewhere so it doesn’t come off.


If you want a good, long lasting, no maintenance, cheap pedal because you are on a budget get the Shimano PD 520.  If you ride with this pedal in good conditions you will have no problems.  If you are riding in poor conditions, then take them off and put some platforms on because you won’t be clipping in anyway.  If you want a better pedal, then buy a Crank Bros pedal and you will use this pedal all year long.  Maybe that’s why they will need maintenance because you will be getting more mud and salt in the bearings and bushings, which ever you choose.  If you don’t agree with any of this then…well I don’t care.  Go ride your bike! Captain Ahab.

11/24/2016 update:  Well it's been awhile since I wrote this blog and I have some updates to add.  My road bike's Egg Beater 3's failed at about 2500 miles I would guess; most likely more.  The nut came loose and the pedal came off the spindle.  I was able to ride to a bike shop in route and borrow a socket and put it back on and finish the ride.  When I got home I took them apart, cleaned and lubed them, and put them back together and have been riding on them ever since.  My main mountain bike Egg Beater 3's failed at about 500 miles I would guess.  These took some nasty hits in crashes, had mud abuse, and took a lot of high speed snags on rocks and roots.  The bearing exploded into a million pieces in the first two miles of a 12 mile fairly technical (for me) trail.  I had to ride by clipping into the broken pedal and sliding it on the spindle and holding foot pressure inward towards the bike.  It was uncomfortable, but manageable.  I emailed Crank Bros and shipped them to them using their process, which they paid for.  I neglected to save a lot of my receipts, which they really want for warranty, but I told them how many pedals I purchased and they helped me out.  They serviced the pedals and sent them back to me for free!  They were very pleasant to work with.  I haven't got to try the serviced pedals out yet, but when I do I will come back and tell you all how they worked.  Those used Egg Beater 2's I have been running on my CX bike for gravel have now logged many dusty miles and are still working flawlessly.  I cleaned and lubed them once I believe.  So if you are going to buy Egg Beaters, maybe save some money and buy the Egg Beater 2's, and if you buy 3's, then be prepared to service them more often, save your receipt, and trust Crank Bros to fix them if they break; from what I have seen, they will.  Here is a picture of my serviced pedals. - Ahab.