Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Bebop SL pedals
Today on tap for a mini-review are my recently acquired pedals for the commuter bike called Bebop SL pedals. I got them to replace the Crank Brothers Egg Beaters. Why? Egg's are notorious for destroying shoes. They did a quick number on my Lake's due to the extremely high (assumption) nearly constant pressure exerted on them with the high geared fixie. I like to think it was the massive power I was throwing down - certainly greater than what I had when mountain biking. I used the Egg's when I was mountain biking almost exclusively and they usually ruined the soles of my shoes in about 6 months. The platform is downright lame (tiny) for the Egg's as it is with most mountain biking pedals. Many think the platform is sufficient with today's stiff shoes, and there've been tons of arguments on forums discussing just that. I was in the camp who thought the platform did not make a difference. Regardless, the Egg's are probably the smallest though.
Every time I pedaled recently, the right shoe creaked on every downstroke. This, I found, to be very annoying especially when the rest of the bike was nearly silent. So, off go the egg beaters and on go the Bebops.
Bebops. What the hell are Bebops?
I found out about Bebops in depth earlier this year at a Brevet in MA. The owner of the shop there loves them and uses them on all his bikes. I questioned him quite a bit and learned the following. Bebops came out around the same time as Speedplays were hitting the market. The actual bebop pedal looks similar in function to the Speedplay. The bebop is all metal though while the Speedplay is a resin material. Both provide nearly unlimited float. The cleats on the bebop are also all metal and appear far simpler, less bulky, basically a cleat I would rather be dealing with over the Speedplay. For the record, I use Speedplay X2 on my road bike and really like them. Too many similarities? Speedplay thought so and, I guess, having a larger punch or a bigger law team they were able to persuade/force many places to not carry bebops if they were going to carry Speedplays. Speedplays had the advantage of being in the Tour, so from the start Bebop was screwed who does not sponsor anyone as far as I can tell. The platform is slightly smaller than Speedplays so I asked the owner if he thought that would be an issue road riding. Well, he's ridden A LOT and REALLY far in one shot and said "NO" not an issue. I'll trust him, for now. He also told me the cleats are expensive to replace, just like the Speedplay pedals.
The bebops appear to be very well made. They are extremely light. They are even lighter than my Speedplays due to the much simpler cleat. Bebop has an ever lighter version than the one I got knocking off another 20 grams. The cleat is SPD so it will not work on the majority of road shoes unless you can find an adapter or you are one of the lucky ones with SPD and Look type screws. I put them on my Lake Mountain biking shoes hoping they would nicely cover the ruined spots from the Egg beaters. They did! The installation was very simple until I noticed the last step stating most mountain bike shoes need to be shaved on the inside due to the extremely low stack height of the bebop pedal. Ugh. So I pulled out the very sharp knife and started cutting away some rubber until it looked like enough was off to clear the pedal spindle. Rubber is hard to cut. I think shaving it would've been far easier, perhaps with a metal file, but I don't have one of those.
So how do they ride? I was happy to feel the difference. The larger pedal interface offered a noticeably stiffer platform over the Egg beaters. I thought the Lake shoes were flexy, but it turns out they are plenty stiff, it was just something to do with the egg beater pedal. It's incredibly easy to clip in. It may have been this easy for me because it's the same motion as clipping in to Speedplays - just push down:) The action is lighter than the Speedplays. It felt very solid clipped in. The float is smoother feeling than the Speedplays.
I think these pedals are winners. They are the best I've used and I really want to put them on the road bike now, too. The SPD is the only problem. I would prefer to use road shoes, but may be willing to use a MTB shoe if I can find one that is very light and breathes well.
In summary, ignore the fancy brands and large consumer labels out there and opt for the high quality bebop. Your knees will thank you as will your feet due to the larger than most mtb pedals platform.