Pinkbike Product Picks

Jul 25, 2013
by Mike Levy  
Vans Gravel shoes

Designed with BMX and mountain biking in mind, the Gravel shoes utilize Vans' 'TRAX' rubber outsole with a waffle-style pattern to provide traction, with Vans saying that the rubber compound used was originally developed for rock climbing applications. Their soles offer quite a bit more support than most flat pedal-style shoes on the market, making them especially interesting for anyone who suffers from foot issues during a ride, be it pain, numbing, or hot spots. Heel inserts have been fitted to help absorb impacts, and their uppers are manufactured from abrasion resistant synthetic materials that look up to the task. The white strip on both sides of each shoe is actually reflective, adding an element of safety to help keep you from getting mowed down on your way to and from the mountain. MSRP $99.95 USD. www.vans.com

Van shoes
Although their stiff soles helped foot discomfort, it was disappointment all around with Vans' Gravel shoes thanks to their lack of traction and fragile construction.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesWe've put well over sixty rides in while wearing the Gravel shoes, from early season mud-fests to mid-summer shreds in 100 degree heat, and have come away with a bit of a mixed impression of Vans' platform compatible offering. Their standout feature in our minds, the stiffer than average soles, turns out to be both a blessing and a curse, as they went a long way to eliminating foot pain or numbing that might occur during long, rough descents, but heavily sacrificed both traction on the pedals and off the bike comfort for that cause. The feeling of being able to arch your foot over the pedal body is impossible to attain while wearing the Gravels, and this had a negative impact on the chances of keeping our feet in place, especially when having to use a lot of body English for a lurch or hop maneuver that we had to perform without the benefit of a lip to help with getting height. Their TRAX waffle soles didn't seem overly tacky, either, which didn't help matters, and we found them a bit unpredictable despite using them with DMR's sizeable and grippy Vault pedals. The relatively rigid soles also made walking in them awkward until they broke in enough that our heels stopped lifting excessively with each step, a process that took at least twenty rides. Unfortunately, it doesn't get much better when it comes to how they stood up over those sixty or so rides, with them showing much more wear during that time than we would have expected. Not only have their soles cracked enough to readily allow moisture through in damp conditions, but large portions of the stitching around both toe boxes has let loose enough for the rubber to fold back considerably. While they aren't too pricey at $99.95 USD, it is hard for us to recommend them when there are far more reliable options out there that also provide much more traction. - Mike Levy




Mavic Stratos gloves

With a thin, single layer Clarino palm and lightweight 'Stretch Mesh 3D' top, Mavic's space age looking Stratos gloves take a minimalist approach to protecting riders' hands. They also forgo any type of Velcro strap closure for the cuff for the same reason, with a simple pull-on approach instead. Like many gloves on the market, silicone is used on the thumb and both the pointer and middle fingers, and there is also a thicker coating laid over the top of the knuckles that adds a bit of protection in case you accidentally punch a tree, rock, or your bike. The Stratos gloves comes in XXS through to L sizes, as well as both black and white colour options. MSRP $54.95 USD. www.mavic.com

Mavic gloves
The comfortable and airy Stratos gloves were undone by a seam failure caused by lock-on grip collars, the first issue of this kind that we've seen.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesIf you've paid attention to past Product Pick tests you'll likely have noticed that we have a bit of a fetish when it comes to minimalist gloves. We've spent time wearing nearly every lightweight offering on the market, which puts us in good standing to talk about how Mavic's sharp looking Stratos gloves compare. Fit-wise, they gave us zero complaints. Finger lengths feel spot-on, and there is enough stretch in the fabric to allow for a unrestricted feel, something that isn't as common as you might think. Their thin palms gives us that direct connection to the handlebar that we prefer, and the airy tops allowed a good amount of breathability, although they are a touch warmer than Dakine's Ventilator glove, the current king of nearly-not-there hand protection. This isn't to say they are hot by any stretch of the imagination, as they are far, far cooler than standard gloves. While we are big fans of both their fit and airy feel, a set of lock-on grips proved to be their undoing. It took about a month of use for the outer collar of each grip to wear through the stitching that holds the top and bottom fabric panels together, thereby allowing them to spread apart until there was a rather large 'side vent' of sorts. The question is, should the blame fall on the gloves or the grips? We're going with the gloves only because this is the first issue that we've seen while using these particular grips, despite them being passed around on a number of different test bikes over the last year. Stitching issue aside, it might be their unusual appearance that either makes or breaks them for most riders, with our white/yellow/black Stratos' looking like something borrowed from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Count us as fans, but there is a more subdued black/yellow colour option for riders looking to blend in a bit more. - Mike Levy




Canfield Crampon Ultimate pedals

Better known for their lineup of dual-link downhill bikes and hooligan inspired 29ers, Canfield also offers a component range that includes their Crampon pedals that are available in two flavours: the 282 gram Magnesium model that, as you might have guessed, utilize a magnesium pedal body, and the 342 gram Ultimate version tested here. The most obvious feature of the Crampons is their unusual convex profile, with thinner 6mm tall leading and trailing edges that rise up to 10mm at the axle center line. The idea is to present a smaller target for pedal strikes where they nearly always occur - the leading edge and outside, forward corner of the body - and Canfield has also designed-in a pronounced chamfer to help them glance off of objects rather than bringing the rider to a dead stop. The ultra-slim 106 x 106mm pedal body is possible thanks to the use of an internal DU bushing combined with a small diameter bushing at the end of the axle, thereby allowing Canfield to not have to squeeze the bearing into the pedal body. And while their convex shape may be unusual, taller set screw-style pins have been used at the leading and trailing edges to offset this. The Crampon Ultimates are available in a number of different colours, all retailing at $150.00 USD. www.canfieldbrothers.com

Canfield Crampon Ultimate pedal
Canfield's Crampon Ultimate pedals may have shown some premature bearing wear, but their added ground clearance and good traction mean that we are still fans. Just don't be surprised if you have to perform a rebuild after a few months of use.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesOur main concern with the Crampons was if their convex profile, opposite of the concave foot bed that is a trait of most grippy pedals, would have a negative effect on their performance. This turned out to be a non-issue, though, as the taller pins that Canfield has employed on the pedal's leading and trailing edges more than compensates for their unusual profile. That being said, while this was true when using them in combination with a pair of shoes that feature burly soles like Five Ten's Impacts, we could just make out their convex shape under our feet when wearing shoes with more flexible soles like Sombrio's Float model. Again, this seemed to have little to no effect on traction. And speaking of traction, they certainly do offer a good amount of it while at the same time allowing for relatively easy foot placement adjustments if required. No, outright traction doesn't rate has high as the current class leader in this regard, e*13's LG1+ pedal, but the Crampons might just offer more usability in that they still allow the rider to shift their feet without having to lift them completely off of the pedal body to do so. The Crampon's big selling point for most riders will be their impressively thin body height that offers more clearance than pretty much every conventional pedal option on the market, and while five or six millimeters of extra breathing room may not sound like much, those who have been thrown to the ground in a flash due to a pedal strike would gladly take the added clearance if given the opportunity. Did we feel like we suffered from less pedal strikes than if we had been using a taller pedal? Yes, especially because we tested them on a Specialized trail bike with a relatively low bottom bracket height. This fact surely played a part in them still sporting all of their pins as well, with not even a single one bent askew from an impact. So, does their good traction and thin profile make them winners? Not so fast, as we had some bushing issues that resulted in the pedal bodies being allowed to shift on their axles by quite a bit. The wear is a bit accelerated in our books, with it popping up after only a few months of use, and it's something that we've seen from many pedals that use micro-sized bushings or bearings similar to what is utilized on the Crampons. While the troublesome play is a bit of a pain in the ass, we are still fans of their competitive weight, thin profile, and the "just right" traction on offer. - Mike Levy





82 Comments

  • 61 2
 Pinkbike Product Picks - Made in China Edition.
  • 10 4
 Pinkbike Product Picks - Stuff that Breaks Edition Same thing I guess...
  • 7 1
 Pinkbike Product Picks -expensive crap edition.
  • 2 0
 llamaman110, i thought that was every edition..?
  • 3 1
 Canfield products are made in Taiwan. Nice try though.
  • 41 2
 $100 shoes that aren't five tens, $55 gloves that have holes.....guess I'll take the $150 pedals :/
  • 29 2
 Take the tampon pedals?
  • 9 3
 Any pedal is going to be grippy with longer than average pins, but long pins bend / cause pedal damage easier, cause more shin damage if you slip a pedal, and are generally a sign of compensation for a poorly gripping pedal body design. A good pedal should grip well with short pins.
  • 3 0
 With these pedals and 5-10s you would be doing very well to slip a pedal. During a decent the pins dig in so deep its like velcro. They are amazing for wet muddy conditions. If your swapping from clips to flats these can help you make the transition a lot easier.
  • 8 5
 Nikes and vans are good shoes too. Just because all downhillers wear five tens doesn't mean they are the best. Dj and bmxers wouldn't wear others for no reason. Maybe you should give em a try?
  • 4 6
 You have to realize that a majority of this website is downhill though.
  • 8 1
 Dj and bmxers need to be able to move easily on the pedal, DH and trail guys need to stick to the pedals as the bike tackles bumpy terrain. 5tens are expensive but they are the best.
  • 8 3
 I've rode dh in my nikes. Can't fault them at all. I just think people follow the trend too much.
  • 2 2
 Ht pedals are twice as nice and cost $25 less. Good LUCK slipping a foot with 5 10s on.
  • 1 11
flag y9pema (Jul 26, 2013 at 7:56) (Below Threshold)
 those vans have the same grip as 5.10's.
  • 5 1
 No they don;t.
  • 1 3
 Damn dawg! mine work great sucks you can't keep your feet on the pedals!
  • 2 0
 5-10s every time for "mountain biking" Smile


coming from BMX of course I have tried my Vans, Etnies and Orchids on the mountain bike trails and found them lacking in terms of traction, support, stiffness, protection and durability

the BMX shoes are of course perfect for DJ and Pump Track, but not ideal for "mountain biking" on rough dirt trails whether you are going up and along (XC) or down (DH / FR)
  • 1 0
 I had a pair of those vans and they grip great but my sole did come unglued from the shoe's upper after one season
  • 26 0
 $100 for shoes that are fragile and dont grip, $50 for gloves that tear down the side, $150 for pedals that require a rebuild after a couple months; the choices do not live to their hype but kudos to pinkbike for revealing these flaws!
  • 13 0
 Thank you PB for some objective reviews!!!!!!
  • 8 4
 The same as always, it was just a coincidence that we had some issues with all three of these items =)
  • 3 0
 Yup good job telling it.like.it.is.
  • 6 0
 Contrary to the article written, the Canfield Ultimates run on a set of DU bushings...not bearings. I found the bushings "broke in" and I simply tightened the nut on the spindle to get them to run at proper tension. I think that pinkbike overlooked this detail. I've been running my set for two years and love them.
  • 1 0
 I've had the Vans gravel for a while, and while I'm likely not as hard on them as the testers were, I didn't have issues with construction failing, or heel not staying in place. Could be a particular size issue or something. I find them to be very comfortable, and in my opinion, they look better than most of the bulky 5tens. I just wish either brand offered more half sizes.
  • 12 1
 5-10 all the way
  • 7 1
 I've had the Canfield crampon pedals for 2 months now…with over 120 laps in the park, they still feel awesome. I've had no issues what so ever. Love these pedals. Hands down the best i've owned!
  • 1 0
 MOHINDER 1
  • 14 1
 i only ride park
  • 1 0
 Haha!
  • 2 2
 @theedon - Good to hear that yours have stayed tight. We have two sets on test, one that we received for testing and another that the tester actually purchased because they liked them so much regardless of the play that came up. Both developed the same free play pretty quickly, and while it can be snugged up a bit, removing most of it results in the pedals not spinning freely.
  • 2 0
 I own three sets of Crampon Ultimates. I am a hack and bash them on shit all the time. Despite that not a single pedal has play. It seems like the person who reviewed these pedals wasn't very informed on how to maintain them?

Using two sets and proclaiming to the world that they have flaws isn't exactly a conclusive argument. Did you guys consult the manufacturer on this one, or did you just assume?
  • 6 0
 i wear the vans gravels and have put plenty of rides on them. they work for me so im guessing they just got a bad batch.
  • 2 0
 Ditto.
Had mine for a few months now and have had none of the above issues… Just had 3 weeks in the Alps with them too
  • 2 0
 agreed! 2 seasons and I still love them!
  • 3 0
 Likewise. Mine have been reliable, grippy, and best of all they look like normal skate shoes. I didn't find them stiff at all so added material under the insole, much better.
  • 2 0
 I find my Gravels have a lot more grip than my 5 10 Impacts. Better pedal feel as well.
  • 2 0
 I love the Gravels too, great grip and tough as. Horses for courses I guess
  • 1 0
 Hey guys, do these shoes have the elastic straps that hold the tongue like normal skate shoes? I bought a pair of Vans Baxter and they don't hae the elastic strap which is a real pain since you really have to lace them very tight to avoid your feet slipping around inside the shoe :S
  • 3 0
 Yeah they have those elastics each side of the tongue and they do a better job than on most skate shoes. I never tie my laces and the Gravels feel more secure than most skate shoes I've had.
  • 1 0
 Mine don't!
  • 4 0
 I'd be more inclined to believe the chatter about the Gravel had they been tested on a variety of pedals. Personally, I have ridden the gravels for close to 18months on various pedals, the Vault my least preferred. They've seen over 2,000km on the bike and remain solid! The soles are softer than a 510 impact, offering a heck of a lot more feel than those clodhoppers, and while a little less grippy, the waffle pattern makes for an amazing contact patch with the pedal and pins.
  • 1 0
 ha, my pedals are Vaults. Best I've used in a long time (last were Straitline) and again had no issues with the 'compatibility' with the Gravels...
  • 2 0
 @brodiediablo - The Gravel shoes were tested with three different models of pedals: the Vaults, some HTs, and a set of Shimano DX pedals. We found them to be terrible regardless of what pedals we were using, hence the harsh words.
  • 1 0
 Enjoying my Vans too!
  • 1 0
 I use them with my HT's all i can say is that sometimes i have a hard time taking my foot "off" the pedal.
  • 2 0
 I used these for a few years now and find them to be brilliant although the first pair fell apart, the current ones seem more durable ,I have given them a hard time , use them for dh ,xc ,minibike riding trailbuilding so expect them to wear out ,tried a pair of 5,10 ,s don't see what all the fuss is about
  • 4 1
 Had Vans Gravels two pairs of 5:10s ago and they were absolutely useless in wet weather and even worse than the 5:10s. Wouldn't touch another pair now and would seriously advise against them after the appalling reply I got from Vans when I mailed about them. In fact these were the last Vans I will ever buy after their response.
  • 3 0
 please give us their reply
  • 2 1
 Did you just say five tens are bad?
  • 2 1
 No but they hold water when soaked.
  • 3 1
 Don't all shoes hold water when the inside gets soaked?
  • 1 0
 Some more than others, the Vans were wet within a couple of minutes of rain whereas Freeriders hold it off a bit longer. The Gravels I had were a long time ago and then they disappeared off the shelves. I would have hoped that Vans have responded to feedback and done something about the earlier lots misgivings.
  • 5 0
 My friend has the crampon pedals, there extremely sweet pedals, comparable to the Meo 3T pedals but a cheaper version
  • 1 0
 Can anyone explain this fetish of ultra-light non-existent gloves to me? I ride either in Fox Bombers to crash trees and rocks on narrow single tracks or without gloves at all. Why to pay 55$ for a piece of fabric that gives no protection? I had some 661 before, one light crash (barely touched the ground) - and they are gone. IMO, it's better to invest in proper grips then.
  • 3 0
 I am a fan of thin gloves because they provide more traction on the grip than bare hands, and also do well to keep sweat from making things slippery. My hands don't get cold often, so I run thin gloves about eight months of the year here in B.C.
  • 1 0
 Another minimalist glove to try that I've found works well is the Novik "T.E.C." glove. I've been using mine for about 7 months now. I don't think I've found a lighter pair of gloves, they certainly breathe better than the specialized "XC Lite" which look to be made of similar fabric to the Mavic glove posted.
  • 3 0
 The crampon ultimate pedals have been hands down the best pedal I've owned so far. They have incredible grip, and they come in SO many cool colors!!!
  • 1 0
 The Crampons are the best flats I have used. They were designed to have adjustable tension on the spindle so the rider can tailor them to their style. I don't mind to tighten spokes or pivot bearings though. Everyone has a favorite brand or product. Mine is Canfield for life!
  • 5 1
 Why would anyone pay $100 for vans. Just get 5 10's or teva links
  • 2 0
 Or 3 pairs of Sombrio shoes!
  • 1 0
 True
  • 1 1
 Wow...people really have their pitchforks out on this one. Is there a lot of 650B bikes out there? yeah. is there a lot of 26" bikes out there? yeah! are they in your LBS, probably not, cause there isn't enough people buying them in mass to justify ordering a lot of them to let them collect dust. The market will even out and you'll see a balance hit, it's just going to take time. 26 will be around forever. is 650B bad? no. is there a differenece....it's minimal (I can say this cause i own one). Personally, i like it cause im a tall guy and it seems to climb and descend a little better for me, and i don't like the way 29er's corner, but i never took the time to get used to them either. I've had people from each group tell me why they love each wheel size. The way i see it, the industry is realizing that it's consumers are becoming extremely diverse and looking for ways to cater to that, this is just the first in a long line of developments we'll see over time. Each bike is fun, and they will always be fun. I still love my 26" and i have just as much fun on my 27.5 (or 27 whatever you want to say the size is). It's all about getting out and playing in the dirt. get out and pedal more, it'll help ease that wheel size war related stress.
  • 1 0
 Use 15 year old streetbiker gloves with hard Kevlar inserts. Saved my hands a couple of times. The only things left from the early days of dh. Makes we wonder about the crap in the stores sometimes.
  • 1 0
 I think I'll stick with my non-ripping fox gloves and my 35$ nukeproof electron pedals that grip amazingly well and have good bearings.
  • 2 0
 Nice to see products being properly tested exposing longevity and performance issues as described above.
  • 1 0
 My Kona Wah Wah's were $80 and the concave design is excellent. Not the lightest or thinnest, but have taken a beating and require no maintenance.
  • 3 2
 I didn't like the Crampons. They're too small IMO. They create a narrow Q-factor and make your bike feel tiny.
  • 1 1
 What fun drugs are you on? They aren't narrower chief.
  • 2 0
 I'm real. Try almost any pedal with wrench flats (an exposed axle between the crank and pedal body) and let me know... I run Twenty6 Predators which are way wider.
  • 3 1
 the vans are way better than any 5.10 I have owned.
  • 1 0
 Don't know where they got there vans from but mine are awesome. Excellent grip, comfy and are lasting really well.
  • 2 0
 I dh in BMX shoes and they work great for me and don't cost me $100.
  • 1 0
 Ht pedals are cheaper and nicer.
  • 1 0
 who makes a glove line from xxs to l? no xl or xxl for us tall guys?
  • 1 0
 Idk, I'm 6'4" and rock medium Fox gloves all day long. Wink
  • 1 0
 AM41's and Vaults. Awesome.
  • 1 0
 If you like pedal slips, it's an awesome combo. I've owned both, and both equally sucked in their own terms.
  • 1 0
 DVS !!!
  • 3 6
 OMG 150 bucks for ped..... No.

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