Having only been around since 2014, the iSSi name might not ring a bell quite yet, especially given that it's pronunciation is still in question. The company is looking to make an impact in the clipless pedal world that is pretty much dominated by just one or two brands right now, and they're offering a four-model range that's seen some important updates aimed at making the pedals both more consistent and cross-compatible with their competitors. With mid-sized 'trail pedals' that offer a more substantial platform of sorts being all the rage these days, it made the most sense for me to spend a good amount of time using their $120 USD Triple Trail pedal that's geared towards riders who're looking for a bit more support and protection. The Triple Trail pedal is available in eight colour options, as well as being compatible with SPD and Wellgo 98a cleats (as are the rest of the iSSi pedals), and a set weighs 419 grams on my scale. Their closest competitor has to be Shimano's XT Trail pedal that cost the same but, at 408 grams for a set, do weigh slightly less.
Triple Trail Pedal Details
• Intended use: trail / all-mountain
• Mid-sized 'trail' platform
• Compatible with SPD, Wellgo 98a cleats
• Float: 4°
• Release angle: 14.6°
• Adjustable release tension
• Three sealed cartridge bearings (no bushings)
• 52.2mm spindle length, +6mm and +12mm options
• Weight: 419 grams
• MSRP: $120 USD
A relief cut into the chamfered leading edge of the pedal body makes it easy to access the tension adjustment screw. There are seventeen clicks of tension adjustment, and the stiffest setting is stronger than what you'll find on a Shimano pedal.
iSSi's pedals have always been compatible with Shimano's SPD cleats, but they've made some changes for 2015 in order improve how they perform with cleats from the Big S, as well as to refine the clip mechanism. Small changes to the shape of the mechanism can have a big impact on performance, and iSSi have refined the shape of the rear claw from the more rounded angles it used to feature to have much sharper profile. The company says that this makes for much more consistent release action, which is always good to keep you from falling over in front of your buddies, and that the release angle has gone done from 20° on the old design to 14.6° with the new setup. They've also employed new tension springs that are claimed to offer a more uniform ramp-up in tension as you dial in the adjustment screw, as well as applied a new heat treating process to the claws that should keep them from showing as much wear at the contact points.
Release tension is adjustable by using a 3mm hex key, and there are seventeen somewhat soft 'clicks' from the easiest tension to the highest setting. A small relief in the pedal body also makes it easier to access the adjuster screw with a shorter hex key like you'd find on a multi-tool.
| The basic looking body and axle setup hides the fact that there are three sealed bearings inside the Triple Trail pedal - no bushing to be found.|
Inside the Triple Trail
I'm going to keep going back to the XT Trail pedal for comparison's sake - they're of similar same size, close to the same weight, and they cost the same - but the Triple Trails are much different internally. Most pedals use some sort of bearing and bushing combination, with the bearing at the outboard end of the axle and a bushing closer to the crank arm, but the Triple Trails employ three sealed bearings: two at the outboard end of the axle and one at the base. The XT and XTR pedals, on the other hand, feature an adjustable cup and cone bearing at the end of the axle and an inboard bushing that allows you to rebuild them and adjust bearing preload. That's handy if you know what you're doing, and it can see them spinning smooth for a very long time if you stay on top of it, but doing it wrong will have you buying a new bearing assembly. The three sealed bearings in the Triple Trails offer zero adjustment, so it's a matter of installing new bearings when they start to turn roughly.
Even the worst home mechanics out there won't have an excuse if the manage to mess up the iSSi pedals - they only require a 6mm hex key to get the cap off the end of the pedal body, and a 9mm socket (not a thin wall socket, either) to remove the nut on the end of the axle.
Riding the Triple Trail Pedal
Shimano and Crankbrothers surely rule the roost when it comes to clipless pedals, and I'd be willing to bet the remaining $3.50 CAD in my bank account that the large majority of riders who like to be locked to their pedals are using something from one of those two companies. Sure, there are other options out there, but why mess around when you know what what works? Well, because there might be another choice that works just as well, or maybe even better. The iSSi Triple Trail pedal employs their take on Shimano's SPD binding system, which means that while they ship with iSSi branded cleats, they'll also work just fine with a set of Shimano cleats. I used both options during my time on the Triple Trails and couldn't tell a difference in engagement or release, which isn't surprising given that the iSSi cleats sport the exact same shaping as those from Shimano.
| A Shimano XT pedal on the left and the Triple Trail on the right shows the similarities and differences between the two. Both have bodies of about the same size.|
But while there seems to be no difference between using each company's cleats, there is one big difference between the Triple Trail pedals and a set of XTs: the release tension on the iSSi pedals can be set noticeably higher than on anything Shimano offers. Having spent boat loads of time on both XT Trail and XTR Trail pedals, my only complaint with either has always been that I've found myself unclipping accidentally when using a lot of body English. Part of this may be down to me having spent over a decade on platform pedals, something that's conditioned me to thinking that I'm allowed to move my size 10s around as I please, and it's a foible that has definitely cost me some skin in the past. But bumping the iSSi pedals up to maximum tension has them being noticeably more difficult to get out of than when I've done the same to XT or XTR pedals, and my sketchy moments of coming unglued from my bike at the worst of times has pretty much come to a stop. Entry effort goes up correspondingly, though, but I never had any issue getting into the Triple Trails.
The tallest section of the Tripe Trail body measures 20mm, which is 2mm more than an XT pedal. There's next to no cosmetic damage after a handful of pedal strikes and scrapes on the ground.
Their "platforms" are nearly identical in size to what you'll find from Shimano, so it's not a surprise that they feel similar underfoot. That's to say that I wouldn't want to try and ride anything rowdy with my feet on them but not clipped in as it feels a bit odd, but standing on a set of pinner cross-country pedals feels a bit like you're trying to do squats while perched on pool balls, and the iSSi pedals are a thousand times better than that. I did clip them on rocks and roots a few times, but tagging a pedal is always rider error if you ask me, and the bodies don't show any signs of undue stress. They're also still spinning just as smoothly as they did when I pulled them out of their packaging, despite me trying to expedite things a bit by not being shy with the ol' power washer. So far, so good. Pinkbike's Take:
|To be honest, I didn't think there was a reason to consider anything other than Shimano when looking at SPD-style pedals, but iSSi's Triple Trails changed my mind. The point that makes them worth taking a look at is the higher release tension that I've found that I prefer, and if you've ever wished for a bit stronger hold from your SPD pedals, the Triple Trails are worth checking out. That said, they cost the same as XTs and weigh slightly more, so they might be a hard sell otherwise. - Mike Levy|
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