A New Pedal and Shoe Alternative?
Max Klein's prototype pedal and shoe system hasn't been designed to replace either platform or clipless pedals, but rather be a third alternative for riders who might benefit from a different approach. It's that interface that sets the Klein Designs pedal apart, with its wild looking honeycomb pattern that is said to create a connection that allows the rider to easily attach and detach, as well as be able to adjust their foot position on the fly. The novel layout came about after Klein, who has a motocross background, started to get into mountain biking and found that he didn't want to be locked into his pedals as securely as a clipless system holds, but that he did want a more secure connection than a standard platform pedal could provide.
Klein and a friend sat down to sketch out a number of ideas, including removable sections of shoe soles, but it was the honeycomb pedal shown here that they say made the most sense to them. ''With the design of the shoe sole and the pedal to fit like a puzzle,'' Klein explained, ''the rider can still pedal the bike while feeling for the grooves to fit in rather than searching for the small cleat of a clip-in shoe.'' That's some out of the box thinking from someone who was outside of the cycling industry if I've ever seen it.
The prototype pedal shown here is just that, a rough prototype that could change in shape before reaching production, and Klein also stressed that they will likely see some reliefs cut into the body for weight reduction.
As interesting and novel as Klein's design is, even the most openminded of people are going to have a few questions, with one of the most pressing being shoe compatibility. The design means that pedal and shoe need to be used together as a system, something that will complicate matters on the production side of things, although Max did say he was speaking with a few different shoe companies about this. A company like Five Ten producing the shoe would be the best case scenario, and he'd like the pedals and shoes to be sold as a kit for around $275 USD, a reasonable price for both items together. A concern of mine would be how the pedal and shoe connection changes as the soles wear over time, and it might mean that Klein has to consider replaceable soles, a service that is actually already available for some shoes.
And what about float? A small amount of flex in the rubber shoe soles would provide a bit movement, but the interlocking nature of the pedal and shoe system would mean that there would essentially be no float in the traditional sense. Klein told me that he's looking to incorporate a float system into the pedal and bearing layout, likely using a patented design that's already on the market, which should address cranky knees and ankles. They're also still tweaking the shape of the lugs used on the sole, with the possibility of a cap-like shape being employed that could provide a bit more retention.
The Klein Designs pedal and shoe system is still in its infancy - they have a Kickstarter campaign on the go right now
- but they believe in the design enough to have gone to the trouble and expense of patenting the concept. It's not going to replace the status quo, and Klein isn't aiming to do that, but it could be an interesting third option for an openminded rider who's up for trying something different.