Look X-Track Race Carbon Pedal - Review

Mar 14, 2018
by Mike Levy  
Look X-Track pedal


Look, the age-old cycling brand that pioneered pedals being attached to shoes, has never really had a strong foothold in our dirty world. On the pavement, sure, Look is all over the place, but their involvement in singletrack has been mostly limited to their Quartz pedal and some odd (and very pricey) mountain bikes that don't really exist for anyone in North America. Their fresh X-Track pedal most certainly does exist, however, and Look is hoping that their all-new design will make the Gallic brand more relevant to us mountain bikers.

The cross-country focused X-Track replaces Look's now-retired Quartz pedal, and there are four models that range from the $49.99 USD base model to the "It's only money" Race Carbon Ti version that goes for $249.99 USD. My test set was the "It's only money, but I still need to eat" Race Carbon model that has a $129.99 USD price tag and weigh 346-grams on my scale for the set. There will also be two trail-friendly versions, available later this year with larger platforms for those who feel they need that.

X-Track Race Carbon Details

• Intended use: trail, cross-country
• Carbon pedal body
• Steel spindle
• Float: 6-degrees
• Compatible w/ Shimano SPD cleats
• Weight: 346-grams
• MSRP: $129.99 USD
www.lookcycle.com


Look X-Track pedal


Design

According to Look, the main focus of their X-Track pedal was to have ''the weight/contact surface ratio as the primary factor when defining the product.'' That's a fancy way of saying that they wanted a relatively large contact area between the shoe and pedal to have as much of our meager horsepower transferred from the former to the latter. This is different than some pedals with large platforms that surround a trail-style pedal, which often make little contact with the shoe, and it's one of the reasons that the X-Track weighs a whisker more than some others, even with the composite body used for my Race Carbon pedals.

So, instead of a body that's been pared down to nothing but what's needed to hold the clippy bits, you'll find a large surface area on each side of the mechanism, at least relative to most anorexic cross-country pedals.

If the clip mechanism looks kinda familiar to you, it's because it's essentially what you'll find on Shimano's pedals, which means that all the X-Track models can be used with SPD cleats. As much as I'm not a fan of Shimano's pedals for their lack of release tension, I'm probably in the minority with that complaint, and it does make a load of sense for Look to go this route. If they had used a proprietary cleat design, you'd likely be SOL if you needed a set and had no access to a well-stocked bike shop: ''Hi, I'm looking for cleats that work with my weird French pedals,'' which would likely be followed by a blank stare. But you can practically get SPD cleats at your local grocery store, so no issues there.
Look X-Track pedal

Entry and release tension is adjustable by using a 3mm hex key to preload each of the springs, with seventeen clicks in total that provide a good working range of adjustment.

The inside of the X-track pedal is what you'd expect to see; there are two sealed bearings on the inboard end and a bushing on the outboard side. The composite body is held onto the steel axle via a lock-nut, and sealed with a plastic (ugh, plastic) endcap threads into the end of the body over that.


Look X-Track pedal


All that adds up to 346-grams for a set of X-Track Race Carbon pedals. For comparison's sake, HT's Leopard M1 cross-country pedals with steel spindles (just like these Race Carbon jobs) comes in at 299-grams for a set and also cost the same $129.99 USD, and Shimano's XT Race pedals weigh a claimed 343-grams and cost $110 USD. But when it comes to pedals, I'd argue that how they perform and match your needs is far more important than grams and (relatively speaking) even price.



Performance

Clipless pedals have a pretty straightforward job. They need to be easy to get into and also easy to get out of... but only when you want them to be easy to get out of. And they have to be relatively lightweight and really reliable. Simples.

Not surprisingly, the X-Track pedal's clip mechanism feels a lot like a Shimano system in how it works underfoot. There's the same solid 'ka-chung' when you enter or exit, and the same motion (that's likely second nature for most of us) is required for each. The 6-degrees of float is also familiar; it's completely free until you come up against the release ramp on the cleat, at which point a firm effort is called for to get out of the mechanism.


Look X-Track pedal


There is one noticeable difference, however, in that I didn't suffer a single accidental release since I installed the X-Track pedals on my bike. With Shimano pedals, I routinely unclip a foot without trying, even when everything is new and the tension is maxed out, and you know that those unplanned foot plants often don't end well.

To be fair, I do move my heels a lot while mucking about like an idiot on the trail, and this isn't a complaint that I hear from many other riders. Regardless, with the X-Track pedals, it wasn't ever an issue, despite the mechanism being SPD compatible.


Look X-Track pedal
Look X-Track pedal


I'll be honest, I didn't expect the carbon body to hold up that well, but it's still chugging along, scars and all. They took a bit of a trashing during the three-day Samarathon stage race in Israel that saw me clip them on rocks about six hundred times while breathing through my eyeballs for 200km, but they've refused to crack. There are a handful of gouges, sure, but I'd wager that the bodies will last forever if they survived my poor line choices through southern Israel's rocky minefields. There's zero bearing play or grittiness, too, and things were still clean as a whistle internally when I stripped them down.

As for Look's claims of them being more efficient thanks to the larger shoe/pedal body interface, I can't say that I noticed that. My well-worn Giro Code VR70 HV shoes sport stiff and racy carbon soles that flex less than Richie Rude had to when he crushed me in the gym (which was hardly at all) so I can't make a call on this one. It makes sense on paper, though.

My single beef with the X-Track Race Carbon pedal is that plastic (er, carbon?) endcap that requires a spanner tool to remove and install. The torque required is quite low, of course, but I cringe anytime I need to use a tool on a plastic fixture. Small beans, just so long as you're careful about it, I guess.
Look X-Track pedal



Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesIf you compare Shimano's XT Race pedal to Look's X-Track Race Carbon by the numbers, it sure looks like the Big S takes the win, doesn't it? The XT clips are a touch lighter, less expensive, and should work the same mechanically as Look's new offering. But in the real world, I prefer the more secure feeling that the X-Track pedal offers, which is worth the extra coin to me. Changing pedals can be a big deal to riders who put in a load of miles and are used to a certain system, but the fact that the X-Track's are SPD compatible means that there's essentially zero learning curve, too. Mike Levy






Must Read This Week

89 Comments

  • + 45
 Sam Gaze
on Look pedals: clipped-in. Win.

Nino Schurter
on Ritchey pedals: unclipped. Lost.
  • - 1
 Yup, that wasn't a good sales pitch for Ritchey pedals. Or should we blame it on Nino? His sprinting form might have some room for improvement.
  • + 64
 @zdebruine: with all due respect, anyone criticizing any sort of form of a top10 WC racer nearing the end of the race is just silly
  • + 22
 Sam Hill on flats. Wins!
  • - 15
flag Flowcheckers (Mar 14, 2018 at 10:18) (Below Threshold)
 @WAKIdesigns: Top ten racers are somehow immune to criticism? But if its 11th place it's ok to criticize. Enough of the fanboy "don't you dare criticize my idols I worship" attitude about racers.
  • + 34
 @Flowcheckers: hahah, no I just mean that you know as much about finish on a world cup race as you know about the surface of Titan. And this sort of could have, should have, would haves are implying that you could give a WC racer a piece of useful advice. Well you can’t... it’s an overwhelming thought but you don’t matter at all. You may try to reach Nino with your advice on his sprints as well as die to orrow. Both will have same effect on his performance
  • + 5
 Yeah... But I don't think that had anything to do with it... Nino was not going to come around... Sam had that... It was actually a race to the bend... Whomever came through that bend first, and didn't completely come apart was going to win... Nino didn't give enough credit to Sam in letting him lead, or maybe he flat didn't have the legs...
  • + 7
 @zdebruine: Hmm, it looks bad, especially given the stage it's on, but shit happens when you're going balls out like that.
  • + 14
 @Flowcheckers: Go ahead and criticize what you want -- that's part of watching sports, I guess. But do you really not see the silliness -- the utter absurdity -- of criticizing a guy who's been as close to perfect over the last few years as you can get, who lost a single race by about a second? Yeah, it must be his pedals. I'll bet he's spent thousands of hours training and riding and never put any thought into his pedals before. Or yeah, maybe his sprinting skills. He's probably never worked on that before, either. C'mon, man.

Better explanation: when you're racing against other elite racers, you win some, and you lose some, eventually. Even Nino Schurter. But yeah, he'll look into that whole pedal thing.
  • + 2
 @TheR: nah, I think he said it in a light hearted way Smile but I’m still traumatized by shitstorm after Sagans supposed elbow to Cav at TDF. It’s been appalling...
  • + 5
 ________ sucks! I can name one high-profile case of them not working! ................. rules! I can name one high-profile case of them working! -Classic Pinkbike
  • + 9
 Nino's wireless pedals just say: "connection lost"
  • + 2
 @Sarin: nah, he got coaching from Froome, so he was looking at the power meter, now now? is it optimal? Can I pull 750W now? been going 420 for last 3 minutes, wait?! Where's my team?! Hey I need someone to drag me to the finish, I'm not doing any work damn it, WTF... and then he lost the pedal. Should have talked to Sagan instead... waaaaay cooler.
  • + 1
 I agree. Had a pair on my xc bike. They bling and light but snapped the cage off after two years. Back to xtr.
  • + 1
 Let's be honest, Nino would have lost anyway for 2 reasons. 1 - Gaze was a beast on that last lap and the sprint and there was no way Nino was going to get past him. 2 - Redbull TV interviewed Nino's mechanic during race and commented that he had no mechanicals last year.
  • + 1
 @weetabix-man: I think it was Eagle, had he been on XX1 he'd have less gears to go through.
  • + 36
 X-Track. Or XT for short.
  • + 33
 after 25 yrs of trying to reinvent the MTB pedal with zero success, Look finally succumbs
  • + 2
 Since SPD is based on a licensed Look system, I don't think Look is reinventing anything ...
  • + 6
 been abusing them for 8 years now, no service, if it doesn't break...
  • + 12
 @hamncheez buy some new cleats, get pedals for 5$
  • + 9
 The M520/M530s are without a doubt the best pedals ever made. Dirt cheap, last forever...literally what more could you want, unless you're trying to shave every single gram possible? Pinkbike, where's the review of these bad boys?
  • + 14
 @mnorris122: they dont last forever. My 11 year old ones (left out in the snow one winter and never serviced or taken care of) have rust on them!!1
  • + 1
 Don't forget that for this extra $25 you also get a change of throwing some carbon into the ocean Wink
  • + 4
 The more secure feeling of the Look vs. the XT was probably due to the friction provided by the outboard knurled rubber / plastic pieces on the Look interacting with the sole of your shoe. Nice feature that would be even better if they were replaceable and had varying heights available to deal with the different cleat depths on shoes.
  • + 2
 While I probably won't buy these, its inspired me to look into new pedals. I've been rocking Shimano 636's for over a decade. They are 100% bombproof and have yet to let me down. However, they are very heavy. I think a set of XTR Trails are in near order. Not too expensive considering how long they last.
  • + 2
 I've also ditched the Shimano system for so many un-wanted clip outs, as Mike has experienced. I now use the HT pedals, and have no issue with un-planned releases, especially when I'm popping into the air. Even when they are set on a very loose setting, where as the Shimano's, I had then cranked and was still coming out. Only beef with HT pedals is that the bearings wear out quite quickly compared to Shimano's, they don't use a sealed system.
  • + 2
 I'm a big HT fan for the exact reason you cited, but their bearings do wear quickly. I wrote my review of the Leopard M1s and they were perfect... one month later and the insides were coming outside. You reminded me that I need to update that review.

www.pinkbike.com/news/ht-m1-pedal-review-2016.html
  • + 4
 Agree on accidental clip-outs, and worse yet, blow-outs, on hard, less than smooth landings. That's the main reason I moved away from Shimano pedals. Also, Shimano's steel cleats not only seem to protrude farther from the sole they are much harder and more slippery when doing a hike a bike. The brass-like cleats on CBs seem thinner. And accidental clip-outs are much less common on CBs. They had issues in the past with exploding Eggs, but their all metal candies are working out very well.
  • + 1
 @MikerJ @mikelevy @pedaler : I had one accidental clip out with my HT M1's when I tried doing a whip and forget about how things twist when you twist them. Used to happen all the time with my SPD pedals, and I wouldn't even have to whip for it to happen
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: You might try Diamondback's Overdrive pedals. Much more tension on those than Shimano, for better or worse. Good bearings, 290g or so. Amazon was dumping them for $17 a few months ago, they're usually under $30.
  • + 1
 @alexdi: $17! So good. We need more of that.
  • + 2
 Are clip pedals becoming more and more popular these days or is it just that more companies want a piece of the pie? Back when I started I think there was Shimano, Speedplay and Time. Later came Crankbrothers. Now it seems all those brands who used to make pedals also come with their own clip pedals for mtb. Even Nukeproof, Burgtech and DMR make them. I'd never have expected that a decade ago.
  • + 6
 I dunno, but just judging by what I see on the trails and at work (LBS), it seems like I'm solidly in the minority by running flat pedals. I don't know many trail riders using flats these days.
  • + 7
 Everyone starting riding mountain bikes thinks that soone or later he needs to clip in. It is considered to be a pro thing and will always be. Vast majority of people think that flat pedals mean those metal cage wellgos and running/ hiking shoes. Very very few have opportunity to try 510s with proper pedals. And many of those who do, relate those pedals to holes in their shins. Clip ins are here to stay in absolute power forever. If not Sam Hill flat pedal market would be half of the size. Vast majority of people simply have no time to know better, and it’s about flat pdal users too. Every now and then you’ll hear someone saying that they would never dare to clip in for DH. Well, that simply means they haven’t tried all available clip in systems for longer than 12 Wink rides
  • + 3
 @mnorris122: most of the guys I ride with are on flats and they all ride trails.
  • + 7
 I agree with Waki. Most people starting out don't realize what a difference it makes to use a good shoe and good pedal - but even if they did, they might still be too scared of the pins slashing their shins to give it a shot. Plus it's not like running flats really saves you any money when there are shimano pedal/shoe combos that are dirt cheap and practically indestructible. My M520s are like 8 years old and still work perfectly, no maintenance. My shoes are on their 4th year and show no serious wear.

I don't dislike flats - they're probably better for learning certain skills, and everyone likes the ability to easily hang/dab a foot on something tough. But there's a lot to like about clipping in too. Climbing and sprinting feel awesome, having some float in the pedal is awesome and the ability to use a single shoe for my road/cx and mtb is nice... yes, I could do that with flats too, but who wants to go for a road ride in 5.10s? Plus the pro DH field adopting clipless has made people a lot more accepting of the idea for 'real' trails.
  • + 3
 @bkm303: I've been on flats solidly for 6 months now and just about to swap back to clips (for ride tonight).

IMO it's good to mix it up between the two as you get different skills from each.
  • + 0
 Sell through numbers available from groups like NPD show that clipless pedal sales are down and flat pedal sales are up. No shocker there, look at the flat pedal shoe market catering to this change. It's regional of course, but as a macro trend - flat is "in".
  • + 1
 I coach a kids mountain bike team (6-12 year olds) and it’s almost scary how many young kids are on clips. My dad put me on clips at age 10, which was way too early. I recently switched to flats and it’s so fun. Just amazing. In the XC community there is a sort of clipless brainwashing period for kids who recently switched to clips where they believe that it is impossible to bunnyhop without clipless pedals, etc. Road roots in XC really make people want to clip in and it’s kind of worrying because kids are told to go fast instead of to learn skills.
  • + 1
 I still ride clips for enduro and XC racing though
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: you got 1 thing right...my ugly shins.
  • + 1
 I would love to see someone OTHER than Speedplay and those dreaded Syzr pedals that made wider axle options and allowed you to adjust the float either in the pedal or cleat. Much like the Speedplay zero road pedals. For those of us with big feet that heel in - anything would be nice! I wish Look would have done this with these pedals. Twenty years ago you could buy those large platform red Looks with cleat options to change float and they worked better than the spuds. They were my favorite for years - but that back when John Tomac was downhilling on drop bars.........
  • + 1
 www.rideissi.com/pedals/issi-flash

These come with multiple axle lengths.
  • - 1
 @mikelevy: Do you have any experience with them? There are no reviews I can find - I cannot believe I forgot about those. I had a set and sold them without ever using them because they were the older non-spd compatible ones. I wet the bed in my comment above. Need more coffee.
  • + 6
 I use (and abuse) Time ATAC pedals. Lots of float, solid engagement and durable.
  • + 1
 I'm sure the latest Crankbrother 'enduro' clips can use the DH axle which is longer, iirc? If you dare use them (joke!) they might suffice?
  • + 1
 @dldewar : HT cleeats come with a spacer to change the float, worked quite well for me
  • + 3
 The "platforms" of these tiny-ass pedals would be way too small for @mikekazimer !
  • + 1
 "There will also be two trail-friendly versions, available later this year with larger platforms for those who feel they need that."

I wonder who this was directed towards @mikelevy Wink
  • + 0
 These didn't replace Look Quartz. They replaced Look S-Tracks, which are on all my MTB's. Great pedals with Time ATAC-style release bars but better cleats and more reliable. Don't know why they didn't sell but I'm keeping them. Don't need Shimano knockoffs.
  • + 2
 XTR pedals are always on sale at most big online stores for about $87.99 as of this morning with free shipping and weigh 310g. Why bother bringing this product to market?
  • + 0
 shimano's tend to unclip way too easily
  • + 6
 @cuban-b: Exactly. Not for everyone, though. I ride with guys who use XTR pedals that have zero tension dialed on and they never unclip. I think it's mainly an issue for guys who tend to use a lot of body english.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: i love SPD system, so went with the VP VX, which i love. they dont unclip with body english and are still easy to get in and out of when needed. may need to give these Looks a look.
  • - 3
 I just wonder why no fast dude in town uses Shimano system... and when you ask them why, they get a repulsive reaction. I personally hate their system, you get either clipping out unintentionally or not clipping out at all. Then in the latter mode I get knee pains due to zero resistance float put against stone hard spring. No thank you. I rode them for 5 years because I didn’t know any better, and they were cheap as hell. I wish Time had a real platform pedal that costed max 120$.
  • + 1
 @cuban-b: went with xpedo baldwin and they are awesome
  • + 2
 On paper everything about Shimano pedals is great, from the 520 up to XTR, but the unexpected releases make them unusable for me. Luckily Time pedals have been just as durable and actually keep me clipped in.
  • - 1
 @warpcow: careful though. Use ones with metal body, not withis composite rubbish. If you hit the pedal hard against the ground the metal will bend the spring part and get loose in a rather unexpected and cunny way. Everything will seem fine when clipping in but then the arm bar will get loose mid ride and you’ll unclip in every pssibledirection. I had it in Hafjell last year. Very disturbing as you stop trusting the pedal.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: My composite Time Atac XC 4 pedals cost me about CAD $140 and have held up fine for years now. Here they are www.jensonusa.com/Time-ATAC-XC-4-Pedals
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I've been using composite ATACs since 10+ years with no problem...
  • - 1
 I’ve been using MX4 for 3 years and hit them a few times too many. Having said that, I’ll probably buy another pair. But this time the metal cage.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: The MX4 are bigger, if I remember well. I ride ATACs, which have a smaller body. I've banged them quite a few times, but they have held well... I have three pairs (on three different bikes) and the only thing I had issues with are the metal "arches" that hold the cleats on a pair of XC Ti. Like @mikelevy, I tend to twist my feet while riding (and sometimes when jumping) so I needed pedals with more float than the Shimanos, that I've used in my younger years. Also, back in the time, the ATAC shed mud and dirt much better than the Shimanos, but that may have changed since then. Anyway, I'm very satisfied with Time and will keep on using them, although I've heard that the newer models have reliability problems, especially for the high end versions.
  • + 0
 @cool3: all I meant was that mine failed in a creepy way. It seems it's fine but then you start feeling as if it was loose like Shimano with worn out cleats. And the Atac would fail in exactly same way. I will never ride Shimanos again. I need float. The right amount, CBros have too much or too little depending on cleat mount. But I'm willing to give the latest Mallets DH a try. My friend, normally on Mallets will be trying the HT X2, I'll see what he has to say. I have 2 more months for consideration before lifts open.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I hope you'll find your "Graal". Smile Have a great season!
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: give xpedo a try my baldwin after a full season hold pretty good easy to clip in (with loud click) and stay clicked in almost too much for me with xpedo cleats but they are spd compatible and use shimano cleats with them to help release with my injured knee. Got the titanium on ebay for 160 cad.
  • + 1
 @ybsurf: Just got a pair (not the ti version) and can't wait to try them. 349gr. with cromoly axles and 3 cartridge bearings per pedal!
  • + 1
 Shimano xt m8000 weigh less and prolly cost less too, and are designed for SPD. I guess it's a good sign? Perhaps Look will be making more options available in the future.
  • + 1
 So what specifically about the design of the pedals helped hold your feet in better? Can you still get your feet out safely in a hurry if you go OTB or something?
  • + 1
 To be honest, I'm not entirely sure, but there's no doubt in my mind that they're more secure. It seems like the majority of riders I talk to don't have the same issue as me, so I think it's down to technique... or maybe lack thereof?
  • + 2
 if i was looking for SPD cleats in my local grocery store-would i look in the produce section, or dairy maybe?...
  • + 1
 I don't know about SPDs but you will find flat pedals next to the meat tenderizer mallets
www.amazon.ca/KitchenAid-Classic-Meat-Tenderizer-Black/dp/B005D6FXWQ
  • + 3
 Would you just Look at that.
  • + 2
 If you can't beat them, join them. Smart move.
  • + 1
 It will be carbon pedal spindles next!.....god help our lower legs and ankles when that happens!!
  • + 1
 Why would I use a "track" pedal on a MOuntain Cycle? This isn't a velodrome bro
  • + 7
 To be fair, velodromes are scary as hell. Not my thing but I'd probably be too chicken anyway.
  • + 1
 Ooof I take that back, There are bushings in there....
  • + 2
 Look's like a pedal.
  • - 1
 I’m gonna zip-tie my hands to the bars too - just for the extra control and efficiency that brings.


Not

Get on flats and enjoy riding your bike.
  • + 2
 I bet I enjoy riding my bike while clipped-in just as much as you enjoy riding your bike not clipped-in. Just say'n.
  • + 1
 Would you look at that
  • + 0
 Crap. Buy a pair of Time Atac instead, carbon free, of course :-)
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