Chromag has long been synonymous with steel hardtails, flat pedals, and colorful handlebars. The addition of a full-suspension kid's bike last year was a surprise to many, and now, in another semi-unexpected twist, the Whistler-based company has added clipless pedals into their product lineup.
As it turns out, 60% of Chromag's employees were already clipping in, so it made sense to expand in that direction. There two versions of the new pedals – the Pilot (reviewed here), and the Pilot BA. Both use the same SPD-compatible clip-in mechanism, but the BA is more DH-oriented, with an even wider aluminum platform and more pins.
Chromag Pilot Details
• Aluminum body, chromoly axle
• 12-degree release angle
• SPD cleat compatible
• Platform dimensions: 87x110mm
• Colors: red, black, purple, gold, blue
• Weight: 513 grams
• MSRP: $184 USD
The regular Pilot still has a fairly large platform – it measures 87 x 110mm, and has four adjustable or removable traction pins on each side. Chromag supplies their own cleats
with the pedals, but they'll also work with Shimano's SPD cleats, making it easier to find replacements in a pinch.
There are five different colors to choose from - black, blue, red, purple, gold, or blue. No matter the color, the price remains the same, at $184 USD. ENTRY & EXIT
Getting into the Pilots requires the same technique that you'd use for pretty much any SPD-compatible design – slide the front of the cleat under the toe bar, and then step straight down. It's a very natural motion, and one that quickly becomes second nature.
However, I did find that getting in (and out) wasn't as effortless as what I'm used to with Shimano's own pedals, or the Hope Union TC pedals
that I reviewed recently. Every so often I'd have trouble slotting the cleat underneath the Pilot's toe bar, and there were several occasions when it felt like the cleat was hanging up when I went to get out. I tried Chromag's own cleats as well as a set of Shimano SH51 cleats with the same result.
I experimented with more and less release tension, but that didn't alleviate the issue, and it wasn't shoe dependent either. I think the culprit may be the height of the toe bar – it's not quite as tall as what Shimano uses, which can make it a little harder to find it right away.
To further confirm what I was experiencing, I installed the Pilot on one crank arm, and a Shimano XT pedal on the other. With the XT pedal, my foot seemed to naturally find the sweet spot, allowing me to step down and clip in with one fluid motion. My other foot, the one aiming for the Pilot, didn't have it quite as easy – I'd have to wriggle it around a little to find that toe bar and then step down, making it more of a two step process.
In our big clipless pedal buyer's guide
, Shimano's XT pedals get a 9 (out of 10) for ease of entry and exit, a rating I agree with. Using the same scale, I'd give the Pilots an 8. The platform itself is quite generous, even on the smaller of the two options, which is what keeps the Pilots from getting a 7, since it is pretty unlikely that you'll totally slip off during entry. No matter what, clipping in and out doesn't feel as refined as it does with Shimano's pedals.
As far as release tension goes, the adjustment range should accommodate a variety of preferences. For me, I was content setting it approximately 1/4 of the way to max tension.
The front traction pins don't really serve much purpose, and I removed the rearmost pins to ensure they didn't impede my entry or exit. The height of the rear pins can be adjusted to fine-tune the pedal / shoe interface, but I found it easier just to remove them completely. The actual position of the pedal that the shoe contacts is nice and wide, and provides a solid, stable platform underfoot.
The pedals spin on a cartridge bearing and a bushing, with a rubber seal on the inboard portion to keep things clean.DURABILITY
There are some scuffs on the pedal body, but other than some cosmetic indicators that they've been used the Pilots are still running smoothly. I should note that conditions were fairly dry for much of the test period, but I have had good luck with Chromag's axle design on their flat pedals in the past. The outer rubber seal does a very good job at keeping dirt and water from getting in, although it does make them spin a little less freely than other options.HOW DO THEY COMPARE?
Pricewise, Chromag's Pilot pedals sit in between Shimano's $130 XT and $190 XTR options. The Pilots have a bigger platform, and thus a heavier weight of 513 grams, versus 429 grams for XT and 386 grams for XTR. There aren't any colors to choose from in Shimano's catalog, and there aren't any traction pins either, which may be enough to attract some riders to camp Chromag.
Wide platform, and there's an even wider option+
Axle and bearing are well sealed against contamination+
SPD cleat compatible
Entry / release isn't as smooth as Shimano's-
On the heavier side of things