Crankbrothers' pedals, much like the company itself, often elicit either a love or hate response from riders depending on their experiences and how much time they've spent reading forums. There have been some duds, no doubt about that, but their latest products have proven to be reliable, especially the new Synthesis wheels and Highline dropper post.
With that in mind, it's probably time to re-visit Crankbrothers' Candy pedal, a mid-sized, kinda-has-a-platform-but-mostly-doesn't offering that's popular with trail riders.
The all-black version that I that I've been using for the past six or so months is the Candy 7, their $169 USD pedal that weighs 325-grams for the pair on my scale. Don't worry, Money Bags, you can spend a hell of a lot more than that and choose from a bunch of questionable colors, too; the Candy 11 costs a whopping $450 but all the titanium bits lower the weight down to 249-grams. Here's an interesting fact for you: The $59 Candy 1 sports a ''composite'' body and steel guts but, according to Crankbrothers' website, also weighs 249-grams.
Candy 7 Details
• Intended use: cross-country / trail
• Four-sided entry
• Aluminum body
• Stainless steel 'wing' mechanism
• Stainless steel spring
• Steel axle
• 15 or 20-degree release angle
• Tunable interface
• Q-factor: 52mm
• Weight: 325-grams (actual)
• MSRP: $169 USD
• More info: www.crankbrothers.com
The $169 USD Candy 7 is Crankbrothers' trail-oriented pedal that sports a mid-sized platform and weighs 325-grams for a pair.
At the heart of the Candy pedal is the sprung wing assembly that sets all of Crankbrothers' clipless pedals apart from the SPD-compatible crowd. Given the shape of the mechanism, it's no surprise that their lighter weight cross-country pedal that goes without the platform is called the Eggbeater, and the Candy is essentially that pedal but with an aluminum body surrounding the stainless steel wings.
Those so-called wings are actually two separate pieces sitting perpendicular to each other and on a tube that can rotate within the cage. A stainless steel spring sits in the middle of it all, and there's really just four pieces to the clip mechanism in total, making it one of the simpler designs out there. It also means there is no way to preload the spring to adjust entry or release tension.
The 'wings' are two separate pieces (left) with a wound steel spring at the center, and the whole assembly rotates on bushings (right) set into either side of the cage.
The Candy platform has chamfers everywhere to hopefully keep you moving forward when you snag it on a rock or root, but it's not the kind of thing you'd want to stand on for very long, especially since it tapers down towards the forward and rearward edges. The idea isn't to be a big downhill pedal, though, but rather to provide some extra support for your shoes by creating more contact area between the outsoles and the pedal body.
Instead of adjustable pins that are guaranteed to eventually be smashed off, Crankbrothers lets customers tune the shoe and pedal interface via thin spacers that can be installed under the cleats, which isn't anything new, or 'traction pads' that clip onto the body to essentially raise it up slightly to meet the shoe. The stock height is just 1mm, or you can slide them out (they're really, really tight and there are four on each pedal body) and use 2mm tall pads. That single millimeter doesn't sound like much, but I learned that it makes a massive difference in how the Candy performs.
The pedals come with both sizes, and you can pick them up directly from Crankbrothers for $14.99 USD.
The body is split, too, with two long Torx-head screws tying each side together around the clip mechanism that rotates on two bushings within the body. Crankbrothers says that this makes the Candy four-sided like their Eggbeater pedal, but there are really only two sides to the Candy. Letting the mechanism spin inside the body should mean that mud flows through and falls right out, though, and unlike an SPD-type pedal, there's almost nowhere for mud to get stuck.
The split body provides access to clip mechanism in the center, with the two halves being held together with steel Torx head screws.
Internally, the 7 uses a steel axle with an inboard bushing, and there's one pint-sized sealed bearing that looks like it belongs on an R/C car out at the outboard end. An aluminum cap threads into the pedal body and snugs it down onto the axle, while a small nut beneath that ensures that nothing can come apart. It's also worth noting that Crankbrothers has made the bore large enough that you don't need a silly thin-walled socket (that's probably not where you left it last) to remove the nut - kudos, Crankbrothers.
Crankbrothers sells a ton of small bits on their website to keep their pedals running smoothly, with the Pedal Refresh Kit costing $24.99 USD and coming with bearings, bushings, seals, nuts, and a tool. Titanium spindles go for $150 USD, and the Long Spindle Upgrade Kit takes the Q-factor from 52mm stock to 57mm for $49.99. If your shoes have carbon soles, you might want to pick up the $9.99 Shoe Shields that keep the wings from digging into them (more on that later), and there are also four different cleat options to choose from.
You want options? Crankbrothers has expanded its cleat selection to provide different amounts of float (zero float to 6-degrees) and different release angles (10-degrees to 15-degrees). On top of that, swapping the standard gold-colored cleats around will give you a 20-degree release angle.
Remember when I moaned about Crankbrothers' pedals not offering adjustable release tension? Instead, they've come up with four differently shaped brass cleats that provide different amounts of float and change the release angle. The standard, gold-colored cleats offer 6-degrees of float and let your feet out when they hit 15-degrees, but the bronze cleats will give you no float and the same 15-degrees until release. If you want to get out of the pedal sooner, the rose cleats give have 6-degree of float and a 10-degree release, or the silver cleats provide no float and the same 10-degree release angle. But wait, there's even more; you can also run the standard gold cleats, the ones that come stock with the Candy 7 pedal, in reverse (left cleat on the right shoe and vice versa) to get a 20-degree release angle.
When you combine all the cleat options, the longer spindles for a wider Q-factor, and the adjustable traction pads, it turns out the Candy is an extremely tuneable pedal design... You just have to take the time to set them up correctly.
The mid-sized platform is awkward to stand on, but it does provide loads of support underfoot when you're clipped-in.
Crankbrothers' pedals are probably the second most commonly used option out there, next to anything with that SPD acronym on it, but this was actually my first go with them. It didn't start well, either, but only because they have to be set-up correctly for them to work as intended, which I hadn't done. Ideally, there will be no gap between the steel wings and the sole of your shoes, and no gap between the body of the pedal and the lugs; this gives you the most support and eliminates that 'I'm standing on a ball bearing' feeling of all of your weight resting on the pedal's wings.
Spot the difference? The slight gap between the pedal body and the shoe's sole meant that most of my weight was being supported by the wings alone, which left a groove in the carbon sole. On the right, the taller traction pads have been installed and the shoe is better supported by the pedal body. This made all the difference in the world.
To adjust the gap between the shoe and pedal, Crankbrothers uses shims under their brass cleats and those aforementioned traction pads that sit on either side of the body. If the lugs of the shoe are resting on the pads and there's a gap between the wings and sole, even just a millimeter or two, you should fit a spacer under the cleat to bring it closer. But if you're clipped-in and there's a gap between the black pads and the lugs of the shoe, you need to install the taller 2mm pads, which is exactly what I did after using the Candy 7s for a while.
The difference in height is just a single millimeter, but it matters. Also, the fit is extremely tight and they took some muscle to get off, but you won't be losing them on the trail.
Without the taller pads, and my weight and the Giro shoe's carbon sole resting directly onto the wings, it felt a lot like I was standing on top of a tiny ball bearing while pedaling. The engagement was sloppy feeling, too, and I was pulling out of the pedal far too often. Turns out that was caused by user error, however, with a closer look revealing that I needed to use the taller, 2mm traction pads so the pedal body had more contact with my shoe.
What a massive difference it made, too.
With that initial sub-par set-up that certainly falls under the category of user error and nothing else, which is ridiculous because they come with great instructions
, I wasn't that stoked about the performance. But with the taller pads installed and the cleats reversed to give me a 20-degree release angle instead of the standard 15-degrees, it was an entirely different story.
The body sports chamfered edges to help it glance off of rocks and whatnot, and they've held up quite well.
Compared to a pedal that uses an SPD mechanism, clipping into the Candy doesn't deliver that same 'ka-chung' feeling that tells you that you're now one with the bike. There's pretty much no audible click when it happens, and while it's certainly a bit vaguer than most others pedals out there, you can feel the cleats lock into the pedal's wings through the soles of your shoes. It's not better or worse, but it is different.
The standard gold-colored cleats that I'm using offer 6-degrees of float that feels quite unrestrictive, which is a good thing, and then the tension ramps up as you reach the release angle. That's 15-degrees with the left cleat on the left shoe and the right where it belongs.
More than a decade of using platform pedals exclusively means that I tend to use a lot of ''foot English'' when I'm riding; I'll angle my feet depending on what I'm doing, and sometimes it's enough for them to pop out of the pedal. But swapping the cleats around gave me 20-degrees to play with and eliminated the majority of the accidental releases.
Clipping in with SPD-style pedals calls for you to sort of toe into them before pushing down with your heel, a motion that quickly becomes second nature, but you can literally just step down onto Crankbrothers' pedals and click into them. It doesn't get any easier than that.
The shoe and pedal interface was nice and snug once I installed the taller traction pads, despite my instance on wearing Giro's Yeezy-esque Empire VR70 Knit cross-country shoe that has some sparse lugs on the bottom of it.
When not clipped-in and standing on the mid-sized body, it certainly feels more small-sized than anything else. And this will be magnified if your shoes don't have flat bottoms like a skate-style shoe, but the body isn't there to stand on; get the Mallet DH pedals if that's what you want to do. The Candy's cage does provide a good amount of support when you're clipped in, however, which is exactly what it's designed to do.
The pedal was nearly flawless once set-up correctly, but I'm not a fan of it releasing when the bottom of the mechanism makes contact with the ground.
Okay, onto the less good things. While not a knock against them, the design means that you must take the time to set them up correctly, which I didn't do initially. You should be doing that with any type of pedal, of course, but it's especially important with these.
My only real grumble with the pedals is that they can release your foot if the mechanism on the bottom of the pedal hits the ground or anything else. Because the wings are just two separate pieces with a spring between them, it can open if you hit the opposite side. This has happened a handful of times when I was in a rut and caught a pedal, and a few times when I took a pedal stroke too early and one hit the ground. Rider error, sure, but I still don't want to unclip.
I also discovered that the wings have been wearing grooves into the carbon outsoles of my shoes (pictured to the right), which can't be a good thing.
This was no doubt happening partly because I didn't have the taller traction pads installed that would have taken some load off of the sole, but Crankbrothers does say that the wings should make contact with the sole in the cleat pocket. What I needed was the $9.99 USD Shoe Shield Kit that's a pair of really thin steel shims that go under your cleat and protect the carbon sole, and while they're not exactly pricey, I'd need to buy those separately. Also, I don't want to buy them separately just because my shoes are fancy; the pedals should just work without needing to thinking about them grinding into my carbon soles.
The sealed bearing on the outboard end of the axle is a little worse for wear
, too, with it being quite rusty on the outside and rough feeling on the inside. To be fair, I nearly built an ark for myself and the dogs this spring, so I'd have been surprised if it was still spinning smoothly. Aside from that, one of the aluminum caps did back off once and the pedal body shifted around on the axle, but things have been just fine on the reliability front otherwise. The body wouldn't have ever come off - the small nut is actually what holds it on - and a 6mm hex key fixed the issue in seconds.
Very intuitive entry / exit+
Customizable float and release angle options
Traction pads can be difficult to remove-
Bearing life could be better-
Can release when hit from the underside