Look's new X-Track En-Rage pedal comes in two widths: 63 millimeters for trail and 67 millimeters for gravity and enduro applications. We review the Plus here, which is the wider of the two options. Look makes no apologies for the likeness to Shimano's SPD trail pedals, and in fact, the French brand utilized the same basic engagement mechanism and their X-Track pedal cleats are interchangeable with Shimano cleats.
Those are good things. They began with a design that has never been exceeded for reliability or durability - and, according to Look, their X-Track En-Rage pedal also touts some substantial performance improvements over Shimano's gold standard trail pedal.
X-Track En-Rage Plus Details:
• Purpose: AM/enduro
• Forged aluminum body
• Wide platform: 67mm wide, 92mm long
• 2 adjustable forward pins
• Adjustable release tension
• 6-degree float/13-degree release
• Cleat interchangeable with Shimano
• Weight: 450g/pair
• Gold or black
• MSRP: $130 USD
• Contact: Look Cycle
Before most mountain bikers were born, Look pioneered what would become the most successful clipless pedal design for road racing, and later, fielded the first dedicated clipless MTB pedal. That said, Look has since produced a handful of off-road pedals that never managed to capture the imaginations of mountain bikers. Their latest X-Track Series pedals, however, could reverse that trend. For starters, Look followed Shimano's lead on both the engagement mechanism and the cleat. That means you should be able to bash X-Track pedals mercilessly into rocks without phasing their ingress or release pressure. It also means that you'll be able to adjust your release tension, and like Shimano, Look offers an easy release cleat that should make mid-corner foot dabs easy shmeazy.
Larger platform: Look has a lot to say about their expanded platform. Reportedly, the widest Plus option sports 664 square millimeters of contact area for the shoe - which Look claims better supports the rider and makes for more efficient pedaling and control.
Compared with a Shimano XTR pedal, which measures 62 by 92 millimeters, Look's En-Gage Plus is 67 millimeters wide and the same length. Shimano's pedals protrude 87 millimeters from the face of the crankarm to the outside of the platform, while Look's measure 88.4mm. Look's platform is slightly thicker at the mid-point: 21.6mm compared to Shimano's 17.8mm thickness - so Look's cornering clearance is marginally less. Look's wider platform centers your cleat within half a millimeter of an XTR trail pedal, so the Q-factors are essentially the same. The Look pedal's wider dimensions add 30 grams for the pair over XTR.
Mechanically, you'd be hard-pressed to see the differences between their engagements, but Look has a few outstanding features worth noting. They added a steel runway, which extends along each side of the platform where the cleat engages, presumably, to better support the cleat laterally, and to ease rotation forces when releasing from the pedal. Hatch marks on the sides of the aluminum platform suggest there may be more grip to keep the shoe in place, and a pair of Allen grub-screw pins at the forward ends of the pedals provide additional security as needed. Like Shimano, the X-Track pedals are completely serviceable. The engagement mechanisms are retained by Torx screws, so if you do manage to smash one, you can replace that side. Three bearings:
Chromoly steel shafts rotate on three bearings: One inboard bushing and a pair of sealed ball bearings near the outboard end of the platform. A plastic thread-in plug on the outer end ensures no junk can enter there, while a contact seal protects the inboard side of the shaft. No surprises there, and like most pedals that use a similar arrangement, you should expect the snug-fitting bushings and contact seals will take a few rides before the pedals will spin freely.Performance
Setting up the Look pedals was reduced to adjusting the release tension. The Look mechanism felt a bit grabby for the first two rides until the sharp edges wore down, but it's smooth as silk now.
I prefer a more moderate release pressure than most riders who transitioned from flat pedals do. A number of Shimano fans, however, ride their XT and XTR pedals with the adjustment screws bottomed out and still wish for more release tension. If that's you, Look's En-Rage Plus offers a higher maximum release threshold. My XTR setting is four clicks out, but I needed to back out two more clicks to match the same release feel. Turn the screws all the way in and disengagement is substantially stiffer.
On the subject of releasing, Look's mechanism builds up tension before it lets go, similar to but in a more positive way than a Crankbrothers Mallet does. By comparison, an XTR pedal's release is quicker and more positive, but with less warning. I liked the feel of the Look much better in all situations while riding, but when a crash was eminent, I remembered why I have become fond of Shimano's instant escape action. I had to search for it, but yes, thick mud has minimal effect on engagement or disengagement - similar to, or perhaps a tiny bit better, than XTR's muck performance.
Six degrees of rotational play seems about right - not so much that a twisting foot can build up enough momentum to break free of the mechanism, but enough to provide me with some wiggle room when I was bashing through rock gardens. Add the six degrees of float to the Look's gradual release action and you'll rarely have an unplanned escape. The only times I did was when I bashed a pedal into a fixed object at speed. When I needed to unclip to dab a foot, getting back in and on the power was at least as smooth as with my Shimano pedals - which is pretty seamless.
I could take or leave the screw-in front-pins and in fact, when my shoe is on the pedal or the cleat is engaged, the sole of my foot does not contact the pins at all. I did not experience a defining moment where I said to myself, "Damn! I sure am glad I have those pins." I ride in Specialized 2FO flat-style shoes, which have stiffer soles than Five Ten's, so that may have been a contributing factor.
The bike I am riding now has a low bottom bracket, so I have been bashing the pedals far more often than I'd care to. That said, the Looks are holding up well. The axles are arrow straight and, while the corners are getting banged up, gold is still the predominant color. More importantly, they spin smoothly and my feet pop in and out when I want them too - every time. Pinkbike's Take: