Old Gold: Twenty6 Prerunner Flat Pedals

Nov 11, 2022 at 10:43
by Travis Engel  

The concept of a “midlife crisis” is not just a concept. It’s a real thing. If you’re not already there yourself, lemme tell you: Things change when you start to hear that clock ticking. And it ticks fast and loud for folks like me who have more titanium in our bodies than on our bikes. I’ve had a lot of good years, but it won’t be long before the years that are coming will be less good than the ones that have gone. So, when you can’t afford a Porsche, you do the next best thing; you switch to flat pedals.

Or in my case, you expand your use of flat pedals. I’ve actually been riding these twenty6 Prerunner pedals for about 13 years, but until recently, they were only on my dirt-jump bike. Mind you, I don’t mean my pumptrack bike or my skills-park bike. I mean tall, steep, no-dig-no-ride dirt jumps. A discipline where touchpoints are paramount, and from the moment I set foot on twenty6’s second-generation pedals, they were the only points I wanted to touch.

That particular “moment” is important. I bought these in 2009 specifically because they were the best flat pedals you could buy. In other words, the most expensive flat pedals you could buy. At around $200 (or about $250 in 2022 USDs, and even more for the ti-spindle option), these American-made beauties were the bee’s knees. Most flat pedals were thick, square, heavy and small. There were no Yoshimuras or Burgtecs. Crankbrothers was still beating eggs, and OneUp hadn’t even pushed START. It’s the sort of product that would only come from a small, passionate brand who only wants to make what they want to ride. Or maybe I should be using the past tense because twenty6 has been effectively as extinct as their namesake wheel size since 2014.


There were never all that many products under the twenty6 brand. Founder Tyler Jarosz started with some aftermarket brake-lever blades that, at first, were more of a hobby than anything. Jarosz is a whiz at machining metal, and with some of our country’s best mountain biking right in his backyard of Bozeman, Montana, it was inevitable that he would end up making mountain bike parts.

The mid-2000s were fertile ground for a mind like his. The sport was changing too quickly for big brands to keep up. And he primarily wanted to serve the fast-growing gravity sector, as evidenced by the name twenty6. By coincidence, Jarosz was 26 years old when he founded the brand, but the name was of course an homage to the wheel size of choice in DH, DJ, and FR. 27.5 wasn’t even on the horizon, and wouldn’t have made for as good a logo anyway.

Jarosz ran twenty6 with a maximum of just one employee, but managed to gain wide enough distribution to make it to several online retailers, and even BTI, a wholesaler I dealt with at the shop I worked for at the time. But the pedals were rarely in stock. In fact, powder-coated white was not my first choice, but I didn’t want to miss my window. Although twenty6 went on to make a third-generation pedal called Predator, I remember worrying that the brand might disappear at any moment.

I’d witnessed the disappearance of other cool manufacturers making other cool stuff at the time, and the flat-pedal market was far more niche than it is now. It’s totally acceptable today for any ol’ trail rider to opt for flats over clips. I can’t help but wonder if maybe twenty6 could have survived if times were different when they shut their doors in 2014. So, I asked Jarosz that exact question, but it took a few days to track him down. Not because he’s got his nose to the lathe or has a factory full of paychecks to process. He’s snowboarding. Tyler Jarosz is retired. He’s barely even reached mid-life, and there seems to be no crisis in sight.


As surprising as it may seem when we’re talking about $200 pedals, there’s not much money to be made in that racket. And if he had ramped up production to meet demand—especially today’s demand—it would have required expansion. That means more outsourcing, more employees, mo money, mo problems. Meanwhile, Jarosz’s skills put him in high demand for better-paying projects than making mountain bike parts. Projects where he could be more hands-on than he could have been had he expanded twenty6. After several smart decisions, including buying a building where he had done much of his work, Jarosz was able to achieve his goal of retiring young enough to actually still enjoy retirement.

That makes these pedals that much more special to me, but it’s not what I think of when I ride them. Again, flat pedals have evolved significantly since I picked these up, but at the time, most just didn’t feel right. There’s something about the Prerunner’s shape, which offers grip but not too much grip. It’s easy to reposition my foot if I don’t place it perfectly the first time, or if it gets knocked askew. That’s also thanks to the pins twenty6 designed, pins that I have now run out of and have resorted to using aftermarket ones.

That’s another genius element of how twenty6 designed their pedals. Stock builds came with aluminum pins that were essentially disposable. It wouldn’t take much to knock the head off the bolt-style (not grub-screw-style) spike, and the threaded bit left inside would vibrate loose soon after. But what would be left is a perfectly healthy threaded hole, ready for a pin to be replaced. I actually have my little jar of replacement pins in my Tacoma’s glove box.

Or rather, I used to have it. I’m fresh out of pins, which is why the perimeters of these are lined with aftermarket steel pins. In fact, when shooting these photos, I realized that one of those steel pins, which I recently knocked out, had left behind a crater of stripped threads.


This was not an issue for my first dozen years on these pedals. Again, they were just for dirt jumping, and the only dirt they saw was fine and smooth. There was never any danger of rock strikes or sharp impacts. I never subjected them to the chaotic high-frequency abuse that my SPD pedals had to face. The occasional case or over-shoot at the jumps just doesn’t concentrate the force quite like smashing cage to boulder on the inside of a blind corner. That may also be why, all these years later, they still don’t show a hint of rattle or play. Until my recent awakening, they lived an exciting life, but a sheltered one.

And now, I’m faced with a choice. This is the oldest, still-running component that I own. We’ve seen a lot together. They were with me when we first set shovel to dirt at The Marina Hills jumps, and they were still with me four years later when the bulldozers came. They were with me when I founded my short-lived BMX brand, and then again when I finally climbed my way out of the debt that it put me in. They were with me when I moved to Los Angeles and was adopted by a digging crew with running water, friendly neighbors, and olive trees. They were with me again when I shattered my tibia under those same olive trees, and when I first rode a bike again six months later.

Can I risk potentially ending that legacy with a poorly chosen line or poorly timed pedal stroke? Can I accept that any ride I take them on could be their last?

Of course I can. You only live once.





96 Comments

  • 70 1
 In a very short time, Beta produced some of the best content in mountain biking. Congratulations Nicole, Travis, Ryan, and team. Beta was special and I miss it.
  • 1 0
 ditto
  • 12 1
 With the recent developments at outside, it may only be a matter of time until we'll see pinkbike changing ...


www.bizjournals.com/denver/news/2022/11/16/colordao-media-company-outside-layoffs.html
  • 9 0
 @DrChaos: There’s a Paywall!
  • 4 0
 @rivercitycycles:


The irony. At least we can read the headline: "The CEO acknowledged Outside spent "too freely" on ambitious growth projects."
  • 5 0
 @suspended-flesh: It does seem like we've far less of their playful CEO Robin Thurston in the comments, with his quirky little posts as of late. I guess that's a tougher line to walk when you're also letting talented employees go...
  • 17 3
 @plyawn: I'm always listening!

Be safe be well,
Incognito Robin
  • 3 1
 Pinkbike is dead, it’s already changed a lot. Lost it’s hardcore vibe. You can’t even read the article without paying. Wink Wink Wink @DrChaos:
  • 1 0
 @suspended-flesh: I wonder what projects he’s referring too! I hope it’s not the GD^2
  • 1 0
 @Uriah: I'm glad someone else is noticing. It's all got a lot more "middle of the road" in the past few months. I imagine by this time next year it'll be as dull as Vital round here... Sad times
  • 34 0
 Is this another Beta article?
  • 14 1
 Sure reads like one…at least the first half a paragraph I read.
  • 10 0
 I only read it for the pictures. Wink
  • 2 0
 Saw that too, originally posted to Beta in Feb. Guess they're recycling articles.
  • 23 3
 What do you mean by hearing the clock ticking with mid-life crisis ? Once I grasped the concept of Death around 5/6 years old, most of my Bday were spend crying as a kid as each Bday is one less year to live. I don't cry anymore but I certainly never managed to not hear the clock ever since.
  • 23 0
 That could be one of the most French things I ever read… And for the record. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
  • 2 0
 I’m off to cry while sitting on the shower floor now
  • 1 0
 @TheR: Why is that ?
  • 3 0
 @Ricolaburle: It is all a question of motivation. The thought that we will all end is either terrifying or motivating.
  • 16 0
 @Ricolaburle: The French strike me as having this inborn, existential melancholy. If a guy is talking about death creeping ever closer with every passing second, I imagine him with a French accent, beret, smoking a cigarette in a dimly lit corner of a cafe somewhere.

Over here we’d be like, “oh come on, cheer up! Turn that frown upside down, guy. That’s a year to be celebrated. The best yet lie ahead… and many moooorrre!.”
  • 6 1
 @jmhills: Dude! That’s what I’m talking about! That’s the American spirit!
  • 4 1
 @TheR: Wow, that old cliché ! or maybe a collection of clichés...
  • 4 0
 @TheR: Let the grandkids clean up the mess! YOLO
  • 7 0
 @Ricolaburle: Life is but a cliche… that is continually inching closer to death with each passing moment….

I can do Germans, too.

All cliches are based on some bit of truth, right? All I know is that there are few Americans who would think of their impending death on their birthdays.
  • 2 1
 @TheR: "I can do Germans, too" : please don't !
" All I know is that there are few Americans who would think of their impending death on their birthdays." : well, same here actually. All we can say is that Balgaroth is a little bit sensitive on the subject...
  • 8 0
 @jmhills: I am not depressed, well at least I don't think I am more than the average person in 2022. While this may sound dark it has been and still is a driver for me. When you know time is precious, rather than spending extra time in the office I choose to spend it doing shit I like, like biking or skiing. It also lead me to remain single rather than staying with girls that didn't share any of my passions as it was making me choose. Thanks to that I have a wife that I share all of my passions with and don't need to sacrifice biking for love. Most of my friends settled with women they share nothing with and all ended up giving up all their passions. Maybe they weren't really passionate either I guess.
  • 3 0
 @Ricolaburle: I mean it all in good fun. Cultures are different and that’s ok.
  • 3 1
 @Balgaroth: no judgement here. I was just pointing out the fact that what you said about yourself cannot be extrapolated to the whole country or that it defines our culture of death. Sounds like you're making the most out of it !
  • 2 0
 @Balgaroth: Never said you were. We are all clinically depressed in some way. I choose not to dwell on death. It will happen. I am trying to make the most out of whatever time I have left to make sure that my daughter and wife are enjoying our time as much as possible.
  • 1 0
 @Ricolaburle: definitely ! Most french people definitely don't share that outlook on life, like, not at all !
  • 1 0
 @TheR: The French don't smoke cigarettes - they smoke Gauloise or Gitane.
  • 3 0
 Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way…
  • 1 0
 . I wonder how winter will be With a spring that I shall never see I wonder how night will be With a day that I shall never see I wonder how life will be With a light that I shall never see I wonder how life will be With a pain that lasts eternally In every night there's a different black In every night I wish that I was back To the time when I rode Through the forests of old In every winter there's a different cold In every winter I feel so old So very old as the night So very old as the dreadful cold I wonder how life will be With a death that I shall never see I wonder why life must be A life that lasts eternally I wonder how life will be With a death that I shall never see I wonder why life must be A life that lasts eternally
  • 9 0
 These were/are really great pedals. I still have all of my Twenty6 pedals...two pair of Rallye's, a pair of Prerunners and a pair of Predators. They are all pretty beat up from years of abuse but my feet still stay on 'em. Tyler is a rad dude and an awesome machinist...he also did his own anodizing in his shop. We stopped at his shop one time going through Montana and he took us on a super fun ride. Good times.
  • 10 0
 still waiting for the 4wd option
  • 5 0
 Whattheheel knows the deal! He probably has some pedals still. Tyler made some great stuff. I had his levers, stems and several versions of pedals. First ones I remember were the Rally pedals coincidently in white but they were really flat. No concave at all.. Then several pairs of Prerunners which now had a concave design, not too big or too small. Had them in assorted anodized colors, Ti spindles, steel spindles, aluminum pins is several colors, steel pins even Ti pins. Last were the Predators which where larger and more square. Again had a few pairs bought directly from Tyler with ti axles and assorted materials of pins. I may actually still have some pins kicking around but unfortunately no pedals. There are many choices now but really miss Twenty6.
  • 3 0
 Yeah buddy!! I have a ton of goodies left!! Stem on my Trek, as well as Predators, a set of Ralleyes on my daughters 24" and then Predators on her 26" and still have some end caps floating around and some Prerunners that haven't found a home yet and a DM stem as well as all kinds of other goodies. Tyler is the man!!!!!
  • 1 0
 @whattheheel: first person I thought of when I saw the article title. Been some time man, how's it going?
  • 1 0
 @inked-up-metalhead: lol Tyler always took great care of me and I always wanted to return the favor!! I am doing good my man! How about you??
  • 1 0
 @whattheheel: yeah, remember you always taking every opportunity to post a pic of them. And yeah not bad, life's busy to say the least!
  • 1 0
 @inked-up-metalhead: That's good!! Idle hands are the devil's workshop!!
  • 1 0
 @whattheheel: I don't know, a rest/time to play on the bike more than once or twice a month would be nice lol.
  • 1 0
 @inked-up-metalhead:

I hear ya there!! Start a new job tomorrow so won’t be around bikes 24-7 so looking forward to it!!
  • 6 0
 I'm quite looking forward to my mid life crisis. I've always wanted a used yellow Corvette and a crisp pair white New Balance's.
  • 3 0
 Is it really a midlife crisis or just old enough to be able to afford a nice car?
  • 3 0
 @panaphonic: Used Corvettes are generally fairly cheap. I almost bought a C4 for a grand.
  • 3 0
 Love this - I'm in the same boat. I have the exact pedals & colour on my DJ bike. Been rocking them since 2009, through at least three different bikes. Still the best feeling pedal I've tried for DJ's and I love that I can adjust them easily to prevent them from spinning when the feet are off. The only other component that I've had as long as these pedals, that I still use, is my Chris King headset. Cheers!
  • 3 0
 Great pedals. I met Tyler @ Interbike in those years & bought a few of his show samples.
Didn't want flouro green but I have them. They had a brutal bite, I said his next pedal should be called Tiger Claws.

Rad to hear he retired. From what I remember he got too busy to do pedals anymore, glad it worked out for him & he gets to shred daily now.
  • 2 0
 Should've got them in purple!!! lol Now where my purple tires at???? lol
  • 6 0
 Pretty neat. They only look better the more ya beat em up.
  • 5 0
 Tyler made some of the dopest pedals every made, I still have many pairs in the garage. #twenty6
  • 1 0
 #notadentist
  • 4 0
 Cool read. It would be rad if PB wrote about cool mtb companies that no longer exist. Especially ones killed off by the pandemic or global economic hardships. RIP Morpheus.
  • 2 0
 Thanks for the great article. Wow, this brought back some nostalgia.

I was one of those employees lucky enough to work for Tyler at the turn of the design change from the Prerunner to the Predator pedal. It was fun bouncing ideas back and forth. Tyler has a great mind for design and bringing it to production, while making things look like works of art. I can honestly say that it probably took longer to design those pins than the pedal itself. The entire concept was based off not damaging the body's threads. That was the most important thing. And of course something that could surgically separate you shin or calfSmile I learned a lot at that machine shop. I also got to take my one and only trip to Interbike in Vegas for the "unveiling" of the new pedal. That was also my first trip to Vegas, ever. Got to see and mix it up with a few of my riding idols from the Disorder vids. Kid in a candy store type stuff right there.

I still have about 4 pair of these and run them. To date no pedal I have tried comes even close to the grip (I've tried quite a few). They were pricey, but I've been running them since 2011/12 with little to no issues. Can't see myself running anything else. If bushings or other small parts start to die on me, I'll be contacting my local machine shop if need be.

As far as Tyler retiring early, congrats to him! This actually doesn't surprise me one bit. He's probably the hardest working individual I've met. He was always at the shop earlier than me and always was there later. The guy is an animal, there was no stopping him, whether it was the success of running a business or the sports he did. His riding was like his work ethic. Non stop, full out, stylish. Definitely one of the best riders I've seen.

Pretty sure he was one of the pioneers of the denim kit too. Never riding shorts or pants, just jeans and a tshirt. Although a few years ago he came out west and he was riding some dedicated biking clothes, which confused me.

Enjoy retirement Tyler, you deserve it. Honored to have been a part of a great time in the biking industry. Memories I'll never forget.
  • 1 0
 And that's how we got to meet IRL!! So many great memories from back then!!! Still rocking a ton of his goodies for sure!!!!
  • 2 0
 This all day! Matching camo direct mount stem & ti spindle Prerunners went with my beloved Big Hit.. the adventures had on that bike, I risked death more than once but that rig would just pick up another character scratch.
Not having either anymore helped me realize that it's satisfying to get to a point where all weaknesses have been remedied, and then it's 100% about the experience instead of picking up pieces of bad decisions.
That is the metaphor for my midlife.
If only the human body was as tunable!
  • 2 0
 Stoked to read this article. I had the luck of the the draw to have been in Bozeman and working at a local shop during the beginning of twenty6. Tyler is a madman in the best way possible when it came to vision. I still have a few one offs, and other hop ups I still ride today. Also the predator is the 4th pedal Gen, the first being the 6foe. Twenty6 was way ahead of the times. I hope more small batch companies take the plunge, and say fuck the norm like Tyler did.
  • 3 0
 Had several pairs of these and loved them, along with the brake levers... regret not taking them off bikes before I sold them and keeping them now that I can't get more.
  • 1 1
 I'm bummed I just sold a bike with T-Macs on it when I could have swapped over the plastic Deitys I'm stuck with. Edi - Oh, it's YOU. LOL
  • 2 0
 I still have a ton of my goodies and will forever!! So rad!!
  • 1 0
 @whattheheel: Yeah, I'm jelly of your custom prints too!
  • 1 0
 @badbadleroybrown: A lot of good memories and fun with them for sure!!
  • 1 2
 @suspended-flesh: Guessing we've had some interaction previously that you're hanging on to, something that was particularly memorable for you I guess but I have no idea who "YOU" are... sorry. Beer
  • 3 1
 @badbadleroybrown: you're infamous on here at this point. Could just be your reputation precedes you lol
  • 2 1
 @badbadleroybrown: Nah no big deal - I remember your Jim Croce handle and you were butthurt and calling me a Libtard at some point.....water under the bridge!
  • 1 2
 @suspended-flesh: lol you definitely got me confused with someone else. I've never in my life called someone a "libtard" and I don't get butthurt.
  • 2 0
 I still have a set of Rallye's in the ano winter camo from 09 on my DJ bike. First bought them for my DH and I did have the axel/bushings replaced several times, Tyler was always great about that.
  • 3 0
 Love this...I still have three sets of 26 pedals on my bike and I also put them on my boy's bikes now that they are old enough to have a bit of bling! Tyler is the man!
  • 1 0
 Yep Tyler was selling stock Hayes levers on ebay, hit him up we had some long talks about what to make and I had him send me the prototypes and anodized them for him (After telling him stick levers werent worth it) .several hours on phone...ideas and where things went adjustable throw, 2 finger grooved out of t I e way levers first, then pedals and stems....good guy and his attention to detail is AMAZING...gang ideas with him to give him ideas and direction, back off and that dude executes an AMAZING finished product...stem and pedals were his babies...
  • 2 2
 I finally sprung for a pair of DMRs and I have to say I think they are worth the money. Been running dirty deftraps, and for 50 bucks they are definitely a killer budget option. I’m trying real hard to ignore the mid life crisis part of this read, though every time I overshoot or case a landing I’m definitely reminded a bit.
  • 3 0
 He made some a couple years ago, call Rad Bikes in Bozeman. And I have some for sale if anyone’s interested
  • 3 0
 Thanks for this one. I'm always stoked to see another well-written article by Engel!
  • 3 1
 From this era of pedals, Point1 Podiums > * (minus the bearing reliability)
  • 3 0
 Thanks for the kind words! We had a lot of fun trading stories and ideas with Tyler way back when. We essentially also started and stopped our business around the same window Tyler did. I am happy for him and what he achieved! Now, I really do miss Interbike.
  • 1 0
 @Po1nt2009: Dude if you miss Interbike, then you must remember the custom painted frame / fork and all of Tyler's matching anodized bling that he took to Interbike one year...that bike was sweet...can't remember what it was now, maybe an Intense? I used to ride with those guys when they came through town back in the day...
  • 2 0
 @retrogressionage: I remember it being an Intense, a 951 I think. There may have been more than one but I remember a bright orange frame with with green parts (even the links matched.) Such a sick build.
  • 1 2
 ANY pedal that doesn't have a full length spindle is suspect to me. In the past bike park season I have seen five different pedals with reduced length spindles snap with the failure only outside the length of the spindle. Two left to major injuries, and the other three were lucky to walk away from their crashes.
  • 1 0
 When the spindle bolt is at the end of the pedal you can kiss it goodbye - the Twenty6 makes sense.
  • 1 0
 "The concept of a “midlife crisis” is not just a concept. It’s a real thing. "

You're funny..
  • 4 1
 Has to be them lamest opening I've read.
  • 1 0
 More interested in how this guy managed to retire early as a small machine shop.
  • 1 0
 I know a guy with a machine shop who at this point has multiple vintage Porsches, Alfas and a Ferrari 599 GTB because DOD work.
  • 1 0
 He was doing other work originally, he got doing myb boutique stuff...grew saved accumulated sone nice machines and direction of work to what he did in past and evolved...hes a smart guy and a really really talented guy...has an amazing work ethic.
  • 2 0
 Travis, you are a gift to the MTB world.
  • 1 0
 Lol no he had talent, and when I called him it was all Tyler...all I did was give him ideas and changes, direction...he did all if em and they were badass...I anodized all his stuff for free to get him moving...Tyler is a stud...once he got rolling well hell he kept rolling...I search once in a while to see how he's doing...very nice guy...
  • 1 0
 @bullcrew: I'm talking about Travis, the author of this piece. He creates great content.
  • 2 0
 Marina Hills was all-time.
  • 2 1
 NOS Predators 399€ on kleinanzeigen.ebay.de Eek
  • 3 1
 I like pedals
  • 2 1
 Chromag Dagga are the best flats on the market today.
  • 1 0
 They were amazing platforms with garbage pins
  • 1 0
 Great read Travis! We love your insight and passion.
  • 2 0
 What BMX brand?
  • 1 0
 It was called Commonground Bikes. I think my Instagram account is still up, and my one Youtube video.
  • 2 5
 Man those are some fugly pedals. Glad I don’t have Trypophobia





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