- Crank Bros Egg Beater S pedal
Crank Brothers' original Egg Beater pedal made fairly significant waves on its debut. The Beater's unique four-sided mechanism had a minimum of moving parts, no bits that would wear out very readily and impressive light weight. Since then the range has been extended with even lighter variants with varying amounts of titanium in them, but the S is the refined version of the original.
The minimalist S looks light, and appearances prove not to be deceptive - at 266g per pair these are a significant 80g lighter than Shimano's benchmark PDM-959. And these, remember, are the (nearly) all stainless steel version. The only non-steel bit is the black-anodised aluminium end plug. A neat touch is the inclusion of a grease fitting in the box - another end plug with a hole in. Unscrew the usual ones, screw in the grease fitting, pump grease in, and swap the plugs back again. Quick and easy.
The pedal works in a subtley different way from a Shimano SPD. With an SPD pedal you can waggle your feet in a bit of free float, but turn them further and you feel a distinct stop. Turn beyond that and they'll click out. Egg Beaters feel a bit different. Rather than the float coming to an abrupt halt you get a gradually-building resistance and then an almost fluid release. We've been going backwards and forwards trying to work out which we like best (and it's worth noting that we haven't had any trouble flitting between Crank Brothers and Shimano pedals) and to be honest there's nothing in it. We quite like Shimano's very obvious "I'm releasing if you go any further" feedback but at the same time there's a lot to be said for Crank Brothers's gentle transition between in and out. It's a bit like the difference between a round-shouldered and a square-shouldered tyre and really comes down to personal preference.
One happy result of the way the mechanism works is that it's not as reliant on edges and corners on the cleat as SPD, so you should get a bit more life out of the cleats before they need replacing. On the subject of cleats, the ones supplied offer a little bit or quite a lot of float depending on whether you put one on the left shoe and the other on the right or the reverse. The comprehensive package also includes thin shims to go under the cleats if your shoes have a very thick sole - the sole is supposed to rest on the tiny flat areas either side of the retention mechanism - and two lengths of bolts.
With such a small pedal you'll need a stiff pair of shoes to get the most out of Egg Beaters - there's not really enough support here to get away with softer shoes although it's certainly no worse than most SPDs and the target buyer for this pedal is likely to be using the right sort of shoes anyway. Crank Bros have pedals with bigger platforms using the same mechanism should you be a soft shoe fan.
We've used these in some pretty grotty conditions and they haven't missed a beat. We were initially concerned that we'd have trouble locating such a bijou pedalette but in practice it hasn't really been an issue and the four-sided mechanism lets you roll your foot in forwards or backwards if you don't hit the sweet spot first time.
Positives: Great action, lightweight, excellent mud performance
Negatives: Pricey, not quite as well finished as Shimano's high-end offerings
These pedals are great, although they're expensive. There is a cheaper model, though, as well as some even more expensive ones... They're not so fantastic that we'd replace all the pedals on an SPD-equipped fleet of bikes with them, but if you're getting into clipless from scratch these are an excellent option.