Look: Upgrades for the Beginner and the Stylist

Look: Upgrades for the Beginner and the Stylist

Inflation. We’re not talking tires and tubes. We’re talking the economic force. When I bought my first clipless pedals in 1989, they were $130. I purchased the then-brand-new Shimano Ultegra pedals. At the time, they were the least expensive clipless pedals on the market. Considering I’d purchased my bike, used, for $350, putting $130 into my bike was a huge investment for a shop rat in undergraduate school.

Contrast that with the fact that even a good used road bike today will run $1000. Inflation, yo.

Or not. Pictured above are the Look Keo Classic 3 pedals. They go for only $79.99. It uses the very walkable Keo cleat and spins on a combination of needle and cartridge bearings. I’m willing to bet they won’t need to be overhauled as often as my Ultegra pedals did.

Given who most of you are and considering who this pedal is aimed at, I’m assuming none of you are the target purchaser. However … (there’s always a however, isn’t there?) given how influential so many of you are within your riding circles, these pedals deserve to be on your radar. I still see so many people riding flat pedals with sneakers I wish I could give these out like gels to bonking riders.

Considering the relative investment I can’t think of another upgrade that could improve a rider’s experience as much as moving from flats to clipless pedals. We all know the selling points: power delivered through more of the pedal stroke, better control in corners and on bumpy roads. Flat-out safer. Release tension is adjustable and that can be a critical feature for new riders concerned about whether or not they will be able to release in a panic.

The pedals weighed in at 276 grams, which is perfectly respectable for a pedal aimed at beginners.

Now, more to our usual programming are these special André Greipel Signature Edition Keos. They feature his gorilla graphic, giving them a style factor that’s tough to beat.

These pedals are the Keo carbon blades, Look’s best model for sprinters, which is why they are ridden by both Greipel and Peter Sagan. What separates this pedal from other Keo models is the 64mm-wide platform, which is 17 percent wider than other Looks. However, because the extra surface area has been added to the top of the pedal rather than through the entire body, lean angle doesn’t suffer at all. It uses two roller bearings and one needle bearing; in my experience the addition of a third bearing does a great deal to increase a pedal’s life. Our set ran 232g.

Depending on which cleat you use, angular movement can be 0° (black), 4.5° (gray) or 9° (red). The gray cleat is included. Release tension is not adjustable and the force required to release is, shall we say, rather stiff. Another reason this is a good pedal for a sprinter. 

For anyone who thrashes when they are out of the saddle, these are great pedals. They offer a super-secure hold. If I was still riding the track, I’d want these on my bike.

Final thought: Two choices, plenty of answers.

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  1. dave

    Shimano has similarly priced spd-sl pedals that are also excellent.

    I remember buying a huge pair of Look pedals from bike nashbar to put on my Trek 420 in probably 1990.

  2. PAUL

    I started with the original, white and black Looks, circa 1986? Broke an axle after two months. LBS replaced them immediately. I have been on various look pedals ever since! Have tried Time, Speedplay, SPD-SL, Keywin, maybe a couple of others. Always come back to Look.

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