Going Downhill: Xpedo GFX Pedals

Going Downhill: Xpedo GFX Pedals

I used to think that a pedal strike while mountain biking was a bad thing. Then I realized it was neither good nor bad; it’s just something that happens. Then I had another epiphany: A pedal strike is preferable to a foot strike because bumping your foot on a rock can cause it to twist just enough to release from the pedal. And an unwanted release is definitely a bad thing.

Weight be damned, I started trying pedals with cages. I’d had an experience where a non-Shimano SPD pedal had opened following a rock hit and my foot sprang from the pedal like a jack-in-the-box. The resulting shift in weight occurred just as I was lowering the seat for a descent and I was catapulted up and nearly over the bar as my bike headed for a dropoff at the edge of the trail. I did save myself from falling, but the shot of adrenalin so unnerved me I pulled over to eat a gel, an act I couldn’t actually perform at first because I was shaking so badly.

I failed to remind myself I was having fun.

Xpedo has been producing some of the best values in pedals for years. They are a triumph of Taiwanese manufacturing: impressive standards, feature-laden and terrific pricing. And their marketing, when you encounter it, is all-time.

From Interbike 2016: Xpedo had the best backdrop of any booth at Interbike. It had Godzilla (win), a kitten (win), lasers (win), an explosion (big win), pegasi (win where you’re a tween girl or not) and fighter jets (win for the humans fighting Godzilla). It’s got more awesome than a monster truck rally.

I’d say you can’t make this up, but clearly someone did.

So I’ve been riding the Xpedo GFX pedals. This is a downhill clipless pedal, which—like self-driving cars and wildfires the size of a state—are things that now exist. At least, it’s designed for downhill. I go downhill, but obvs, I am not a downhiller in that per se sorta way. My interest in them grew out of my previous experience with the Baldwin, an SPD pedal with a substantial cage, though not so large as this.

The cage for the GFX features four tapped entries for pins, which make sense if your running a more traditional downhill shoe that’s mostly tread on the bottom. I’ve been running them without the pins so that if I don’t catch the cleat perfectly on entry, I can allow my foot to float a bit more on the cage until I catch the cleat. The front claw of the pedal is tilted up slightly so this pedal favors front-entry of the cleat much the way car washes prefer cars to enter only from the front.

Considering what you can spend on a pedal, that you get a three-cartridge-bearing clipless pedal available in five bike-matching colors for just $129 makes my eyes water. Due to the size of the cage, these aren’t the lightest pedals, at 468 grams for the pair (without cleats), but again, I’m digging these for when I’m in really rocky terrain where I experience frequent pedal strikes.

Final thought: the perfect pedal for battling Godzilla.

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