by Steve Wentz
A few months ago I thought we might be at a stalemate with flat pedal arguments. There wasn't much hype coming down the pipeline about new designs, hardly any new fast kids racing DH on them, and some of the holdouts like Brook, Bryceland and even Blenkinsop were finally clicking into their bikes. Aside from Gee's win in Cairns on flats, there hadn't been a flat pedal gold medal in a World Cup in a long time. Maybe the good ol' flat pedal would just become an old artifact used in crazy conditions or by people who don't want to be mechanically attached to their bikes. Then it changed. I thank the downhill gods from the bottom of my heart that Sam Hill kicked butt on a couple of the roughest, most awesome tracks this year. It was beautiful to watch, seeing Hill come down the tracks the way he does, and it's something I'll probably always try to emulate just a little bit with my own riding. Flats will never be dead, and boy was it good to see a few real life reminders of that.
Kore's new Jive pedal is just one part in a bigger product line that is breathing life into the storied company. I knew Kore through their 'Elite' labeled stems, seatposts and other anodized offerings in the late 90's, all of which were too fancy for my bikes (or wallet) at that point. More recently, I thought Kore as a whole was just drifting off until I started to see some new stuff pop up over the past few years. The chance to try out the new Jive pedal was something I didn't want to pass up. I thought 'Who knows, the Jive pedal might very well be a rebirth for Kore.'
Kore Jive Highlights
- Extruded, CNC machined 6061 body
- Sealed cartridge bearings
- Chromoly steel axle
- 40 replaceable 6mm pins per pair (10 per side)
- Concave shape
- 325 grams per pair
- Black or silver colors
- MSRP $110.49
Weighing just 325 grams, the Jive is on the lighter end of the spectrum, and the lightest pedal I've used in quite some time. Concave platform? Check. Adjustable pins? Check. Thin profile? Check. It all seemed good. A set was sent my way and I eagerly awaited their arrival.
Once brown santa delivered the goods, I installed them on my XC bike right away. The pedals threaded in without a problem, the pins were already installed with thread lock, and there was no wobble in the system. The Jive did look to be slightly smaller than most pedals out there, though it can be hard to tell how a pedal will feel underfoot before riding it. I wanted to give these a fair shake down, so off we went in the summer dust.
On The Trail
I used the pedals predominantly for XC around Eagle and Avon, Colorado, then Mammoth and Truckee in California. All the trails were dry and dusty for the most part. Adventures included some rough parts here and there but nothing like the downhill that I was looking forward to later on. I did get into some mud in Telluride, where the grip on the pedals proved to be unaffected by the slippy slop. Combine some sharp pins with Five Tens and you'll pretty much always get that outcome.
I'm not all about the grip though. Grip and stability are two very different things for me, and the stability offered by these pedals is not their most redeeming feature. The pedal body isn't that big, be it across or front to back. This really knocks my confidence when the going gets rough. On some XC descents, my feet would chatter around on the Jives more than other flats in my possession. My feet aren't even that big, so someone with size 10 or bigger feet might really feel like they are standing on a small surface area.
My most important complaint about the pedals while riding XC is that I never forgot about them. Unfortunately, there was not enough room for error on the platform to really let me focus on the trail ahead instead of on what my feet were doing. After all that XC, it was off to the dirt jumps for some hardtail ride time. I thought initially the jumps would be the best place for these pedals, as the platform is of average size, and moving your feet around a bit can be a benefit when airborne at the trails. And I did feel at ease jumping on the Jives, they were comfortable, and the lack of chatter at a good jump spot made it easy to get along with the Jives here.
Things That Could Be Improved
First and foremost, a slightly larger platform would be great. It is not necessary in my mind for dirt jumping, however if these pedals were to be used for downhill it would be a must. Why were the pedals not tested while riding DH? Well, after a couple weeks of dirt jumping, I took the pedals off my hardtail and went to put them on the DH bike. There was a slight wobble in the axle when I unthreaded the pedals. The Jives were bent ever so slightly, and I didn't really want to trust my luck downhilling where I tend to take some harder hits.
I also wish there were wrench flats on the axle to fit a proper pedal wrench. It is a nice feature to have. I scraped a couple pins as well, and once that happens, it is nearly impossible to fit an allen wrench into the pin to remove/replace it. A pin system that has the pin head protected, probably by threading them in from the bottom would be great here - it's a fairly simple fix as well.
Long Term Durability
The first concern is obviously the axle that was slightly bent after a few weeks of dirt jumping. Given the potential of harder pedal hits to rocks in DH, I can't see the Jive lasting in that kind of scenario. The body of the pedal is also not the most robust, so I would worry that use and abuse on the pins would ultimately round out the holes that the pins thread into.
What's The Bottom Line?
I was hoping the Kore Jive would be a lightweight, durable pedal for dirt jumping if nothing else. Unfortunately it was in that very environment where the Jive met its match. There are pedals out there with more traction, stability, strength, and even a few that cost less - including Kore's own Torsion SX V2 pedals. Lightweight, smooth riders with smaller feet may do well with these. Heavier hard chargers may want to keep the search up for your perfect pair.
For more information, head on over to www.kore-usa.com.
About The Reviewer
Steve Wentz has always done things and ridden his own way, and he's really happy about that. He grew up in the middle of Southern California and had to build his own trails to ride when he was too young to drive. To make a long story short, that's what he's still doing today, minus the California part. Now he tries to do that everywhere. He has been to every continent except for Antarctica, and has either raced, built trail or been able to ride all over. He loves seeing the world, for better or worse. He has been through ghettos where children beg for pennies, and that really gives perspective to our world where a pair of soft rubber tires costs $150. That being said, he's skidded on those soft rubber tires on so many race courses and trails he can't even count anymore, and he loves it. He'll always ride if he can, and race if he wants, but now he tries to do it with an eye on the course and also an eye to what is practical, what is worth supporting, and what he thinks can benefit the sport as a whole.