Review by Fred Robinson // Photos by Ian Collins
When it comes to clipless mountain bike pedals, Look might not be the first brand you think of (at least it wasn't in our case), but that might change soon with the Look S-Track pedal. Look has solid reputation for their high-end, quality products, and the S-Track pedals follow suit nicely. They're versatile, adjustable, and clean-looking. Boasting a weight of 320 grams per pair, including cleats and screws, these pedals are light as well. Their sleek design is simple yet thoughtful, with composite deflectors under the cleat to minimize strike damage and hang-ups. Optional composite S-Track Cages increase the pedal surface area to get that flat pedal-like feel many of us desire.
S-Track Pedal Highlights
- Composite body and deflectors
- 460 mm² of surface area (870 mm² with the addition of the S-Track Cages)
- Largest bearing surface on the market for maximum power transfer (claimed)
- Optional removable cage design for increased flexibility (additional 74 grams per pair)
- Patented spring-wire system functions under torsion
- Optimum mud evacuation with the DCS (Dynamic Cleat System)
- Chromoly spindle
- 2 ball bearings, 1 IGUS bushing
- ± 3-degrees float
- 15-degree release angle
- Weight: 142 grams per pedal
- MSRP $109.99 (plus $49.99 for optional cages)
Perhaps Look's biggest selling point is the large "double surface area" offered by the S-Track pedals. The cleats have elastomer pads on both sides which protrude beyond the metal portion of the cleat itself, allowing the cleats and the pedal body to contact in two areas under the spring.The pedals come with three shims of various thicknesses (0.5, 1, and 2mm) that slide under the the cleat, allowing you to dial in the right amount of contact. What does this all mean? It means the Look S-Track pedals offer the most contact surface area on the market which is supposed to aid in power transfer and increase comfort.
With the addition of the S-Track carbon cages (right), the pedal contact surface-area goes up to 870 mm² from 460 mm², a huge gain.
Setting up the shim and cleat system was fairly easy, but it does take some effort and trial and error to get it just right. By the end of the first ride, we were happy with the pedal feel.
On The Trail
With the S-Tracks setup properly, it was time to put some miles on them and see how well they would fair. Unlike Shimano's SPD system, the Look S-Track pedals do not offer adjustable spring tension, and are fixed at 8nm. They do, however, offer two different cleat sizes so they can be set up to ride very loose (beginners) or extremely firm (experienced riders). With the larger cleats installed, the amount of float was reasonable, not excessive, and we found the release point to be consistent and well-defined. We had only one instance where we unclipped unexpectedly, shortly after smashing into a rock.
Compared to the Shimano's pedals the S-Track pedals (with cage) offer a more stable feel. Clipping in and out is about the same, with a little more effort to clip out on the S-Track, likely due to the platform contacting the shoe. Compared to Crankbrothers' offerings, the Look pedals have far less float and feel much more stable. There is no slop during the pedal stroke.The pedals make an audible click when clipping in, and it's obvious when you're in. Two deflectors guide the cleat over the first spring and into the second one, aiding in quick engagement. The deflectors are replaceable should you break them.
We ran the carbon cages pretty much the whole time as they offered a more positive and stable feeling connection to the bike. As far as the “increased power transfer” Look boasts about due to the increased contact area, that's not something we felt on the trail to be honest. That said, the platform offered by the carbon cages made situations where you can't clip back in less hectic, allowing you to just ride it out without sliding around on the pedal.
We have yet to use them in a muddy environment, but other reports indicate that they shed mud very well.
Long Term Durability
Putting a carbon composite cage where it's definitely going to be hit by rocks often, and hard, makes one think the cages aren't going to last very long. Surprisingly they've held up to some aggressive riding and hard hits. While we wouldn't put them on a downhill bike, they're solid enough for aggressive trail riding and enduro use. For a big guy who pretends his 4-inch trail bike is actually a mini-downhill bike, the pedals have held up well to some heavy hammering with no bent axles or other ill effects.The springs feel just as firm as they did when new, and the cleats haven't worn prematurely.
One concern revolves around the elastomer pads on the cleats that make the “double surface area” system possible. These pads are quite soft and tend to break off in chucks after only a few rides, but Look has made them easily replaceable to account for this issue. We're testing a second set to see if they differ, and will report back with our findings later.
What's The Bottom Line?
We're fans. With the addition of the optional S-Track Cages, Look pretty much hit a home run with the S-Track pedals. They're lightweight, predictable, durable, comfortable, and versatile - all key qualities of a good pair of clips.
For more details, visit www.lookcycle.com.
About The Reviewer
Fred Robinson, a.k.a. "Derf," has been on two wheels since he was two years old. He picked up a mountain bike in 2004 and started racing downhill in 2006. He has seen moderate success racing CAT 1 but focuses his efforts on building, maintaining and riding his local trails. He's deceptively quick for a bigger guy and likes steep, fast trails where he can hang it off the back of the bike. As a SoCal native he mostly rides trails covered with loose, traction-less turns and sharp, immovable rocks. Besides downhill, he rides trail bikes, road, and also enjoys the occasional dirt jump session. Currently, he is a student at UCSD and a wrench at a local bike shop.