01 July 2008

bikefix Exclusive Review: Look Quartz pedals (Charlie's take)

As some of you may have gathered, I’m a gearhead, and a sucker for a new product- even if it’s just a new take on an existing design. There are a number of good pedals being made: I am personally very fond of the Crank Brothers' Eggbeater pedals, and we all know that the Shimano's SPD pedals work great, not to mention Time's ATAC, which have their fans. Look's new Quartz looks similar to the Time Attack pedal in design, which in turn is similar to a heavier and more complex Eggbeater. I didn’t take a Quartz apart to see if the innards were engineered in a unique way because it doesn’t really matter: the end result is a pedal that has two parallel bars that hold your cleat in place using spring tension- which is a “tried and true” method.

The problems start with the execution. I’ll be honest. I got so frustrated with the set-up of these pedals that I gave them (after 3 rides/tries) to Marc to try, and see if I was just being an idiot. Per the instructions, I used the included shims to get the cleat proud enough to clip into the pedal. The idea here is that the cleat must be accurately relative to the bottom of the shoe's lugs to allow the rider to clip in without too much resistance and to allow the lugs to become part of the interface between the shoe and the pedal. Despite following the directions, one sole was worn enough though that my foot was able to slip right off the side like a hockey puck on ice. Look packages shims of different thicknesses (some of which may be combined) to account for different shoes' lug depths.

Riding the Quartz's on the trail was interesting. The first time out, I was ejecting sideways constantly because I was not aware they needed to be held in by the rubber sole, and I had removed the rubber from my Sidi Dragon MTB shoes for road use. After that ride I went back and read through the directions with the utmost care (which I don’t usually do for pedals), and realized (interpreted) that the pedals need the side rubber lugs that the shoe sole provides to hold them on (Look recommend against using the Quartz with smooth-soled road shoes). The second time was better: one foot did occasionally slip out (that sole is fairly worn) but the other seemed to stay put. However, with this set-up I noticed that my feet didn’t feel flat on the pedals. They felt like they were tipping to the outside and there was a fair bit of vertical play. It’s also possible that these problems might go away with some more trial and error- but at this point I was fed up.

I have never had to pay much attention to my pedal and cleat set-up before. I might be more forgiving if these pedals were a groundbreaking new design that promised me something better once I got the set-up just right, but that’s just not the case. These pedals only promise an already expected level of performance- and that only after a long and annoying set-up process. Why bother when there are many other proven choices that require almost no effort to install and use?

These pedals might work fine once they are “finagled” properly or perhaps the pair I bought was malfunctioning. I simply don’t have the time or patience to sacrifice rides to deal with it. If, like me you like to 'fit and forget,' then you might want to stay away. The quality of the materials and finish was excellent however. They retail for $99.99.

If anybody from Look reads this, please feel free to contact us and set us straight if you think we screwed-up. I used SIDI shoes and Carnac shoes (but only Sidi on the trail). Or perhaps my pedals are flawed. Marc's experience was very similar, though. I will re-test them if we made the mistake.



No comments: