11 May 2009

bikefix Exclusive Review: Crank Brothers Egg Beater Ti pedals

While this review is primarily about Crank Brothers' single ti Egg Beater, but I will touch on all of the company's titanium pedals.

I tried the Crank Brothers Egg Beater pedals years ago when they first came out and have never looked back. When lightweight titanium versions came out I was very excited about the low weight but not keen on the high price (the first version was the Triple Ti, which I believe ran $299). I bought a pair anyways and found them behaving just like the regular Eggbeaters (while weighing even less). I rode them hard for a while and then the titanium spindle broke. It was not long after that the company started advertising a 185lb. rider weight-limit for the ti spindled versions. I walk around at about 193lbs. so I figured I’d keep trying and Crank. Bros. kept sending me replacement spindles under warranty. Not long ago though, I felt as though I was pushing things a bit when I had two different ti versions break within two weeks. To be fair, these pedals were on my bikes for a while so it’s not like they were new. I decided that when I replaced these last two sets, I would do it with the single ti Egg Beater which has a forged CrMo steel spindle, which I was using (break free) in the SL model on most of my other bikes. The ti spindled pedals are very light and probably an OK choice for someone whose total riding weight (including pack) is under the 185 lbs. advised but I now believe them to be better as a Race bike/race day only option. I have no evidence for this but I believe that Crank Brothers engineered the titanium spindles just fine for the weight of rider they recommend (probably even higher), but the collisions with the tops of rocks is what weakens the metal. I don’t hit as many rocks as some folks but I do hit them- it’s just a fact of life in the Southwest- so c’est la vie.

There is a lot of teasing back and forth between Shimano Pedal advocates and those of us in the Crank Brother camp (both Egg Beater and Candy pedals), and although it is good natured, it's clear that pedal choice is a strongly held belief. There are good reasons for liking both and finding one’s personal priorities for a pedal are paramount in deciding which is for you. The reason I like Egg Beaters more than Shimano's 959 SPDs is twofold. The main attribute for me, is that for some reason, I can disengage more easily and consistently from these pedals during those "emergency moments." The downside of this feature however is that I sometimes unclip in the middle of a “techy” uphill rock garden and then I have to put a foot down, or worse- walk the rest of the hard section. It is a price I am willing to pay because I am getting old and I just don’t find it romantic to be injured anymore. A second reason is because Egg Beaters allow either 15˚ or 20˚ of float. I am very duck-footed and my knees and ankles appreciate the extra latitude allowed by this design. This could be a major positive factor for many people. This isn’t a compare and contrast article though so let’s get on with it.

The Ti or 2Ti versions of the Egg Beater seem to be the way to go if you want a pedal to last for the long haul. Both have a steel spindle but the 2Ti adds titanium 'wings' that shave 12 grams off the 230g weight of the Ti (and costs $85 more so I don’t see the point). One could argue that same thing about the whole titanium Egg Beater line and I would probably have to agree (the all-steel SL, at 266g and $130 is probably the best model for the money). The single ti is “blingy” though, and does drop 36 grams of weight. Yes, I have done the math and they both cost way too much for so little weight savings but I guess that is the price that Crank Bros feels is the entry-fee for this exclusive line of pedals. The outrageously priced 4ti at $450.00 is for sure a race-only item. It weighs a stinky light 167g and has the shorter spindle for a lower “q-factor” which is supposedly more efficient (and probably is), but its true value probably comes from it providing a more similar stance to that on a road bike, which is where many of the fastest racers get most of their miles. I think it is the only Egg Beater available with a shorter spindle (though stainless short spindle kits are available aftermarket for any Egg Beater pedals for $43.20).

On the durability front, things brighten a bit over the titanium-spindled and competing pedals. I have yet to have a CrMo Egg Beater spindle break on me. I have seen one Egg Beater whose “wing” had broken when crunched down on a rock [I've done that -marc], but other than that I haven’t seen any real failiures with these pedals. They do usually need to be re-built after a year or two though. This is not that hard but is kind of a pain in the butt, and you usually have to buy the re-build kit (the bearings are warrantied for 2 years). This is probably Crank Bros biggest weakness (all Egg Beaters do it) and I am surprised they haven’t done more to increase the life of the internal parts of the pedal (though using the supplied fitting to purge and replace the grease from time to time isn't a bad idea and does help).

I like these pedals but even with the bling factor it’s hard to recommend the Ti model at $240. The only thing that mitigates this price is that I’ve almost never seen them marked at MSRP. They’re usually marked down quite a bit, or on sale at quite a discount. For most riders, the SLs far and away pack a better bang for the buck.



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