Initial impressions. First Review.
Not sure how I found out about Bike James new Catalyst Pedal from Pedaling Innovations. Perhaps it was when trying to convince my lead mechanic Greg to switch from Time Atac Pedals to flat pedals. I visited Bike James website to show him the science and found out about the pedals coming in a few months.
After I skimmed James’ video on the explanation of why the Catalyst Pedas are so great I payed for a set in black and waited for them to arrive.
When I was a kid I used flats racing BMX. More recently I used flats for dirt jump sessions and free-riding I got into during 2005-2010 (think North Van Canada). For the beginning of my mountain biking 25 years ago I rode toe clips with straps and then Anza clip-less and finally settled on the Shimano SPD until I gave up on clip-less completely and switched to flats for all riding styles including XC. For a while I was all about clip-less and thought they were the cat’s pajamas.
My back hurt, a lot. My body was out of balance and I was pulling on my clip-less to compensate for massive imbalance in my body and injuring my back and knee more often. I gave up on clip-less completely and switched to flats for all riding styles including XC and never looked back. Flat pedals combined with bi-monthly LMP visits contained the back pain gradually over time until now I only get back pain if I ride about 25 + miles off road.
I also enjoy the freedom flat pedals provide. It reminded me of skateboarding. I planted my foot on corners and pushed my tires harder in corners turning more quickly. I could also change where I put my foot when climbing and going downhill to minimize the back pain and maximize the fun. Jumping was less scary and I felt safer knowing I would not unclip unexpectedly at inopportune times, which sometimes happens with clip-less pedals. At least now I know when I pick up my foot it’s coming off if I want it to. I could turn my hips more without clipping out by accident. I could corner better, I had more fun!
Ok so enough about me what about the pedals. So I’ve ridden lots of pedals Shimano Saints, Kona WAWA’s, Shimano DX, Wellgo’s but lately HT AE03 exclusively on all my Mountain bikes because of weight and thickness. The HT pedals make me faster and less likely to smack a rock or root so win win except they require race like maintenance on the bushing and bearing, if you want to call them bearings.
When I finally got the box with the Catalyst Pedal from Pedaling Innovations in the mail 2 months after paying I was a little worried that between the slightly thicker profile and longer platform I would be tagging the ground on my Evil Insurgent every few pedal strokes. Not so. When I mounted them up and went for my first ride on a cold snowy day. I was amazed that it was similar to the HT’s clearance, that said I was being a bit more careful on that first outing. I already ride with my foot more centered on my pedals and have a 1.5 inch longer bike than 1 year ago so the pedals blended in for me right away, no real struggle just a bit getting used to perfecting my foot placement for optimal power. And power is what they deliver on climbs, I really noticed my Five Ten Impact VXI size 11’s able to transfer power to the drive train and push the 650b wheels over roots and rocks in the trail. I also got great traction in the snow because I had solid power on tap all the time. Using more of my hip and less of my calf made the pedals feel Clip-less like on the climbs. It did take time on the first ride to get used to putting my foot a bit more forward every dab and there were lots because of the snow but once I knew where to put my foot I was able to ride the pedals quite easily.
Going downhill I did not notice a significant change but I felt like I could whip the back of the bike around easier once again because of the clip-less feel of the larger platform combined with the longer platform when I turned my hips into corner and my feet point the bike easier because the twisting action.
The other thing about going down and doing drops is you have a more stable landing surface to stick big and harsh landings, shoot… even small root drops are more stable and I maintained control quicker after landing. It did require more of the bikes rear suspension as my calves no longer are doing as much suspension work on landing. You don’t need calves the side of Jared Graves to pedal up or rip down now, once again you use more hip action with these pedals to corner, turn the cranks and land small and big drops or jumps. The Catalyst Pedals make the rider stronger I would say but with only two days total on them we shall see with the more long term tests.
One drawback is the weight of the Catalyst Pedals. My HT ME03 Flat Pedals are 354 grams so the extra 75 grams rotational weight from the PI’s on each side of the cranks will be more work, but does the extra platform make up for this in other areas, the jury is still out. I will have a better idea when I switch back temporarily to my old smaller lighter HT pedals and see what differences I notice. I would say if you have a size 12 or bigger you want these Catalyst Pedals, just buy ‘em if you have big feet. That said smaller feet will benefit as well. Although they may be too big for some small feet, but you can just go buy some regular sized flats. Another good reason to buy these pedals are if you do long rides, like 4 hours, they should save some energy and keep your feet and legs stronger longer. The Catalyst Pedals would be a perfect clip-less alternative for all day road touring on a Surly Disc Trucker, Troll, or Ogre… or longer XC Mountain bike rides.
Catalyst Pedals Design Highlights
– Extruded and Machined using our exclusive mold using 6061 Aluminum with T6 Heat Treatment
– Manufactured by VP Componenets using parts and materials with a proven track record for durability and quality
– Designed to connect the front and back ends of arch of the foot, it is the longest platform for your foot on the market
– Dual sealed bearings and DU Bushing internals
– Heat treated Cr-Mo Spindle that is compatible with a standard 15mm wrench or 6mm allen
– 12 pins per side strategically placed to maximize the new, optimized foot position possible with this design
– Available in 4 anodized colors: Black, Blue, Red and Grey
Length – 5.6”/ 143 mm
Width – 3.75”/ 95 mm
Thickness – .6”/ 16 mm
Weight – 505 grams