If You’re Not Sam Hill, Read This Review: Nukeproof Horizon CL Pedals

by Wil Barrett 3

In Issue #117 of Singletrack Magazine, Wil and the team tested eight pairs of platform clip-in pedals. Grab your copy to read our pick of the bunch.

Much like DMR, Nukeproof is a brand that is much better known for its flat pedals. We’ve got a lot of personal experience with Nukeproof’s Horizon flat pedals, which have become an office staple thanks to their durability, grip and sensible price point. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Sammy Hill stole the #flatpedalthunder last year by taking the Enduro World Series title – something that evangelical flat pedal users will likely never ever let you forget for many years to come.

nukeproof horizon cl clip-in pedals
Nukeproof offers two clip-in pedals. This is the bigger one.

Freaks like Hill aside, there’s no denying that more and more enduro and downhill racers are tending towards clip-in pedals for the efficiency, power and security gains. The ability to keep you stuck to your machine on wild and wooly trails is a huge advantage for those who need to travel from A to B as quickly as possible. There are of course advantages to flat pedals too, but Nukeproof already makes those. So to answer the rising demands from aggro trail riders and enduro racers wanting a clip-in pedal, Nukeproof launched its very first clip-in pedal at the beginning of last year.

nukeproof horizon cl clip-in pedals
There are cleats, pins and grub screws included with the pedals.

Actually, Nukeproof launched two; the Horizon CL and the Horizon CS. Both use the same dual-action clip-in mechanism, with the CL using a large platform, and the CS using a (ready for it?) small platform.

Both pedals followed an 18 month development period, which drew on input from team riders like Matti Lehikoinen and Mike Jones. And thanks to Nukeproof’s existing experience with flat pedals, it already had a proven base to work with when it came to things like axles, bearings and sealing.

The pedal here is the bigger option of the two. The Horizon CL is made from cold forged 6061 alloy, and is finished off in the CNC machine to give it a slick, polished finish. The platform is huge, measuring 86mm wide by 97mm long, making it nearly the longest pedal on test (the DMR V-Twin is a fraction longer). Platform clip-in pedals generally don’t need to be quite as big as traditional flat pedals because the shoes you pair with them feature a stiff, reinforcing nylon shank that the cleat bolts into. This shank helps to distribute your weight over the entire shoe, so it doesn’t feel like your feet are bending over and around the pedal body.

nukeproof horizon cl pedal clip
The Horizon CL has a fantastically supportive platform.

That said, new-school gravity shoes like a Specialized 2FO Cliplite or a 5.10 Hellcat Pro are actually designed to provide a small amount of flex through the ball of the foot. Combined with flatter rubber soles with minimal tread, these types of shoes pair up well to the broad platform on the Horizon CL. Nukeproof also includes a variety of thru-pins and grub screws in the box with the pedals, so you can adjust the platform to achieve the traction you’re after.

I found the Horizon to be one of the most supportive pedals on test. There’s loads of lateral support through the body, which limits rocking. The 56.5mm Q-factor is wider than most other clip-in pedals (in this test only the Crank Brothers Mallet is wider at 57mm), and that puts your feet further away from the bike for more stability. The angled leading edge has glanced off countless rocks, though as one of the thinnest pedals on test at 18mm, they’ve managed to stay clear of most rocks in the first place.

nukeproof horizon cl clip-in pedals
You can tailor the traction levels to your preference.

With the thru-pins fitted with the supplied washers, the grip level is superb. This was noticeable when I hadn’t clipped in properly, and had to briefly stick a foot down. The pins bite into the rubber soles to limit slippage, and the low-profile clip mechanism doesn’t push up into your foot so much. Because the pins thread in from the backside, the hex heads are protected from damage, so we never had issues with removal.

Chunky in appearance, the Horizon CL has proven to be thoroughly robust throughout testing too. The pedals weigh 514g for the pair (without cleats), and feature a cromoly axle with two sealed cartridge bearings on the outside end of the spindle, and a big DU bushing on the inside. In comparison, the smaller-bodied Horizon CS only gets a single bearing and a bushing.

nukeproof pedal maintenance grease dirty
The rubber seal is looking a big haggard, and has let a bit of filth in.
nukeproof pedal maintenance grease dirty
All clean and ready to roll again!

After a year of use and abuse, I pulled apart the pedals to get a look at the insides. Things were quite grimey and the rubber seals are looking pretty haggard, but everything was surprisingly still spinning nice and smooth. The Horizon CL is a doddle to pull apart – you’ll need a 6mm hex key to undo the dust cap, then a slim 9mm socket to take off the main nut off the spindle, so it can then be drawn out for cleaning and re-greasing. It’s all very easy to do, and while I’d recommend routine maintenance for anyone who rides in wet conditions a lot, Nukeproof has a wide array of easily accessible and well-priced spare parts that make these pedals easy to look after in the long run.

nukeproof horizon cl clip-in pedals
The angled leading edge of the pedal body helps you to slide over rather than dig into roots and rocks.

Although the mechanism is based around a Shimano-compatible design, both the front and rear of the cage are spring-loaded to facilitate multiple entry angles. In use, the shallow mechanism has a light action – it’s still clicky and reasonably positive like a Shimano SPD pedal, but even with the tension set to the maximum setting, its hold isn’t as strong. Occasionally I was ejected from the pedal if I struck a rock hard enough.

However, the light action does make this an excellent option for riders new to clipping-in. For those riders, I’d recommend trying the Horizon CL without pins to begin with. The smooth machined surface and angled back plate facilitate a fluid engagement and uninterrupted release, so it’s easier to disengage in a hurry. And as you get used to the pedals, you can gradually add pins until you get the balance between traction and ease of engagement.

nukeproof horizon cl pedal clip
The engagement isn’t as positive as other SPD-compatible pedals.

Of note on setup, we found that cleat shims helped with most shoes tested. Those shoes included the ION Rascal, Specialized 2FO ClipLite Lace, Giro Terraduro, Shimano ME7 and AM9 shoes. With a thin shim underneath the cleat, the clip mechanism both felt and sounded more positive, and less pressure was required to push your foot down to clip in. Nukeproof does include its own 4° cleats in the box, but no cleat shims, so you’ll have to source those elsewhere. If you’re after more angular float though, Nukeproof also sells 8° cleats separately for those who want a bit more free-play while clipped in.

nukeproof horizon cl clip-in pedals
Tough, well made and highly adjustable clip-in pedals.

Overall

The Horizon CL is an excellent example of a new-school platform clip-in pedal. The alloy body is both tough and supportive, and the ability to coordinate up to six pins per side allows you to fine-tune the grip to your liking. The retention level isn’t quite as high or as positive as other pedals on test, and really, that was the only reason why these pedals missed out on the Best All Round award. That aside, they’re good value amongst the competition, they’re well made and they’re both easy and cheap to maintain.

Review Info

Brand:Nukeproof
Product:Horizon CL
From:Hotlines, hotlines-uk.com
Price:£100
Tested:by Wil Barrett for 12 months

Comments (3)

  1. What’s this “clip in” rubbish. They’ve been ‘clipless’ pedals since the original Shimano SPD pedal. The ‘clip’ part refers to toe’clips’ not the current retention mechanism.

  2. does every flat pedal/clip pedal discussion have to include a sam hill reference? we get it, sam rides flats. so do i, so do many others, who cares?

  3. Exactly, jamj1974
    No one has used toe clips for 25 years, so it makes more sense to refer to pedals where you clip in to them as ‘clip-in’ rather than clipless.
    In the same way we no longer talk of horseless carriages, we call them cars as the fact that they’re not pulled by a horse is irrelevant.

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