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.
I can’t say I have a lot of experience with Xpedo pedals. In fact, the GFX is the very first pedal I’ve used personally. And though it might well have been that I just didn’t really have any specific expectations to begin with, I’ve been really impressed with these.
It turns out the Taiwanese brand has been manufacturing pedals for the past three decades, and thanks to the assistance of a North American office, the brand’s designs have been stepping up considerably in more recent years. Xpedo has a load of distributors dotted around Europe and Asia, though its pedals are also available to buy directly from the US website.
Released in early 2016, the GFX pedal is the result of a 3-year development period to create the biggest platform pedal that the brand has ever made. Like four of the other pedals on test, the GFX makes use of a Shimano SPD-compatible mechanism, meaning you can also clip in with Shimano-branded cleats. Xpedo includes its own XPT cleats however, which provide greater lateral adjustment for altering the effective Q-factor. The cleats provide 6° of angular float, and Xpedo says the wider cleat also increases contact with the pedal body. I didn’t notice much difference to be honest, and made use of Shimano cleats for the latter half of the test period without issue.
The clip mechanism features adjustable tension, and the assembly is spring-loaded so it can move independently of the platform. The advantage of this design is that the front ‘hook’ of the clip mechanism sticks up above the rest of the pedal, putting it in the path of the cleat as you roll your foot forward to clip in.
The platform itself is made from heavily CNC machined 6061 alloy, with an angled leading edge that’s designed to skim over rocks and logs. Measuring 90mm wide by 94mm long, the GFX isn’t quite as wide as the Funn Ripper, or as long as the DMR V-Twin, but the platform feels throughly secure and stable underfoot. Xpedo has kept the stack height low at 19.8mm, so it doesn’t feel like you’re pedalling around on big blocks of wood, and the weight is very impressive at 468g for the pair (without cleats).
Each pedal comes supplied with four gold grub screws per side. These can be wound out a little to increase height, but because the bore only goes so deep, you can’t thread them in further to decrease height. Between our test group, the GFX pedals were tested with everything from Mavic and Bontrager winter boots, through to Shimano ME7 and AM9 shoes. In all cases, the rearward screws caused a little too much tread interference, which made unclipping a little unpredictable. Our preferred setup was to leave the front two, but remove the rear. The front screws don’t actually contact the shoe sole when you’re clipped in, but they are there to give you more hold if you need to stand on the pedal temporarily.
In use, the GFX pedals work well. Thanks to the pop-up mechanism, they’re easy to clip into. The action is very Shimano-like, though the engagement wasn’t quite as smooth as the Shimano Saints. I settled on running the tension on its maximum setting, which provided a more secure hold for descending rough and natural singletrack trails. There are a few more edges on the GFX body and mechanism that can catch the cleat or the tread on your shoes if you’re not concentrating while trying to clip in. But once you are clipped in, the broad platform and wide 56mm Q-factor helps to give you a planted feel over your bike, and I never once accidentally popped out of them.
Internally, the GFX is not dissimilar to the Nukeproof Horizon CL pedals, in that you’ll find a cromoly spindle supported by a big DU bushing on the inside, and two cartridge bearings on the outer end of the spindle. You’ll need a 6mm allen key to remove the dust cap and a 9mm socket to undo the main axle nut, and then it’s a case of cleaning out any old grease and applying some fresh stuff. We experienced minimal contamination through an intensive winter of testing, though it’s worth noting that only a single o-ring seals the pedal’s guts. It all fits snugly, and the o-ring is shielded a good way inside the pedal body, but I’d still be wanting to check these regularly if you’re a bit liberal with the hose when washing your bike. If things do get scratchy, then bearing refresher kits are available for $25 USD.
The Xpedo GFX is an excellent platform clip-in pedal that offers easy engagement, and a predictable feel when unclipping. The broad platform feels good underfoot, though it would be nice to see some of the edges rounded off a bit, along with a little more adjustability to the pins. Otherwise these are great value, and with a range of anodized colours to choose from, they’re a good-looking pedal too.
|Price:||$129 USD (£95 at current exchange rate)|
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 2 months|
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