Wil and the clip-in crew have spent the last few months trying to work out which are the best platform clip-in pedals. For this group test, they took eight of the latest platform clip-in pedals to see what each brand has to offer. Each pedal has been tested under various riders with a variety of shoes and in a range of conditions, to determine four category winners: Best Feel, Most Durable, Best In Mud, and Best All Round.
Best Feel – HT Components X2 Pedals
The best ‘feeling’ pedal is admittedly a difficult thing to quantify. Some riders prefer a snappy mechanism that keeps them securely locked into the pedal, while others prefer a softer and lighter feel for clipping in and out.
The HT X2 pedals fall into the ‘snappy and secure’ category, which won’t work for everyone – especially those new to clip-in pedals. However, it’s their combination of platform shape, cleat options, adjustability, and the robust clip mechanism that saw the X2s take top honours here.
You don’t see HT pedals around that much, though their popularity is steadily growing. Launched in 2005 by parent company Hsing Ta Industrial, HT Components is still young. With over half a century’s worth of manufacturing experience in bicycle pedals behind it, however, it certainly isn’t lacking in experience. And thanks to high-profile sponsorship of the likes of Aaron Gwin, Jared Graves and Jerome Clementz, the brand is getting plenty of attention.
HT currently offers three different models of clip-in pedals, all with unimaginative names: the M1 (XC), the T1 (Trail) and the X2 (DH Race).
As the biggest pedal in the range, the X2 came out in 2015 as the successor to the X1. Although they look similar, the X2 brought key improvements including reduced weight, a thinner platform, and the omission of rock-catching cut-outs on the body’s leading edge.They’re a little lighter, and our test set came out to 444g for the pair (without cleats). The X2 also uses a broader angled back plate that helps guide the cleats in during entry.
The X2 uses the same clip mechanism that differentiates HT pedals from all others on the market. This hybrid mechanism combines a tension bar on the front, like Time, but uses a cage at the back, like Shimano (though the HT cleats won’t work with either system). The result is a feel that straddles the two – engagement is positive, with an audible ‘click’ as the cage snaps down over the back of the cleat, but the rounded tension bar smoothens both entry and release. It’s a really nice balance – like riding a set of quality carbon wheels that are responsive, yet nicely damped on the trail.
Tension is adjustable, though accessing the 3mm hex bolt is awkward. The level varies from tight, to really-friggin-tight. I certainly wouldn’t put a new rider on these pedals, because their tenacious hold can be intimidating. As the cleats wore in and I got used to them though, I steadily increased the tension to about halfway. Any more than that and you might dislocate your knee trying to unclip.
Not only the lightest on test, the X2s are the thinnest too at just 15.5mm. Combined with the low-profile mechanism, ground clearance is exceptional, and they provide a more natural feel throughout the pedal stroke compared to thicker pedals. The large 85mm x 95mm body and concave profile allows your shoes to sink into the platform, while flat side sections minimise rocking. Traction is bolstered by five steel pins on each side, though we’d recommend adding a dab of Loctite on the threads. We’ve lost a few.
The unobtrusive mechanism means that out of all the pedals, the X2s were the grippiest and most flat-like if you’re not clipped in. When you are clipped in, stability is insanely good. Knowing that you’re not going to be accidentally ejected off the bike is a huge confidence booster in rough terrain.
In the box you get 4° and 8° float cleat options. Release angle is 13° and they’re supplied with plastic shims, and metal shims for use with carbon soles. A nice touch is that HT includes an 8mm socket in the box so you can pull them apart for routine servicing. After a wet winter of abuse, I did just that. Five minutes and some fresh grease later, they were feeling nice and smooth again.
The CNC machined cromoly spindle rolls on a big Igus bushing and an outboard needle roller bearing. On the end of each spindle is a tiny little thrust bearing preloaded by a wave spring, which helps to mitigate lateral play while accommodating axial loads. It’s all very neat, but the guts are only sealed with a single O-ring, so wet weather riders will want to clean them periodically. If things do get crusty, service kits are available for £11.99.
With its hybrid mechanism, the X2 combines the snappiness of an SPD pedal with the smoothness of Time’s ATAC system. The high tension level can be intimidating to begin with, but get your cleats and pins dialled in and you’ll be rewarded with confidence-boosting grip and speed-friendly stability.
Want to know more about all the other pedals on test? You can get your hands on the full feature from Issue #117 of Singletrack Magazine, which includes all reviews of the winning pedals along with a guide on what goes into making a high performance clip-in pedal. Head here to get a preview of the magazine, then get it shipped right to your door!
|From:||Ison Distribution, ison-distribution.com|
|Tested:||by Wil & The Test Squad for 4 months|
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Just wondering how you set up the cleats with the new am9 because I can’t seem to get them to mesh nicely
@endurbro – Thanks for the question!
There are two types of cleat spacers/shims that come in the box with the HT X2 pedals. There are thin metal shims, and slightly thicker plastic shims. I can’t quite remember exactly what configuration I setup the AM9 shoes with, but I definitely had the thin metal shim, and possibly the plastic shim too.
While the shoes and cleats were new, I also removed the pins to begin with to limit interference. As everything settled in though, I added the pins to increase traction.
Try experimenting with those shims and the pin setup, and you should be able to get the clearance you need.
Cheers for the advice, hopefully I can get them to work as I really like the feel of the mechanism
Can someone explain to me why I find it significantly harder to disengage on the 8* cleats then on the 4* cleats, if release angle are supposed to be the same 13* ?