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.
Most Durable : Time ATAC DH4 Pedals
Let’s face it. We as humans, love to consume. Especially cheap stuff. If it breaks or we decide we don’t like it anymore, we just get rid of it and buy something new and cheap again.
Obviously Time didn’t get that memo.
The French manufacturer has been specialising in ultra-durable clip-in pedals since, well, forever. Perhaps appropriately then, the Time ATAC DH4 pedals are the oldest models on test by a long way.
First debuted in 2013, the DH4 is the successor to the classic Z ATAC pedals. The DH4 is based on the same shape and profile as the ATAC MX range, but where the lighter MX pedals use a composite body, the DH4 is equipped with robust alloy bodies and oversized hollow steel spindles. That makes them quite a bit heavier, with our test clocking in at 475g for the pair, without cleats. According to Time though, these are (in your best French accent) ‘built like a tank’.
Inside the DH4 you’ll find a proven bushing and bearing combination that’s sealed with a thick reinforced red rubber gasket. Whereas other pedals can be pulled apart for servicing, Time doesn’t want you to do that with these. Instead, they have a sealed, deliberately non-serviceable design that’s simply made to last in the first place. And Time seems to know what it’s doing. Out of all the pedals, the DH4 have remained by far the smoothest throughout testing.
Just like Time’s lightweight ATAC XC pedals, the DH4 makes use of the iconic – and patented – ATAC mechanism. This employs two round tension bars that lock onto the cleat. The rear bar is stationary, while the front bar is spring-loaded, providing the necessary movement to facilitate engagement and disengagement.
It’s the ATAC mechanism that gives the DH4 its unique feel. Entry is very quiet – something that can be a problem on shouty trails where it’s difficult to know if you have actually clipped in. Entry is also exceptionally smooth – disconcertingly so if you’re coming from a snappy SPD system. There’s also no adjustability to the tension levels, so what you get is what you got. Get accustomed to that feel, however, and you’ll learn to love the low-friction engagement and the reliability of the ATAC mechanism.
The cleats are made of brass so they wear before the tension bars do. By swapping them from left to right you can change the release angle from 13° to 17°. With both set-ups, you’ll get 6mm of lateral float, and 5° of angular float. While most testers preferred the shorter 13° release, I found I could occasionally blow a foot off by accident if I was pushing and angling my foot down hard during heavy cornering. The 17° set-up does require commitment because your foot has further to travel to unclip, but I found it more reliable on rugged trails.
With fewer parts to go wrong, the simple ATAC mechanism also sheds mud incredibly well. The body itself has enough pockets to hold onto clart, but the large scoop underneath the front tension bar works effectively at evacuating mud away from the cleat, so they rarely jam up.
When the conditions are particularly wet and greasy though, the lack of any pins on the DH4 does mean they aren’t the grippiest. If you’re unclipped and need to momentarily place your feet on the pedals during an awkward section of trail, the DH4 is nowhere near as stable as the HT or Nukeproof pedals.
This is also due to the proportions of the platform itself. Out of all the pedals on test, the DH4 body is the shortest (76.6mm) and narrowest (71.1mm). The flipside of the DH4’s smaller and smoother body is that you’re less likely to catch an edge on a rock, and they also work with a wider variety of shoes. I paired these up to winter boots and trail shoes with toothy rubber tread, and had little if any issues with interference.
While the addition of pins would no doubt increase the available traction levels, there’s actually a good amount of support from the rear of the pedal body, which I’ve found encourages your heels-down descending technique.
The DH4 may not be the thinnest, grippiest or most colourful pedal on test, but there’s no doubting they’re well priced and absolutely bombproof. The unique ATAC mechanism isn’t for everyone, and personally I’d like to see a bigger body and some pins implemented to improve stability. If you’re after smooth engagement and consistent performance in a pedal that’s likely to outlast multiple bike upgrades though, the DH4s are brilliant.
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!
|Product:||ATAC DH4 Pedals|
|From:||Extra UK, extrauk.co.uk|
|Tested:||by Wil & The Test Squad for 4 months|