Pro’s Pedals: YT’s Erik Irmisch talks about the perfect pedal/shoe pairing

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Out at the launch for the new YT Jeffsy last year, I spotted some unusual looking pins on the pedals of a bike on the uplift trailer. It turned out they belong to Erik Irmish, one of YT’s sponsored riders. Erik rides a lot of the YT prototypes, helped set up the bikes on the launch, and is very articulate about technical aspects of bikes and bike set up. Being a fan of anything custom, and a lover of the flat pedal, I caught up with him for a brief spot of pedal geekery.

Erik, being friendly.

You’ve got custom pins, who makes them?

My friend. The normal standard pins are pretty good, but I decided to get some other pins from my mate. He’s kind of an industry guy, and he  basically took a longer screw and he made the first 6mm of the top more skinny.

Feel your shins wince.

Right – better for leg penetration?

Yes, yes! But it’s really important they’re not just skinny but he also made the…the…screw thing…

The thread?

The thread. The thread also because that’s really important to get sticky in your shoe.

Custom talons.

And what shoes do you wear with them?

Just Five Ten Impacts. Because the Five Ten Impact has for sure the best sole and at the same time I really like the bumper around the shoe, because if you hit in a corner, or if you’re pretty low to ground and you hit a root or a rock, something like that, your feet don’t get sore. So in my opinion they’re the best shoe and pedals which fit well together.

Erik is brand loyal. He has a YT tattoo on this arm.

(In the background fellow rider Johann ‘Pottie’ Potgieter is coughing and joking about being sponsor correct in a ‘of course you’d say that’ way. Erik rebutts him.)I was riding before Burgtec and other pedals, Crank Brothers, but I’m really super stoked about the DMR pedals because they hold in for long, super low maintenance, light style of pedals.

And you’ve got the Vaults?

The Vaults, just the Vaults. The Vaults are a pretty perfect design because your sole is going deep in the middle of the pedal so that it brings you a really nice feeling from your shoes.

You don’t need to tell me, I ride Vaults!

(There ensues a discussion about whether my shoes are any good. I argue that I’m wearing my ‘rearranging my feet on my pedals’ shoes, because I’m no good at track standing, so when things are technical I like to be able to get into the right position after I’ve set off pedalling. I am told I am wrong, I don’t want rearrangement.)

The thing is, if your feet get loose or are sliding around on the pedal, you’re not really into the bike, and then you struggle more with staying on the bike nicely, and your legs get sore easier because you have to push more in the pedals.

This (DMR Vaults and Five Ten Impacts) in my opinion is the best fitting together (pedal and shoe), and there’s good protection for your feet as well.

Erik thinks these are the perfect match with DMR Vaults.

And do you ever ride clips?

Yeah, I change to clips when I have just a pedal track, where I have to pump hard…

(Pottie interrupts: when he races against me he changes to clips!)

…where I have to put in really tough pedal strokes I like to have clips.

Which tracks would that be?

Basically Fort William. It’s a good example, because you have to push right out, you have to go out pretty hard with pedal strokes, and then you have the rough stuff. The whole way down…it’s a long track and if you don’t have to worry about your feet on the pedals sticking in, then your legs stay fresh for longer.

Pottie was wearing the Afton shoes Erik likes for when he’s clipping in.

What shoes and pedals do you ride then?

DMR clip (V-Twin) pedals, they’re super low maintenance too. Super stiff. And I use Afton shoes for that. The Afton shoes are designed by the guy who made the 100% Aircraft helmet and also has quite a lot of experience with making Alpine Star boots for MotoCross. I really like the look of the shoes, and you’re actually really low in the shoe.

They look quite like skate shoes? Are they soft as well?

No…they’re not super stiff, but it’s quite nice. I really like the position of the cleat because you can move more backwards, so it’s more similar to a flat pedal shoe. Before, I used some other shoes, and I made some adjustments, made them custom. I cut them out to bring the cleats way further back. So yeah, I think the Afton shoes are really good, and a good price for quality.

Cleats can be positioned fairly far back.

As well as being a bike nerd. Erik is also a very handy rider – he took part in RedBull Hardline last year but in the conditions decided not to push on through qualifying. This sensible approach to risk – he’d rather ride again tomorrow than risk everything today – served me well as he led me down (and round) some of the bigger features on our test trails. Thanks to Erik for knowing where I could scare myself a little, and where to take the easy line.

Check out my video where I talk to designer Willie about the features of the new Jeffsy, for a peek at some of the test trails we tackled.


Hannah’s travel and accommodation was covered by YT Industries.

Hannah Dobson

Hannah came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. Having worked in policy and project management roles at the Scottish Parliament and in local government, Hannah had organisational skills that SIngletrack needed. She also likes bikes, and likes to write.

Hannah likes all bikes, but especially unusual ones. If it’s a bit odd, or a bit niche, or made of metal, she’s probably going to get excited. If it gets her down some steep stuff, all the better. She’ll give most things a go once, she tries not to say no to anything on a bike, unless she really thinks it’s going to hurt. She’s pretty good with steri-strips.

More than bikes, Hannah likes what bikes do. She thinks that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments.

Hannah tries to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

Comments (4)

    Dmr vaults are low maintenance? That’s a load of codswallop, there awful and for a high end peel need constant attention to ensure that they don’t rattle. I was hoping for an insightful piece into contact points here but it reads like an advotorial. 2/5, must try harder please

    I’d agree with the above sentiment, I really like my Vaults, but hate how quickly they go rattley.

    I’ve modified pins in the past, and you can make a significant difference to grip by dremelling a cut into the top of pins to make them concave. So the idea is definitely sound.

    For interesting pins, take a look at the Raceface Atlas or the Specialized Boomslang. I think what Erik was trying to achieve is in those pedals.

    @rickon @boobyspan I’m surprised to hear yours have gone rattley…mine took 3 years of neglect, and I’ve serviced them and they’re fine again! I’d say I’m not trying hard enough, but they’ve been brutally assaulted by Calderdale grit and pedal strikes, so I don’t think that’s the case.

    Bushing wears pretty quickly in them leading to premature bearing death. Decent grease on the bushing helps a lot. Shame they need the love as they’re not cheap for such straightforward parts.

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