Clips or Flats? Both! The DMR Versa pedal seeks to offer the best of both worlds, by giving you both options in one pedal.
The DMR Versa is an extruded an CNC machined aluminium pedal with chromoly axle, featuring a clip-in pedal interface on one side, and a flat pedal one on the other. On the clippy side, you get the option of adding four pins to the pedal body for extra grip, should you want it. The pedals come with cleats, but they’re also compatible with Shimano SPD cleats.
On the flat side, you get 10 spots for pins, pins are replaceable, but are not the ‘FlipPins’ that come with Vaults. The Versa pins come in a selection of sizes so you can tune the grip on the pedal. The key difference between these and the Vault FlipPins is that there’s no hex shape on the top, so if you strip the allen key head on the top, a spanner isn’t an alternative option. The heads of the Versa pins are more chunky though, and there’s some reaming, so pliers might be an option if you’re in a bind.
DMR Versa Specifications
- Extruded and CNC Machined Aluminium body.
- Chromoly axle
- 95mm x 100mm Platform area
- 14 tuneable and replaceable pins
- Cleats included
- Available in Blue, Black, Red, Silver or Orange
- 470g per pair (claimed)
- RRP £115
The pedal’s profile is fairly slim, with an angled front that helps glance off rocks rather than plough straight into them. They’re clearly marked left and right on the axle, and you have the option of either using a pedal spanner or Allen key to nip them up onto your cranks – I have to admit these are both features I look for in a pedal, as it just keeps life simpler.
Pedals like this aren’t a new option, but the (quite significantly cheaper) ones I’ve seen before have been a little less aggressive and aimed more at the touring or utility market, where you’re not sure what shoes you may be in on any given day. However, these pedals suggest that they are good for those that want to the option of being unclipped for descents, but want the efficiency of cleats for climbs. It’s even written on them ‘Grind Up’, ‘Bomb Down’. How does that work in practice?
On The Trail
I am mostly a flats rider, however, since no one has as yet developed a truly warm and waterproof and sticky flat pedal winter boot (please, send them to me if you think you have) I tend to ride clipped in on fouler days. Particularly when commuting (which I like to do as off-road as possible), this presents a problem: do I stop to faff with swapping pedals, or do I leave my flats on and get cold, wet feet? Usually I am running too late to have time for more faff, so wet feet usually win out. These Versa pedals have certainly solved that conundrum.
Once actually out on a ride, I’ve found the different sides less helpful. There are two scenarios: you’re in flats, and you put your foot on the clippy side; or you’re in cleats, and you put your foot on the flat side (which is what these were designed for).
Let’s take the wearing cleats option first. Clipping in and out is no issue, and I’m glad that the Shimano cleats I have on my shoes marries up with these pedals, despite the provision of own brand cleats. The connection is good and positive and I never had any doubts about whether I was clipping in or not, even in some substantial winter boots. I had no issues finding the engagement point either, so there were no issues with the soles of my shoes getting in the way. I didn’t feel the need for any extra pins on the clip side of the pedal – my feet felt as secure as I would want them to.
Unclipping and flipping the pedals over, I found that there was generally enough grip for a bit of a cruise along, or getting going on something non-technical. Occasionally though I would seem to put the cleat against some part of the metal of the pedal body, causing my foot to slip. A bit of a jiggle and I’d find a way where the pins caught my tread and held my foot better, but at no time did I feel I wanted to go heading down anything rough. If I felt the need to unclip because a trail was technical, I wouldn’t feel any safer unclipped in cleated shoes on the flat sides of these pedals. None of the cleated shoes I tried felt like they were really sticky enough to give confidence over the bumps and lumps of a tough descent. That said, all my cleated shoes have a good degree of tread on them – they’re not smooth bottomed shoes like a Giro Chamber or Specilaized 2F0 Cliplite. I feared being jiggled off the tread, onto the position where cleat and metal pedal would meet, and then slipping my foot off the pedal and having that to deal with. I’m no trick cyclist, and slipping a pedal is one of the main causes of the scars on my legs, and some other body parts too. For me, the concept of ‘grind up, bomb down’ isn’t happening – if I’m going to be clipped in on the up, I’m still going to be wearing the same shoes on the down, so I’m going to stay clipped in.
Let’s take the other option: flat pedal shoes on your feet. This is not really the point of the pedal, but you might well find yourself in this position if you can’t be bothered to swap pedals to match your shoes. The pins proved nicely sticky, and I didn’t feel the need to tune them during the test period. But, I wouldn’t use these pedals for the really gnarly stuff, even in flat shoes, so there’s less pressure on them to be super sticky. The reason for this is that having taken my foot off the flat side pedal – either deliberately for cool skids, or accidentally – I want to get my foot back on again. I want to be able to do that as reliably as possible, and while the weight of the cleated side does tend to proffer the flat pedal side up to your foot, it doesn’t always work like that when you throw mud, motion and bumping around on the trail into the equation. Trying to put my flat pedal shoe onto the clipless mechanism just doesn’t work, and add some moisture into the equation and I found my foot would really fly off the pedal. On the flat, it’s an inconvenience, and on a descent it’s scary. If you keep your feet on the pedals, it’s not an issue, but I tend to find that the need to take my foot off a pedal often coincides with things getting tricky or going wrong, which isn’t when you want the instinctive foot/pedal marriage to go awry.
Either way round then, there’s a downside to catching the side of the pedal that doesn’t match your shoes. The less you take your feet off the pedals, the less of an issue this is. The more time you have to make sure you’re putting your foot on the correct side of the pedals, the less of an issue this is. So, emergency dab and tripod situations – not good. General riding along not too tricky trails, or taking time to set off – not so much of an issue.
On the basis of my test experience, I’m unconvinced by the ‘Grind up, bomb down’ idea – I suspect it only really works out like that if you have the ‘almost flat pedal shoes with cleats’ style of enduro shoe. Personally, if I thought I was going to be needing to unclip for descents, I’d just ride in flats in the first place, and opt for the confidence offered by my favourite and stickiest pedal/shoe combo.
Where these pedals do come into their own is for having a bike you can just get on and ride, with a minimum of pre-ride faff. If you want to be able to choose your footwear according to the weather (or which pair of shoes is dry), then having these on your bike do offer you that option. For more general trail riding that’s a notch down from scaring yourself and pushing your limits, these pedals will do the job whatever shoe you choose. And that adds up to a sensible, if pricey, pedal choice for your workhorse bike – the one you use for a quick dash from home before it rains, or to nip to the shop for milk, or to ride the long way round to work. Less faff, more riding.
|Tested:||by Hannah for 2 months|
Try Singletrack digital membership for only 99p for the first month.
Or only £2.99 with a copy of the latest Singletrack magazine, worth £10.