Even if you’re not a cyclist, you’re probably aware that a great deal of today’s higher-end bikes have pedals that the rider’s shoes simply click in and out of. These are known as clipless pedal systems, as they’re an alternative to using toe clips and straps. They first gained popularity in the mid-80s and ever since then, bicycle components companies have been trying to make them lighter and simpler. Now, Colorado-based Ultralite Sports is about to release a clipless pedal system that it claims is the lightest in the world – and the pedal itself just looks like a bare spindle.
Designed for road cycling – sorry, mountain bikers – the Ultralite system features two similar models: the titanium-spindled Cirrus Ti, and the slightly heavier steel-spindled Nimbus St. In both models, the pedal is made up of a central one-piece spindle, encased within two aluminum barrels that turn independently of the spindle ... just like the platform of a regular pedal turns independently of its spindle.
The longer and skinnier of the two barrels (see the photo at top) slips inside of a cylindrical receptacle on a nylon cleat, which is attached to the underside of the cyclist’s shoe. To fully engage that barrel, however, the cyclist must slide their foot in towards the bike. Doing so involves pushing the other barrel, which is spring loaded, to the inside – the tension of the spring against the side of the cleat then proceeds to hold the cyclist’s foot in place.
When it’s time to get out, the rider must again slide their foot inwards to contract the spring, and then pull straight up. This is a different type of movement than is used by most clipless systems, in which the cyclist twists their foot sideways to disengage. According to the folks at Ultralite, riders pick the technique up pretty quickly. Undoubtedly, though, the learning curve might involve experiencing a few tip-overs.
The weight, though... the Cirrus Ti system, consisting of two pedals and two cleats, tips the scales at a reported 112 grams (72 grams for the pedals themselves). This is over 100 grams less than any other system currently on the market, claims the company. The Nimbus St system, for shallower-pocketed and/or heavier riders, weighs 146 grams. Buyers of either model can choose between cleats that offer four degrees of float or none at all, plus they can opt for high tension springs that hold onto the cleats most firmly, or low tension springs that make getting in and out easier.
The pedals are now available for preorder, and should start shipping as of November 1st. The Cirrus Ti is priced at US$450, while the Nimbus St will set you back $315.