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"World's lightest" bike pedals look like they're barely even there

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September 14, 2012

The Ultralite bicycle pedal system is claimed to be the lightest in the world, and feature...

The Ultralite bicycle pedal system is claimed to be the lightest in the world, and features pedals that look like they've been stripped down to almost nothing

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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.

A diagram illustrating how the Ultralite cleat engages the pedal

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.

Source: Ultralite Sports via BikeRadar

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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13 Comments

How is this new?

With the exception of the shoe-clip (which isn't the focus of the claim, and when INCLUDED makes them FAR from the world's lightest), this "pedal" is pretty much the exact same as what I had on my banana-seat bike in the 80's after the pedals broke.

Two Replies
14th September, 2012 @ 04:06 pm PDT

This is a direct rip off of Aero Sport pedals of the 80s and 90s. Their's were a lot easier to get in and out, step or twist. I as a RR and Crit rider have a couple pairs still and they are lighter than these. In racing conditions this movement will mean you end up on the road or worse., with these new(wink wink) pedals.

Tony Johnson
14th September, 2012 @ 07:07 pm PDT

How the heck are you going to walk on those shoes? and after using other brands that all release the same way for 20 years I would not switch to a different way to get out. I would never be able to relearn and it would be dangerous not worth the 50 grams of savings.

The Hoff
14th September, 2012 @ 10:27 pm PDT

Looks like we read the article differently.

Not sure how you can say the total weight does not include the "shoe-clip". The article clearly states "The weight... ...consisting of two pedals and two cleats". To me that means the whole package.

These look pretty neat and would love to give them a try.

But that said, I agree. if in regular shoes it would be just like riding on spindles and that would be no fun!

JimmyP
15th September, 2012 @ 12:10 am PDT

Looks like walking round in clipless shoes just got a lot harder too

Chris Coffey
15th September, 2012 @ 12:41 am PDT

I don't quite understand how you get the cleats on your shoes? Do you screw them into the soles? $315 to save a few grams?

Rkt9
15th September, 2012 @ 04:45 am PDT

They're not new. Apart from the release mechanism they look almost exactly like Aerolite pedals which have been around since at least the early 90s when I was racing. The problem is they don't sell in the mass market so finding information on them is rather difficult. http://www.aerolitepedals.com/

Joshua Stafford
15th September, 2012 @ 10:23 am PDT

I think Aerolite (www.aerolitepedals.com) might disagree with their claim of lightest in the world. They claim their pedals with cleats are under 100 grams per pair. I still have a pair of steel axle Aerolites from about 25 years ago in my spare parts box and they feel plenty light despite not having the titanium axles of current models. Then again, I paid about $70 for those, which sure beats a few hundred.

@Two Replies,

Could you go all-out sprint in a sprint with your "pedals"? Could you even pedal with the balls of your feet? I didn't think so.

Gadgeteer
15th September, 2012 @ 10:27 am PDT

@Two Relies. That's exactly what I was thinking. Then your foot would slip off all the time and rip your shin not to mention the pain in the arch of your foot.

Let's hope they don't invent the airless tire that we just called a 'flat.'

Ct
15th September, 2012 @ 12:56 pm PDT

@Rkt9: You always screw bike cleats to the sole/underside of your bike shoes. This is reagrdsless if the pedals used are SPD, Look/Time, Eggbeater....

I would be worried about the release method - all the other clipless systems I know of releases when you twist and that seems more natural to me. I have never been in a crash where I wasn't released from the pedals and the thought of staying stuck to the bike has me thinking of all sorts of injuries.

BZD
16th September, 2012 @ 06:05 am PDT

When I was a kid, that system was called broken pedals.

flink
16th September, 2012 @ 01:24 pm PDT

The normal reaction of a rider during a fall (accidental) would be to move their inside/ falling-side foot away from the bike before contacting the ground. Maybe flipping the spring the other way round would make the system more intuitive?

Getting off the pedal should be made easier than getting on in my opinion...

Leong Wai Fong
7th February, 2013 @ 11:36 pm PST

Just saying these pedals miss the mark in that they don't work like any other pedal. Not intuitive. There is a pedal on kickstarter that is a lot better:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2099765898/the-infinity-pedal?ref=discovery

Brian Tecklenburg
5th March, 2014 @ 07:51 am PST
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