I haven't done much with my Hail To The Cheap series lately, so I thought it was time to talk pedals. After my recent close encounter with bike ninjas, I found that one of my trusted Time ATACs had been rudely shoved up on its spindle, preventing it from spinning at all. I was able to gently adjust it back into something approximating usability (read: "whack it with a hammer"), but it was clear that the innards were pretty toasted. Not bad for a set of pedals I bought used for ten bucks (now THAT'S cheap) with who-knows-how-many miles on them already, then proceeded to add maybe 10,000 miles of my own.
So, with a set of ATAC cleats already on my shoes, I figured I'd just buy another set. Only found the super-top-end ones locally (and remember, I'm cheap), had some shipping challenges with a non-local vendor, and, in quasi-desperation, finally wound up grabbing the entry-level model of the redesigned Crank Brothers Candy (shown above) as a stopgap. I figured they'd hold me until I got what I really wanted. (For those looking for continuity errors, I did remove my ATAC cleats and install the Crank Brothers, since -- obviously -- they aren't cross-compatible.)
About 800 miles later, I have to say I'm more than a little impressed. The float on the Candys is actually floatier (that's a technical term) than my old ATACs, a pedal known for being chock full of knee friendliness. The (non-adjustable) release tension is very soft on the entry-level model (maybe a bit too soft for hardcore flailers/mad-air-catchers), but I haven't released accidentally yet. Click-in is as easy as pie, probably thanks to those soft springs. They seem to have decent support for my wide dogs (even though the bodies are just plastic and fairly small), the bearings spin nicely, and -- for those who care -- the pedals are pretty darn light. I'm not a fan of the "no wrench flats" style of spindle that requires installation with a hex wrench from the backside, but that's pretty quibbly. And the black finish (paint, methinks) on the spring is wearing off, but again, just aesthetic nit-pickery there.
If I have any concerns about these pedals, it's how they will hold up long-term. Earlier generations of Crank Brothers clipless pedals didn't exactly have a reputation for robustness, and while the nicer current models (Candy 2 and up) boast a laundry list of toughening-up features, the basic ones lack a lot of those features. I'll report back on how they're doing as the miles start to pile up, especially into the Fall as those miles get sloppier.
All in all, though, I'd recommend the Crank Brothers Candy 1 as a good entry-level pedal, perfect for someone new to cliplessness. Even as a non-newbie, I actually prefer their float and entry/release over that of the ubiquitous entry-level Shimano SPDs. (Aside: I find cheap SPDs to be the Budweiser of cliplessness: Available everywhere, gets the job done, but otherwise not worth mentioning.)
So, the 800-mile review: Two big toes up, and I haven't missed my ATACs yet. We'll see how they do over the next 800 miles.
(Obligatory Disclaimer: As always, if you hit that Spamazon link and buy something, I supposedly get some money back. Also, Crank Brothers didn't provide any product for this review -- I paid for the pedals with my own grubby greenbacks. There, I feel much better.)