Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Forté Carbon Road Pedal Review ***Update*** RECALLED! Exchange ASAP

I forgot to update this post when I heard about the recall.  I received an e-mail from Performance Bike months ago and it said this:
From Performance Bike "We found that a small number of these pedals are defective. The main pedal body on the defective ones may break during use. Needless to say, this could cause a dangerous situation."
Considering that I've had these pedals since June 2011 and put thousands of miles on them with no problems, I was almost 100% sure that my pedal wasn't one of the recalls.  I still decided to upgrade because they offered a full refund for the price of the pedal as well as an additional 10% off the replacement.  Since I noticed that the Look Keo 2 Max pedals were on sale for about $20 more and they were wider than the Forte Carbon Road Pedals, I went ahead and bought them!  First ride out, I was able to notice the difference between having the skinny Forte Carbon's and the wider Look Keo 2 Max pedals.  I've been nothing but happier with these pedals!

THE REVIEW: Forte Carbon Road Pedals

There are some things worth spending more on and road pedals are not one of them.  As long as the road pedal has sealed bearings and it isn't made out of cheap/ weak material, there's nothing wrong with spending less because overall, the performance will be nearly identical to a more expensive pedal.  This is why I went with the Forte carbon road pedals.

Although many will think that the lack of float adjustment is a major deal breaker, it really isn't.  With proper form and a balanced musculature, there's no need to restrict float because the body would naturally fall into correct alignment- it doesn't need to be forced into the right position.  Forcing a foot that's naturally externally or internally rotated into the forward position will greatly affect the position of the knee and create potential injuries.  Rather than forcing the foot into position through float adjustments, use corrective exercises to realign the foot.  This will not only prevent injuries at the knee, but also improve performance through improved posture and body mechanics aka. efficiency.

Only when the muscle imbalances are corrected is it safe to restrict float.  This is a big reason why even the most expensive bike fit technology only provides temporary relief- they don't tell you what you can do to improve the alignment of your body.  To see permanent changes, the entire body must be assessed for posture and movement quality; afterwards, a corrective exercise regimen can be designed.

Top view
About my first time on road pedals:
Before I switched to road pedals, I used platform pedals with toe clips to get around campus.  All I can say about the switch to road pedals is that there is a HUGE difference.  In terms of weight, the Forté Pro Carbon Road Pedals were significantly lighter.  The biggest difference I noticed with road pedals involved the increased rate of power transfer that I could put into each pedal stroke.  Unlike the straps of the platform pedals, the road pedals are solid, so I never experienced the "elastic" feeling that I would get with straps.  As soon as I would push, pull and lift, the power transferred instantly- no delay.

Rear view.  Use a 3mm allen wrench to
decrease (-)/ increase (+) tension.
About my first time clipping in and out:
Before I converted to road pedals, I asked around about how difficult it was to clip in and out.  I heard a lot of embarrassing stories where people couldn't clip out and hopelessly slammed into the ground.  To protect myself from a fail, I kept the tension at the lowest setting and practiced clipping in/ out indoors where I had something to hold onto.  It only took a few clumsy tries before I was comfortable enough to go outside.  It really isn't as hard as some people choke it up to be so if you're still contemplating about road pedals, just make the switch already!  After riding on road pedals for awhile, I found that it's a lot harder to clip in than to clip out.  Since you can't see the cleat under the shoe, you have to feel for the cleat position relative to the pedal.

Tips for clipping IN:
To make clipping in easy, keep the pedal located on the opposite side of the bike at the bottom of the pedal stroke.  Doing this will prevent the crank arm and the bike from moving around as you attempt to clip in.  The pedal on the opposite side of the bike is the first pedal that you should clip into.  When clipping in, try not to stare at the pedal so that you can still be aware of your surroundings.  Without using the eyes, keep the foot pointed slightly down and graze the tip of the pedal with the front of the shoe.  The next thing that should make contact with the pedal is the cleat.  Once the cleat catches the pedal, press down until the cleat snaps into place.

Bottom view.
Tips for clipping OUT:
For an easy exit, make it habit to always clip out on one side- preferably the left side.  Why?  When you dismount, you want to stay within the lane you're already in.  The cars in your lane are already or should be aware of your presence and will be able to respond faster than the lane on the right.  If it feels really difficult to twist the cleat out of the pedal, reduce the tension.

Training & racing on these pedals:
On interval days, these pedals easily increased my top speed by over 5 mph.  The ability to put more power throughout the pedal stroke was nice for going faster, but I quickly found that it came at a price- fatigue set in a lot faster than usual.  After getting stronger and learning more about my limits, I was able to get the most out of the pedals.

When I took these pedals to a criterium, the first thing I noticed was that I could lean a lot more into a turn while pedaling without making contact with the ground.  On occasion, I would hit the pedal on the ground- the scar can be seen on the top left corner of the bottom view.  You'll never know the limit without going past it!  Even with all of the impacts, the pedal remained quiet and still provided me with all the performance benefits that a road pedal can offer.  About the only thing I feel could be improved with these pedals would be increasing the width of the pedal for increased stability.

  • Instant power transfer
  • Compatible with Look Keo cleats
  • Lightweight 124g ea.
  • Durable - I hit the ground a good number of times around corners and they still work just like new (~2,000 miles so far 9/26/2011)
  • Quiet (previous platform pedals always squeaked)
  • Easy entry/ exit - weighted so that the tip of the pedal always faces upward
  • Sealed bearings makes it maintenance free!
  • Tension screw slightly affects float
  • Expensive... when they're on sale, they're a good deal.
  • Feels a little narrow, so it requires a little bit more balance.  Because of this, you can expect to experience IT band soreness when riding on this pedal for long distances.
  • No independent float adjustment screw, not really a bad thing for most people.
  • 9 degrees float is now a little too much for me, though increasing tension somewhat reduced float