Review: LOOK’s astonishingly light KéO Blade Carbon Ti pedals

It’s always nice when a company that all but created a product category can take a couple of steps back and rethink their core product.  With their carbon-sprung KéO Blade pedal range, LOOK have done just that, replacing the (comparatively) heavy wound coil used since the dawn of modern clipless pedals with a slick carbon fiber blade.

Though I knew that the company’s no-cost-spared pedal would be light, it wasn’t until LOOK’s KéO Blade Carbon Ti pedals arrived that I was able to get my head around what 185g per pair (actual) felt like.  That’s 35g apiece lighter than Shimano’s latest Dura Ace or Look’s lightest Keo 2 Max models.  Despite my small frame, I was actually a bit nervous to bolt something so insubstantial feeling to a bike that is regularly ridden hard and put away dirty.  Beyond the strikingly light weight, the bearings were impressively smooth in the way that only really expensive bearings can be.  Eleven months later, the Keo Blades have seen thousands of miles in sun, rain, and snow: follow the link to find out how things have gone…

First, the blade.  The flat strip of carbon fiber seen at the outside of the pedal provides the force to keep the pedal engaged.  Available in 12Nm and 16Nm stiffnesses (more or less corresponding to the standard KéO’s low and high tension settings), the 16Nm blade on our test pair delivers engagement that could only be described as snappy- both in terms of sound and feel.  Though it doesn’t take a great deal of force to clip in, there’s absolutely no question as to whether it’s happened.  A rider who resides at the lighter end of the spectrum, I would have expected the heavier blade to be a bit of a chore in use- but have had no issues clipping in or out and haven’t felt the desire to be able to fine-tune the release force.  Better-equipped shops do have the tools to swap blades, so choosing one or the other isn’t a life-long commitment.  Despite such solid engagement, the cleat is able to move with only moderate effort, allowing my cranky knees to easily find a happy position.

The rest of the pedal is less unique- but remains very well executed.  The double-sealed bearings are the second-most-impressive thing about the KéO Blades:  even after a year’s use, it’s difficult not to compare them favorably to silk.  The long-fiber carbon body has held up very well and (printed-on logos aside) hides scars well.  The full-width stainless steel contact plate does a fantastic job stability-wise:  rocking and flex have never once been an issue.  The stack height is a low 15.7mm and the pedal threads are extra long, allowing Q-factor adjustment by way of an optional 2mm spacer between the crank arm and spindle flange.  Without the spacer, the distance from the cleat to the crankarm is a comfortable (for me, on Dura Ace cranks) 53mm.

Each set of KéO Blades comes with two sets of ~75g 4.5º cleats as well as one set of cleat covers.  Because I can never remember to pack the cleat covers, I chose to run the cleats with the nice co-molded grippy pads (which help to reduce- somewhat- the potential for mid-ride convenience store disaster).  Nearly a year on, the right toe grip has just come off (too many ‘cross-style dismounts) and the left is looking pretty rough has just fallen off too.  Sure, the cleats will foul somewhat if too much sand is taken on during a pee break, but that’s a (small) problem that’s hardly LOOK’s alone.  For those with finicky knees, the second pair have what look to be Delrin inserts to ensure even smoother float.  If I had my druthers, a pair with both smooth float and walking pads would be available.  For the price, I’ve got to find something to improve, right?

Oh, and then there’s the price.  Cutting edge technology, light weight, and French manufacturing don’t come cheap.  Not remotely.  Now at $499 $390 (see below), the KéO Carbon Ti are among the priciest pedals available still some expensive pedals. Fantastic, yes, but as with most top-end gear, there’s not much justification that could hold up defend the original price in print.  Happily, LOOK have followed up the KéO Blade Ti with the KéO Blade CrMo.  At a moderately more defensible $319 $290 and 227g, the CrMo model manages to undercut Dura Ace pedals both weight and price.  So while the KéO Blade Ti grabs the headlines, my recommendation would be for savvy shoppers to go for the CrMo-axle’d version.  The weight difference seems much smaller once the cleat weight is accounted for (300g vs. 260) and the satisfying engagement, massive platform, 2-year warranty, and silky bearings all remain the same- making it look like one heck of a deal by comparison.

www.lookcycle.com

We’ve learned that Look have since reduced MSRP for the pedals tested to $390 for 2012 and the CrMo model to $290.  Hooray!

Comments

mkrs - 11/03/11 - 9:54am

Gimme a break… You can easily buy 180-190 g pedals from Exustar or Xpedo that are equally smooth and reliable but cost 200 USD with Ti axle. But what a shame, they are not LOOK!

erikv - 11/03/11 - 9:58am

You never scraped the pedal going around a corner? I wonder what would happen to that blade after a few hits in a crit.

Matt - 11/03/11 - 10:34am

Speedplay Nanogram. 130g/pair and won’t grenade if you stack the bike.

Matthew - 11/03/11 - 11:05am

Great review, Marc! We’ve sold our fair share of Look Blade pedals at my shop and everyone says great things about them. A quick note: I just completed our 2012 pre-season order and pricing on the Ti and Cro-Mo axle versions is coming down to $390 and $290, respectively. That should put them in closer reach of all the Exustar(?) and Xpedo(?!) lovers out there. ;-)

mkrs - 11/03/11 - 11:08am

Speedplay’s cleats weigh as much as an average boat anchor – the whole system is much heavier than these pedals. What’s more, if you build a bike and need to stick to the 6,8 kilo rule, you’re better off if you use heavier pedals and lighter cleats.

Mick - 11/03/11 - 11:21am

Nanogram is a nice pedal…Give me a set… but at $630…185 lb weight limit, (axle) needs regular greasing & lubing (cleats), alloy bowties that will need replacement on a reg basis…the (no weight limit, ti axle) Look KEO Ti Blade seems like a deal by comparision…

nsd - 11/03/11 - 12:04pm

That’s not really true about the speedplay cleat weight. If you have a speedplay compatible shoe then the cleat+hardware is only 62g which is lighter then the ~75g of the Keo cleat. And if you have a 3 hole shoe the speedplay cleat+hardware is 110. The X1 weighs 150g so you come out lighter with the 4 hole setup and about the same with the 3 hole system. Course you have to like speedplays.

Maple Leafs - 11/03/11 - 12:07pm

I tried both speedplay ti and look keo blade, and wound up eventually riding with CB eggbeater or candy (Yes, on my road bike).
Especially, riding in NYC I usually wind up destroying the bottom part of my road shoes, and I just feel more safe having mtb shoes, especially on rainy days.

Maxi - 11/03/11 - 12:07pm

So I broke mine in about 3 months, literally carbon was chipping. I got a new pair replacement from Look which I immediately sold on eBay! The same happened with the Time i-Clic (this time the cleats where falling apart in a week or so).

Now I have the DuraAce 7900. Very solid, it is going on 10 months and 8500 miles!

mkrs - 11/03/11 - 2:08pm

@nsd – just try to figure out how many shoe models have a 4-hole sole. Well, not to many, to be honest. What’s more, the price of Nanograms is simply crazy. Anyway, when it comes to contact points, fit and personal preference are key factors so adding a few grams is always worth if a bike is more comfortable.

Cheers!

mobydick1969 - 11/03/11 - 5:50pm

The Blades are great pedals with a really good engagement I have the 16nm “spring” and very very light and trick…BUT…you can not service them ! here in the UK you can not get a tool to remove the axel…you can how ever buy a L/H & R/H axel and bearing service kit at £120 each side !…the reason I know this is because my pedals devloped play on the axel and started to produce a creaking noise under load…ran a different set of pedals on my bike and NO noise…the Blades were aprox 5 months old…NOT GOOD the UK dist were brillant however and sent me a new boxed pair with new cleats in 24 Hrs saying that it was the only pair to ever have an issue of any kind…like I said great great pedals and now with no noise and no play cost the earth thou but worth it…shame you can’t service them thou ?

greg - 11/03/11 - 6:22pm

nanograms are a race-day-only pedal. aluminum bowties, aluminum cleat hardware, etc, besides the required maintenance of any speedplay and a very narrow platform that is usually a bad idea for larger guys or people with big feet…
it’s my understanding that Look was GOING to offer the tool and extra springs to dealers, but now changed their minds. now you have to send them to look USA in Cali for any spring issue. too bad, since you dont even need special tools to change them out. you just have to unbolt the door.

sheep herder - 11/03/11 - 6:59pm

Keo Blades (and Keo 2 Max) develope play after a couple weeks of use. Then it gets worse and subsequently creek like mad.

Speedplay Nanograms are for people that have a horse jockey’s stance width. Nobody should be on them. They are the only company that makes different spindle lenghts for a reason. Get fit for crying out loud.

rob - 11/04/11 - 3:50am

Keywin Ti at 192gm work for me. Fraction of the cost. Not for everyone as some people seem to have problems with the float in the axle (instead of float in the cleat). A cheaper option for some, and strangely made in New Zealand. I’ve tried Look and find by comparison that I get about 5x the life out of a Keywin cleat over a Look one.

mkrs - 11/05/11 - 7:01am

@Matthew – what’s so wrong about Exustar or Xpedo (expect a silly aspect of bling factor, of course)? Have you ever ridden any of them? I can assure you you would never feel any difference – they are just as light, smooth and reliable as ridiculously priced LOOKs. But if you really feel well about flushing extra 100-200 dollars down the toilet and getting nothing in return but a nice logo, please feel free to do so – God bless free market :)

mody gonzales - 04/29/13 - 10:15am

i just upgrade my 4 yrs old keo carbon ti pedal to keo blade carbon ti 2 months ago.the performance is simply superb.the execution of the engagement is really snappy as mentioned above.lighter in weight,bigger platforms resulting in significant power transfer.its really superior to my previous pedal.i used only look pedals for the past 15 yrs together with colnago frames.i have one question:can i safely used silicone spray lube to the moving parts of my keo ti blade,without possible damage?

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