I tend to obsess about commuter bikes. Over the last 15 years of four-season, daily commuting, I have developed a level of performance expectations for nearly every component of a bike: flat-proof tires, winter tires, full coverage fenders, mudflaps, dynamo-powered lights, and even platform pedals. I wear regular shoes to work, often dress shoes. I have found that when it is wet outside dress shoes with smooth leather soles tend to slip on most common platform pedals that look nice on a commuter bike. I know there are shark-toothed BMX-style pedals with hold-fast straps and have lots of grip, but I don’t think that setup looks right on a euro-style commuter. I know I could use toe-clips, but I find they scratch my dress shoes.
The Euro-solution to anti-slip commuter pedals is to have real rubber on the platfrom. I have tried a number of those pedals. Perhaps the best of those in my experience are the MKS No. 3000 pedals. They provide decent grip, even when wet, but they don’t have sealed cartridge bearings. In fact, their bearings are not even adjustable or replaceable. I seem to burned through a pair of those in just over a year. Not that it really matters on a 35 lb commuter bike, but they are ridiculously heavy as well. I think the shipping weight is 8 lbs!
My search for a classically styled, grippy commuter pedal with sealed, replaceable cartridge bearings eventually lead me to the Velo Orange touring pedal. Velo Orange has great products that work well and typically fit my old school style requirements. I already have VO fenders and a VO saddle on my bike. They offer a number of pedals, but their touring pedal really fit all my requirements.
At $60 a pair, they are not what I would call cheap, but they are not expensive either if you compare them to MKS or clipless pedals. The VO touring pedal platform is 90mm x 60mm with traction grips at the ends. The pedal bodies, are CNC milled aluminum alloy with a sandblasted finish and alloy dust caps. The pedals use easy to replace high quality sealed cartridge bearings. Per pair they only weigh 236 gms compared to the benchmark MKS touring pedals at 397 gms per pair. The MKS 3000 rubber block pedals shown above weigh several pounds!
I have been riding this pair of VO touring pedals for two years now, and they still spin smooth like butter. They still grip my most slippery shoes on wet, snowy days and they still look good. What more can you ask for in a pedal?
If you are thinking of swapping pedals on your bike, I did a little blog post about how to do that here when I was trying the Shimano commuter pedal that accommodates both regular and clipless shoes (note that pedal has been relegated to the parts bin in my basement). Removing and installing pedals in really pretty simple, but there are a few tricks. If you have never done it, it wouldn’t hurt to read my post. Besides, the post includes a cute picture of my friend’s dog Twister napping by my pedals. Dog lovers will like it for that alone.
So, bottom line is the Velo Orange touring pedals work really well. They get two-big toes up from me.