In the world of road cycling, you don’t need to look far to find a pair of Look pedals. However, their presence in the mountain bike market has been lower despite pioneering the whole concept of “attaching your pedals to your shoes”.
The X-Track range, aimed at cross country cyclists, intends to remedy this. The Race Carbon model tested here is the second highest tier model in the range, behind the titanium emblazoned and oh so creatively named Race Carbon TI. I’d argue whoever named these pedals was secretly German rather than French, but I digress.
Going for a construction of largely carbon is bold, with most of the competition opting to stay on the metallic end of the spectrum when it comes to the material of choice (the cleat mechanism stays metal though). This weighs the pedals in at a claimed 170g per pedal (340 per pair) which is almost identical to the weight for a pair of Shimano XT pedals. Look are aware of this, but reckon that although the weight is the same as their competition, using carbon has allowed them a larger surface area to weight ratio, making these pedals more efficient under power.
Some durable IGUS Glide bearings keep them spinning, and an adjustable tension on the mechanism allows you to tune in your desired level of force required to release from the pedal. The mechanism looks suspiciously like the SPD system known and loved by many, and is cross compatible as opposed to the proprietary system Look has used in the past. It all comes backed with a oneyear warranty, with an additional year added if you register the purchase with Look within 30 days.
Being based on the SPD system, the Looks are sturdy when first clipping in, although the action feels a little lighter than their Shimano cousins. There’s a decent amount of float available for those with knee issues, although you can tune that out by tightening them of course. Thus far they’ve behaved well, although I can’t shake the nagging concern about what may happen to the Carbon should pedals meet rocks at speed; carbon isn’t exactly renowned for its crush resistance. I’m going to trust Look’s engineers on this choice though.
Ultimately with bikes, it comes down to the age-old ratio of strength/reliability to weight to price, and it’s on this analysis that the Looks encounter some resistance. Weight is competitive, but not outstanding. Strength seems reasonable so long as you don’t smash them into rocks. But price is where they get stuck. There are several similarly strong and light option on the market, ranging from the benchmark Shimano XT or the NZ designed Keywin Leopard, that achieve these targets at a more competitive price. However, what the Looks do have on these options is elusiveness and being a bit boutique. For now at least, not everyone else has them. They’re French. They’re made of carbon (which everyone knows is worth at least 10 pro points at the start line). Being a bit alternative is cool and makes for interesting carpark conversations. They’re not ground-breaking, but if you’re after something a little different they might just be the pick for you.
Words & Images: Robin Page & Cameron Mackenzie
Originally printed in Issue 88 of New Zealand Mountain Biker