I’ve used Crank Bros pedals before, for cyclo-cross. I had two sets of Eggbeaters. I chose them because they were light, simple, easy to use, and fantastic in mud. They gave a couple of seasons of faultless service (I stripped and regreased them regularly). After that I sold the bikes. They may still be going strong.
I’ve always associated the Crank Bros name with quality specialist products. To me the Smarty pedals looked cheap. Maybe it was the plastic, or the shiny black spindles I’m not sure. Also not sure about the spare plastic covers in different colours. Seemed like a waste of plastic to me. I expect they’d end up in that drawer where things go never to be found again. But they are very light, much lighter than the Shimano pedals I took off.
Fitting the Smartys was a piece of cake, no problem, simple. Pedals fitted to the bike in seconds, and the cleats only took a little longer. Because Crank Bros pedals have such good float there was no need to spend ages lining cleats up, then testing and tweaking. Just line ‘em up fairly straight, tighten the bolts and you’re done. No tension screw to faff about with either. In fact they were so easy to set up I tried them with three different pairs of shoes. Top Marks!
Once fitted it was time to ride. As a rider with experience of clip-in pedals the Smartys took no time at all to get used to. Clip in was easy and sure, clip out was the same. I could use them confidently straight away. Top Marks again.
But, they creaked. The shoe creaked against the pedal. This was worse on the oldest pair of shoes I tried, and it maybe that the creaking would stop as they beded in. They didn’t seem to be designed with maintenence in mind. The plastic end cap was difficult to remove, and I could see how it could easily become loose/worn and get lost. The pedals had a larger Q factor (meaning that the riders feet are further apart) than the Shimano ones I took off. While this was not a problem for me, I know it is a biomechanical issue with some riders.
As I understand it Smartys are Crank Bros budget pedal, and as such I think they are great. As I said earlier, i’ve always associated Crank Bros with quality specialist products. If I was looking for a cheap lightweight pedal then the Crank Bros name would give me confidence, and I would look no further. Would I buy some? Well for cyclo-cross yes, but for mountainbiking no. My mountainbiking pedals take such a hammering that I choose robust over lightness every time. I’ve had one bad painful experience with a lightweight pedal, and I don’t want another. Placed side by side with a similarly priced but much heavier Shimano pedal I’d choose the Shimano one.
Bear in mind that I only tested the pedals on one ride so cannot comment on how they’d be long-term. I tested them on my Spesh Stumjumper Hardtail. I tested them with three pairs of shoes – a hardly used but old pair of Shimano, an old pair of Specialized 2000 pro race shoe, and a Specialized 2006 carbon soled race shoe.