Cost: $119 (carbon, cro-mo spindle); $249 (carbon, Ti spindle)
How Obtained: Review sample from company
Models: Regular and LA (light action, for easier entry/release)
Weight: Carbon steel: 246g/pair; carbon ti: 194g/pair
Source: Order direct from company
RBR Sponsor: Yes
Tested: 25+ hours
Carbon Pedals on Large Platform Perform Well
I have ridden various models of Shimano’s SPD-SL-type pedals for years. Most recently, I’ve been on the Ultegra steel model.
I’ve always appreciated the main features of these (and Look Keo-type) pedals: the wide platform that allows for good power transfer; walkable 3-hole cleat systems that do not require you to take cleat covers on every ride; and also the simple fact that you can actually pedal your bike around a parking lot or chase your kids on it for short distances in regular shoes (it comes in handy every once in a while).
So I looked forward to trying Sampson’s new Stratics Carbon pedals, which hit the market late last year after two years of research and development, and race testing. Based on Sampon’s existing Stratics (Look cleat-compatible) pedals, the new Stratics Carbons come in two models, based on the spindle material: one (which I tested) uses cro-mo (steel) in the spindle and weighs 246g for the pair; the other features a 6/4 titanium spindle and reduces the weight to 194g for the pair.
Significant Weight Savings, Stable Platform Deliver
The weight of the carbon steel model I tested is very close to the weight of both Shimano’s Dura-Ace carbon pedals (248g/pair) and Look’s Keo 2 Max carbon pedals (244g/pair). More importantly, the weight savings over the Ultegra stainless steel-body pedals I replaced is a fairly significant 71g (2-1/2 oz.). Cleats and hardware add 69g.
The Stratics Carbon steel model features fully sealed bearings and a wide, 66mm platform with a polished steel “anti-friction” plate that stiffens the pedal body and allows the foot to float to its natural position. The pedals were also designed with a groove in the center of the pedal that, according to company founder Eric Sampson, “lets the cleat take the standard convex shoe curvature and lay flat on the top surface.”
Riding in both the proprietary cleats that come with the pedals, as well as a pair of Look Keo cleats purchased for the test (and in two different pairs of shoes with very differently shaped soles) proved that these pedals deliver a very stable platform, with no cleat rock and clear transfer of power.
Sampson elected to maintain steel springs for durability and longevity in these pedals, vs. carbon springs, and tension is easily adjustable across a range of 20 settings with a 3mm allen wrench, allowing you to dial in your entry and release just so. (In a nice touch, Sampson also offers Stratics LA — light action — models for lighter riders, those with bad knees or those who simply want the easiest possible entry and release.)
New System Makes for Smooth, Fluid Entry
One of the features of the Stratics Carbons is a new cam-style entry and locking mechanism, which I found to be an improvement over clicking into my SPD-SL pedals. The process is smooth and fluid, in one easy motion, vs. what has always felt like a combination of two moves required to get into the SPD-SLs — push forward, then down.
I found that, once I got a good feel for the cleat position after dialing it in, and dialed in the tension for each pedal, the entry and became second nature — just as it should be.
The only real adjustment required was in switching to a smaller profile cleat system. Sampson and Look cleats are about 3/4″ (almost 2 cm) narrower than SPD-SLs, which flare out on the sides beyond the functional part of the cleat. (I never liked this about the SPD-SL cleats, which always stuck out beyond the edge of my shoe to accommodate my setup.)
Moving to the smaller cleats meant it took a couple of rides to get the cleats in just the right spot on my shoes, and about the same amount of time to get used to walking on them. I don’t consider either of those to be shortcomings, just the simple process of getting used to equipment that is slightly different. And I appreciate the smaller, less obtrusive cleats.
The Bottom Line
Sampson Stratics Carbon pedals deliver a light-weight, wide-platform, stiff pedal that feels solid and stable, with no cleat rock and clear transfer of power. The steel springs add durability, and the new cam-style entry and locking mechanism makes for smooth, fluid entry into the pedals. If you’re looking for an option to cut your weight from existing pedals but want to maintain the full features of a wide-platform 3-hole-style pedal system, these are certainly worth a look.
John Marsh is the editor and publisher of RBR Newsletter and RoadBikeRider.com. A rider of “less than podium” talent, he sees himself as RBR’s Ringmaster, guiding the real talent (RBR’s great coaches, contributors and authors) in bringing our readers consistently useful, informative, entertaining info that helps make them better road cyclists. That’s what we’re all about here—always have been, always will be. Click to read John’s full bio.