New Zealand’s Keywin pedal system has a unique design that locks the cleat and pedal tightly together, yet allows six degrees of float with an axle that moves inside the pedal body. We tested the $199 Carbon model.
Once engaged, the pedal system works well. The super-snug mating of the large cleat and large pedal makes for a secure connection between rider and bike. After two months of use, we’ve noticed zero perceptible slop in the system – no rock or play either side-to-side or fore-aft.
And yet, the six degrees of float inside the pedal body itself provides comfortable lateral movement. Stack height is 14mm, which is in line with industry standards. When pedaling, the feel was virtually indistinguishable from our trusty Shimano Ultegra pedals.
At less than 300g a pair for pedals, cleats and hardware, the Keywin Carbons are a touch lighter than the newer carbon Ultegra PD-7000C model, a pair of which weighs 325g including cleats and hardware.
Clipping out of the keywin is done like any other regular road pedal – just pivot the foot out and the cleat pops clear: clipping out of the keywin is done like any other regular road pedal – just pivot the foot out and the cleat pops clear Ben Delaney/BikeRadar
You clip in and out by pivoting your foot, as with Shimano or Look systems
The system has two flaws, however: the pedals don’t hang down for easy engagement, and the cleats are slippery.
Once you have the pedals flat, clipping in is quite easy – easier in fact than with Shimano or Look if you twist slightly in as you step down. But the problem is that, unlike Shimano, Look or other pedals, the Keywins aren’t weighted at the rear and therefore don’t hang in a predictable manner. Instead, they just rotate with the cranks, forcing you to look down and paw at the pedal to get it into position.
Keywin USA’s Alex Lugosch said this could be fixed by adding weight, but that “ultimately we find that riders enjoy the light weight and contact feel and we weren’t ready to make a pedal heavier so it could hang”.
The wide cleats are quite flat, so much so that it almost feels like standing in road shoes without cleats. But the absence of any rubber bumper pieces makes them quite slippery. Push off at a green light, for example, and your foot will slide out if you’re not careful.
Once clipped in, though, the pedal system feels great. For races or long rides where clipping in and out is kept to a minimum, the Keywin Carbons could be a great solution.
The angled slot at center is where the pedal body engages the cleat: the angled slot at center is where the pedal body engages the cleat Ben Delaney/BikeRadar
The thin cleats offer a huge platform and a solid connection with the pedal