Pedaling Innovations Catalyst One pedals review
Oversized flat pedals designed to rewrite the rulebookUSD $149.00 Skip to view deals
Pedaling Innovations’ Catalyst One pedals have larger-than-life dimensions that give them their rather striking looks.
Company owner James Wilson – an MTB training coach to riders including world champion Aaron Gwin – became frustrated at the poor performance of flat pedals on the market, so decided to research what could be done to make them better.
Investigating how to get the most performance out of flat pedals and following scientific evidence, he landed on the Catalyst’s function-over-form design.
Measuring 128mm long, 95mm wide and 9mm deep, the Catalyst dwarfs almost all other pedals on the market.
Pedaling Innovations Catalyst One pedals details and specifications
Pedaling Innovations claims the Catalyst pedals will give you more power, improve efficiency and reduce pain caused by pedalling.
Increasing foot stability is the main method through which Wilson says he has achieved his three claims.
Wilson embarked on a research journey to create a pedal to achieve those goals.
Briefly, this is what happened: he questioned why cyclists and mountain bikers must always strike a compromise between a soft-soled shoe for comfort and a stiff one to improve performance.
In his background as a coach, he noticed weightlifters in the gym are encouraged to wear soft shoes and remain flat-footed (rather than coming up onto their toes) when lifting. This is intended to engage the hip muscles rather than the quads, calves or Achilles tendons, which he asserts are the strongest muscles in the lower body.
Wilson joined up the dots, realising when the foot is supported at both ends – through the ball and heel – its arch is much more stable, strong and balanced than when only one end of it is supported.
Applying this theory to mountain biking, he questioned why clipless shoes force riders to pedal on the balls of their feet (thanks to cleat placement) and couldn’t find any evidence to suggest pedalling on the ball is better – more efficient and powerful – than on the arch or central portion.
He found the opposite, where evidence suggests placing the entire foot instead of just the ball on the pedal recruits the hips as the primary power provider over the calf and Achilles tendon.
Given many studies claim the hips are the main drivers of a pedal stroke, he decided to make a pedal that’s designed to support the foot evenly, from both the front and back.
This, he says, removes the need for a stiff-soled shoe, where the shoe can be flexible to improve comfort, because a rider isn’t relying on it to create the stability needed; the stiffness comes from the pedal’s platform.
Wilson claims the Catalyst “is the only pedal in the world that looks first at how the foot and lower leg move optimally and then applies that insight to the bike”.
Beyond all the science-like theory behind the pedal’s shape, there still needs to be a set of reliable flats that are easy to live with.
Pedaling Innovations hopes the Catalyst also ticks these boxes.
Made from 6061 T6 aluminium, the pedal body is extruded to the desired shape then machined.
The Cro-Mo axle is heat treated, and spins on dual sealed bearings with a single DU bushing.
They have 18 pins per side, which are replaceable. The pedals come shipped with the shorter pins, but a full set of longer 8mm pins are supplied too.
The body is 128mm long, 95mm wide and 9mm deep over the axle, but 11mm deep at its edges, giving it a slightly concave shape.
The Catalyst Ones are designed for people with feet that are US12/EU46 or smaller. For people with size US13/EU47 feet or bigger, an XL Catalyst One is also available.
My red anodised (black, blue and grey also available) test sample weighs 528g a pair.
Pedaling Innovations Catalyst One pedals performance
Adjusting to the Catalyst’s massive platforms wasn’t as hard and didn’t take as long as I was expecting. Placing my foot centrally on the pedal didn’t create any discomfort and didn’t feel unnatural.
The benefits of placing my feet the way Pedaling Innovations intends far outweigh any unconscious desire to revert to old habits.
While I couldn’t objectively measure whether the pedals helped me produce more power, or indeed whether they reduced it, I certainly didn’t feel as if my output was compromised or lower compared to riding with traditionally sized pedals.
Outright traction, support, stability and comfort when descending or riding over rough terrain are much easier to identify right away.
There are two caveats to this, however.
First, I had to change the front and rear pins (10 per side) to the longer 8mm versions, leaving the shorter pins in their central location (on the pedal’s sides) to improve grip.
Traction wasn’t poor with the shorter pins installed all round, but certainly wasn’t as mind-blowing as I was expecting it to be. Swapping out to the larger ones cured this.
Secondly, the pedals work best with softer-soled shoes such as Five Ten’s Trailcross platform (LT, XT, Mid and GTX) compared to the relatively hard Impact Pro or Endura MT500.
Again, grip isn’t bad with harder shoes, but it didn’t improve on the traction offered by more traditional flat pedals on the market.
Once these changes had been made, however, performance was impressive.
Phenomenal just about does the amount of grip on offer justice.
Traction is unparalleled and foot twist is reduced massively. Usually, my feet butt up against the pedal cranks when descending, causing the cranks’ paint to wear.
This wear has been abated on the bikes I’ve used the Catalysts on, supporting my feelings with evidence that foot twist is almost eliminated.
Time spent in full contact with the pedals is impressive and bumps don’t destabilise or bounce your feet off the platform, helping you focus more on riding rather than keeping your feet attached to the bike.
This vastly improves bike control and makes riding less frantic and calmer.
Not only does the large platform improve grip, but it also stops foot clawing – a problem commonly associated with small pedals and soft shoes.
Your feet will claw over smaller pedals as they try to grip onto them, but also as your weight is pushed through their soles, bending your foot around the pedal.
This can lead to fatigue much quicker than it should.
I found the signs of foot fatigue, and therefore clawing, which include buzzing, cramping or numbness in the soles, didn’t happen with the Catalyst.
Comfort, therefore, is also impressive.
For people who struggle with foot buzz, the Catalyst may well be the cure.
During the almost year-long test period, the pedals have remained damage-free.
Their axles are still straight, no pins have been smashed out and the bodies are relatively unscathed.
Despite their larger than average looks, they’re quite narrow, not exceeding the width of my size EU42 shoes.
Add in the relatively slim profile and ground strikes are few and far between. Those that do happen are glanced off by the pedal’s angled leading edge and tapered sides.
Their bearings spin freely, but also smoothly; the same as when they were first fitted.
How do the Pedaling Innovations Catalyst One pedals compare?
Current class-leading flat pedals have many traits in common: a concave profile; long, sharp pins; and a large platform.
Included in the list of the best flat pedals and sharing the above characteristics are Deity’s TMAC, Crankbrothers’ Stamp (large), Pembree’s R1V and HT’s PA03A.
The Catalyst improves on the performance of all of these in all the key flat-pedal metrics: traction, stability and comfort.
Foot twist and bouncing is reduced vastly – almost to zero – with back-to-back testing really highlighting how good the Catalysts are.
That isn’t to say the other pedals on the market are bad, they’re just not at the same level as the Catalyst.
Pedaling Innovations Catalyst One pedals bottom line
Without a doubt, the Catalyst pedals are one of the best upgrades a flat pedal rider can make.
In my experience, they’ll increase control and comfort on rough terrain or while descending, even if a rider is already using one of the industry-leading flat pedals I mentioned before.
Making sure you’ve got softer-soled shoes and the 8mm pins are installed will get the most from them, although it’s not essential.
Some might not be able to see beyond their arguably polarising aesthetics, but those who can’t are doing themselves out of a world of performance potential.
If you’re outside the USA, they’re fairly expensive to buy and ship (import duties will probably need to be added to the cost, too), but these pedals should be high on your wish list when your means permit.
The Catalyst is category-defining and leading; if you’re a flat-pedal rider, buy a set.
|What we tested||Pedaling Innovations Catalyst One|
|Features||– Extruded and Machined using our exclusive mold using 6061 Aluminum with T6 Heat Treatment – Manufactured by VP Components using parts and materials with a proven track record for durability and quality – Designed to connect the front and back ends of arch of the foot, it is the longest platform for your foot on the market – Dual sealed bearings and DU Bushing internals – Heat treated Cr-Mo Spindle that is compatible with a standard 15mm wrench or 6mm allen – 18 pins per side strategically placed to maximize the new, optimized foot position possible with this design – Shipped with longer (8mm) replacement grub screws to swap out for extra traction – Available in 4 anodized colors: Black, Blue, Red and Grey|