New Zealand innovators Keywin are set to produce a lightweight Carbon Ti version of their unique road pedal system, they announced at the Sea Otter Classic. Keywin's design locks the cleat and pedal tightly together, yet allows six degrees of float with an axle that moves inside the pedal body.
It was created in 1983 – a year before Look launched the first commercially successful clipless pedal, the PP65 – after designer John Winkie saw a rider fall in traffic, stuck in his toe straps. The design has remained largely the same for three decades but the new, $300 carbon bodied, titanium axle version slashes weight to 170g, or 245g including cleats.
There's no step-down motion required to clip in. Instead, it's all twist. The rider first engages the front of the cleat by toeing in, then twists in with the heel to lock the cleat into the pedal. Once secured, there's very little if any movement between the cleat and the pedal body. For float, the axle pivots on bushings inside the pedal. Float tension – not release tension, as on many pedals – is regulated by a simple screw, which adds or removes friction.
Keywin’s Alex Lugosch contends that float between axle and pedal is superior to float between cleat and pedal. “On most pedal systems, you walk around, grinding the cleat down," he said. "Then, the interface is no longer any good and you get a loose, rocking connection with the pedal. With Keywin, since the float is all at the axle, there's no unwanted rocking. It's incredible how connected to the bike you feel.” In February, Kiwi triathlete Bevan Docherty beat Lance Armstrong to win the Ironman 70.3 Panama on Keywin pedals.
The Carbon Ti is the same as the $250 Keywin Carbon, except the latter has chromoly axles and weighs 300g including cleats and hardware. Both systems have a 14mm stack height, compared to 11.5mm for Speedplay pedals and slightly more than 14mm for Shimano-Dura Ace. Keywin also have a more affordable pedal, the $250 CRM, which features a 17mm stack height and sealed cartridge bearings.
All Keywin pedals come with 55mm axles, but the company also sell 49, 52, 58, 61 and 65mm options to decrease or increase a rider’s stance width. Long (2.3cm) slots in the cleat allow for generous fore/aft adjustment of where the shoes sit in relation to the pedal spindle. All the pedals are made in New Zealand. For a look at the evolution of clipless pedals, check out Speedplay’s online museum, which begins with the Cinelli M71 in 1970.
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Ben Delaney takes a look at Keywin's pedal design