To be a confident and successful rider, you need to be one with the bike. There has to be a bond; a connection that links human and machine. A means to achieve a fun and exhilarating time on the saddle without breaking the bank or yourself in the process. We’re talking contact points here, folks. It’s a common occurrence for riders to buy a bike straight off the showroom floor without any tailor-made components besides correctly sizing a frame to his or her body. The next best thing for a new bike owner to do is to see what suits them best as an individual, as far as where your body will be making contact with the bike (grips, saddle and pedals). Everyone is different and not everyone’s body will agree with the same grips or saddles that come stock on a bike. Pedals fall in a similar category.
Most new bikes come with those awful, slippy slidey plastic platforms that are mainly ideal for those essential test rides. Grip on your pedals is a huge factor in staying upright on your new bike, so upgrading to an affordable pair of pedals is definitely worth looking into. I’m currently testing out a pair of flat pedals from Issi, but this review will be directed at their clipless offering. The Issi Flash III SPD pedal.
Earlier this year, I decided to take commuting to work more seriously and spend more time on gravel roads. Thus, a gravel bike was added to the cart. Once the bike came in, I instinctively put a pair of flat pedals on just to make it rideable. Though, the evil thoughts in my head (as well as numerous concerned peers) quickly persuaded me to jump into the realm of riding bikes clipped in. It was a new experience to me and you could say it still is almost 5 months later. Issi offers a pedal for just about everyone and I wanted one that would last for many grueling rides and just everyday abuse. I opted for the top tier Flash III, over it’s two more affordable, but a bit less durable brothers; Flash I and Flash II. At $105, this pedal isn’t cheap. It isn’t necessarily extravagant in price, either. You get the choice from a dozen colors with optional alternative spindle lengths available; oh yeah, these pedals are fully serviceable, too. Issi also offers a 3-year, limited warranty which covers manufacturing defects. Handy if you’re going to be spinning your legs frequently.
As mentioned before, Issi offers three variants of the Flash SPD-style pedal. At $65, Flash I comes in two colors and has a double bushing spindle. Great for riders on a budget looking to get into riding clipless. For more color options and a bit more of a durable setup, the Flash II has a bushing and a bearing for $85. The top dog, the Flash III which I’ve been riding for quite a few months, is built with longevity and performance in mind. A chromoly spindle supported by three bearings meant that it could theoretically withstand some playful abuse on some dirty gravel routes for extended periods of time. Sign me up!
After choosing a color to match my bike, I set off for some dusty miles and felt immediately at home with my new pedals. Coming from flat pedals, the 4° of float was interesting to get used to, but I still felt in control and connected to my bike after my body recalibrated. All of the Flash pedals offer adjustable spring tension, but the medium setting from factory felt right on the money for me, so I left it in that setting in the end. The angle of release of 14.6° makes for easy and subtle dismounts, but I did have a couple moments where I became unclipped when I accidentally turned my heel too much; lesson learned.
As far as performance and durability goes, I’ve been reasonably satisfied with this pair, but I did have some issues worth noting. They aren’t any more immune to squeaking when you let the pedal/cleat interface go a bit dry and dusty, but that’s a common complaint and easy to remedy with some lube and regular care. While the spindles and bearings have been performing faultlessly, I am a bit concerned about the seals. One of my pedals had its rubber seal become dislodged from inside the pedal body and works itself outward toward the crank, allowing the elements to intrude the bearing’s home when the seal should be neatly recessed inside the pedal body. No issues have arisen from this observation, but I’m sure the bearing’s life will be affected by the occasional introduction to dust and rain in the long-term.
Besides that quirk, these pedals have been shrugging off silly pedal strikes (user error), impacts from stones, hard-charging sprints, filthy 50mi gravel rides and rainy commutes during the >1500 miles I’ve put on them so far. I’m looking forward to seeing how these perform after another 1500 miles. The added bonus of serviceability gives me comfort in knowing these can stand the test of time.
Words and photos by Mike Cartier