With a few notable exceptions, like Speedplay and Beebop, the basic design premises behind road pedals have remained largely unchanged over three decades: a hook on the front, spring on the back, and a wedge-shaped cleat to fill the gap.
Newcomer Ultralite Sports aims to turn that design on its head with its new Cirrus Ti and Nimbus Steel pedals. The company has thrown the traditional model out the window and gone with an innovative, double-barrel design that allows for an incredibly low weight — just 125 grams for pedals, cleats, and cleat bolts — and solid cleat/pedal connection. The massive cleat and pedal interfaces popular today are no longer necessary, the company says, as carbon-soled shoes have dramatically improved stiffness.
How they work
Ultralite doesn’t use a traditional heel-out movement to clip out. Instead, clipping in is simply a matter of pressing the cleat against a lip on the spring-loaded outer barrel, which is then pushed inwards towards the crank. As this outer barrel moves inwards, the twin diameters of the main barrel match up with those of the mildly hooked cleat, allowing the cleat to slide down onto the spindle. The movement is simply reversed to clip out — move the foot inwards and pull up.
If that is difficult to understand, take a look at the very short video here.
Ultralite says it is virtually impossible to pull out of the pedals, given the strength of its glass-reinforced nylon cleat, a similar material to the nylon used on many lower-end cycling shoes. The cleats are expected to wear at a similar rate to any other non-metallic cleat, but replacements will be available for only $25. The cleats will have a small maximum wear mark.
We haven’t had a chance to get any serious riding on them, but the company says the motion is intuitive with a bit of practice. Our primary concerns lie with emergency release in the event of a crash, and the fact that the pedals make it impossible to perform a low-speed cyclocross-style dismount, which we’ve gotten in the habit of doing as we finish up a ride. We predict a few hilarious upside-down-and-still-clipped-in moments in the VeloNews parking lot over the next month. For a full review on functionality, check back in a bit.
Specs and details
The most impressive feature of the Cirrus and Nimbus pedals is their weight. On our own scales, the titanium Cirrus pedals alone come in at an incredible 73 grams for the set. Add in the cleats and mounting hardware — two figures rarely quoted with pedal weights — and the total jumps to only 125 grams. That makes them the lightest pedals in the world, and second lightest complete pedal system, just behind the very simple, springless, and similar looking AeroLite Ti TT. As a complete set, the Cirrus is significantly lighter than other lightweight options like Speedplay’s Nano or Look Keo Blade — by over 100 grams, in fact.
The steel Nimbus model adds a few grams, up to a claimed weight of 146 grams for the entire package (106g for pedals, 40g for cleats and bolts). We don’t have a set of the Nimbus pedals to put on our own scale to confirm.
Stack height is on par with Speedplay at 13mm, and cleats are available in zero- and four-degree float options. The cleats and pedals are both manufactured in Colorado, and even the packaging is sourced domestically (from Ohio).
Ultralite touts low aerodynamic drag as another benefit, though it has no testing data to back up the claim. The pedals and cleats are certainly low profile, though — small enough, actually, that we would love to see the company make them a bit longer to allow for more for/aft adjustment.
A set of Cirrus Ti pedals will set you back $450, and the steel Nimbus will go for $315. With its titanium axle, the Cirrus has a rider weight limit of 200 pounds. The Nimbus has a weight limit of 300 pounds. Availability is set for November.
For more information, visit www.ultralitesports.com.