If you tell people you're thinking about getting clipless pedals, it won't be long before somebody suggests the Eggbeater by Crank Bros. One of the most popular pedals on the market, the Eggbeater was downright revolutionary when it was first released almost ten years ago. It is a simple pedal with a lot to like, and has been a top seller since.
While its appeal is broad-based, the Eggbeater is going to be strongest in the certain settings. For other situations however, there will be comparable choices. Take time to assess your riding style and preference and find the best pedal for you. It may be the Eggbeater.
Minimal Design = Lots to Like
The Eggbeater is actually a whole line of pedals that Crank Brothers puts out, and is offered in a variety of materials that run from basic Cromoly ($65) up through four more models of increasing quality, ending finally with an all-titanium Eggbeater ($450).
One look at the Eggbeaters and you know where they get their name from. They appear very different from most other clipless pedals, lacking the wide pedal platform that seems to be a given in most other pedal designs. The Eggbeaters are just a spindle wrapped by a four-sided, spring-loaded clip. This unique design means you can lock your foot into the pedal from any side, simply by pressing down on the spring, rather than having to kick at the pedal to get it lined up right or press down hard on it and hope that the pedal is in the right position when you're ready to engage.
That minimal approach is both good and bad. The pedals are very light (266 grams per pair of the SLs) and with that open, airy design, they also readily shed the mud and other junk that you pick up out riding in the woods that will clog another pedal.
However, on the downside, without having a platform to use as as sort of reference point when trying to engage the pedal, I found it difficult at times to position the cleat on the bottom of my bike shoe at the right position for it to click in. Also, with all of your weight being borne directly on the spindle, riders that are used to having the pressure from the pedal dispersed over essentially the entire ball of their foot may find these pedals uncomfortable until they get used to them.
Ease of Release and Range of Float
Unlike some other clipless pedals, where the tension can be adjusted, in the Eggbeaters there is only one level of spring tension with no option for adjusting them. Some may see this as a drawback, but really I have experienced no problems either with disengaging prematurely (i.e., pulling my feet out of the pedals when you just mean to pedal hard) or in not being able to actually get my feet out and off the pedals when needed.
Like most other clipless pedals, you exit the Eggbeaters by twisting your heel out to the side, which pops the cleat out. And this is where the Eggbeaters do offer some flexibility, with both 6 degrees of float, plus two sets of cleats (the little metal plates that you install in your shoes to attach them to the pedals) that provide either a 15 degree or 20 degree angle of swing when you move your heel to the outside to pop out.
The float in the Eggbeaters allows your feet to move more naturally to their preferred position on the pedals if need be, which can reduce long-term knee issues if your pedaling motion is forced to conform to something other than how it would typically move, while the two choices of release angle allow you to pick the one that feels more natural for you when you want to pop out of the pedals.
I chose the smaller release angle and have been happy with it. And it turns out the tension in the pedals has been right, and that they will work well as noted above for riders of different weights, strengths and riding ability and experience.
The Eggbeaters also include shims, if needed, for additional clearance for your shoes.
Eggbeaters: Well-Made Pedals
All-in-all, the Eggbeaters are well-built pedals. I had no problems with noise, squeaking or wobbling. The springs hold their tension and hold your feet in place on the pedals unless you do want to disengage. They also clean easily.
The biggest knock on them with me, however, with the initial difficulty I've had in getting used to positioning my foot in the right place on the pedal to click in right away. Hitting the right spot is more difficult without the use of a platform but I think I'm getting better at it. But once you have them in the correct position, clipping in is just as natural as any other type of clipless pedal. There is a definite "click" sound once the cleat and pedal are engaged, so you'll know you're attached.
Also, another observation, and to me this is kind of an important deal, without a platform, it's not real practical to try to pedal without actually being clipped into these pedals. If you've ever mountain biked or done another kind of riding where you want to go along but not actually be clipped in in case it gets real technical or you are worried about having to make a sudden stop, you know you can kind of fake it by pushing on the pedals without actually being clipped in with many clipless pedal systems. However, with the narrow spindle as the only platform on the Eggbeaters, you just can't get away with it when you have these pedals on your bike. There is simply nothing sufficient to push on.
(However, Crank Brothers have addressed this last point with their Candy pedals, which are basically Eggbeater technology with an added platform.)
Service and Technical Info
Working your way through the Eggbeater line, you see pedals that are going to be pretty durable. With the stainless steel components, you do not have to worry about rust. That's certainly the case too as you move up the price range into the mixed- and all-titanium pedals. And you aren't going to need to buy entire new pedal sets as you put some use on them, riding them over the next however many years. Crank Brothers sells both a rebuild kit for their pedals and brass replacement cleats in case yours get beat up or worn out. Brass is a soft metal so that might be an eventual problem, but Crank Brothers specs pegs them at 500 hours of use, which is actually longer than some of the other comparable pedals on the market.
For servicing the bearings, a simple flathead screwdriver is all that is needed to take off the endcap and get at the innards for regreasing. You don't even need to take the pedals off the bike to do this, which is just fabulous. And installation/removal is a snap. A 6 or 8 mm Allen wrench is all you need; no special pedal wrench necessary.
So, to sum up: buy the Eggbeaters if you want simple, minimal pedals that are easy to clean and don't get clogged up. Think about another set of pedals if you're worried about the nonexistent platform and what that means in terms of potential challenge for pedaling when you're not locked in, longer-term comfort if you are worried about foot problems from having more pressure concentrated on one particular spot, or if you think you might need the platform for help in finding the mark when you're trying to lock in.