I came across a story about a new pedal design, called the Catalyst, from James Wilson at Pedaling Innovations and thought that the concept and design of the pedal may appeal to some fat-bike riders. Fat-bikers already use flats a lot more than traditional mountain bikers and James sent us a set of Catalyst pedals to try out. My thought was that in the winter, with the larger boots we typically use when we ride in sub-zero conditions, the larger platform of the Catalyst could be an advantage. In practice, many riders using “Sorel” type winter boots already use a modified version of the foot positioning that James advocates. I think this pedal may find a receptive audience with fat-bikers.
Before we get into checking out the pedals I want to mention that the original motivation for James creating this new pedal design was not so fat-bikers could have more room for their boots, that may just be a happy coincidence, it was a rethinking, backed by some scientific studies that you can read about on his website, of how to place your foot on the pedal in the first place. James advocates a “mid-foot” placement essentially putting the arch of your foot over the pedal axle rather than putting the pedal axle under the ball of your foot. Again, check out the info on James’s Pedaling Innovations site it’s lengthy and thought provoking.
Anywho! On with the show.
When I received the Catalyst Pedals Wisconsin was in the throughs of a warm spell and so winter/snow testing will have to wait. I did want to get some rides in on the Catalysts and give James’s theory a try so I mounted the Catalysts up on my Schlick APe for some trail rides.
Here is a shot before I switched out my Fyxation Mesa MPs for the Catalyst showing the significantly larger size of the Catalyst. I compared the weights and the Catalyst, at 505g, is about 100g heavier.
After several rides on the pedals so far so good but, to be honest, it is going to be a challenge to relearn foot position on pedals. I’ve been riding bikes for over 45 years and my foot just naturally plops down on the pedal in the same position every time! My natural position is with the ball of my foot just ever so slightly forward of the pedal axle. With my size 8 foot I just see the inside, front pin when I am wearing my FiveTen shoes that I usually wear to trail ride.
Using the pedals with my foot placement where I’d normally put them on the Catalysts felt good with a bit more support for my feet. The extra pedal size is on the length with the width being very similar to my existing pedals so there were no issues with more pedal strike or anything like that.
For my personal use I think that the real benefit will come when we finally see colder weather, snow and ice! I’ve switched the Catalysts over to my Schlick Northpaw winter/beach bike that I would typically use Keen Summit County winter boots on. With those boots I think I tend to put my foot more forward for the type of riding that comes with soft conditions. Just have to wait for snow! I’ll have another report down the beach!
- The Catalyst is extruded and machined using 6061 T6 Aluminum
- The pedal is manufactured by VP Components using parts and materials with a proven track record for durability and quality
- The pedal is designed to connect the front and back ends of arch of the foot. It is the longest platform pedal 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
- 12 metal pins per side are strategically placed to maximize the new, optimized foot position possible with this design
- Available in 4 anodized colors: Black, Blue, Red and Grey
- Length – 5.6”/ 143 mm
- Width – 3.75”/ 95 mm
- Thickness – .6”/ 16 mm
- Weight – 505 grams
- MSRP $139.00
Crazy looking things. As stated above, I’d be curious how these perform with my winter boots. Also, the lack of pins leaves me wondering, why not more?
Looking forward to hearing how they perform in the snow (if we ever get any).
That’s a great question about the pins. The reason you don’t need more is that this new foot placement balances the forces going into the pedal as so now you are able to push down instead of forward. This also means that the pressure points on the pedal are at the front and back instead of one big on in the middle.
All of this means that you don’t need as many pins to keep your foot planted since you are not trying to kick your foot forward.
Hope this helps, this new pedal represents a new way of looking at the pedal stroke and you start to realize that stuff like concave designs and lots of pins were just trying to make up for a sub-par pedal design.
I also find the pin count and placement to be an issue. Too many pins in front and back edge of pedal. Or, more correctly the short and large diameter pins are too closely spaced to allow good pin penetration into my Five Ten sticky rubber. I removed 2 pins leaving 3 widely spaced pins on front and back edges and it improved grip dramatically. I think you could do 4 wider spaced pins vs. the 5 closely spaced pins. Also longer and smaller diameter pins would be an improvement for aggressive riders/terrain.
In the middle there are only 2 pins and I believe if you added 2 more in the same place mirror imaged on the opposite side of the pedal it would be an improvement. This may be a Pacific Northwest issue but given the large surface area of the pedal and the absolutely smooth surface mud just stays between shoe and pedal and you skate around on them.
I am intrigued by the extra pedal real estate, but my only criteria for fatbike pedals is snow clearing. In my experience, pedals with a bar across the bottom (basically anything not single layer or low profile) will get clogged with sticky snow around the freezing mark. I hope to hear differently about these.
I’m interested in their large size too. I am a size 11 and in winter I find it tricky to find a pedal that I like with my boots. I wear the Keen Summit boots too but most pedals are just a bit small with my big boots. I have noticed that in winter conditions with my boots on instead of shoes that my foot is planted a bit more centered like this article suggests, with the spindle at or near my foot arch. I have to say that I do find it a comfortable position for a pedal stroke even though I am more used to having the spindle at the ball of my foot too.
I have found the RaeFace Atlas pedals to be about the best with my boot size so far but these are interesting looking. At first glance, before I noticed the size, they reminded me of the Blackspire El-Gordo pedals but those are quite small.
Interesting reading about the pedal stroke too.
I’d be interested to know how the slightly shorter (but longest model they have) VP Harriers compare to these.