For a brand like LOOK, who I consider innovative, their new Geo Trekking Vision pedals go two ways. You could either say that are pushing the boundaries, or you could say they are gimmicky. The premise is simple, flat pedals for commuter and recreational bikes tend to incorporate orange reflectors which gives you added visibility while riding at nighttime. Your visibility enhanced when reflectors move up and down as you pedal and is a good addition to the obligatory bike lights.
Look has taken this the next step and included rechargeable lights in the Vision edition of the Geo Trekking pedals meaning your pedals are always visible. A good idea? Let’s explore this further.
The Look Geo Trekking range of bike pedals consist of five models; the two Geo Trekking Roc models have an aluminium body are defined as ‘Adventure / Off Road Tour”. One of the Rocs incorporate the ‘Vision’ lighting feature. The three Geo Trekking models use a Nylon composite body instead; there is a standard version, a ‘Vision’ model and a version called ‘Grip’ which is completely flat on one side. For review on Bicycles Network Australia, we are testing the Geo Trekking Vision pedal with the Nylon body and rechargeable lights.
It goes both ways
Speaking of ‘both ways’, the Geo Trekking pedals have (MTB style) SPD cleats to clip-in on one side of the pedal only while the other side is without cleats. This is not a new idea, some of my earlier MTB pedals were one-sided, but for riding convenience, double-sided cleats on MTB pedals are standard.
However, there is virtue in pedals with cleats on one side only and this is probably what LOOK have in mind. I personally prefer cleats for longer bike tours but for short city and suburb riding with everyday shoes, cleats are not as useful. For trekking and touring, the hybrids make sense by giving you the choice between clip-ins and flat pedals. If I have a single bike, then such a pedal can give me the best of both worlds.
In practice these pedals from LOOK work well, it is easy to nudge the pedal onto the ride side and position your shoe and cleat into position. There is a generous platform so you can still get a decent grip if you don’t immediately engage the clip-in. I used brand new Shimano SPD cleats (rather than the supplied Look cleats) on gravel cycling shoes, so they are perfectly compatible. There is no noise or noticeable click when you engage. It is smooth I could easily position my foot consistently The tension can be adjusted, but I felt it was set up well out of the box.. Releasing your feet from the pedals is easy, twist the foot out and at the 13º release angle the cleat releases easily.
The nylon pedals are nicely weighted so for inner-city riding; it was also easily to nudge the pedals and land on the flat side. Some ridges on the body of the pedals provide some grip and I would argue that they are still gentle enough on the soles if you are wearing nicer business shoes or sneakers.
A few techy details, the axle is Chromoly and the Q-factor is 56mm and although I wasn’t slamming the pedals against rocks and tree stumps, they feel robust and reliable.
Without considering the ‘Vision’ functionality, the pedals are pretty good. I enjoyed them on the mountain bike and the commuter. They are well constructed and there will be a lot of bike tourers and seasoned cyclists who will automatically know whether or not this type of pedal with a one-side cleat suits their riding.
Let there be light
I can’t help thinking about Spokey Dokes. In the eighties they were a hit among BMXers in Australia. The small plastic bits in all of the colours of the rainbows were attached to the spokes on your BMX and made a hell of racket. When you pedaled fast enough, centrifugal force forced them out to the rim (and they were then quiet) so it was fun to pedal slowly and be noisy. There was no other purpose to the spokey dokes and when I look at the LOOK Geo Trekking ‘vision’ model on review, I wonder how much ‘spokey doke fun’ has been designed into them.
The important thing about the ‘Vision’ version is that the lights are optional… out of the box the pedals have regular reflectors installed. For a set of pedals, two ‘vision’ lights are provided and depending on whether you favour the clip-ins or flat side of the pedals, you would tend to have one light on each pedal facing backwards. No tools are required, a small black plastic tab on the pedal is removed from the pedal by hand, the reflector can then be removed and the ‘vision’ light unit inserted. To finish the 30 second job, the plastic tab is pressed back in. I am a little concerned about losing the plastic tab and during the test-period, I found one had dislodged and I discovered it on the garage floor.
Each light unit is comparatively bulky (compared to the reflector) so for rough and tough commuting and for cycling touring, I wonder how durable they would be if they got a good knock. But if you are not doings trials biking and slamming your pedals against obstacles, the LOOK pedals and the light are also protected when your foot is clipped-in.
The on/off button on each pedal changes the light mode. The lights can be set in a steady mode, fast flashing mode or slow flashing mode. Of course, the lights need to be recharged with the supplied USB-C cable so are yet another electronic device to keep charged. As the recharge cable is quite short and it is probably impractical to take your bike to a power outlet, you typically remove the light units from the pedals for charging. With the supplied cable you charge one pedal at a time so when they both need a top up, you may have to unleash the inner Macgyver.
To turn the lights on or off, you have to fiddle around with each pedal and are not as convenient as regular rechargeable front and rear bike lights, especially when it is wet and muddy.
The specs claim an 8 hour run-time on the steady light mode and 30 hours on the flashing mode. I prefer the steady mode so on my commuter it means recharging once every week or so.
I have questions
The $230 question is… why? If I am already using front and rear lights, then I already have the legally required bicycle lights meaning that these pedal lights are only ever additional lights. Of course, more is more, especially for bike riders trying to be as visible as possible. But are the orange lights a decisive addition compared to regular pedal reflectors?
I can confirm that they are more noticeable in traffic. While riding at night, I can see the orange glow under my shoes so they are adding to my visual footprint while riding… but my standard red rear bike light is still much brighter.
The orange coloured light is ambiguous – though orange is a familiar colour for bike reflectors, in traffic we are more familiar with bright orange used in traffic lights, road safety vehicles, hazard light and, of course, blinkers. The good news is that the steady (non-flashing) mode for the pedals is fine and from a distance you get the nice up-and-down effect of a rider pedalling. But the flashing light mode doesn’t deliver an obvious message to traffic who may think they are approaching a weirdly blinking vehicle.
While the Vision lights on the Look Geo Trekking pedals do add light, I would personal favour two rear red bike lights (one flashing, one steady) or a combo light (with pulses) as it sends a clear message in traffic and charging is simpler.
As pedals, the Geo Trekking model work well and the hybrid format with clip-ins on one side, are spot-on if this is what you need. The Nylon Geo Trekking pedals without light retail for ca. $110 (AUD).
For the ‘vision’ light feature, I am not convinced that they are suitably convenient and value-added. Keep in mind that my regular bike setup already includes two rear red bike lights, two white front bike lights, a reflective clip on my trousers, reflective tabs on my jacket and half a dozen reflective stickers on my bike and helmet. Short of being a cycling Christmas tree, I am all for additional “please don’t kill me” features.
The retail price for the Look Geo Trekking ‘Vision’ pedals with the lights is $230 (AUD). That is a hefty premium on top of the cost regular version for the lights which don’t have the same finesse and most LOOK products. I realise that some cyclists may be seeking exactly this solution so if the your gut instinct tells you the LOOK Geo Trekking Vision pedals are what you need, go for it.
+ Best of both worlds with the hybrid cleat pedals
+ Reliable and functional pedals
+ Could be the missing-link for some riders
– Lights are fiddly and inconvenient
– Flashing lights can send a confusing message
– High cost for the ‘vision’ pedals model
LOOK bikes and products are imported into Australia by Groupe Sportif and are available in bike shops and some online retailers.