What is it
The Look X-Track clipless pedals were designed to provide the familiar and confident spring-loaded engagement of a Shimano SPD pedal while also delivering maximum contact surface and top tier power-to-weight ratio in the XC pedal category.
- Looks and feels just like a Shimano SPD pedal
- SPD compatible cleats
- Low weight
- Excellent performance in mud
- Larger contact surface reduces potential hot foot and improves power transfer
- Four models at different price points
- Look waited this long to develop the X-Track
Shimano invented the original mountain bike clipless pedal way back in 1990, and to this day, most consider the Shimano SPD (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) to be the standard by which all other mountain bike pedals are judged. Realizing this, Look didn’t set out to reinvent the clipless pedal when they developed its new X-Track. They just followed a recipe that works, making the X-Track SPD compatible.
When a clipless pedal works properly, there really isn’t a whole lot to say about it. When asked about how a pair of clipless pedals performs, the biggest compliment I can give is, “I didn’t notice anything.” A good pair of pedals just work, period. There’s no strange float, there’s no wonky or inconsistent engagement, and there’s definitely no sudden and unexpected disengagement. The X-Tracks work well in virtually all conditions including mud. And it’s a bonus when they’re lightweight and durable.
The Look X-Track hits all the aforementioned points, just like a classic pair of Shimano XT SPD pedals do. But the X-Tracks actually go beyond the XT pedals thanks to a bigger surface contact area, more mud shedding space inside the pedal body, and weight that comes in at 346 grams per pair (X-Track Race Carbon model), which is almost identical to the weight of Shimano’s M8000 XT Race pedals.
The solitary area of weakness in recent years with Shimano SPDs has been the spindle bearings. They seem to prematurely wear much faster than they used to in previous generations. This is where Look could differentiate itself enough to steal some business from Shimano, as I have been less than impressed with the bearing performance of Shimano pedals as of late. Look claims the X-Track features a double weather-resistant seal, and after nearly 500 miles of use in some extremely muddy and gritty conditions, the spindle bearings show no slop. If they can remain this good after a few years of use, I may have just found a new favorite pedal.
To someone like me who owns six pair of SPD pedals and four pairs of shoes, having the SPD-compatible nature of X-Track cleats is a huge plus. I’m so heavily invested in SPD pedals that I’ll never buy a different brand of pedal — unless they’re SPD compatible.
If these pedals were de-badged, you’d swear they were Shimano SPD. The spring-loaded jaws are adjusted with a 3mm Allen key just like Shimano, so there’s no learning or adjustment curve. Just thread them on your cranks and go like they were another pair of SPDs.
The pedals we tested were the X-Track Race Carbon model, featuring a carbon composite body and a retail price of $130. The aluminum body X-Track weigh 390 grams and retails for a reasonable $50. In between is the X-Track Race, featuring a composite body, a weight of 364 grams, and a price of $90. The top-line X-Track Race Carbon Ti adds a titanium spindle to the carbon composite body, bringing weight down to 300 grams as well as lightening your wallet by $250. There’s also word that Look will be releasing a trail version this Spring with an outer cage for even more contact surface.
After decades of trying different clipless pedal recipes, Look realized that the original clipless pedal design is still the best. Instead of trying to beat Shimano at the game they started, the X-Track will see much more success by emulating the SPD, enticing long-time SPD users like me to give them a try. I’m glad I did, because with the Look X-Tracks, I now have a second viable clipless pedal option for my fleet of knobby tire bikes.
Rating: 5 out of 5
More info: www.lookcycle.com