The pedal is dead, long live the spindle

Mike and I had a bet going about TriRig’s new product, Mercury. For anyone unfamiliar with TriRig’s Mercury, it’s a spindle-style pedal with three huge features: absurdly low stack height, equally absurd low claimed weight and an adjustable Q-factor on the spindle itself. As for the bet, I said frameset, since TriRig had started production on nearly every other major carbon surface on a bike, and Mike said pedals. Well, now I have another pedal system to try out—and I owe Mike dinner…

Most riders, if they notice the stack height of their pedal and shoe combination at all, do so with as much interest as that in their next physical – you know about it, but there isn’t any real importance to it. These people are wrong, (at least about stack height; I can’t speak for their doctor) and we don’t talk about it much because unlike almost every other part on our bikes, it is the one over which we have the least control. You ride Keos, you get around 17mm of stack between spindle and the bottom of your shoe. Shimano, 14 or so. Reported numbers for Mercury? 10.1mm. That even beats out the much-vaunted Speedplay line; no small feat. Lowering one’s stack height gives you more power, better control, and a lower (if only slightly) saddle height – all desirable features. So when you reduce stack height by half a centimeter, that’s a small number that makes a huge difference. (Author’s note: the other way to reduce stack height is to get low-stack shoes, which will run you anywhere from $400-1400 depending on how custom, and how low, your wallet will let you go.)

If weight is the enemy of every serious cyclist, then rotating weight is Sauron, Emperor Palpatine, and Voldemort all rolled into one. It saps your power away from the pursuit of going fast, drags your acceleration down, and generally makes you suck. It is evil, and it must be excised. Lightweight wheels and cranks have generally been the solution. Although Speedplay came in at well under the main competition in the arena with the Nanograms, even they can’t beat the claimed weight of the Mercury at 136g for both pedals and cleats. If TriRig’s measurements are borne out, converting from my pedal of choice (Shimano 105s: I’m hard on pedals, so I don’t spend on them, normally) to Mercury will cut my weight bill by more than half. That’s not insignificant for rotating weight.

Lastly, if you’ve got some sort of morphological weirdness with your feet, you like your cleats toward the inside of your shoes (since there is no lateral adjustment on the Mercury whatsoever), or you happen to simply be a bigger rider, adjustable Q-factor (how far your cleat position is from the crank arm) is an absolute godsend. Mercury gives you 9mm to play with which, if you need it, is a big deal. If you don’t, run as narrow as you can get; it’ll make you faster. At least, however, we finally have the option to do so.

So far, the only real drawback to the Mercury is the disengagement “mechanism.” For most pedals, you twist your heel out of the pedals, but with these new spindle-grabbing cleats, that isn’t an option. Instead, you roll your foot from the inside to the outside and the cleat “pops” off of the pedal. This is the feature that has me worried – If you start to really rock the bike side to side in a sprint, disengagement at that point is not going to simply be a surprise, but a catastrophic crash. When I get my pair, this will be the first thing I test out. I can’t afford surprises like that in a pursuit.

TriRig says they’ll have these out in June – I look forward to it. What’s more, the trial period is SIX MONTHS for a full refund. That’s someone seriously standing behind their product. Estimated price is under $300 , but we’ll see how much under these finally come in at. At Aerogeeks, we’re already getting the piggy bank out.

2 responses to “The pedal is dead, long live the spindle

  1. Interested by your worries about rocking when sprinting… Have you tested these yet, as I’m thinking of buying some!

    darth.

    • Unfortunately we haven’t yet, but it is still very much on our radar. Mercury is a product we are very much looking forward to spending some time with.

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