Review: Velo-Orange Sabot Pedal – A Pedal Revolution?
At this year’s Interbike, one of the new items that got us the most excited were the Velo-Orange Sabot pedals. Yes, they are “just” platform pedals and aren’t clipless. Yes, they aren’t made of any exotic alloys or fiber weaves. So what’s there to get excited about? As platform pedal users ourselves (and before you ask, yes, Russ use to ride clipless as well before coming back to platforms), there seems to be little innovation or new thinking in the commuter/touring flat platform pedal, so it was good to see that Velo-Orange was taking a stab at new designs. Perhaps the last interesting flat pedal design that was targeted towards tourists and commuters were Riv’s Grip Kings (aka Battle Axes). The Velo-Orange Sabot pedals is an attempt to up the ante, but does it succeed?
What You Get
The Sabot pedals come in a nice black presentation-esque cardboard box with the VO Grand Cru emblem on top. Aside from the pedals, you also get four optional plastic reflectors that pop into the drillings on the fore and aft faces of the pedals. It also comes with a small Smurf-sized wrench for replacing the traction pins as well as a half dozen or so replacement traction pins with some blue Loctite-ish stuff already applied. The pedals are not inexpensive at $90, so it is nice to have a few extra goodies to help justify the price.
A Closer Look
The pedals weigh in at about 406 grams for the pair (sans reflectors). They were a good 50 grams lighter than the BMX style pedals on my bike they were replacing. Compared to the Grip Kings, they are about 20 grams lighter. It’s not a tremendous difference but worth noting.
Comes with optional reflectors, a small wrench and replacement traction pins.
The body, made of an extruded aluminum, is squarish and measures about 100x100mm. Despite its massive area, it remains fairly low profile. I wouldn’t quite use the word thin, but they are pretty svelte compared to other platforms we’ve tried. The design itself is fairly open with several attractive cutouts to shed mud and water, as well as slots for velcro straps if you are into that sort of thing.
Pretty svelte when compared to some pedals.
Grip King vs. Sabot surface area.
One feature that I’ve come to appreciate in pedals, especially when touring and using different modalities (trains, buses, etc.,) is the ability to remove and install pedals using an Allen key instead of a spanner wrench. It’s just easier, more secure and smaller/lighter to use a multi-tool than a wrench. Many 6-inch spanner wrenches also tend to be a bit wide to fully secure a pedal, so you have to either track down a wrench with really narrow jaws or carry a 15mm cone wrench for the job. Anyway, this problem is solved with these pedals (though you do have to be sure to have a multi-tool with an Allen key big enough for the pedals – 8mm).
The most obvious feature of the pedal is its big surface area. During the last few weeks I tried the pedal out with different pairs of shoes, from flexy canvas low tops, to Keen shoes and sandals. The pedals supported the narrow and flexy canvas shoes better than any platform I’ve tried. On the other end of the spectrum, because the pedals are so wide, they also supported my Keen sandals better than platform pedal I’ve tried. Keen sandals have notoriously wide toe boxes and on most pedals, about half your sole is hanging out in space. Not so with the Sabots. In terms of support, these pedals fulfill on their promise. Although I didn’t try it out with flip-flops (it’s Dec in PDX are you crazy!), my gut feeling is that they would support those just as well.
Awesome support for canvas low tops.
Even covers ginormous Keen sandals well.
Testing out the pedals on a wet gloomy day on some mixed terrain.
The pedals have 12 traction pins per side arranged in a rough ellipses over the center of the pedal. The Velo-Orange website states that they used “rounded pins” so as not to damage street shoes, but more aggressive traction pins could be used.
On a dry day, I had no issues with slippage with the different shoes I tried. Out of the box, I would say their grip is more aggressive than a stock Grip King by a long shot. Under wet circumstances, I did find that I slipped off two or three times when I wasn’t paying full attention. This might be a function of the more rounded traction pins. I’m not sure. However, I will say that I wish the pedal had a few more traction pins, particularly on the outer edges of the pedal. Right now it’s just some smooth real estate, but with a few more pins, it could stop those unexpected shoe departures completely.
Conclusion: Recommend! – 8/10
The Velo-Orange Sabot pedals are probably the most supportive pedals I’ve ever tried. If you tend to clench your toes because you’re trying to find support or purchase when you pedal, then these pedals are for you. In terms of grippiness, they are hands down grippier than stock MKS Grip Kings. However, that’s not to say that their grippiness couldn’t be improved just a bit. I think with more aggressive pins (and a few more of them around the edges) these pedals would be sublime. They are also easy on the eyes and matches the VO aesthetic. They don’t scream EXTREEEEME DH mountain bike so they won’t look out of place on your city bike, cruiser or retro touring bike.
(Keep our adventures going and the site growing! If you’ve enjoyed our stories, videos and photos over the years, consider buying our ebook Panniers and Peanut Butter, or our new Brompton Touring Book, or some of the fun bike-themed t-shirts we’re designing, or buying your gear through our Amazon store.)