Monday, July 7, 2014

Platform Pedals: The Ergon PC2 Review

For the last couple of months, I have been trying out a different pair of platform pedals. The Ergon PC2 pedals were found on a clearance table at a local bike shop and because I seem to have ongoing issues with foot numbness and/or pain, I am always on the hunt for something that will help alleviate the problems I find while riding. I am never particularly hopeful when it comes to trying new pedals, but because they were more than half off, I figured it was worth a try.
*Image from Ergon
I will be the first to admit that these are definitely very "cruiser style" looking pedals, and to be perfectly frank, they look ridiculous on my road bike. Every time I go out to ride, I actually laugh because they seem completely out of place; however, I am far more concerned with finding something that works than whether or not people are pointing and/or laughing at me for my pedal choice. For the record, no one has ever laughed or pointed at me... while riding... at least not due to the pedals on my bike.

Here is what Ergon has to say about the pedals:

A more efficient pedal. Ergon introduces the first flat pedal (or Contour Pedal as we call it) to provide an ergonomic and positive connection between bike and user. The first pedal designed with biomechanics and correct foot position in mind. Advantages are increased power transfer, more control and fewer hot spots and knee complaints. 

The Ergon PC2 is the first non SPD-type pedal constructed with the ergonomic biomechanical demands of the user as a priority.

You can see how it would be difficult not to try these out... particularly for those of us who are SPD-cleat/shoe averse. No more knee pain? No more hot spots? Greater power transfer? These all sound like fabulous things to me.

The pedals come in two sizes (small - up to size US8.5/EU42 or large - minimum of US9/EU43), so in order to get the proper fit on the pedals, it's important to pay attention to the size of the pedal. The manufacturer states that these pedals are meant for commuting, touring, and general riding. I think that seems about right. For most people, I don't think these would use on a road bike or even necessarily hard-core mountain biking - but, who knows? Like me, you may be ready to give them a try.

Currently, the PC2's are set up on my interim road bike, the Soma. I've used them on many rides from just around town to 40+ mile training rides. They've gone on flat terrain, and up some not-so-fun climbs. I've mashed up hills and pedaled hard coming down the other side. The good news is, they've withstood (to date) the abuse I've put them through. Their exterior at first glance would cause me to think that they'd likely fall apart pretty quickly, but that has not been the case. The center piece has a kind of textured (almost sandpaper-like) substance that helps keep the shoe in place on the pedal. I do appreciate not having to worry about my foot slipping off the pedal (which is not always the case with some platform pedals).

I like that the pedals have reflectors on them for added visibility in the darker hours of evening rides. I also appreciate the inner stop piece that helps keep my foot in the right place on the pedal.
After riding on these a bit, I have a sort of mental pros and cons list going. I definitely appreciate that these pedals are wider than others I have tried. They feel supportive and I don't ever feel as though my foot is coming off the outside of the pedals. Just as pointed out above, I appreciate the grip on the platform portion of the pedal as well. True to many platform pedals, these are a bit on the heavy side (though not as bad as some I've tried), and I've also encountered issues on more than one occasion in which the pedals didn't naturally flip to the flat side. On more than one occasion I've started off on one side pedaling and when I bring my opposite foot up to connect with the pedal, it's flipped the wrong way. This doesn't seem like a huge deal, except that I've nearly sprained my ankle each time this occurs (not to mention throwing me off balance). I'm not sure if the pedals are simply weighted in a manner that flip the pedals too easily to the sides rather than the larger surface area, or if I've just experienced a string of bad luck.

Foot numbness/pain and power transfer? I don't know that I noticed any improvements in these areas myself. I'm sure there's definitely some increase in stability if for no other reason than the width of the platform - which I suppose could assist with power (or at least feeling that way) on a ride. My foot numbness is still present though, which was disappointing. If it was minor numbness, I'd likely just let it slide, but I had a ride over the last couple of weeks during which my foot was so numb it had spread up my ankle completely so that I could not feel my foot or ankle at all. To be fair, since I'm still working out positioning on the Soma, I don't know that the pedals can take all the blame for this particular aspect, so that will be something to determine at a later point. I haven't had problems with hot spots on my feet prior to these pedals, so I cannot evaluate that particularly claim. However, I can say that they didn't cause hot spots, so that's definitely a positive.

Overall, I think the pedals work better than many I've tried - even dealing with the numb feet situation. I believe they'd be a great option for someone doing touring rides or commuters who prefer this style of pedal. For an individual who doesn't mind the bulky appearance and extra weight, I would put them on a list of possibilities for pedals.

Retail on these here in the U.S. is $79.95, but I have spotted a few deals in various locations online and in local stores. Discounts seem to be difficult to come by for these pedals, so if you spot one and are interested in giving them a try, I would snap it up. For a quality pedal, $80 seems to be about on par as far as costs go, and I've seen other platform pedals going at easily $100+/pair, so although it seems like a hefty price point, if the longevity is there, I don't think it's a completely ridiculous price point. Of course, the life of the pedals remains something to be seen.

As for me, I don't know if I'll continue to use them on my road bike over the long haul, but they've done their job so I can't complain too much. I think for future use they'll be relegated to a more city/upright-type bike, but I've appreciated the opportunity to use them and look forward to seeing how they hold up over the long-term.

6 comments:

  1. I hate to say it but what has improved my foot numbness is Keen Sandals (Newport H20) unclipped. They do make them in clipped styles and I'm dying to try them. Once I've gotten away from road or mountain SPD shoes I find a big difference in foot comfort -- although I must admit I think the power is better clipped in -- but I'm okay with that (on most my bikes). I loved your review and have always wondered about these pedals.

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    1. I like wearing my Keen sandals to ride too. Of course, those that come with cleats are definitely stiffer than the normal, everyday versions, but I am very comfortable in my Keen's while riding.

      I'm always fascinated by the more/better power people find being clipped in to pedals. I can't say that I've noticed it myself, but in theory I understand why this would be the case. Sometimes I think I must not use them correctly. :O)

      Happy to share a few thoughts on these pedals. We will see how they hold up over the longer term.

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  2. Hello from the bicycle capital of the world - Amsterdam.

    I agree with Pam, take a look at your footwear too. Do your shoes have a good cushioned insole? Are they wide enough for your feet?

    Also, how long does it take for your feet to start to go numb? The longest ride I do these days is an hour, and I no longer get numb feet since switching to large platforms. Numb hands and other parts, yes sometimes. But not feet. If you are riding a couple of hours with these pedals before you start to go numb, that might not be too bad. But if it is only 30 minutes, then I think you have some more searching to do to find the right combination.

    The single-sided-ness of the pedals you reviewed would put me off. I spent too many years with the old toe-clips and rat trap pedals. I'm happy with my Velo Orange Grand Cru Sabots. Double-sided, 100 x 100 mm (4" x 4") platforms with rounded traction pins. I get good grip on my rubber soled shoes. They are also shin friendly when moving your bike around in tight spaces.



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    1. Wow! Are you actually in Amsterdam? That's amazing. Hopefully you're enjoying your trip (definitely don't be online reading blogs). :O)

      These pedals are usable on both sides, which is nice. My issue with them is that they seem to flip to the reflector side too easily when I'm expecting the platform side, which can be a little bit of work to get used to (or maybe it's just me because I tend to be a bit on the klutzy side anyway). I have a couple of other sets of platform pedals that I'll be trying out soon too, so we'll see what happens.

      As for my foot numbness... I don't think it's pedals or footwear (I've tried many, many combinations), but rather long standing back issues. The numbness starts at about 3 miles in to almost every ride and gets progressively worse as time goes on. I think it's worse on road bikes because I'm more leaned over, which stresses the area that is damaged. I've learned to just stop and stretch every 45-75 minutes, but it doesn't eliminate the numbness. It does give me an opportunity to get everything back to a state of normal, however, which is good.

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  3. In my opinion, numbness in your feet at 3 miles is too soon for someone that rides regularly. Especially if you are not riding with SPD type clipless pedals that can cause hotspots. I definitely think you should continue to experiment to find the right answer for you. I look forward to hearing about a successful solution!

    Yes, I visited Amsterdam and Brussels last week. All work and no play, however. I did learn the French TV channels carry live coverage of the TdF on five channels simultaneously!

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    1. Holy moly! That's a lot of TdF broadcasting - but, it certainly makes sense for the area, I would think. Glad you were able to visit Amsterdam and Brussels, but such a shame that you didn't have free time to check things out. Perhaps another time.

      I look forward to a foot issue solution as well. I keep trying and figure at some point, something has to work. :O)

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