Time to put on my finest flannel and go out for a rip! As Bikerumor’s Canadian contributor I was happy to get the chance to test some components from Vancouver B.C’s Race Face, an iconic MTB brand that had a near-death experience not long ago, but was revived to rise again as a key player in the industry.
Since my riding season began in late February, Race Face’s Chester composite platform pedals, Aeffect cranks and Love Handle grips have been on the trails and under the gun. After a few months of testing I’m not likely going to be pulling any of these parts off, as they’ve provided a comfortable connection to my bike and held up well under my abuse. Read on to see why Race Face has earned a solid ‘eh’ on their report card…
At 358g (on my scale), the Chester’s lightweight composite bodies have proven impressively durable after a good amount of riding and several significant rock strikes. I’m pleasantly surprised there are only a few minor scratches and gouges on each pedal.
The 110x101mm platforms are big enough that anyone with average sized feet should find them comfortable and supportive. The platform is wider on the front section under the ball of your foot, but the tapered rear halves don’t produce any perceivable lack of width or stability. The Chesters are not concave, in fact the middles appear slightly thicker than the outside edges of the pedal body. Thankfully with all the pins in place the pedals feel dead flat, with no bulge under your arches.
The eight pins per side provided excellent grip, and survived my test rides admirably. Despite the two-piece nut/bolt design, none of the pins loosened up or fell out. The Chester’s sealed bearings are still spinning smooth, and there is no play between the bodies and spindles. I am quite hard on pedals and I did put a slight bend in my left spindle and a very slight tweak on the right, but nothing significant or worrisome.
One warning to those who like to keep your bikes sparkling- the composite bodies were not coming clean after I’d ground some dirt into them. I haven’t tried anything fancy, but I suspect the Chesters are going to show some dirt stains after a few rides, and likely forever thereafter.
All in all the Chesters are a nice set of very lightweight and surprisingly durable pedals that offer great grip. Their generic shape would make them a great addition to any kind of bike, from dirt jumpers to DH rigs, and there are plenty of colors available to match your ride.
Since February the Chester pedals have been spinning a set of Race Face’s Aeffect cranks. I was happy before I even rode them, because installation was easy as pie. With the Cinch style crank only one spindle spacer has to be correctly oriented based on whether you’re running a 1x or 2x setup. Beyond that it’s a simple matter of tightening a few bolts.
The 6066 aluminum Aeffect cranks performed without a hitch during the test. Despite adding two teeth to the middle ring vs. my previous crankset (my Aeffects are set up 22-36t), shifting was perfect immediately and throughout the test period after a quick re-positioning of my front derailleur. My drive side arm took a good hit on the end, but I’m pleased to report the crank arms and spindle are still running straight. The bottom bracket is spinning smoothly, with no creaks or cracks to be heard.
The finish on both crank arms started showing some wear after a few early season rides in muddy conditions, but nothing I’d call excessive. I did find some notable wear on the Turbine chainring’s teeth caused by my chain bouncing around, but I have been riding sans-tensioner since mine fell apart early this season. In sum, I’m impressed with the Aeffect cranks- they dropped about 60g from my old set (Sram X-7, excluding BB) and they’ve stood up to my abuse with no performance issues to report.
Love Handle Grips:
After three months of use, what really impressed me about the Love Handles is the fact that they still look brand new. Despite the silicone compound being of average cush, there is virtually no wear and tear on the grip surfaces. The plastic end caps are both intact, although I don’t remember them suffering any particularly nasty impacts.
I found the Love Handles’ slight center bulge comfortable to hold and it proved to provide a little extra vibration damping for my hands. But this is definitely a rider preference issue- If you like flat grips, the Love Handles might not be your favorite. However if you prefer a semi-ergonomic shape, you’d probably be quite happy to squeeze these.
One clever touch is how the silicone extends up and over the clamps on both ends. As you shift your hands around these soft-touch bumps act as tiny inboard/outboard flanges, keeping you subconsciously centered and preventing you from ever feeling the metal collars underneath. My hands are happy, so I’ll be running the Love Handles for the foreseeable future.