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Tested: HT's Incredibly Thin EVO Pedals

by Brandon Turman

Several companies brought thin pedals to market during the course of 2011. It seemed as though every week we'd see a new model, the designs of which varied greatly. Among all those new models were the super thin EVO pedals from HT, short for Hsing Ta Industrial. HT is a company that's been in the bike game since 1954. In 2005 they started cranking out pedals, and at the 2011 Taipei tradeshow they launched the EVO line.

Tested: HT's Incredibly Thin EVO Pedals

The EVO series of pedals consists of four models - AE01, AE02, AE03, and ME01T - each with slight variations from the other. We've had the pleasure of riding the beautifully CNC'ed AE01 pedals pictured above since last fall, and recently picked up a set of the AE03's and ME01T's for further testing.

Tested: HT's Incredibly Thin EVO Pedals

The overall size of the AE01, AE03, and ME01T pedals is consistent. The dimensions provided by HT are 102 x 96 x 11mm. The thickness is actually just over 13mm where your foot rests on the crank side (you'll notice a slight taper from the inside to outside of the pedal in the image above), but is 11mm in most places. The AE02 model (not shown) measures 96mm square by 17mm thick.

At just 11mm, these pedals provide great clearance, lower your weight on the bike the same way a lower bottom bracket does, and are less likely to roll under your foot than thicker pedals.

All of the EVO models are put on with a 8mm allen key inserted from the inside of crank. This saves a little bit of weight over the more common 6mm option and allows you to get some more leverage when removing the pedals, both things we can appreciate. Note that there are no wrench flats on these pedals.

Common to the entire EVO line is the CNC machined spindle and bearing system. Left to right, the system includes a nylon spacer, washer, spring, bearing race, bearing, another race, dust cap, and a nylon lock nut to hold it all together. Externally, the spacer is the lone support on the crank side, and the other items are sandwiched on the outside edge of the pedal body. Internally, the pedal is supported by two DU bushings on the flat portions of the spindle. This combination of bushings and the external bearing system is what allows HT's pedals to be so thin.

You'll notice that the bearing is very unique when compared to the bearings used in most pedals - it's as though a traditional bearing has been flipped on its side. The big difference here is that the majority of pedals use a single crank-side DU bushing combined with an internal bearing at the end of the spindle. That internal bearing helps bear the load seen from the riders weight. HT's bearing does not does not bear the load of the rider's weight, but simply allows the pedal to spin freely. All weight is supported by the dual DU bushings.

The spring allows a range of preload to be put on the bearing, which affects rotational spin and pedal "jiggle" simultaneously. Be careful not to over-tighten the nut, though. Once the spring is fully compressed, the pedals start to seize up. We found it's best to compress the spring about half-way, which allows the pedals to spin freely and takes up most side-to-side play.

HT EVO AE01 Specifications

Weight - 358 grams per pair

Body - Extruded / CNC machined aluminum

Spindle - CNC machined chromoly

MSRP - $150

HT EVO AE03 Specifications

Weight - 352 grams per pair

Body - Extruded / CNC machined aluminum

Spindle - CNC machined chromoly

MSRP - $150

HT EVO ME01T Specifications

Weight - 234 grams per pair

Body - Extruded / CNC machined magnesium

Spindle - CNC machined 6-4 titanium

MSRP - $260

We've been pretty impressed by the EVO line of pedals on the trail. The overall build quality is on par with other high-end pedals, they spin very smoothly, provide great grip when coupled with some bike specific shoes, and the finish and pedal bodies are quite durable. It's no wonder why Aaron Gwin, Brian Lopes, Kyle Strait, and the Factory KHS Team choose to ride HT's goods this year.

With any thin pedal, one has to wonder how they feel. Even though the body of the pedal is slightly tapered from 13 to 11mm, the pedals don't feel unnatural to us through some fairly flexible shoes, likely because the spindle area on the crank side is less than the overall pin height.

One area for concern is the intrusion of dirt and grime into the system which would wear the bushings prematurely and affect spin. The majority of our testing has been in dry, dusty conditions. When we opened them up to inspect the internals, everything was free from contamination. The pedals actually spin more freely now than they did when we first started using them, likely due to some slight bushing and nylon spacer wear. Bushing life hasn't been an issue on any of the sets we've used, though. They are all still tight.

Maintenance is easy and hasn't been required during the six months we've been using the AE01 pedals. Even after several high pressure washes there is still a good amount of grease inside the pedal. Servicing them is easy enough - simply remove the nylon nut from the outside of the spindle, slide everything off, clean, grease, and put it all back together.

The pins are replaceable on the entire EVO line, which is a good thing given the fact that we've lost a few during testing. The AE01 shown above originally had ten pins on each side, and now the side shown here only has six. The four center pins that do not have heads on them weren't tight enough and worked their way out over time. So, tighten those pins right away if you purchase a pair.

Unlike the AE01's where the pins backed out and were easily replaceable, one pin in the magnesium bodied ME01T pedals was ripped from the body. The threads are pretty damaged and we likely won't be able to force another pin in there. The magnesium bodies with powdercoat are softer and more susceptible to scratching as well.

The AE03 has a slightly different pin placement than the other two models we tested. Because of this, all of the pins can go all the way through the body, making the AE03's the most durable option of the bunch. 

 

What's the bottom line?

Only a few manufacturers have really figured out how to make a thin pedal that doesn't feel unnatural. Most are faulted with large bearings on the inside of the pedal that contact shoes and take up valuable real estate. HT has found a solution that works, though, through their space conscious use of du bushings and their own patented bearing system. Not only are their pedals well built, low maintenance, and smooth, but they also feel good. Save some pin issues, we really haven't found a fault in them yet.

Visit www.hti-pedals.com or www.bikefettish.com for more on HT's lineup.

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