In the last few years we've seen a huge leap forward in the bike industry in terms of suspension design, geometry and drivetrain components. One part that sometimes feels like it's still trailing a bit behind is the clipless pedal. Yes, this mundane part that connects your feet to the bike. Let's be real, you won't think twice before throwing 200 or more bucks on that shiny new carbon handlebar that matches your bike’s color scheme so perfectly. But let's say 150 bucks for a light yet strong piece of equipment with a very precise spring mechanism that should take all manner of abuse and shut up about it will probably generate Read More »
In the last few years we've seen a huge leap forward in the bike industry in terms of suspension design, geometry and drivetrain components. One part that sometimes feels like it's still trailing a bit behind is the clipless pedal. Yes, this mundane part that connects your feet to the bike. Let's be real, you won't think twice before throwing 200 or more bucks on that shiny new carbon handlebar that matches your bike’s color scheme so perfectly. But let's say 150 bucks for a light yet strong piece of equipment with a very precise spring mechanism that should take all manner of abuse and shut up about it will probably generate some complaints. That doesn’t seem fair but then life never is – be that as it may, we were stoked when Nukeproof entered the clipless pedal game to give us another option, and we wasted little time getting a pair out on the trail to get dirty.
Nukeproof Horizon Clipless Highlights
- Available in 2 body sizes CL (larger) CS (smaller)
- Proven axle system: 2x high quality DU bushings & 4 x sealed cartridge bearings (per pair)
- Cold forged T1- 6061 alloy body with CNC finishing
- Low profile contoured chassis with optimized leading edge
- Side Support Platform
- Dual Engagement Mechanism
- SPD compatible
- Ti Axle option available
- Spares/Kits: Horizon Cro-mo Axle Kit (Pair) / Pedal Bearing Kit / Pedal Bushing / Rubber Cap / Screw Pin Set Screw Pin Set
- Colors: Black, Red, Blue and Copper
- Weight: 433 grams (Horizon CS, verified)
- MSRP: £99.99, $131.49 USD, EUR 120.49
The Horizon from Nukeproof is the new kid on the clipless pedal block and it is aimed at the enduro and DH crowd with two different body sizes. We received the smaller, lighter version (Horizon CS) for our enduro rig and with the aim of staying "foot in flat out", our only problem was that there isn't a purple ano that never dies version.
Let's geek out a bit: Shimano and Crankbrothers are the two main players in the clipless pedals arena with two different approaches and mechanisms. The old and trusty SPD pedal is assembled from a platform, with a static front cleat holder and sprung rear holder with two small coil springs on each side. The springs are not connected between one side of the pedal and the other.
Despite the Horizon Clipless being a first generation product, we found it well conceived with some cool features to help it stand out in the crowd.
Crankbrothers took a different approach to connecting the cleat to the pedal, they do so with a center sprung, eggbeater look-alike mechanism (hmmmmm...) that has the tension pre-set from the factory. On the one hand, the SPD version offers more adjustability with regards to tension, and it feels snugger when clipped in. On the other hand, the eggbeater features twice as many connection points (2 vs. 4), and when you get familiar with it, it is more intuitive to clip into (although I will note that everything is personal of course).
So then, what about the newcomer? Despite the Horizon Clipless being a first generation product, we found it well conceived with some cool features to help it stand out in the crowd. The pedal body is big but not chunky and meant to provide good support and grip with a wide variety of shoes (we are currently testing the Horizon with Specialized's 2FO Cliplite).
Each pedal has four pins on each side, which are shimmed with one or two tiny shims (depending on placement) so you can alter each pin's height if required. As somebody who once drilled their beat up old XT's to add pins to it this tester found this to be a clever idea. The pin is a simple m3 allen bolt with its head hidden inside the pedal body.
The Horizon designers took an interesting approach to grabbing the cleat. It is similar to the SPD in the overall look but has some unique features: On the Horizon pedal, both the front and rear plates are sprung and free to move when clipping in. Additionally, the cleats feature an angled edge to help with finding the clip-in point, but other than that they appear to identical to Shimano's, so you can obviously find them anywhere in the world in case you need to replace them in a hurry.
On The Trail
The bolt that sets the spring tension doesn't feature a hard stop, so with my curios hands and mind I managed to accidentally take the pedals apart, good thing I know how to assemble stuff also. Note: the pedals arrive with zero tension from the factory, don't try to turn the tension bolt any further counter clockwise or you’ll have to play with this puzzle too.
Once I reassembled my pedals, the first thing I noticed on the trail was the lighter clipping-in feel created by the dual plates - even when the spring tension is high. It's not too light however, just the right amount. The float also feels better compared to the SPD's I usually ride. There is good support for the foot with the Horizon, which helps make sure your feet don't start to feel sore after a few minutes into the run. The overall grip is also quite good, with no unwanted slips or clip-outs so far.
One thing I should point out: I am not sure if it’s a feature or a shortcut but the design puts the pins away from the sole of the shoe, even with all the pin shims removed. This leaves them so they make no contact even when paired with a not-too-stiff shoe (such as most modern enduro shoes on the market right now). I find this design more suitable to use with DH-specific shoes which are more compliant and have more flex to reach the pins.
One final feature that I really liked is the cleat design. The angled front end of the cleat really helps you clip in when in a hurry (someone said racing?).
Things That Could Be Improved
As mentioned previously, the design of the pedal body holds the pins a bit too far away from the sole of the shoe, although you could argue that the point of the pins is more about providing grip when you are unable to clip back in again for some reason. If we look at this aspect as a feature, the sole will contact the pins only on big impacts like landing from a jump or riding flat out with your heels down, Sam Hill style. It’s possible that the bigger pedal that we have yet to test (Horizon CL) would partially address this point.
Additionally, a little extra grip from the pedal body itself would be great, even with shorter pins, this would keep grip more consistent over time and would also keep the shoe sole's rubber from potential premature wear.
Finally, the spring mechanism is designed in such a way so that each side affects the other. This means that each pair of springs takes care of both sides of the pedal, and if one side breaks the other side will also not be able to clip in - which in a race situation can be devastating.
Long Term Durability
Since this is a First Ride type of test, we didn't have enough time to find any reliability issues with the pedals, they still spin quiet and smooth as new - they are new, duh! We’ll keep riding them and we’ll come back to this review with further observations down the line.
What’s The Bottom Line?
Nukeproof entered the clipless pedal game with a viable contender. The Horizon CS offers some smart features and after taking the time to tune the cleat placement and spring tension to your liking, it will give you exactly what you need to focus on the trail ahead. We will take our time with the pedals to test some different shoes and pin configurations and we'll be back smarter. Stay tuned.
More information at www.nukeproof.com.
About The Reviewer
Yonatan Yatom - Age: 22 // Years Riding MTB: 10 // Height :6'0" (1.83m) // Weight: 167 pounds (76kg)
Yonatan is a born racer and a bike addict. As a true competitor the only thing on his mind when lining up in the start gate is the finish line. Over the weekends you'll find him trying to beat the clock and everybody else in local enduro and DH races, while preparing to dip his toes in the Enduro World Series waters for the first time. Throughout the week he’ll be manning the spanners at the bike shop, reading about new stuff on the internet, and thinking about how to improve everything he rides. Yonatan’s riding style is fully pinned, smooth, and quiet but he can be nasty to his bike when needed.
Photos by Johan Hjord