Review by Ian Collins // Photos by Ian Collins and Fred Robinson (action)
VP has been quietly cranking away in the pedal market with various designs at every price point for quite some time now. Despite their efforts, it's fair to say that they have yet to carve out a niche for themselves in the race to deliver a truly iconic place to rest your feet. Recently, they released the Harrier – a fully redesigned flat pedal that contrasts dramatically in both aesthetics and mechanical execution with past offerings from VP. A few months ago, I got my feet on a set and I went about giving them a proper flogging to see what they were made of.
VP Harrier Flat Pedal Highlights
- Cold-forged one-piece CNC aluminum body
- Double LSL bearings
- Forged Cromoly axle, heat treated
- Forged steel pins, heat treated and replaceable
- Colors: Black, Red, Silver
- Size: 120 x 109 x 18 mm
- Weight: 0 lb 12.8 oz (362 g)
- MSRP: $120.00 USD
When I first pulled the Harriers out of the box I was beyond floored by how big they are, but I was also quite impressed by their nice low profile at only 12mm thin. Three massive cut outs indicate that mud clearance will be a non issue, and 10 well spaced-out, rather tall pins garnish each pedal in logical areas. 6 of the 10 pins thread in from the underside, which should make them easy/possible to replace even if they end up bent out of shape.
The hardware and axle are all nicely finished and the pedals are quite light, especially considering how massive they are. 362 grams is quite light for a pair of pedals this big that don't rely on a plastic frame or titanium spindles to get the weight down. The only feature that caught my eye as potentially problematic was how short the spindle is relative to the width of the pedal – with all the leverage the pedal has on the axle, that spindle better be well engineered.
Heat treated and forged Cro-Moly is a solid, dependable choice for the spindle though, and all in all the initial inspection of the Harriers revealed a pretty sweet looking pair of pedals both on paper and in the flesh. Let's see how they fared on the trail.
On The Trail
As expected the Harriers were super grippy right out of the gate. I had no issues with any of the pins getting bashed apart or snapping off too easily. That's a good start, and even if some pins went south, it would be easy to change them as noted previously.
Now for a couple of unique and notable aspects of the pedal: the lack of an inboard bulge near the crank was warmly welcomed. I have owned a few pairs of flat pedals that “featured” this bulge to house a larger bearing, and while we can argue whether or not it adds to a pedal's durability, it has a rather annoying feel when your shoe is resting on it. Instead, VP chose to utilize a teflon thrust bearing in lieu of a sealed cartridge bearing on the Harrier. This allows them to not only avoid the nuisance of having a bulge on the pedal, but also because a teflon bearing is lower in profile, they were able to make the axle larger and stronger as well...all while maintaining a low profile. One thing worth noting is that there is a normal, very small amount of play that comes along with this type of setup. After a ride or two this play became apparent, but throughout our testing it did not further worsen nor become problematic. When we asked VP about this, they suggested it's best to replace most of the wearable parts after a year of heavy riding, and they offer a $24 rebuild kit to keep the pedals running smooth. My experience with other premium pedals has often involved yearly rebuilds so I can't knock VP for suggesting that.
In terms of how the Harriers feel, aside from the pure traction standpoint, the biggest factor was size. I can't emphasize it enough. At size 11, I don't have huge feet, but I do feel that most flat pedals out there are undersized. When I initially saw how far these stuck out on my bike, I was concerned that clearance would be an issue, but once I rode them a few times, the fretting was put to rest. As someone who always feels like every flat pedal I've used was too small these were a welcome change. Many offerings I've used in the past have been solid, but often after blasting through mid sized chatter, my feet would shift to unfavorable positions. However, when this happened with the VP's I still felt the support from the body of the pedal, likely because there is just more material under my feet.
Lastly, the pedal profile was strictly middle of the road. Neither concave nor convex, the Harriers are dead flat but still feel great underfoot. Some manufacturers claim that the balls of your feet will settle into a concave pedal nicely, and while that may be true, it's not something that stood out as highly beneficial in my experience with other pedals in the past.
Things That Could Be Improved
To be quite frank the most important part of a pedal is feel, and the Harriers check out. If I had to quip about something it would be the slight amount of play, although there is one important distinction that needs to be made when mentioning this: there is no lateral play and the integrity of the pedal isn't compromised. It moves ever so slightly axially, which is not even detectable when riding. Aside from this issue, these are a perfect set of pedals.
Long Term Durability
When it comes to rock strikes and resisting abuse to pins, the Harriers are tough as nails. Their chamfered outer edges encourage rocks and other trailside obstacles to graze past the pedals without causing too much damage or even having the opportunity to grab ahold of something.
As far as the axle and bits the cage rotates on, we're a bit on the fence. In theory VP's execution makes sense, and in practice we've experienced no negative attributes thus far. The fact that the Harriers are fully rebuildable for a mere $24 plus some household tools and a brief gander at a web tutorial on the process instills further confidence and have us feeling like these pedals are in it for the long haul.
What's The Bottom Line?
If you're a size 8, this may not be the pedal for you. If you're someone like Mick Pascal and you have size 13+ clodhoppers, look no further - your prayers have absolutely been answered. If you're somewhere in the middle, you will dig these pedals and they will likely treat you well for a few seasons of proper use. In terms of price, the Harriers strike a solid balance between the average, budget flat pedal, and the top of the line sometimes wildly overpriced offerings out there. In terms of feel, I've owned and ridden dozens of flat pedals ranging from utilitarian to boutique, and these are hands down the best pair I have rested my feet on so far. The price to weight to feel ratio is tough to beat.
Visit www.vp-usa.com for more details.
About The Reviewer
Ian Collins grew up racing mountain bikes on the East Coast before moving to California in search of the never ending riding season. Although he's generally a fan of slick and steep riding conditions, Ian has gotten acclimated out west and loves its speed. Also an avid surfer, what's most important to him in a trail is flow. Known for being meticulous and borderline obsessive about bike setup, he aids in product development for local frame builder Turner Bikes when he's not out on a photo mission.