My preferred pedal for urban riding is the Speedplay Frog, but like many pedal systems on the market, the Frogs offer very little support if you aren’t clipped in. I’ve been searching for a pedal system that I could ride with either street shoes or cycling shoes, but I don’t know if I’m ever going to find one that suits me. Since Speedplay does not offer a clipless pedal with a broad platform, I gave the Crank Brothers Mallet 2 pedal a try for a week.
Based on the original Egg Beaters, the Mallet 2 ($140 retail) encloses the binding system in a broad machined platform. The platform closely mimics a BMX pedal, and each side has six replaceable pins for grip. The cleats provide 6 degrees of float and either 15 or 20 degrees outward release angle. The pedals fit your standard 9/16” thread but require a 6mm allen key rather than the more common 15MM flat pedal wrench to install.
I was immediately impressed by the extra support that the pedal platform provides to the shoe, though I myself have never suffered from “hotspots” due to inadequate support from my Speedplay pedals. The Mallet’s available float is distinctly less than Speedplay as well. Though I still consider the Frog the fastest engaging pedal ever, I soon found the Mallet’s ingress very quick. If I missed clipping in on the first try, there is little danger of your foot slipping off.
With street shoes on, the Mallet is the pedal system on the market that feels most like a standard platform pedal. The pedal body, apart from the engagement springs, is nicely slim in profile, with a little bit of a concave curve front to back. However,in my slim soled Vans, the protruding springs were a bit of an annoyance on a longer ride. Additional, the the grip wasn’t so confidence inspiring that I tried to brush up on my non-clipped bunnyhopping skills.
Crank Brothers pedals have a reputation for bearings that are less than durable, but the test period with them was obviously inadequate to reveal any problems. [The pairs in my test collection have more than 10,000 combined miles on them, without a bearing failure. - Ed] The real problem I had with the Mallet is that I’m a Speedplay user. All Speedplay pedals release to the outside only in a heel out motion, but like many other pedals Crank Brothers can release heel in. This made me feel really uneasy at first, though I intuitively know how helpful clipping out to the inside is, especially offroad. With Frog pedals, more than a few times I’ve fallen on an incline and then not been able to extricate myself from the bike because my foot was restrained by the bike on top. Also Speedplay pedals have such a different feel from other pedals that I couldn’t ride the Mallet pedals without feeling sketched out on the Speedplays after switching back. At this point in my cycling career, I’m too heavily invested into the Speedplay system to walk away.
Twelve years ago, I originally switched to Speedplay after being plagued by knee issues, but nowadays my knees rarely complain. If you already ride Crank Brothers, these pedals I bet would be pretty awesome, but they’re not going to be an option for me. In the end, I’ve given up on my goal of a dual shoe pedal. When my weird BMX bike is ready, I’m just going to install some big ass platform pedals without any binding system. Ironically, Speedplay offers one called the Drillium.
Update: I am currently trying out a mod on the Speedplay Drillium pedal.