December 2016 Product Picks: Smith Optics, Bontrager, Edco 3ax, Bar Fly, Fix-It Sticks, Tacx, and Wind-Blox

by James Huang

December 7, 2016

Photography by James Huang

In this month’s edition of Product Picks, U.S. technical editor James Huang provides his feedback on Smith Optics’ latest lens technology, some budget-minded footwear from Bontrager, a novel pedal concept from Edco 3ax, Bar Fly’s latest two-in-one gadget, Fix-It Sticks’ innovative take on the lowly multi-tool, Tacx’s stylish water bottle and cage, and a neat idea from Wind-Blox to keep wind noise at bay.


Click the links below to skip through to a particular review:


Edco 3ax pedals

by James Huang

The Edco 3ax pedals are unlike anything else on the market. Whereas most pedals are only free to rotate about the spindle, the 3ax body is suspended by a set of additional links that allow it to swing side to side by two degrees in either direction. According to Edco, this “enables your legs to follow a more natural, fluent flow with every stroke.” The company tosses out some intriguing figures to back up that claim, too: 17% less sideways movement at the knee (which suggests less knee strain) and a 5.47% boost in “efficiency”.

Video: Edco 3AX pedal system


Otherwise, the pedals are fairly straightforward with aluminum bodies and chromoly steel spindles rotating on sealed ball bearings, and a Look KéO-compatible cleat interface with 7° of rotational float (or less, if you opt for different cleats). As one would expect with all the extra hardware involved, the 3ax pedals are quite heavy at 389g per pair (plus 73g for cleats) — about 100g heavier than a set of Shimano Dura-Ace PD-9000 SPD-SL pedals.

Our Take:

All that movement underfoot definitely feels quite odd when playing around with the 3ax pedals for the first time, but it’s largely unnoticeable when you’re actually riding, provided you already have a reasonably solid pedal stroke. Riders with less knee stability might take more issue with the additional degrees of freedom, but that will come down to personal preferences.

The Edco 3AX pedals are essentially suspended with two small stainless steel links, which allow the body to sway from side to side by two degrees in either direction.

The Edco 3ax pedals are essentially suspended with two small stainless steel links, which allow the body to sway from side to side by two degrees in either direction.

Nevertheless, the appeal of the 3ax pedals is the boost in efficiency they claim to provide, and that’s much harder to judge from the saddle. To be honest, I didn’t notice any tangible improvement, nor did my muscles or joints feel any different after a ride as compared to a standard Shimano SPD-SL setup (and I even did a number of rides with mismatched pedals for a direct side-by-side comparison).

That said, riders who have struggled with persistent knee, hip, or ankle pain might find some relief here, but they should probably consult a cycling-specific biomechanist before experimenting.

The exposed pivots are worrisome from a longevity standpoint.

The exposed pivots are worrisome from a longevity standpoint.

Even if you take Edco’s efficiency claims at face value, though, the 3ax pedals unfortunately aren’t very good pedals otherwise. A hundred grams isn’t going to make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things, but the additional hardware required to provide the pedals’ side-to-side sway hangs down low, adversely affecting cornering clearance. The metal-on-metal pivot bushings are also exposed to the elements, making me wonder how long they’ll last in harsh environments such as persistent rain and wet road grit.

In addition, the shape of the body makes for awkward re-entry and the cleats are annoyingly slippery when on foot. Stack height is notably tall, too.

The cleats adhere to the Look KéO standard, but the stock ones are dangerously slippery when on foot. Switching to a set of rubber coated ones would be highly recommended.

The cleats adhere to the Look KéO standard, but the stock ones are dangerously slippery when on foot. Switching to a set of rubber coated ones would be highly recommended.

Overall, I find the 3ax concept to be very neat, and for certain riders, the additional movement could potentially make a big difference. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the next generation of these, as the current offering feels a little too clumsy to justify the cost.

Price: US$300 / AU$TBC / £250
www.edco.ch


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