Product Review Pedaling Innovations Catalyst flat pedal

One of the big talking points when you pull your bike off the car is what pedals you’re running. You either ride clips or flats and heckle your mates that use whatever you don’t but it gets complicated in the shuttle when you start talking about different sorts of clips or different sorts of flat pedals. While clips offer a few variations, you’d think flat pedals don’t vary too much do they? Well, this cool creation from Pedaling Innovations gives you a very distinct way to change what you know about flat pedals and can be sourced directly from Mountain Bikes Direct.
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Item: Pedaling Innovations Catalyst flat pedals
Purchased From: Mountain Bikes Direct (Click here for the product page)
Purchase Price (approx): $174.95
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When something new and different appears in the mountain bike world, many of us tend to overreact and condemn whatever this new standard is. Think along the lines of the introduction of 29 inch wheels, Boost spacing, dropper posts, carbon frames etc etc, the list goes on. Some things stick around and become the norm while other things are quickly forgotten because they’re either a failed idea or are just too bloody expensive. The first impression of the Pedaling Innovations Catalyst flat pedal is “holy shit, thats a big flat pedal!” and for the two months I’ve been running them people have asked three things:
-What is the point of them being so big?
-Are you getting heaps of pedal strikes?
-Why don’t you just use traditional flat pedals?
All of those questions can be answered as soon as you bolt them on and ride them, its almost an instant result. First thing you need to know for the full benefit of this pedal is to have your foot in the right spot; the exact middle of your foot. Think of the arch in your foot and plant your shoe over the axle right in the middle, job done. Now, lets talk about why this pedal is bigger and why it can be a benefit to your riding.
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The extra length compared to a normal flat pedal is obvious, they are 128mm long and aim to support the front ball area of your foot and your heel. This is almost the opposite effect of riding in clips as they only engage the area around the ball of your foot and just behind and in my experience that isn’t the ideal placement for a clip as it has always felt too far forward for me. Your foot is firmly planted and feels much more attached to your bike, even more than you’d expect but geez you get used to it very quickly! Initially and instantly pedalling up a climb I had to adjust my foot to make sure I was over the center of the axle and once you’re grinding away and in the right spot, you’ll be impressed. I found the effort to get up a hill was reduced by having a better spread of energy and able to use more of the bulk of my leg strength instead of just specific climbing muscles. Truly, I feel they make climbing easier and in the enduro world where you ride up at your pace to get to the downhills, these things are bloody spot on.
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The Catalyst is a 6061 aluminium material jammed onto cromoly spindle with sealed bearings. You can use a 15mm pedal spanner or a 6mm allen key to bolt them on. Build quality is quite nice too with 14 screw in pins strategically placed for best results. You can put longer pins in too of course. Being a bigger pedal, they are obviously a bit heavier than other pedals weighing just over 500 grams for the pair.
The pedal isn’t any wider than a standard sized flat pedal. At 95mm wide, it sits under your shoe and feels the same when riding as any other flat pedal. This means the only difference in size you’ll get is the extra length under your foot front and rear of the pedal compared to other flat pedals. To answer the question of how many pedal strikes I’m getting when riding these big flats? No more than I ever have on a standard pedal, there’s no difference to it.
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So the obvious question to answer is why not just use a normal flat pedal that is so readily available? There’s nothing a flat pedal does that makes you want to avoid it and but a bigger flat pedal like this Pedaling Innovations pedal but you now have an option. In using the Catalyst I’ve found the strain on my knee joints is far less, the climbing is a little more relaxed with the right position of my foot and surprisingly, they feel no different to any other flat pedal when descending and jumping or skipping across rough rocks or roots. You can shift your foot around just as easily yet still feel really engaged to the pedal when you need it. I noticed some extra wear on my shoes in the spots that the pedal sits that other flat pedal pins don’t but thats a given and once you’ve got a sweet spot, it just sits on the right spot of the pins.
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Some questions I hoped to answer in my review were what type of riding are these best suited to and what long term effect would I notice. I ride downhill, enduro and XC loops and switch between flats and clips just cause I can. I’ve found these pedals work best for enduro stuff as I noticed the benefit of the pedals mostly on the climbs and barely noticed any difference on the downs. With that in mind, riding them for downhill is seems almost irrelevant except for perhaps the long term benefit that a bigger pedal may have on your joints offering that extra bit of support. They rock solid on rough stuff and jumping? Same story as all the other flat pedals in your library.
From my testing on the Catalyst pedal, I think they most certainly achieve what they claim; you get more power by being able to drive a bit more from your leg strength, they feel more efficient because you are using more of your muscles and less of just one set of muscles and they are stable under your foot. All of those things make this a pretty appealing purchase with the only potential thing on your mind is the obvious fact of them looking bigger than other pedals. Now think back to my original paragraph about new things being scoffed at and them turning out to be pretty damn good. ;)
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If you ride flat pedals and want some extra science behind you on the climbs then this is well worth it. Again, they don’t feel to offer any extra benefit on the downhills but they do feel very nice on the climbs. I would not say this pedal is aimed at any level of rider in particular but would say they suit a seasoned rider more. I’d actually suggest people with more miles on the speedo look into these too, I’m on the heavy end of my thirties and these feel like a real treat on my joints.
All in all, I think the catalyst pedal very much has a place in the flat pedal world and deserves a spot on your shortlist next time you’re assessing what sweet flat pedals to ride.
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Fancy trying these pedals for a review of your own? Like Heavy Metal Mountain Biking and tag a few pals in the review to get a chance to have them sent to you for your own review.
 
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Comments

My problem with these guys is the claims they make and the way they talk to those that dispute the claims.

I'd be willing to buy into some of it, but they market them as being more efficient than clipless for all disciplines of riding across the board. And when a Roady asks "why arent they using them in tdf?" They're met with "because they're stupid, and sponsors, and aliens etc."

No, sorry guys, you've lost any credibility now. I'll happily accept that they're marginally better than a standard flat for efficiency. And I'd expect you to market them as much better than standard flats, because that's how you sell stuff. But if they were more efficient than clipless every time on every bike, they'd be more widespread at least. And if they were that good then every pedal manufacturer would be making their own version and selling them as the best thing ever too.



...sorry dozer, not pissing on your review, just the company. Your review sounds reasonably in line with what I'd expect from them.



Sent from my F5321 using Tapatalk
 
“First thing you need to know for the full benefit of this pedal is to have your foot in the right spot; the exact middle of your foot. Thinkof the arch in your foot and plantyour shoe over the axle right in themiddle, job done. ”

I thought ideal position was with the ball of your foot over the axle, for clipless and flats? This allows you use your foot to absorb shock, as well as your legs.

Would the pedal still offer advantages with the ball of your foot over the axle?
 
I am curious about these. Buying directly from Pedaling Innovations is cheaper though with free shipping plus you get the 30 day money back guarantee if you don't like them. Unfortunately MTBdirect don't support that warranty refund addition.

Dozer, did you try them with the longer pins (I'm presuming they were supplied with the pedals)? Seems to be the main complaint is a reduction in foot grip that you get from a good set of normal flats
 
I thought ideal position was with the ball of your foot over the axle, for clipless and flats? This allows you use your foot to absorb shock, as well as your legs.

Would the pedal still offer advantages with the ball of your foot over the axle?
I tried moving my foot around to provoke that interest and having the pedal forward on my foot felt odd, it felt like I was dropping my heel way too much and really flexing the front side of my ankle joint, didn't like it and wasn't balanced. I guess you could get used to it though and it wouldn't feel so foreign if thats you preferred foot position anyway.
 
Dozer, did you try them with the longer pins (I'm presuming they were supplied with the pedals)? Seems to be the main complaint is a reduction in foot grip that you get from a good set of normal flats
They do come with longer pins yes but at no point did I feel like I needed them, the grip is really good as it is. The suggestion is to put the longer pins in the spot that lacks any grip so maybe the long pins at the back of the pedal (for example) may cure that feeling.
I forgot to mention that my shoe didn't flex to the point that my sole felt like it was bending towards the center of the pedal, thats a good thing.
 
The extra length compared to a normal flat pedal is obvious, they are 128mm long and aim to support the front ball area of your foot and your heel.

This means the only difference in size you’ll get is the extra length under your foot front and rear of the pedal compared to other flat pedals.
In theory, if the aim is to support ball and heel, shouldn't they make different sized pedals to accomodate different shoe sizes?

The comparison between the OneUp pedal shows the only difference to be what looks like around 15mm up front in platform length. Could you not just change your foot placement on regular flats and achieve the same supposed benefits?
 
I bought a set of these for myself a while back, purely to try and stop sliding about on the pedals in rock gardens. I skim-read the pedalling efficiancy claims, and thought "What a load of BS!", but went ahead with the purchase anyway as I was perpetually nearly slipping off the pedals through chunky/choppy sections (Size 12-ish 5-10 Freerider Hightops and DMR Vault V12 pedals were the previous config, and shoes remained the same afterwards). I wasn't so much lacking in grips from the pedal studs before, as trying to find somewhere stable to put my foot. Under the ball of the foot and I'd struggle not to slide forward or back over the pedal axle throughout the rock garden, and while under the arch was a little more stable - it was also pretty uncomfortable as it dug into the arch of my foot a lot more and tended to curl the shoe over the pedals significantly.

The Pedalling Innovations pedals went on and it was night and day difference. Good support for all of my foot, and the ankle is still well back of the axle allowing the inherent "suspension" effect of the foot to still work really well - but without feeling like you're having to tense the ankle (laterally) to prevent any unwanted sideways pivoting as you've got a really big stable platform to put your foot on. It really let me relax my ankles and feet on the pedals a lot more.

Given I had zero expectation of improved pedalling efficiency, and wasn't going out of my way to look for it - I was surprised to notice that (for me) there actually was a pretty decent improvement there also. Echoing @Dozer 's comments - I normally suffer from a knee cramp on the back of my RH knee. This all but disappeared, and power transfer was a lot easier. I just felt like I was pedalling naturally, rather than really having to focus on locating my feet at an exact spot on the pedals and hold my feet at a good angle. Also having the pedal more under the centre of my foot (rather than forward under the ball) stopped me gradually pushing myself back on the seat so let my core/upper body relax a bit.

I will say I have scuffed the leading edge of these pedals one the ground a little more than the ones I ran previously - but I don't know if that's a negative or to some extent that's a complement - because it means I've had the confidence to spin the cranks now in some spots I would've feared slipping off it doing so before (I realise this is purely psychological - but being more comfortable and secure meant more confidence). At the very least the pedals seem to slide rather than catch, which means you don't have to worry much about them.

I still doubt they'd be better than clipped pedals for outright XC-style efficiency, but I don't ever want to run clips so these were perfect for me. I'd also agree with @Boom King 's comment that they are best suited to riders with larger feet. I recycled my DMRs onto a smaller-footed mate's bike (and the DMRs were comparably bigger than the Shimano flats he'd had prior), and he noted all the same benefits as I had.

The only negative to my mind, is that they are exorbitantly expensive for what they are. From a manufacturing costs point of view - They're just pedals with a little extra cast metal and a few extra grub screws. They really should be more inline with the pricing of conventional good quality pedals.
 
“First thing you need to know for the full benefit of this pedal is to have your foot in the right spot; the exact middle of your foot. Thinkof the arch in your foot and plant your shoe over the axle right in themiddle, job done. ”

I thought ideal position was with the ball of your foot over the axle, for clipless and flats? This allows you use your foot to absorb shock, as well as your legs.

Would the pedal still offer advantages with the ball of your foot over the axle?
Its an interesting debate as to the best foot position, which has no correct answer, other than it depends.

Generally speaking the more your foot sits forward into the pedal (axle more towards heal) the less power you will have. As the calf muscles have less leverage to work with. However, the benefit is due to this they will not fatigue near as fast. And if you're into big jumps and drops, the foot pulled back is a much more supportive position (from my experience).

With the opposite, the axle more towards the toes, the more power you will have as you are better able to propel via the forward part of the foot - using you calf muscles, but the trade off is they fatigue a lot faster. And at least for me, with big (size 12) but not gigantic feet, big G outs, put a lot of strain through the ankle, it feels like it wants to snap back unpleasantly.

So either position is a compromise to the other, somewhere in between a small compromise to both? At least with clipless, the shoes I use for DH and trail biking has the cleat as far back as possible (which is what bikejames is advocating with these flats), better endurance for trails, and feels more supportive for DH. but for the roadbike and 4x bike, the run the cleats forward so I am more on my toes, much better power.

I like flats as they give you the ability to place your foot where it needs to be depending on what you want to achieve at any given time. The bigger pedals may facilitate that? However, jamesMTB is a pseudoscience moron, any science he quotes has been taken out of context and cherry picked to suit his agenda. Some of his biomechanics claims based off his interpretation of published science are completely wrong, not a fan.

Would still be interested in trying the pedals however.
 
Only 2 months riding them @Dozer those are rookie numbers :) you have to get those numbers up!

I have been on these pedals since they were first released. I got my pre release order in for $99 US when the dollar was riding high in the 90 cents - bargain I thought. But the F@%#er has been selling them for $99 US pretty much this whole time.

I put a post up on here years ago and got slammed by opinions about how BS the whole thing was. I have been a follower of bike James when these came out and decided to give them a go because I though he was only something with his understanding the pedal stroke vs what everyone was telling me about pedals. I was too lazy to do his work out programs so can't tell you if they were any good.

I run these pedals on all my bikes now, Duel sus, all M HT and a Fat bike so here is my honest long term opinion.

The first pair have lasted all these years and are still going strong from a 105kg rider. There is a rebuild kit available that i will give a try when needed.

The biggest benefit for me was less fatigue from riding, things like knee pain, overuse injuries are from begin in the same position are noticeably reduced over a long period of time. I would put this down to begin able to move my foot around, both climbing and descending. They are more stable and more comfortable than any other pedals. I also felt an extra muscle in my butt that had been worked at first so it felt like there was something more there being engaged.

I noticed they are better for climbing, but not as much as people claim. There was BS talk from some about an extra gear that sounded to me like a placebo effect when you buy new stuff.

I could easily switch between these and other flat pedals and the ride felt pretty much the same for the most part, with a slight improvement felt in power from these pedals. The noticeable difference was the extra power coming out of a track stand when I had stuffed up a climb, was about to lose momentum and put my foot down. These pedals seemed to allow more balance in those situations and I was more often able to ride out of stuff at this point.

I did find bunny hops hard with these pedals at first. I would hit the back of the pedal and push the bike down. It took a while to relearn how to bunny hope properly coming from clips where I was lifting the bike with my feet. Normal flats were easier at first but I eventually got it with these pedals.

The main difference over time was more confidence descending as they are just so stable. I am not as fit as I use to be but feel I have way more control over the bike and am riding way more difficult stuff. I would credit some of this to these pedals.

The only advantage clips have over these pedals is being able to lift the bike up using the pedals in technical bits like rocks and steps. In saying this there is no better feeling like clearing one of these sections on flats and knowing that you did not need to be stuck to the bike via clips to do it.

Grip was an issue for me. The first run came with those small pins and I found they were not secure enough. I have a big scar on the back of my leg from slipping off these when I was out with my daughter and not wearing my 5 10s. The second and third pair came with the extra long pins and I feel these are needed. I would also like to see a few pins right in the middle of the pedal. There is a noticeable area with no pins from front to back.

I did notice extra pedal strikes when I demoed a Giant Trance on these pedals. I found the BB way too low for me and these pedals. I don't get any more rick strikes on my normal bikes. I also demoed these on a few e bikes and they were just as good, if not better given those bikes are so dam heavy there was a more solid platform for landing drops.

I also noticed that they work well with shorter cranks. I recently went to 165mm cranks and this felt better with these pedals. I tried the shorter cranks before and did not like them with my other pedals.

For long term use these things are built well and will last.

For value for money i think that are over priced on MTB direct. I would expect to pay $130 for these pedals, maybe $150 max. I am not saying MTB direct are a rip off, just saying that these are not worth the extra money over other flat pedals that can be bought for $120 from you local bike shop.

The question I do have that seem to go against the sales pitch is that if these pedals are designed to support both the font and back areas of the foot they why don't they come in different sizes. If you have a small foot do you get more benefit or is there a point where this pedal is too dam big.

I would buy them again.
 
Generally speaking the more your foot sits forward into the pedal (axle more towards heal) the less power you will have. As the calf muscles have less leverage to work with. However, the benefit is due to this they will not fatigue near as fast. And if you're into big jumps and drops, the foot pulled back is a much more supportive position (from my experience).

With the opposite, the axle more towards the toes, the more power you will have as you are better able to propel via the forward part of the foot - using you calf muscles, but the trade off is they fatigue a lot faster. And at least for me, with big (size 12) but not gigantic feet, big G outs, put a lot of strain through the ankle, it feels like it wants to snap back unpleasantly.
Disagree with what you say. Power does not come from your calves, it comes from the larger muscle groups (glutes, quads).

Another disadvantage of having your foot further back (axle under toes at the extreme) is a loss of feeling of grip. You’ll get much more consistent, easy to decider feedback from the arch of your foot.

I’m guessing flexibility comes into it and perhaps also a lack of knowledge or training. Ever watch someone squatting at the gym? People with proper technique drive up through their heels. Others with bad technique or no flexibility tend to lean forward ending up on their toes to complete the lift as that’s the easiest way for the body to cope.

Maybe old mate is onto something with the foot positioning thing...
 
Disagree with what you say. Power does not come from your calves, it comes from the larger muscle groups (glutes, quads).

Another disadvantage of having your foot further back (axle under toes at the extreme) is a loss of feeling of grip. You’ll get much more consistent, easy to decider feedback from the arch of your foot.

I’m guessing flexibility comes into it and perhaps also a lack of knowledge or training. Ever watch someone squatting at the gym? People with proper technique drive up through their heels. Others with bad technique or no flexibility tend to lean forward ending up on their toes to complete the lift as that’s the easiest way for the body to cope.

Maybe old mate is onto something with the foot positioning thing...
He talks about weightlifters too, but he's comparing apples to aircraft carriers.

I'd agree that you put more down with your foot centred - if you're standing up and mashing. I do this all the time when on flats. I also move to the middle when descending, yup that's a thing, he got that right.

But I'll move my foot back every time I'm sitting down. Ive tried it in the middle and it doesn't work, I can't spin even close to the same cadence and I run out of steam much earlier. I've also tried clips vs flats on various bikes and all come up with the same early fatigue and cramps much earlier using flats than with clipless.

Aaaaand I don't have any issues with my shoes curling over the pedals when I'm in the middle (size 45), nor any issue with slipping ever. How much possible benefit can you get if you're wearing more solid shoes? I mean the shoes become a platform, if you're not curling and not slipping, where's the benefit?


I'd say he's got a solid pedal that suits a lot of people. He's unfortunately also got a habit of being a jerkwad when people don't buy his sales pitch. And his sales pitch seems to only tell part of the story, which he will tell you is the entire story, 100% of the time, for everyone on every bike.

Sent from my F5321 using Tapatalk
 
Disagree with what you say. Power does not come from your calves, it comes from the larger muscle groups (glutes, quads).

Another disadvantage of having your foot further back (axle under toes at the extreme) is a loss of feeling of grip. You’ll get much more consistent, easy to decider feedback from the arch of your foot.

I’m guessing flexibility comes into it and perhaps also a lack of knowledge or training. Ever watch someone squatting at the gym? People with proper technique drive up through their heels. Others with bad technique or no flexibility tend to lean forward ending up on their toes to complete the lift as that’s the easiest way for the body to cope.

Maybe old mate is onto something with the foot positioning thing...
I am with planko on this one, the analogy between squatting and cycling makes no sense, how about track and feild athletes, they run off their forefoot because its powerful. Or closer to home the most powerful of cyclists - track cyclists have a very forward cleat position because it is the most powerful position. However they are not pushing off with the toes, its more so at the front of the arch, lines up with the metatarsal-pharyngeal joints.

The calf muscles are not even vaguely the dominate muscle in cycling, but if your goal is sprinting, all things equal you aint beating anyone in a sprint pushing from the mid foot. This is the advantage to flats, slide the foot back a little to maximize power, or slide the foot forward to maximize grip, and to lessen the leverage / forces onto the ankle. SPD's you are stuck in the same position.
 
I am with planko on this one, the analogy between squatting and cycling makes no sense, how about track and feild athletes, they run off their forefoot because its powerful. Or closer to home the most powerful of cyclists - track cyclists have a very forward cleat position because it is the most powerful position. However they are not pushing off with the toes, its more so at the front of the arch, lines up with the metatarsal-pharyngeal joints.

The calf muscles are not even vaguely the dominate muscle in cycling, but if your goal is sprinting, all things equal you aint beating anyone in a sprint pushing from the mid foot. This is the advantage to flats, slide the foot back a little to maximize power, or slide the foot forward to maximize grip, and to lessen the leverage / forces onto the ankle. SPD's you are stuck in the same position.
metatarsal-pharyngeal?? Is that medically diagnosed foot in mouth disease lol (metatarsal-phalangeal)

Squatting/track athletes/cyclists, doesn't matter, the power is coming from the main muscle groups and that doesn't change if cruising or sprinting. As you point out, it's about how you access that power that changes the foot position.

When cycling, to enable the full power of the glutes and quads to be exploited the body must use the extra levers in the ankle/feet and engage the calf muscles to fully control the energy and to maximise efficiency. So, if that is the case, do these pedals allow one foot position that enables more efficient seated grinding pedaling as well as standing power sprints?
 
I would agree that a longer contact area =less slippage and that if you are riding truly radical terrain its easier to put a foot down with flats .
Saying they are more efficient uphill than clips is hype.
 
Right - That's it! I'm going to invent some mega sized pedals and put clips on them. No one will be able to refute my efficiency claims! Time to sit back and watch the money roll in... :D
 
I think too many people go to these pedals thinking they will be an instant game changer and don't give them enough time to see how your riding and body will react to them. There are pros and cons. If they were better value for money more people would give them a try. I have never seen a set come up for sale second hand so that could be another good sign.

MTB direct have them on ebay for $206.79 WTF!
 
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