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

Totally unresearched, but it think a fair number of problems come from using clipless in the same position constantly. If you only have one pair of Spd shoes and one type of pedal, and even one bike, being in the same position always is eventually going to cause wear issues on your body, regardless of how perfect you think your position is.
I use spds most of the time and nowadays most of my riding is commuting on a roadie. I’ve got 2 different pairs of Spd shoes with slightly different cleat positions (can’t be bothered fucking around to get them perfect) and I rotate between these shoes over my time commuting so I’ve got slightly different positions on the bike. I reckon this spreads wear across different locations.
I see this same thing as being a big plus for flats. I’m toying with the idea of putting them on my roadie.

Am I off my head?
 
Am I off my head?
Not at all, I agree with what you've said. I understand and appreciate the science behind clips but my enjoyment for riding has become so much more for being able to ride clips and flats. For one, flats are a fun relaxed way to ride and are kind on your body but clips are a benefit when you need that extra help.
Without taking pro racer's into account; I think the most untalented people on the trails are riding clips and they cannot actually tell you why they ride clips apart from saying it makes them pedal gooder or betterer.
 
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.
In sports science the metatarsal-phalangeal joint (forward part of the arch) is the landmark we line the axle up with to ensure a consistent starting point, not just any random spot on the foot, because that would be bad science, its also the accepted approach at places such as the AIS.

No, saying the power is coming from the main muscle groups is to simplistic and therefore incorrect. Power is the summation of all forces generated by every muscle that is active in the motor pattern. And its much more complex than people give it credit for, indeed changing foot position will alter what % recruitment / contribution of specific muscles.

. 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?
If the pedal is large enough to move the foot enough whilst still retaining excellent grip and contact with the pedal, I'd think that would be a significant advantage to them, however I haven't noticed this in his marketing jargon. We have played around in the lab with clipless vs flats, but not bothered with big arse flats vs regular flats or big arse flats vs clipless.
 
Totally unresearched, but it think a fair number of problems come from using clipless in the same position constantly. If you only have one pair of Spd shoes and one type of pedal, and even one bike, being in the same position always is eventually going to cause wear issues on your body, regardless of how perfect you think your position is.
I use spds most of the time and nowadays most of my riding is commuting on a roadie. I’ve got 2 different pairs of Spd shoes with slightly different cleat positions (can’t be bothered fucking around to get them perfect) and I rotate between these shoes over my time commuting so I’ve got slightly different positions on the bike. I reckon this spreads wear across different locations.
I see this same thing as being a big plus for flats. I’m toying with the idea of putting them on my roadie.

Am I off my head?

Not at all.

I had to remove some M520's off my roady commuter for the exact same reason. Popped some flats back on and knocked out a 100km ride without any niggle of knee pain or foot hotspots that I used to get on the SPD's after a while.

I'm now on some crankbrothers candy's and they seem to offer just enough float/platform to prevent too much build up of soreness.

Still a flats man for MTB though.
 
No science here, but I like both clips and flats. My stumpy has spd and my cotic has flats. I love being clipped in, as I can climb and jump better for sure. Way better for me for big rides. But I also love riding flats as I can dick around and be more playful. Pulling crappy monos, manuals and riding ledges, stairs and things. Stuff that I wouldn’t want to be doing clipless. Like tonights ride on the cotic, I did my best ever manual. And I’m ya really crappy manualler. No way would I have held it that long on clips, I would have bailed for sure.

But, in my opinion, I reckon my 61 year old knees suffer a bit with the flats. Because it is so random where you place your feet, and the flats pins and 5/10 shoes are so effective at anchoring your foot, that the only way to line them up correctly is to unweight your foot and try again, and sometimes while riding techy stuff, that is not possible. So then you tough it out and ride for a bit, maybe only a short section, but with your legs and knees not lined up, and the motion is not even, and I can definitely feel it when I've got it wrong. Right now, my left knee is sore from tonights ride. Not bad, and I’ll put up with it, for the fun of flats. But, I never ever get sore knees with spd’s. The click in location is 100% the same every time, and the leg and knee motion is even, the same every time. And for my knees that is best by far.

As for these big arse pedals, I think I’ll stick with what I’ve got.
 
Personally I ride both. XC is clips, enduro could be either and DH I clip. If I’m in a bike park it could be either. If I’m jumping it’ll be flats for obvious reasons. For me the benefit of clips isn’t pedalling efficiency or anything like that it’s being attached to the bike particularly on rowdy stuff. I’ve had enough of cheese grated shins or not being in the optimum position if my foot moved slightly. Nothing more annoying than getting a big bump, your foot lifting and when you put it back it’s in the wrong spot and the pins are gripping like Velcro.

All that said I think I’d like the size of these platforms so maybe when my Vaults die I’ll consider them.
 
I took out a bike yesterday that had these fitted.

I have size 12/13 feet and this was the only ride I've had on them, on a bike that was 2 sizes to small for me, so take this as you will...

I wasn't a fan. I didn't notice any increase in pedaling efficiency and the majority of the feeling was arkwardness.

If I used them as they suggest with the axle over the arch of the foot, I felt the majority of my foot was to far forward with my toes hanging a long way off the front making me feel really unstable.

Also the length of the pedal wasn't an issue, but they are narrower than my normal pedal (OneUp composite), and I could feel the missing platform on the outside of my foot.

I also had no issue with grip, the pins were fine and I was running them with Shimano GR9 with the Michelin rubber.

All up, maybe I would need more time on them, but I wouldn't be spending massive amounts of money on these pedals compared to a lot of other options that are available.
 
“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?
A whole Pandora’s box here.

In my reading on the subject the common opinion seems to be that ball of foot gives max power and centre of foot gives most ideal endurance position and why some triathletes, who don’t need to power up hills, use it.

This is an interesting place to start if your interested
https://www.bikejames.com/strength/the-mid-foot-position-manifesto-the-science-and-movement-principles-behind-the-best-foot-position-for-you-on-the-bike/

This bloke is part of the reason why I tried flats...along with a recommendation to do so to improve some technique. Pro flats, not anti clipless - I tend to agree.
https://www.bikejames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/The-Flat-Pedal-Revolution-Manifesto-2017.pdf

When I moved from clipless to flats and have found that I naturally put my foot in the middle of the pedal and like that they spread the load over a wider area. I ride on my cross bike / commuter in clips and tend to get a hot spot on really long rides.

I have size 14 feet and like dmr vaults....wider rather than longer like dozers review. These might worth a try for something different.


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