Let’s just get something straight. This isn’t a product review in the bike-mag sense of the word. Yet in a way it’s more valid – as it’s based on long term use and the level of ‘buy-in’ that only emerges once you’ve stumped up the cash and lived with a product.
I’ve been using Wellgo’s budget flat platform pedal, the LU987, for around 18 months and feel I’m in a good position to comment on its usefulness for all kinds of cycling.
The LU987 is a large cast aluminium platform pedal, running on standard ball bearings, with around a dozen grip pins on each side. They mimic the classic Shimano DX BMX pedal from the 1980s, with a parallelogram shape and a large concave platform. The LU987 also has provision for clip on reflectors and drillings for mounting toe clips. However, I seriously doubt you’ll need the latter, for reasons I’m about to extol. The LU987 sits near the bottom of Wellgo’s flat pedal hierarchy, which includes models with removable pins, sealed cartridge bearings and other delights. However, in these cash-strapped times of ours, I think I’ve stumbled upon an everyday gem of a pedal.
Why? Well firstly, the level of grip that the pins (allied with the concave platform) provide is astonishing. Wet or dry, just team them with a rubber soled shoe of any kind and you’ve got grip that’ll make you seriously wonder why you ever entertained the idea of toe clips or SPD (clip-in) pedals. I’ve used these pedals in all weathers, on road, off road, commuting and on long cyclosportive rides and I’ve never once missed the security and (alleged) ability to ‘pull-up’ that clip in/strap down systems are purported to provide. Unlike clip-in/strap-down systems, alongside the ‘grip-aplenty’ scenario, you’ve got the ability to quickly remove your feet should you and gravity have a difference of opinion.
These pedals allow you to wear any shoes you like, saving the bother of getting in and out of cycling shoes. The ability to just jump on your bike in normal shoes is not to be underestimated. Suddenly errand running and bike commuting become a whole lot simpler.
Another reason why I’m sold on these pedals is something quite subjective and that’s ‘pedal feel’. I don’t enjoy the feeling of using stiff ‘cycling specific’ shoes on a bike – they lack feedback – in my opinion you get no sensation of grip. However, the Wellgos, in conjunction with a fairly thin, flexible soled trainer (e.g., Adidas Samba, Gazelle, Converse Chuck Taylors, etc) give masses of feedback without a hint of discomfort. This might fly in the face of the ‘you must wear stiff shoes’ maxim so dear to pedal/shoe system manufacturers, but it works for me.
Durability is also a huge plus. Like I said before, I’ve had these pedals on my all weather, all terrain, all purpose bike for 18 months and the bearings are just getting sweeter and sweeter with each ride. They’re not cartridge bearings and they’re not sealed – however, this doesn’t seem to stop them working well in spite of wet weather riding, off-roading and general neglect.
Lastly, they’re cheap – seriously cheap – I paid around £10 for mine – at the time I had a second bike (A Dahon D7 folding bike) and I got two pairs. The Wellgo’s instantly transformed the ride of the Dahon, giving me way more confidence than the slippery rubber folding jobbies that came as standard.
Any downsides? If you’re commuting in dressy shoes, you might want to sacrifice some grip and go for a rubberised pedal that won’t mar the leather soles of your brogues. Some may not appreciate the looks of the pedal on a classically-styled town bike like a Pashley, but once you try these pedals out, it’s hard to feel secure on anything else.
Availability – pretty much everywhere. If you can’t find the LU987, there are many others out there with the key features, which, to recap, are:
- Large format
- Grip pins
- Concave platform
If you want to go upmarket, there are a number of options, including the DMR V12 which is a CNC machined version with super smooth cartridge bearings. However on an all-duty bike, I regard pedals as a consumable item along with chains, cassettes, tyres and tubes, and I’m happy with the real-world performance of the Wellgos.