Wellgo's RO96B clipless road pedals might not set pulses racing, or Lycra ablaze but their pleasing build quality and plentiful spares make them an excellent alternative to the real McCoy, especially for Audax, club and winter builds.
Compatible with Look's Kéo pedal designm the RO96 is in fact a family of three. Ours were the midrange, B model with higher quality sealed needle roller bearings (as opposed to ball bearing. They share powder coated aluminium alloy bodies and chromoly axles with their lowlier namesakes. The more exotic model gats include titanium axles and magnesium bodies for lighter riders with deeper pockets and/or bikes on strict calorie controlled diets.
My fascination with lookie-likie components means I've run a fair few Wellgo pedals over the years, so I was surprised to find the right hand feeling mildly arthritic. Stripping both units and introducing a liberal dollop of space age polymer grease proved a simple, satisfying cure. Some people suggest that Wellgo bearings tire faster than premium brands' but replacements are inexpensive and in my experience, unnecessary for some time unless you subject them to jet washing or similar abuse.
Talking of wet stuff, you adjust the release tension with a 3mm Allen bolt under the pedal body, right in the firing line of spray, silt and other undesirables. It'll need periodic squirts of Teflon based maintenance spray (or ultra-light, dirt phobic chain lube) to ward off thread disharmony.
Knee friendly red cleats come as standard, offering 9.5 degrees of float, though seasoned riders with good joints may find this overly generous. Genuine Look Kéo cleats and rival pattern fare behave impeccably too but I deliberately ran these with the stock cleats for two hundred miles. While the high degree of rotational freedom felt decidedly alien for the first seven miles or so, I never experienced any hesitancy when releasing and engaging, even in stop-start traffic.
Fixers with 175mm cranks can leave ground clearance in cat's whisker territory but haring through secluded lanes with unpredictable cambers, carving hard at roundabouts and around similar urban obstacles proved uneventful, suggesting they'd be shrewd choice for criterium bikes too.
Cantering along the climbs, turning an eighty-one inch gear with my full weight dancing on their bodies hasn't provoked phantom squeaks or power robbing flex either. Finish seems decidedly better than many clones with only superficial swirling creeping in around their mid-sections, though only fussy sorts like yours truly would think of blasting them clean, let alone repainting after a few seasons' service.
Surprisingly refined Kéo clones, particularly suited to newbies, returnees and winter/training builds.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Wellgo R096B Clipless Road (Keo compatible) 9/16
Size tested: Black
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Wellgo clearly feel these require no introduction. Essentially, they're a keenly priced but nicely executed Kéo pattern road pedal with pleasing build quality.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Powder Coated Aluminium Bodies
Spindle: Cr-Mo CNC Machined
* Bearing R096B: Needle/Sealed
* Cleat: RF5 A/B/C
* Size: 81 * 87 * 33 [mm]
Superior to some premium brands' entry level offerings.
Build quality seems excellent, so they should remain in fine fettle with annual servicing and decent quality grease. Consumables e.g. replacement cleats are cheap and readily available.
Float a little too generous for me personally, though by no means vague and bound to delight newbies or those more susceptible to joint pain.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I was immediately struck by their solid build and user friendly nature. Having re greased the bearings, everything has felt extremely refined and dependable, whether powering along or dis/engaging in slower moving traffic. Heavier riders might exhaust the bearings quicker but otherwise, the R096B could be relegated worry-free to winter/working bikes as required
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Standards of finish and build quality.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Not for the best bike or heavier riders perhaps but otherwise it's a yes from me
About the tester
Age: 40 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)