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The Look Keo Blade Carbon Ceramic are high-performance pedals with a new plate design that seems to have stopped the annoying cleat rocking of older models. The ceramic bearings aren't that noticeable on the road, but they're smooth and holding up well.
Pedals and the cleats that go with them are the unsung heroes on your bike. They rarely get serviced, yet quietly deal with you putting significant pressure through them every pedal stroke (or sometimes not so quietly – when the bearings get dry or the cleats get overly worn they can start clicking, though it's usually blamed on the bottom bracket). So long service life to cope with this lack of attention is something I look for, along with a wide platform and secure retention.
Mat tested the £155 Keo Blade Carbon pedals last year, and some of his criticisms have been addressed in this new model – as well as the addition of ceramic bearings.
I can sense you all getting ready to have a right old go at the ceramic bearings in the comments, so we'll get that out of the way first. Look claims 18% less frictional force applied to the bearing. Can you feel it? Well, spin the pedals on the crank and yes, these are buttery smooth. Could I tell out on the bike? No.
For me, ceramic bearings still have a tough job beating the Shimano system that has served me well for years. My XT cyclo-cross pedals go through awful conditions every winter and my Ultegra 6800 pedals have done four long years of road riding. Look's claim that its ceramic bearings will last '4 to 6 times longer than standard steel bearings' will take quite a few years to test. The two months that I've been riding and racing with these pedals have caused zero issues, so all good so far.
Look's testing procedure for its axles is reassuringly thorough. Each axle is loaded with the equivalent forces of Andre Greipel's 1700W sprint at 100rpm for 333 hours. Well tested then.
Sticking with the internals, Look has completely redesigned the spindle. The oversized axle 'passes through the internal roller and ceramic bearings located directly under the pedal platform'. Add to that a 25% increase in the distance between the roller and needle bearings and you have what Look claims to be a 2-watt reduction at 100rpm. What I felt when sprinting across gaps mid-race was a solid pedalling platform.
Look even has a number for weather resistance, with a 120% improvement in stopping water getting in. I've certainly had no issues after a fair few biblically wet rides.
Clipping into these is pretty easy, though on occasion they can be a little hard to find. Generally, the pedal hangs in the right place and once you press down there's a nice loud click. But I have found my foot on the wrong side of the pedal, then faffing to find the pedal again. Getting out of them, even with the 16Nm blade that I chose, is straightforward.
The pedals come with two carbon blades, giving you a choice of retention levels: 12Nm (fitted) and 16Nm. I went for the 16Nm blades and they were relatively easy to swap out. You can buy 20Nm blades separately, for £38.99. The retention is good and I never felt my foot close to pulling out. Changing the release tension is much easier on a Shimano pedal (via a small hex bolt on the rear), but this is something that you're likely to set and forget.
In the box you also get a set of grey cleats, which provide 4.5 degrees of float. Black (0 degree) and red (9 degree) cleats are available too, priced at £16.99. I was quick to swap to fixed black cleats for personal preference.
This is one area where I feel that Look has made a significant improvement. I have used cheaper Look Keo Carbon Blade pedals and been disappointed to find that my feet were moving around and rocking, even with the fixed cleats. The 67mm-wide stainless steel plate is now contoured slightly, and this makes the pedals feel so much more stable. The cleats still wear out faster than Shimano's, but at least they're not moving around anymore.
Personally, the Looks wouldn't tempt me away from my Ultegra R8000 pedals, which I know will work silently for many years, with fewer cleat changes – and I also prefer the method of changing the retention level – but they are a very good pair of pedals with buttery smooth bearings and a vastly improved plate.
Buttery smooth bearings and a vastly improved plate make these very good pedals
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Look Keo Blade Carbon Ceramic pedals
Size tested: One size
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?
Look says: "Designed to win, the new KEO BLADE CARBON CERAMIC improves the experience associated with the use of blade technology in a clipless pedal. This new version is the result of experience gained during years of development in the heart of our manufacturing facility and to continual improvements made thanks to daily input from the greatest of champions.
"Lightweight, aerodynamic, powerful, the new KEO BLADE CARBON CERAMIC has all the assets to allow you to improve and optimize your performance until victory is yours. It is for these reasons that KEO BLADE CARBON CERAMIC is the unanimous choice of many champions who have made it a weapon of choice in the conquest of their greatest achievements."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
USE - Race
BODY - Carbon
SPINDLE - Chromoly Steel +
THREADING - 9/16 X 20 mm
BEARINGS - Ceramic
STACK HEIGHT - 14.8 mm
DISTANCE PEDAL SPINDLE / CRANKARM - 53 mm
PLATFORM WIDTH - 67 mm
PLATFORM SURFACE AREA - 700 mm2
TENSION - Pedals come installed with '12' carbon blades + additional '16' carbon blades ('20' carbon blades sold separately)
CLEATS - Kéo Cleats-Gray
FLOAT - 0 °, 4.5 ° or 9 ° according to the cleat color (Black, Grey, Red)
PEDAL WEIGHT - 110 gr (290 gr per pair with cleats and screws)
COLORS - Black
ACCESSORIES - 2 sets of blades +1 pair of Kéo Cleats-Gray + screws
WARRANTY - 2 years
I'd expect pedals to last several years, so we'll have to wait and see.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. They provided a solid base for hard efforts.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Foot stability has dramatically improved thanks to the new plate.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The cleats wear quickly and are a nightmare to walk in.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Sits in between Shimano Ultegra R8000 and Dura-Ace R9000.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No, I'd still pick Ultegra pedals.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they had to have Look.
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're very good performance pedals with improvements in foot stability over the older model.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!