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Look's Keo 2 Max Carbon is an impressive mid-range pedal, offering easy functionality and good overall performance for any keen cyclist. Some may prefer a larger or grippier cleat for ease of walking, but Look's Keo system is still hard to beat.
Alongside Shimano, Look is one of the biggest players in the clipless pedal market. Its Keo pedals spilt into three broad categories – Comfort (entry-level), Gran Fondo (enthusiast) and Race (fancy). The Keo 2 Max Carbon is one of two options in the Gran Fondo category (the other being the non-carbon version).
Look says these feature a 500mm2 stainless steel plate for one of the largest contact patches between cleat and pedal around, and it's there to improve power transfer and underfoot 'security.' Meanwhile, the release tension adjusts from the factory setting of 12Nm down to 8Nm via an Allen key adjuster on the top of the ratchet.
The carbon composite shell reduces the weight slightly (10g per pair over the regular Keo 2 Max which has a body Look just describes as 'composite'), and potentially improves stiffness too. Inside, you get Look's tried-and-tested conical spacer on a chromoly spindle. Those with specific bike fit requirements will note the 17.3mm total stack height and 53mm Q-factor (the distance from the crank to the centreline of the pedal body) .
Out on the road, Look's Keo interface is incredibly easy to engage, with a positive, easy-to-find location which gives you real confidence to push down with gusto to engage the cleat fully, even when it's wet. I'm a seasoned Keo user and have always enjoyed the precision, while the 60mm width creates an easy-to-target platform. It's pretty easy to 'mash' your foot in if you do get the location slightly wrong.
One small downside of the width is a rather chunky look on the bike, and it's relatively easy to find yourself scraping them against walls at cafe stops.
Unclipping from the Keo 2 Max Carbons is easy too – even with the spring set at the highest 12Nm tension, firm pressure downward combined with a confident twist of the heel releases the cleat cleanly, and with a reassuring click.
One of Look's main claims for the large contact patch is in efficient power transfer. While we can't accurately measure such claims per pedal stroke, there is definitely a sense of security, which breeds confidence, and in that confidence I relax a little more. All this can help improve the smoothness and efficiency of your pedalling.
Is the 5g saving (per pedal) and potential extra stiffness worth the extra £16 over the £79 composite version? Perhaps not. The weight saving is negligible in my opinion, while if you're powerful enough benefit from carbon's stiffness you might be better looking at the next-tier Keo Blade Carbons instead.
I've no complaints about the smoothness of the bearings, and they're definitely efficient and tough enough for any keen club or sportive rider. My experience with Look's pedals to date give me confidence they'll withstand anything you could reasonably expect for at least a couple of seasons.
Look supplies these with its 'Grip' cleats, which are easier to walk around in – Look's cleats are smaller than Shimano SPD-SLs, so the grippy inserts here are a welcome addition. In the box you get a set of the 4.5° float grey cleats, but you can buy black (0°) or red (9°) versions too.
£95 seems pretty reasonable to me for something that could competently see you through a summer of racing and sportive riding, a winter of training, and into the next year's adventures too. That said, the non-carbon versions retail for £79, saving you £16, and for that you get every feature that really matters, especially if you aren't fussed about the marginal benefits of a carbon shell.
Meanwhile, Shimano's carbon-shelled 105 pedals are £115, while Ultegra is more competitive on spec (and weight), but retail just shy of £160 – a significant premium.
The Keo 2 Max Carbons are very good performance-oriented pedals at a good price, yet resilient enough for any season. While they're not tangibly superior to the cheaper Keo 2 Max, they're still well priced and excellent all-rounders.
Very good, performance-oriented pedals, though don't add much over the cheaper non-carbon ones
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Look Keo 2 Max Carbon
Size tested: n/a
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: "Ready for new adventures? Follow your dreams with the KEO 2 MAX CARBON pedal. With its 500mm2 contact area, it offer perfect power transfer from your legs to your bike. The carbon body ensures lightness and efficiency while the Chromoly+ axle offers robustness in all conditions. Install your pedal, adjust the tension, and you are ready to ride."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Spindle material: Chromoly +
Body material: Carbon
Platform material: Stainless steel
Platform area: 500mm2
Platform width: 60mm
Total stack height (pedal + cleat): 17.3mm (11 + 6.3 mm)
Q Factor: 53mm
Retention: 8 to 12Nm
Cleats: KEO grip
Weight pair + cleats: 312g
Absolutely no problems - Look makes enough of these with no horror stories.
There are lighter pedals, with more efficiency built in, but the Keo Max 2 Carbons offer plenty for almost anyone.
Early signs (and Look's track record) are good.
Versus Shimano's significantly more expensive Ultegra pedal, it's an almost exact match.
See comments versus the competition. For under £100, the Keo Max 2 Carbons are very competitive.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Extremely well – it's a fit-and-forget year-round pedal.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easy cleat location and engagement, low weight, good performance and value.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing in particular, although this carbon version may be unnecessary for many.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Shimano's 105 carbon pedals are £115 (£20 more), while its Ultegras are closer on spec (and an almost identical weight), but just shy of £160 - a significant price hike. Look definitely wins there.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Look's Keo 2 Max Carbon pedals are nearly without fault. These carbon versions may not be necessary for everyone, but I suspect they will disappoint almost nobody.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
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