The Blackspire Robustos locked onto the soles of our shoes like a police dog's teeth to an evading suspect. At 505 grams and 17 mm, these were the heaviest and thickest pedals in our test. What they lack in enduro panache, they make up for with downhill chops. We'd caution bringing these into the bike park; they aren't the top choice for dirt jumpers, but if unrelenting grip for gnarly descents is what you need, these pedals deliver. Tall and thin traction pins (13 per side) dig deep into shoe rubber so you'll have the confidence to ease up on the brakes through loose, chunky, rocky sections. A concave platform that sinks 2 mm cradles your foot and allows for a natural feeling stance no matter what type of terrain is cruising under your tires. Made in British Columbia at the foot of the North Shore Mountains that have been featured in every mountain bike movie of the last decade, these are made by serious riders, for serious riders.
Blackspire Robusto ReviewPrice: $153 List Pros: Tenacious grip, indestructible platform, long and thin traction pins, bottom loading pins, super smooth internals.
Cons: Thicker profile, heavy, not very versatile, too grippy for some uses.
Bottom line: Like having a Pit Bull attached to your feet. Not for those who prefer mellow Labs.
Platform Dimensions (mm): 100x94
Platform Profile (mm) - not including pins: 17mm (2mm concavity)
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Our Analysis and Test Results
When you weight your foot onto the traction pins of the Robusto, it won't budge. Do you own a neck brace, pressure suit, and full face helmet? If you answered yes, take a good look at this review because these tough-as-nails pedals might just help you fulfill the need for speed you crave.
The 2 mm of concavity in this pedal welcomed our sticky rubber soles like the open arms of an old fraternity brother and kept them locked in place like the unshakeable bear hugs he doled out. The Robusto had the same size traction pins as the Shimano Saint MX80 but the pin holes in the Saint's platform were thicker, thus allowing less pin to protrude from the surface. Additionally, the spacers provided with the Shimano Saints were two times as thick as those included with these pedals. Even with the spacers installed on the Robusto, we would still rate grip among the top of all pedals tested. By contrast, running the thick spacers on the Shimano Saint drastically reduced grip.
The 17 mm thick platform was more double cheeseburger than panini. The concave design tapers 2 mm at the axle, stealthily disguising the fact that human anatomy was actually considered, despite the industrial look of these pedals. The custom extruded 6061 T6 aluminum alloy is ruggedly beautiful in its own right. Today the thickest in the test, a few years ago they would have been considered thin. Now that pedals such as the Funn Python and Deity Bladerunner come in at 11 mm wide, we didn't have too much problem with rock strikes, despite the relative girth of these pedals.
However, the occurrence of pedal strikes will likely increase in direct proportion to the amount of pedaling you do. It's likely that weight and profile will keep them off your XC bike and a lot of enduro rigs as well. For downhill riding, when pedaling is done in shorter spurts through small breaks in highly technical terrain, you'll hopefully be capable of avoiding a strike that sends you sailing.
These pedal spin around the spindles as smooth as butter. No drag can be felt or even heard when spinning them by hand. They're a little spinny for freestyle and bike park stuff, but these beasts aren't really optimized for that use in the first place. Pedal roll wasn't much of a problem, mostly because the giant traction pins did an amazing job of keeping our feet firmly attached to the pedals instead of slipping off and rolling them unexpectedly. Hoowever, months later the author still sported a trilogy of slowly fading red puncture wounds on the back of his calf from an encounter with the rear pins.
You can service these pedals yourself. But why do that when the friendly folks at Blackspire will do it for you within one business day from receipt and only charge you $22 for shipping? They'll slather on some fresh grease, and replace the bushings, bearings, and seal. If these pedals are broke down, you're probably in much worse condition — it will take one heck of a shot to the chops to make the Robusto flinch.
These were the heaviest pedals in our test at 505 grams. The next heaviest in our test was the Shimano Saint MX80 at 485 grams.A whopping 170 grams separated them from the lightest, the Bonmixc 9/16".
The weight of these pedals is likely to relegate them strictly to downhill use for many. Their swollen profile is also well-suited to downhill use, where pedaling is limited to reduce pedal strikes. We certainly experienced an uptick in pedal and pin strikes with these on our low-slung enduro bikes.
Blackspire puts it eloquently on their website, stating that they "do not use recycled Budweiser cans or recycled polycarbonate as a source of raw material." Instead, they opt for high quality aircraft grade materials, which is evident just by holding these pedals in your hands and spinning them around. At $153, these were the second priciest pedals in our test - behind the $180 Race Face Atlas.
If you value grip over everything else, you'll enjoy many days with your feet nailed down on these pedals. These are not fragile, lightweight pedals buying time on your bike only to shear off your cranks the first time you hit a drop. Freestylers should probably look for a pedal that gives up its foothold less reluctantly. This is one of the least versatile pedals in our test, with heavy preference towards downhill use.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Blackspire Sub-Four comes in a regular and titanium axle version for $116 or $250. 17 mm thick, 92 x 92 mm platform. Same badass traction pins as the Robusto. Made in Canada, not China.
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 12, 2017
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