XPedo GFX Review
Cons: Heavy, potentially dangerous pins, wider than most
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Xpedo GFX is a wide-bodied clipless platform pedal with four traction pins on each side, built for the rigors of downhill racing. Its large platform design, widely spaced grub pins, and retracting engagement allow for a firm, confident feel while unclipped. This full feature pedal is the previous winner of our Top Pick for Downhill and Enduro riding, bested recently by the Shimano Saint M820. The largest in our test, they have a substantial surface area and provide excellent traction. They feature adjustable release tension, and the traction pins can be adjusted up and down. Their Chromoly steel axles ride on three precision sealed bearings, and they're available in five colors. Xpedo calls their spring-loaded retention system the Latitude entry system; it's a clever design that aids in engagement. While there are some technical differences in the clipless mechanism itself, the feel of engagement and float are very similar to the Shimano SPD.
The traction, feel, and adjustability of the Xpedo GFX were excellent. Their overall score, dragged down by their heft and below average mud performance, wasn't quite enough to overcome their advantages.
Ease of Entry
Getting into your pedals should be simple and a quick entry allows you to start putting the power down faster and get moving. The GFX's Latitude entry engagement mechanism is spring loaded so that the foremost part of the mechanism perches itself in an optimal position for clipping in. As such, they're quite easy to get into and if you miss, there's plenty of platform to catch you.
As with the Crank Brothers Mallet E, the traction (or grub) pins can hang up on softer shoes, complicating engagement. This is the trade-off for being able to stand on these pedals without being clipped in. The traction pins are adjustable, however, allowing the rider to fine-tune their feel and minimize hangups on their particular shoes. Our testers found the GFX was easy to engage, it didn't have the magnetic attraction feel of the Shimano XTR M9120 but clipping in didn't require much thought. Moisture had little effect on the engagement feel of the pedal, as entry felt smooth but not quite slippery. They weren't the most resistant to mud clogging and occasionally required a swift kick to clear the debris, that cost them a bit here.
Ease of Exit
The GFX, with its big traction pins, isn't the easiest to get out of. While clipped in, they feel similar to a Shimano XT M8120. Once unclipped, the widely spaced traction pins provide grip and traction on our rubber-soled shoes. In harder soled XC shoes, the traction pins can be a bit disconcerting, as the shoe wants to fit around the pins rather than settling in, leaving the rider feeling a bit less secure.
Unlike the Shimano M530, the friction in the float didn't change much with moisture, as the shoe engages the roughly machined aluminum platform rather than the smooth painted surface on Shimano's entry-level mini-platform.
Featuring adjustable release tension and adjustable grub pins, the GFX became our top pick for adjustability. We were able to dramatically change its personality with a few twists of an Allen key. The GFX gives a reasonable 6 degrees of float using the 65-gram XPT cleats. The XPT cleats look slightly different than an SPD cleat with a wider brass center bar running horizontally through the cleat. Our testers noticed that the heavier Xpedo cleat was interchangeable with the far more prevalent Shimano SPD cleat which is honestly quite lovely. Using the Xpedo cleat created a firmer engagement feel and slightly increased the force needed for release.
Like the Shimano XT M8120, the pedals feature adjustable release tension. The Xpedo's also have traction pins with adjustable height. Unlike the Crank Brothers Mallet E, the engagement mechanism allows for a broad range of release tensions. Adjustment is made using a 3mm Allen, while the grub pins can be raised or lowered using a 1.5mm Allen. These factors combine to make a pretty versatile downhill/enduro pedal.
If you do manage to lose traction with the pedal, the grub pins are capable of leaving a lasting reminder to your shin or ankle.
At 468 grams, they're one of the heaviest pedals in this test. However, this model is still a very reasonable weight for pedals with this many features. The Shimano M530 offers far less and only weighs 14 grams less.
Weight-conscious riders might not appreciate the extra heft, but if you're looking for that extra confidence when unclipped they felt more substantial than the Crank Brothers Mallet E. Their profile height was also 2mm lower at 19mm, which places the rider closer to the axle, and theoretically lessens the incidences of pedal strike. We say theoretically because the lower height is somewhat negated by the extra width and 62mm q-factor of this pedal, leaving you more prone to drag the edge through a corner.
Once disengaged, the large platform provided solid traction and real estate underfoot.
The Latitude spring-loaded engagement mechanism doesn't disappear completely underfoot, but it drops down to expose one of the thinnest pedals in our test at 19mm. The clipless mechanism is certainly present underfoot but felt less obtrusive than the Crank Brothers Mallet E or the Shimano XTR M9120.
We found them to be a bit less resistant to clogging with mud and debris than other pedals in the test. Their substantial surface area had plenty of places for mud to hang on and their clipless mechanism doesn't employ any of the fancy technology that Shimano uses to shed mud.
Even though they were no match for the Crank Brothers Mallet E in the trailside mud test, clogging of the pedal rarely happened in real-world circumstances. While we consider mud-shedding a major attribute, we never encountered anything that a single kick couldn't solve.
The GFX pedals are on the higher end of the price spectrum for the models in this review. While we wouldn't exactly call them the best value, we do feel that they provide a solid all-around performance for the enduro and downhill crowd, and at a competitive weight.
This is a full-size pedal with very few compromises. It offers great traction, a wide, solid platform, and a clever clipless mechanism. The pedals seem quite durable and the three sealed bearings on the Chromoly steel axle is reassuring. They aren't ideal for excessively muddy conditions or hard-soled XC shoes. We wouldn't recommend them for cross country bikes, as the bulk and weight of these pedals leaves them better suited for the big travel bikes where platform is essential.
This pedal is best paired with a free ride shoe like the Five Ten Hellcat Pro where the soft rubber sole can take advantage of the traction pins. If you're new to a pedal like this, you might also consider a pair of shin guards.
— Joshua Hutchens