Long-Term Review: Look S-Track MTB / Cyclocross Pedals – A Stable, Mud-proof Option
by Clifford Lee
Back in 1984, Look popularized the step-in “clipless” pedal, using its long-gained knowledge from dominance in the ski industry, and the cycling world has not been the same since.
However, despite their innovations, Look never gained a strong foothold in the mountain bike scene (unless you consider securing mountain bike legend Tinker Juarez’s shoes to the crank for most of his wins a strong foothold). Mountain bike clipless pedals are an area that was dominated by Shimano as the sport grew in the 1990’s. Look concentrated on the then-strong road bike world.
That’s not to say Look did not try tapping into the off-road market, having no less than six iterations prior to the S-Track, each requiring a different cleat:
- the Look ATB, a 1985 version of the road clipless pedal with a grippy backside
- the MP90/TP93m a more aggressive version of the ATB
- a Shimano-like dual-sided pedal compatible with two-bolt “SPD” style cleats with a large platform (the S2R Moab and S2 Nevada models)
- the slimmer elastomer-based SL3 dual-sided pedal
- a licensed Crank Brothers “Eggbeater” design 4×4 pedal
- the light and mud-clearing Quartz.
The Quartz was the off-road pedal most unique to Look, but had a misstep with the initial released “version one” that had early-release problems (no pun intended). “Version two” addressed this and became my favorite because it was inexpensive, lightweight and mud-clearing, all with an easy in-and-out design. We reviewed this pedal twice—first in Issue 7 just after the new version was released and recently in Issue 17, just as the pedal was about to be discontinued when the new Look S-Track debuted.
And so that brings us to new S-Track pedal, which has a two-bail cleat attachment similar to the Quartz it replaces, though the cleats are not compatible. Similar to the Quartz, the bails are the retention springs, though they are thicker than the Quartz.
The S-Track is available in three versions:
- $369 Titanium axle with carbon reinforced body with carbon reinforced deflectors (244g)
- $209 Chrome-Molybdenum (Cromoly) steel axle with composite body and aluminum deflectors (290g)
- $109 Base model (tested): Cromoly steel axle with composite deflectors (284g)
The deflectors serve to flip the pedal onto one of its two sides for cleat engagement, similar to the age-old Lyotard Berthet M23 pedals from the 1970’s for those old enough to remember.
Have you subscribed yet? You're missing out if not. Get all-original content and your cyclocross fix throughout the year with our killer print and digital magazine for less than 8 cents a day!
I have two questions. First, how much release angle - I assume they have some float just by the design. Second, you infer that the cleat pedal interface is strictly between the cleat and the pedal with the shoe essentially taken out of the equation - is that right? If so these may just become a bike fitters dream pedal (for shimming and wedging!)
Uh yeah, okay. Time, the other French company got it right a long time ago. I will stick with my ATAC's which have changed very little in my 20 years on them.
Overall an excellent review of the pedals. I wondered with the one caveat being ease of entry why you did not mention the easy cleat vs. the comp cleat choice the pedals come with?
I love them.. They have more platform support then the egg beater from crank brother..but both are great pedals.
@craigmacintyre I checked the release angle and find it closely matches the advertised of 15 degrees. We rode the S-Track with the standard included cleats without the optionally available composite cages, so indeed your statement is true. The shoe treads never contact the pedal, the interface is cleat to pedal only. With the cages, that will likely change. I've spoken to a pro bike fitter local to me about this and he began using the S-Track as his recommended mtb pedal soon after it came out for this very reason.
@ChrisFallon Thanks for the comment. You're a well-informed reader and while we were doing this long-term review, we didn't even notice the new cleat was released this summer. I'll be putting the Easy Cleat option for a run (literally) in the next couple of weeks and will add to the review with an update.