Flat pedal REVIEW
Crankbrothers Stamp 1 Flat Pedal
Stamp 1 Soothsayer
Testing well-designed injection moulded glass-filled nylon, plastic or 'composite,' pedals is a real treat. They're relatively cheap as mountain bike products go, generally around 50 USD, and that means I'm reviewing a product that a fair number of riders can realistically experiment with, and provide feedback on, which often makes for interesting conversations.
Testing these Crankbrothers Stamp 1 pedals this winter was an exercise in affirmation for me as I'd been recommending folks check them out since the pedals were released for a few reasons beyond my affinity for the modern plastic pedal:
1) My aluminum Stamp 3 pedal experience has been great and they share a similar shape.
2) The inexpensive to produce bodies result in pedals that share the same guts as the company's forged-aluminum platforms, at half the price.
3) The Stamp 1 uses the same guts as Crankbrother's clip-in pedals which means the internals are excellent and readily available from any bike shop or online, and they're dead simple to service.
4) I find the screw-through nut style pins used offer superior bite compared to more expensive aluminum pedal options.
5) Two sizes* of pedals means almost everyone is well served by a 111mm x 114mm or a 100mm x 100mm pedal body.
*I cannot fathom why Crankbrothers doesn't make a third smaller size of the Stamp 1 for kids. Top performing flat pedals with quality guts for 50 USD - I can't be the only one who wants a pair for my kid.
Small body or large body, between the Stamp and Stamp LE there are seven colour options available. The standard colours are Crankbrothers' go-to Black, Blue, and Red. The limited edition colours are turquoise, orange, citron yellow, and purple.
For the rider who's all about the matchy-matchy, those LE colours are obvious fits for a surprising number of 2019 model year bikes.
Crankbrothers' gets huge kudos for consistent internals through most of their pedal line. Between flat pedals and clip-in options only the unnecessarily thin all-IGUS Stamp 11 and Stamp 7 flat models are without the tried-and-tested combination of an Enduro brand cartridge bearing on the outside and an IGUS bushing at the pedal axle.
The two flat pedals in the Crankbrothers lineup I'd consider are the 100 USD forged-aluminum Stamp 3 and the composite Stamp 1. Both of these pedals use the readily available standard Crankbrothers rebuild kit.
An Interlude For Max Grip Riders
Personal preference in the flat pedal and shoe realm is so varied that you are unlikely to align with any of your riding buddies. There are those who prefer soft shoes and a reduced number of short pins, those who want all the grip with the gummiest rubber and the max number of long flesh-tearing spikes. On the other end of the spectrum you have riders who prefer a firmer sole with either of the above combinations. And there are the goldilocks types in some range toward the middle.
I used to be a max grip sort of a rider. I spent something like 14 years riding flats exclusively after forsaking SPDs in the huck-to-flat era, and Fiveten Impact high tops were the only shoe I'd wear, using shin eating pedals.
I've spent the last five years riding mostly Shimano trail SPD pedals while occasionally going to back to flats more recently. I'm heading into one of those stretches now so I gave the Stamp 1 platforms a shot. Despite my size 11 clodhoppers, my preference is for the smaller version so I spun those in (I find the grip a little better using size S - at least for Stamp 3s - and they are less likely to hook up or get stuck in narrow spots). My shoe preference has shifted now that I have periodically returned to flats as well. I've been riding some Ride Concepts Livewire shoes which have stiffer midsoles and firmer outsoles than I used to use. It turns out my return to spuds has made foot position more important than grip, so I'm very happy with the Livewires which allow me to reposition without sitting down without much grip compromise.
My first thought when I placed my foot on the Stamp 1 was that they would not work for me. Sitting in the saddle, the raised axle channel felt too high and took some of the weight of my shoe, compromising grip. Of course descending happens out of the saddle so I reserved judgement, but optimism was low.
The grip was adequate with my Ride Concepts shoes on the climb but on the way down the raised channel made it difficult for me to get adequate purchase on the pins. While the outside pins are higher than the channel, the centre pins on my small Stamp 1s are even with the channel.
While the grip was better than I expected on the descent, it wasn't adequate for me. When I weighted one pedal I could feel my forefoot moving excessively and I simply couldn't dig in adequately. Which means if you appreciate moderate-to-high grip I wouldn't personally recommend these pedals. The excellent Stamp 3 on the other hand is my current favourite - in size small.
And now I'll hand this back to Andrew.
If the pedals fit then use them, and the Stamp 1 series works for me. They combine well with my favourite Shimano GR7 flat pedal shoes for consistent, predictable, and excellent but re-positionable traction. I've also used the pedals with Bontrager Flatline shoes with okay results and I will note that I don't love Five Ten shoes so I have no feedback there.
Pin placement, and the sharp bite, on the large 114mm x 111mm body makes for a fit very similar to the 120mm x 110mm body of my beloved Wah Wah 2 composites and I go back and forth between both pedals without any adaptation time.
Whether the small or large body works best for your feet, as long as the Crankbrothers shape works for you, you can't go wrong with the quality guts and solid bite for 50 USD. My only real complaint is that there isn't a third XS size for groms.