Review: Crank Brothers Smarty Pedals

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Crank Brothers

Product Tested:
Crank Brothers Smarty Pedals

Website’s MSRP:
$ 59.00

weight 282g per pair
spindle scm435 chromoly steel
body composite
rails high-impact polymer
wings carbon steel
spring steel
standard cleat included
shims included
release angle 15Ëš or 20Ëš
max rider wgt no restriction
warranty 1 year

About Me:
6’0� 210lbs, 27 year old male. I’m a mountain biking enthusiast who enjoys rocking the big 29er wheels.

Testing Grounds:
Fullerton Loop, Powder Canyon, Chino Hills State Park, Peters Canyon various other trails in Southern California

Nice packaging

First Impression:
Nice looking box (better packaging than my SPD pedals came in). I also like the color rail options. When I first tried the Smarty pedals I realized right away that the release angle was wrong for me. Basically it took too much to ankle rotation to release the clip from the pedal. After riding once with that release angle, I went home and changed it (very easy to do). Now, using the 15 degree release angle, I am much more comfortable clipping out.

The Crank Brothers Smarty pedals are basically two pedals built into one. You have the option of using the clipless part for trail riding or the small platforms built around the clipless pedal for cruising around town/whenever you’d prefer to have your shoes unclipped while on the trail.

On the trail

As with any clipless pedal, the first and probably most important factor, is the ability to clip in and out. The Smarty pedals were easy to clip in and out. I originally assumed that the small platform would make this process difficult, but I was proven wrong.

At the same time I was testing the Smarty pedals, I also got a chance to ride the Crank Brothers Egg Beaters a few times. I even rode them back to back with the Smartys on different bikes to see the clip in/clip out difference between the two pedals. My conclusion is that the Egg Beaters are slightly easier to clip in (clipping out is the same). Because you’re able to clip in from all four sides, they are slightly easier to clip in than the Smarty.

This is not a dig at the Smartys. If I graded on a 10 point scale for ease of clip-in , the Egg Beaters would receive a 9 & the Smarty would get an 8. It’s easy, just not quite as easy as the Egg Beaters and there is certainly no shame in that.

Egg Beaters
Crank Brother Egg Beaters (not the Smarty pedals)

The reason why the Smartys are slightly less easy to clip in is because of the small platform that encompasses the clip-in. The Smartys took a split second longer to clip in because finding the Smarty pedal did not mean you had found the spot to clip in where as the finding the Egg Beater pedal meant you had found the spot to clip in.

Another plus with the Smarty is that the pedals shed mud like none other. When I was testing these pedals, I got to ride in some rare So. California mud a few times but the mud doesn’t bother the clip in mechanism. The open design of the clip doesn’t allow for mud to get in the way of engagement which means the Smartys clip in very consistently & very easily.

The Crank Brothers website says the Smartys MSRP for $59 but I’ve seen them for as low as $29.99 through a few weeks back. Currently they’re being sold through for $39.99 a pair. That’s a lot of value & versatility for the price.

I wasn’t able to find many weaknesses with this pedal. I did notice that to tighten or loosen the pedal you have to use a hex wrench. This caught me by surprise since I usually just grab a monkey or metric wrench to remove most pedals. But this is not too much of a problem because most riders have the appropriate hex wrench on a multi tool.

Only a hex wrench here

The composite material that the platform is made from does scratch. After falling a few times with these pedals, you can tell they aren’t brand new anymore. But on the flip side, after banging them around, they still work. That has to say something about their durability.

Stands up to a beating

The other weakness I found is that it is not a light pedal. This doesn’t really matter to me but to some of you out there it matters. At 282 grams per pair, it falls somewhere in the middle range of most mountain biking pedals. It is significantly lighter than Shimano SPD pedals, but it is not quite as light as some of Crank Brothers Egg Beater offerings.

I see the Smarty as a great do-it-all pedal. If you’re a beginner rider who doesn’t want to be clipped in on the technical sections of the trail, get the Smarty. For the mountain biker who wants clips but uses the same bike for trips to the grocery store, get the Smarty. For the biker who lets his newbie friends borrow his bike, get the Smarty.

The Smartys rock because for the price you get a clip in and platform color coordinating pedal that works well in nearly all conditions.

For more info about the Crank Brothers Smarty pedal, click here.

7 thoughts on “Review: Crank Brothers Smarty Pedals

  1. I have used smarty pedals for 15 months and now I am noticing a lot of play on the shaft of the pedal. I am unable to tighten them and it is looking like they might break any time. I had pedals on my bike for 10 years (non-clip) and I broke one of them just before trying clip in pedals for the first time. I have fallen a few times and am leary of using them where a quick foot plant is necessary but overall they have been easy to get in and out. I ride about 3 to 4 hours a week.

    I am inclined though to try spds for the durability. 1 year + is not very long before imminent replacement.

  2. I’ve talked to CB about the Smarty’s after some usage. They said that the Smarty’s are really an “entry” level pedal. They were not made to be rebuilt. You’ll need to purchase at least an “SL” model of a CB pedal for the pedal to be rebuild-able.

    At the price, I’d also agree that they are entry level. If you like CB pedals I’d consider investing in maybe a Candy SL (this is an earlier version, which is a little cheaper than the 2009).

    or if you do not need the platform, the Egg Beater SL.

    Good luck.

  3. As with jalanjalan, my Smartys began to fail after about a year and a few months, getting quite loose around the spindles. These pedals cannot be rebuilt.

    Last night I got brave and took one apart, only to find that the ball bearings are packed loose on each side of the spindle, 15 per side. Needless to say it was a nightmare to put back together and I opted to do my best to just tighten the other one using needle nice pliers.

    These came standard on my Rocky Mountain Element 50, and if I knew the durability was this bad I would have replaced them immediately along with the stock saddle. I used Wellgo SPDs for over 8 years on my old bike without failure or loosening, so this is very disappointing.

    That said, the clip design that Crank Brothers uses is far superior to SPD, especially for those that ride in muddy conditions. I’ve never had troubles clipping in no matter how much mud was on my shoes or the pedals. I will definitely be buying Eggbeaters to replace these. These use better bushings and sealed bearings and can be rebuilt.

    So the short, don’t buy the Smartys. If you get them with a bike trade-up immediately. The durability is just not there.

  4. After the second ride one pedal fell apart sending ball bearings through the bush and rendering the pedals irreparable.

    I contacted Crankbrothers but they didn’t seem to be able, or want, to offer an explanation choosing instead to tell me that they are an “economical option”. I don’t think $50 for less than two rides is very economical at all.

    I really would have liked to continue riding crankbrothers but I don’t want to risk my pedals causing me to crash.

  5. I purchased my Smarty’s from a buddy, as they came off of his new Specialized Stumpjumper, and he uses Shimano. I got about a months use on them before I noticed excessive play on the pedal body/axle. It got nothing but worse, and finally had to take them off. I could not adjust the ‘cones’ to tighten up the play. I now concider them garbage, and thats just where they went. I have several pairs of Candy’s, and the original eaggbeaters, and have had good luck with them. Its a shame they still produce the Smarty model.

  6. Just to basically second or third what others have said here, I’ve been riding Crank Bros for a couple years but am going back to SPD. I’ve only used Egg Beaters, not the models with platforms. I initially had a lower cost Egg Beater model and more recently used the top of the line Egg Beater. They are indeed light, great for getting in and out of, and do very well in mud, but they don’t last. I probably only got 5 or 6 months of significant riding out of the more expensive model before having to replace them last month. Shortly thereafter I learned, unfortunately, how easy it is to destroy an Egg Beater on a rock (the platform on the Candy’s/Smarties probably affords a little more protection).

  7. also sorry for purchasing two pairs of cb pedals there junk would not recomend them,thats why they sell rebuild kits, factory knowingly know their a defect/bad pedals, The so called stainless steel shaft wear down easily TOO much excess play BAD MATERIALs.

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