A solid choice offering all the qualities on which Look has built its reputation, but a few minor niggles leave it behind its rivals
- - Wide availability
- - Competitively priced
- - Lightweight design
- - Bold styling cues
- - Cleats wore faster than rivals
- - Bearing play
The Look Keo 2 Max Carbon pedals along with the Keo 2 Max are probably two of the most popular pedals on the market, due to them sitting in the middle of the range of one of the most popular pedal manufacturers in the world.
Look has been in the pedal market for a long time and, while the French brand didn’t originally invent clipless systems, it can be credited for making the system usable. With the introduction of the three-bolt cleat back in 1984, the standard that almost all road pedals still use to to this day, its influence on the market cannot be discounted.
Clipless pedals have come a long way since then, and the Keo 2 Max Carbon has benefitted from decades of innovation and trickle-down tech. However, while they can claim to win the popularity contest, how do they compare against the best road bike pedals?
Design and specifications
The Keo 2 Max Carbon sits above the visually similar Keo 2 Max, and the Classic 3 Plus. The Keo 2 Max Carbon is visually different to the Classic 3 with its wider pedalling platform and full-width steel plate, offering a wide pedalling platform at 5cm across. This plate also gives the impression of a more premium pedal.
Aesthetically, the pedal is almost entirely black in colour. The steel plate on the pedalling platform is silver, as per the material's finish, and the only additional colour comes courtesy of the Look branding and Keo 2 Max Carbon wordmark on the axle.
At the rear of the pedal's upper face, an easy-access hex bolt can be used to adjust the cleat tension, while the axle houses the bearings.
The closest competitor to the Keo 2 Max Carbon is the Shimano R8100 pedal, both in terms of where it sits in the range and the price point. Both options can be sourced online for similar prices if you find the right deal.
The pedal weights are almost indistinguishable with the Shimano coming in at 124g for the pedal and the Keo 2 Max Carbon at 125g on our scales. Interestingly, these are both exactly on the claimed weight, something that doesn’t happen too often. Once cleats are included, Shimano gains the plaudits with a marginal victory. Total weights are 142g for the R8100 and 145g for the Look Keo 2 Max Carbon.
Both pedals offer a large range of release adjustment in the same manner, a small hex key bolt on the rear of the pedal. They also both offer a small window on the rear to check how far through the adjustment range you are and to make sure both pedals are set the same.
On initial set-up, the Look Keo 2 Max Carbon is every bit as secure as the Shimano pedals with clipping in and release feeling very similar. Over the duration of the test though the Look cleats did wear noticeably faster than the Shimano, this resulted in some play between the cleat and the pedal with no amount of adjustment removing it.
The Keo 2 Max Carbon are supplied with Look’s gripper cleats, the difference being a rubber pad at the front and rear of the cleat. These provided a bit more grip than the standard cleat supplied with the Keo Blade Carbon Ceramic but the grip section was again very short-lived compared to the Shimano cleat. And after a single slip on a smooth surface, one of the grippers was cleanly removed from the cleat. The cleats supplied with the more expensive pedals have a harder wearing section on the retaining sections of the cleat so these fared better - wearwise - but were the worst on test for grip when walking. It seems Look customers must choose between cleat wear or grip, unfortunately, you can’t have both.
While riding, the pedals were as you would expect, offering a nice wide platform with plenty of support, no off-axis roll because of the width, leaving very little to pick between these and their rivals. The pedals did start to develop a bit of play after a couple of months of use, nothing serious but with no way of adjusting them it is a little disappointing.
While the Look Keo 2 Max is a good pedal, it doesn’t do anything better than its rivals. As a result, if it comes down to a choice for your first set of pedals, it would be hard to pick these over their Shimano rival.
However, if you are offered them as part of a bike deal or if you are already tied into the Look platform, then they are a solid choice offering with a reliable and durable reputation.
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Peter has been riding and racing road, CX, and mountain bikes since the early 2000’s. He spent a decade working at a large independent bicycle shop, handling customer service, warranty and technical questions. Thanks to an obsession with product details he loves nothing more than picking over the newest tech.
Peter is a fastidious mechanic and will not settle for anything less than perfect when it comes to bike setup, whether it be a child first bike or a highly integrated top-tier time trial or road bike.
He’s been writing for Cyclingnews since 2020 as a Contributing Writer, where having a 50km commute to his day job allows him to quickly rack up the miles when putting any new products to the test in all weathers.
He currently rides one of the following: Specialized Tarmac SL6, Basso Diamate, Talbot Frameworks steel road, Trek Emonda ALR, Specialized Crux, Santa Cruz Tallboy.
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