An affordable proposition with great beginner-friendly design consideration, let down by the bearing construction
- - Affordable price
- - Low-tension cleat retention adjustment
- - Ease of cleat replacement when the time comes
- - Bearing life
- - Cleat noise
Of the few brands operating in the road bike pedal segment, Look is quite possibly the most established. After all, Look was first to successfully market the clipless pedal system back in the 1980s. In the four decades since, clipless pedals have come a long way and thanks to trickle-down technology, clipless pedals are available at a range of price points.
The Look Keo Classic 3 Plus pedals are one such example and are positioned as the second most affordable road bike pedals in the Look range, offering a few improvements to the entry-level Classic 3.
At a price of £59.99 / $80.00 / €67,99, they are a fifth of the price of Look's top-tier option, but does that mean they offer a fifth of the performance or do they manage to punch above their price point in a fight against the best road bike pedals?
Design and specifications
The design of the Keo Classic 3 plus follows Look's popular design of a wide platform, substantially increased from the previous generation, and a three-bolt cleat mounting system that is compatible with all of the best road cycling shoes.
By choosing the ‘Plus’ model over the standard Keo Classic 3, you'll get a pair of stainless steel plates bonded into the composite body to aid with power transfer and pedal wear.
The pedals have a Chromoly steel axle, the same as the Keo Classic while all the models above it in the range feature a Chromoly+ axle, right up until you reach the Titanium axle of the Keo Blade Carbon Ceramic Ti. There are no stainless steel axles here, unlike Shimano and Wahoo which both offer stainless steel axle options in the range.
The Look Keo Classic 3 Plus is an attractive option for anyone looking to switch to clipless pedals, it is available at a very competitively low price and comes with adjustable tension to make clipping out easy. However, it does have some shortcomings in use that might mean it is not the best pedal to get started with.
Look uses a single cartridge bearing fixed to the axle and a non-replaceable needle bearing to the outside of the axle, and neither of these is particularly user-serviceable past putting a bit of new grease on the needle bearing. Unfortunately in testing, they have developed play after just a few hundred kilometres, and disappointingly, there's no way of removing that play once it appears.
Once they had started to exhibit wear in the bearing, there were occasions where a pedal wouldn't return to its correct position once I'd unclipped at traffic lights, so when I came to clip in again, I'd have to look down to flick the pedal over with my foot before being able to clip in. It's far from the end of the world, of course, but it becomes particularly frustrating in busy traffic, especially knowing it's not something that can be fixed.
However, that aside, once you’re clipped in and riding, the Look Keo Classic does perform well. It offers a wide range of cleat retention adjustment, which can be set lower (easier to unclip) than the Shimano pedals on their respective lowest settings, and the Wahoo Speedplay which aren't adjustable in this way without a cleat swap. If you are new to clipless pedals, this means you can set a nice easy release tension in case you are worried about being able to get your foot out.
While riding, the float offered by the grey Look Keo Grip cleats is nice and free feeling so you can easily find a comfortable position. The cleats are also offered in zero and nine-degree versions if you would like more or less movement although I found the included grey 4.5-degree version to be adequate with the range of spring adjustment that is available.
The Keo cleats also offer one unique feature in that they have a small pop-out section so when it's time to replace your cleats, you can remove the screws and carefully lift the cleat off while holding the removable ‘memory’ section in place that enables you to place the new cleat in exactly the same position. While this can be fiddly in practice, the idea is nice. One thing that can be said for the Look Keo cleats is they can be prone to being noisy and creaking if the contact area gets damaged from walking. However, this can easily be rectified by filing or sanding any small raised areas of the contact patch.
The Look Keo Classic 3 Plus is a great entry point to trying clipless pedals thanks to the super-easy entry and exit, as well as the fact that the closest rival from another brand is 50 per cent more expensive.
However, if you can stretch to the Shimano 105 pedals, then the initial investment might pay off in the long run with the extended life span and serviceability.
Tech Specs: Look Keo Classic 3 Plus pedals
- Price: £59.99 / $80.00 / €67,99
- Weight: 140g
- Weight with cleats: 159g
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