Keywin CRM Ti road pedals

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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by Stolichnaya

There has been a lot of ranting from Speedplay customers and it prompted me to consider a change myself (long time user of Speedplay Zero Track model). I find it hard to support a company like Speedplay if even half of the thread comments are true.

The search for new pedals had parameters, in no particular order: small company with good service (and a desire to work with customers as opposed to suing them), low-profile design, rebuildable, light weight, no rider weight limit, pricing that did not break the bank when outfitting multiple road bikes. I crossed Look, Time and Shimano off the list for various reasons because I wanted to try something new. Keywin seemed like a good fit to try out.

Out of the Box – Weight and looks:
The CRM’s come in either ti or cro-mo axels, with 5 choices for axel length (neutral, -3, +3, -6 and +6 mm). I received the Keywin CRM Ti road pedal with a -3 mm axels. This translates to a distance between the crank and the middle of the pedal body is 52mm.

The weight was spot on at 192 grams for both pedals. The cleats and hardware added another 46 and 28 grams respectively for a total system weight of 266 grams. That is a pretty good start for a light system that only costs 120 EUR (ti axel).
The weight loss from the Speedplay Zero Track system (pedals, cleats, hardware and 3 ‘LeWedge’ shims) was 67 grams.
I have not taken any photos on the scale, but the weights were calculated in an acceptable digital kitchen scale.

The pedals have a decidedly industrial ‘prototype’ look to them - not really an issue for me as they are out of sight when riding. And for contact points, it's 'function before form'. The box that it all came in is very low key and simple – not the unnecessarily expensive presentation box that Speedplays now come in. This probably helps keep the Keywin price point down a bit.

Set Up:
This was extremely easy. The cleats are thin, but the last time I had pedals with such a cleat, it was Look Delta, so I surmise that they are close in priofile to similar competitive pedal systems. The Keywin cleats seem custom formed to suit the shape of Sidi carbon soles. The 3-bolt pattern was a refreshing change after years of 3-bolt adaptors with Sidi shims and 4 bolt cleats for the Speedplay systems. In comparison to Speedplay, the set up for Keywin was a breeze.

I ride with a heel in position so Speedplay offered a very friendly design to find the right foot position. Those of you with drastic heel in positions will have difficulty with Keywins. I am sure you could probably file down the bolt holes in the cleats to achieve proper position though. The pedal design has 6 degrees of float, which can be limited with some small internal clips to a fixed position.

My saddle height was only altered a few mm when making the switch to Keywin from Speedplay Zero. Based on the low profile Keywin cleat, I think people switching from Look, Time and Shimano might have to do more. Keywin claims the stack height is 17 mm. Speedplay Zeros are 12 mm, as I recall, but my LeWedge shims increased that some. I have only raised the saddle 3 mm up and 1 mm forward so far.

There is plenty of fore-aft space in the cleat to suit most cleat positions. If you run a mid-sole position, I would inquire directly with Keywin about positioning and cleat flexibility. From the look of it, one could probably get quite close to a mid sole position if your shoes’ mounting holes are set back a bit.

First Impressions:
Stomping down on a Speedplay pedal and the two sided entry is a mindless exercise. Plus, the Zero Track pedals sound like a gunshot when you engage the pedal. Going back to the toe forward entry action with the Keywins was not the easiest in all honesty. The Keywins also have almost no audible feedback to tell you the pedal and cleat are engaged. This was unnerving and I still find myself pulling up on the shoe to test the connection even after a few hundred kms of testing them.

This reduced entry speed combined with reduced cornering clearance (compared to Speedplay) may cause the competitive crit riders reading this shy away a bit. However, I was accustomed to pedalling through corners after years on Speedplay and have not changed my riding style with the Keywins - so far no pedals caught!

I originally switched to the Speedplay Zero Track model a long time ago because I was pulling out of other pedals including regular Zeros, Look (Delta cleat models) and Campagnolo. I have not pulled out of the Keywins yet, but do have concerns about my wayfaring heels causing an untimely release. The clip that holds the back of the cleat in place when engaged is so small that I have (no doubt misguided) fears of ripping it out of the pedal body. I have given it a few good sprints/intervals and static tugs with no unexpected releases. I will continue to test this are carefully and watch how the retention clip wears long-term. (There is a track adaptor that locks the cleat down completely – no release – but this is seriously not recommended. Ha!)

With Speedplay pedals I was forced to use 2 shims under one foot and 1 shim under the other to keep my feet/knees aligned. I am running the Keywins without any cleat shims so far and do not have any knee or ankle pain/soreness. My knees are tracking evenly and no hot spots experienced yet either. This was all a very pleasant surprise that I cannot explain yet, but I am beginning to wonder about how unhealthy that small amount of lateral rock in the Speedplay Zero system is…

The Keywin cleats are thin and look frail compared to the Speedplay 'armored' plates, so I have been limiting my walking as much as possible. I corresponded with Keywin and they advised that cleat covers are being considered. Just in case, I ordered several sets of spare cleats with the original pedals.

Having said that the pedals bodies appear to require less maintenance than the Speedplays – no weekly lubing, etc. – so far.

The pedals certainly spin better than Speedplay, which is not saying much, but there is more friction than with top Look or Shimano models. I expect the Keywins to loosen up a bit as the bearings break in.

An interesting design feature is that the float in the system is achieved in the pedal – the pedal body and cleat move in tandem and the float is achieved by the pedal body moving in relation to the axel. I wonder if this will produce less of the squeaking that a lot of other 3 bolt cleat system users experience?

As mentioned above, the pedals can be run with either a fixed or 6 degree float. However, it bears mentioning that the radial float setting can be adjusted with respect to stiffness. If you dislike the “ice skate” feeling that Speedplays can produce when standing, etc. then this is a nice option in the Keywins. It does take some patience to get this stiffness dialed in though, so take a deep breath, read the instructions and go with micro adjustments in between tests.

I do not feel any lack of stiffness in the system in comparison to the Speedplay Zero Track. Both seem to have shorter axels and a narrow Q factor, so they feel solid. For reference I am 189 cm and 87 kg currently... Shrinking due to age but losing weight too :P

Ordering comment / Service:
I am in the EU and there is limited distribution on the Continent for this New Zealand-based company’s products. My online order took 6 weeks to complete (a site that stated a 7-day lag) and it was clear after receiving the pedals that, just by reading the Keywin website, I knew more about the product that the EU retailers. I was miffed about this experience and wrote directly to Keywin. They responded quickly, apologized and offered to process a direct order should I want to order multiple sets for my other bikes. (Note: Austria does not have a designated distributor, so there is no conflict here.) The correspondence with Keywin also confirmed that they are a very nice bunch.

So, lesson learned from ordering is that if you are in the EU and want these pedals or replacement parts, plan ahead and explain exactly what you want (axel width, spindle material, etc.) to the retailer (example: I expected to receive the neutral or standard length pedal axels and received -3 mm instead.)

Closing Comment:
So far the weight, ease of set up, leg comfort and affordability of the Keywin CRM pedals seem to trump the spotty EU availability, perceived reduced cornering clearance and entry speed.

Hope that helps in some way. I will try to report back later after a few thousand km’s are in the pedals.

I do not represent, nor am I vested in, Keywin products in any way other than as a recent consumer.

Last edited by Stolichnaya on Fri Jul 22, 2011 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by WillT

Excellent review!

How difficult, or easy, did you find it to clip out of the pedals? Was it similar to Shimanos?

by Weenie

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by sgray

Great Review!
I've been on Keywin Ti pedals for the past 15 years. You get used to the action, can't imagine anything else now. Also, I've never had a problem with pulling out in a sprint...though Keywin also sell a track adapter that locks you into the pedal. You wouldn't use it on the road, but possibly for a Crit?

The cleats last a long time too, I'm on my 3rd set but they never really wore out...still functioned fine though were extremely worn.

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by ak47

I am using the cro-mo axle version and have to say that this review is spot on. Just like Stolichnaya I have moved to keywins from speedplays (zero) and I don't regret this decision. They are simple, fully rebuildable, durable set of pedals with many axle lengths available. The only drawback is the mentioned tricky entry. It's indeed not easy if you have moved from speedplays and there is almost no noise, so I always pull my leg up to check if the connection is secure. Aside from that they might be the best pedals I have used.

WillT: clipping out is easy, similar to shimano

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by WillT

ak47 wrote:Clipping out is easy, similar to shimano

Good to hear, thanks!

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by cyclenutnz

They always have the sluggish feel to the bearings when new - it goes away and they will end up spinning very freely.

It may be harder for you in Europe, but here we can get the pedal bodies fornot much more than the cleats - everything is replaceable (and affordably so) - a lot of people have been running the same axles for many years (I have several sets of bodies, cleats and tubes of bearings spare). The plastic construction is a big advantage from that perspective.

It's pretty much impossible to clip out towards the crank because of the shape of the clip. I wouldn't worry too much on that count.

They've been working on a lighter version for a while - some friends have SLA bodies of a new shape that I think gets into the 160s. But they're not in a rush as the current model works so well and they're not prepared to jeopardise that.

Every set I've ever measured has been precisely at the claimed weight - 192 for Ti and 248 for cromo.

They are still completely made in NZ. The Designer/Owner is one of the nicer people you could meet/ride with. His original design came out right around the time of the first Looks.

And I don't represent them in any way either. Just a long term, happy customer. My fondest dream is that they're working with Garmin on Vector... (I've not heard anything that indicates this is on the radar). - 3D Motion Capture and Frame Finder Software

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Powerful Pete
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by Powerful Pete

Thanks for this thread. Looking forward to more feedback on how they work over time.

Impressed by the price/weight ratio.

Are these easy to find in the US?
Road bike: Cervelo R3, Campagnolo Chorus/Record mix...
Supercommuter: Jamis Renegade...
Oldie but goodie: De Rosa Professional Slx, Campagnolo C-Record...
And you can call me Macktastik Honey Pete Kicks, thank you.

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by sgray

Powerful Pete wrote:Thanks for this thread. Looking forward to more feedback on how they work over time.

Impressed by the price/weight ratio.

Are these easy to find in the US?

Nope, but you can pick up a pair from Canada on Flea bay for around $120 USD. They're a lot cheaper than anything else in the weight range too.

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by rustychisel

excellent assessment, both of the pedals and your buying experiences.

Keywin's are brilliant in design and concept, I use 4 pairs in total, including on my fixed gear for commuting, and you're right about clipping in - and let's face it, single sided vs double sided entry - but it's a very small minus. I've never accidentally released, including on the track, and they have my total confidence. As to longevity, the cleats will - in my experience - outlast Look Keo cleats by at least a factor of 4 or 5.

A hint for maintenance (of which their is virtually none), when the pedals get a bit scruffy or gritty, give them a quick polish with standard black shoe polish and a brush. Squeaking? Never.

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by kac

That was a very informative and helpful review. Thanks!!


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by indywagon

I was unaware that Keywin was still in business. I had a pair of their pedals back in the mid 80s, I think. My friend, Brent Emery, of Olympic Track fame, referred to them as "Kiwi Death Pedals." The new models look pretty cool, but still quite reminiscent of those original ones.


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by micky

Using Keywin Ti since 4 years ago and beside the look (very ugly :mrgreen: ) couldn't be happier!

Im lucky enought to have a bike shop in Verona that carries Keywin parts.

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by BdaGhisallo

The Keywins are a good product and mighty inexpensive compared to some of the other top pedals. In terms of platform size, they simply can't be beat. Sure they may be a little tricky to get into compared to Speedplay, but I think that concern is overblown. If the pedal works for you, functionally and biomechanically, what's an extra second or two in order to clip in properly?

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by Cyco

I have been using Keywin pedals for about 12 years. I love them.

I had used the Diadora pedals, and when they where no longer available I tried pretty much everything on the market, and they all had failings, till I started using the CRMs.

I do use them on the track, with the track locks, and have ridden them on the road. I had an accidental lock in one day, and it was an eye opening moment when I couldn't unclip!

The cleats last years, and the plastic body gives good ground clearance, but when they do touch the ground when cornering they slide easily, rather than kicking you, and making falls less likely.
Success is how far you you bounce back up after being knocked down

by Weenie

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by whoopsie

I too switched from Speedplays (Before that Keos) and can only echo the comments here. I did unclip once in the first week- shortly after clipping in- and it was simply that I hadn't fully rotated my heel into the petal- because there is no clip-in noise it seemed in. So the lesson learned was just fully rotate the heel till it stops- never any issues since! Cleats last forever but are SLIPPERY when walking!!!! Fit Specialised BG shoes perfectly.

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