As part of the Ergon Commuter Team, I’ve had the opportunity to ride the Ergon PC2 pedals. The PC2s are Ergon’s ergonomic pedals, combining the convenience of a flat pedal with the efficiency and power of a clipless pedal. While I often commute to work using clipless pedals, I only do so because I’ll be using my bike at lunch for mountain biking on the local trails. For commuting and riding around town though, I much prefer wearing my regular shoes, and flat pedals allow me to use whatever shoes I happen to be wearing that particular day.
Here’s how Ergon describes the PC2 pedals:
A more efficient pedal. Ergon introduces the first flat pedal (or Contour Pedal as we call it) to provide an ergonomic and positive connection between bike and user. The first pedal designed with biomechanics and correct foot position in mind. Advantages are increased power transfer, more control and fewer hot spots and knee complaints. The Ergon PC2 is the first non SPD-type pedal constructed with the ergonomic biomechanical demands of the user as a priority.
Design and Ergonomics
Obviously a lot of thought went into designing the PC2 pedals, not only on how they would function, but the materials they’d be built from as well.
Instead of using a jagged metal cage or studs to keep your shoes from slipping on the pedals, the PC2s use grip tape. Where your shoe meets the pedal, the surface is covered with a rugged anti-slip material made of 3M SafetyWalk. Ergon claims the surface allows for the strong hold of your shoes in all weather conditions, but I’m not certain how they’ll function in the snow. With winter fast approaching, we should find out soon.
The PC2 pedals are equipped with large-area integral reflectors made in co-operation with Busch&Müller in Germany. Reflectors in motion, like on the pedals and wheels, are more visible at night than when mounted in stationary locations.
The PC2 pedals are also equipped with exclusively developed, ultra flat and maintenance free polymer journal bearings made by Igus in Germany. Maintenance free sounds great to me, and I’m eager to see how they hold up over a wet winter.
The pedal body is made of weight optimized high performance composite synthetics. This construction was made in close co-operation with German injection molding specialist Magura.
The concave surface of the pedals follows the natural contour of your feet. Look at the bottom of your shoes, and you’ll notice they’re not completely flat. They curve up slightly at the ball of the foot. Your shoe naturally rests on the PC2 pedal with the ball of your foot over the axle of the pedal. This is the best position to transfer power to the pedals, and where conventional flat pedals differ. The ball of your foot tends to be more in front of the axle with regular flat pedals. You get less power transfer this way, and also the potential for knee discomfort.
To compensate for the different foot position, the pedal platform is quite long for full support. This not only increases efficiency, but spreads the weight load over a bigger surface (much like the line of Ergon Grips). Additionally, there are inner stops on the pedals that your shoes rest against. This further helps line up your feet, and keeps your shoes from rubbing on the cranks while pedaling.
The surface of the pedal slopes downward at 6° from the crank to the outer edge of the pedal. This follows the orientation of the forefoot and matches direction of the power that is brought to the pedal. If you sit on the edge of a table and dangle your legs off the end, you’ll notice that the outer edges of your feet hang a bit lower than the insides. These pedals take this natural foot position into consideration. I have a pair of Specialized cycling shoes that use this same design principle, and I find them to be very comfortable.
The inner stop of the pedal is nearly flush against the cranks. Minimal Q-factor, basically bringing your feet closer to the center of the bike, is said to optimize the position of the legs for more power and comfort.
OK, enough with all the fancy design talk. How do the PC2s actually ride? I’ve tried them on 2 different bikes, using 4 different pairs of shoes. Here’s what I found.
I first installed the PC2s on my On One Inbred single speed. It’s setup as a mountain bike, and it’s also the bike I currently have my Ergon grips installed on. The PC2s replaced a set of cheap plastic BMX style pedals. The first thing I noticed was that my feet went right where they were supposed to be, the contours of my shoes matching up with the contours of the pedals. This placed the ball of my foot right over the pedal axle for maximum power. On the old BMX pedals, it took more care to find the right spot, and often the left and right feet weren’t doing the same thing.
Only my widest shoes would sometimes momentarily catch on the pedal’s inner stop, taking me just a second to adjust my foot over in about the same time it takes to clip into a clipless pedal. All the other shoes I tested, which included hiking boots, sport sandals, and sneakers, were a bit narrower, and dropped right into place on the pedal without any interference or delay. My only real complaint is that the over-sized pedals didn’t quite match the appearance of the rest of the bike. The On One is very minimalistic, including the skinny steel tubing of the frame. It had the look of big pedals on a little bike. Nitpicking.
The second installation was on my long Kona Ute utility bike. This bike came with some narrow bear trap style pedals that have always given me problems. Not only did my feet always feel like they were never lined up properly on the narrow platform, the jagged edges of the pedal were responsible for many a bloody shin. The bike is heavy and long, and my legs often got scraped by the pedals, most often when I was just standing over the bike or moving the bike into a parking spot.
Since the Kona Ute is heavy to begin with, and even heavier loaded with cargo, maximum power to the pedals is really important to get the bike moving. The larger surface area on the PC2 spreads the load out over a wide portion of the foot for great power transfer. Stiff soled shoes are just as comfortable as flexible shoes on the big platform. I use this bike year-round, so it’ll be nice to not worry about what shoes I’m wearing. Sandals or hiking boots, I’ll be ready to roll.
So while on the first test bike I felt like the PC2s were a nice enhancement, the Ergon pedals feel like a significant upgrade on my utility bike. This is where I plan to keep them. The PC2 pedals really transform the way the Ute rides, and the long platforms don’t look at all out of place on the long bike. The smoother surface of the PC2 should also keep the skin on my legs where it belongs.
The Ergon PC2s are a good blend of comfort, convenience, and efficiency, with attention to detail, construction, and materials.
Since the pedal body mounts flush against the crank arm, there is no way to use a standard pedal wrench for installation. Instead, an 8mm allen wrench is used at the end of the pedal axle. Clean the threads, apply a small amount of grease to the threads, install the pedals by hand to prevent cross-threading, and then finish off with the wrench. The PC2s come with an extensive manual that includes full installation details and other tips. Don’t forget that the left pedal has reverse threads, i.e. turning the axle counter-clockwise tightens it.
- Available in small and large (tested here)
- Small (max.EU42 / UK7.5 / US8.5)
- Large (min. EU 43 / UK 8 / US 9)
- Material: Superlight GFK Composite
- Intended Use: Touring, Commuting, General Riding
- Maintenance free polymer bearing
- PC2-L – 506 grams per set
- PC2-S – 444 grams per set
- Ergon Website: http://www.ergon-bike.com/us/en/home
Disclaimer: This product was given to BikeCarson.com at no charge for test and review as part of the Ergon Commuter Team campaign. We were not paid or bribed to do this review, and will provide our honest and personal views throughout the entire process.