Can Pedals Make You a Better Rider?

Catalyst Pedal

James Wilson could be described as your average mountain bike lover. Based in Grand Junction, CO, he gets out to ride as much as his day job will allow. But one thing that sets him apart is his years long obsession with pedals.

The common wisdom is that clipless equals performance and for those of us that find our feet bouncing all over the place on flat pedals, this may be true. But Wilson decided it was flat pedal design, not the idea of flat pedals, that needed improving. So he did just that.

When weight lifting in the gym, Wilson noted that he could lift hundreds of pounds without the need for stiff soled shoes simply because the ground supports both ends of the arch of the foot. The arch of your foot is super strong but only if it is supported on both ends.

This is when he realized that every pedal ever designed has been made from the assumption that you need to push through the ball of your foot. But Wilson noted you only want to do that when you want your foot to break contact with what it is on and since your foot stays in contact with the pedal throughout the pedal stroke, it wants to act much differently. In this case, it is more like the squat or deadlift in the gym, where you want to have both ends of the arch of your foot supported so you can drive through a strong, stable foot.

A mid-foot placement also takes the stress off your calves and achilles tendon and places it on the hips. It’s your hips – and not your quads – that have been shown to be the major drivers of the pedal stroke. Taken together, all of this points to a pedaling platform that optimizes the mid-foot placement to best recruit the hips, which are the main muscles used to power the pedal stroke.

Which is exactly what Wilson did with the Catalyst Pedal. By providing a platform that lets you support both ends of the arch of your foot, the pedal supports your foot the same way the ground would, allowing for a more balanced, stable foot position and increased power transfer into the drivetrain.

To accomplish this, the Catalyst Pedal features a full 5 inches/ 128 mm of contact space for your foot. This allows the pedal body to support both the ball of the foot and the heel while also resulting in a true mid-foot placement of the axle.

The pedal isn’t any wider than a normal flat pedal – 3.75 inches/ 95 mm to be exact. This means that it disappears under your foot and doesn’t expose any extra pedal body to rock strikes. This also means that the Catalyst Pedal is actually smaller underfoot than any other “oversized” flat pedal.

In order to get the most out of your Catalyst Pedals you just need to do one simple thing — make sure that axle is in the middle of your arch. Wilson’s company Pedaling Innovations is selling his pedals for $99 for a pair.

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