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Crankbrothers Candy 3 pedal review – XC clipless meets platform support

With modest weight, decent mud clearance and a bit of a platform, the Candy is an appealing package

The Candy 3 pedals on a wooden log, with one laying flat and the other slightly raised to show the surface
(Image: © Sean Fishpool)

Our Verdict

While the Candy 3 doesn’t have quite the weight advantage or mud-shedding chops of its Eggbeater brother, you’ll find it more versatile than a typical XC pedal.

For

  • Good in mud
  • More support than a typical XC pedal
  • 5 year guarantee
  • Low maintenance and easily repairable
  • Float and release angle options

Against

  • Vaguer clip-out than SPDs
  • No tension adjustment
  • (Deliberately) softer cleats

When competing against the best clipless MTB pedals on the market, it’s not uncommon for a brand to build on its most minimal design to create more versatile variants. In the case of the Crankbrothers Candy range, it works rather well. The Candy pedals keep the standout feature of the bare-bones Eggbeater pedals, which is their mud clearance, and adds support for softer shoes and more active trail sections out of the saddle.

It comes at the cost of extra weight of course, but because the heart of the pedal is unusually light to start with, the Candy 3 gives you appreciably more support than a normal XC pedal, for pretty much exactly the same weight as an (admittedly cheaper) Shimano XT PD-M8100.

Our testing explained

For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.

Design and aesthetics

A close view of the Candy 3's cleat mechanism

The Candy 3 is a neatly proportioned pedal that looks ready for action (Image credit: Sean Fishpool)

The Crankbrothers Candy 3 takes the chromoly spindle and forged steel cleat-holding wings of the Eggbeater 3, and adds a 6061-T6 aluminum platform in dark red, slate blue or black, with ridges and cross-hatches for grip.

The four-winged spring mechanism rotates within the platform, so you don’t have to be exactly aligned to clip in easily, and there’s a useful amount of mud clearance between the  wings and the platform body.

Surprisingly, the edge to edge measurements of the Candy platform are very similar to those of a Shimano XC SPD pedal, it’s just that a lot more of it makes contact with the shoe. On the SPD, a lot of the length is taken up by the spring mechanisms.

Also, the Candy’s platform extends further inward along the axle (towards the crank) than an SPD’s body does. The width of both pedal units from the crank is about the same. 

All of this — along with the angled outer edges on the Candy — means that you get a lot more shoe contact area without a significantly greater risk of rock strikes.

It’s a neatly proportioned pedal that looks ready for action, and low-key number ‘3’s make for attractive branding. 

Specifications

The central clip-in mechanism and all the internals of the Candy 3 are the same as on the Eggbeater 3. That is, Enduro MAX cartridge bearings at the outer end, a clever self-lubricating bushing on the inner end, a double-seal system, and easy access for maintenance. Replacement internals are available should you need them, and the units come with a five year warranty.

As with most Crankbrothers pedals, you get some useful shoe-fit adapters and cleat options, with the shims and snap-on ‘traction pads’ making sure that the shoe is in proper contact with the pedal. Meanwhile the cleat options mean that you can choose between a zero or six-degree float, and a 10-, 15- or 20-degree release angle. 

The cleats are brass, which means they do wear down faster than steel ones, but that protects the wings of the pedal from wear. It’s worth bearing this in mind, though, especially as at $27 / £25 a pair they’re about $7.50 / £7 more than SPD cleats.

Upgrades to the Candy 3 include the Candy 7 ($180 / £165), which gets better bash-resistance with beveled edges and a tough end-cover, and the Candy 11 ($450 / £400), which gets titanium wings and spindles to save 70g per pair.

The cheaper Candy 2 ($100 / £90) has stamped steel wings rather than forged stainless ones, a simpler end cap, lighter-duty outer bearings, and doesn’t include the shoe-fit sleeves, but it has the same remaining internals and platform.

Performance

Crankbrothers Candy 3 pedal

Riders coming from SPD pedals may be disconcerted at first by the smooth clip-out motion of Crankbrothers cleats (Image credit: Sean Fishpool)

It used to be that one trade-off for the good looks and nice rideability of Crankbrothers pedals was questionable durability, but now our editors find you can have the best of both worlds, even if they’re not cheap. Crankbrothers’ latest bearings, seals and spindles last well, even in British conditions, and if you want to fettle, they’re easy to dismantle with everyday tools, and new internals kits are easy to come by at $30 / £25.

You can see why as many of Crankbrothers’ sponsored XC riders choose Candy pedals as Eggbeaters. The mud clearance is almost as good, both have the same low stack height and planted feel when pedaling, but at 60g for a pair, they’re still only a gram heavier than Shimano XT pedals, for appreciably more support if you’re out of the saddle and moving on the pedals. The modest platform by no means takes them into enduro territory, but provides a useful amount of extra reassurance as courses get more technical, especially if you’re wearing less-than-rock-solid shoes.

Riders coming from SPD pedals may be disconcerted at first by the smooth clip-out motion of Crankbrothers cleats rather than the more definite clunk that they are used to. It’s strange not to have that definite pressure and release, but it’s something that quickly becomes normal.

Verdict

The Candy 3 isn’t cheap but it arguably gives you the best of multiple worlds: better mud clearance and more of a platform than SPD XC pedals, for the same light weight as a pair of XT PD-M8100s. If you were already looking for a smoother clip-out than SPDs, or more release-angle options, that would probably seal the deal; if not, they’re still well worth considering.

Tech Specs: Crankbrothers Candy 3 pedals

  • Price:  $140 / £130 
  • Colors: Slate blue, dark red, black
  • Weight: 344g
  • Key materials: 6061-T6 aluminum platform, stainless steel body, wing and spring, chromoly steel spindle, brass cleats, plastic optional shims and traction pads
Sean Fishpool
Sean Fishpool

Sean has old school cycle touring in his blood, with a coast to coast USA ride and a number of month-long European tours in his very relaxed palmares. Also an enthusiastic midpack club cyclocross and XC racer, he loves his role as a junior cycle coach on the Kent/Sussex borders, and likes to squeeze in a one-day unsupported 100-miler on the South Downs Way at least once a year. Triathlon and adventure racing fit into his meandering cycling past, as does clattering around the Peak District on a rigid Stumpjumper back in the day.


Height: 173cm

Weight: 65kg

Rides: Specialized Chisel Comp; Canyon Inflite CF SLX; Canyon Aeroad; Roberts custom road bike