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Look X-Track Race Carbon pedal review – an SPD alternative from Look

Look may have invented the clip-in bicycle pedal, but can their X-Track Race Cardon pedals knock Shimano off the SPD top spot?

Look X-Track Race Carbon pedals
(Image: © Graham Cottingham)

Bike Perfect Verdict

Look X-Track Race Carbon is an excellent SPD alternative to Shimano’s own pedals, although the standard X-Track Race pedals offer much better value than the Carbon versions tested

Pros

  • +

    Very familiar SPD clip in action

  • +

    Stable pedal platform

  • +

    Compatible with Shimano cleats

Cons

  • -

    Heavier and thicker than competing SPD pedals

  • -

    Look's composite option offers better value

  • -

    Need a specific Look tool to service

Like many riders, I often find myself sticking with what I know when it comes to pedals. Shimano’s SPD system is easily the most common off-road clipless pedal design and the default option for new or experienced riders when it comes to choosing the best mountain bike pedals.

Our testing explained

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

There are loads of other brands that are producing clipless pedals although few can boast the heritage of Look. Not only was the french brand the first to bring a clipless pedal system to cycling – admittedly on road bikes – but they also offer an increasingly broad range of off-road pedals for gravel, cross-country, and trail riding. I have been putting the Look X-Track Race Carbon cross-country pedals to the test to see how they perform.

Look X-Track Race Carbon pedals

The X-Track Race Carbon pairs a carbon body with a chromoly axle (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Design and specification

Look offers four levels of the X-Track pedal, all of which have the same design layout but utilize different materials to leverage more performance. I have the Look X-Track Race Carbon pedals on test, which are the second best in the range. There is a broad price range as well, with the basic alloy body and chromoly axle model starting at $55 / £44.90 and the top-of-the-range carbon and titanium pedal topping out at $270 / £180.

The X-Track Race Carbon pedals feature a carbon body and chromoly axle with an 8mm hex fitment. The pedal has a 53mm q-factor and the pedal body measures 60mm wide and 19mm deep. The pedals are serviceable, but you will need to purchase the Look-specific tool separately when the time comes to giving them a spruce up.

Look X-Track Race Carbon pedals

There is a retention screw that controls the clip in and out resistance  (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

The X-Track pedals have the same 13-degree release point as Shimano’s SPD pedals, however they have six degrees of float (how much your foot can move freely in the pedal) which is two more degrees than Shimano. The spring force can be adjusted, allowing riders to tweak the entry and release resistance.

Look provide their own cleats with the pedals, but the pedals are compatible with Shimano’s cleats too so you don’t have to swap your cleats if your existing Shimano cleats still have some life left. There are also X-Track Easy cleats available separately which offer an easier multidirectional release.

Look X-Track Race Carbon pedals

The SPD clip in system will be fimiliar to many riders (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Performance

The pricing puts them in direct, and very stiff, competition with our benchmark pedal choice, the Shimano XT PD-M8100

As the Look pedals use Shimano’s SPD system the clip in action is almost identical to the XT pedals. If you have used Shimano’s single-sided sprung jaw SPD system you will be just at home clipping into the Look pedals as you are Shimano, with both having the same easy scoop engagement and a positive clunk when you engage and disengage the pedal. Despite using the same SPD mechanism with a 13 degree release angle, the X-Track offers 2 degrees more float which will appeal to dynamic riders who may prefer to feel a little looser on the pedals when moving about on the bike.

Look X-Track Race Carbon pedals

The bearings can be serviced but you will need a special tool from Look (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

I like the look of the XT metal body better and the allow gives it a more sturdy feel, although this is entirely a placebo as I have had any issues with the carbon platforms of the X-Tracks. Look says the X-Tracks offer better stability and power transfer as it has a 515 mm squared platform, and while the pedals visually have a bigger footprint, in use I noticed no difference from XT with both pedals offering excellent stability.

One difference between the XT pedals and the X-Track pedals is that the XT’s have an exposed axle length between the pedal body and crank arm. The exposed section makes it easier to fit and remove the pedals, although this is a very minor gripe.

Look X-Track Race Carbon pedals axle details

The covered axles look good but make it more fiddly to fit and remove the pedals (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Verdict

Look’s X-Track offers an excellent gravel and cross-country alternative to the Shimano stalwart, the pedal connection is just as crisp as our benchmark XT’s with a positive click when engaging and disengaging so you know when you're connected. I even rode miss-match pedals and in use still found them almost indistinguishable from the XT’s.

The Look X-Track Race Carbon pedals are heavier than the XT pedals, albeit only 8g, despite the carbon body. Look have potentially undercut the X-Track Race Carbon pedals themselves too, as the composite bodied X-Track Race pedals are only 15g heavier but cost $50 / £42 less, which is a considerable monetary saving for a little weight penalty.

Tech specs: Look X-Track Race Carbon pedal

  • Price: $140 / £114.99
  • Colors: Black
  • Weight: 352g (pair)
  • Float: 6 degrees
  • Release angle: 13 degrees 
  • Key materials: Carbon body, Chromoly spindle
Graham Cottingham
Senior reviews writer, Bike Perfect

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road. Based in Edinburgh he has some of the best mountain biking and gravel riding in the UK right on his doorstep. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro and, most recently, gravel racing. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has embraced bikepacking over the last few years and likes nothing more than strapping some bags to his bike and covering big miles to explore Scotlands wildernesses. When he isn’t shredding the gnar in the Tweed Valley, sleeping in bushes or tinkering with bikes, he is writing tech reviews for Bike Perfect and the muckier side of Cyclingnews 


Rides: Canyon Strive, 24 Bicycles Le Toy 3, Surly Steamroller

Height: 177cm

Weight: 71kg