These iSSi Road pedals offer a great alternative to the more established brands, competing on price as well as build quality. A carbon composite body, stainless steel fixtures and a neat split-cleat construction makes them an interesting choice.
Most people have a preferred pedal choice and stick with it; I know I certainly do, riding Shimano's 5800 SPD-SLs on the majority of bikes.
The iSSis are actually very similar to those, being based around a carbon composite body to reduce weight while maintaining stiffness. At this price point we see many other pedals still using aluminium. Another place where aluminium is often found is the wear plate on top of the pedal body itself, where the centre of the cleat comes into contact; iSSi has gone for stainless steel, which will stand up to a little bit more wear and tear, although the anodised coating wears off pretty quickly from twisting your shoes sideways. It's not a major durability issue but just leaves the pedals quite scruffy looking early on.
When it comes to their performance, I wasn't that impressed with the actual engagement of cleat to pedal; there was no 'snap' or definitive click to let you know you were really attached. Pulling away from traffic lights and the like, I'd be giving my feet a little tug upwards on the first pedal strokes to make sure I was clipped in. Playing around with spring tension, by way of the small adjustment screw, did little to change this.
I did like the platform size of the iSSis, though. It's bigger than the Look Keos, which I mention because that is the shape of cleat the iSSis use. I've used Keos in the past and not really got on with the smaller pedals for power transfer, and I'd suffer hot spots on my soles. No such issues with these.
On the subject of cleats, the Issi ones are quite clever. They come in two pieces, so when it comes to replacing them – which, looking at them, won't be too often as they're wearing well – you can replace a section at a time, meaning your position remains spot on. They come in 0, 4.5 or 7-degree float options, so you choose what you like to keep your knees happy, 7 degrees being the default.
Other than that, the bearings run very smoothly, and once you definitely know you're clipped in, the actual performance in terms of laying the power down is very comfortable and impressive.
Overall, there is a lot to like about the iSSi Roads, even if there are a few things that take the shine off, like that engagement and the scuffing from early on. Being about 15 quid cheaper than the Shimano 5800s, the iSSis look good from a cost to performance view, plus the cleats look as though they'll last a lot longer than Shimano's offerings.
That said, I don't know whether I'd actually switch to the iSSis, purely down to that engagement issue. If you're not so bothered, they're definitely worth a look – for me they're easily the best-performing Keo cleat-using system thanks to the larger platform, which makes them feel more secure and solid than Look's own Keos or the Garmin Vectors I've used in the past.
Competitively priced pedals that offer a solid platform but lack a snappy click
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road.cc test report
Make and model: iSSi Road
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
iSSi says: "The iSSi Road pedal gives you smooth, efficient power transfer so you can get every ounce of performance out of you and your bike, and our split cleat system lets you choose between 3 types of cleat for different float options and simple cleat replacement."
I found the iSSis a decent set of pedals but not as secure feeling as Shimano's 105 option. Split cleat idea is a good piece of design though.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Bushing and sealed cartridge bearing for durability
ED-coated Chromoly spindle resists corrosion
Simple installation with a 8mm hex key
50mm spindle length
Stainless Steel cleat plate provides a solid pedal interface
Adjustable spring tension
0, 4.5, or 7° cleat float with 3-bolt split-cleat system
The bearings feel smooth and the product as a whole feels very well built.
The engagement of cleat and pedal doesn't feel as definite as other systems on the market such as Shimano's SPD-SL, so you never quite know if you're clipped in or not. The rest of the operation seems okay though.
The coating of the stainless steel plate is wearing off already, which is making the iSSis look much older than their five weeks, and markings from where the cleat engages front and back also does the same.
At 266g the iSSis are in the right ball park for the materials and price.
The cleat/pedal body interface provides a good platform – no hot spots.
For a composite bodied pedal the price is slightly lower than expected.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The iSSis are decent enough pedals and are comfortable to ride on, though I wasn't a big fan of the vague engagement.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Clever split cleat design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Vague cleat/pedal engagement.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Overall, the iSSi Road pedals offer everything you really need in terms of ease of use, durability and reliability, with the only thing stopping me swapping from my usual Shimanos being the vague 'clip in'.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Mason Definition
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.