By Vernon Felton
Taiwanese manufacturer, HT, offers a line of "EVO" flat pedals, all of which follow the same basic formula: ultra-thin platforms paired to a unique spindle that incorporates dual DU bushings and an outboard patent bearing. I've been running the mid-level AE03s for more than a year now and, with a few reservations, have been pretty satisfied. But first…here's a bit of background….
The first thing you notice about the EVO flat pedal is that it is freakishly thin. At a mere 11 millimeters at their thickest point, these things give you a hell of a lot more clearance than you average flat pedal—a huge plus if you live and ride amongst the roots and rocks or if you (like me) favor bikes with low bottom brackets. That thin platform also reduces the bane of flat pedals—that is, the tendency for pedals to roll beneath your foot at the worst possible time (usually mid-rock garden). Simply put, the closer your foot is to the axle, the better; few pedals place your foot closer to the axle than HT’s EVO models.
This pedal’s platform itself isn't monstrously wide, but it is ever so slightly concave and offers very solid and stable footing. While there's nothing fancy about the 10 steel pins that sprout from each side of the HTs, their placement is nice and even. The grip on these pedals is quite good with just about any shoe and excellent with anything that sports a truly sticky sole. From a purely functional perspective, the HT pedals are one of my favorite models on the market.
Now, for my one complaint: that unique outboard bearing isn't without its problems. For starters, it proved fairly prone to contamination. To be fair, the Pacific Northwest has a way of inserting grit into almost any device that spins, but I've used several other pedals that have endured winters here with better results. Fortunately, disassembling and servicing these pedals is a breeze.
More troublesome—the HT pedals have developed quite a bit of lateral play. A distracting bit to be honest. You're supposed to be able to eliminate that slop by taking an 8-millimeter wrench to the locking nut at the end of the spindle. That worked on my non-drive side pedal, but only removed a bit of the wiggle out of my other pedal. At best, it's slightly annoying. At worst, it will likely lead to premature bearing wear. To be fair, these things have taken heaps of abuse and, aside from that bit of slop, have largely come up smelling like roses…which is sort of impressive when you consider that they weigh a mere 352 grams.
If HT can find a more effective way to seal that outboard bearing and also rid this model of slop, they'd have a near-perfect flat pedal.