I bought a Volkswagen a few years ago. I liked the car's handling and simple interior. It got good mileage, had enough space for my life. But I was pretty sure that I was making a decision I'd regret for the next decade. VW doesn't exactly have a reputation for reliability—or, at this point, for anything besides almost getting away with global fraud.
I started out with similarly conflicted feelings about Crankbrothers' Stamp pedals. They were good on the bike, but I couldn't help but wait for the honeymoon period to end in some horrific fashion—perhaps with a pedal body divorcing its spindle and my face eloping with a rock. I wrote a cautiously positive review of them for a flat-pedal Showcase over a year ago, and since then have continued to stack over 1,000 miles on these Crankbrothers pedals. It's now time to issue a final verdict—on grip, feel and perhaps most of all, durability.
The Stamp debuted in 2015, at Eurobike. The pedal was notable at the time because it came in two sizes: a small, which has a not-particularly-small 100-by-100 millimeter platform, and a palatial large, at 114-by-111-millimeters. The size-specific design must have struck a chord with buyers, since there are now four versions, ranging from the $80 Stamp 2 to the $300, titanium-spindled Stamp 11. Crankbrothers even offers a Danny Mac-edition of the $100 Stamp 3. One might go as far as to call it a collection.
Both sizes of the $150 Stamp 7 I tested boast aluminum bodies and chromoly spindles. The 10 adjustable, grub-screw-style pins are backed up by knurling on the center of the pedal body. The large 7s weighed in at 377 grams.
This pedal is fully serviceable. Pulling the spindle is as simple as removing the two 2.5-millimeter Allen screws that connect it to the pedal body, and then giving it a yank. The inner Igus bearing is right at the base of the spindle, and the outer one just has to be pushed through by inserting a poker tool into the grease port at the opposite end of the pedal body.
On the Trail
Crankbrothers may have California roots, but the Stamp bears more resemblance to middle America. It's big, and it's flat. That topography—or lack thereof—requires some initial adjustment, and after a year on the Stamps, they still don't feel like any other pedal I've ridden.
That probably has more to do with their flatness than their size. Most riders like their flat pedals to be concave, with the center of the pedal body being thinner than the perimeter. This kind of shape causes the shoe to settle into a pocket over the spindle, which makes it less likely to slip off the front or back. Concave pedals have a distinct sweet spot, and they tend to be pretty uncomfortable if you aren't in that spot. The Stamps, on the other hand, are only mildly concave, so the large, uniform surface is more flexible when it comes to foot placement. You can go a little forward, or a little back, or even a little to the side, without getting any discomfort.
To have concavity, you have to have height. Every millimeter of concavity increases the thickness of the pedal around the outside, which means more frequent rock strikes. The Stamps max out at 13 millimeters, so they float over rocks that most pedals smash into. Not hitting rocks is great, and having options for foot placement is nice too, but neither really matter if your feet are bouncing around like overinflated fat-bike tires. So can the Stamps still hold it down without that concave sweet spot?
They aren't the all-caps "grippiest pedals I've ridden"—that superlative still belongs to DMR's Vaults, but they're very close, and you can give them more bite by loosening the pins a couple turns. You can even give them a more concave feel by leaving the center pins low and turning ones on the perimeter out to make them higher. I can't think of any slipped pedals that can honestly be blamed on the Stamps. There's enough grab to keep your feet contained when landing a drop into a rough section of trail, and for saucy bike wiggles without risking a slip-up. If your feet do get bounced, chances are that they'll find the pedal again, and wind up in a spot that's comfortable and grippy enough to keep riding until the trail settles down and you can readjust.
So what about durability? As with my VW, I've been pleasantly surprised by the Stamps. A modicum of play has developed between the spindle and the body, but I've felt as much movement in brand-new pedals.
Judging by the wear pattern, most of the rock strikes have been delivered to the outside of the platforms. If I had to guess, I'd say that these scars were made while I was still adjusting to the Stamps' width, but riders who frequent trails with narrow lines between tall rocks will be better served with smaller platforms.
Pulling the spindle revealed that the internals have remained grit free, and the bearings still feel smooth, even though I never took advantage of the grease port. If something was worn out, I could have gotten small parts and an easy-to-follow overhaul guide—complete with color photos—on Crankbrothers' website. If something had been broken, I would have had a fighting chance with Crankbrothers' 5-year warranty.
Now, I'm off to go knock on wood before my car breaks down.