Dodge, dip, dive, duck and dodge!
This isn't dodgeball, this is mountain biking. But the same rules hold true. Okay, maybe dive is a stretch, but it happens — just not on purpose. The others? Important stuff. If you don't have those mastered you’re liable to be running into tree branches and blasting into square rocks no tire could roll over un-pinched. What am I get at here? Pedals. That's right. Pedals. A good pair of pedals makes all the difference when dipping, diving, ducking and dodging. The Kona Wah Wah II is a good pedal.
Around a decade ago Kona came out with the original Wah Wahs. They were game changing … at the time. But by today’s standards, they’re big, heavy pieces of metal that will have you crying their name if your foot slips. The new ones couldn't be more different. They are sleek, thin, lightweight and plastic. A slipped foot will still lead to boo hoos though.
The Wah Wah II joins the fast-growing market of composite pedals. The glass-fiber reinforced nylon material is hard, durable, lightweight and most appealing — cheap. A good pair of pedals no longer has to cost more than $100. Clocking in at a frugal $50, the Wah Wah IIs have seven pins per side, replaceable of course, and weigh 360 grams per pair. The spindle and bearings are completely serviceable from home, and the platform is 12-centimeters long by 11-centimeters wide at its widest point. Oh, and they are thin. Thirteen-millimeters thin.
Two things struck me about these pedals when I first pulled them out of their box. One: They are big. Two: The line of pins skirting the pedal’s edge doesn’t extend to its middle. I knew big pedals offer gobs of grip (I've ridden the Pedaling Innovation Catalyst pedals for some time), but I also knew that other pedals I had ridden without mid-platform pins were slippery. Which way would these go?
I spun them onto my bike. Annddd the spacing was off on one pedal. Without a pedal washer, the bearing shell rubbed my crank arm. Strike one. Three strikes and you're out. Spoiler alert: The Wah Wahs didn't get any more strikes, unless you count pedal strikes. And I guess I’m supposed to use pedal washers anyway, but with these, I had to.
These pedals are big. But they are big in a different way than many others. The Wah Wahs extended further out to the side rather than receiving the more common front-to-back growth seen on other pedals. That isn't to say these aren't long though, just not noticeably longer. The size allowed me to center my shoe on the pedal without compromising front-of-foot stiffness. The wider size also made it less likely for me to end up with the edge of my shoe off the pedal when adjusting my foot position. Ultimately what this resulted in was a stiffer shoe feel and more confidence both descending and climbing.
The Wah Wahs are thin. They aren't razors, like the OneUp Aluminum pedal but they are thin, and the leading-edge tapers underfoot to help deflect pedal strikes. Of which there are many. The wider surface area of the Wah Wahs did have me striking in places I previously had not. After a few rides I was able to adjust to the size and once again was riding without regular strikes. Does this count as a strike against the pedal? A couple rocks on my normal trails might disagree, but I say no. In the end, pedal strikes and all, my foot was more centered on the pedals, more often for more grip and more fun. More.
The lack of pins in the middle was also not a detriment to grip. This is likely due to the slightly concave shape of the pedal. In fact, at points these pedals were so grippy I had trouble making micro-adjustments to my foot position. But once my foot was where I wanted it, I was ready to rumble. From rock roll to berm to jump I was dipping, ducking, dodging and not diving as well as ever. Through turns, I could lean the bike and push into the suspension with extra support and grip mid-foot. On alternate lines, jumps and jibs I could rotate the pedals and lift with fore-foot grip to get the bike off the dirt. Long pins and the bigger platform made the pedal easy to get parallel to the ground and bash through rock gardens without my foot bouncing around. I would even go so far as to say these are some of the tackiest pedals I have ridden. Now if only they could come in a shiny glitter pattern and they could be tacky in two ways.