Look-Compatible MKS US-L Pedals

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Looking for LOOK-compatible pedals for your travel bike? Here is the solution. The MKS US-L pedal uses a similar retention system as the LOOK Keo. In fact, the cleats are interchangeable. Unlike any other LOOK-compatible pedal, the MKS US-L is available with the EZ-Superior Rinko system.

Like all MKS pedals we sell, the US-L is a top-of-the-line pedal with ultra-smooth cartridge bearings. You really have to turn the spindle with your fingers to believe how smooth these pedals spin. And they still spin smoothly after years of use…

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That system works similar to an air hose coupling: The part on the left remains screwed into the crank. Turn and push the outer ring, and you can remove the pedal. No tools required, and it only takes a few seconds.

The photo above shows the US-B Nuevo pedal, which is compatible with the Time Atac retention system. The Rinko system is the same on all MKS pedals in the Compass program.This has the added benefit of making it easy to swap pedals: for example, if you want to ride the same bike with platform pedals during commutes, but with clipless pedals during spirited weekend rides.

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All MKS Rinko pedals come with a neat bag to carry your pedals while traveling.

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The MKS US-L pedals also are available in a standard, non-Rinko version. The release tension is adjustable with a 3 mm Allen wrench (included) in three steps. This makes it easy to match the tension between right and left pedal.

The retention system is split, so that only one side has to open to release the shoe. This means that the release is relatively easy – you only have to overcome half the spring tension that holds the shoe when pedaling. No longer do you have to choose between safety during all-out pedaling efforts, and safety when stopping!

Click here for more information about MKS pedals.

About Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

Spirited rides that zig-zag across mountain ranges. Bicycle Quarterly magazine and its sister company, Compass Cycles, that turns our research into high-performance components for real-world riders.
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22 Responses to Look-Compatible MKS US-L Pedals

  1. canamsteve says:

    I’ve never been one for road cleats – on a tour in France a few years ago it was painful to watch the road-cleated riders duck-walk around the cobbled streets. One almost took a header down a flight of stone steps. You can always carry a spare set of shoes, I suppose.

    I had one set of the MKS quick-coupled SPD pedals. Unfortunately, the coupling connection is not that positive in action (in my hands, at least), and one pedal disappeared in transit – much like those mysterious dryer socks. They were used on my folding bike, and I decided a much better solution was a set of $8 fold-up pedals

    • All the different pedals systems have merits. Look-style road cleats provide a very stable pedaling platform, so if you ride is mostly on the bike with no walking (or very little), then it’s the best choice. I used Look pedals when I was racing, and I sometimes miss them on the bike.

      I don’t miss walking in Look-style cleats off the bike, though, and that is why I now use SPDs. A walkable Look-cleated pedal would be ideal, and actually, Look made a T-shaped cyclocross cleat that worked with first-generation Sidi Dominators. I still have a set… The cleat didn’t recess all the way, which isn’t a problem in mud, but for walking on pavement, the system needed improvement. It had a lot of promise, but then spd came along, and Look abandoned it…

      As to losing pedals in transit, the carrying bag should take care of that. Unlike the older MKS Rinko pedals, these won’t come off while on the bike. You have to turn and push the ring, which is easy, but won’t happen on its own. When you put the pedals on the bike, just make sure that you turn the ring to the correct position after the pedal engages.

  2. Mark Hillman says:

    Do these new pedals still require the plastic washer it’s installed on the pedal spindle?

  3. thebvo says:

    what’s the difference between the different retention systems? I’ve never had clipless pedals on any of my bikes, but I’m considering it.

    • Jon Blum says:

      In response to the question about retention systems, a nice explanation is at http://www.sheldonbrown.com/shoe-pedal.html
      Basically, there are two kinds of “clipless” pedals, those with protruding cleats (“road”) and those with recessed, or walkable, cleats (“mountain”). Road pedals provide great performance on the bike with a nice wide pedal-shoe interface and low weight. Most are one-sided. Walking in them can be challenging, if not downright dangerous. Some popular types are Look, Speedplay, and Shimano SPD-R. Recessed cleats are much better off the bike, and most (but not all) have two-sided pedals, which make clipping in easier. Some popular brands are Shimano SPD, Time ATAC, Speedplay Frog, and Crank Brothers. I like the Shimano A520 and A600, which are one-sided pedals for recessed (SPD) cleats. I found them comparable to my Looks in comfort, and I can walk in the shoes more easily. Of course, others may prefer something else. Your local shop should have several options for each type that you can consider. Although personally I much prefer clipless pedals to other types, I have heard salespeople claim 20% increases in efficiency, which is ridiculous. I just find them comfortable and convenient.

      • 20% increases in efficiency, which is ridiculous.

        You are right. Sean Kelly won many races with toestraps, while the others were on clipless. No way was he 20% stronger than the other racers!

        Or perhaps they mean clipless vs. no foot retention? That is a more complex question, and it depends on the situation. In an all-out sprint on a road bike, the power transfer with foot retention most definitely is far better – you really do pull up on the pedals during those short efforts. Under constant effort on a flat road, there doesn’t appear to be much difference, if any.

      • 47hasbegun says:

        I honestly don’t see the appeal of one-sided “mountain” SPD pedals (that is, the ones without platforms on one side. Example: PD-A600). You save a few grams, but then have to deal with flipping the pedal while “taking off” as the heavier cleat-side often ends up face-down.

        These days, I usually use XT-level “trail” pedals (PD-M785 and similar) on my touring bikes. I can even stand while unclipped on one side to get going! I couldn’t do that so easily if I had to flip the pedals.

      • Flipping the pedals actually becomes quite easy after a few tries. You simply push forward a little as you engage. I actually find that a little easier than getting a dual-sided pedal to engage, where I don’t know in which orientation it is compared to my foot. However, I use both systems (and LOOK) without any trouble.

      • Frank B. says:

        @47hasbegun: I like that with the one-sided A530 touring pedal I can comfortably ride unclipped for a while. I do this quite often, either in tricky situations, in city traffic where I need to stop a lot, but also on long tours just to ease and relace my feet a bit by moving to different positions. Of course one could use the SPD side for this as well, but this is just not as comfortable as the real platform side.
        A disadvantage of clipless pedals is that there’s not much choice regarding shoes. Suddenly my selection is down to just two or three models: I currently use Italian lace-ups similar to the older Dromartis, when these were still made in Italy, but I found them to be a bit too narrow and flat in the toe box. The only other similar shoe is Giro’s Repulic, everything else looks too racy for my taste, or is just ugly plastic. If the Republic is just as narrow, it’s probably back to toe-clips.

    • I’ve only tried a few, but here is my summary:

      – LOOK: great on the bike, easiest to clip in and out, but walking difficult.
      – SPD: good for walking, easy to clip in and out, small cleat can cause foot problems, especially with flexible shoes.
      – Time ATAC: unlimited float, useful for some riders with knee issues. (Although most of the problems are due to incorrect cleat alignment, not because you actually need to rotate your foot as you pedal.)

      There are others, like Speedplay (used to have bearing problems, since the pedal bodies were too small for properly sized bearings), the old Look Moab (like spd, but larger cleat – very nice, but heavy)… and even the Cinelli M71 (track only, required to pull a hard-to-reach lever to disengage).

      • B. Carfree says:

        I still have an old pair of the Cinelli pedals along with an unused set of the cleats. They were the first widely available clipless pedal that I came across some thirty-five years ago. The main reason they fell out of favor where I was riding was the fact that the spindles had a nasty habit of snapping. Of course they only broke during a full effort sprint or climb, so they resulted in many a bloody mess. We dubbed them the “Death Pedals” and were pleased when Look came out with a more solid solution.

        I was an early-adopter of clipless because my size 51 feet were never comfortable in toe clips no matter how large a spacer I managed to use. The minor annoyance of having to push in the release button on the outside of the pedal wasn’t much of an issue for most of us. We had to do something similar with toe straps already in order to get out of them, so it was a normal on-bike motion that we were all used to. One fellow rider did discover that if you forget to push in the release, it will get pushed in when you land and let you out.🙂

  4. Bill Lndsay says:

    Jan, you are a long time SPD user. Is there any likelihood that there will be an SPD compatible version of this pedal? That product would hit a lot of users.

  5. Willem says:

    The more choice the better, and MKS certainly do fine stuff. I would like them to also do a Shimano style mtb pedal, for a very personal reason: I have a leg length difference so I need pedals with a 5 mm rise of the mecahism on one side. My frame builder managed to adapt an mtb spd pedal to this effect, but the Time Atac style looks like a much harder challenge to adapt.

  6. John Hawrylak says:

    Does the quick connection develop excessive “play’ over time??

    While it is true the quick connect type fitting is a proven and acceptable design for fluids, the pedal application have ‘dynamic’ forces a piping system does not have.

    Otherwise it looks like a very good product, the split release and ability to easily switch pedals.

    John Hawrylak
    Woodstown NJ

  7. Herb says:

    as a former racer in the elite field, and a rider who rides for fun and transport about 13,00 miles a year for decades, I am hear to pronounce grant petersen of rivendell right about clipless pedals.

    there is NO REASON, EVER, to ride in *road* shoes and pedals, given new pedals like the Speedplay SYZR (and others) and very high-end mtb shoes (like the brown ones jan wears….).

    IF (and thats a big if) one needs clipless pedals, OF COURSE you want a mtb type pedal with a recessed cleat in the shoe.

    The best current pedals for beginners, and experienced riders, are the Speedplay: the frogs are great, and the new syzr is beyond belief good. i HAVE tried them all, from all maunfacturers. the problem with spd is that there is no movement, or very little, and ive known many people who have hurt themselves because they didnt adjust the cleats properly for their physiology. the Speedplay Syzr is the best current pedal BY FAR. its adjustable and also affordable (cromo spindle version; and the cleat lasts forever).

    too bad the SYZr doesnt come with mks type EZ remove spindle!!…

    • I agree that cleat alignment is important with most pedal systems. However, the same applied (even more so) with traditional toeclips and straps (although it was easier to find the correct position with those, as you could disengage the shoe without disturbing the cleat). We should do an article on that some time – although you’d think that this would be covered in much detail in the mainstream media😉

      Getting a pedal that floats just so that you don’t have to set up the cleat correctly seems like a crude workaround. I am glad the Speedplays work so well for you. I last used them over a decade ago, when the Frogs just had come out. Back then, my experience wasn’t so positive. On the Speedplay Frogs, I actually had to be ultra-careful to set up the cleat, so my ankle didn’t hit the crank. And since the Frog cleat wasn’t designed for rotational adjustment, this wasn’t easy. I was always pedaling at the inside stop, so I realized that for me, float is of no benefit. All the extra float of the Speedplays did for me was require more foot movement to disengage than SPDs.

      And then the bearings of the Frogs kept freezing on me, so I finally went back to SPDs.

      • canamsteve says:

        My feet are happy with SPD adjustments. I have large (US14/U48) feet but mostly my adjustment has been to avoid heel strikes on short chainstay bikes. Most of my rides are sub 20 miles, so I suppose fit could be more critical if I did longer rides all the time, but even a 50 mile ride leaves me with no knee or foot pain. There are various Shimano SPD cleats that offer different degrees of float, and also a low-end SPD pedal line that supposedly has even lower exit pressure for newcomers. I use them on some city bikes but can’t say I notice a big difference.

        The Speedplays mentioned are breathtakingly expensive and did not fare so well in one real-world test online. I’ve had to walk a mile in muck in my SPD shoes, and while a good clean is mandatory later, you just have to make sure a stone isn’t logged in the cleat. Otherwise, they just work. Shimano includes a piece of sticky paper with its shoes to “waterproof” the opening behind the cleat. I cut some waterproof gaffer tape to fit instead, although once the shoes are wet, they are wet. Fortunately SPD shoes come in Gore-Tex (even boots).

  8. John Duval says:

    The main thing that brought me back to SPD over road pedals is the longevity of the cleats. Commuting killed my plastic cleats in 3 months, where SPD are lasting several years. You also get a good push off with rubber rather than plastic on your shoes. But when behind people with road cleats at traffic lights, I have to take care not to run into them.

    The positive and stable feel of new road cleats is nice, however. Intuitively is seems like there would have to be at least a little play in the Rinko attachment.

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