Review and overhaul of Campagnolo Record Look-style pedals
I know these pedals are around 20 years old at least, but they are still one of my favorite pedals. Nearly all of the Look-style pedals from this era are durable, serviceable, inexpensive and easy to use; all of the qualities I look for in bike parts. The Campagnolo versions though are the cream of the crop with the Record versions being my first choice. They have a beautiful pearly white paint job that pictures do not do justice and look really classy on any bike. The bodies may be shaped just like the Look branded pedals of the era, but the axles and bearings were manufactured by Campagnolo and will therefore last forever if properly adjusted and cared for. I have had a set of these on my primary bike for over ten years, and they still spin at least as smoothly as any pedal you can lay your hands on. They also match my Record 8-speed group perfectly!
I recently found another set of the Record version and when they arrived, they were a little rough spinning so I decided to pull them apart, adjust the bearings and put them back together. How many pedals have adjustable cup and cone bearings these days? First you have to unthread the axles from the bodies. The left pedal unthreads normally in a counter-clockwise direction and the right pedal has a reverse thread, so it unthreads clockwise. The only irritating item on these pedals is that Campagnolo chose to make the part you unthread from the pedal body out of soft aluminum. It can be extremely difficult to unthread this part without causing some degree of deformation to the wrench flats. The wrench flats on the axle body measure 20 mm. I think ideally one would use a 20mm deep socket instead of a wrench or vise to remove this part to minimize the chance of damaging the aluminum. UPDATE: I have since learned that Campagnolo made a wrench for these pedals, part # 7130034, which has a 21 mm wrench on one end and a 11 mm on the other.
Once the axles are out, you will see that there are two nuts on the inside end of the axle that are used to adjust the bearings. The outboard nut is 11mm and the inboard nut is 12mm. You will need a 12mm cone wrench to hold the inboard nut when a wrench is on the outside nut because there is not much clearance. These particular pedals were very clean inside; they were just a little tight. I took them apart, cleaned off the old grease and put in some new Pedros grease before reassembling them. It is difficult to tell if your adjustment is correct with the axles out of the pedal body so you will probably have to thread the axle into the pedal body, check the adjustment, and remove to make any adjustments if necessary. I aim for a bearing adjustment where no binding or roughness can be felt even if this results in some play in the bearings. Binding or roughness means a bearing is trying to fit through a space that is too small, and ultimately the bearings will wear out.
Why don’t people use this style pedal anymore?
I can think of three reasons, none of which are particularly compelling. First, they are heavy compared to pedals commonly available today. These Record pedals weighed in at 436 grams. For a comparison, I also weighed a set of Shimano PD-7401 pedals, the same ones Lance Armstrong road for years, and they came in at 414 grams. The Shimano PD-7401 pedals are fantastic pedals too if you can find some still in good condition cosmetically. Like the Campagnolo pedals, the Shimano bearings can last forever too. Back to the weight issue though. There is not a rider alive, except maybe some super skinny pro, who is going to notice the extra weight of a pedal. I’m sure as heck not going to notice. My weight changes from day to day more than 436 grams. The only reason weight matters is if it is really important to you to tell your riding buddies how much lighter your bike is than theirs. I prefer to have sweet looking pedals that will last forever and that I almost never have to maintain.
The second reason people may not buy these pedals is because of their “stack height,” or the distance from the pedal axle to the bottom of your shoe. Speedplay, a pedal with one of the lowest stack heights, claims that their pedals have a stack height 1/3 of an inch less than current Look pedals. Again, I would challenge anyone to notice a difference with the various stack heights. Somehow, pros managed to ride for years on Look-style pedals with great success.
The third reason is these Look-style pedals are “old” technology and people may think they look out of place on their new 14 pound carbon fiber wonder bike. I know one thing for sure, they will look great on your steel road bike.
Why should you ride these pedals?
They’re cheap. I mean inexpensive. You can find Look branded pedals for virtually nothing (like less than $20). New cleats are $20, half the price of new Speedplay cleats.
They’re really durable. These pedals will last you for years, if not decades.
They’re serviceable. Every time I pull apart one of these pedals, they are perfectly clean inside, but I live in Arizona and don’t ride in the rain or submerge my bike in rivers. I never have to maintain my pedals once I adjust the bearings perfectly. If you ride in the rain though, you can overhaul these pedals and add fresh grease as necessary. Many pedals now have sealed cartridge bearings which are not user serviceable.
They’re easy to use. Look-style pedals like these Campagnolo Record pedals ALWAYS work. They never fail. They engage and disengage the same way every time, even with old cleats. They don’t get gummed up with dirt.
And finally, the best reason to buy these pedals is they are just plain beautiful. Take a look: