I know what you're thinking. You probably thought it was enough that you pedaled in circles, and maybe even "ankling" like all the bike magazines used to say you should (do they still say that?). You might have even switched to clipless pedals that allowed more "float" to protect your knees. But none of those things is enough.
Nikola Innovation. At first glance, they don't appear to be much different from any other Look-type clipless pedal, but the Nikola pedals utilize something the company calls "Zivo Technology" which is a fancy, copyrighted name that means that the pedals have about 25 mm of lateral motion on the spindle.
The pedals come from Cleveland, Ohio, and were developed by Nick Stevovich who has a background in speed skating. After studying the motion of speed skaters, whose leg movement takes a lateral path as the leg extends, Stevovich believed that if a cyclist could achieve a similar movement, then they would put more muscles into the pedaling motion, and they would see more power output as a result. An added benefit is supposed to be that it might offer a more natural movement which could ease knee and/or hip pain for some riders (that claim is currently being studied).
The pedals have been tested by the Human Performance Lab at Cleveland State University in a study involving 50 riders. According to Nikola, 70% of the riders showed a 2% improvement in efficiency, and 7% more peak power. And of course, they can tell you how much time that translates into for a 40km time trial (because you always have to know how many seconds new tech will save in a time trial): 135 seconds. That's supposedly more time saved than using aero bars, a skinsuit, or an aero helmet. Okay - obviously, I couldn't care less about performance claims. But if there is actually something to the biomechanical benefits of the movement that might benefit people with hip or knee problems, then that might be worth looking into.
|(from Nikola Innovation)|
The Nikola pedals are definitely not something I've seen before. Time will tell if they're a success, but I do know that the pedals are getting a lot of attention in the cycling press and blogs. As with most new technologies, I'm a bit skeptical -- but having never tried them, it's hard to be too sure. Would the side-to-side movement feel natural -- or awkward? As it is, I've long happy enough with traditional toe-clip and strap pedals that I don't see myself plunking down big bucks to try to pedal like a skater. Any thoughts?