HT T1 Pedal Review & Setup Tipsnate collins
HT T1 Pedal Review & Setup Tips
I get a lot of questions regarding clipless (or clip-in) pedals from new and experienced riders. This write up reviews an extended test of the HT T1 pedals as well as provides setup tips from personal experience.
Over the years I have tested several of the HT Components pedal platforms however the T1 were the first I have put extended miles on.
HT T1 Pedal Design
Designed and marketed as a trail / light enduro pedal the T1 has a larger platform than a true XC option while being smaller than the larger X2 all mountain / downhill options.
HT’s T1 pedal was designed with input from some of the fastest riders in the world. You see it in the simple, elegant design details throughout.
I don’t often get out in “sloppy” conditions living in Southern California however the HT cleat and retention interface have worked well clearing mud. Open areas around the retention and springs provide clearings for excess mud or debris.
The T1’s spring adjustment meter doubles as a strike protector. Lower bottom brackets, faster riding, and pedaling through harder terrain means pedal strikes will happen. This pedal will hold up to them.
HT Components are available in a variety of colors to highlight just about any build you will come up with.
T1 Pedals On Trail
It took a bit of time to dial the T1 pedals to my preference. Once I found my setup however, I have been stoked.
In all honesty some of the setup issues were pedal and other rider based…
I picked up both sets of cleats with my pedals – 4 degree (X1) and 8 degree (X1F) release. Previously I’ve always preferred pedals with maximum float so I mounted the 8 degree cleats with low spring tension to start.
I was not a fan of this setup!
Exiting the pedals felt very unnatural for me. It seemed like I could rotate my foot well past the release angle without stepping out. Even with years of clipless riding this was an unnerving experience. I can’t imagine many new to clip-in riders being stoked.
Adjusting the First Setup
I stopped mid-ride to mess around and fine tune the setup.
The first place to look when having pedal exit issues is your shoe to cleat interface. Loose cleats will wreak havoc as the shoe rotates and cleat doesn’t. Cleats were snug. I was sort of bummed on that – sometimes I’d like the quick answer!
At the top of the climb I took each shoe off and engaged and disengaged the system. Both shoes, on both sides of the pedals, would clip in and out fairly predictable. Ok, mechanically sound. At this point I wanted to recreate the issue for an idea of what was going on.
Standing in my socks I twisted my shoe out of the pedal and pulled the heel up. It felt stuck, like when I was pedaling. I must have been pulling my heel up at the last moment, instead of twisting it out flat a bit further. I pedaled around in circles clipping in and out much happier. Time to relearn the motion and put it on autopilot.
About that point I decided I wasn’t sure I liked how little definition I felt between retained and the last motion of clipping out. I increased the spring tension and found that it provided a nice, predictable feel prior to disengagement. More interestingly – I felt like the additional tension made the motion to clip out much, much easier. It seemed somewhat counter-intuitive to think, I’m having a hard time getting out, I should tighten this – but it worked.
I rode this setup for a couple months and was fairly content.
Moving to the Next Setup
While the T1’s worked well I occasionally would still have an issue clipping out. Not enough to change, I can be lazy with my own stuff, until one day when a buddy ran late meeting up for a ride.
Previously I had run the higher angle release cleats for additional float no matter the pedal brand. Additional float is said to ease stress on joints and if there’s something I need less of it’s stress on anything.
A couple years ago I had a conversation with BikeCo’s Joe Binatena that changed my setup.
I had been telling Joe my right knee felt a bit off pedaling. The best definition I can come up with is my right knee felt “soft”, a bit weaker, maybe a bit tender. Joints are nothing to mess with and I was open to ideas.
“Where does it feel like your right knee wants your foot?” Joe asked. I told him it seemed like my right leg needed to be offset further away from the center than my left.
“Then mount your right foot further out. What part of you makes you think you’re totally symmetrical? It’s fairly common as riders age that you’re going to find some particular setup quirks. How did you get to work today?” I pointed at my motorcycle out the back of the shop. “Ok, not today then. When you drive your truck what does your left leg do?” I drive automatics these days so it sits. “And your right? It moves around all over. After years of this your body learns some behaviors. Adjust your pedals for comfort – not so they measure MM exact.”
Jumping back ahead, I had a set of the 4 degree cleats sitting in the cupholder of my truck staring at me. And about twenty minutes before my buddy was going to be at the trail head. I threw them on.
In my opinion T1 pedals with X1 cleats is the setup. Clicking in and out is very intuitive. I haven’t had any issues with the 4 degree cleats. The 4 degrees of float combined with a bit of movement in my Five Ten shoes means I don’t feel clamped in like a ski boot. I haven’t noticed additional stress on joints.
I run the spring tension about 3/4 snug which works well for me as a larger rider. Lower spring pressures are great for lighter riders or to adjust as you get more comfortable. To me the ideal spring tension provides just a light “thump” of resistance prior to disengagement. When I was less sure of clipless pedal riding I preferred my foot simply to come out. Having the feeling of “hanging up” in the pedal was sketchy getting into it. However, at some point your feet start coming out when you’re riding (usually fast) and it’s sketchy.
Clipless Tips & Tricks
I’ve spent the last couple weeks messing around with my setup for this review. Here is an abridged list of tips and tricks that I hope are helpful to riders dialing in their pedals.
“When should I go to clipless?” Super common question to our sales staff. My general answer is when you’re not going to think about it. Meaning, when it’s not going to be an all out obsession for you. If all you can think about is “oh man I’m attached to the bike” – probably not the time. Here’s the basic new clip-in rider experience: practice in the grass somewhere a few times. Go out and ride. Come up to your group of friends, clip out your right foot, lean left and boom. Hurts the ego more than anything… Most of us have done it at least once. But clipless will become very intuitive for most riders.
Don’t develop bad habits riding clipless. Learn how to properly bunny hop and control a bike without needing the cleats. Pulling on the cleats isn’t consistent, often changes how a bit goes into the air, and looks silly.
Adjust the cleats to fit you comfortably. Most the time cleats are mounted slightly behind the ball of the foot. This provides a nice balance point climbing and descending. Adjust the lateral setting for a neutral feeling on your joints. Even if it means slightly asymmetrically (hard for my personality, haha). Move cleats slightly at a time for best results. Get a thin sharpie pen to outline where it was in case you want to go back.
Spacers. Vertical spacing is personal preference. It’s mind blowing though how much difference 1 spacer can make. I typically run the cleats mounted directly onto my Five Tens. You get a feel for how the cleat and the remainder of the sole’s height should be in relation to each other. If the cleat channel is deep you may use a spacer – I can’t think of a time I’ve ever seen two.
I added a spacer recently to test. 1 spacer. It felt like I was standing on ice. The rubber sole of my shoe lacked any contact to provide support. For the entire ride I could feel the tiny metal on metal contact in the cleat assembly wiggling around. It made for an easy clip in, clip out. Conversely it made for a nervous descent as almost any movement had the pedal disengage.
In the photo above you can see the sole contact on an X2 pedal. With a bit of weight in the shoe the sole will flex down onto other sections of the pedal and it’s pins (when installed). This sole contact should be enough to feel planted and comfortable. Conversely if the cleat is too “deep” it will be hard to clip in and out of from excessive friction.
All and all I’ve enjoyed the T1 pedals.
Especially as they have required 0 maintenance in the year and a half I have run them. That’s a big deal to me. I love riding my bike. Working on it? Ah, I prefer to work on other things for hobbies.
Even with the 8 degree cleats I adjusted and never had issues beyond the occasional nuisance non-clip out at the top of a climb. I must have better muscle memory under stress! A handful of looping bike run outs that required instant clipping out were proof of this. But the pedals really came alive when I switched cleats.
I prefer the 4 degree cleats for all riding conditions. As a matter of fact I have set up several clients who have had parallel issues with the 8 degree cleats onto the 4 degree with success. HT’s cleats don’t seem to wear beyond a basic break in and remain predictable.
The T1 platform is large enough that it offers support and small enough to comfortably fit under my arch up lazy hills. (For example, one of my good / bad habits – I clip out up fire roads, etc and move my feet around a bit.) The pedal is confident transferring power through the ball of your foot into the bike.
If it’s time for new pedals the HT options should surely be on your short list for review. Have questions? Reach out to the sales staff here at BikeCo.com. They will ensure you get the right product at the right price for your riding.