When Garmin UK contacted me to invite me down to their “Ride in, Ride out” event down in Dorset in October and said they’d like me to try some of their kit during the Gravel Sportive I was very flattered. They said they liked the stuff I was doing via this website and FB/IG and wanted my opinion on their kit. They would greet me at the event and some of their team would go through the items they were letting me use. Suddenly I knew how Francis Cade* feels, I was going behind the VIP rope and there might even be complimentary drinks! I was very excited and not a little nervous and I assumed that they might have some new gravel specific mapping or head unit and that was what they were asking me to try, so no pressure then!
Then, in the week before the event, disaster struck. The UK suddenly developed a fuel shortage (or rather a shortage of people to deliver the fuel) and the good old general public decided that brimming their fuel tanks immediately was the way to minimise the shortages in a wave of panic buying the same way they did with toilet paper in March 2020. Here in the Midlands it wasn’t too bad, not that people here are more sensible, we just had more tanker drivers available and so a few stations ran dry but it only lasted a few days. Down in the South though things were more serious and Garmin decided that it was just too risky to get 1000s of riders coming into the area who couldn’t be sure they’d be able to find fuel to get home and exacerbate the shortages when they filled up before hand wherever they were starting from. More importantly the emergency services were also running low and didn’t need to be covering events when the fuel they did have could be saved for emergencies.
Garmin sent out the canceling Email but added that they’d still like to send me some stuff to try out, so I still got to be a little like Francis Cade but without the glamour of a personal appearance.
So to cut to the chase, there wasn’t anything gravel specific but what there was was a new version of Garmin’s Vector pedal but now with now a MTB SPD platform (SPD SL and Look versions can be bought too, or even a conversion kit so you can swap between the different pedal styles for different bikes) and now called the Rally XC200. Mtb pedals are perfect for gravel bikes. They also sent me a Garmin Edge 1030 plus head unit to go with it as I wasn’t sure my old Edge 520 was up to the task of recording the data. Both the pedals and the head unit will go back to Garmin UK after the test period.
I’d like to point out up front that I have never recorded any power data from my rides in all the years I’ve been riding tri/bicycles (working that out as I have photographic evidence of me on a trike in my parents garden aged roughly 4) so reading up on the pedals before they arrived I was astounded and not a little overawed at the sheer amount of data the pedals and head unit can supply. At this point I thought it would be correct to write the review as a lay person who knows little about Watts, FPT and VO2max etc (yes I googled those) but rather as someone who is interested to see what my probably less than average body could supply power wise to the pedals.
Setting up the pedals was a breeze if you already use Garmin Connect on your phone or PC/MAC. if you don’t have the Garmin APP you’ll need to download it. I fitted the pedals, you’ll need a 15mm pedal spanner for this . I removed the little plastic strip so the battery could power up and tasked the head unit to find the pedals. which it did straight away, yay for modern tech! The head unit then asks for the crank length you are using with the pedals, this is usually stamped or written on the crank arm somewhere, in this case mine was 170mm. I also had to confirm this on the Garmin APP too. There was a little bit of configuring of units and that was it. I took the bike for a quick spin and the head unit began displaying data straight away.
When Garmin got in touch to see how I was getting on with the pedals I confessed that I had spent a lot of the first few rides staring at the live numbers as they appeared on the screen, probably not the safest thing to do when riding off road! After that I scrolled to one of the other screens and things got a lot safer. It was fascinating to see how pushing on the pedals harder instantly brought the power numbers up and it became a game of trying to stay at a certain level or try to beat my best. Which, and don’t tell anyone this, is almost like training!
Below are some of the post ride data screens that are available on the Garmin Connect App. As mentioned above I’m no expert at the numbers but it was very interesting to see that the pedals can distinguish between when you are sat down pedaling and also stood up. the large difference in pedal centre offset was countered by the fact my feet were pressing on the pedals pretty much 50/50 most of the time. ( I have wonky feet and use a cleat wedge on one side)
the above average speed is a reflection of a chip stop, chatting and my laid back riding style 🙂
Away from the power side of these pedals, how do they perform as a pedal? Well pretty flawlessly actually. The pedals come with a set of cleats specific for the pedals but as they are advertised as Shimano spd compatible I used the cleats that \I have already fitted to my shoes. On both my ordinary shoes and my winter boots the cleats are pretty worn. I didn’t have any issues clipping in or out though, a positive click when stamping your foot down and the usual twist of the foot to release all felt as familiar as on a genuine Shimano pedal. Clipped in, my feet felt secure both on and off road. I did manage to bang the right hand pedal on a couple of rocks (sorry Garmin) and apart from a bit of scuffing they continue to work as well as when they came out of the box. I’ve heard of the old Vector pedals coming loose at the battery cap but can confirm no such issues have occurred with this set. I also managed to fully submerge them in a flood (sorry again Garmin!) and they shrugged that off totally, unlike my bottom bracket! The pedals do have a higher stack height than a normal pedal and \I had to raise my saddle a few mm to account for this. They also weigh 221g per side and so aren’t exactly svelte but then ordinary pedals aren’t stuffed tech, Garmin packs a lot of tech into these pedals and don’t forget they have a double sided engagement unlike the road versions.
So, would I recommend these pedals? this 100% depends on what sort of person/rider you are. If you are totally into training and focus on the numbers to structure your rides or use a coach to analyze the data you produce then they are just what you need and seem to have all the specific stats you’d require. If you are thinking of doing more than just pedaling and are thinking you’ll need more and more data going forward then you can just pick and choose which data you need and the pedals will be there if you go further into the training specifics. if you just like to pedal about, looking over the hedge and worry more about the quality of the cake at the cafe stop then these pedals at over £1k rrp are probably not what you need. If you like to know how long you’ve been standing up on the pedals for and how much longer you need to stand up for to offset the calories from the cake than maybe they are!
The Garmin Rally XC200 pedals didn’t disappoint, they gave a huge amount of information and also quietly got on with the job of being a pedal.
As with all my tests, this is a real world review. I’m not sponsored and I’m just an average rider like most of you reading this. companies sometimes send me things to test but i always let them know it will be an honest review good or bad
*Francis Cade is a cyclist and youtuber who’s channel is sponsored by Garmin and seems like a top bloke, I’d hoped to meet him at the Garmin Event just to feel a bit starstruck. You can find Francis’s channel here
to see the other end of the youtube standard of production see my channel here UKGRAVELCO