So, there I was, sitting around on a Sunday morning, minding my own business when outta nowhere I get a message from everybody’s favorite uncle, Uncle Gomez! (in my mind, everyone is cheering like when someone says the secret word in Pee Wee’s Playhouse)
“Do you ride flat pedals?” – Such an odd question on an early winter Sunday morning, but yes, yes I do. Next thing you know, BLAMO, I get an early Christmas gift (lucky me). A pair of bright red, Kona Wah Wah 2’s to lovingly beat the snot out of!
I went BACK to flats 15 years ago or so. It started when I had some knee pain in the spring getting back on the bike, and then it got to the point where I just liked them better. 5.10’s helped a lot with that! I started with Odyssey Chinaski’s, then moved to SUNringle’ ZuZu’s in 2009. The reason I mention this is because I have been riding on ZuZu’s exclusively since 2009, on ALL my bikes, until last year, and I blame Uncle Gomez for this.
Around a year ago, at the Fatter by the Lake ride, Gomez let me take a spin around the parking lot on his whip for the day. Other than the fact that the bike was way too big for this fireplug of a man, the pedals were HUGE! I don’t remember what they were, but from that day on I was obsessed with finding a deck for my feet to hang out on.
I had heard and read a lot of good things about Chester, so I grabbed a pair and have been pleased with them. They are lighter, thinner, and larger than the ZuZu’s. I rode the last 5 races of the Hugh Jass series last season and started out this season on them with zero problems. My only beef was that the area around the spindle is a bit raised, so it doesn’t feel concave. It’s a bit of an odd feeling like your foot is over the pedal and not IN it. Other than that, no worries, BUT I never forgot the feeling of that day in the lot. I knew there was a bigger perch for my paws to dwell upon and that is where the Wah Wah 2’s come into play.
I was wondering how they would compare to Chester. Kona’s website let me in on some of the 411 like weight (360 grams a pair), 6 colors (Black, Slime Green, Forest Green, Orange, Purple, & Red), at price of $49.99. That’s all well and good, but how do they measure up?
Opening the box, the first thing I notice is that Kona has placed each pedal into a baggie with either a “L” or a “R” printed on it, which I thought was weird until I realize that as soon as the threads end the pedal begins. There’s nowhere for my pedal wrench to sit on these things, and since that is where a little “L” or “R” would normally be, we now have baggies. At least I could use my pedal wrench to take off the Chesters. I love my pedal wrench.
Once out of the baggies and on my bench, these things are big. They just look huge next to Chester, but I took out my calipers just to confirm.
|Wah Wah 2||Chester|
|Front to Back||110mm||102mm|
|Side to Side||104mm||99mm|
|18mm near bearing||18mm around spindle|
|Stud Number||7 per side, replaceable||8 per side, replaceable|
My eyes did not deceive, they are bigger. My one buggity boo about the raised middle on the Chester seems to not be an issue with the Wah Wah’s as the spindle tapers from the bearing out. Speaking of that bearing, the thing is huge! Just like Chester, the Wah Wah’s use a sealed bearing inboard and a bushing outboard. The leading edge of the Wah Wah’s are angled to help avoid pedal strikes, which seems to work quite well for the most part (Foreshadowing). With only 7 studs per side (3 across the front, 3 down the outside, and 1 on the inside back corner) I wondered how they would grip. I am the great-grandson of a man who built a brick shithouse in his basement, genetically I am hardwired to believe that more is better. We’ll see how this plays out. Installation was a breeze using the supplied pedal washers and a self-supplied 8mm hex.
Now the fun part!
With some well-earned time off around the holidays, I was able to ride my local trails way more than normal. The first thing I noticed was how much of my foot is supported, so much room! The next thing I noticed was that I did not notice the pedals at all, they just disappeared. Super comfy! My local ST (The Trail That Must Not Be Named) is tight, twisty, and a bit technical because of all the log jams. I expected some pedal strikes because of their size, or some awkwardness adjusting my foot position on the pedals, but none of it appeared and I never thought about it. I even wore my Red Wing work boots on a ride, which are wider than my usual 5.10’s, and my paws had all the deck space they could want. With the stud configuration, I could re-position my feet as needed without too much hassle, even easier than with Chester. Once adjusted and planted, my feet never moved, plenty of grip. Function > Quantity, more may not always be better. Sorry Grandpa Geisinger!
It occurred to me, with the tapered spindle that doesn’t reach all the way to the outer edge, I may encounter some flex or just outright snap these glass-fiber reinforced beauty’s. That would be bad. I hadn’t noticed any flex on my rides, but there was a Hugh Jass race coming up at New Fane (Northern Kettles, WI) with some punchy, technical climbs to really test the Wah Wah’s on.
The temperature at race time was hovering around 0*, but it felt nicer because the sun was out and almost no wind. The trails were tire packed beautifully with snow. They about were 18” wide and sounded like squeaky cheese curds when your tires rolled. If these pedals were to crack, this would be the day.
Hugh Jass races pretty much always start with a climb, and this race was no different. The first climb was kinda of mellow, then you dropped into a relatively straight chute which led to the first of many punchy climbs. This one was a bit rough because it was gently curving while dealing with roots and rocks, and just as you get a chance to relax, POW it hits you again, so you got to keep on the gas to torque up this thing. Most of the climbs are of the same caliber, but you are rewarded with some awesome, flowy, downs which elicit a lot of Ric Flairs! (“WOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”) Someone equated the experience to a bobsled run. Speaking of bobsledding, the Winter Olympics are right around the corner!
I expected that if these pedals flexed, it would be noticed on the climbs. You know what, they didn’t flex, not one bit. What I did notice was how awesome it was to have such a large platform to get on when trying to restart in the snow. I “Race” from the back, and I have no problem enjoying each and every one of my “races”, but I get lapped (and CHICKED) A LOT. When I hear someone coming, I pull over and let them pass. As a result, my second lap always has a lot of restarting, which in the snow (or sand, which I rode the following day) can be difficult. The Wah Wah’s make that way easier.
Remember when I mentioned a lack of pedal strikes? Well, I had a few at New Fane. For me, it was nothing more than the studs clipping some rocks on a few of the climbs. I could foresee where someone riding more aggressively, especially at New Fane without snow, could strike a pedal here and there. I’m willing to pay the price for the comfort that these pedals provide.
Wrap it up already!
Ok, Ok, but come on you’re getting a 3 for 1! A review, a comparison, and a ride report all wrapped into one. Such the deal!!
If you are looking for a pedal with a larger platform, that are comfortable, and that offer plenty of grip, take a look at Kona’s Wah Wah 2’s. They may not be the pedal that first set me on this quest, but I have found what my paws have been looking for, and they are happy! Overall, I give them 4.5 outta 5 Gnomes, not Gnorms.