(Caveat lector: This won’t be of any use, or any interest, to the vast majority of readers here. I’m putting it up because I couldn’t get any reliable information on the Internet on this subject, which led to me spending a remarkable about of money to get the facts. These facts are now available here for free, minus the value of one Amazon referral link below.)
The picture above is my nine-year-old son winning his third race in a row against ten-year-olds. He’s smaller and lighter than his competition, so I’ve tried to find a few places to save weight. Because he enjoys riding his bike at the skatepark, however, I can’t go full-on BMX-Dad “weight weenie” on his bike.
One easy place to save weight is the pedal. Other than rims and tires, there is nowhere on a bicycle where a single gram makes as much difference as it does on the pedal. Not only do they rotate around a fairly large circle, making the total amount of acceleration required nontrivial on its own, they are also sold in pairs, so every bit of weight saved is effectively doubled. It’s a mistake to put a child on an adult’s pedal; the Deity Bladerunner, which is about the lightest BMX/MTB platform pedal sold for full-sized riders, weights a robust 185 grams each. How much is a proper child’s racing pedal? Half of that.
I own all of these pedals and have weighed them on a scale that was checked for accuracy against a reference weight and a second scale. It’s worth noting that the AEST pedals have a small line scribed around the left-side spindle; that saves between 1.2 and 1.6 grams. From heaviest to lightest:
AEST Aluminum Axle: 115.1 grams
These are the cheapest way to put your kid on a light pedal. Amazon no longer carries this variant, but they are all over Alibaba and eBay. They are described as having “three bearings” but that’s misleading — there is one sealed roller bearing on the crank side of the pedal body and two plain bearings, otherwise known as “metal rubbin’ on metal”, in the middle and on the far side. These are notorious for self-disassembly, and require tightening every hour of riding. The one time I disobeyed that self-imposed rule, my son lost his pedal over a box jump. Lucky for me he very conscientiously picked himself up off the ground and recovered the 8mm nut and washer that holds the pedal on.
They are also fragile, shedding their pins easily:
The ends are easily bent as well, bending back into place with mild effort. Overall, I can’t recommend these pedals and we are no longer using them.
AEST Lightbike Magnesium With Titanium Axle: 111.8 grams
My son doesn’t like these pedals for BMX, although he is okay with them for mountain biking. They’re too big for smaller feet — really you’d want to be a size 5 or bigger to use all of the available surface. These are a favorite of adult cross-county MTB riders, but a single rock strike will collapse them. And again, it’s a single-roller-bearing pedal. Assembly quality is much better on these than on the older AEST design.
Helium BMX Pedals: 98.9 grams (minus a few grams for the plastic cover)
These just arrived and we’ll likely be racing on them until they break. Unlike most Helium products, these are made in China, as are the AEST pedals; there is no source for child-sized platform pedals made in the USA now. The Crupi Rounds are the only American mini BMX pedal, and they weigh 225 grams each, so my kid won’t be using them for some time to come. With that said, they are clearly a cut above the AEST offerings in smoothness and construction. Most importantly, they are designed to reduce the “Q factor”, which is the lateral space between the pedals. This shouldn’t be any wider than your hip sockets, an easy trick to manage for a 37-inch-waisted BMX Dad but very tough for his 24-inch-waisted son.
AEST Titanium Axle: 85.5 grams
Truth in Chinese advertising! These are claimed to be 170 grams a pair, and sure enough, they are! (The left-side pedal is 84.3 grams thanks to the extra machining line on the axle, making for a total of 169.8.) My son is a big fan of these pedals, but my God are they cheaply made. The first set I bought rapidly developed unfixable lateral play on the left side. The second set doesn’t spin as well. As with their aluminum-axled siblings, these pedals are exceptionally susceptible to damage and bending.
I hope this information is helpful to my fellow BMX and MTB parents out, particularly those of you who are not currently fielding a 9-year-old in the Midwest!