Product Test: Exustar Pedals & E-SM324 Shoes
Exustar pedals and shoes are an affordable way for riders to get into clipless pedals. Their products are similar to many other offerings in the marketplace with most of the same features, albeit in a less flashy package. We obtained one of Exustar’s middle-of-the-road pedal-and-shoe combos to put it through the wrecking crew test.
Our pair of test pedals used a heat-treated and CNC-machined axle with a lightweight body. The pedals feature a forged aluminum body and a compact and slim dual-bearing system. The tension is adjustable via a 3-millimeter bolt on either side of the pedal, and the handy gauge makes precise tension adjustment easy. All Exustar pedals use a standard two-bolt, SPD-style cleat. The pedals sell for $74 and tipped our scales at 140 grams. Exustar also makes a high-end version of this pedal with a titanium axle that retails for $195 and drops about 30 grams. Exustar makes a more basic version that sells for a very affordable $44. It has a simpler ball-bearing system and weighs approximately 30 grams more.
The E-SM324 shoes feature contoured leather uppers with breathable mesh and three Velcro straps. The nylon/fiber- glass composite sole has integrated TPU tread-perfect material for all-terrain conditions. The shoe also sports a nylon/fiber- glass sole with optional toe spikes and a washable EVA insole. The shoe is available in a huge range of sizes, from 35–50 Euro (from 4 to 17 in U.S. sizing). Our size-45 test shoes weighed 850 grams with cleats installed and retail for $76.
Field test results:
We used the Exustar system while testing the Pivot Mach 429 trailbike this month. We rode with the Exustar pedals and shoes on everything from aggressive cross-country trails to long and rocky, rooty hills with several opportunities to test the hike-a-bike capability of the pedals.
Right out of the gate the pedals impressed us with a feel that mimics Shimano SPDs. The adjustment range is adequate for everyone from beginners to advanced riders and delivers a solid, audible and satisfying “click” when engaging or disengaging. The weight is also very respectable, especially considering the sub-C-note price tag. We were pleasantly surprised that an entry-level component like this could rival the performance of pedals twice the price. The same mechanism is also available with a more trail-friendly, larger platform that will appeal to more aggressive riders, but the engagement was solid and easy enough to find that we didn’t feel the need for more. The SM324 shoes proved durable throughout the test and held up to abuse.
The rubberized sole made hike-a-bike sections easy, but still offered enough stiffness to feel efficient and fast. The upper is relatively stiff and, despite several weeks of heavy use, never really broke in. The toe box is also very oversized, which made for a shoe that feels very tight on the top of the foot yet loose everywhere else. The lack of a heel-retention device caused some heel-lifting issues both on and off the bike. While these are an awesome option for riders who don’t want to drop an entire pay-check on riding shoes, we’d have a hard time recommending them to anyone who loves the feel of a comfy pair of shoes.
The Exustar system worked flawlessly throughout our testing with a pair of pedals that performed as well as nearly any other SPD-style competitor out there. The shoes leave a little to be desired in the comfort department, although the durability and overall construction quality prove that there’s plenty of potential for a redesign that will complete the system and certainly be tough to beat on value.
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