We like to think that bebop's designs are based on a thorough understanding of biomechanics and basic design principles. Here are a few of the concepts we think are important.
Stack height is the distance between the centerline of the pedal spindle and the ball of your foot. It is important because the greater stack height, the less stable your foot -- when the center of force (your foot) is separated from the axis of rotation (the spindle), the pedal wants to flip over. It is sort of like trying to shoot an arrow feathers first. So the lower the stack height, the better. Bebop's 11mm stack height is among the lowest for all road pedals, and significantly lower (by nearly 1/2 inch) than virtually all spd-type pedal systems.
By now everybody seems to agree that float is important in a pedal system. But opinions on how much float is best and how that float should be implemented differs widely.
First of all, we think strong spring recentering, as is found in Time pedals, isn't real float. By pushing your foot back to the manufacturer's idea of your neutral position, pedals like the Time road pedal are a problem if your natural neutral position is not Time's neutral position. Free float allows your body to decide what position is best.
The second issue is how much float. If your knees are perfect, five or six degrees may be enough. The rest of us need more, so Bebops have 20 degrees. But more is not always better -- keep in mind that the more float, the further you will have to turn your leg to get out. Twisting your leg 45 degrees to get out may be as tough on your knees as riding without float at all.
Finally, and least understood, "what does your foot rotate around?" Float means rotation around an axis. Ideally, your foot should rotate around the center of pressure. This is generally the ball of the foot. But most systems rotate around a spot well forward of the ball of the foot -- by nearly two inches in some cases. This is highly unstable -- again, like shooting an arrow feathers first.
Bebops rotate around the centerline of the spindle, and thus around the ball of your foot.
The first Shimano off-road pedal system allowed step-in entry. So did the Onzas. Most road systems and every other off-road system we know of requires you to (1) approach the pedal from behind, (2) push forward until the cleat engages the front of the pedal mechanism, (3) step down, and (4) start riding. Bebops allow you to (1) step down and (2) go. Simple, yes?
Some systems make it difficult or even impossible to exit heels-in. The image of a crash in which a cartwheeling bike torques on the leg that can't twist out is not pretty, so Bebops allow you twist out to either side.
One other cool thing about Bebops is that you can twist past the release point when you think you might need to dab, and just twist back in when you clear that section -- no need to pop out and re-enter from behind like with the other guys.
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