I’ve used the VX Adventure pedal for for long trail rides and bike park laps. Only the rear half of the outer cage contacts the sole of my Five Ten Kestrels, but this provides plenty of support while clipped in. The pedals measure 67mm across at the widest point of contact. I never felt my shoes fold over the outside of the pedals, but size 5 Kestrels are narrower and have a stiffer sole than many other shoes.
While the contact area of the pedals is adequate, the platforms do not grip my shoes enough to ride well while unclipped. The Stealth rubber of the Kestrels is very sticky, so the lack of grip is definitely due to the unaggressive tread on the pedals. I didn’t have many issues with feet slipping around after unclipping to dab, but coming unclipped in a rock garden would pose some serious issues. If you plan on riding unclipped often, a pedal like the Crankbrothers Mallet which features pins may suit you better.
The VX Adventure pedals are a bit heavy for long trail rides at a claimed 472 g/pair, but they are much lighter than the Shimano DX M647 (claimed 568g/pair) and provide a comparable shoe-to-pedal interface. They are also cheaper. The base level version I used costs $80 and the race version is $110. The Shimano DX M647 comes in at $140, the lower end M545 is $110 (567g) and the XT M785 is $120 (408g).
Pedal weight matters quite a bit due to the revolving nature of their movement. Dropping weight from spinning components and accessories like rims, tires, pedals, and shoes makes a bigger difference gram per gram than a lighter bar or chainguide. While pedalling it is fairly easy to notice the weight difference between the VP Adventure and a cageless Shimano XT pedals (343g/pair). However I prefer pedals with cages and don’t mind sacrificing the added grams for stability. The Adventures are great because they have large, durable cages without adding exorbitant amounts of weight.
The VX Trail pedals are geared towards people who value lighter weight over stability descending. The outer cage is the same shape, but much smaller than that of the Adventure pedal and provides a lot less pedal-shoe contact. It offers a bit more support than a cageless XC pedal, such as the standard cageless Shimano XT, but it doesn’t feel much different. During long descents my arches would cramp up since the pedals only contact a small surface area, giving the feeling of a small fist pushing up into my feet.
Living in Colorado and Utah I often get to descend over 3,000 vertical feet non-stop. Descents like these with the Trail pedals could become very painful by the end and I found myself wishing for cages with more support. The VX Trail also only weighs 62 grams (or 12%) less than the Adventure.
I strongly prefer the Adventure pedals due to the more stable (and comfortable) platform and minimal weight gain over the Trail pedals. The Trail version just isn’t light enough to sacrifice the riding performance offered by the Adventure. I would actually rather run the plain cageless VX or a standard cageless Shimano XT if weight is a primary concern. The small caged VX Trail could be a happy medium, but instead it adds weight without really increasing performance.
Durability and Other Issues
The aluminum of the outer cage of both the Adventure and Trail pedals seems very strong. I haven’t run into anything worse than a few deep scratches despite far more pedal strikes and crashes than I’d like to admit.
As for spindle and bearing durability, three months of riding (on the Adventure) isn’t long enough to tell whether they hold up that well. However, when these pedals do wear out VP offers reasonable priced rebuild kits for all of their models.
I had one problem due to over-loosening the spring tension before clipping into one of the Adventure pedals. One side of the spring popped off the tension-setting screw interface and was extremely hard to fix. I spent a solid hour getting all the small pieces back together. Not a deal breaker, but definitely annoying.
Unfortunately, after 10 weeks of riding, I broke the pedal engagement on one of the Adventure pedals. I was on a long ride in which we encountered a lot of snow. I had to repetitively kick the pedal to knock out snow and ice after each time I unclipped while descending. At one point I kicked a bit too hard and the front part of the engagement system snapped. The other side of the pedal still worked so I was able to clip in and finish out the ride, but this gear failure is very concerning.
I have ridden Shimano XT pedals in snowy and muddy conditions and have never caused any damage by kicking snow and mud out. Even if you don’t often get pedals clogged with mud or ice, this weakness poses a serious issue. Since the engagement system of these pedals can snap with a relatively small (albeit finely placed) impact, I would be extremely worried about them snapping due to a hard pedal strike.
The VP Components VX Adventure and Trail pedals are good alternatives for riders who like the feeling of SPDs and want a more cost-effective pedal. The shoe/pedal interface of the VX Trail strikes an unhappy medium, but the VX Adventure has a great platform and durable outer cage without being ridiculously heavy. Unfortunately with the lower cost comes a less durable inner cleat-engagement mechanism. Despite this problem, the VX Adventure is a great trail and all-mountain pedal that performs well for riders who want a solid platform and SPD-like adjustable engagement system.