FUNN MAMBA S SPD CLIPLESS PEDAL REVIEW
THE SPD PEDAL FOR FLAT PEDAL RIDERS
Review by Robert Johnston
Funn’s original Mamba pedal was a downhill-focused SPD pedal with a huge platform surrounding it to offer extra security and inspire confidence for the most gnarly tracks. While the extra platform size no doubt boosts the ability to remain on the pedal while trying to clip in through rough terrain, this extra size increased the risk of catching the pedal on trail obstacles and was excessive for many. To offer increased clearance and reduced weight for trail and enduro mountain biking, Funn designed the Mamba S, which shares the same features but with a smaller platform size. We put them to a test over a wet and wild Scottish Autumn to find out how they performed.
The Funn Mamba S pedal is available in a single-sided clip version, with the other side featuring a flat pedal for riders looking for extra safety on the descents with the efficiency on the climbs, but we tested the dual sided clip version that should appeal to the majority of riders. The Mamba S features a 6061 Aluminum body forming a compact 83mm wide and 93mm long platform around the Shimano SPD mechanism, and weighs 462g per pair. This platform comes in at 13.4mm thick, with the SPD mechanism protruding a further 10mm each side. There are 4 custom replaceable pins surrounding the clip mechanism, to offer extra stability in the clips and some security for the feet when attempting to get clipped in down rough terrain. A CrMo axle secures the Mamba S pedals to the crank, with a DU bushing and cartridge bearing combo relied upon for smooth spinning. Funn equipped the Mamba S with their GRS system, with a small grub screw over the DU bushing to facilitate the injection of grease and keep them spinning fresh for longer. Funn offers refresh kits to return the pedals back to smooth spinning when the time comes. Making use of the classic SPD style clip-in mechanism, the tension can be adjusted with a hex key to dial in the desired release force, and replacements for the supplied 5-degree float cleats should be easy to source when the time comes. The Funn Mamba S pedals are available in a choice of 6 colors, with a retail price of £103.50 /$115.
I began the test as a bit of a clip-in virgin, with limited experience of SPD’s outside of some infrequent gravel riding. So, the Funn’s began their life with the tension wound out fully and the cleat pushed firmly back in the shoe to emulate the flat pedal position I’m used to. Out of the box there was no need to play with the GRS port as you would expect, with the Mamba S spinning smooth in the hand. With a very simple setup process, it was time to hit the trails.
To begin with, even with the tension wound out I felt as if it was quite difficult to get clipped into the SPD mechanism. I’d initially put this down to my inexperience with clips, but it did ease off after a couple rides so was likely just a bed in period with the fresh edges and coatings making tolerances extra tight. With the tension wound out to the minimum, the cleats would release with the usual heel-out movement, as well as a “roll-out” directly sideways away from the bike, which made the initial learning process safer and easier. They weren’t often unclipping unless I asked them to, but I could certainly be quite lax with the way I tried to take my foot out. This low tension does allow the cleat, and therefore your foot, to rotate very easily in the mechanism though, giving a lack of connection between foot and pedal that is surprisingly lesser than a flat pedal in terms of “twist”, as well as allowing the disengaged side of the mechanism to rattle. The 5-degree float on offer is quite typical, but it was the ease of which the cleat was able to rotate within this 5 degrees that was of note. Initially this led to my flat pedal technique not translating very well in certain scenarios such as side-knob weighting in off cambers, limiting my confidence. It was resolved over time by a slight technique adjustment, and the foot was going nowhere when pulling up or pushing fore and aft such as when technical climbing, but still I sought a more connected feeling for the descents and so began to increase the tension.
Unfortunately, before the tension got to a level where the cleat was held noticeably more securely, the entry force required began to ramp up at a faster rate. I back-to-back tested the Mamba S with a set of Shimano’s popular Saint SPD pedals to test if it was a matter of technique or a fact of the pedal, and even on a particularly tight setting it was easier to get into the Saints consistently. I don’t believe the pins were to blame for this, only the mechanism’s tighter tolerances to the same cleat as used on the Saint pedals, so it’s likely it will continue to ease through further use but the fact remains. It’s not that they’re impossible to get into, but there were certainly a few moments that I was glad for the sticky rubber on the shoes and the pins surrounding the Mamba S SPD mechanism to keep the foot somewhat stuck to the pedal through some tricky terrain as I tried to get clipped in. These pins are quite large but not as sharp as the common grub screw style pin, meaning they don’t latch onto a shoe for dear life in quite the same way. While this leads to less grip than there could be, the flip side is the shoe is able to slide over them better when twisting to release from the clip mechanism. I tested the theory of the mechanism being the sticking point by removing the pins for a ride, and still the clipping-in proved to require a good bit of force at times.
Otherwise, there’s been little to complain about with the Funn pedals. When the tension is cranked up, the foot feels similarly solid to a tight Saint SPD as you’d expect given they share a similar footprint and the same SPD system, so experienced clip-in riders are similarly well catered for. They did dry up inside eventually and began to make some horrible noises, but a couple of minutes with the grub screws of the GRS ports and a grease gun had them back to smooth running in no time – much quicker and easier than pulling them entirely apart to clean. Now, forcing clean grease into a dirty area is of course a bit of a band-aid rather than the “proper” job of pulling them apart to clean and regrease, but it’s useful as a quick fix all the same and certainly better than not having the option. There’s yet to be any hint of play in the bushing over a tough test period with a bunch of miles in the Scottish slop, and they’ve fended off a number of whacks against rocks and roots on the trail, so it looks as if they’re in it for the long haul if you keep on top of that GRS system.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Funn’s Mamba S pedals are a solid offering for the trail and enduro rider seeking some extra foot support for when things get hairy. The SPD mechanism is not the easiest to get into but releasing can be set to give clip riders of all levels of experience their desired feel.
Price: £103.50 /$115