Yoshimura Chilao Review
I bought these beautiful pedals for my REEB SST, largely in an attempt to purchase as many US-made products for the bike as possible. I put almost a year of riding on them throughout various seasons and with different shoes, with some decent, albeit a bit mixed, results.
For starters, from the moment you open the box, it's clear these are designed with an excellent attention to detail and all around are well put together. I particularly appreciate the rounding of almost all surfaces or edges, which reduces the likelihood of snagging the pedals on features.
It drives me nuts how some pedals have these sharp or abrupt edges, but these are largely missing from the Chilaos, which is excellent. I also find the lines and aesthetics of these pedals to be more appealing than any other flat pedal I've used.
Further helping matters, these pedals are fairly thin, which helps with reducing pedal strikes:
The tapered leading edge also helps brush off impacts on rocks and roots, making the overall design fairly resilient to pedal strikes. If you compare this to a squarer pedal, you'd find considerably less snagging and abrupt impacts from hitting rocks. I've largely been avoiding square pedals like this (e.g. TMac), because the resulting pedal strikes are more dramatic than with a pedal like the Chilao.
It's worth noting that there are two sizes, I chose the size Large, which has a 110x107.25 platform. I have fairly large feet, so I typically default to larger pedals, although it is nice seeing a small option for smaller riders.
Finally, not really visible in the admittedly poor photos above is a slight concavity that is used by most pedals on the market.
I primarily rode these pedals on my trailbike, a REEB SST. It feels fitting that an all US made steel bike has as many US made components as possible, so that's what I tried to run with where possible and how I came to try these out.
I also tried them with two different shoes: Freerider Pro and Impact Pro, getting somewhat different results with both shoes, but more on that in a bit.
On the durability front, I rode these for a year with no maintenance issues. They remained smooth and solid the entire time. I encountered no issues resulting in noises, friction, play, or anything else. I have blown up pedals before, typically either bending axles or destroying bearings, but none of that was an issue with these.
So I love the profile, aesthetics, construction, and durability of these, all fantastic. Where these pedals start to fall off for me is the amount of grip provided, something that seems more variable than any other pedal I've had. Some reviews report excellent grip, while others report mediocre grip. Usually it's pretty binary for me, either they are great or they aren't, but putting other people on these has gotten the same mixed impressions and I even had some mixed luck.
For starters, the amount of grip provided seemed a lot better with my Impact Pros compared to the relatively newer Freerider Pro shoes I've been using lately. I can't really explain why, I don't know the rubber compound differences, but there is a noticeable difference in how well these pedals grip with the different shoe options. Since moving to Freerider Pro shoes, I've had a lot more problems staying on the pedals than I have others with the same shoes.
I feel like the other discrepancy is based on shoe size. I find the 110x107.25 size is a little on the small side for my preference and I also found the q-factor to be a bit narrower than I would prefer, I found myself having to force my feet narrower than I usually do. Both of these things are subjective, of course, so I think how well you get along with these is going to depend on how wide your natural stance is and how big your feet are. The smaller riders with a narrower stance I put on these all got along with them really well, but shoe size is likely also a factor here.
Lastly, it likely relates to your foot position. Some riders put the pedal a little further forward towards the ball of their foot, which I think allows the shoe to sink into the concavity of the pedal more, while others (like me) ride with the axle closer to the arch of their foot.
I ultimately moved to a different pedal for my trailbike, but these issues aside, I think these are great pedals if they work for you. I think they didn't for me, largely due to subjective reasons that just didn't work with the way I ride flats. I also don't think these are going to be an all-out glued to the pedals feeling for any rider (something like the Dagga is probably more appropriate there), but they do offer good grip if they work for you.
I've tried a lot of pedals over the last few years and some of them are going to grip almost universally well for some, while others are more subjective. The Chilao falls into that latter category. That's not a knock on them, at all, it just means the grip provided is going to vary more significantly based on the rider. Who would I recommend this to?
This is a tough call, because I can't really diagnose my grip issues with these pedals. The pins, concavity, and overall design seem like it should grip well for me, they just didn't. I think this was, in part, due to the wider stance I keep on a bike when combined with the smaller platform and my tendency to run a more mid-foot position.
They are beautifully made and designed, but I have a hard time recommending them to people with larger feet unless you ride softer shoes and ride with the pedal closer to the ball of your foot.
For riders with smaller feet, these are an absolute win, they are durable and well-designed all around. If you have larger feet (say size 11 or bigger), I think the platform size might be a problem for you, but I've known people with bigger feet who got along great with smaller platforms than this, so you might want to defer to your own experiences with smaller platform pedals.
Small-moderate foot size? Narrower stance? More forward pedal position? Soft shoes? Comfortable with other smaller platform pedals (e.g. ANVL Tilt)? I recommend these. If the answer is "No" to any of those, then I would try them first, especially if you ride with the axle mid-foot or have larger feet.
vs Chromag Dagga - This is kindof an apples to oranges comparison, the Dagga is almost 10mm longer, 7ish-mm wider, and considerably heavier, but I think it's an interesting contrast. The Dagga is one of my favorite pedals, but they are admittedly thicker, larger, and heavier. The grip provided by Daggas seems more universally good, partly due to their enormous size, but also the pin design. They provide a more glued to the pedals feeling that makes it hard to adjust your foot. The Dagga also has a wider q-factor. All of these factors result in a higher frequency of pedal strikes, but better grip and platform for larger riders. Both are reliable and well designed, but I would categorize them differently. If the Chilao doesn't get along for you, then the Dagga might fill that void, albeit at a considerable size and weight penalty.
vs Crank Bros Stamp 7 - The Stamp 7 platform is larger by ~5mm on either side and the q-factor seems wider, again I got along better with these due to the larger platform and wider stance. OTOH the finishing details on the Stamps don't compare to the Chilao or Daggas, the Stamps look cheaper and less like a quality component. That said, these are a more middle ground option between the Chilao and Daggas, if you have larger feet or a wider stance. I find the Stamp 7s get along better with a mid-foot axle position, as well.
Well thought out design/shaping with no square edges or major hangup points
Thin enough to avoid pedal strikes, thick enough to not flex
Pins are replaceable from the rear
Made in the US
Great durability across a range of conditions
Numerous color options for both pins and pedals
Tapered leading edge prevents snagging on roots/rocks/features
Riders with larger feet, wider stance, or a mid foot position might have a more difficult time finding grip with these. They work great for some and less so for others, so this is going to be subject to a few factors. The grip is overall less absolute than it is with some other options.