Kona Wah Wah II Pedal Review: Plastic Fantastic

Are you thinking of giving flat pedal bikepacking and mountain biking a go? At $50, Kona’s composite Wah Wah IIs may be the excuse you’re after. We took a set to Baja California to see if they’re as tough as they are affordable…

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Ever since our flat pedal roundup – in which we extol the virtues of flat pedal bikepacking – I’ve been riding almost exclusively with the Hope F20 I reviewed. They’re superb pedals, but ones that also come with a $160 price tag, a steep price point if you’re looking to wean yourself off of clipless pedals and wanting to give flats a go.

Kona Wah Wah II Pedal Review, flat pedals

Kona’s Wah Wah IIs, on the other hand, ring in at a far more digestible $50. Being made from a plastic composite material, they’re also a little lighter. But, before you raise your eyebrows at the idea of a durable plastic pedal, rest assured that I’ve bashed them repeatedly (but unintentionally) on my local rock-strewn trails, as well as using them on a couple of tours through New Mexico, and during day-to-day mountain biking over the last couple of months. I also took them on the Arrowhead 135; it’s worth pointing out that composite pedals have the advantage of not transferring biting coldness to your shoes in the same ways as aluminium ones. Most recently, I’ve clocked up a few hundred miles of especially hard use in the dusty conditions of Baja, Mexico.

  • Kona Wah Wah II Pedal Review, flat pedals
  • Kona Wah Wah II Pedal Review, flat pedals

Kona Wah Wah II composite pedal

First off, let’s talk about their size. They’re big! As you can see from the comparison images above, the Wah Wah IIs make my trusty Hopes look petite, especially in terms of their width. That said, I wear size 43 (US 10) shoes and quickly got used to the dinner plate size. In fact, I grew to appreciate having the extra real estate in terms of foot placement, especially when cornering. I was expecting an increase in rock strikes, but the only time it bothered me was when I was testing the new Pugsley, where they’re more prone to catching without thoughtful pedal positioning.

In terms of riding, they proved incredibly grippy with pretty much every piece of footwear I ride in, from Bedrock Sandals to 5.10 Freeriders, despite the relatively wide spacing of the thin, long pins. There are 14 of them (7 per side) and they’re replaceable, which is just as well, as upon closer inspection I noticed that I’ve chipped one off. The pins are threaded from behind, so they’re easy to get to.

Kona Wah Wah II Pedal Review, flat pedals

As for the platform itself, I found the shape – which is slightly concave – comfortable for long days in the saddle. Unlike a lot of cheap pedals, the platform is thin, too, so you won’t have to crank up your saddle height.

Small note: when I tried them on a friend’s bike with GX Eagle cranks, they required pedal spacers. I didn’t have any issues with my usual Shimano XT and Surly OD cranks (yes, I know I should have spacers anyway…) In terms of wear and tear, there’s now the tiniest bit of play on the right pedal but I’m not unduly worried about it. The combination of sealed and needle bearings are easy to access, so it’s worth opening them up once in a while to check they’re clean and add some grease.

Kona Wah Wah II Pedal Review, flat pedals

  • Kona Wah Wah II Pedal Review, flat pedals
  • Kona Wah Wah II Pedal Review, flat pedals
  • Kona Wah Wah II Pedal Review, flat pedals

Kona Wah Wah II composite pedal

It’s always good to get second opinions, especially from someone who’s also put in some mileage. Andy Forron of New River Bikes in Fayetteville, West Virginia, had this to say, “I rode about 600 miles of various terrain with them. Everything from road to singletrack. I’ve been riding around town and local trails with them since returning from that tour. I wore a pair of old school Vans I bought on the way out of town. Zero slipping issues. I’ve been riding some form of clipless pedal for about 25 years or so. I think I got the first set around my 12th birthday, so switching to flats was a big deal. Within a few miles I forgot I wasn’t clipped in. I probably won’t ever use clipless pedals for a tour again, only for bikepacking races. As for the Kona pedals themselves, I’m impressed. I’ve played with a few other pairs and never liked them. After a ride around town I was pretty happy with the Kona pedals and pulled the trigger on taking them for that tour.”

Kona Wah Wah II composite pedal

The spindle and bearings are fully serviceable (rebuild kits are available for $17) and the pedals come in six colors. As far as internals, the Kona Wah Wah II contains two cartridge bearings and one needle bearing.

Kona Wah Wah II Alloy Pedal

As of just a couple week ago, Kona also released the Wah Wah II with a forged CNC alloy cage. The alloy version features the same sealed bearings and DU bushings and comes in five colors: black, blue, red, orange, and dark green. With one more pin per side (16 per pedal), they might be a hair more sticky than the composite Wah Wahs. But, the metal cages and extra pins also come at a cost. The Alloy Wah Wah II has the same dimensions, 120 long x 118 wide x 13 thick, and sells for $120.

  • Kona Wah Wah II aluminum pedal
  • Kona Wah Wah II aluminum pedal

Kona Wah Wah II alloy pedal

Pros

  • Super grippy
  • Tough
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Width is great for foot placement but can create rock strikes on a fat bikes with wide BBs
  • Footprint: 120x118mm wide
  • Thickness: 13mm
  • Weight per set: 12.5oz/354g
  • Rebuild Kit Available: Yes
  • Price: $50
  • Contact: Kona

Wrap Up

I like and trust Kona’s Wah Wah IIs enough to have fitted them to my bike for a series of upcoming overseas trips. They’re light, durable, grippy, and very affordable. Composite they may be, but these aren’t the plastic pedals of yesterday. Rather, they perform as well as any expensive aluminium pedal I’ve tried.

Bear in the mind the pedal platform is huge, so it may dwarf smaller feet and their general width may increase the chance of pedal strike on a fat bike – at least when riding through rocky gullies. In terms of overall durability, I’m not sure the bearings are quite as hard wearing and well protected as the Hope F20s I’ve been using. But, even so, I’d consider them an almost perfect reason to give flat pedal mountain biking, bikepacking, and dirt road touring a go.

  • AsSeenOnOkra

    I see SUTRA LTD…..

  • Robert Davey

    Something that jumped out at me as well. Looking forward to the review. Love my custom build Sutra

  • Charly Aurelia

    Anyone know how they compare size wise to the OneUp composite flats?

  • One Ups are 115 x 105 x 18.5mm

  • Charly Aurelia

    thank you

  • Fergus Nash

    A tight q factor isnt something id like in backpacking pedal as with a bit of bulging frame bag its nice to have pedals that stick out a bit. Also id caution the needle bearing if you drop a loaded bike on its side the other bearing wont handle much of a side load. Hopes are rammed full of bearings to address this issue

  • Dave

    Composite pedals are plenty durable. They’ve been heavily used with great results by BMX riders for a long time! My current flats are alloy but I’d definitely choose the composite Wah Wah’s for that price difference.

    +1 sutra ltd

  • That’s also a thing that caught my sight… I have the 2016 model and I am in love with that bike.

  • John Short

    Sorry guys, I don’t get the flat pedal revolution going on in this MTB and Bikepacking world. They are not even close to the efficiency of clip ins and I just don’t see any advantage except for downhilling. I tried them, not these, but that part really doesn’t matter, if you cant pull up and pedal in a circle, I just felt my feet were flying everywhere. Not for me, but if this is where you start, I guess its not much different than riding as a kid.

  • Lucas Winzenburg

    In my experience with using flat pedals for bikepacking trips (exclusively for the past 5+ years), efficiency isn’t part of the equation. It’s less about the pedals themselves, and more about the fact that I’d rather push my fatbike up a scree slope or across a rushing river in hiking boots than in bike shoes, 100% of the time.

  • George

    Also, on longer trips it avoids the need to carry two pairs o shoes. I’ve been away for five months with just flat pedals and a pair of Hagloff Vertigo II’s and have been able to literally climb mountains on the same trip.

  • John Short

    I guess I am just not to the point in my cycling adventures that I would put myself in a place where hiking and pushing my bike across waterways are parts of my trips. Cyclocross racers may not cross rivers or ride up the Rockies but don’t seem to have problems hopping off and running with there bikes. Like I said, they just aren’t for me.

  • John Short

    Never said you could NOT climb or just ride a bike with these flat pedals, I just don’t get why they are being said to be just as effeicient as clipped pedals, they are not. I would rather drop other things and carry an extra pair of shoes. Not many of my adventures take me to where just one pair of shoes would suffice. Not all of us race or ride where you see no one else, most places would rather not have you walk into their establishments in shoes that have pushed your bike through rivers and mud.

  • It was a hard sell for me too. Honestly, I still use clipless shoes on many shorter trips. But, you’d be amazed at how much a good pair of sticky rubber shoes does for efficiency. The Freerider Contact has incredible rubber soles and can literally pull the pedal almost all the way around — http://www.bikepacking.com/gear/five-ten-freerider-contact-review-pair-down/ That said, I use 5.10 Guide Tennies (which aren’t super sticky rubber, they use a harder more durable rubber) for long travels where there is a lot of hiking and general walking around. They do pretty well, but not like the Freeriders.

  • I am also a 100% user of clipless pedals in all my bikes and I when I travel I use some Shimano hiking-like shoes that when i remove the cleat I can attach a cover to complete the sole. This allows me to bring the two pair of different shoes when traveling or touring.
    But I must say also that sometimes I have borrowed or rented bicycles and done from +100km day rides to multi-day touring including rocky and steep climbs/descents and single tracks wearing my Crocs and I felt also really comfortable. Of course I would not ride a racing bike wearing a skinsuit with flat pedal + Crocs but I would go touring to a tropical island with a flat pedal and sandals or even barefoot. All depends on the conditions, place, moment… There is room for everything.

  • John Short

    I agree 100% Pedro, I just don’t have the elegance of making your point. I stated I had tried them, but I didn’t elaborate. They were not uncomfortable, and they were not something that I could not use with any bike and any shoe. I guess my point was that with all the reviews and responses from others is that these flat things are the new clipless pedal, that they are just as efficient, blah blah blah. Like you said, there are situations where this would be the go to system, but that doesn’t come across in some reviews, or maybe I am just assuming they are. But, to me, there is nothing like clipping in and as of right now, my adventures haven’t carried me into areas or terrain where I would benefit from this flat pedal system. Probably something to do with my age as well, but I find the 5 ten etc flat pedal shoes as ugly as ugly can get, or at least on an old mans foot, even uglier and more outta place than a cycling shoe, lol!

  • felix

    Hey ya, I’ve been riding with clipless pedals for the last 30 years and I switched over to flat pedals 1 year ago. Freakin awesome. Efficient as heck. Theres no climb I cant do. The frreedom you feel like when we were kids. Wah Wahs are on my xmas list.

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