Sometimes, as you squint at a product concept, you can consciously feel the stirrings of an internal battle. Is this thing stupid, or a stupidly obvious solution? Is it ugly, or innovative? Are you cringing because it's naïve and tacky, or because you didn't think of it? Honestly, it's usually a savory blend, but sometimes you have to sit down with something for a while before you know where you stand. Today's case: silicone jackets for your bike pedals.
Grippine were developed by Milan's Sovrappensiero Design to combat the slippery, low-traction nature of most city bike pedals.Slightly irritating and downright dangerous in the rain, flat pedals can leave a lot to be desired. They originally set out to reinvent the pedal, but, after comparing most pedals in use, they changed tack. While there are many bike shoe-specific clipless pedal options and toe cages work fine for some, you have to get into relatively specialized BMX or MTB zones before finding really grippy flat pedals. Yes, they're out there. But no, most commuters aren't going to go find them, if only because they look weird slapped onto a stately cruiser. So the Grippine project set out to make a pedal modifier that would add traction to most flat pedals you're likely to already own, and would work with virtually any shoes.
Without running straight into the arms of stereotyping, Milan is a city with a lot of bikes and a lot of style, which might shed some light on their design concerns. Most folks who own bikes don't want to dress up like a biker to get where they're going, and most don't want to have to do research on pedal types or have to sacrifice wearing that incredible pair of new boots to get there by bike. This pedal-hugging silicone sleeve can stretch to cover most designs, quickly giving hard plastic blocks better purchase and modifying old metal road pedals into something other than violent shin slicers.
Given the world's diversity of pedal shapes and lengths I'd be interested in how tightly they really do grip. A loose pedal cover, like a loose handlebar grip, could end up being much worse than a slippery pedal. I'm also interested in how the (terribly colored) silicone would hold up to the obvious wear and tear of being stood on and bashed around. Pedals are made of metal and hard plastics for a reason. All said, the pander-y nod to the hazards of high-heeled riding is not wrong, and I'd appreciate any extra grip to get my pump-wearing self around without new bruises.
Currently up for support on the Italian crowdfunding site Eppela. Check them out, or just invest in a few handfuls of big rubberbands.