The mighty Wah!
The Kona Wah Wah from the early noughties started a flat pedal resurgence. And the design itself spawned a thousand copycat designs.
Back around the turn of the century everyone rode clipless pedals. Okay, not everyone but unless you were a freerider or a dirt jumper you almost certainly bolted your feet to your bike via cleats.
Some products are instant game changers. This isn’t one of them. The move away from clipless pedals to flat pedals was not done overnight. It took a few years. And to be fair, Five Ten shoes equally culpable here.
Kona Wah Wah pedals
But here I’m going to raise a glass to the Kona Wah Wah flat pedal.
There’s just been a new version released (more about this below) and this got us reminiscing about the original Wah Wah. Before the Wah Wah if you mentioned flat pedals to a Brit mountain biker they’d probably think of a DMR V8. And while the classic V8 was – and still is – a great pedal for dirt jumpers and other tricksters, they were never all that amazing at trail riding.
Other also-rans in the millennial flat pedal stakes were the Shimano DX and the Easton Flatboy (or the ‘Cully’ versions). But the Shimano were lacking in size and all-out grip and the Eastons were a bit on the standard chunky and quite frankly massively expensive.
I think the Kona Wah Wah pedals came out sometime around 2005. They came fitted to certain Kona test bikes and demo bikes. All it took was one ride on them to realise they were a different league to other flats of the time.
Sure, the headline feature was the amazing-for-the-time thinness (approx 17mm) but there was more to the Wah Wah than just being slim.
The slight concave shape was spot on. The pins were perfect. Not too high, not too thick. They were a cross between the square outline of pedals from Funn or Atomlab and the spade-shaped or lozenge pedals from Easton and Shimano.
They were light enough. Durable enough. Big enough (almost 10cm x 10cm was massive for the era). They were rebuildable (bearings and pins). They were affordable (well, eventually). And the feel was simply spot on.
Even without the hallowed Five Ten sole and just wearing some skate shoes the Wah Wahs were a game changer for a lot of riders. Bike riding basically became fun again. A whole generation of riders learned how they should have cornering a bike for the previous decade. Kona Wah Wah pedals acted like a translator between you and your bike. They enabled better communication.
Just look around at the best performing flat pedals these days. You can see the ghost of the Wah Wah in all of them pretty much.
The new Kona Wah Wah II PP
So this new Wah Wah then. It’s made of plastic. Technically it’s glass-fibre reinforced nylon composite. It’s thinner than the old Wah Wah (an impressive 13mm) and it’s significantly lighter (360g versus 480g). It’s cheaper ($50 versus $90).
14 replaceable pins. Serviceable bearings. The leading edges of the pedal are thinner to reduce pedal strikes.
Available in six colours: black, slime green, forest green, orange, purple and red. It’s nice how the iconic grey or white colours of the original Wah Wah have been omitted. Respect to the Wah Wah.