02 February 2015

You've Probably Used Them, But Nobody Talks (Or Writes) About Them: Lyotard Pedals

If you have been cycling for a while, chances are that you've ridden at least one pair of Lyotard pedals.  Perhaps you still are.

All Peugeots, and most other French bikes that weren't equipped with Campagnolo components, came with one Lyotard model or another as standard equipment.  Even a few Campy-equipped bikes had Lyotard pedals--at least, one particular model I'll mention in a minute.

Lyotards were also found on bikes from other countries---yes, even a few from Japan, which probably has had more pedal-makers than any other nation.  There is a good reason why Lyotards were so common:  They offered a wide range of intelligently-designed products, and they offered good quality at a reasonable price.

No. 460

The three most popular models were probably the Nos. 460, 136R and 23.

No. 460 en bleu

No. 460 was an alloy double-sided, sawtoothed "rat trap" pedal popular with Cyclo-Cross riders, cyclo-tourists and bicycle commuters. They were usually silver, but for a time were offered with blue, red or black anodizing.  The 136 was a less-expensive steel pedal with curvy plates that often had reflectors built into them. It was standard equipment for many years on the Peugeot U0-8, Motobecane's Nobly and Mirage, and other lower-priced French machines popular during the '70's Bike Boom.


But Lyotard's most iconic product was probably the No. 23, also known as the Marcel Berthet pedal.  You've probably seen the 23, if you haven't used it yourself:  It's the one with the flat platform and the "tongue" that makes toe clip entry easier.  It's the pedal that inspired the MKS GR-9, GR-10 and Urban Platform pedals, as well as White Industries' amazing Urban Platform pedals.

No. 23, a.k.a. Marcel Berthet

It's no surprise, really, that the 23 would inspire other pedals:  It is among the most elegant pieces of cycling equipment ever made.  And, oh yes, it's comfortable and is still a relatively light pedal, especially for one constructed entirely from steel. For those reasons, and for its cornering clearance, it was sometimes found on otherwise all-Campagnolo bikes.

No. 45

Lyotard started to make pedals in 1921 and continued until 1992 or thereabouts.  The qualities I've mentioned--good value for the money and a wide range--are probably what kept the company in business for seven decades.  However, they, like many other French component makers (such as Simplex), failed to innovate or even update their lineup.  Cheaper Asian imports took away much of the market share the 136--and, to a lesser extent, the 460-- held.  The Berthet/No.23 was seen as a "cult" item, and the development of easy-to-use clipless pedals from Look and Time all but ended the demand for high-quality traditional pedals, which included the No. 45: the pedal that came with the Peugeot PX-10.

PL 2000

Lyotard finally came out with a clipless pedal, the PL 2000, in 1989, half a decade after Look first came to market.  I don't know anyone who actually used the PL 2000, but the design looks interesting.  Essentially, the pedal is really just an axle with a spring-loaded cap on the end opposite the pedal threads.  The cleat had a groove into which the axle fit when the rider "clipped in"; the spring-loaded cap held the rider's foot onto the pedal.  The rider would slide her or his foot outward to push the spring-loaded cap aside and disengage her or his foot from the pedal.

For all I know, it may have worked very well.  And, if nothing else, it was probably a very light weight pedal.  But I have to wonder how (un)comfortable it was:  Look and Time pedals at least have something resembling platforms that provide more surface contact area.

Also, Lyotard's cleat was proprietary.  You couldn't mount it on a shoe drilled for Look or other cleats that were using Look's three-bolt mounting system, which quickly became the standard for road clipless pedals.

Even if Lyotard's system had caught on, it might not have been enough to save a company with one of the longest histories in cycling.  But at least its legacy lives on in some pedals produced today:  the Berthet/No.23 has directly inspired the MKS and White Industries pedals I've mentioned and, perhaps indirectly, almost any pedal designed with aerodynamics (or pretentions thereof) in mind.  Such pedals would include most road clipless pedals. And the MKS Sylvan --very popular with tourists and commuters--echoes, in many ways, the 460.


  1. Nice overview of Lyotard's offerings. I've mentioned the Berthet/no.23 pedals once or twice on my pages -- but you're right that they don't get written about much. I'm thinking it would make a good subject on The Retrogrouch, but I don't know what I'd say that you didn't cover really well. And I didn't know of their clipless pedal at all. Thanks!

  2. Where, on each pedal, is the model number stamped?

  3. Brooks--Thank you. I recall your fine writing about the Berthet/No. 23, I didn't know about the Lyotard clipless pedal until recently.

    Steve--I don't think Lyotard stamped model numbers on their pedals. You knew which model you had by the box in which it came, or by consulting the company's catalogue or ads.

  4. I never liked Campag pedal design so went straight to Lyotard. For later bikes I bought two pairs of similar design British pedals, name escapes me, they are as good now as forty years ago if a bit beat up...

  5. Coline--Could those British pedals have been Chater Lea? As I recall, they made a few models that were very similar to their Lyotard counterparts.

    1. I shall check it out in a couple of weeks when I get home...

  6. I rode Lyotards on my tempo bike, once clicked in they were solid, and quite easy to get in to. Not so easy to get out of but
    They were good ! I would still like a pair for a tempo bike, They were very cheap and had good bearings. I wish they were available I found this page looking for a pair.

  7. Anon--I wish I knew where (besides, perhaps, eBay) you can find them.

  8. you really do love your bike. i have been thinking about getting one as well.

  9. Thanks for this review! tomorrow I'm going to get exactly this pedals. Any other suggestion or comment. Thanks, easy bike

  10. One thing about Lyotard and similar pedals that were built up from pressed-together parts is that they were notorious for developing annoying creaks. It wasn't so bad if you were riding in traffic noise, but once you got into the country, these bike noises get old fast. Bike Boom machines tended to be creaky in general, with their swaged steel cranks, cheap saddles, and quick assembly that eschewed greasing metal-on-metal contact points, but there wasn't much you could do about the pedals, once they started to creak, except replace them with something better.

  11. Steve--You're right about those creaks. I loved the Berthet (#23) pedals, but they weren't the sturdiest things. The MKS Urban Platform pedals is basically the same design with a one-piece body forged from better materials. Also, the axle is stronger and the bearings are sealed.