Iron Cobra and Speed Cobra Pedals
by David Ciauro
Major upgrades to two of the most revered pedals around.
Tama has introduced the next generation of its Iron Cobra and Speed Cobra pedals with smart enhancements that focus on feel, stability, and sound. The company’s engineers managed to reduce weight in certain key areas while fortifying the pedals’ overall structure. The balance between those two accomplishments, along with the pedals’ impressive adjustability, allows you to home in on your ideal setting better than ever. The existing features received practical upgrades to increase durability and performance, while the new features addressed some areas of improvement based on feedback from Tama endorsers.
Familiar and New
The Iron Cobra is available with either a Rolling Glide or Power Glide cam, whereas the Speed Cobra is available only with the Rolling Glide cam, which more aptly suits the longboard style. The Rolling Glide cams are forty-percent lighter than before, which reduces mechanical latency. Both pedals have dual-chain drives. The Speed Cobra and Iron Cobra list prices are the same for single and double pedals, $279.52 and $698.80 respectively. There are left-handed double pedals available for the Speed Cobra and for the Power Glide version of the Iron Cobra. Each of the pedals comes in a hard-shell carrying case and includes Tama’s DH7 Drum Hammer, which has a standard tuning key on one side and an Allen wrench, for adjusting the pedal, on the other.
The Iron Cobra and Speed Cobra pedals include the unique Cobra Coil spring underneath the footboards, which is said to increase the return rate of the beaters. This mechanism is silent and, of equal importance, has an invisible presence while playing. The coil is functional without making the pedals’ momentum feel awkward.
An exclusive feature on these pedals is the patented Swivel Spring Tight spring assembly. On most pedals, when the springs are anchored, they flex on an angle when the pedal is depressed. Tama’s swiveling assembly moves in conjunction with the pedal’s motion, allowing the spring to be aligned as it flexes and closes. The result is a smooth and energy-efficient stroke.
Also new to the pedals is the Hinge Guard Block and patented Oiles Bearing Hinge. These serve to eliminate side-to-side motion in the footplate. The Hinge Guard Block, which is located at the bottom of the footboard, is composed of two pieces, so it can hold the bearing more evenly. The bearing is made from bell-brass and has a Teflon coating. The Hinge Guard Block and Oiles Bearing Hinge create a solid base that serves as an anchor for powerful playing while also providing smooth action for all types of strokes.
Another enhancement on these pedals is a wider frame to increase stability. The revolving shaft supports are 15mm wider than on previous versions, and the under-plate is 12mm wider. Those might seem like nominal enhancements, but the added strength and stability is clearly noticeable under the foot.
The most obvious changes for these pedals are the new beater designs. The Iron Cobra features the Power-Strike Cobra beater, which has a thicker but smaller-diameter felt head for additional attack. There’s also an increased distance between the front of the felt and the shaft, which seemed to balance the weight distribution to offer more control. The Speed Cobra has a similar-looking Accu-Strike Cobra beater with a Butadiene rubber surface. This rubber was chosen because of its wear-resistant properties, lighter weight, and clear and articulate sound. The angle of the beaters is drum key–adjustable so you can ensure that the playing surface is flush when it strikes the drumhead.
If you favor a longboard pedal, the Speed Cobra is likely the one you’ll gravitate toward. However, the Iron Cobra’s extended footboard provides a lot of support without feeling as though there’s too much metal under your foot. The Iron Cobra allowed for a balanced feel between heel-up and heel-down playing.
I ran each pedal through a litany of settings, adjusting the beater shaft angle, spring tension, and pedal-board height, and found that in every setting the pedals were incredibly smooth. The amount of power or finesse depended on how the pedal was configured, but all of the adjustments are intuitive. Whether playing along to Miles Davis or Slayer, there was a setting on each pedal that helped my foot adapt to the genre. I was also able to easily find a setting that allowed me to seamlessly switch between styles.
The slave pedals on the double-pedal models are ideal in the sense that I didn’t need to think too much about them. I simply mirrored the settings from the primary pedal, and they responded beautifully.
When using the Speed Cobra with the rubber beater on a drum outfitted with a Remo Powerstroke 3 Black Dot drumhead, I did experience a tiny amount of tack on the beater return when laying into the head with a powerful stroke. When I swapped in a bass drum with a coated drumhead, the rubber beater rebounded with no noticeable resistance. If your playing style is one where you consistently lay into the head, this may be food for thought, but certainly not a deterrent.
True to Name
The overall feel, responsiveness, and power of the updated Iron Cobra and Speed Cobra pedals were impressive. They’re built like tanks, designed with expertise without feeling over-engineered, and are versatile enough to cater to a wide array of playing styles.