Ahead's catalogue is absolutely bulging with an eclectic mix of drum-related products including snare drums (metal and wood), drum stools, drum cases, ear plugs, accessories etc.
It was the highly innovative aluminium sticks which rocketed them to fame and from which it derives its name, AHEAD: Advanced High Efficiency Alloy Drumsticks.
Hot from the Winter NAMM show is this brand new Ahead Mach 1 bass drum pedal. While a double version is also available, we have the single here for review.
Imminently following in the footsteps of these pedals is a range of Ahead hardware including a boom cymbal stand, snare stand and hi-hat stand complete with matching Mach 1 footplate.
"This patented design is said to make the pedal smoother and up to a staggering 30 percent faster"
At a passing glance, this piece of hardware appears to be similar to the many chain drive pedals currently available on the market.
Before taking delivery, we were sure any new kick pedal from Ahead would be out of the ordinary - perhaps with aircraft-grade, laser-cut aluminium foot plate, CNC-machined, direct drive etc. We are talking about a product hailing from the home of the truly revolutionary aluminium sticks.
However, once we start digging deeper it becomes clear that there is more to this hunk of pedal metal than first greets the eye. There has been some pimping on a fairly standard kick pedal base and there are many familiar components here including dual beater posts, heel rest and the usual anti-creep measures of rubber pads and spiked bolts.
Going up top there is a thoughtfully-included drum key with its own holder. Other additions are side-access hoop clamp adjuster and multi-positioning clamp foot which enables the pedal to self-level on an uneven surface.
Drive comes courtesy of a duplex chain which is linked between the cast aluminium pedal board and an Eccentric cam. This fully adjustable 'Eccentric Drive' is mounted on the stainless steel beater shaft and is designed to help rapidly accelerate the beater onto the batter of the bass drum.
This method was originally designed in the USA by Eccentric Systems, as far back as 1980 and through the years there are similar designs found on many of the world's kick pedals today - this Ahead Mach 1 pedal is fitted with a genuine Eccentric Systems cam.
And now this is where things just get far more intriguing - there is a second cam (also designed by Eccentric Systems), which has a chain wrapped around its outer edge.
This 'Quick Torque' spring cam is mounted at the end of the beater shaft and the 'S' hook of the spring is attached. This patented design is said to make the pedal smoother and up to a staggering 30 percent faster.
As with any fairly complex, fully-adjustable piece of machinery like this pedal, devoting time and patience to setting up is fundamentally important to get the best out of it.
As well as the supplied drum key, Ahead has also provided two Allen keys necessary for the various adjustments. First job is to alter the position of the beater to about 45° and increase the spring tension a little higher than would be the playable norm.
This makes the beater 'sit up' so we can make any alterations to the cam. Once this is done, the beater angle is adjusted via the two bolts using the smaller of the two allen keys.
"The two cams play off against each other meaning that the usual power/speed compromise is less of an issue"
Spring adjustment, incidentally, is via two knurled nuts around the lower spring bolt. This has a flat face to one side with a tuning bolt tight against it to ensure that even if the nuts do come loose, the spring will not go slack - nice one.
Next (after the spring is slackened off), the lower section of the spring cam is tilted slightly towards the head using the allen key and the spring adjusted until the smallest amount of tension is applied.
The cam comes into action as the beater is sent towards the head and, with its graduated eccentric motion, aids a smooth and rapid return - that's the theory anyway!
The action takes some getting used to as there is little or no resistance from the spring initially - it's at rest at this stage and it is alarmingly slack. The beater moves so freely it fools you into thinking it's going to be like that for the whole stroke.
With a little more pressure applied, the spring and footplate tenses as resistance rapidly increases with the resulting energy transferred from the spring/cam and directly onto the beater in an instant.
Despite our fairly coarse description, the action is actually incredibly smooth and after only a few minutes we quickly warm to the feel and enjoy the speed of the pedal motion.
When anyone chooses cam/beater position for their preferred feel it will often be a compromise between power and speed, and it's the same with nearly every model out there.
The difference with this pedal is that the second-spring Quick Torque cam helps alleviate at least a proportion of this effect as the two cams play off against each other meaning that the usual power/speed compromise is less of an issue.