Reverence: Speedplay Pedals

Reverence: Speedplay Pedals

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I’m old as dirt. My first two race bikes employed toe clips and toe straps and that set-up was bad. For many reasons it was bad and any retro-hipster who thinks otherwise is wrong. When Lemond and Hinault started racing on the white Look clipless pedals, everyone but Sean Kelly quickly switched. Talk about a quantum improvement, it was long overdue change. Look made improvements to their models, like the notion of float, and other manufactures jumped in. The new paradigm was a cleat on the pedal, like the original quill pedal system but with a spring loaded snap-in, twist-out pedal. Everyone was happy.

Everyone is happy until you have to replace a worn out plastic cleat. Did I walk a lot in my cycling shoes? Did all liquor stores have rough cement floors with giant moving sanding belts in front of the cash registers? I don’t remember that but I do remember replacing cleats too often and the duplication of cleat position was tedious. I could live with that, practice makes perfect but it was the creaking that drove me to madness. No amount of wax could stop the occasional creaking the cleat and pedals would make while climbing. Rule #65 was being violated before it was a Rule.

Wiser friends had already switched to Speedplay pedals. I was a little wary; they looked weird. One day into using them I understood: total frictionless float, two-sided entry, mindless pedal release. There is no cleat alignment issue as the pedal has no fixed position in the cleat. I was overcome with regret. Why had I waited so long? Why did I stick with creaking Look French pedals? Life is too short for such rubbish and I wasted too much of my cycling life with them. I’ve been using the X-series stainless steel pedals and the original pair was happily going on eighteen-plus years until I replaced the pedal needle bearings and bodies…I don’t want to talk about it. If you employ the good aftermarket cleat covers, and use a little white lightning teflon on the cleat spring bales, the cleats can last a few years. The pedal bodies have grease injector ports. Inject, wipe clean and that is the maintenance routine, easy and fun.

I’ve never used another model of Speedplay so I can’t speak to the advantage of limited float. When riding my right foot does a weird swing out toward the bottom of each stroke. To my mind that is a good thing, the float allows my leg to do that, without that maybe some extra knee wear would occur.

Frank and I have discussed the great pedal switch and his major obstacle to switching pedals is having to switch the whole n+1 stable over and that is not cheap.  For Frank and VHM that stable may be five bikes. That’s a lot of pedals. Inertia. Commitment. It’s a big problem. Or one takes Marko’s approach: different shoes for each bike.

I have brand loyalties but if another cycling product is superior in form and function I hope I will see that and move on. Campagnolo gruppos and Chris King headsets are two brands on my bikes that I don’t see moving away from but I would ditch either of those before I would stop using Speedplay pedals. I’m that convinced.

This film is from Peloton’s website. It’s an interesting look at some American cycling manufacturing including Speedplay.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/43771401[/vimeo]

 

// Reverence

  1. @roger I just bought a pair of zero cromolys from ribble for £87….please tell me Ribble is the site you are referring to or did I just lose out?

  2. @Deakus

    Nope, that is the site.  Titanium’s for the lighter guys are selling at the stainless price point.  The stainless at the cro-moly price point.  Good end of season deals popping up already.

  3. Wonderful!  That is the only way I can describe my first ride on my new speedplay zeros.  After 20 years on Looks the simple joy of not spending 3 revolutions trying to fine a positive connection on my off foot after each junction was pure joy.  They are a little stiff out of the box but I can tell a wonderful relationship has begun…Thanks for this article!

  4. @Deakus   My work is done here, I have a happy rider off Looks and and on Speedplays.

  5. @Gianni – Make that two. =)

    These were obtained at my LBS’ bike swap meet on Saturday for $65.

    Don’t they look pretty?

  6. @Xyverz

    Nice! They look to be in relatively good shape as well for the price paid. Another nice thing about the Zeros is the pedals can be rebuilt if they become too worn and start not working well.

  7. @Xyverz Nice, and the right colour to match your frame too.

  8. @mcsqueak – Yeah, that’s what I’ve seen and read about ‘em. Apparently though, this is only true with the Stainless and Ti’s. The Cromos aren’t as easily torn down. My buddy took a look at the pedals and says they feel like they’re in excellent shape. They certainly did well for my 110km ride yesterday. =)

    @Duende – I originally wanted the white ones for the pop of colour, but I’m quite pleased with how nice these ones look on the bike. They’re quite subtle that way.

  9. This is nine months after the fact, but I started using Speedplay pedals primarily on the strength of this essay and the embedded video.  I actually purchased the pedals last August, but decided that I wasn’t going to change my setup that late in the season.  I determined that I would switch to the new pedals after new shoes were purchased.  Again, why mes with my current setup which was nearly perfect for me.  Fall rolls into winter and winter into spring and before you know it my new pedals, shoes and cleats are finally getting some use by mid to late March.  Well, here it is mid-May and I have about two months use on the Speedplays and the new shoes and the verdict is these are awesome pedals.  It may be the pedal and shoe combination, but the feel of the system is solid and comfortable.  These are everything claimed and I too wonder why I waited so long to try them.  Give them a spin, you won’t regret it…

  10. @Jay

    Good lad, another convert. I am the speedplay missionary. “Why did I wait so long?” I ask myself that same question. I finally got my wife on them and her knee problem has backed way off, she is in love, with them.

  11. @minion

    @frank Ah well that’s your first problem right there, assuming Canberra’s a city. If it helps, any address that begins, “Cave 1 …” isn’t likely to be a city.

    And our next Prime Minister, as big a boofhead as he is, rides a very nice handmade Hillbrick.

  12. Just by way of a bump.  I have been riding these for 18 months now and they are absolutely awesome!  No knee trouble, the free float took about 2 hills to get used to (although if felt very weird for the 1st 10)

    I am never going back and now have them on all bikes!

  13. Gianni, thank you for this post.  I’m in the market for some proper road pedals for my main squeeze, and I was foolishly considering Shimano and Look.  I actually ran Speedplay Frogs for years on my cross cum commuter bicycle, and I loved the float.  People, that “walking on ice cubes” weird feeling disappears part way through your first ride on them.  The appreciation of the double sided entry and the ability to freely twist your foot around unencumbered by spring tension lasts far longer.  Then there’s all the techy go fast advantages they have: lighter weight, foot closer to the pedal spindle, etc.  My Frogs did not last as long as your X-series, but then I never serviced or lubricated them, even though it is easy to do.  One day a bearing seized and I just pedaled the platform right off the spindle.  I’m now a little more into bicycle maintenance than I was then.

    Seems the only disadvantages are that the cleats may clog a bit easier off the bike, and they may be the least friendly cleats to walk around on.  However no road pedal cleats are particularly easy to walk around on, and to anyone who brings this factor up as a problem, though I am a novice velominatus, I must direct you to examine Rule #69.

    Thanks too, for the video post.  I does feel good and in some way V to support an American specialty builder of the best pedals in world (people have differing opinions, but come on most of the pros prefer them) designed by a hardcore velominatus who took on the big guys and won.

  14. NetApp Endura at Paris-Roubaix this year might have found a solution to the cruddy cleat issue?  Or is there another reason to remove the body of the pedal?  I’m still eyeing different systems at the moment, but I kind of enjoy the crisis of indecision when looking to buy new stuff.

  15. @andrew Those have been around for a few years. As far as I know they were a Speedplay produced team only special but they’ve recently announced that they’ll be making them available to the public.

    Outside of PR conditions, I’m not sure what they’d offer over the regular version or whether the considerable extra expense would make them worthwhile.

    You certainly wouldn’t want to meet one in a crash.

    speedplay pave pedals brass knuckles20130916_0010

  16. @Chris

    You certainly wouldn’t want to meet one in a crash.

    speedplay pave pedals brass knuckles20130916_0010

    …. and with disc rotors in a crash!

  17. @Chris So much for my thinking they’d just been hacked by mechanics… As for meeting them in a crash, they look almost like something you’d find poking out of an axle in a Ben Hur chariot race or Bond car chase. Lethal.

  18. @sthilzy

    @Chris

    You certainly wouldn’t want to meet one in a crash.

    speedplay pave pedals brass knuckles20130916_0010

    …. and with disc rotors in a crash!

    a real issue as the industry pushes disc brakes on road bikes down our throats.

  19. @andrew

    NetApp Endura at Paris-Roubaix this year might have found a solution to the cruddy cleat issue? Or is there another reason to remove the body of the pedal? I’m still eyeing different systems at the moment, but I kind of enjoy the crisis of indecision when looking to buy new stuff.

    MAVIC ZXELLIUM PEDALS

  20. @unversio

    @andrew

    NetApp Endura at Paris-Roubaix this year might have found a solution to the cruddy cleat issue? Or is there another reason to remove the body of the pedal? I’m still eyeing different systems at the moment, but I kind of enjoy the crisis of indecision when looking to buy new stuff.

    MAVIC ZXELLIUM PEDALS

    So, I guess I’ll take that as a suggestion in their favour?

    Seriously though, I didn’t know them, so thanks for the tip!

  21. @andrew

    @unversio

    @andrew

    NetApp Endura at Paris-Roubaix this year might have found a solution to the cruddy cleat issue? Or is there another reason to remove the body of the pedal? I’m still eyeing different systems at the moment, but I kind of enjoy the crisis of indecision when looking to buy new stuff.

    MAVIC ZXELLIUM PEDALS

    So, I guess I’ll take that as a suggestion in their favour?

    Seriously though, I didn’t know them, so thanks for the tip!

    I took my own advice at noontime and picked up a pair.

  22. @unversio

    @andrew

    NetApp Endura at Paris-Roubaix this year might have found a solution to the cruddy cleat issue? Or is there another reason to remove the body of the pedal? I’m still eyeing different systems at the moment, but I kind of enjoy the crisis of indecision when looking to buy new stuff.

    MAVIC ZXELLIUM PEDALS

    Now you show those Mavic’s after purchasing Speedplays for #1 & #2!  My left knee says it wants more float.

    @unversio

    I took my own advice at noontime and picked up a pair.

    from TMKC

  23. @andrew

    @unversio

    @andrew

    NetApp Endura at Paris-Roubaix this year might have found a solution to the cruddy cleat issue? Or is there another reason to remove the body of the pedal? I’m still eyeing different systems at the moment, but I kind of enjoy the crisis of indecision when looking to buy new stuff.

    MAVIC ZXELLIUM PEDALS

    So, I guess I’ll take that as a suggestion in their favour?

    Seriously though, I didn’t know them, so thanks for the tip!

    Just throwing it out there, but those Mavics are just re-branded Time X-Pressos…

    http://www.time-sport.com/pedales/xpresso_17.aspx

  24. @Mikael Liddy

    @andrew

    @unversio

    @andrew

    NetApp Endura at Paris-Roubaix this year might have found a solution to the cruddy cleat issue? Or is there another reason to remove the body of the pedal? I’m still eyeing different systems at the moment, but I kind of enjoy the crisis of indecision when looking to buy new stuff.

    MAVIC ZXELLIUM PEDALS

    So, I guess I’ll take that as a suggestion in their favour?

    Seriously though, I didn’t know them, so thanks for the tip!

    Just throwing it out there, but those Mavics are just re-branded Time X-Pressos…

    http://www.time-sport.com/pedales/xpresso_17.aspx

    Calling them MAVIZXELLIUM anyway. Thanx for showing us the light as well.

  25. The  CLEAT EXTENDER BASE PLATE KIT, what is also on the picture. That was a primary factor I changed to Speedplay. It allowed me to move my feet even more forward to reduce the pain on long (brevet) rides…

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