Reverence: Speedplay Pedals

Reverence: Speedplay Pedals

by / / 321 posts

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. Off topic, but…not really!

    Who is in the French National Champion kit in the 1986 TdF? Was watching a video of LeMan + Hinault chasing Zimmermann, not sure who that dude is, but then again, it’s also in French, so maybe I’m hearing his name but not picking it out of the rest.

    Lay it on me! I know one of ya knows.

  2. @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.

    Petra. Just sayin’. Although I don’t think it’s something the Aussies built. Or even could have.

  3. @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.

    Exactly.  Cave 1 is where the PM/Head Shepherd lives.  Extreme security – they make you check your shears at the door.

  4. @Ron It was Yvon Madiot, although I confess I had to resort to Wikipedia to find that one out…

  5. @Buck Rogers

    @sthilzy   Yeah, what is it about XC skiing and toes.  I have two totally messed up toes from my years of racing in high school and college.

    Show me yours and I’ll show you mine! Everyone else look away!

  6. @minion Rivalry and rivalry. apologies.

    BTW, if folks are getting a bit short with each other round here, the idea of a Velominati Code of Conduct could be discussed. I know Fhroonk has shied away from this in the past since it requires moderation in the traditional interdweeb forum sense, but on a website with 90-something rules…

    Rule one should probably be no passing judgement on other poster’s occupations since that always gets on people’ s nerves.

    Rule two should be no repetition of the word ‘rivalry’ in posts.

  7. @tessar

    @Gianni The country in question is Israel – because of the political situation, there’s pressure by Arab customers to avoid business with the country. For a company like Speedplay, they do the basic maths: 7 million inhabitants, only a minority of which are cyclists are not enough potential customers to offset a boycott. As for the dates – well, pretty much every rest-stop or natural oasis along the desert roads has a few palm trees, and they get so sticky when they rot on the road. Same with the Ficus tree fruits that grow in the cities and northern tropical zones.

    That’s weird though, because I’m in an Arab country and I promise you the locals prefer Nissan Patrols to anything that might have Speedplays – there are a few Arab cyclists in clubs but the vast majority are expats. It’s certainly the case across the Gulf and nobody cares about Egypt or Iraq commercially.

    I looked on the Speedplay website and they have no distributors in MENA so it could be a general thing. At any rate it’s all Look here, or Shimano (so obviously they manage to work across both markets).

  8. @Oli

    @Ron It was Yvon Madiot, although I confess I had to resort to Wikipedia to find that one out…

    is he Marc’s older brother?

  9. @Buck Rogers

    @Oli

    @Ron It was Yvon Madiot, although I confess I had to resort to Wikipedia to find that one out…

    is he Marc’s older brother?

    Actually, he’s is younger brother. By a few years, if I’m not mistaken.

  10. @minion

    @minion Rivalry and rivalry. apologies.

    BTW, if folks are getting a bit short with each other round here, the idea of a Velominati Code of Conduct could be discussed. I know Fhroonk has shied away from this in the past since it requires moderation in the traditional interdweeb forum sense, but on a website with 90-something rules…

    Rule one should probably be no passing judgement on other poster’s occupations since that always gets on people’ s nerves.

    Rule two should be no repetition of the word ‘rivalry’ in posts.

    We already have a code of conduct already. For the most part, The Keepers and I have enough work around here and find no enjoyment or reward in enforcing it. That said, when things get out of hand…

    But that is a good suggestion and I’ll amend it to include knowingly insulting someone’s occupation and also that if you are engaged in an argument with someone the following constitute poor form and will, as time goes on, be tolerated less and less by the Keepers:

    First, contain your pissing to one tree; don’t cross-post your grievances. Second, once the last word on your argument has dropped off the current page of posts, leave it alone. If its not on the current page of posts, you’re the only one still thinking about it, so bringing it up again is just about you and your ego, neither of which is appreciated.

    But all of this really goes under Rule #43, no more should need to be said.

  11. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    @Oli

    @Ron It was Yvon Madiot, although I confess I had to resort to Wikipedia to find that one out…

    is he Marc’s older brother?

    Actually, he’s is younger brother. By a few years, if I’m not mistaken.

    Ahh, learn something here everyday!

  12. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    @Oli

    @Ron It was Yvon Madiot, although I confess I had to resort to Wikipedia to find that one out…

    is he Marc’s older brother?

    Actually, he’s is younger brother. By a few years, if I’m not mistaken.

    Although I challenge you and Oli (or anyone) to name all four Simon brothers who road pro and their age order WITHOUT looking it up (by the way, I cannot do this myself).

  13. @Buck Rogers

    All I’ve got is Pascal, Jerome, and Fancois.There is one more, and his name escapes me.

  14. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    All I’ve got is Pascal, Jerome, and Fancois.There is one more, and his name escapes me.

    I had forgotten Francois. Isn’t the other one Simon?  I have not looked them up yet.  As for ages, I have no idea of the order.

  15. @ChrisO In this case, I’m speaking from knowledge – both of the two “high-end” importers (the guys dealing with Parlee, Time and the guys that got a Cervelo S5 shipped on the announcement week) tried to negotiate with Speedplay and set up a distribution channel and were refused. I know cycling doesn’t seem to popular in Arab states, percentage-wise (my mother told me how few they were at the Abu Dhabi Triathlon) – but there’s a fuckload more Arabs with fuckloads of money to spend than there are Israelis. There’s 5-6 million Israelis here, of which around 40k cycle – how many would get Speedplays? A thousand? Of which three-four would get a pair of Nanograms as a vanity item. That’s the sort of money a sheikh might spend on his commuter’s pedals, or rather, the commuter-esque bike that’ll never actually touch the pavement.

    It’s political pressure not just from the Arab countries by themselves, but other organizations too. No idea exactly who, but there are powerful lobbies that pressure anyone from pedal-manufacturers to rock-bands (and quite a few big names cancelled their shows). In many ways, I agree with them, too – my country deserves a boycott just like South Africa did in it’s day – but even if I understand the reasoning, it bugs me when I can’t get the pedals I want. I don’t see myself staying here after the bachelor’s degree.

  16. @Buck Rogers

    @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    All I’ve got is Pascal, Jerome, and Fancois.There is one more, and his name escapes me.

    I had forgotten Francois. Isn’t the other one Simon?  I have not looked them up yet.  As for ages, I have no idea of the order.

    Ahhh, actually really wish we had an edit function as I was cleaning and thinking about this I realized that I proposed that Simon was the first name of the missing Simon brothers.  What the Fuck?  Man, I guess all this house cleaning chemicals must be getting to my brain.

  17. @Buck Rogers Regis?

  18. @Oli

    @Buck Rogers Regis?

    That’s a BINGO!!!  I had to look it up but should have just trusted you, Oli.  Well done guys!

  19. Dear Frank,

    I was reminded today why speedplays are not used much in Belgium..while on the local groupride, had to pull off for a much needed pee in the cornfield. Yep, I forgot the speedplays hate the dirt and yes I could not clip in for the next 20km of little power climbs..Not until the beer/coffee stop where I took my shoe and washed it in the cafe’s WC sink….OTHERWISE love my speedplays…

  20. @farzani

    I am a bit cautious around dirt and gravel (but have had very little trouble””sometime a stick or thin stone is enough to scrape gunk clear). The one that does get me, though, is ice and slush in the winter, which can happen just by putting a foot down for a couple of seconds at a stop or light.

  21. @Steampunk and that happens to frequently here in Belgie! :)

  22. Im watching Team America right now.

  23. @RedRanger

    Im watching Team America right now.

    NICE!  Durka, durka, jihad.

  24. @farzani

    Newbie to the site here, although I’ve been riding since ’87 and reading posts here feverishly since finding it a few months ago.

    If you like the idea of speedplay pedals but are held back by the thought of mud, grit, etc., take a look at bebop pedals.  They’re a very similar idea, but originally designed for mountain biking, so they have a more open design.  The important design of lots of free float is still there.  I have three pairs: road, mountain, and cyclocross (although I’ll admit that I might take them off of my mountain bike and switch that to something with a bigger platform).  I don’t know if they’re distributed outside the US, though, and they’ve certainly never gained any traction with the pro’s.

  25. @the curious

    there is a UK site that is throwing speedplays out the door.  As much as I am 50/50 on them, at the sale price it was too hard to not pick up another set for #1 build that is coming up.  Colours a bit limited

  26. @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?

  27. @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.

  28. 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!

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

  30. @Gianni – Make that two. =)

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

    Don’t they look pretty?

  31. @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.

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

  33. @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.

  34. 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…

  35. @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.

  36. @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.

  37. 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!

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. @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

  41. @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!

  42. @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.

  43. @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.

  44. @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

  45. @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!

  46. @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.

  47. @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

  48. @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

  49. @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.

  50. 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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