Ben Christian of RoadCycling.co.nz talks through his recent experience with Speedplay Zero pedals. After smashing my pedal on a large rock in the middle of the road, I set out to purchase new pedals that could never have that happen again.
My trusty 5 year old pedals are great having done nearly 80,000km, but they weren't strong enough when I bounced them off a large rock last week. One burst into a couple of pieces. All backups gone, the time had come for two new sets of pedals.
Research on the internet didn't give me all the answers so I decided to resort to the old way of doing things before the interweb, look at what your friends are doing. Quite a few of the people I regularly ride with were using Speedplay pedals, and as far as I could tell from their experiences, they would meet my requirement for a pedal that couldn't break on the start line and ruin another race.
Speedplay Zero models
Whilst on Speedplay's website I read claims of Tour De France, Paris-Roubaix, and World Time trial championships that were won on Speedplay pedals. I am pretty sure the Sunday ride up to Albany, or Wednesday Round the Bays in Wellington is pretty close to these races. This gave me confidence about Speedplay's pedigree. One of my other favourite facts from their website, even if its not a real word, is that Speedplay pedals are the "winningest" pedal on the planet.
After much deliberation I decided to move forward with the Speedplay Zeros, in stainless. These being the mid range model, down from the titanium, up from steel. It took a few phone calls and once I found a supplier here in New Zealand I managed to secure myself two sets. Then came the fun.
While on the phone to the supplier I recalled a comment along the lines to his colleague "are all the parts here?" Once I got the box home and opened them I saw what he meant. Compared to most other pedals where you have the pedal and the cleat, the Speedplays looked like a whole box of parts that needed screwing together. Luckily all the bits looked like they were there and the next few hours were to be spent getting them up and running.
Breaking with true male tradition the instructions were the first item out of the box and about 20 minutes was spent reading the fine print; how to put them on the shoe, and how tight to do everything. It all seemed a bit daunting especially when I read the list of compatible shoes and my new shoes weren't on the list! After a quick check on the Speedplay website all was well again, my s-works shoes are compatible.
Fitting the multi-piece cleat turned out to be much easier than I first expected. There are four pieces in total. The first is a plate that screwed to the base of the shoe with 3 screws. The instructions were pretty clear that you needed to ensure that this plate was perfectly flat or else the pedal may release unexpectedly. It was hard to tell if I got it perfect but all things considered it looked about right.
The next part of the process was to screw the mechanism to the plate that was by now secured to the shoe. The mechanism is made up of three parts which includes the spring unit, and a top and bottom cover. Once you realise that these three bits just stick together it all gets easier. Four screws later, to attach the mechanism to the plate that was attached to the sole, I was done.
Since I followed the instructions I knew not to tighten the screws, against my natural instinct. At this stage the screws for the mechanism were only gently tightened due to the next step in the process, being the adjustment on the bike. After screwing the pedals to the cranks it was then time to adjust the Q-factor of the pedal. This is the measurement of how far away from the crank the shoe sits. It was dead easy to slide the shoe back and forward and get this right, and then a couple of turns of the screws and it was done. A key point here is that the final tightening is to be done very carefully. I think the instructions have it written in about 50 places that you don't tighten these too much or the mechanism won't engage. (Again, lucky I read them). Now I was ready for my first ride.
The next day turned out to be a sunny riding day and it was time to take the new toys for a spin. First impressions were great. These pedals are nice to click into. Different than my other pedals where I needed to put my toe down and forward to find the top of the pedal. The Speedplay is double sided so finding the pedal is simple and you just stomp down on it to lock in place. Really easy.
The Speedplay pedals have so much adjustability its a bit daunting. Float, the amount of movement your foot does left and right, is very easy to adjust on the Speedplay with a small screw on the cleat attached to the shoe. Mine were adjusted to mid range about 7 degrees which seemed about right for a comfortable knee position. Once out on the bike they seemed a lot more floaty than my old Time RXS pedals. Float is a good thing though as it gives the knees the ability to move around at the different angles which some people need. If I has wanted to have the Speedplays with no float a simple turn of the screw takes care of it. No changing cleats like on other brands.
Something which doesn't really sit at top of mind with me and cycling, is pedal maintenance. Having never really thought about that before it was a bit of a surprise to read that the Speedplay's needed regular lubrication on the cleats, and greasing in the pedals. Both are really easy to do and most bike shops could do it as part of service. Whilst a few people complain about this maintenance, most complaints I have read seem to be about how the cleat doesn't work when it fills with snow. Luckily we dont have that problem in most of NZ. Speedplay do offer a cleat cover to aid walking and stop the cleat filling up with mud and snow.
As yet I have no view about the wear of these pedals or the cleats. Speedplays are different to most pedals in that the contact points on cleat and pedal are metal. This should mean that they last a lot longer than the Times, Looks or other pedals that use plastic cleats. So far they are doing well, and I am happy to have new pedals and to be able to take advantage of the great weather at the moment.
Here are a few more facts from the Speedplay website.
- DUAL-SIDED ENTRY: The symmetrical double-sided pedal self-locates just by stepping down into the cleat whether the pedal is right side up, upside down or anywhere else in its rotation. No kicking, no fumbling, no looking; just step down and go.
- YOUR CHOICE OF MICRO-ADJUSTABLE FLOAT OR A FIXED POSITION: The Zero allows rotational float to be precisely micro-adjusted to the exact range needed or set in a fixed-position anywhere within the 15-degree adjustment range.
- ALL THREE FOOT-AXIS ADJUSTMENTS CAN BE SET INDEPENDENTLY OF ONE ANOTHER: No other pedal system offers the precise adjustment or convenience of independently adjustable fore-aft, side-to-side, and rotational foot positions. Unlike the inexact set-up of traditional cleats, each of the three critical foot-axis adjustments of Zero cleats can be set or changed without affecting the position of the other two adjustments. This feature also eliminates guesswork and misalignment when replacing cleats.
- THE LOWEST STACK HEIGHT: The Zero cleat positions your foot closer to the top of the spindle for improved power transfer.
- 11.5 mm stack height for 3-hole mounting
- 8.5 mm stack height for 4-hole mounting
- UNBEATABLE CORNERING CLEARANCE: The thin pedal profile of the Zero pedal lets you power through corners where your rivals coast.
- PHENOMENAL LIGHT WEIGHT:
- Chrome-Moly pedal each - 105g
- Stainless pedal each - 103g
- Titanium pedal each -82g
- Zero cleats per pair - 70g
- LARGE, STABLE PEDALING PLATFORM: The Zero Pedal System provides the same solid connection as conventional single-sided pedals, but with Speedplay's unique, inverted design the cleat provides the platform once the cleat in engaged.
- QUALITY WITHOUT COMPROMISE: Zero pedals use precision cartridge and needle bearings - three of them instead of two found in most other pedals - which allows the Zero to be thinner for a lower stack height, better cornering clearance, and reduced aerodynamic drag. Like all Speedplay Pedal Systems, the locking edges of Zero pedals and cleats are metal-on-metal for durability and safety, unlike our competitors who use engagement edges made of plastic.
- FITS MORE SHOES: The Zero cleat fits any shoe with a 3-hole or 4-hole mount.
- EASY MAINTENANCE: A built-in grease port for easy bearing lubrication.
- TRUE LOCKING MECHANISM: The Zero's locking mechanism does not rely on spring tension for security, so entering and exiting Zero pedals is easy, but unintended release is virtually impossible.