I started using Speedplay pedals back in 2006. I wrote a review in 2008 of the pedals; this is an updated review after owning three pairs for several years.
Speedplay pedals are very good to ride on. They took a little bit of getting used to (like floating on ice is common feeling), but now I don’t want to go to any other system. They are light, small and easy to use. I’ve never had any problems when actually cycling with them, and since pedalling is so important, this makes me want to like them and overcome any faults they may have. The main drawback of Speedplay pedals is that they have been an expensive choice. In particular, they are more prone to long-term maintenance problems. Twice I’ve had to throw away a pair because the internal bearings seized up. Speedplay say this can be avoided by regular maintenance – using grease gun and lube. But, this is something I started doing only in 2012. If you do buy Speedplay, it is really essential, you learn to grease and lube.
Why I Switched to Speedplay
My first clipless pedals were the more common Look pedals. The reason I switched to speedplay pedals was:
- I had some problems with my knees and (rightly or wrongly) I blamed the Look pedals and the way my movement was restricted. I liked the idea of having a large angle of float that comes with speedplay
- I wanted to save weight. Speedplay come in at 205 grams and 150grams for Titanium version. These were the lightest pedals on the market, at the time. However, the gap between the weigh of Speedplay and Look has been reduced with the introduction of new models like the Look Keo. At 240 grams + cleats they offer good value for money at only £39.99
- Very aerodynamic – pedal is small surface area.
- Cleats are easy to set up. I always found the Look cleats a bit fiddly to get in the right position. If they were slightly out, it could cause problems. Speedplay are much easier to set up because of the greater degree of lateral movement.
- Optimal power transference because pedal is encased in shoe with minimal stack height. Whether, there actually is better power transfer, I don’t know. But, it does feel good.
Speedplay X- Stainless Steel
- Zero to 15 degrees of micro adjustable float
- Easy cleat set up and adjustment no need to adjust any springs
- Dual sided entry is good. Easy to get in and dismount. Never had any real problems either getting in or out. Though if you get mud on your shoes, it can become difficult until you get rid of the surplus mud. I once bought the coffee cleats, but found it required too much effort to remember to bring them and use them. They remained largely unused.
- Very good clearance. Also, they have a low stack height, this means the shoes is closer to the pedal that many other pedal types.
- 206g total weight. (The titanium pair are 150grams) I use the Titanium pair for racing and the stainless steel for ordinary riding.
Speedplay – Chromoly
- When I rebuy I will get the cheaper Chromoly version, they are only a few grams heavier, but nearly £40 cheaper. The main advantage of the Stainless steel over the Chromoly is that they look better over time. So for winter training hack it’s not worth it.
Using Speedplay X
I have been very happy with the Speedplay X. They are definitely a little strange when you first test them. But, it is amazing how quickly you can get used to the large float. Cycling with speedplay feels very natural. Some might feel the large degree of float makes it harder when sprinting.
If you want Speedplay with adjustable float – try the Speedplay Zeros. Speedplay say you can use the micro adjustment float on the Zero series to adjust the float to whatever you want.
- Speedplay X 2 at Wiggle £130
Difference between Speedplay X and Speedplay Zero
The Speedplay Zero, are essentially the same as the X series, but you can control the amount of float, offering more adjustability and flexibility than the Zero, which are always set to maximum float. The two series are not interchangeable. Speedplay suggest one option is to use the ‘Heel-In’ adjuster so that it didn’t hit the chainstay and to open the ‘Heel-Out’ to the full float. I have to say, I’ve never used the micro adjuster, but it makes sense to prevent heel hitting chainstay.
Drawbacks with Speedplay
1. Cleats Expensive The X Cleats are expensive to replace. £31 at wiggle. I think these are the most expensive cleats. To be fair they do last a long time. I’ve had to replace about three times in six years. I try and avoid walking on cleats, but I find that it is the metal spring in the cleat which wears away first. Speedplay are unique in having the attachment mechanism in the cleat itself rather than the pedal. Hence why they are expensive.
2. Bearing System. Speedplay say that they deliberately choose a more fiddly system to get better performance. They use three bearings and it needs more maintenance than standard pedals. But, they claim the cost of extra maintenance enables them to get a better performance. Because the bearings are more prone to have problems you need to do two things.
- Grease at Regular Intervals. This means using a grease gun and squeezing in grease into the centre of the pedal.
- Lube the pedal in between greasing. When it’s wet, it’s advisable to put lube into pedal and also squirt a bit on cleat.
3. Your local Bike shop will have no idea. When my speedplay pedal seized up, I asked several bike shops if they could ‘fix it’. I realised that they had as little idea as me. In the end I decided it wasn’t worth trying to fix the pedal so I bought a new one. This is often an issue more higher end road items. The average bike shop won’t get too many speedplay pedals coming through. You will have to learn the necessary maintenance yourself.
4. You Need to buy a grease gun and use it. For the first four years of using speedplay I just treated it like any other piece of bike equipment – I used it without any maintenance apart from some hopeful quirting of GT-80. I probably did quite well to get so much use on so little maintenance. But, after having forked out £130 for a new pair, I decided to take maintenance seriously. I bought a speedplay specific grease gun, and had fun pushing grease into the pedal.
more on Speedplay maintenance
- It’s easy to have a bit of a love hate relationship with Speedplay. When they are good, they are very good. When they’re bad, they are very bad.
- If you want low cost, low maintenance bike equipment, I strongly advise against Speedplay.
- If you want the best pedals and don’t mind paying the cost and undertaking the necessary maintenance – Speedplay may be the best choice.
- Pedal choice has always been a personal issue, and it’s worth trying to test out pedals and see which work for you.
Would I buy again?
Yes, I’ve committed to the Speedplay option because in many ways it works for me, and I’m reluctant to start switching over to a new system. I complain about the price of buying new pedals, but it just makes me more determined to apply the necessary maintenance schedule.
Which is better X or Zero?
Again, because I started with the X (full float) it never made financial sense to switch to zeroes. However, if I started again, I might prefer the Zeros because I would limit the amount of float inwards to stop shoes hitting chainstay.