Speedplay Zero Pedals
Speedplay Zero Pedals
21st December 2012
I was once told to think of Speedplay Zero pedals as being like any other pedal but upside down, though upside down could easily be back to front. The cleat that you fix to your shoe is like the pedal body of any other pedal system, being the part that is clipped into, by the pedal which has the role that a cleat takes on in traditional designs. It seems odd at first but it also seems to work; just look at the riders that use Speedplay and what they have achieved recently – Wiggins, Sagan, Contador.
We have a pair of Speedplay Zero stainless steel pedals to test from UK importer, i-ride. What we aim to do in our Review is to look at what its like to switch from other pedal systems to Speedplay, as well as test the Zero’s usability. For now though in this Preview we’ll just run through the features of these innovative pedals.
In the Speedplay Zero box you get three pieces of hardware – the actual pedal, the cleat and an interface which is accompanied by a series of spacers to allow fitment to a LOOK pattern, three drilling shoe. Obviously if you have Speedplay specific sole with a four hole drilling, then you do not need the interface or spacers.
The first thing you notice is that the actual pedal is compact and famously resembles a lollipop. The contact area is of a similar size to conventional designs and is said to provide better feel as this contact is secured by the cleat being the larger part of the interface and not the pedal. We are keen to put this to the test and see how that actually feels and if it translates into a different sensation or even feels like it delivers more power.
The Speedplay Zero pedals are also light. Weight is a claimed 103g per pedal for the stainless steel version; on our scales ours weighed in at 104g. The cleats weighs in at scant 70g per pair if you have a Speedplay specific sole or 118g if you need to attach it via the interface and spacers for LOOK sole drilling. Adding in the weight of the seven screws needed for fitting, we got 163g per pedal, cleat and interface with two standard adapters that fit SiDi soles.
Comparing the Speedplay Zero stainless steel pedals to our usual carbon bodied Dura Ace pedals or to a LOOK Keo then there is little weight difference at near enough 325g for all types. However, you can go lighter with both LOOK and Speedplay. By speccing a titanium axle (claimed 82g each) or going for the ‘race only’ Nanogram pedal (65g each), Speedplay would win this fight hands down though. If you are a weight weenie then and are prepared to splash the cash then Speedplay are certainly a light option, though still not as light as the Ultralights we covered recently, sold under the name of Aerolite pedals.
One other obvious advantage to Speedplay Zero pedals is that they offer dual sided entry. This may not really bother many racers but it is still a useful feature. We’ll report back on ease of entry and exit in our main review but Speedplay claim that everything self-locates removing the fumbling around to click in that we all have experienced at some point when leaving the traffic lights on a training ride or racing off the line at the start of a crit.
The amount of float is easily adjustable as with most other pedal systems, but Speedplay offer much more float than other systems which may be useful for beginners wishing to find their position or if you have persistent knee problems. Indeed you can dial in a fixed position or up to 15 degrees of what they describe as ‘micro-adjustable’ float. We’ll see but it does look good and is simple to do. There’s no spring to determine tension but rather a large metal circlip which you have to push down through in order to engage the pedal. Once locked into place Speedplay claim its virtually impossible to ‘pull your foot out’ accidentally but that it is easy to enter and exit intentionally.
LOOK and Shimano both rely on a plastic cleat which wears over time. If you are on the ball and replace them regularly then this is never an issue, but we all know riders who aren’t and end up with cleats that are well past their expiry date – they are the ‘wheels’ not to follow in a sprint! Speedplay have removed this issue to a certain extent as the interfacing parts of their pedal and cleats are all metal. We’ll try to test what this means in terms of wear rate later.
Cleat position is also a major issue with most pedal systems. We’ve all spent ages fiddling to get this right; getting it dialled requires patience and a lot of trial and error. We don’t expect it to be any different with Speedplay Zero pedals but they make a big deal in their marketing literature about the fact that each adjustment can be made independently of any other, with adjustment fore-aft or side to side, or even rotational adjustment not effecting each other. This is appealing.
Once set-up the stack height (the height between axle and sole) is impressively low with Speedplay Zero pedals. If you use a LOOK pattern soled shoe then its just 11.5mm including interface and spacers; if you go Speedplay specific sole then you are down to just 8.5mm. This is over half a centimetre lower than other pedals and can reportedly have numerous advantages in feel, power transfer and even bike handling. Speedplay mention improved aerodynamics as well. We’ll attempt to see how much of that is true.
Speedplay also claim better cornering clearance than any other pedal which is certainly appealing, as talking here we think we probably suffer pedal strikes in crits four or five times a year each. Most of the time the back wheel steps out and you handle it, but we all know what can happen if you don’t ‘handle it’. We’ll certainly be testing that out.
Internally the Speedplay Zero pedals use three ‘precision cartridge and needle bearings’ around the stainless steel axle. On first inspection the pedals bearings run smoothly. That axle is a pretty appealing part as well if you want stiffness and longevity. Impressively the Speedplay Zero pedals sport a grease port for easy bearing lubrication which will aid that longevity.
Finally the Speedplay Zero comes in a wide range of colours to suit just about everyone and match your team bike perfectly. Ours came in grey…
We’ll have a full Review in a couple of weeks.