Speedplay Light Action Pedals

Speedplay Light Action Pedals

 

Speedplay Light Action Pedals

 

Words by Vicky Tunstall
 

October 2013

 

Earlier this summer I decided that to make sure I could maximise my performance during my legendary charity ‘Lands End to John O’Groats’ cycle ride, it was time to bite the bullet and ditch my standard pedals and toe straps, and opt for proper cleats and pedals. I contacted a friend for advice and was recommended some Speedplay chromoly light action hybrid pedals to go with my new Northwave cycling shoes.

 

Speedplay Light Action Pedal
Speedplay Light Action Pedal

 

As a complete newcomer I read the box with interest as it detailed its USP’s and promising advantages: Dual Sided Pedal; Self locating cleat; 15 degrees of non centering free-float; Large, stable cleat platform; True-locking engagement; Precision cartridge and needle bearings; Built-in grease port…

 

For me, most of the above meant very little. Having never used cleats and fixed pedals before, my main concern was would I be able to remove my feet quickly enough from the pedals or would I be a traffic-light toppler? And there are a lot of traffic lights between Lands End and John O’Groats which adds up to a large margin for error…

 

The first test was to actually screw the cleats onto the bottom side of the shoe which, not being very adept with mechanical matters, I had reservations about, but actually was very simple. First test passed.

 

Speedplay Light Action Cleat
Speedplay Light Action Cleat

 

With the cleats fitted, I could see how different the engagement mechanism of this cleat is to others I’d seen, with the locking edges of the cleat made out of metal rather than plastic and in a circular shape. As I began to practice in the local car park, my nerves around removing my shoe from the pedal increased. Both the engagement and dis-engagement into the cleat required some force and did not come easily.

 

The ‘true-locking engagement’ detailed on the box is certainly apt. It gives you the feeling of being secure and locked-in but, perhaps, too much? To try and make the release somewhat easier, I went to a local cycle shop to see if the cleat lock-in mechanism could be eased or altered but there appeared to be no facility to do this within the cleat or pedal, despite lengthy internet searches by the staff. I would have to just accept the stiffness in this movement and plan well ahead of any decisions to stop. Second test failed; not ideal from a beginner’s safety perspective but I guess that’s the price you pay for increased performance. Plus whilst initially intimidating, it is something that you get used to.

 

And as time went on, I came to appreciate the dual-sided pedal which did indeed make engagement with the cleat possible without ‘looking-down’ and there was very little ‘fumbling’ involved. It’s hard to say whether the ‘15 degrees of non-centering free- float’ increased my comfort or not though. I certainly didn’t have any problems with my knees during the journey and I can see the advantage of having a cleat that can be moved rather than being rigid to get the ideal position. Performance wise there is a real benefit to having clipless pedals and being ‘locked-in’. It allows you to cycle much more powerfully. Third test passed.

 

So, as for the legendary cycle ride itself, our route was destined to cover approximately 1100 miles in 12 days. With much of the cycling in fairly remote areas, the robustness of the pedals and cleats would be of paramount importance. And this is where a problem occurred. As I cycled a very flat road somewhere in Herefordshire, one of my pedals came apart, with screws and components flying across the road…

 

Speedplay Light Action Pedals
Speedplay Light Action Pedals

 

I managed to locate all the parts and what I couldn’t find on the road was fortunately still in my cleat. The two plastic sides had come apart, perhaps due to the enormous power I was putting down! I was actually cycling at ease along a flat road but the ‘lollipop’ style pedal has two screws, one on either side, and these had simply worked their way loose. I am assured that this hasn’t happened before and we managed to do a temporary fix fairly easily, though the same pedal came loose again later on in the journey in Scotland resulting in our employing glue to hold the screws in place. My confidence in the pedals was wavering and fourth test failed; however, I should say that I am still riding on that exact pedal and its been absolutely fine since being repaired on the roadside in Scotland with the screws firmly glued in place. Plus I have had no problems with the other one whatsoever.

 

Also of note, due to the amount of walking that sometimes occurred – two hills in Devon, one hill in Windermere and one hill in Scotland that were so vertical they were impossible for us to cycle – my fellow cyclists all had to buy new cleats as their conventional plastic ones wore down. With my sturdy metal ones, this did not become an issue. Fifth test passed.

 

So, in conclusion, I was a bit disappointed that one of the pedals came apart. No amount of USP’s will compensate for that, as a pedal needs to be solid enough not to risk the prospect of breaking under your foot. However, I am still riding the exact same set of pedals – I turned down an offer to replace them – and on the whole the pedals have been great, especially when it comes to increasing my performance on the bike, which is what it’s all about after all. Final test passed.

 

Speedplay

 

Speedplay UK (i-ride)

 

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