When Wahoo announced last year that they had purchased Speedplay, I was relieved because I took that to mean that the pedal platform wouldn’t be buried the way some technologies are purchased just to kill off the competition. Speedplay has long been my favorite road pedal platform because of the double-sided engagement and the free float. That my two favorite road pedal features could be found in a single pedal has long been one of those rare feats of divine fortune.
For better or worse, Wahoo simplified the product line, killing off both the original X pedal and the off-road Syzr. Today, there are four pedals: the Nano (titanium spindle), the Zero (stainless steel spindle and the standard bearer of the line), the Comp (chromoly spindle) and the Aero (single-sided with a aerodynamic surface and a stainless steel spindle).
Within Speedplay’s line, the standard Zero was always my favorite because I pronate rather significantly and the titanium spindle was shorter, which resulted in my heels rubbing the crank arms and sometimes the chainstays. Among the changes Wahoo instituted, they sourced a new titanium spindle as long as the stainless steel one, so there’s no change in fit, though the ti spindle does have a 180-lb. rider weight limit.
I’ve been riding the stainless steel-spindled Zero and can’t find anything to complain about. The one gripe I had about the pedals previously was how cleaning them up was a challenge given the various recesses and funky shapes. The pedals are now back to looking like lollipops once again. They are much easier to keep looking nice.
Racing in New England gave me an appreciation for Speedplay back in the 1990s. The first five laps of every crit I did were every bit as fast as the last five. The strategy was to shed as many riders as possible to make the pack smaller. I knew guys who missed their pedal at the start and the pack zoomed away before they could get clipped in and a 20-foot gap was big enough to prevent them from ever catching the draft. I carried that mentality into group rides and often used the Speedplay advantage to stomp away from a fresh green light to string the pack out. I was rarely the fastest guy out there, but you don’t have to be the strongest if you hit first. Advantage to the attacker.
Criticism of the free float of Speedplays has been ample over the years. I’ll grant that moving to the platform can take some time to adjust to, but with some time riders learn to calm extraneous movement that drives the heel swing that makes riding the pedals disconcerting; I consider it an incentive system to use less energy. The thing that I came to appreciate over the years was that the position of my feet would change slightly if I slid forward on my saddle or sprinted from the drops. Not being locked into a single position was good for me. And to call the way a cleat can shift in some of the other pedals (like Shimano) float makes a mockery of the term. And for anyone who wants less float, adjusting that downward is still an option.
My pair of Zeros weighed in at 221 grams without cleats and hardware, making them one of the lightest pedals even without going to ultra-lightweight materials. And at $229, they are a classic example of terrific value. Cleat adjustability remains some of the best on the market with 13mm of fore-aft adjustment and 8mm of left-right adjustability. The one other change experienced Speedplay users will notice is that the flats for a 15mm pedal wrench have been eliminated in favor of a recess in the spindle to accept an 8mm Allen wrench.
With many other pedal systems the cleat seems to be more afterthought, but with Speedplay, the cleat, by virtue of the fact that it contains the actual release mechanism, is central to the pedal system. The Speedplay aero cleat is both more aerodynamic than its competitors and easier to walk in. Beat that.
The pedals include the standard tension-release cleat, but Wahoo does offer a light tension-release cleat for those who want to exit their pedals more easily.
Final thought: With Wahoo behind Speedplay, riders now have one more terrific reason to move to these pedals.
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