What do you guys think about Speedplay?

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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by rainbowstripes

I've never used anything but Look since the toe-strapless evolution has progressed.
I have zero problems with needing any play. In fact...I have always used the Look cleat with minimum movement.
I am due for a new pair of pedals. Is there any real power transfer advantage with speedplay?
I guess that I am looking for data or feel from anyone that switched from look keo max to speedplay.
Thanks in advance.

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by stella-azzurra

Then you won't like the float of speedplay.
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by Weenie

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by rowdysluggins

In my humble opinion, the advantages, of Speedplay are: weight, ease of entry, and float. I happen to value all three, so I love them (I use the X-1s). If you don't like the float, then the Zero series does have limited float (I haven't used the Zero series, so I can't comment on how they work). How important are the other factors?

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by baldkingpin

I was in your situation (20 year of riding/racing exclusively on Looks) and switched to Speedplays for two months. I developed consistent and fairly pronounced knee issues which continued for the last several weeks of the experiment. Switched back and knees were fine after a few weeks. Didn't try Zeros as this was quite a few years ago and I was riding the top Looks of the day, one of the PP series, whatever they were, so I can't chime in directly on a modern Keo Max to Speedplay switch. However, I'm now on Keo Blades and my body (knees, in particular) love them. And the Keo cleat is essentially the same as the old, slightly larger Look cleat. So, I think I can at least say old and new Look pedals work for me while Speedplays don't. Maybe the Zeros would work, dunno.

Plenty of my buddies swear by Speedplays and have been on them as long as I've been on Looks. My hypothesis, especially for high mileage riders, is that the body adapts to a pedal system over a long period of time and switching can be very problematic. For a variety of reasons, I suspect the degree of adaptation is more true for pedals than just about any other component. At the time, I wondered if my body would simply adapt to the Speedplays (still wonder about this), but I gave it enough time and the knees were bad enough that I wasn't going to wait and find out. So, I quickly ended the experiment.

I'm now on Keo ti blades with the red (higher tension) spring. Ultra light, perfect amount of float for me with the grey (limited float) cleat, good tension, big contact area, etc. I love them. Re: weight, the lightest ti Speeplays weigh about 40g (claimed) less but the X cleats are what, 60g per pair (again, claimed)? Out of curiosity, I just weighed a set of my grey Look cleats and they come in at 39g for a pair. So, assuming the aforementioned claimed weights are close to accurate and that the X cleats hardware weighs around the same as Look hardware, you're looking at saving somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 grams total. From my perspective, risking a bad transition like I experienced just to see the scale go down by .04 lb. isn't worth it. So many other ways to lose 20g (different bar tape, a few ti bolts, rim strips, etc. ad nauseum).

Of course, my experience may not apply at all to you and you may love Speedplays, especially the Zeros. Just thought it might be good to throw out my experience, tho' not perfectly analagous, for you to consider before embarking on a pedal switch.


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by Robroyski

I used Look for approx 13 years, then Time for about 7 and now Speedplay for the last 6 months. To start with I do not see any advantages in clip in with speedplay. I think that with any system if you are spending significant amount of time riding it will be easy to clip in. People that complain about difficulty of clipping in (in any modern pedal system) should try riding pedals with toe straps.

My input on each system:

Look: nice and solid interface but could be problematic when sprinting. I managed to pull out of the pedals during few sprints. Float is not that nice and it gets worst with cleats wearing out.

Time (RSX) nice float, but the interface gets sloppy with time.

Speedplay: float is nice without any restrictions. I can notice the change of the angle of the foot everytime I change the position on the bike. My feet naturally get in to proper place based on the effort and position.

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by Hawkwood

I've tried just about every pedal system you can think of, and have settled on Time. I tried Speedplay but had constant problems entering and disengaging from them. Posters on another forum suggested that I check the specific SP instructions for setting the cleats up for my shoes (Vittoria), and told me that these were available online. I checked the SP site for these and was referred to Vittoria's own site, it made no mention of SP at all so I finally gave up. I have had some knee and ankle problems and have ben referred to specialists about these, when I mentioned the idea of free float to one of them he thought I was nuts!

I think it comes down to this, all of the major pedal systems have evolved to suit a slightly different sort of user over 10-30 years and all have pros and cons. It's simply a matter of finding the system that you get on with. If you're happy with Look, but want a change I'd say that the closest similar option is probably Time.

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by bcmf

Have been wondering about this.
I have , lets call them, problematic old man knees!!
After spending a few months off due to a knee injury amongst other non cycling reasons I am getting back to turning the pedals.
Having read numerous 'Look v Speedplay and knees' debate and had come to the conclusion that speedplays were better for those with dodgy knees.

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by mrfish

The major reason for getting dodgy knees is poor cleat setup and changing cleat setup. Thus in my view the best pedals have the longest-lasting and simplest cleats to setup. In this respect Speedplay are shoddy as they normally require you to mess about with aluminium plates under the cleat and 3 bolt to 4 bolt adaptor plates. And then the cleat springs dig a groove in the pedal spindle if they get dirty. And if the butterflies or any cleat parts wear then the whole lot turns into a 360 degree 3d rocking disaster. And the cleat costs $$$ to replace. It's a bit like using lightweight brakes to save a few seconds uphill, then losing minutes when you find that they don't stop you on the way down :lol:

Better to stick with what you know. So that means some Dura Ace pedals as IMHO they're better than the Looks. Personally I think Times are a better solution. They feel a bit different to the Looks and (despite what the previous poster said) they never rock side to side in my experience (about 5 pairs currently) they don't. The other good thing is that in the RXS series the cleat is plastic and metal, which I think is a better solution as the metal piece is extremely robust and works reliably even if you wear out the plastic bits completely while walking around. Thus the cleats last a long, long time, maybe as long as 2-3 years if you avoid scuffing your feet. I don't know whether the current Iclic pedals are better, or not - I haven't felt the need to change yet.

Also you should look at the recent thread which discusses Speedplay's dubious business practices, repair and spare part pricing policies. Not a company I would wish to support.

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by Zigmeister

Yes, speedplay's suck.

I say this because arguably the best cyclist in the World the past few years, Cancellara uses them.

They must be garbage. :?

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by Geoff

+1 on the issue being float vs. no float. I think I might die if I rode a pedal with float...

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2nd what geoff said. I ride Keo black with a black cleat. The Speedplay always develop a "rocking" in the cleat as they wear but long before they wear-out. Causes me a ton of knee pain.

"Don't pedal harder, pedal faster!"


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by CharlesM

STARNUT wrote:2nd what geoff said. I ride Keo black with a black cleat. The Speedplay always develop a "rocking" in the cleat as they wear but long before they wear-out. Causes me a ton of knee pain.


Great point on rocking (more than float).

A note on float is that Look float very freely, but a lot of folks miss the point that the float is different and not just in easy versus sticky float. A key point is that with Speedplay your whole foot pivots around the pedal body but with Look type systems the cleat is fixed at the point and floats at the back. That fixed point at the front isnt a huge difference, but is a slightly better brace point for the float versus the pivot with speedplay.


I've watched several fit sessions with Pro riders (and lots of others), and the wear and rocking are the most frequently addressed things that relate to the pedals themselves.

The float thing isn't as problematic as either:

1. (and this is number "1" buy miles) bad set up
2. Cleat wear (and while both systems cleats wear, the type of wear results in a lot bigger change in fit character for speedplay).

The thing with speedplay versus Shimano / Look / Campy is that the cleat wear with Speedplay creates way more instability due to the smaller platform.

The "do the math" Ad vert was one of the most misleading things I've ever seen. The suggested size of the contact patch isnt as important as where the contact takes place.

Take two camera Tri pods. One with 1" feet and the other with 1.5" feet. The answer to the question "which one is more stable?" sounds easy unless the 1" feet are spread out significantly farther apart...

One of the key components of cleat set up is getting the tilt of your foot correct. As speedplays wear out, they create multiples of tilt versus wide cleat pedal systems (and that makes for a lot more wobble)... As wide cleat type sustems wear, the wear a lot "flatter" and across a much larger area and dont create tilt and wobble nearly as bad as speedplay...

A key fix for a lot of pro's and people putting in a lot of miles is almost always down to cleat and pedal body replacement. For sponsored guys, that's not a problem. They can get bags of parts and make sure they're always tight and flat.

That's not as practical for most folks (including this web reviewer hack)...

Past that, I love using new Speedplay pedals (it's nothing to do with weight though, as the total weight difference for these on a three holed shoe versus Looks lightest is not any place near substantial). I can dial the float (and adjustment is exceptionally easy) to a reasonable spot and I love the entry and exit. But I don't use em. I don't like paying for the upkeep and I dont like having to constantly check things as they wear to make sure I don't wind up off the bike for a month from Knee issues related not to float, but the slop that develops. And even when brand new, I feel more stable in Look / Campy / Shimano systems...

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by Rick

I have had no-float/floaty-Looks/Speedplay X (zero friction float) /and Speedplay Zeros (adjustable float with light friction)

No float pedals (Areolites) definitely caused knee pain. Luckily it was not serious, but it was chronic a noticeable. That is what prompted me to try the Floaty Looks when they first came out.

Knee pain definitely got better with the floaty Looks, but didn't completely disappear. The float of Looks was a very high-friction float. More like "I can shift my foot if I need to" rather than "float". They were pretty heavy.

So when speedplays first appeared, I got right on them (X-series, actually a pre-X series all aluminum version, but pretty similar). Mainly due to the light weight and ease of entry. The friction free- float was freakish at first, but my knees loved it. No pain whatsoever.

Later, I wanted to limit the inside-float angle so my ankle bones wouldn't rub the crank-arm when out of the saddle, so switched to Zeros. They have more friction in the float, so you don't feel like you are on ice, but it is still a lot freer than the Looks. My knees are still happy, and the pedal float feels quite naturally adjusting.

I am bewildered by anyone with entry issues on speedplay. You just step down and your in. No need to look or rotate the pedal. If its not working that way for you, then your cleats must be set up wrong. I have been using speedplays since Richard Bryne was a one-man company selling from his house, and I have never had an issue with entry (or exit). I use cafe-covers if I have to wallk around in them. That helps keep dirt out of the cleat.

Wear: speedplays do wear, but I replace my cleats once a year. The pedals wear too, but fortunately I have either bought new ones or refurbished to old ones every 5 years or so, so it has never been an issue (for me). I hear some people wear them faster and it has been speculated by others (not me) that this is due to the rocking forces some people create while pedaling. I just don't have that problem.

I am not exactly a speedplay devotee, but I am a very satisfied user. For many years there was nothing that even came close on weight. Now, some of the new Looks and Dura Ace look like an interesting option, but I don't have an incentive to switch now that I have three road bikes with Zeros and a mtn bike with frogs. :lol:

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by Hawkwood

Rick wrote:I am bewildered by anyone with entry issues on speedplay. You just step down and your in. No need to look or rotate the pedal. If its not working that way for you, then your cleats must be set up wrong. I have been using speedplays since Richard Bryne was a one-man company selling from his house, and I have never had an issue with entry (or exit). I use cafe-covers if I have to wallk around in them. That helps keep dirt out of the cleat.

I was bewildered to have entry and exit problems with them, having never experienced the like with Adidas, Look, SPD, Diadora, and Time. As I posted earlier others have suggested that perhaps I should have tried various shims with the cleats, but as far as I remember I tried everything to get them to work including the shims. I switched to Time RXEs* screwed the cleats on to the shoes and away I went, no further thought. I then switched to Time I-Clics and again the same experience tighten cleats on and ride away. With the I-Clics it seems that if your cleat is anywhere near the pedal it will engage.

* Normally I sell all my used gear on the net, however the RXEs were so good I've kept them.

by Weenie

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