Speedplay pedals review long term

I started using Speedplay pedals back in 2006. I wrote the first review in 2008. This is an updated review after using them for nearly fourteen years.

Summary

speedplay 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. Three times I’ve had to throw away a pair because the internal bearings seized up (it was always the left pedal which went. So I have three spare right pedals lying around).

I once complained to Speedplay and someone from America rang up to say they never get maintenance problems if you look after them and pursue regular maintenance – using grease gun and lube. I was disappointed I couldn’t buy a spare left-hand pedal to match up my surplus right pedals.

If you do buy Speedplay, it is really essential, you learn to grease and lube regularly; I wish I had done earlier.

Why I Switched to Speedplay

My first clipless pedals were the more common Look pedals. The reason I switched to Speedplay pedals was:

  1. 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
  2. I wanted to save weight. Speedplay comes in at 205 grams and 150 grams for Titanium version. These were the lightest pedals on the market, at the time. However, the gap between the weight 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
  3. Very aerodynamic – pedal is small surface area.
  4. 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.
  5. Optimal power transference because the pedal is encased in the shoe with minimal stack height. Whether there actually is better power transfer, I don’t know. But, it does feel good.
  6. I like many aspects of  Speedplay Zero Aero – and may buy if I get back into racing.

Using Speedplay

I have been very happy with the Speedplay. 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.

Difference between Speedplay X and Speedplay Zero

speedplay-zero-ti-gr-med

The Speedplay Zero, are essentially the same as the X series, but you can control the amount of float, offering more adjustability than the Zero, which are always set to maximum float. With the X, I always end up brushing against the side of the cranks. It means my cranks look polished (removing any decals). Also, I wear through overshoes very quickly.

The two series are not interchangeable, which is a bit of a pain. Since I started with X, I don’t want to make the transfer because it would be too expensive. But, if I could start again, I would choose the Zero series.

With Zero, Speedplay suggests 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.

Speedplay  Zero Aero Pedals

speedplay-zero-aero-pedals-01

  • Axle – titanium
  • Weight pair – 158 grams
  • Three precision cartridge and needle bearings
  • Designed for aerodynamics with small frontal area and dimpled cleats and underside for maximimum aero advantage.
  • Used by Bradley Wiggins in his successful World Hour Record of 54.526km on 7 June 2015 when he rode at 33.88mph to break hour record.
  • Speedplay Zero Aero at Wiggle

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.

speedplay-2

On this occasion the pedal got stuck in the cleat.

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-speedplay

It doesn’t have to be quite as messy as this. But, you do need to get your hands dirty and grease the pedal regularly. (Also, unlike this picture, it is easier to leave pedal on the bike!)

  • 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. Too much lateral movement. With the X Series, the lateral movement of your feet mean that you keep brushing against the cranks – On my cranks I always end up polishing off the outside

Speedplay X – Stainless Steel

Speedplay-X3

  • 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.
  • Speed play at Wiggle

Speedplay – Chrome-moly

speedplay-chromo-moly

after a winter’s use

  • After losing a few speedplay pedals to ceasing up, I bought the cheapest Cromoly pedals, they are only a few grams heavier, but nearly £40 cheaper.
  • You can pick up a pair of X5 for £75 at Wiggle
  • The main advantage of the Stainless steel over the Chromoly is that they look better over time.
  • After a winter’s use, they do look a little battered, the Stainless steel look better. But, for winter training bike, you don’t worry about the shiny polish on your pedals.

Speedplay maintenance

Speedplay pedals need careful attention. These are the essential maintenance tips for Speedplays, I wish I had followed these from the first time I bought them. It has been expensive not following maintenance procedures.

Greasing Speedplay Pedals

The most important job is to add grease into the pedal every  500 -1,000 miles or after serious rain. I probably do it every month. After losing a few pedals, I’d rather err on the side of caution

For this job, you need

  • A small screwdriver to remove screw on outside of pedal
  • A grease gun, and grease. Speedplay have an expensive specific grease gun at Wiggle (£39) surprise Speedplay is expensive! I bought a speedplay specific grease gun and Speedplay grease lube, but you might be able to do the job with just a normal grease gun.
  • Alternatively use a 5ml syringe, which is perfect for fitting into the pedal and use a small tube of grease for refilling the syringe.

This is where you squirt the grease in.

speedplay-pedal-grease

  • Now comes the fun part. With a grease gun, force the grease through the pedal.
  • This was hard work, you need to keep the grease gun held against the pedal. I found a lot came out the wrong side.
  • Eventually, you should see some dark dirty grease coming out the other side. This is somehow very satisfying and makes you to start enjoying the job. When the thick dirt grease stops coming out, that means you have filled pedal with nice new fresh grease.
  • Now the pedal should spin without friction. They should be some resistance from the grease like liquid.

It’s quite nice to have a pedal which is now spinning properly.

I find it easiest to fill up a syringe with a small tube of grease

syringe

Lubing Pedals

After wet or muddy rides, Speedplay advise adding lube to the pedals. They don’t advise using wet lube like GT-40 because they attract dirt.

They have a specific SP lube – which they say dries quickly. Unlike most speedplay products, it’s not too expensive $6. But, you should get the same results from a similar dry lube.

Lubing Cleats

I find it is less important to lube the cleats, but, if they get stiff or after a very wet series of rides, it’s good to use some lube one the metal clip.

Overall

  • 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.

Related

22 Responses to Speedplay pedals review long term

  1. Gary May 1, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    I have only just changed to speedplay. Mainly for crits as I could often take a while to get clipped in on my Look pedals and quickly go from starting at the front to being at the back of the pack by the first corner.

    So far I’m happy – after limiting the crazy amount of float you get.

    Good call on the maintenance. Cheers!

  2. David Eng June 17, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    I got the Speedplay Zero Chromoly after your great review because I have had knee problems with Shimano 105/Ultegra road pedal since I felt locked in. So I have no trouble clipping in and out of the Speedplays, but I find that when cycling uphill, I feel that the pedals are slipping and I end up using the weaker/wrong muscles to cycle uphill as compared to my previous Shimano 105/Ultegra road pedal. I almost want to switch back to my old pedals. Do you think it’s just a matter of getting used to the Speedplay, or just dialing down the float? If I dial down the float, then it would negate the benefit of using Speedplays in the first place. Thanks for any advice you have.

  3. Andrew July 26, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    I have three pairs of Speedplay pedals all with the left pedal needle bearings worn out, the right pedal is perfect. They have been lying around for several years annoying me with their 50% usefulness. I decided to take them apart to see if there was anything I could do with them. I took the bow ties off and swapped the left pedal clip inserts with the right pedal clip inserts. I had to install them back to front in the pedal body to match the left cleat arrangement. Now I have a perfect pair of working pedals made up of two right pedal bodies.

  4. Greg July 30, 2015 at 2:22 am #

    I also have two pairs or speedplay pedals with the left pedal needle bearing worn out. Why is it that the left pedals wear out first?

  5. tejvan July 30, 2015 at 8:17 am #

    I wish I knew. Speedplay deny it is an issue and won’t sell individual pedals.

  6. Randy Sandberg August 21, 2015 at 8:40 pm #

    My last pedals were clip-less mid-1980s Mavics. Basically, they looked (pun intended) just like LOOK pedals of that same era. Anyway, I just got the Speedplay Ultra Light Action pedals and WOW, the massive amounts of float truly feels like I am skating on ice (i.e., your “like floating on ice is common feeling” comment is spot on!). So, I Googled and Googled and even talked with the Speedplay people. They are very nice and said essentially the same thing you did — it just takes a bit of time to get used to the float.

  7. lpto December 31, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    Have you tried relubing the seized pedals? I once had my other side Speedplay Zero Stainless seize on me.. I however pushed new superlubes trough the pedal and it has been fine ever since..

  8. angela plamondon December 23, 2016 at 7:00 pm #

    Tejvan,

    Hello, I am in AZ and also have speedplay x5 pedals which I love. I do not race but really enjoy cycling for fitness since I am unable to run. My cleats are fine but I need a new right pedal. Would you be willing to sell me a right x5 pedal?

    Angela

    [email protected]

  9. Scott Shannon March 26, 2019 at 8:00 pm #

    Hi-
    I live in upstate NY, with plenty of notoriously crappy winter weather, and tons of road salt & sand, and my Speedplay pedals have held up remarkably well. I lube about every 10,000 miles (I have over 30K on one pair, and they still spin like new), but I check them regularly to be sure there’s no grit or grind. I started on zero’s with stainless spindles, and have subsequently upgraded to Pave’s becuase of their additional durability on the wearing surfaces. With zero’s I wore down the outside edge of the “lollipop” which is made of plastic, and resulted in my foot rocking slightly (about 1 or 2 degrees, but still annoying). Eventually that led to some minor knee issues, and thus, the change to the pave’s, which are all forged stainless steel on the bearing surfaces of the pedal. s noted, 30k later, no problems. I now own 3 pair – one on each bike (I know, I’m lazy). Yes, they are expensive, but they are worth every penny IMO– I love them and will never ride anything else!

  10. David baker April 5, 2019 at 4:48 pm #

    when i tried to grease my speedplays using the 5 cc syringe, most of the grease just came out around the cap and in fact the popped up a bit. am i doing something wrong??

    • tejvan April 5, 2019 at 6:45 pm #

      That can happen. I would try put downward pressure as you put grease into cap.

  11. David baker April 5, 2019 at 4:49 pm #

    that is to say the cap popped up a bit. sorry for the typo

  12. Mac April 18, 2019 at 7:57 pm #

    I love my speedplays. I’ve had the same set of pedals for 11 years (although 4 years of that the bike was in storage). I’ve ridden thousands of miles in that time. Not a single issue. I’ve never even greased them once. I’ve taken my bike in 4 times for a service over that period of time, so perhaps they greased the pedals then? Not an issue either way.

    I’m just now looking at maybe upgrading as the top (surface) layer of the cleats have almost worn away, and I think they might be about to fall apart.

  13. Patrick June 27, 2019 at 1:25 pm #

    Not hard to rebuild sp’s (google it) bearings are cheap on ebay, get the right torx bit. Once my foot and pedal come loose from the spindle (broken circlip?) Biked home pressing leg and pedal in, rebuilt OK.
    Cleats expensive, get the walkable stay on covers, I never remove mine.
    No prob getting used to float.
    4 bolt needs adapter, except on some Northwave (odd sizing) and Lake shoes.

    I wanted bebop pedals but were hard to get, now out of business.

  14. David Y July 17, 2019 at 3:20 am #

    I have two pair X’s, one on each of two bikes. I ride each bike maybe 50 miles per week and grease about once per year. My CrMo variety do not have the dust cap which can pop up and make it hard to get the grease in – they just have a little hole in the otherwise solid outside end of the pedal. Big plus for the CrMo.

    I have the same problem as reported above with the dust cap on the stainless steel variety (it sometimes tried to pop out and other times grease comes out around the edges of it) but always manage to get some grease to come out the inside edge as it’s supposed to.

    I use a Park Tools grease gun, much cheaper than the Speedplay one.

    One thing I tried just yesterday which made things a lot easier: I took the pedal off of the bike and placed it in a vice on my workbench before trying to inject the grease. Everything went much more smoothly.

  15. Reza Naima February 5, 2020 at 11:19 pm #

    15+ years and i’ve never greased them; I had them opened up for service recently and some of the internal plastic is a bit worn but with the wahoo acquisition, replacement parts are not possible. what’s supposed to happen if you don’t lube them?

    • tejvan February 6, 2020 at 8:27 am #

      THey seize up if your ride in English winter

  16. Peter March 21, 2020 at 4:47 pm #

    Hmm. Just saw this post. I’ve had SP’ SS Zeros for 18 years on the same bike and greased them once, last year in fact. I’ve ridden in all kinds of weather, 10s of thousands of miles.

    Very odd to hear about failure or the need to add lube every 500 miles — that does not match my experience at all. Hadn’t heard that Wahoo bought SP, hoping quality won’t be a problem going forward. Think I’ll snag another pair now just in case.

    Shoe setup can be a little fiddly — need to get the right shims, and also need to loctite the screws or they will wilggle loose eventually. I’m pretty religous about using the protective caps so I’ve only replaced cleats twice, but if you walk a lot they will deteriorate much faster.

  17. Pete Smith May 2, 2020 at 6:51 pm #

    Those who have never lubed their pedals have ‘got away with it’. The correct technique is to leave them on the bike, unlike the initial pictures in the article. Use any needle nose grease gun with appropriate bike grease. Remove the screw and push HARD with the grease gun before pumping the grease.

    You will get filthy grease coming out around the spindle. Keep pumping, and gently turn the pedal a bit, until you get clean grease appearing. If the pedals spin freely the grease has dried out. They should turn with drag from the grease, not spin. If they spin they need re-greasing, or if there is excessive resistance (ie not just the drag of grease). Depending on conditions (wet and salty for example) they may need greasing more often. Half a dozen winter wet rides and I re-grease mine – the water gets in and contaminates the grease. This can lead to bearing failure. I have never had a bearing fail on any Speedplay pedals.

    Cleats need to be cleaned, especially if you put a foot down on a muddy verge. They get clogged and bits of grit and sand sit between the cleat and the pedal body. This is what wears the plastic body leading to lateral rocking eventually. I am amazed at those who claim 10years + use without getting pedal body wear. I have half a dozen sets and all have pedal body wear after about 3yrs use. Does depend on mileage I guess.

    I too have bought a couple of pairs of Pave pedals to overcome the body wear issues. They also clear muck from the cleat much better. Zero bodies used to be available but haven’t been for some years. Speedplay being Speedplay they would only rebuild your pedals for you…..at a price only fractionally below the price of a new pair. Ridiculous!

    Another issue is wearing of the lip of the bow ties. This is simply down to use, clipping in and out. Speedplay don’t sell spares (certainly not in the U.K.) so you have to source them aftermarket. Be careful where you buy them as Rock Brothers from the Far East weren’t machined correctly and the bolts were too small. I found Dulight of France to make excellent replacements, however that was for Zeros, I haven’t found anyone making them for Paves.

    You can also buy aftermarket stainless or titanium spindles to match your Speedplays. Again, be careful on aftermarket quality – yet again Dulight work for me. So I buy chromoly Speedplays, just for the bodies which can be swapped onto aftermarket titanium spindles for a fraction of the cost of titanium Speedplays.

    I am looking at trying to see if a local engineering works can cut down Zero bow ties to fit Paves. Why do Speedplay have to make it so hard by not selling aftermarket spare parts? Outrageous.

    And one final point. The wear to one pedal – it depends which foot you normally clip out of when you stop at junctions, traffic lights etc. I always unclip left foot. This puts extra wear on the left pedal body, the bow tie and also means you pick up more wet mud and dirt, the bearings getting a bit more water in past the seals compared to the foot that predominantly stays clipped in.

    So I love the feel of Speedplays – the benefit is to adjust the float, not leave it maxed out. Adjust heel in and out to give the maximum amount of movement you need for hip/knee issues. Mine have very little float which works for me.

    The mark 2 Zero/ Pave cleat – the so called Walkable cleat is a retrograde step in my opinion. The mark 1 all metal cleat, although slippy to walk in on tile/ smooth floor lasted 3 x as long as plastic cleats like Look Keos or Shimano SPD-SL. In order to ‘improve’ this aspect they designed a rubber shoe that stayed on the new cleat to facilitate walking. However, this design is appalling and there have been numerous accounts from users losing the rubber shoe from their cleat(s). I have lost 3 and tried various glues to hold them all – from superglue to araldite. They failed, but I have now discovered Bondic which is liquid, which remains liquid until exposed to UV light, a bit like a dentist’s amalgam, when it sets. So far, fingers crossed it has held the walkable cleat cover on brilliantly. Speedplay’s solution to this design flaw? Don’t twist your foot at all when walking. Unbelievable. I avoid walking in my cleats as much as possible, why wouldn’t you, but this is just stupid. Any twisting motion and the cover can become detached. That is a design flaw. Get yourself some Bondic, and isopropyl alcohol to make sure both surfaces are really clean before gluing.

    So, all in all I love the system, but hate some aspects such as no aftermarket spares and the bad design of the cleat covers. Wahoo bought Pseedplay a year or so back and I have been in touch with them and although after my feedback it all sounded promising with a guy telling me he would get hold of spares for me, a week later I got the curt response that none were available and there were no plans for them to be made available. Come on WAHOO, take this product to the level it should be at.

    • tejvan May 2, 2020 at 7:31 pm #

      thanks for comment Pete. Excellent comment

  18. Paul Collins June 6, 2020 at 10:22 am #

    Speedplay bearings are available as spares along with titanium spindles and butterflies and screws so you can upgrade your pedals and maintain them without having to buy new pedals …. the cleats however need moe than thier fair share of maintenance and you will lose one or two cleat covers over time

    But they are great and I never get a problem while clipped in and cycling , Also if you can afford it sidi , lake, and few others make speedplay specific shoes with four bolt holes, these make a difference on power transfer and stack height

  19. Karl H. June 20, 2020 at 8:38 pm #

    I believe the X series pedals are discontinued and cleats are no long available. Anyone know where to buy cleats.

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