Speedplay Zero Stainless Steel Pedals  £149.99

8/10

Premium race pedals with good float, weight and feel but some upkeep issues

Weight 208g   Contact  www.i-ride.co.uk

by Dan Joyce   June 12, 2012  

Speedplay Zero pedals

Like Speedplay's other lollipop-shaped pedals, these Zero Stainless Steel Pedals have a few important differences from most clipless road pedals: they're dual sided; the retention mechanism is in the cleat instead of the pedal; and the cleats attach with four bolts instead of the usual three-bolt road pattern.

The last of these isn't a problem. While there are Speedplay compatible shoes out there, they're not required. Speedplay supply a couple of different adapters, graded to fit the curve of most road shoe soles. You bolt the adapter to your three-bolt-pattern shoe and the bolt the cleat to the adapter.

Adding an adapter adds 3mm to the stack height – the distance between the sole and the pedal spindle. Even then, the stack height is lower than that of most road pedals. The cleat is no thicker than other systems and it encloses the pedal rather than perching on top of it. A lower stack height is good, feeling more 'natural' when you're pedalling.

I don't know that it actually improves power transfer as such but it can't hurt, and it might let you apply your power more evenly through the pedal stroke since there's marginally less effort required to orient your foot over the pedal spindle.

The low-profile nature of the pedals affects both sides: there's less pedal underneath as well. This will be much more aerodynamic. The supposed cornering clearance benefits are irrelevant unless you can pedal through corners like a top-flight criterium racer. I pedal through corners a lot – whenever I'm riding fixed - and the last pedal I hit on a bend was a rattrap with toe clip fitted, more than 20 years ago. It just doesn't happen with clipless pedals.

The big benefit of Speedplay pedals, which you will definitely notice, is the amount of float: 15 degrees, and the cleat doesn't try to centre itself either. You can align your foot however if feels most comfortable. This could be a godsend to cyclists with gammy knees. It makes it hard to set the cleats up incorrectly too. As long as it's firmly fixed under the ball of your foot, you're pretty much good to go. I tried racing on these pedals with no prior riding experience at all and I had zero problems (heh!), once I'd managed to engage the pedals - on which, more later.

Free float is great when you're pedalling sitting down. It's not so great when you stand up to sprint or attack climbs. Unless you adopt a toes-down pedalling style, your feet can rotate unnervingly on the pedals. I didn't like this at all. Speedplay have the solution to this problem built into the pedal. They've even name-checked it. You don't have to have 15 degrees of float; you can have zero. At least, that's the theory.

There are two screws on the cleat, helpfully labelled 'heel in' and 'heel out'. Tightening these reduces the float, and you can adjust them, for example, so you've got a good range of float over the more heel out pedalling position that you prefer. I didn't want to do anything fancy. I just wanted less float so I wouldn't flub my pedal strokes when I got out of the saddle.

The difficulty is that the adjustment screws have tiny, tiny crossheads; the kind of size screwhead you get in the back of a cycle computer or a watch. I do have some matching tiny screwdrivers but you can't put a lot of torque through them as you're manipulating them with your fingertips. I couldn't screw the screws fully home, so I ended up not with Speedplay Zero but Speedplay-seven-degrees-or-so. The problem is partly the tiny size of the screwheads and partly the fact that they're underneath the sole of your shoe – which, of course, you stand on. So the screws get damp and dirty. Speedplay sensibly advise you to keep the cleat springs well treated with dry lube but the dirt issue won't go away, and it's not just an issue for cleat adjustment.

Cleat engagement with the pedal is difficult if you get dirt in the cleats. That happens with any system – less so Time and Crank Bros - but it happens more when the cleat contains the moving parts. Whenever I raced on the Speedplays, I found myself frantically scraping out the cleats or trying to stamp them home onto the pedals after I'd nipped behind a hedge for a pre-TT pee and collected some earth or undergrowth under my feet. You'd run into similar problems on any social ride that called you to walk to the café on anything but tarmac or concrete. If you are meticulous about where you step when you're off the bike you won't have this problem, so for many racers it won't be an issue.

Even with the cleats lubed and clean, I found that pedal engagement and release required considerable force. This slackened off in use but remained at the upper end of the clipless pedal engagement/release scale. On the other hand, you feel very securely attached once you're clipped in, not because release is stiff but because it will not release at all unless the angle is right. The float is in one plane only and you will not come unclipped by accident. For race use, it's a big plus.

Unlike some pedals, the Speedplays are not fit and forget. The grease tends to get forced out of the needle bearings over time, leaving them dry, so you'll need to pump grease in periodically to keep them turning as sweetly in future as they do when you got them.

Speedplay Zero pedals are offered at different price points. I'd suggest you get the chromoly ones instead of these stainless steel ones: they're about 5g per pedal heavier and £40 cheaper. These stainless ones might look nice for longer, if that matters to you. They weigh 208g per pair for the pedals, according to my scales, plus another 110g for the cleats (including adapters). That's a net saving of about 100g over my budget Shimano SPD-SL pedals and cleats. Available colours are red, black, silver, pro white, true blue, sky blue and team green, with team colours costing £10 extra. Replacement cleats cost £39.99 per pair, which is about twice as much as most systems.

In summary, these are very nice pedals that offer plenty of knee-friendly float, secure attachment, low weight, and a good pedalling feel. For racing, they're well worth your serious consideration. On the other hand, they're expensive and relatively high maintenance, and I didn't like the issues that inevitably arise from having moving parts underneath the sole of a shoe. I chose to go back to SPD-SL and SPD after using these pedals. Other cyclists, I guarantee, will love them – and you might one of them.

Verdict

Premium race pedals with good float, weight and feel but some upkeep issues.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Speedplay Zero Stainless Steel Pedals

Size tested: Silver

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Speedplay importers Jim Walker say: No other pedal comes close to offering the superior adjustability or cutting-edge specifications of the Zero. Compare the key features of Zeros to any other brand, and you'll find that other pedal systems are no match. By thinking 'outside the box', we created and patented the most technically advanced clipless pedal system available. Only Zeros offer fore-aft, side-to-side, and rotational foot positions that can be adjusted independently. Unlike the inexact set-up of traditional, one-piece cleats, each of the three adjustments of Zero cleats can be set or changed without affecting the position of the other adjustments. This feature also eliminates guesswork and misalignment when replacing cleats, a concern of all cyclists from consumers to top professionals.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Speedplay say:

Key features:

* DUAL-SIDED ENTRY: The symmetrical double-sided pedal self-locates just by stepping down into the cleat whether the pedal is right side up, upside down or anywhere else in its rotation. No kicking, no fumbling, no looking; just step down and go.

* YOUR CHOICE OF MICRO-ADJUSTABLE FLOAT OR A FIXED POSITION: The Zero allows rotational float to be precisely micro-adjusted to the exact range needed or set in a fixed-position anywhere within the 15-degree adjustment range.

* ALL THREE FOOT-AXIS ADJUSTMENTS CAN BE SET INDEPENDENTLY OF ONE ANOTHER: No other pedal system offers the precise adjustment or convenience of independently adjustable fore-aft, side-to-side, and rotational foot positions. Unlike the inexact set-up of traditional cleats, each of the three critical foot-axis adjustments of Zero cleats can be set or changed without affecting the position of the other two adjustments. This feature also eliminates guesswork and misalignment when replacing cleats.

* THE LOWEST STACK HEIGHT: The Zero cleat positions your foot closer to the top of the spindle for improved power transfer.

* 11.5 mm stack height for 3-hole mounting

* 8.5 mm stack height for 4-hole mounting

* UNBEATABLE CORNERING CLEARANCE: The thin pedal profile of the Zero pedal lets you power through corners where your rivals coast.

Stainless - 37 degrees

Titanium - 39 degrees

* PHENOMENAL LIGHT WEIGHT:

Chrome-Moly pedal each - 108g

Stainless pedal each - 103g

Titanium pedal each - 82g

Zero cleats per pair - 70g/118g*

* LARGE, STABLE PEDALING PLATFORM: The Zero Pedal System provides the same solid connection as conventional single-sided pedals, but with Speedplay's unique, inverted design the cleat provides the platform once the cleat is engaged.

* QUALITY WITHOUT COMPROMISE: Zero pedals use precision cartridge and needle bearings - three of them instead of two found in most other pedals - which allows the Zero to be thinner for a lower stack height, better cornering clearance, and reduced aerodynamic drag. Like all Speedplay Pedal Systems, the locking edges of Zero pedals and cleats are metal-on-metal for durability and safety, unlike our competitors who use engagement edges made of plastic.

* FITS MORE SHOES: The Zero cleat fits any shoe with a 3-hole or 4-hole mount.

* EASY MAINTENANCE: A built-in grease port for easy bearing lubrication.

* TRUE LOCKING MECHANISM: The Zero's locking mechanism does not rely on spring tension for security, so entering and exiting Zero pedals is easy, but unintended release is virtually impossible.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
6/10
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
9/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

On the bike, very good. I had some issues with the cleats, though.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Secure attachment. Adjustability. Float. Weight.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Cleats clog easily, making engagement awkward in certain circumstances. Screw heads are too small on the adjuster screws.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? No.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if he/she was looking for what these pedals offer.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

They are nice pedals but I'm just as happy using other, cheaper systems.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 1.78m  Weight: 65kg

I usually ride: Ridgeback Solo World fixed wheel  My best bike is: Planet X Pro Carbon Track (with front brake)

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

 

13 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Blimey, they sound finickety!

Do you have to buy them flowers?

Will they refuse to 'clip in' for a month if you forget your anniversary?

Exercising my rights by taking them cycling

posted by pedalingparamedic [86 posts]
12th June 2012 - 14:53

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I love my zeros. Not has any issues with them.

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2911 posts]
12th June 2012 - 15:17

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"I pedal through corners a lot – whenever I'm riding fixed - and the last pedal I hit on a bend was a rattrap with toe clip fitted, more than 20 years ago. It just doesn't happen with clipless pedals."

OK, so you're a better rider than me. I do it from time to time and it is a bit scary. I'm not sure it's enough to make me buy these pedals (I use basic Shimano MTB SPDs) though...

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posted by jezzzer [339 posts]
12th June 2012 - 17:03

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another +1 for these .... my knees now love me again Smile

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [674 posts]
12th June 2012 - 18:00

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I've been using speedplay zeros for 2 yrs and cant fault them. However, some practical "issues in use" tips:

Over time the alloy face of the cleat wears on hard road surfaces etc especially if (as I did) you don't use the cafe covers regularly - the fixing screw slots become worn and hence you cant release the old cleat without being prepared to hacksaw through the alloy (easy enough)

Second issue if, like me, you have large shoe size (46) and combine with some frame designs the clearance between inner heel and the chain stay is very tight and you may need to set the float on first use to ensure the the heel does not rub as you rotate the cranks.

Other, than these minor issues they're great save the price.

Sudor

posted by Sudor [179 posts]
12th June 2012 - 19:56

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I have the 'light action' version and love them. I had knee niggles previously and thats now gone away completely since I started using these pedals.
My only gripe is that the light action doesn't allow you to limit the float meaning a very big, albeit light, movement of your foot to disengage.

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posted by TheHatter [810 posts]
12th June 2012 - 21:07

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good review, it has helped talk me out of them. i sort of fancied them but. in all honesty dont suffer any knee problems yet... and the set up seems a bit to much faff. loads of people i ride with do really like them though.

posted by russyparkin [579 posts]
12th June 2012 - 22:10

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Just started to use them with hope but little expectation that they'd cure anterior knee pain. Complete success. Utterly amazed and delighted. Any amount of faff is worth it. Can't see me ever using anything else again.
On the downside I find clipping in more difficult than any other pedal I've ever had. Not getting the foot in the right place, that's simple, just the sheer force or possibly the very specific angle needed to get the click. I'm told by others that it'll get easier in time. I hope so.

Retriever

posted by richardelliott [20 posts]
12th June 2012 - 22:23

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I've had mine for almost a year and cannot see myself using anything else as I just could be get the position right with SPD-SLs/SPDs.

Whilst they require the bit of maintenance, what they offer to me just makes it negligible. The cafe covers are a must I think - only cost £10, are very fast and easy to pop on and prevent really premature wear to the cleats.

I did find the force required to clip in quite high originally having just gone from SPD-SL 105, but you just get used to it after a while and it does seem to get less over time. Wipe the cleats with a GT85d cloth/paper towel and put some normal grease in with a syringe when they start spinning a bit freely.

PS - also, DO NOT over tighten the 4 cleat holding screws - once they suddenly get tight, that is all you need - no more than a quarter of a turn from there, just as the manual says!!! Blushing

I weight about 85 KG and never had them slip!

PPS - once thing that really helps with clipping in is a slight twist towards the bike as you do it.

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London2Paris24: 450km, 24 hours, 5th-6th July 2014

I will miss TdF in Yorskhire!!! Please donate! Big Grin

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posted by koko56 [312 posts]
12th June 2012 - 22:35

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Seriously considering these as I can struggle with Keo's to clip in, these being dual sided sounds perfect although the force req to clip in out does not fill me with joy. Well if im honest the price is a major drawback too.....

posted by Spooks [61 posts]
12th June 2012 - 23:14

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Used them for a year or so.
Can only compare with SPD.

takes a lot more pressure and technique is a bit different. It's more a stamp down rather than the SPD, toe in and down. It does take a good firm stam down though. A bit of spray lube on the cleat and pedal does help engagement as cleat does tend to get a bit stiff.

Once you're in you're not going to come out unless you twist out intentionally. Feels really solid and does inspire a lot of confidence.

They're light. I changed shoes (Lake carbon soles) and pedals last year and shaved over 300g over previous set up. The difference in stiffness, lightness and pedal stroke was remarkable.

Get the cleat covers for walking in, will save you a pair cleats very quickly, well worth the extra tenner.

Overvall i'd highly recommend.

Great review btw.

_SiD_'s picture

posted by _SiD_ [179 posts]
12th June 2012 - 23:18

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So far so good with zeros for me, switched recently for the double sided, sick of not getting in my keos and trying to pedal them on the wrong side.
At the mo. Id recommend these to anyone, follow the tips about using covers, lubricate and don't over tighten

posted by fred22 [207 posts]
13th June 2012 - 16:27

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Another Zero fan here. The ease and range of adjustability of set-up is unsurpassed. Maintenance hasn't seemed like a chore to me but that probably has something to do with the fact that I'm one of the odd people who really enjoys bike maintenance/cleaning/lubricating.

Another reason I bought them was a leg length inequality. Speedplay sell shim kits to place between the cleat and shoe. Very handy.

Also +1 for coffee shop covers. I'm on the same set of cleats after 2500 miles. I went through two sets of Keo cleats in that time.

posted by andrewcook [7 posts]
13th June 2012 - 20:39

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