Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hunter Allen Reviews Speedplay

Peaks Coaching Group Speedplay Pedal Review
by Hunter Allen, PCG Founder/CEO and master coach

The average cyclist pedals between 4000-6000 revolutions per hour. If those revolutions are performed with faulty positioning, after thousands of pedal strokes they can lead to knee injury, shin splints, foot pain, and discomfort, all of which hinder performance, especially for competitive racers. Some of the faulty foot positioning can be caused by excessive pronation/supination (side-to-side tilting) or foot rotation. If you add in other factors like leg length differences, foot structure, muscle imbalances, improper cleat position, or poor-fitting cycling shoes, it’s easy to see the potential for things to go wrong on the bike.

This is how I found Speedplay. After struggling with some knee discomfort, I was presented with the opportunity to ride the Speedplay pedals. I am VERY happy I did. I worked with Speedplay ambassador Scott Moninger and was immediately psyched to learn that there were different spindle lengths available to select. This was super important for me, as I need a wider “Q” and always struggled to achieve it with my old system. I can’t stand the feeling of having my feet further inboard than my hips. Maybe it comes from my original background of BMX, but a wider “Q” factor for me also results in more wattage at FTP and more knee comfort. Scott helped me select a longer, custom spindle length and got me set up with a set of Speedplay Zeros. 

Now that I’ve been riding these for more than a year, here are my thoughts:

Impression: Love these pedals! The adjustability was amazing. I needed a higher degree of personalization to my cleat, since my right toe points outward a couple degrees and my left foot is nearly perfectly pointing straight, and the Speedplay Zero gave me that ability. It took me a ride or two to get them dialed in perfectly, but once I had all the settings right for me, it has been a perfect match.

PROS

Choice of micro-adjustable float or a fixed position
I know I was just raving about adjustability, but let me be specific. My left knee, although pointing perfectly straight, likes a little more float to feel comfortable and strong, where my right knee wants to be more fixed in its toe outward position, so I have nearly a fixed amount of float on that right foot. The Zero cleat gives me the ability to customize each leg with micro change, which went a long way in solving my issues. 

Dual-sided entry
As a pro racer and having ridden my road bike for thousands of miles, I can official say that clipping in is not a problem for me, so I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed the ease of the dual-entry system. I can explain it very simply: I NEVER have to think about it. It’s funny, actually, because not having to think about something ever again means that a problem is solved and an “energy leak” is plugged, and writing this review is the first time in a year that I’ve even thought about this “problem” that I used to have. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t wasting a lot of energy thinking about clipping into my old pedals, but it did take a second of focus to make sure it was going in correctly. Now it just works.  I also LOVE the solid “click-in” feeling you get that confirms you’re clipped in.

Platform and stack height

Believe the marketing material! For some reason people still ask me about the platform size. Just like all the materials state, the platform really is bigger, and I have never ridden any other system with such a solid platform-connected-to-the-foot feeling. Once you’re clipped in, you totally feel connected and solid; no flex, no tilt, just solid platform. That being said, I also have to add that I was pleased with the lower stack height and ended up lowering my saddle a touch, as my DMT shoes are Speedplay compatible so the cleats bolt straight onto the bottom of the shoes. When you look at the system in the box, this doesn’t look possible, but once mounted and clipped in, you’re closer to the pedal!

Other
I loved the low clearance and low weight, a great combination. I can corner a little harder, pedal through a little more, and weigh a little less. Nice combo!

CONS

Set-up
The set-up took me a ride or two. It’s important to note, however, that I’ve found this to be true with any precision tool. When I mounted the pedals I didn’t fully grasp just how “micro” I could adjust things, and that takes a touch longer than normal, but I encourage riders to go through the process because the end result is getting the perfect feeling and set-up for you.

Screw mashing
I tend to walk around a lot in my shoes at camps as I teach some skill to a group, so the cleats get beat up a little bit and those darn screws get mashed, making it hard to take the cleats off or move them if need be. Scott solved that problem for me with a pair of cleat covers!

CONCLUSION

I love the system and am really glad to have switched to the Speedplay Zeros. The adjustment ability, ride quality, power transfer, and low stack height have improved my cycling and produced results for me.

Click here to read more about Speedplay.

3 comments:

  1. Didn't know you just switched to Speedplays. As for cleat covers, have you tried these? http://www.keeponkovers.com/Product.html

    I've been using them for about two years now and find it's much easier to walk in Speedplays with them on.

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  2. Keep On Kovers solve the screw mashing problem.

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