More on pedals – why Speedplay?

The Speedplay Light Action pedal.
The Speedplay Light Action pedal.

The other day, when I did a post about clipless pedals, I heard from a number of Speedplay owners, both in comments and in emails, extolling their particular pedal.

Speedplay users seem to be passionate about their pedals. You don’t get that kind of reaction from Look or Shimano SPD users. How come?

One of the advantages of the Speedplay seems to be the generous amount of float they offer — altho just as in other brands, the amount of float varies from model to model. But it would be nice to have more play in the pedals I use. They have six degrees of float, and sometimes I feel that I can hardy move my shoe around at all.

With my particular knee situation — I had 60 percent of the meniscus removed from my right knee 15 years ago, and at that time the surgeon told me my ACLs (anterior cruciate ligaments) in both knees had atrophied down to stubs after they were torn in a softball mishap back in the 1980s and had never been attended to — I think the Speedplays could help me a lot.

Speedplay cleat.
Speedplay cleat.

They’re smaller than equivalent Looks or others, and at first glance, don’t seem to offer as much of a platform as some of their competitors. But the unique cleat they use probably takes care of that. Speedplay cleats are relatively large, in my opinion. The combination of the flat round pedal and the broad cleat, I’m told, give all the support a cyclist needs.

But the cleats are also the part of the Speedplay assembly that gets the most criticism, at least from what I’ve read. Note the four-bolt pattern. To fit bike shoes, which take two or three-bolt cleats, you must use a plate that attaches to the cleat. I’ve seen a lot of complaints about how easy it is to clog the cleat with mud and gunk while walking on them. Cleat covers are highly recommended.

One of the reasons I’ve never seriously considered Speedplay is their cost. Their models seem to range from about $115 – $325, depending upon their materials. My pedals cost a whopping $59, and they replaced a pair that cost around $40. Is the extra money for the Speedplays worth it?

Wait a minute. A quick perusal of a couple of online bike catalogs shows that Shimano and Look pedals run in the same price range, generally. They might have some low-end pedals that cost a lot less, but for the most part, Speedplays are very competitive with those other brands.

I’m happy with the pedals I have on my bike. They’re only a year old, so I expect to be riding on them for quite some time to come. But if and when I do replace them, I think I’ve have to seriously consider the Speedplays.


  1. mildstallion says

    I second the cleat cover recommendation. Well worth the extra 10 bucks. I think the Light Action cleat replacements go for around $40, so it’s worth protecting them.

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