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Road pedals: head-to-head comparison(12 posts)

Road pedals: head-to-head comparisonlonefrontranger
Oct 11, 2001 1:00 PM
I see this topic repeatedly come up. Hopefully this can help somebody out there who's dying to know how these systems compare without investing too much time / money.

!!! GEEK ALERT !!! (Grz, this means you)
I've worked for several engineering firms and have done my share of technical writing. I did NOT put empirical data behind this comparison, therefore it is SUBJECTIVE in nature, based on my personal experience, and that of my students over the years. IMO a subjective comparison is more valuable as a "quality of life" measurement for daily use. Meaning it doesn't matter a gosh-darn if those things weigh 400 grams or 200, if they're not comfortable, you're not happy. Enjoy!

* LOOK: Rode these for years, good all-rounders
- Ease of engagement: Moderate. Single-sided pedal, requires a toe-flip to engage but large cleat surface is easy to capture
- Retention: Moderate to good, depends on tension adjustment
- Pedaling platform: Large and wide, superb pressure dispersal
- Biomechanics: Sole sits fairly high/far from pedal spindle. 5-10 deg. float with red cleats depends on wear/lubrication and will get sticky as cleat becomes roughed up.
- Cornering Clearance: Fair
- Cleat life: Dismal. Plastic cleats must be waxed often (White Lightning), or they will squeak. Have seen several instances of cleats that failed catastrophically, causing pullout/crash.
- Weight: Moderate.

* Time road pedals: Preferred choice by many racers, somewhat pricey
- Ease of engagement: Difficult. Single-sided pedal, requires a toe-flip to engage, cam levers can be hard to capture and need forceful push to actuate.
- Retention: Excellent.
- Pedaling platform: Large
- Biomechanics: Sole sits close to pedal spindle. 5-10 deg. float has mechanical spring re-centering which is hard on some knees
- Cornering Clearance: Good
- Cleat life: Excellent; brass cleats wear slowly and rarely squeak
- Weight: Moderate to good depending on model

* SPD road pedals: (based on feedback from others)
- Ease of engagement: Fiddly, this is a small, single sided pedal
- Retention: Good to excellent
- Pedaling platform: somewhat narrow
- Biomechanics: Moderate, fairly close position to spindle, unsure re: float
- Cornering Clearance: Good
- Cleat life: good, will become harder to release as they wear. Haven't heard of noise issues. Not walkable or compatible with SPD offroad systems.
- Weight: Relatively lightweight

* SPD MTB pedals: Many commuters and recreational riders use these on-road for the walkable aspect. I've used them for commuting & MTB for years
- Ease of engagement: Good, dual-sided entry, although pedal has sharp edges and can 'bear-claw' if you miss.
- Retention: Moderate; very prone to accidental release unless tensioned to point of difficult entry
- Pedaling platform: very small
- Biomechanics: Sole sits very high / far away from spindle, 5-10 deg. of float
- Cornering Clearance: Dismal
- Cleat life: good, will become harder to release as they wear. No noise issues. Walkable system.
- Weight: Varies widely by model

* Speedplay road pedals: Pedal of choice for criterium racers, gram counters and knee injuries
- Ease of engagement: Excellent, dual-sided entry, pedal can be engaged from any angle but is highly sensitive to dirt. Don't ever get them muddy.
- Retention: Excellent due to high release angle.
- Pedaling platform: Small, large cleat helps to disperse load
- Biomechanics: Sole sits very close to spindle, the 20 deg. of unrestrained float feels awkward to some
- Cornering Clearance: Superb, you will hit your shoe or crankarm before you hit the pedal
- Cleat life: Excellent as long as you lube regularly and don't walk on gravel (bends the springs)
- Weight: Very light, although a fair bit of weight is carried in the cleat system.
What about bebop...............zoom
Oct 11, 2001 9:51 PM
wow, that is quite a bit of info. What do you think about bebop pedals?
Unknown factors....lonefrontranger
Oct 12, 2001 10:25 AM
I've never used them, nor have any of my students. I try not to get involved in discussions where I have no basis of fact.

I also have no firsthand experience with the Campy Pro-fit system, although I've heard rumors that they're difficult to get in and out of and are basically just an answer to the SPD road system. I love everything Campy, but also acknowledge that they tend to be very reactionary where Sh*m*n* is involved, so there's my unbiased opinion for you.

I personally ride Speedplays on the road and bought Time offroad pedals about a week ago after my SPD's contributed to my broken ankle.
nice post! should save as FAQ and repost in response to...Js Haiku Shop
Oct 12, 2001 4:50 AM
recurring surveys and/or posts regarding same. would save lots of time and conflicting info!

thanks LFR!
anyone have feedback on this pedal?nova
Oct 12, 2001 6:47 AM

It looks promising.

Thank you for this post. Now I won't wonder so much about Time road pedals when I see them in a catalouge.
anyone have feedback on this pedal?Mel Erickson
Oct 12, 2001 7:43 AM
Looks real interesting, especially for MTB use. I would worry about hot spots with such small, concentrated contact points for road riding. I would also be concerned about bending the "beaters" while mountain biking. Time pedals have been known to have this happen and there are more "beaters" to catch on rocks, roots, etc. with these pedals.
re: Road pedals: head-to-head comparisonmorey
Oct 12, 2001 6:54 AM
Everything tends to be subjective, no matter the technical info. I like Speedplay pedals: I have Parkinsons, therefore a pedal that is easy to engage, double sided is great for me. I also have a bad knee, the float has helped.
The cleats were difficult to walk in, and would wear easily. I solved this by buying the cleat covers. The lube was solved with their grease gun. I have had no problem with these pedals. I love them!
Minor clarificationjtolleson
Oct 12, 2001 12:07 PM
I don't understand distinguishing between the "walkability" of SPD-R and SPD-M pedals. Whether it is easy to walk is solely a function of shoe, not pedal. Many roadies use recessed cleats.

Also, FYI, SPDs have widened significantly in recent years, especially at the higher end (SPD-R 9900 and 6600). I don't think that the old chestnut about tiny platforms necessarily applies... it is certainly competitive with Time and Speedplay (though probably not Look). As for float, I think most models will offer in the range of 6% - 9%.

This is a great post though. Keep up the good info.
thanks JT - more clarificationlonefrontranger
Oct 12, 2001 1:17 PM
Thanks for the clarification; SPD-Rs are probably the ones I have the least experience with, so I appreciate the input.

I refrained from saying anything about the Campy Pro-Fit pedals, since the only person I've known who used them categorically hated them compared to their old touring SPD's (recreational rider who bought a bunch of fancy upgrades to be more "racer-like" against my better judgment). My students and teammates who've used SPD-R did not have walkable shoes. The entire post is slanted somewhat towards the fact that the bulk of my students are competitive cyclists, same as me, probably should add that to the "geek" disclaimer.

As far as pedaling platform, I'll add that feedback I received on SPD-R's was they were somewhat narrow, or as one student termed it "tippy" (meaning some lateral play perhaps exacerbated by their choice of shoe).

My personal experience with a fairly wide range of pedals is that it makes no difference how big the pedal-to-shoe interface is, i.e. Speedplays and SPD "downhill" type platform pedals (yes I race dual slalom, too). It's actually the pedal-to-cleat interface and pattern that seems to disperse or concentrate pressure, and this directly affects incidence of comfort or pressure / hotspots.

My Speedplays will cause moderate hotspots on a long, hot ride, whereas Looks and Times (which do have small cleats, but they're spread far apart and disperse the load over a wider area) never did, regardless of the fact that the entire interface to the shoe is about the same size. Since I am a criterium specialist, the Speedplay clearance and retention greatly outweighs the hotspot issue, as I'll willingly sacrifice minor comfort on 4+ hour training rides for the greatly increased safety margins when cornering and sprinting at 30+ mph. All the SPD MTB's I've ever used, including the SPD/platforms cause me brutal hotspots and/or foot cramps, and that gets rough over the course of a 2+ hour MTB race. I've recently justified the $$ to switch to Time ATACs.
Oct 12, 2001 2:06 PM
This is what I'm using (Ultegra's). There aren't many comments that I can make because this is my first clipless pedal. I'm not sure there is much float in these at all, but I need to ride others before I can know for sure. After I upgrade and ride new pedals for a bit, I'll send you an email and let you know.
Another helpful technological improvement...jtolleson
Oct 13, 2001 9:01 AM
is the carbon soled road shoe. I think that a carbon soled shoe could be used with a much small pedal platform and it wouldn't even be felt because the sole is COMPLETELY rigid.
Campy Pro-FitMcAndrus
Oct 12, 2001 3:06 PM
- Retention, Excellent unless plastic cleat is worn. Same basic shape as Look cleats with metal insert to clasp hook on pedal. Had a cleat point break on a friendly ;-) Thursday night ride and pulled pedal out during uphill sprint. Yowza was that a thrill!
- Pedaling platform: slight smaller than Look, substantially wider than SPD-M.
- Biomechanics: Sole sits closer to pedal than Look but not as close as Speedplay. By feel only, they are not as efficient in transferring energy as Looks but float is very comfortable without feeling loose. Clip-in and clip-out are very easy but, like Looks, you have to kick them over to clip-in.
- Cornering clearance: I don't ride crits so sorry, no data.
- Cleat life: poor, like Looks. My one pull-out means I inspect them before every ride.
- Weight: lighter than Looks, heavier than Speedplay and SPD.
- Summary: Good all around pedal including competitive recreational riding. Very comfortable for long rides. If I raced, I'd switch to Looks or Speedplays.