For the most part, professional riders use the equipment their sponsors provide, barring a few exceptions – Speedplay pedals, for example. The American based company took the road pedal as we knew it, turned it on its head, and created something completely unique.
These dual-side entry ‘lollypop’ pedals spread quickly, and still have pro riders such as Bradley Wiggins breaking sponsorship agreements to ride them.
One inherent problem with this unique pedal system, which has plagued professional and recreational cyclists alike, is the cleat’s propensity to fill with mud – and the pedal’s inability to clear it. All it takes is one wrong step, and you’re stuck on the side of the road scraping out dirt as your buddies ride off into the sunset.
In 2006, however, spy shots of the Speedplay Pave flooded the internet following Fabian Cancellara’s solo win at Paris-Roubaix (standard Speedplay Zeros had already won a Roubaix under the feet of Magnus Backstedt in 2004).
The pedals were never meant to be anything other than team-issue, but with the recent boom in ‘gravel’ bikes, dirt-road riding, Roubaix-esque events and ‘hike and bike’, they’ve finally been made available to the public.
The Pave pedals are essentially identical to the regular Zero, but the plastic body has been stripped away and a bit of metal added around the axle. The contact points are made from heat-treated stainless steel for durability.
Our stainless steel sample pedals weigh 230g, while the titanium spindle version is claimed to tip the scales at 188g. Both models also retain a low 8.5 mm stack height for four-hole mounting, and 11.5 mm stack height for three-hole mounting.
To be frank, other than the stripped down pedal body, the Paves are pretty much identical to the standard Zero. The action is the same, the feel on the sole of the shoe is the same, and the maintenance is the same. Despite the skeleton pedal body, once you’re clipped in, the hold is secure, and the wide footprint of the cleat provides a sense of stability with no detectable rocking or loss of stability.
To test the Pave’s mud clearing claims, we packed as much dirt into the cleat as possible and stepped onto the pedal – to our pleasant surprise nine out of 10 times we clicked right in. If we didn’t click in first try, the pedal loosened up any dirt stuck in the cleat enough it came out on the second go. The lack of a plastic pedal body created channels allowing the muck and grit to squish through.
That said, with more ‘sharp’ edges on display, if you for some reason miss the pedal it may hurt your calf.
Included with the Pave pedals are a special edition red Pave version of the new V2 Speedplay cleat. The V2 cleat utilises a new baseplate and shims, and updated screws. The actual pedal interface is identical, offering a possible 15 degrees of float and independent adjustment of the three foot axes. All V2 Zero cleats are compatible with older Zero pedals, and Speedplay says the new V2 shims improve compatibility with a wider range of road shoes.
As with their predecessors, the metal on metal interface can cause creaking and squeaking, but a dab of dry lube does an effective silencing job. (In fact, FinishLine now has a lube specifically for these pedals.) As a whole though, the Speedplay pedal system does require more maintenance than rival setups from Shimano or Look.
Despite the off-piste application of the Pave pedals, the V2 cleats are not great to walk on
The new V2 also fails to solve the issues many have walking in Speedplay cleats. There is still a metal plate on the underside, meaning they can be like ice skates on certain surfaces – so cleat covers are a must. And while they don’t carry the outrageous price tag of the Speedplay Nanogram, they are still a good chunk of change at US$340 / UK£270 / AU$370.
All in all though, the newfound mud-clearing ability of the Zero Pave allows for a new world of off-piste riding – and should silence some of the Speedplay system’s critics.