Speedplay pedals are widely lauded for their combination of low weight and adjustability, offering up to 15 degrees of customisable, non-centring float along with double-sided entry – a rarity in the road world.
They differ most from other pedals in that their engagement mechanism is in the cleat rather than the pedal. As a result, the cleats are relatively expensive and, when you walk around on them, are prone to clogging at the slightest provocation. They're also slippery in the extreme, with a smooth metal plate offering little purchase when you put a foot down.
Speedplay offers 'Coffee Shop Caps' as a solution. These are conventional covers that fully protect the cleat and make walking a less hazardous affair. They work well, but they need to be removed for riding and they occupy valuable jersey pocket space that you might prefer to reserve for tools or food.
Enter Keep on Kovers, which attach to your cleats in the same manner, but feature a cut-out matching the shape of the pedal, meaning you can leave them installed on the cleats at all times.
Without covers, Zero cleats are slippery and susceptible to wear. The cleat on the right has only done around 100 miles uncovered and shows marking
We tested the first version of the Kovers over thousands of miles and they proved their worth. Walking in them still isn't exactly pleasant, but they offer far more grip than a naked cleat, and have a dramatic effect on external cleat wear. Without covers, the outer metal plate and the heads of the four screws that hold the cleat together come into contact with the ground, wearing rapidly, sometimes to the point that removal becomes problematic. With covers, the cleats stay almost new looking, and in the event that a cleat screw works loose, it isn't lost.
Clipped in, the cover doesn't interfere with the workings of pedal and cleat
The open design of the Keep on Kovers means they don't keep muck at bay nearly as well as full covers, so don't go exploring in the undergrowth, but they do slightly reduce the tendency of the cleats to clog by raising them off the ground. If filth is a regular theme on your rides or you have a predilection for cobbled Classics, we suggest taking a look at the Speedplay Zero Paves.
The covers are fairly unobtrusive – after a while, we forgot they were there
There is one pitfall to prolonging the life of the external components of the cleat: it removes the main incentive to replacing them. Speedplay recommends new cleats every 3000-5000 miles and you exceed those figures at their own risk. We did so (by some margin, we suspect) and suffered a snapped cleat spring that made for a frustrating commute with only one foot clipped in. The upside is that the failure mode is not dangerous – the springs are subjected to the greatest stresses when clipping in and out, so that's when they tend to fail, rather than letting go as you pull up in a sprint.
Naturally, the Kovers themselves are also subject to wear, and indeed our first set did eventually start to disintegrate after so many miles we lost count. The latest 'Z' variant promises four times the lifespan of the original version, so we're confident you'll get your money's worth. It appears Speedplay has its own walkable cleats on the way, but until they become available, we're more than happy with our Keep on Kovers.