Speedplay had been quiet on the new product front for a few seasons. While the Zero system continued to do its thing there were rumors and occasional sightings of a new cross and MTB pedal and the pros continued to ride a special edition classics pedal we couldn’t get our hands on.
All that has changed. While quiet on the outside, Speedplay was undergoing a massive development phase that touches everything they do and may have changed the way pedals are made forever.
The Zero PAVE was announced in the Spring and released this summer, but far from stopping there, Speedplay has released a slew of new products that have made them the talk of Interbike 2014.
The new Zero Aero takes what was already the most aero pedal on the road and finishes the job. Speedplay faithful take a deep breath here. Designed for the TT rider or triathlete the Zero Aero is a single sided pedal. Considering clipping in and out is not an issue in these events Speedplay has replaced one side with a dimpled aero surface, leaving the other side untouched to provide the usual Zero performance – a stable platform, tight tolerances, micro adjustability.
The cleat is a hybrid of another new product, the walkable cleat, and an aero base plate surround. The new walkable cleat uses a rubberized cover that protects the cleat from wear while walking and provides good traction with a natural step. These walkable cleats are compatible with all Zero pedals and an Ultra Light Action walkable is available for those pedal systems. The aero surround streamlines the cleat and shoe interface scrubbing even more grams of drag. I imagine Jens Voigt is wishing he was still allowed to ride Speedplay pedals about now.
The all-new cross and MTB pedal, the Syzr, many years in development is the true game changer here. Richard Bryne, Speedplay founder and inventor, had some simple goals for his new pedal. He wanted it to have all the dual sided, mud shedding, dirty trail functionality the current crop of cross and MTB pedals has, but add the Speedplay secret sauce of tight tolerances for a stable pedaling platform and micro adjustability. These simple goals turned out to be diabolically difficult to achieve.
Typical MTB pedals rely on the lugs to transfer power, provide limited steel on steel contact or rely on soft brass cleats and two bar retention, all of which result in less stability and less efficient power transfer. The reason for these things is ‘cold welding’. This is what happens to two pieces of steel when water and dirt get between them, they essentially weld together making it impossible to un-clip.
Bryne wanted the type of performance only tight tolerances can deliver so he spent years trying to solve the problem – speaking with metallurgists, experimenting with heat treatments and coatings – until he had is ‘ah-ha’ moment. Metal wasn’t the answer.
Bryne has used ceramic roller-cam contacts to create the tight tolerances and stable platform he craved. Ceramic and steel won’t cold weld, provides long term durability and the rollers add even more mud and dirt security. This new ceramic material was even used in the Pave, but Speedplay kept that quiet waiting for the Syzr to be announced to tell the story. This is the first use of ceramic material in pedals this way and patented Speedplay technology. The way ceramic interacts with steel and its incredible durability make it a ‘holy grail’ type of material for pedals.
The rest of the pedal is pure Speedplay. It is dual sided, provides 10degrees of micro adjustability, has easy entry with Funnel Guides (Bryne calls them a ‘target acquisition system’), and delivers power transfer through cleat-to-pedal contact, not the lugs. For good measure they are compatible with all two-hole shoes and manufactured at Speedplay’s San Diego HQ from parts mainly sourced in Southern California. Like the original Speedplay pedal on the road, the Syzr may have just changed the cross and MTB pedal game forever. We say may, because we need to get our hands on the pedals, get them dirty, do some dismounts and hit some mud and slush before we’ll know the Syzr, and ceramics, true potential.
Look for more details on price, weights and availability soon. For more info on Speedplay hit speedplay.com.