Speedplay vs. Shimano SPD Pedals – Which Is Best For Road Cycling?

Lifestyle, Reviews I By Tom Martin I August 26, 2021
 

We have previously outlined why road riders should seriously consider “mountain bike” pedals. Basically, MTB pedals are two-sided, which is an advantage riding in urban and suburban areas – where most people live and ride.

The standard MTB pedal uses Shimano SPD cleats. Speedplay, recently acquired and re-engineered by Wahoo, offers a competitive system that is two-sided and specifically designed for road shoes and road use. We tested the Speedplay Comp pedals, which is Speedplay’s basic option at $150.

The Speedplay engineering philosophy is a bit different in that the “cleat” houses the mechanism that attaches to the pedal. On Shimano and Look pedal systems, the cleat is fixed and the mechanism is in the pedal. The Speedplay approach makes the pedal very small and the “cleat” comparatively larger.

In comparison with the SPD pedals from Shimano or Garmin our testers found:

Pros

• Speedplay unclipping is significantly easier than with SPD (lower torque needed) – ideal for riders new to clipless pedals

• Speedplay is as secure as SPD once clipped in for normal riders

• Speedplay clip-in effort is somewhat better than SPD

• Finding the right cleat-pedal alignment when clipping in is slightly easier than with SPD, but neither system is perfect here

• Speedplay pedal appearance is neat and clean

• Speedplay float is very smooth and low-friction if you want

Cons

• Speedplay has higher price than Shimano SPD (PD-M540s are $85)

• Speedplay cleats are not MTB or gravel shoe compatible

• Speedplay cleats are less secure/stable when walking

• Speedplay does not (yet) offer a power meter version (Garmin offers single-sense or dual sense SPD pedals)

• If you use your shoes both on the road and in a public gym, the latter will likely have SPD pedals

We liked the Speedplay Comps a lot. If you find yourself frustrated with SPD clip or un-clip, they are a great alternative without having to give up dual-sided operation. The Winding Road Cycling Austin store has Speedplay pedals; call if you would like a consultation or a fit.

Tags:

The Guide to Road Racing: Winding Road Magazine's ultimate guide to getting your start in racing.

Table of Contents

Related Articles

Another Porsche Book? Yes and We Love It!

Porsche, deservingly if you ask us, has been covered over and over in a series of coffee table books. So, why another one? Can it really add value?

October 21, 2022
First look: F1 Manager 2022 Video Game

Educational, informative, insightful, and gives a whole new appreciation and understanding of the hidden side of F1 – the side that isn’t cars going around in circles.

August 25, 2022
Often Overlooked, The Stories of The Fastest Women Now Told

Louise Ann Noeth’s work is a collection of candid images and stories of women involved in the infamous Land Speed racing and time trials. From the 1920s and beyond this is a truly unique look at the barriers broken on four and two wheels. By featuring key figures, moments and eras Noeth puts decades of work into an exciting and engaging piece.

October 12, 2021
Why Road Cyclists Should Choose “Mountain Bike” Pedals

If you are a road cyclist, are road pedals better or are mountain bike pedals better?

August 12, 2021
August 04, 2021

EMAIL SIGN UP

Get the latest driving and racing news straight to your inbox.

no thanks

Begin typing your search above and press return to search.