Review: A year with Wahoo’s new Speedplay pedal range
The good, the bad, and the familiar from a year with the new Wahoo Speedplay Zero, Nano, and Powrlink Zero pedals.
The good, the bad, and the familiar from a year with the new Wahoo Speedplay Zero, Nano, and Powrlink Zero pedals.
Speedplay pedals are perhaps some of the most divisive bike components of recent times. Fans of the lollipop-shaped road pedals, of which I am one, wax lyrical of the unique design’s low stack height and weight combined with greater adjustability and cornering clearance. Detractors have always pointed to the levelling off in stack height and weight benefits once the cleats are factored in, wear issues, and costly replacement cleats, not to mention the system’s complete aversion to any kind of dirt or mud.
Love them or loathe them, very few riders sit on the fence when it comes to Speedplays. As with anything similarly divisive, Speedplay lovers will defend the pedal design until the un-serviced bearings will rotate no more, while haters will hear nothing of the potential benefits. So when news emerged that Wahoo Fitness had acquired Speedplay pedals, it threw a cat amongst the pigeons.
Speedplay fans feared Wahoo might overhaul the pedal design and inadvertently destroy it in the process. Meanwhile, haters had to face up to the prospect the innovation behemoth that is Wahoo Fitness might actually improve the Speedplay design and make the pedal range an option for even the most diehard of detractors. But what followed was two years of radio silence from Wahoo, and both camps were left scratching their heads.
Finally, in March 2021, Wahoo announced a new range of Speedplay pedals and some interesting design tweaks. We’ve spent the better part of the last year and a half riding and reviewing numerous pedals from the new Speedplay range. Now, sixteen months on since Wahoo finally lifted the Speedplay curtain, here are our thoughts, and, spoiler alert, arguably it’s bad news for both camps in the Speedplay debate.
Wahoo’s updated Speedplay pedal range includes the Powrlink Zero, Nano (titanium spindle), Zero (stainless), Aero (stainless), and Comp (Chromoly) models, all offering multiple spindle materials, weight, and price points. The Powrlink Zero is a power meter pedal offering and the most recently unveiled addition to the Wahoo pedal range. I will go into each pedal in more detail later, but first a little background information.
Wahoo spent the two years between acquiring Speedplay and releasing the new range in March 2021 refining rather than overhauling the existing Speedplay design. The result is a familiar-looking pedal with several subtle updates and one very noticeable change.
The range of standard pedals (non-power meter) all feature identical pedal body shapes, 53 mm-long spindles, 11.5 mm of stack height (8.5 mm with four-bolt shoes), and a claimed 39° of cornering clearance. All of that should be very familiar to Speedplay users. The Aero, Zero, and Comp pedals all feature a Grivory GV-6H thermoplastic body with no rider weight limits, while the Nano pedals feature a carbon composite body and an 82 kg / 180 lb maximum rider weight limit.
The most striking of these updates is the shiny steel cap surrounding the pedal body top and bottom. Previous Speedplay designs often suffered from pedal body wear issues that resulted in wobbly engagement. This new steel cap replaces the old bow-tie design and is included to protect the pedal body and prevent said wear. However, many fear the steel cap simply redirects the wear from the pedal body to the cleats, which themselves are not a cheap part to replace. More on this later.
The other updates are much less visible. Wahoo has removed the 15 mm wrench flats, replacing them with 8 mm hex fitting in the end of the spindle for all bar the Nano pedals, which fit a 6 mm hex key. While in no way a radical update, the update does make for a smoother and sleeker-looking spindle.
The old Speedplay bearing design was problematic to say the least. Although each pedal used two radial and one needle cartridge bearing, they required regular servicing since the seals were so poor — a simple job, though it did require a Speedplay-specific grease gun. Personally, I didn’t mind greasing Speedplay pedals and my wear rate was well below what others experienced. They were not set-and-forget in the way that many other pedal options are, like Shimano road pedals, for example. That said, I do have several old Speedplay pedal-shaped plumb lines and paperweights in the workshop.
With this new generation, Wahoo has gone with triple-sealed needle bearings all around that are said to require less maintenance. And since there’s supposedly no need for additional greasing, those old grease ports are now gone. This should be music to the ears of any Speedplay fans, but is it?
Wahoo is so confident in the new bearing setup that none of the new pedals are serviceable at all. That’s all good if the new needle bearings do stand the test of time, but should any issues arise, Wahoo has effectively made the new pedals unrepairable.
All of the new pedals feature 53 mm spindles as standard. Wahoo is offering additional 56, 59, and 65 mm spindle length options, but only for the Zero stainless model, and only through retailers and bike fitters. While the additional options are welcome, they will now come at the expense of an additional spindle rather than as an off-the-shelf option that was available pre-buyout. Furthermore, Wahoo has dropped the previously offered 50 mm spindle option, and anyone who fancies changing spindle lengths on the Nano, Comp, or Aero pedals is out of luck.
Perhaps equally disappointing, the popular Speedplay colour range has also disappeared with the new pedals only available in black. It’s easy to understand why Wahoo would want to reduce the vast number of Speedplay product offerings for a more manageable range, but it’s these small details that attracted many of Speedplay’s faithful following.
This review focuses on the Zero, Nano, and Powrlink power meter pedals. I’ve ridden the Nano and Zero pedals extensively since March 2021, and the Powrlink Zero pedals since April 2022. As such, I’ll delve into these three pedals in greater detail below, but first a mention of the other pedals in the range.
The Wahoo Speedplay Comp pedals feature a Chromoly spindle and are the weightiest pedals in the new range at 232 g per pair. That said, the Comps are also the most wallet-friendly option in the range and feature the same design as costlier siblings.
As with the entire range, Wahoo includes cleats with every pair of pedals and, unlike the Aero, Zero and Nano pedals, the Comps are delivered with the new Wahoo Speedplay Easy Tension cleats; more on these later.
Wahoo Speedplay Comp pedals: US$150 / AU$230 / £135 / €150.
The Aero, as the name suggests, is Wahoo’s aerodynamic offering, featuring a dimpled underside that integrates with the standard Speedplay walkable cleat for a neater and aero profiled package. That dimpled bottom does mean losing the dual-sided entry that many Speedplays fans enjoy. That said, anyone chasing pedal aero savings is probably happy to sacrifice dual-sided entry.
The Aero pedals feature the stainless spindle and have a claimed weight of 224 g. Wahoo includes the standard tension walkable/aero cleat with the Aero pedals.
Wahoo Speedplay Aero pedals: US$280 / AU$500 / £240 / €280.
The Zero was predicted to be Wahoo’s most popular pedal in the new range, with the same features and Grivory body of the cheaper Comp, but with a flashy stainless steel spindle. Unfortunately, despite its considerably higher price point, the Zero disappoints on the scales, with our review pair weighing in at 220.7 g per set. That’s just 12g lighter than the claimed weight for the Comp, and heavier than the Speedplay Stainless pedal of the pre-Wahoo era.
For the most part, Wahoo’s new Speedplay Zeros did not disappoint. The pedals not only look like the previous generation Speedplays, but they also offer that familiar feel and performance. The precise rotational float adjustment remains, while the engagement process is still the same: stamp down on the pedal to get in, and then twist to release à la any other pedal. The new spindles do look great without the wrench flats, but part of me wishes they had just kept the flats and added the hex key option for the best of both worlds.
Of course, there are the usual caveats: you still have to keep the Speedplay cleats free from dirt and debris, and you still have to keep up with the PTFE dry lube as required (more on this later). The continuation of the lollipop design and identical cleats means nothing has changed on that front, so if you want robust pedals and cleats fit for the rough and tumble of a variety of surfaces and conditions, Speedplay still isn’t the pedal for you.
So far, so good. But there is one rather large lollipop-loving elephant in the room. Many Wahoo Speedplay users will be aware of a “weird side to side movement” or lateral play experienced by many users, myself included, with the new pedal range. This issue has been the single reason my review of the Wahoo Speedplay range has taken more than a year to complete, and as such, gets a dedicated section later in the review.
Setting that issue aside for a second to return to later in the review, the new Wahoo Speedplay Zero has all the potential to improve on the already popular Speedplay concept, if it can sort out the lateral play issue.
Wahoo Speedplay Zero pedals: US$230 / AU$350 / £200 / €230.
The Nano doesn’t disappoint on the scales, weighing in almost 60 g lighter than the Zero. Our review pair of Nano pedals came in at just 170 g. Wahoo has achieved this lower weight thanks to the inclusion of a titanium spindle and a carbon composite body. As you might expect, as the weight drops, the price increases, with the Nanos costing almost double the price of the Zeros.
Not to be confused with the race-day-only Speedplay Nanograms of yesteryear, Wahoo’s Nanos are designed for everyday use and are delivered with the standard walkable/aero cleats. That said, Wahoo does state a rider weight limit of 82 kg applies to the new Nanos.
Much like the Zeros, the Nanos are just like Speedplay pedals. Push down, lock in, rotate foot, clip out. The pedals are light, work well, and showed no signs of the pedal body wear that plagued the old Speedplay pedals for some. However, just as with the Zeros, the Nano has the potential to be a great pedal, but for that lateral play issue, and again I’ll get into this later in the review.
Wahoo Speedplay Nano pedals: US$450 / AU$700 / £380 / €450.
Wahoo announced the Speedplay PowrLink Zero (PL Zero) way back at the same time as the standard pedals in March 2021. At the time, the new power meter was slated for a launch sometime in “Summer ’21.” While Summer ’21 came and went with no sign of the new pedals, Wahoo did finally launch the new single and dual-sided power meter pedals in February 2022.
The Powrlink Zero is Wahoo’s new power meter pedal offering and is based on the Speedplay Zero platform. The power pedals are instantly recognisable as Speedplays, sticking with an almost identical lollipop design. The Powrlink Zero pedals feature the same Grivory thermoplastic body, stainless steel spindle, and the new steel ring pedal body protector as the standard Zeros and have the look and feel of a high-end pedal.
While the Powrlink Zero pedals appear very similar to the other Wahoo Speedplay pedals, some slightly less noticeable features are worth noting. First, the power measuring gadgetry has cut into Speedplay’s legendary (and debatable) stack height, raising it by 1.5 mm to 13 mm. While a 1.5 mm increase will make little or no difference to the vast majority of us, it does push Speedplay’s stack height more in line with other pedal systems and should be noted when comparing pedal options.
Also on the up is Q-factor, with the PL Zero adding one millimetre per side for a 2 mm total increase over the standard Wahoo Speedplay pedals. Add in another millimetre on each side for the pedal washer required with the PL Zero on most cranksets, and the net gain is actually 6 mm over the standard pedals — a not-insignificant change in stance width and one I did have to adjust my cleats to adapt to.
The immediately obvious difference between the Zeros and other Speedplay pedals is the addition of a Favero Assioma-style power pod to the spindle. The pod houses all the electronics and gadgetry responsible for calculating rider power output, which Wahoo claims is accurate to within +/-1%. With individual power pods on each pedal, the PL Zero provides true left/right power measurement and will also be available as a lower-priced, left-side only power meter.
The spindle pods also house the recharging ports and LED indicators offering battery level and connection status. A slow blue indicates the pedals have just woken up and are searching for a connection. This blue LED turns to a fast flash when connecting and finally a solid blue when connected. Of course, a blank look on the head unit’s face will soon tell you the power meter is not connected, but this LED status update is handy pre-ride and when diagnosing any potential connection issues.
From there, a green flashing LED when connected to the charger clips and a power source indicates the power meter is charging. Solid green signifies the pedals are fully charged, while a flashing red LED indicates the battery is running low. The LEDs do turn off after 30 seconds to conserve battery life, which is both a pro and con as spotting a blinking light on a pedal is often a “luck of the draw” kind of thing; either that or a new pastime for those who currently enjoy watching paint dry.
Those rechargeable batteries are said to be good for up to 75 hours of riding with an empty-to-full recharge time of between 90-120 minutes. Speaking of connections, the PL Zero works across both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart, capable of connecting with up to three Bluetooth devices at once.
The PL Zero has an IPX7 water rating, which basically means it is safe to submerge in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes — or in other words, safe for even the toughest and sweatiest indoor ride or outdoor downpour. One last note on functionality: the Powrlink Zero pedals do have a rider weight limit of 113 kg / 249 lb.
While I may have waited a little longer for the PL Zero than many had hoped, I think everyone would agree a late-but-reliable power meter is much better than a problematic power meter released too soon. The good news is Wahoo seems to have spent that extra time developing what, so far, has been a superb power meter.
The Powrlink Zeros have performed almost perfectly over the course of the almost 4,000 km and over 130 hours of riding entirely on the new pedals in the making of this review. A once-off random battery charge issue was the only blemish in an otherwise perfect score card during all that riding. The battery randomly dropped from ~40% to 0% in less than an hour during one ride about midway through this review. The pedals recharged perfectly fine, have maintained battery performance since, and the issue has not resurfaced. Otherwise, I have had zero power spikes, dropouts, loss of signal, or connectivity issues regardless of whether I have been using a Wahoo, Garmin, Hammerhead, or Leomo head unit.
That said, I have encountered some connection issues the few times I have used the pedals with both the Wahoo app and Elemnt Rival watch, although that may be a reflection of those products rather than the pedals.
When it comes to accuracy, Wahoo is touting the inclusion of internal gyroscopes and accelerometers in the PL Zeros. Wahoo suggests the inclusion of both enables the pedals to measure cadence continuously and accurately throughout the pedal stroke. While this may seem like just another way to measure cadence, if Wahoo’s claims are accurate, it could make for meaningful improvement in power meter accuracy.
Many other power meters rely on cadence magnets and accelerometers to measure cadence measured once per revolution. Wahoo’s PL Zero is seemingly continually monitoring cadence and capturing crank speed changes throughout each revolution. In theory, at least, this should provide a much higher resolution and potentially more accurate power calculations for both round and non-round chainring users.
It’s that non-round chainring compatibility that might catch the attention of some riders. Many power meters struggle with non-round chainrings given how they change the crankarm’s rotational speed throughout a revolution, but Wahoo is claiming the PL Zeros are compatible and accurate with non-round chainrings.
Changes in ambient weather conditions and, specifically, temperature can also cause all manner of issues with power meter accuracy. As temperatures rise and fall, the materials within the inner workings of a power meter can expand and contract, affecting strain gauge accuracy. To mitigate this issue, Wahoo has also built temperature compensation into the new Powrlink Zero pedals to account for fluctuations.
Whether these gyroscopes, accelerometers, and temperature compensation methods actually make a meaningful difference in power measurement accuracy is almost impossible to tell without a true lab-style testing rig. Unfortunately, the only power meter testing available to us is my subjective power reading expectations based on 15 years of riding with power on almost every ride, plus some comparison work with the numerous hours of indoor and outdoor rides with the Powrlink Zeros and multiple other power sources.
Truth be told, given, again, there is no way for me to confirm which, if any, power source is the most accurate, I will never hang my hat on a multi-source power meter comparison test. That said, it is the only testing I currently have available to us, and the Powrlink Zero performed admirably both comparatively with other power sources and subjectively comparing the power I felt I was doing with the power displayed on screen.
As such, I can’t tell you whether the Powrlink Zeros are truly +/-1% accurate or not, but will say I could happily use the Powrlink Zeros as my only power source, and that’s more than I could say about a host of other power meters I have tried.
As for how these pedals perform as pedals? Well, again, much like the Zeros and Nanos, the Powrlink Zeros will be very familiar to any existing Speedplay users and easy to get accustomed to for any non-Speedplay users.
I could highlight each of the aspects of the Speedplay design I enjoy once again, but rather than bore you with repetition, I believe it suffices to say that anyone who liked the previous generation Speedplay pedals will like the Wahoo Speedplay Powrlink Zero pedals. The pedals look, feel, and operate like any other Speedplay pedal from the Zero range.
But again, the Powrlink Zeros are not without flaws. Firstly, and perhaps easily resolved with a firmware update, is the lack of any form of travel mode. I fully charged the Powrlink Zeros before heading to Copenhagen for the Grand Depart of le Tour de France. Despite only riding for a grand total of three hours over the next three weeks, the pedal charge had dropped to 40%, presumably repeatedly waking up as they jiggled about in my bag on the bumpy road from Copenhagen to Eurobike via Belgium and Morzine.
While the 55 mm Q-factor will pose no issue for many, factor in the additional 1 mm spindle spacer required on each side and suddenly the Powrlink Zero Q-Factor has grown significantly compared to the standard Zero and Nano pedals. For me, this additional Q-Factor was enough to offset my cleat position to the point where I couldn’t swap between power and standard Speedplay pedals without having to adjust my cleat stance width.
Then there is the increased stack height. While the Powrlink Zero’s stack height has already grown 1.5 mm compared to the standard pedal range, some shoes will require an additional 2mm spacer to ensure the power pod is not rubbing against the shoe sole. My Rapha Pro Team shoes worked fine without the spacer, but my Giro Imperial shoes required this additional spacer, meaning a total stack height increase of 3.5 mm over the standard pedals. Again, for a position freak like myself, the resulting saddle height discrepancy with the standard Wahoo Speedplay pedals was annoying.
If you are someone who can jump from bike to bike without really dialing in your position, you will likely find no problems in jumping from a bike with standard Wahoo pedals to a bike with Powrlink pedals. If you’re like me, though, these millimetre differences are likely to leave you feeling like an alien on your own bike, and you could be in for a lot of swapping pedals back and forth or out a lot of money on multiple sets of Powrlink Zeros.
Wahoo Speedplay Powrlink Zero dual-sided power meter: US$1,000 / AU$1,450 / £850 / €1,000.
Wahoo Speedplay Powrlink Zero single-sided power meter: US$650 / AU$950 / £550 / €650.
As has always been the case with Speedplays, Wahoo’s new pedals are delivered with a surprising amount of bits and bobs. There are the obvious things like the pedals and a few bits of paper, but then there’s everything that goes into the multi-layered Speedplay cleat and a host of accessories.
The standard tension cleats consist of a base plate, the spring and housing mid-section, a protector plate, cleat covers, and cleat surrounds. The box also contains six cleat base plate screws, eight short and eight long protector plate screws, a packet of cleat shims, and, new to the PL Zeros, one left and one right cleat spacer designed to increase the stack height further for shoes that come into contact with the power pods but presumably also handy for correcting leg length discrepancies. The Powrlink Zero pedals are delivered with additional spacers for both the cleats, to avoid pedal rub (more on this later) and the spindles to ensure the power pod is not damaged by the crank arm on installation.
Additionally, with the power pedals, there are the 1 mm washers, charging pods, and a brilliantly considered Y-split cable to charge both pedals simultaneously from one USB power source. The cable is plenty long enough and the charger clips are removable with USB-C ports, meaning the same split cable can charge any device with a USB-C connection and likewise, any USB-C cable will plug into the charger clip. It’s a small and simple thing, but with such rare open compatibility these days, it’s a refreshing approach from Wahoo. Shimano Di2 and Campagnolo EPS charger designers could learn a thing or two here.
It’s a lot of individual parts that for the most part are carried over from the Speedplay days, and most of which are integral to the Speedplay cleat design. Some of these parts most riders will never need. In almost two decades of using Speedplay, I don’t ever recall using the cleat shims. However, for some riders, particularly those with smaller shoes, the cleat shims are essential. Their inclusion, along with the cleat spacers for riders with leg length discrepancies, makes ordering and setup much easier.
One thing that has changed is the box. The old Speedplay boxes were awkward and a bit useless once opened. The new Wahoo boxes are very similar to the boxes used with the Wahoo head unit range and are handy for storing all the spare bits and pieces many Speedplay users build up. One disappointing note on the packaging is the single-use plastic Wahoo has retained for the cleat screws and shims. Wahoo has used recyclable plastic with the charger cable and it would have been nice to see this extended to the cleat hardware packaging.
Bar a switch from yellow to black, Wahoo has retained an identical cleat design to that of the Speedplay-era Zero series. Technically, Wahoo’s walkable cleats remain unchanged and are backwards compatible with all previous Speedplay Zero pedals.
As mentioned earlier, the Aero, Zero, and Nano models all include the standard tension cleats, while the Comp pedals are delivered with Easy Tension cleats.
Walkable cleats, aero cleats, V2 cleats – call them what you will, the newer Speedplay cleat design is a known quantity at this stage. The cleats are far from the easiest to set up, but once in place, they do offer unrivalled fore, aft (up to 13 mm), and left and right (up to 6 mm) adjustability, not to mention the precision float and release angle adjustment. While the cleats can be confusing at first, once someone has completed the setup once, it is relatively straightforward for subsequent installs.
I am a huge fan of the cleat adjustability, with the precision fit probably the single biggest draw for me to Speedplay pedals. That said, the cleats do have a few functional issues that, in retaining the existing Speedplay design, Wahoo has not found a way to eliminate.
First up, the cleats have a tendency to rust up. The plastic cap that gives the cleat its walkable and “aero” properties also locks in moisture after wet rides, which eventually leads to rust issues. Speedplay detractors also point to the pedal/cleat’s inability to clear any dirt or mud, which leads to reliably poor performance for anything but hard-surfaced road rides. Wahoo does clearly state that “Speedplay pedals are designed for road cycling only. For the best riding experience, ensure your cleats are clean before and during every ride.”
Still, users should also be aware that any dirt or grit, even from just putting a foot down in the wrong place mid-road ride, can be problematic.
Furthermore, the Speedplay cleats do require regular top-ups with a dry lube to maintain ease of cleat engagement and exit. While the process is quite simple, the issue is 1) remembering to apply the dry lube, especially after wet rides, and 2) the dedicated lubes feature PTFE fluoropolymers that are toxic to both humans and the environment. Nasty stuff.
Many fear the new pedal design with its body-protecting steel ring may actually increase cleat wear, a potentially significant issue given the price of Speedplay cleats (£50/US$60). Throughout the past 16 months, my Wahoo Speedplay review was continually interrupted as I was forced back on to Speedplay-era Zeros and alternative pedals entirely (more on this later). Unfortunately, these interruptions and pedal mixing made it difficult to accurately measure or subjectively evaluate cleat wear.
Wahoo could quash any wear concerns by including the cleat/carbon sole protector previously offered by Speedplay with every pair of cleats, but unfortunately, these are not currently included.
While the jury is still out on long-term cleat wear, Wahoo’s Easy Tension cleats have been a godsend for me recently. Recovering from a nasty leg break, including a spiral fracture of the tibia, I was pretty nervous about the rotational forces involved in twisting my foot to release a cleat from a pedal but the Easy Tension cleats helped put my mind at ease. The cleats engage, adjust, and release almost identically to their standard design siblings, just with much less force required. Testament to just how normal the Easy Tensions feel, my leg is fine again now, but I am still using the Easy Tension cleats.
While most reviews don’t require a “how-to guide”, given the unique design of Speedplay cleats and the potential added complexity of installing a power meter pedal, I felt such a guide is relevant for anyone considering Speedplay for the first time. Long-term Speedplay users can skip the cleat section.
The actual pedal installation is identical to any other pedal system. The pedals thread into the crankarm, and although left-right specific (as with any pedal), handily, Wahoo has orientated its logo on the pedal body so that “WAHOO” reads left to right on both pedals when looking down from the saddle forwards. It’s another simple thing, maybe not as simple as an L or R on the respective pedal, but it works all the same.
Wahoo does recommend tightening pedals across the range to 30 Nm, but standard pedal owners, and even Powrlink Zero owners, without a torque wrench at home needn’t worry about exact torque or accuracy issues as Wahoo explained to CyclingTips that “while many/most users see excellent accuracy without using a torque meter during installation, using a torque wrench will prevent under/over-tightening and give the best user experience.”
So far, so simple, with only one caveat for Powrlink Zero installation. Just like with the Assioma Duos, it’s important to ensure a 1 mm gap between the crankarm and the power pod to avoid damaging the pod. That’s where the 1mm spacer comes in, and it is essential with many cranks, especially carbon cranks. Check for the 1 mm gap before fully tightening the pedal spindle and if in doubt, add the washer.
From there, it’s good to go with the standard pedals, or time to charge up the Powrlink Zero pedals with the power cable and charging clips mentioned earlier. Again, Wahoo has made this easy using its logo, which should be facing away from the bike on both sides for correct attachment. To remove any doubt, the pod LEDs illuminate green when charging, as mentioned above.
Things get a little more complicated for Powrlink Zero users now, who at this point will need to download the Wahoo Fitness App for initial pairing, firmware updates, and calibration. I found the app quite intuitive and straightforward to navigate, even if it did like to drop the connection to the pedals fairly regularly. Thankfully, the Wahoo app is not required all that often.
The last step in the first part of the setup for Powrlink Zero users is just to connect the pedals to your head unit of choice. Again, I found the pedals easily connected to and maintained a connection with head units from Garmin, Hammerhead, and Wahoo.
The much bigger half (halves are not equal, not this time) of the setup is the cleats. As a seasoned Speedplay user, I find the process pretty straightforward and the cleats offer much more precision than more conventional cleats, so I am happy to put in the time. That said, with so many individual parts, the Speedplay cleat design might look pretty daunting for new users.
The first and most important step is to identify the specific left and right cleats. Each cleat is marked either Left or Right, plus an arrow indicates the forward-facing end of each cleat. Completing a full cleat install only to realise the cleat is on the wrong shoe is highly frustrating.
From there, it’s best to think of each individual part of the cleats as a separate function within a traditional cleat setup. Rather than using a combination of twisting and turning triangular-shaped cleats to adjust the angle or fore and aft, the Speedplays do each movement separately.
The base plate attaches to the sole with three screws and offers fore and aft adjustment only. Ensure the base plate sits flush on the shoe sole. The underside of each base plate is fitted with 5-F and 5-R blue shims, but larger 6-F and 6-R shims may be required for some soles and are provided with every set of cleats.
The base plate features a centre point line to assist with cleat position under the foot. It’s important to see this fore-aft adjustment before proceeding with the remainder of the cleat mechanism, as future adjustments will require removing the entire cleat mechanism to access the three mounting screws. This extra complication for simple fore and aft adjustment is perhaps the primary frustration I have with the Speedplay cleat design, but once set, it will be fit-and-forget for most riders.
Lastly, at this base plate phase, add the cleat surround to the base plate for very marginal aero gains and a cleaner final look. Again, the surrounds are left and right specific with an L and R to denote which is which.
From there, the spring housing and protector plates snap together and mount to the base plate. The housing plate is marked with a forward arrow, but once the base plate is positioned correctly, the narrower and wider stance of the mounting screw openings match the bosses in the base plate. It’s best to loosely fit the mounting screws and then adjust the left-right stance width before tightening. While tempting to tighten the screws hand tight, Wahoo recommends torquing these to just 2.5 Nm and the cleats will thank you for listening with better performance and longevity.
It’s this precise left-right stance width adjustment combined with the float adjustment that makes the Speedplay cleats my personal favourite. The limit screws along the side of each cleat allow for precise heel-in and heel-out float range adjustment. Feel free to experiment with this with smaller tweaks during your initial rides on the system. Alternatively, set your bike on an indoor trainer and have someone adjust the limit screws with your foot in the shoe attached to the pedal for unrivaled precision to your preferred foot position.
Lastly, attach the left- and right-specific cleat covers, the dimpled aero-y walkable cover. Wahoo advises applying force to each corner to help with mounting the covers. Personally, I find fitting the cover to the front side first before stretching it backwards and over the rear makes for the easiest fit. Whatever way you fit the covers, they should sit flush with the cleat surround when fitted correctly. Care should be taken when removing the covers as the protector plate’s serrated edges can slice fingers, as I have found out. Avoid the temptation to prise the cover off; instead, use a flat edge in the small opening to the rear of the cover to lift the cover off.
All in all, installing Speedplay cleats is a protracted process with several trip hazards that can double the time required. That said, having mounted countless Speedplay cleats, I have the process dialled, and although it will always be slower than mounting a simple three-bolt cleat as common with most other manufacturers, I find replicating an old position with new cleats is much easier with Speedplay.
Throughout this review, I have repeatedly mentioned that I would return to the lateral play issue that has seemingly plagued the new Wahoo Speedplay pedals. While many question marks remain over Wahoo’s decision to make the new pedals non-serviceable, along with the unfortunate consequence of the increased stack height and Q-factor in the Powrlink Zeros, the reality is there are much more serious issues with the new Wahoo Speedplay range.
Shortly after first riding with the new Wahoo Speedplays, I noticed the driveside Nano pedal had developed a weird lateral movement. At first, I presumed the movement was just the result of the retaining screw on the spindle loosening a little, but on inspection, the screw was tight.
I removed the spindle, checked everything over, and reassembled it numerous times, but the problem persisted until I eventually overtightened and snapped the bolt that attaches the pedal body to the spindle in an attempt to remove the play in the pedal. “Shit! I’ve just broken a £380 pair of pedals.”
I reached out to Wahoo to explain the lateral movement, provided a video, and told them how I had broken a pedal in the process of trying to remedy the issue. Wahoo replied, explaining the issue I had encountered was “known to our team, and affects a small minority of pedals. A fix has already been implemented at our manufacturing facility, and we would be happy to send you a new pair of pedals.”
“Ah-ha, it wasn’t my fault; new pedals on the way, problem solved.” Except it wasn’t problem solved.
While waiting on the new pedals to arrive, the Wahoo Speedplay Zeros in for test developed the same issue. Then the replacement Nanos developed the same issue. Wahoo explained it had mistakenly sent a pair of pre-fix Nanos, and a new post-fix pair was in the mail once again.
Mistakes happen, and it was November as I waited on the fourth pair of Wahoo Speedplay pedals to arrive. Within a single ride, the fourth pair of pedals developed the exact same issue. Every pair of Wahoo Speedplay pedals I had received all developed the same weird lateral play issue.
At that point, I found myself laid up with four broken Speedplays and a broken leg. Review on hold. As I recovered from the broken leg, Wahoo shipped out a pair of Powrlink Zeros for review. Left-right balance could be useful in my recovery, I thought, but the real question on my mind was whether the Powrlink Zeros would suffer the same fate as the standard pedals.
Initial indications were good. As I first sat down to add the Powrlink Zero findings to this review, I had ridden the pedals for just about two months (70 odd hours of use) and every indication was that the Powrlink Zero pedals do not suffer from the same issues as their standard non-power meter pedal counterparts.
Of course, two months of usage isn’t even near approaching the lifespan one would hope to enjoy with a power meter (or pedals for that matter), and I have only had one pair of Pwrlink Zeros. But the key fact for me was that none of the standard pedals I had made it past two weeks of use without failing, and many reports suggested pedals failing on their first ride, my own replacements included. It seemed the power meter pedals had avoided the lateral play issues.
But then disaster struck. The drive-side Powrlink Zero pedal developed the identical lateral play issue the standard pedals had developed before them. Without any warning or visibly evident issue, the pedal just started with the weird side-to-side movement one random day.
What is odd is that two of the five pairs of pedals developed the lateral play issue on both sides, while the issue only arose on the driveside for the other three pairs, including the initial Nanos,and the Powrlink Zeros, both of which had by far the most riding. Factor in some of the pedals gave out on the first ride, while others lasted longer, and as long as two months of somewhat intense riding, in the Powrlink Zero’s case.
Although the issue is far from random, as countless riders have reported the issue on internet forums, it seems how and when the problem manifests itself does have some level of randomness to it.
It’s 14 months since Wahoo told me a fix had been implemented, yet as recently as last week, riders were reporting brand new pedals developing the same issue on their very first ride. There is/was something very wrong with the Wahoo Speedplay design.
The issue has been so persistent across all my Wahoo Speedplay standard pedals that it has effectively halted my long-term review. Unfortunately, despite having Wahoo Speedplay pedals on bikes for well over a year now, I can’t speak to bearing durability, pedal body wear, or accurately measure cleat wear yet mainly because none of my test pedals have lasted long enough to evaluate those things.
I asked Wahoo for more details on what the issue is, how many pedals are affected, if their 2021 fix ran into the same issues, and if they intend to announce a recall. While Wahoo declined to comment on the exact nature of the issue, the fix, or the serial numbers affected, the company did give some insight into the numbers affected. While 100% of the pedals I received developed the same lateral play issue, and internet forums are jam-packed with similar complaints from Wahoo Speedplay customers around the world, Wahoo is confident only pedals from the initial production batches are affected.
In fact, Wahoo claims just 1% of the total pedals manufactured so far are affected, and any issues cropping up now are likely leftovers of the initial production runs. Furthermore, Wahoo explained there is no safety risk with the affected pedals and asked that any customers experiencing the lateral play issue in their pedals contact Wahoo’s customer support team directly.
This doesn’t answer how customers are seemingly encountering the same issue with pedals supplied by Wahoo to replace problematic pedals, nor does it explain how my Powrlink Zero pedals, delivered a year after the initial Nanos, could suffer the same fate.
The only explanation Wahoo can offer is that, as all of the Nano and Zero original and replacement pedals in our review had been shipped last year, they could have been from that problematic initial production run.
As far as the Powrlink Zeros go, seemingly, Wahoo doesn’t yet have an answer to give. In fact, prior to the issue with our test set, Wahoo had repeatedly told us they had not encountered a single lateral play issue with any Powrlink Zeros. Then, when disaster struck, Wahoo seemed pretty miffed and stated several times since that I am the first person worldwide to report a lateral play issue with Powrlink Zero. Furthermore, Wahoo has requested I return the Powrlink Zeros for a full inspection, which I will do once this review is published.
Wahoo has the makings of a good pedal system here, but our experience so far has been a complete disaster. Five sets of pedals were tested, and five sets of pedals broke, some within the first ride.
The Speedplay pedal design will never attract the same huge following as simpler systems such as Shimano and Look, but for those who like Speedplay pedals, Wahoo’s updates could provide significant improvements over the original design. The new pedal body protector works, the Powrlink Zeros have so far proved a reliable power meter, and all the pedals look very premium and should match most bikes and cranksets.
But that lateral play issue has so far spoiled all the fun, leaving many Speedplay fans wondering why Wahoo tried to fix what wasn’t broken. If Wahoo can get the issue resolved, which, again, it claims it has, riders can move on with new replacement pedals. If the issue persists, Wahoo has a real problem on its hands. A premium-priced disposable pedal could be hard for the Speedplay brand to recover from.
Wahoo has this week replaced the original Powrlink Zeros and has yet another replacement pair of Nanos in the post. I will ride these pedals for the next few months and update this review if the lateral play issues persist. Speedplay fans, myself included, will be hoping Wahoo has resolved the issue, in which case I can hopefully update this review with some good news later in the year.
Head to WahooFitness.com for more information.