Long-term test: Speedplay Zero Aero

TriathlonWorld.com tests the aerodynamic performance of Speedplay's Zero Aero in both training and racing.

| June 29, 2017 | GEAR

The golf ball-like dimples on the pedals improve aerodynamics.

The golf ball-like dimples on the pedals improve aerodynamics.

Photo >Hersteller

Speedplay's Zero pedal system provides a closed, aerodynamic-optimized surface on the underside of the shoe that blends right in to the cleats to reduce wind resistance.

While we didn't have the opportunity to test the pedals in a wind tunnel, we were curious about the system, which is used by Jan Frodeno and Sebastian Kienle, two super-cyclists who are known for their attention to every aero detail when it comes to setting up their bikes. We wanted to know how the pedals worked for training and racing.

Installation and maintenance

The pedals are attached to the cranks with an Allen key. The bearings of the pedals can, and should regularly, be regreased. Speedplay offers a special grease syringe for this purpose.

The cleats are attached to the shoes through either three or four screws. It is important not to tighten the screws too much - the optimum is 2.5 Nm. Otherwise it's very difficult to get in and out of the pedals. Unlike other "click" systems, the tension is regulated at the cleat, not the pedal. Speedplay also offers a special torque wrench for tightening the screws. The position of the cleats can be also be adjusted.

We really like the fact that you can adjust the freedom of movement through two small screws at the cleat. This allows you to exactly adjust the angle so you're most comfortable. The cleats are covered with a rubber ring, ensuring an aero surface once you click in.

Testing

The first time you click into these pedals feels very different because it's not a diagonal motion to put your foot into the pedal. Unlike Speedplay's two-sided models, you have to put your foot into the correct side here (which isn't difficult). To get out all you need to do is twist your foot sideways. Speedplay has designed the pedal to be very low to improve aerodynamics and power transmission. It does feel like all your energy goes into moving you forward. All the adjustment opportunities ensure you can fine tune the fit to your needs.

The cleats with, and without, the aero cover: on the far left are the set screws, where rotation can be adjusted. The four black screws must be tightened to the correct tension.

The cleats with, and without, the aero cover: on the far left are the set screws, where rotation can be adjusted. The four black screws must be tightened to the correct tension.

Photo >Lennart Klocke / spomedis

We tried the cleats out in a variety of situations - everything from short rides to long competitions. Once we got used to the Zero Aero pedals we couldn't find any weaknesses, either in training or competition. We did have to deal with one situation where there was an annoying squeal when pushing the cleats onto the pedals. A quick clean up of the rubber rings and the noise was gone.

The cleats can be closed with plugs for protection when you are walking.

The cleats can be closed with plugs for protection when you are walking.

Photo >Hersteller

Models

The Zero Aero pedals are available in three styles. (Weight is per pair, including cleats):     

Chromoly steel: 310 g    

Stainless steel: 306 g    

Titanium: 264 g (only up to 85 kg body weight)

Conclusion

With a European purchase price of 160 to 370 euros, these Speedplay pedals are on the pricey side. The aerodynamic advantage, and the resulting time gain, is probably hardly measurable for most triathletes. These pedals also require some attention during installation (tightening torque) and regular maintenance. For those looking for a few valuable seconds, though, they are definitely worth a look.

The durabilty of these pedals is impressive - they did not show any signs of wear during our six-month test period. Clicking in was as tight and solid six months in as it was on day one. The workmanship and quality of the materials used is excellent. The end result is an aero pedal that allows the energy you're putting into the pedals to go into moving you forward.