Wahoo has released the first new pedals from Speedplay since Wahoo bought the company back in 2019, and showcases some impressive refinements to the double-sided pedal system alongside a brand new Speedplay power meter.
The range currently consists of four models, tiered by material: Comp chromoly, Zero stainless steel, Nano titanium and Aero stainless. The first three all utilising Speedplay’s desirable dual-sided entry. The Aero forgoes that convenience in pursuit of additional wind-cheating gain, replacing one side with that oh-so-familiar golf ball effect material.
Needless to say, the gains are somewhat marginal, but Speedplay claim - unofficially - that the saving is 4 watts. A metric that was certainly enough to encourage WorldTour team, EF Education Nippo, to dip into their budget and buy 150 pairs for themselves.
Wahoo has not overhauled the line-up, but they have added some welcome refinement and simplicity to what has always been an effective and capable system. We will come to those notable improvements, but where does the journey begin?
Where it all began
At the tail end of 2019 - way back when in ‘normal’ times, hardware giant Wahoo completed the acquisition of the somewhat niche pedal brand, Speedplay. But before you can pass judgement on the merits of that merger, a little context is required.
Back in 2012 you’d have been forgiven for assuming that Look and Shimano were the only players in the road pedal market. That may have been the case until Sir Bradley Wiggins brought Speedplay into the light during his breakthrough year.
The small, round, oddly shaped pedals raised eyebrows for some initially, but new users were soon converted with fewer knee issues — due to adjustable float — and lighter bicycles, with all the mechanism housed in the cleat.
£379, Shop Wahoo
I, like many, was recommended Speedplay to solve an ongoing knee issue — an asymmetric niggle that refused to abate despite bouts of physio. While float in cleats is nothing new — with both Shimano and Look offering multiple cleat options with varying levels of float — Speedplay’s USP was how adjustable the float was in a single cleat. It can seemingly be shifted in any plane of movement, in a way that other pedals simply don't offer.
Wahoo acquires Speedplay
Fast-forward to 2019 and Speedplay was still considered the outlier’s choice. It was reserved for aforementioned bike-fitting improvements or for their cornering clearance on the amateur road racing scene. Whereas Wahoo was making groun in the GPS market for innovation and simplicity of its products.
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Despite those differences, both Wahoo and Speedplay’s head honchos agreed on a core principle, “We design products to enhance the performance of athletes and help them reach their true potential” said Chip Hawkins, founder of Wahoo.
What the original Speedplay product had in abundance was clever technology with tried and tested performance improvements but in a complex and expensive package. Wahoo, however, had thrived with easy-to-use hardware and dependable software, but without the heritage and credibility of a brand that began manufacturing pedals in the early 90s. Hence, Wahoo completed the acquisition of Speedplay. To advance the brand’s global potential and add another string to Wahoo’s hardware bow.
A new beginning
Jump forward again and you can see just how the coming together of the two brands has benefited the finished article. The new Speedplay range has embraced Wahoo’s simpler hardware philosophy, resulting in pedal systems that are lighter, easier to use, more durable and ultimately more accessible.
For this first look, we’ve got the all-new Speedplay Nano pedals, featuring a titanium spindle at a weight of 168g and a price of £379.99. The look and feel is recognisable, although the stainless steel plating, that enhances durability, Speedplay claim, creates a notably different silhouette.
As you move down through the range, concessions have been made to the materials, but the functional upgrades remain consistent: Backwards compatibility with all previous Speedplay systems; adjustable float from 0-15 degrees; and perhaps best of all, sealed bearings removing the need for each user to manually fire grease into their pedals after wet rides. Thank you Wahoo, truly.
Wahoo and Speedplay have also announced a brand-new pedal to the range, the Powerlink Zero, representing the world’s first dual-sided entry power meter pedal system specifically for road riding. Allowing existing Speedplay users the ability and convenience to swap pedals between bikes without having to give up the pedal system entirely.
Speedplay claim the power meter medals will be good for 75 hours of riding and will link intuitively with Wahoo’s ELEMNT head units. It pairs a stainless steel spindle (of fixed length, mind) with a pod-based strain gauge to offer left and right power output and distribution at a claimed weight of 276g.
The Powerlink Zero model will be available this summer, keep an eye out for an update when it lands.
Out on the road, the 2021 Speedplay Nano pedals feel familiar but refined. Clipping in is smoother. Gone is the click-clack as the front and rear of the cleat engages separately. I also noticed that my cleats filled with much less gunk, with the seamless transition of the aero cleat covers now available throughout the range of cleats, rather than only on the single-sided aero model.
It remains to be seen how the pedals will hold up in truly biblical conditions, but the sealed bearings and flush surfaces should make for a practically maintenance-free experience for most.
The weight on the top-tier model is, predictably, industry-leading. A paltry 168g grams per pair and a top-end carbon-composite material finish to the body makes for a potentially compelling option for superbike finishing touches. Meet us back here in a month or two for a long term update and keep an eye on Rouleur.cc for when we get our hands on the Powerlink Zero power meter model.
£379, Shop Wahoo