SPD vs SPD-SL (vs Wahoo Speedplay?)

+1 for Shimano SPDs.

I’ve been riding this pedal system for 12+ years on and off road. I can’t think of a time when they’ve let me down. They’re a rock solid design. I have a pair of 2008 XT SPDs on my mountain bike that I swear will outlast me!

Once you find the tension that works for you, you will never give them another thought. It’s also far easier to walk in a shoe with recessed cleats.

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I only have spds on all my bike. Can’t be bothered having to buy more shoes, just to fit different pedal systems. Can’t comment if there’s more power, but it’s definitively more convenient this way.

However, if you struggle to set off from a stop with the group, because you’re still trying to clip in, I’d suggest practicing setting off without clipping in. Just start pedalling, and clip in when you’re up to speed.

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Speedplay alll the way here as well - originally for my knees but now there’s no way I’d go back. Just the other day several of my highly experienced (20+ years riding) mates commented on how I get away faster than them at every stop and junction and they never see me have any issues clipping in.

I did buy a set of Powertap P1s for travel and using on different bikes etc but have never really got on with them and after a winter using them on my winter bike my knees really felt it (as well as continual reliability issues) so they are now consigned to the junk drawer… Will jump on the new Speedplay PM as soon as thats finally available.

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My first clipless pedals were SPDs on the Mountain Bike. After the usual period of falling down while failing to unclip, I came to like them quite a bit. When it came time to get a road bike, Speedplay was the choice because they were the only dual-sided road pedal, and the idea of single sided pedals seemed silly. I like them at least as well as the SPDs.

Pros: dual sided, lots of float, easy exit, walkable cleats (though I would still avoid tile and smooth&wet anything)

Cons: tension is dependent on mounting torque, need lube from time-to-time. If you walk through sand and don’t clear it out of the cleat, you could get stuck clipped in, and have to twist really hard to get out.

-Tim

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I switched from Ultegra SPD-SL’s to XTR SPD on my road bike and love them. Power transfer is great and I like the increased float. I have a road, Gravel, and MTB and love having the same pedals on all bikes. I use Shimano RX8 shoes for the road and gravel bikes and they are light, stiff, and comfortable.

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The Light Action were always really easy to clip into also. I never understood why anyone went up to the Zeros

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I get the concept…some people just didn’t like all the float from the X-1’s.

But yeah, I never went the Zero route until now….and was basically forced to. X1’s are no longer an option.

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I have used SPD pedals for the first year on the road (coming from MTB) and they worked fine for my (very mediocre) needs. Not sure about proper road shoe options with SPD, I was using my MTB shoes.

Switched to SPD-SL once I decided to do more road cycling, new shoes etc.
Definitely felt more “connected” with the bike, but in the back of my mind I always thought this cannot be the end of the road pedal-wise. Never liked the clipping in at traffic lights, although single-leg drills helped a lot for those darned situations where I messed up… Also, walking on the cleats is just terrible design.

Last year I tried Speedplay (new bike) and immediately liked it. Kind of a compromise between the other two systems, but more sophisticated.
I agree with all the typical pros and cons that you can find in various reviews, but clipping in is definitely a strong pro for me. I will stick with Speedplay for the foreseeable future. First time installation takes a bit of time, but worth it for me. Also, great for bike fitting if that’s a concern. And walking… don’t get me started.

Best wishes for your healing!

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I have knee issues. I am one who can feel the difference using an SL or Keo, and I do like the tighter fit and wider platform which helped me with hot spots. Having said that, for about the last 10 years I ran Speedplay for the knees. I really like the float. I’ve been a mountain biker for a long time and have used SPD for a good 20 years now. Lately, I almost never ride road, but put in the most miles on gravel. As a result, I’ve switched all my bikes (including the trainer) to SPD. I like the ones with a wider cage like the 8020 for a bit more support. It does add about 200g, but I could stand to lose way more than that in body weight.

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I’ve been using Crank Brothers (CB) pedals on my bikes for ~15 years after I decided I didn’t get on with SPD-SL (eg. ease of clip-in around urban areas, akin to the OP), and they’ve worked great for me:

  • super easy to clip in and out of (double-sided pedal entry like SPD), and never unclipped accidentally;
  • use lightweight MTB shoes (that look like road shoes) with stiff soles so no hot spots, and can walk around off the bike with non-slip ease;
  • been using CB Candy pedals for a long time, and it’s great that the cheapest ones (Candy 1s) weigh less than any but the range-topping Candy 11s which are 7.5x the price;
  • in the MTB world people can moan about Crank Brothers longevity, but in road use that’s been a non-issue in all the years I’ve used them, and the first set(s) I bought still work alright.

So there are other options with little or no downside IME, whether SPD or elsewhere, if you weigh practicality as important to you.

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I get the worst clip-in anxiety (spd-sl) when I’m lining up for a race. I always get there early and line up in the front. Whistle blows and the entire field passes me as I try to clip in. If I’m at a traffic light and not thinking about it, it’s completely automatic/first-try.

Same thing if I overthink walking down stairs. :joy:

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Yes lube is important, I have had to take my shoe off on occasion to get out of my right pedal. Never a problem with my left.

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Lube is important, but even more important is proper mounting using the correct wedges to ensure the base plate is flat and not bent lengthwise. If you find that tightening the top plate screws jams the c-clip and impedes pedal action, it’s probably because the base plate is not flat.

This is the weak point of Speedplay’s design - its reliance on a flat surface mounted on the curved sole of cycling shoes.

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Yeah, the wedge shims are a bit of a hassle, and improper setup as well as the 4x screw torque make this more finicky than other systems. Not a real problem once setup, but I have had to help more than one customer who didn’t RTFM and just smashed it all together. Their mistake, but a flaw in the system that it can be setup poorly when compared to regular cleat options that are more simple in setup.

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I love both the SPD and Speedplays.

After going between both for a bit, I have to say that I like SPDs more. I like being able to walk in my cycling shoes. I also feel clipping both in and out of SPD is much more ingrained in me than with speedplays. I always miss my speedplay clipin once in every 10 times. But thats enough for me to get nervous sometimes out on the road bike.

As for feeling more connected, I must say that people should look at the Look X-Track pedals too. I use the Look En Rage pedals which are SPD compatible. The platform on those pedals is rock solid. Sure, its heavier but I think enduro pedals give that platform sensation that people claim SPDs don’t give on other pedals.

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So I googled around and came across some China-play pedals

Maybe someone wants to bravely try this and report back? :smiley:

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I use these on my only pair of road shoes. Works fine on the bike. Off the bike, it doesn’t feel like SPDs, but that’s expected.

The cleat bolt length is different than what comes with the cleats.

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I am very much going to give these a try. I have some nice road shoes with speed play cleats that I’m kinda keen to move away from. This might be a way to salvage them by adapting them to spd.

Anything I should be aware of when you use such an adapter? You mentioned it doesn’t feel like SPDs off the bike. Any other tips and/or thoughts?

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I will switch my roadbike over to SPD also, i will use a SPD + platform pedal. That way, with MTB shoes, you get a larger contact area, really makes the foot very stable on the pedal, maybe even more contact area than just the SPD-SL pedals. ALso makes anything off the bike a lot easier.

Seeing MTB and CX racers can output 1000’s of watts on SPD’s, there really should not be an issue for us. Do put your cleats as far back as possible!

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They don’t feel like SPDs just because the shoes don’t have the full rubber on them. I guess it’s more like road cleats (never used them), with the bulb in the front of the shoe and the heel real low.

The only tip, really, is to use the shorter bolts that come with it. Unlike SPD shoes, you’re going to bang into the carbon sole, if you don’t, and crack/scratch the sole.

I would also replace the adapters, when changing cleats. I don’t think the rubber bit lasts as long as a shoe’s rubber outer sole, if you walk around much.

There are also no cleat covers, AFAIK, so going on hardwood or a painted garage is probably not a good idea. The cleat seems to make contact easier with the flooring, than with a proper SPD shoe.

But, if you want road shoes with the SPD interface, I don’t have any problems with these. Power transfer/flex seems as good as my proper carbon sole’d SPD shoes. It’s probably lighter too, with less rubber.

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