The lollipop design blueprint of the Speedplay pedal concept is easily one of the most recognisable silhouettes when it comes to the best road bike pedals. Boasting a dual-sided clip-in design, myriad cleat adjustability and ridiculously low weights the pedals quickly garnered a cult following among weight-weenies and WorldTour teams alike where they served riders such as Fabian Cancellara, Cadel Evans and Taylor Phinney. For 2021, they’ll adorn the bikes of EF Education-Nippo and Canyon-SRAM Racing.
The biggest news in Speedplay’s history came when it rebranded to Wahoo Speedplay after the American tech giant purchased it in 2019 for an undisclosed amount. Since the change over ownership, Wahoo has tweaked and simplified the product line-up with four distinct pedal options – the Comp, Zero, Aero and Nano pictured here. A fifth model is slated to join the line-up in summer this year in the form of dual-sided power meter pedals, the Wahoo Speedplay Powrlink Zero.
In terms of the new Wahoo Speedplay line-up, the company has focussed on refining and tweaking the existing hardware to ensure better performance, longevity and ease of use. We’ve been sampling the Wahoo Speedplay Nano pedals for the past three weeks and have come away feeling largely impressed by the advanced levels of adjustability and overall performance.
Design and aesthetics
To those who’ve cut their teeth using pedal stock from Look and Shimano, the Wahoo Speedplays will come as a bit of a shock to the system – both in terms of design and application. They certainly are peculiar looking in the traditional sense but intriguing pedals nonetheless featuring a minimalist aesthetic that many pundits have likened to a lollipop.
These particular pedals, the Wahoo Speedplay Nanos, are the company’s flagship model and feature a combination of titanium and carbon-fibre hardware designed to keep weight to an absolute minimum – in this case, 85g per pedal (170g a pair, actual). Visually, the pedal is characterised by round stainless steel plates that bookend a carbon-fibre pedal body that spins on a titanium spindle. These plates are screwed into the body and designed in a way that not only helps reduce wear and tear but also fosters better clip-in performance, too.
The maker’s name – a Wahoo-embossed logo – is located centrally on each side of the pedal which has helped bring a sense of identity and boosted the visual clout together with a contrasting amalgam of super-lightweight materials and textures. The Wahoo logo also serves as a means to tell the left and right pedal apart from each other, very clever indeed.
The biggest improvement Wahoo set to address with its new Speedplay pedals was to reduce customer maintenance. To achieve this the company looked at ways to increase the durability of the pedal and promote an easier clip-in action – this was established by cutting away and replacing the plastic body with stainless steel. The previous version was prone to grease leakages so a new three-seal bearing system was integrated into the axle and tested on a million cycle bearing rig to ensure optimal performance. Wahoo has also binned the wrench-flat design of the previous version for Allen key retention.
As we’ve come to expect from this particular pedal setup, the Wahoo Speedplays are dual-sided in application, which has always been a big selling point as they’re the only road pedals on the market that offer this functionality. Unlike traditional systems, the retention mechanism resides in the cleat itself and not the pedal, and attaches to the sole with four bolts – though they’re still compatible with the more traditional three-bolt system. An adaptor base plate and shim inserts are provided in the box to ensure the best fit for your shoe’s sole.
With Wahoo’s improvements, two cleat standards have been issued which will play nicely with previous pedals (they’re backwards compatible with all earlier Speedplay Zero models) but not the other way around. There’s a standard-tension black cleat for the Nano, Aero and Zero and an easy-tension grey cleat for the Comp – both options come with a walkable cleat cover complete with rubberised texture for extra traction. The new cleat system still offers the same three-axis adjustability as before: fore-aft, rotational free float and side-to-side. This broad range of cleat adjustability has made it a popular choice for riders with knee and bike setup problems as small tweaks can easily be carried out.
In terms of performance, the Wahoo Speedplay pedals possess the lowest profile in the segment with a stack height of 11.5mm and, while this might mean lowering your saddle height a touch, the upshot is better cornering clearance. The lower profile has also been put through a series of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) testing protocols which revealed a saving of 22 seconds on a 40km time trial at 40km/h against the Look Keo pedal.
Our time testing the Wahoo Speedplay Nano pedals has been limited to just a couple of rides but that’s been more down to me obsessing over setting things up correctly than anything else. As a long-time Look pedal disciple, the Nano pedals – particularly the cleat system – represented a significant challenge but the more I played around with the pedals and cleats the more I realised how deep down the rabbit hole you can go when it comes to the level of adjustability. Tailoring float, of which there are 15-degrees, is simple thanks to the heel-in, heel-out limit screws but the big win with this system is the lack of cleat self-centring within the pedal which promotes a natural pedalling rhythm and position.
I won’t lie, the Wahoo Speedplays will take a few more rides to get everything dialled in perfectly but in terms of performance, ergonomics and durability the longterm benefits look positive. In terms of pricing, the Wahoo Speedplay Nanos pictured here are bracketed in the upper end of the pricing spectrum at $449.99/£379.99/€449.99 but there are three other pedals to choose from (Comp $149.99/£134.99/€149.99, Zero $229.99/£199.99/€229.99 and Aero $279.99/£239.99/€279.99) should you want something a little more affordable.
We’ll be putting the Speedplay Nanos to the test against the segment’s best road bike pedals soon so be sure to look out for it in the coming months.
Tech Specs: Wahoo Speedplay Nano pedals
- Price: $449.99/£379.99/€449.99
- Weight: 85g, (170g a pair, actual)
- Material: Titanium, stainless steel, carbon fibre
- Retention: Allen key (6mm)
- Float: 15-degrees