Tag Archives | Specialized

Speedplay Light Action Pedals

Even though I’d been using Look pedals for years, I didn’t like the fact that my chances of clipping in were only 50%with a single sided pedal.  This was especially a problem if I was trying to clip in on a hill.  To top it off,  I’d developed a weird abberation in my stroke with my knee moving in circles rather than straight up and down. The result was increasing hip pain. My foot needed more rotation than the maximum 9º of float offered on Look’s red cleats.


Seriously, pink is not the reason I fell in love with these pedals although I did need a more friendly pedal system. Speedplay is the only manufacturer of a double-sided pedal, specifically for road use. Designed for recreational riders who weigh less than 175 pounds, The Light Action Pedal features a latch mechanism with lower tension for greater ease in clipping in and twisting out. Their pedals are affectionately called lollipops because they have a small, thin circular design which, according to Speedplay, allows for better cornering with its reduced stack height. Their competitors are quick to counter that the small, concentrated contact area of the pedal contributes to hot foot.

Speedplay has engineered the most adjustable pedal system on the market with a fore-aft extender base plate kit which provides an additional 2mm forward positioning and an especially generous 14 mm rearward positioning (which is great if you tend to have problems with hot foot.) Plus, they have leg length shim kits if you are one of those people who needs additional support.  If you have wider hips, or a wider “stance,” custom length spindles are available in  50mm, 56mm, 59mm and 65mm lengths in both the titanium and stainless versions of this pedal.

Because the latch mechanism is on the cleat, you can clip into either side of the pedal.  The down side is that there is no separate spring tension adjustment. And even though these are supposed to be light action pedals,  I had problems clipping in and out with my Specialized Torch shoes. The installation instructions caution against over tightening the screws since they can have the effect of tightening the spring adjustment;  while loosening the screw too much may simply cause the cleat to fall apart.

I did not have this problem when I installed new cleats on my S-Works shoes.

Speedplay cleats are more expensive because they’re made of metal and are at least twice as slow to wear, compared to the plastic competition offered by Look.   They require occasional dry lubrication when dirty and you notice it’s harder to clip in and out.  Use dry-type (Teflon or PTFE) lubricant such as Super-Lube Dry Film, RZ-50, DuPont Performance Dry, Liquid Wrench Dry Lube, Pro Gold or Blaster Products or you can get the SP brand of dry lube available from their website.

Speedplay cleats can attach to shoes with either a three or four bolt pattern.  Specific instructions, which can be difficult to understand, include a list of compatible cycling shoes and the necessary adapters (which are included) to keep the cleat properly conformed to the sole of the shoe for trouble free cycling.  I suspect that using  incorrect shims during the installation of my original set of cleats may have been the cause of my problem clipping in and out. Next time I’ll have the bike shop install them.

Speedplay pedals don’t have to be replaced, they are designed to be repaired.  The only maintenance required is greasing the pedal bearings every 2,000 miles or so (more frequently in dusty or dirty conditions). Greasing is easy with a built in grease port and handy grease gun (also available from their website).

I love these pedals.  I never fumble looking for the right side of the pedal when the light turns green.  My hip pain is gone and my knees are no long making circles during my pedal stroke. I can easily start my bike on a hill and even if I don’t clip in right away, my shoes do not slip on the pedal.

For an additional $10. extend the life of your cleat with coffee shop covers.  For an another $24.  you can purchase a “platformer”  a no-tools-required device that transforms your pedal into a traditional platform for use with street shoes.

Light action chrome-moly, stainless steel and titanium pedals are available  in red, blue, yellow and black.  Did I mention they also come in PINK?

Do Aching Feet Limit the Length of Your Ride ? Specialized BG S-Works Shoes Can Help Your Troubled Feet

Do you  rip off your shoes after a ride because of  hot foot or pain? If your feet have become the limiting factor on your rides, it may be time to step up to Road Snob quality.  Specialized has finally introduced their Tour De France quality  S-works shoe for women. Unlike previous versions for men, this shoe has two boa dials for complete adjustability both in the arch and forefoot, and the ankle and heel.

If you suffer from bunions, you know they deform the normal shape of the foot and require additional toe box room for comfort, especially after your feet warm up and begin to swell.  The boas provide the means to adjust the tightness of the shoe in tiny increments, even while cycling.  I actually leave the arch and forefoot boa completely open.

To help with hot foot, generous venting can be found  on the tongue,  toebox sides and even the bottom of the shoe.   The sole of these shoes has a stiffness rating of  12.0 and they are made from the same Specialized’s proprietary FACT (functional advanced composite technology) used to manufacture their bicycles.  This stiff, lightweight sole will help disperse the force evenly to the shoe in an effort to reduce hot spots. Each shoe weighs a mere 205 grams (under half a pound) and will facilitate a better spin thus relieving pressure on the soles of your feet as well.

The S-Works shoes contain the same features as all BG footwear like the Torch Shoes (reviewed earlier) including a longitudinal arch, varus wedge, adjustable forefoot shims and replaceable footbeds.

Specialized set the price tag of these shoes at a whopping $350., but they’ve engineered a pair of shoes that can be repaired as they break or wear out (besides just the footbeds.) So when the rubber on the heel becomes worn it just means the tread needs to be replaced.  Specialized created a set of internally recessed screws to access the tread from the inside of the shoe. If the monofilament lace breaks, it too can be replaced.  The outer shoe material can be easily cleaned with a wet rag to maintain a clean appearance.

Finally these shoes are designed to fit on any pedal system that accepts a three bolt pattern including Speedplay, Shimano SPD-SL, Look, and Time.

So if your feet are ruining your rides, treat them right and get them a pair of S-Works shoes.  If you try a pair on you’ll notice the difference immediately.  I did.

And yes, they come in a fabric bag.

Introducing the Road Snob Icon

With use, the various parts of your bicycle will begin to wear out.  As this occurs, you have two options:  The first is to replace the part with one of a similar quality,  the second is to upgrade.

Hence, the Road Snob:

You will see the Road Snob icon on reviews of the finer option.  Like the Thomson seat posts, stems and collars, or the Specialized S-Works shoes, items marked with the Road Snob Icon will reflect a certain quality, cost more — and often come in a fabric bag.

Specialized Footbeds and Torch shoes

Do you have a bunion or two? How about a Morton’s Neuroma?  Do your feet tend to swell when they get warm?  Does cycling give you numbness or pain in the bottom of your foot (also known as Hot Foot)?  Have you noticed that your arches aren’t what they used to be?  If, like me, foot issues plague you, it’s likely that the heels we wore (or are still wearing) are part of a bigger problem that I will not even attempt to address in this review.
What I will go out on a limb to tell you is that before you buy a pair of cycling shoes, you owe it to yourself to try a pair made by Specialized.

Specialized has teamed together with Andy Pruitt from the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine to develop shoes that are actually engineered for cycling.  Specialized manufactures the only cycling shoe on the market with a patented arch support system.   They spent considerable time and money in their body geometry lab to deserve my accolades.

Specialized understands that feet, like people, are all different.  They even recognize that your left foot might be different than your right, and came up with a diagnostic tool to help determine the correct level of support.  Their “arch-o-meter,” is a big heat sensitive pad that you stand barefoot on, for a minute or so, and then compare the impressions from your feet to a chart, which suggests which level (there are three) of support you need for your shoes.  You can use this heat sensitive pad to get a relative idea of whether you need red, blue or green footbeds. However, if you haven’t ever had a bike fitting, then now might be the perfect opportunity to have a trained BG bike fitter evaluate the correct level of support for your feet.

The three levels of Specialized’s BG (Body Geometry) footbeds attempt to further improve pedaling efficiency with these key components:

  • Longitudinal Arch-This keeps your foot supported, like a board, for even and direct pressure throughout the pedal stroke.
  • Metatarsal Button- A “button” placed under the metatarsals alleviates compression of nerves and arteries that occur naturally, when the foot flattens during cycling. This button disperses the pressure that can cause hot foot from the additional flow of blood to the area.
  • BG Shims- These plastic shims are included with every footbed purchase and help to further customize support when there is evidence of forefoot varus or valgus.

Additionally, all BG footbeds have ventilation holes under the areas of the arch and toes.

Women’s BG Torch Road Shoe

Cost: $115.00

This is Specialized’s mid-level shoe that still retains their BG patented design.  It has a wide enough toe box for my ever-growing bunions. The shoe weighs less than others I’ve worn (Sidi, Pearl Izumi and Shimano), but is still heavier than the more expensive BG models with full carbon soles.

The Torch’s construction is solid with a stiff injection molded sole, two Velcro closures and one “M lock SL buckle” for secure closure.  The shoes can be easily loosened with a simple click to the red button, even while cycling, but, the M lock and SL buttons sometimes get a little sticky while trying to get fully in and out of the shoe.

The shoes are designed with ventilation holes on the underside (in front of and behind the cleat attachment points) as well as with mesh areas on the synthetic uppers, which ventilate the feet and help minimize swelling.  Specialized’s Torch Road shoes fit both SPD and 3-bolt cleat systems and are available in black with crimson accents, or white with lavender accents.

Prior to wearing these shoes, I rode with custom orthotics, designed for walking, (not cycling) and suffered from hot foot and foot fatigue.

I’ve been wearing the Women’s BG Torch shoes for the past five months with the blue (level two) footbeds and no orthotics.  Initially, I noticed a decrease in pain, as well less Hot Foot.  Over time, the pain returned suggesting the need for footbed replacement.

My BG bike fitter suggested that since my footbeds were worn both in the heel and metatarsal button but not the longitudinal arch, perhaps it was not making sufficient contact with the shoe while pedaling.  I’ve since moved to the +++ level (green) insoles for maximum support.  Additionally, I have considerable varus forefoot angulation, which significantly decreased my biomechanical efficiency and contributed to a loss of power.  He added shims to the insides of my shoes for additional support.  Consequently, my legs are not as wobbly and I’m transferring more energy into the pedal making me more efficient and faster.

These are the best cycling shoes I have ever worn.  My feet stay cool and comfortable.   However, for even more comfort, and a lighter weight shoe, I would strongly consider the women’s BG Pro Road Shoe ($260.) or the Women’s BG S-Works Road shoe ($350.) if either are within your budget. If not, try adding a pair of footbeds to your current road shoes to see if you can extend their life and make them more comfortable.

As a side note, my son’s foot pain persisted with 5 different pairs of cycling shoes, until he got a pair of the Men’s S-Works Road Shoe.  Now he consistently reports that his feet have remained pain free.

The added cost of these higher end shoes is significant, but, how often do you expect to buy a new pair of cycling shoes, anyway?

Some Hanky Panky has forced Me to Ask again

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