Speedplay's Zero Aero Walkable cleats solve one of the system's biggest drawbacks: protecting them from wear and making it considerably easier to walk from your bike to the coffee shop counter without ending up on your face.
Speedplay pedals are controversial beasts. Many riders (and I'm one of them) love them for being light, double-sided and, in the case of the Zero, for their adjustable float. However, despite liking them overall, reviewer Dan Joyce wasn't impressed with some aspects, notably the cleats' tendency to get bunged up with dirt and the overall need for ongoing maintenance.
Dirt isn't the only problem with the original Speedplay Zero cleats. Their aluminium outer plate wears quickly if you walk on it, or even if you just touch it down frequently, stopping at lights while commuting for example. And walking itself is more awkward than with any other system I've used because those aluminium plates are slippery on many surfaces.
Wearing out, say, a Look Keo cleat isn't a very big deal; they're only a tenner a pair. A pair of Speedplay Zero cleats is £40, so you really don't want to have to replace them too often.
By putting a curved, dimpled plastic cover over the cleat mechanism, Speedplay solves some of these problems.
However, Speedplay hasn't just added a cover to the existing Zero cleats (though you can buy Walkable Cleat Covers for the original cleats too – for £23.99). The construction of the cleat has changed, with a steel outer plate replacing the aluminium one, giving the covers a lip to grab so they stay in place.
And they work well. For a start, walking is much easier. Sure, you still wouldn't want to deliberately jog up a mountain, Chris Froome stylee, but the waddle into the coffee shop is a lot more secure.
It's also much harder for dirt to get in, thanks to the included Cleat Buddy plugs, which fit securely into the cleat's pedal hole to seal out the dirt.
Speedplay's other claim about these cleats is that they improve aerodynamics. They've got the streamlined shape and dimpled surface we've become familiar with from aero components such as Zipp wheels, but without a wind tunnel it's impossible to say how much effect they have. My guess is that there'll be a tiny improvement when coasting, but when you're pedalling you're dirtying the air enough with your flailing feet that it'll make less difference.
With the extra features, it's not surprising that Walkable Cleats are more expensive than regular Zero cleats: £60 vs £42.50 at RRP, £54 vs £30 or so if you shop around. The increased cost is worth it if you're replacing your Zero cleats anyway, as you no longer have to faff with cleat covers to walk around. I wouldn't immediately rush out and buy them, though, unless you really need to be able to walk in your cycling shoes. If you're about to buy Speedplay pedals, then you should definitely spend the extra for Walkable cleats rather than the standard version; they make Speedplays much easier to live with off the bike.
Much-improved cleat makes walking easier and reduces clogging problems
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Speedplay Zero Aero Walkable Cleats
Size tested: Fits Zero Pedals and zero Aero Pedals Only
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
They're for Speedplay Zero pedal users who want to be able to walk more comfortably and safely when off the bike.
Speedplay says: "Speedplay's new Walkable™ Cleat technology for Zero pedals sets a new standard for user-friendly, off-the-bike functionality. Speedplay's Zero Aero Walkable™ Cleats are the first truly walkable™ cleats for road pedals. The integrated, rubberized covers stay on the cleats while you are riding. When walking, the covers improve traction and protect the cleats from wear. Additionally, the thin, contoured cleat profile allows for a more natural gait and makes walking in road shoes much less awkward.
In addition to these benefits, Cleat Buddies are handy plugs included with cleat sets for use when walking in dirty conditions. Cleat Buddies prevent debris contamination by fitting into the cleat's center cavity. When you are ready to ride, Cleat Buddies can be easily removed for riding and conveniently snap together to fit in a pocket or bag.
The Zero Aero Walkable™ Cleat's fully streamlined cleat profile with dimpled surface further improves the aerodynamics of the Zero Pedal System."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Grippy, rubberized tread covers the cleat for improved traction
Durable cover material is resistant to wear and will not scuff floors
Thin, contoured cleat profile makes walking easier and more fluid
Zero Aero Walkable™ Cleats are streamlined to reduce drag and are compatible with all models of Zero Pedal Systems
Fits all standard 3-Hole and 4-Hole shoes
Replacement Zero Aero Walkable™ Cleat Covers and Cleat Buddies are available separately
Cleat Weight with Cover
3-hole: 138g per pair
4-hole: 100g per pair
Everything's tidily moulded, machined or stamped.
They work as well as regular Speedplay cleats, and you can walk in them too.
They're expensive cpmpared to either standard Zero cleats or the cleats for other clipless pedal systems. The extra isn't silly for the function and features, but you can't call them a bargain.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Extremely well. I no longer dread having to get off and walk at a café stop or for a mechanical.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Being able to walk more safely.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Speedplay Zero Aero Walkable Cleats do a great job of making it easier to walk if you use Speedplay pedals. They're a big improvement on the previous notoriously slippery design, and keep out crud too. On function, they score 9, but they're not cheap, which pulls the score down a point.
About the tester
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.