I Saved £300 On These ‘Speedplay’ Titanium Pedals

For those of us with deep pockets, short arms and a Yorkshireman’s persuasion when it comes to spending money, buying Chinese bike components from brands you’ve never heard of has a beguiling appeal.

Because they’re cheap.

Well, they’re meant to be.

And in this post, we’re looking at these pedals. Which are knock off Speedplays.

Except they’re not really, because Speedplay hasn’t made pedals like these, with most of the body missing, for millenia. Certainly not since Wahoo bought them and became a bit litigatey.

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Speedplays, like most things in cycling, prompt a visceral tribal response. Love and hate attracted in equal measure.

They’re the only road pedal I’ve ridden these past 10 years. In fact the only road pedal I’ve ever ridden. Maybe I should try a cheaper mainstream alternative.

But their arrival into my life in 2013, along with the new bike attached to them, solved a long-term knee pain. So even if this is more correlation than causation, this lady’s not for turning. At least until Shimano swing in and sponsor this channel.

Anyways, with a new gravel bike in the post, I needed some new pedals. So I bought these cheaper, faux-Speedplay, alternatives, the:

“Lollipop Speedplay Zero road bike pedal titanium alloy track sprint special bicycle pedal clamp Pedal accessories bike pedals”

Which is catchy.

Chinese pedals in the box

I’ve tried to come up with my own alternative brand name, but each one is borderline racist.

So let’s go with Cheeseplays.

Who makes them?

I have no idea. It seems you can buy them from a number of sellers on Aliexpress. The vendor I chose, QGGS bike store, no longer exists. So that’s a good sign.

As mentioned, they’re a copy of the Speedplay Zero Pave pedals – originally issued to pro teams for the filthy spring classics and then released to the baying public on the first wave of gravel enthusiasm.

In a genius move, bordering on jedi, Speedplay removed some of the material from the pedal, basically the plastic lolliplop, and sold it for more money.

Chinese Speedplay copies

think the official Speedplay price was £270 in olden day money, which is, as they say round these parts, a fair chunka change.

The steel axle version of these Cheeseplay pedals, at the time, cost £39.56 before shipping.

Get this though. In a shock move, I paid £13.29 more to get the ones with titanium shafts.

Release the kraken, you stingey Yorkshireman.

This wanton spendspaff took the cost, for pedals, cleats and adapter plates – sorry, transition sockets – to just under £53. With shipping, the total came to £63.47.

First Impressions

Like all products bought from AliExpress, the packaging gets a mention. And that mention is good. The pedals came well protected by a tight sheaf of inflatable sausage wrap, ensconced in black plastic sheeting. Like all good dead bodies.

Chinese pedal packaging

Within said packaging, the pedals, and cleats, were entombed in a nice little presentation box, cunningly labelled, ‘Pedal’. Singular.

But rejoice. There were two of them, with the same number of cleats and thingummys that allow you, me, wunce, to fit four-screw Speedplay-style cleats to a standard three hole setup found ont’ bottom of most road shoes.

Chinese pedals with cleats

Which includes my goldenboy Sidebike cycling shoes, which are the subject of another post.

The pedals seemed well made, as far as one can tell by picking up and fiddling with them. The pedal platform, such as it is, rotated around the spindle with a well-greased squeege. Which I took to be a good thing.

The claimed weight was 144g for the pair… which I confirmed to be accurate.

This, combined with my deep metallurgical knowledge, allows me to believe that these pedals are, indeed, possess-ed of titanium SHAFTS.

Installing the Pedals

To be fair, most pedals are fairly easy to install, particularly if you have a big johnny pedal wrench.

The Cheeseplays don’t even require said grand johnson. Instead it’s a hex wrench up the back passage, as no bike mechanic said ever.

Fitting the pedals

A few moments later and the pedals are on.

One observation whilst we are setting up.

Unlike the original official Speedplay versions of the Zero Pave pedals, these ones don’t have the little plastic cover, secured by a small screw, that you would remove to squeeze in fresh grease.

Original Speedplay grease port

Instead it looks like a big flathead aperture that, frankly, I’m not opening unless I absolutely have to.

Chinese pedal close up

This may not be a big issue. New Speedplays don’t require any re-greasing. My older ones have lasted yonks with plenty of abuse and a distinct lack of loving maintenance.

Moving to the cleats, these require a bit more effort. Or at least a few more screws.

The Cleats

Speedplay cleat discussions feel like the sort of thing that causes opposing cyclist camps to ‘tribe up’ and bear arms.

They are either amazingly adjustable, allowing you to ‘dial in’ your perfect foot position, or a massive faff. Pick a side and grab your nearest chain whip.

As alluded to earlier, the four hole Cheeseplay cleats, like their Speedplay brethren, need a thin plastic ‘conversion slice’ to attach them to the standard three holes found in your common or garden bike shoe sole. Said slice fixing is where you set the fore and aft position of the cleat. Aye aye Captain.

Chinese pedals adaptor plates

The actual metal cleat sits on top of the slice and are foot specific. Make sure they’re the right way round to ‘welcome the pedal’.

You use the side to side grooves to set your port and starboard foot position.

I favour the wider stance, because, when I’m not in camp naval mode, I like to ride ‘em cowboy style.

Also because the greater Q factor (look it up) seems to suit where my knee wants to go naturally during a pedal stroke.

So I position my cleats right up to the inside edge of each shoe.

Fitting the cleats

To pacify the massive faff brigade, I do agree that two layers can be annoying. If the slice screws underneath come loose, you’ll need to undo the entire fandango to get to them, even if it’s just for a quick tighten.

The same applies to official Speedplay cleats though, so not a specific criticism of the Cheeses. Indeed, I’ve had this more with my Speedplay cleats than the Fromage ones, albeit we can’t call my sample size significant.

To summarise, for me, Speedplay cleats are generally acceptable but sometimes can be a royal pain in the arse. Just like my children.

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My Thoughts After 12 Months of Riding

So, some brain-chaff on the Cheeseplays after an extended period of in-depth testing. Or, as usual, just riding about a bit.

Let’s start with clipping in, where the experience has been mixed.

Initially using the supplied box fresh cleats, the connection was not very secure. Frequently my foot would pop off the pedal, particularly when I was deploying Thor’s hammer.

Thor’s tiny hammer that he uses for xylophone recitals.

Riding with Chinese speedplay pedeals

This did resolve itself after a couple of rides but for a time I did think either the pedals or the cleats were useless.

The pedals remain quite difficult to clip in to.

To start with this was perhaps due to the new springs on the new cleats needing to loosen up a bit.

Longer term it seems more to do with there being not much pedal to attach to.

With the Cheeseplays lacking the plastic wedges that turn them into ‘ickle lollipops, there isn’t much to guide your foot into the right orientation. When applying the force to engage the cleat, it’s easy to be out of alignment because the pedal platform is teensy.

Titanium pedals on bike

Once I’m in, the pedal-cleat connection then moves to the other end of the security spectrum. The Cheesy-Ps need a concerted twist to disengage my foots.

So I’d suggest these are not the pedals to prompt a newish rider to switch from flat pedals to clipless.

Finally on the fascinating subject of clipless connections, in addition to the supplied cleats, the Cheeseplays also work with official Speedplay ones. Well, at least knackered, 8-year old varieties with a side order of neglect. So there’s that.

Performance

Prepare for a flaccid endorsement. The Cheeseplays have been fine. They do a good job of pretending to be Speedplays.

To be fair, all of my Speedplay excitement, which springs entirely from the part they played in eradicating knee pain over 11 years ago, has been spent. I am a loose and floppy bagpipe.

If I bought a new set of official ones, I doubt I’d make ‘content’ about them.

Using the titanium pedals

I’ve found them comfortable to ride in … with … on. They have a good amount of float so my knee can follow its natural Swayze-hips path. The ultra-light titanium twiddle sticks undoubtedly give me an extra few percentage points on a climb.

My only reservation is that I’m not as much a huge fan of the pave-style design.

For me, the pared back pedal body doesn’t seem to provide as stable a platform for deploying my power cannons. Particularly when I am out of the saddle, sprinting for the win or dancing up an Alp, my feet sometimes feel like they’re rolling off the side or front quarter of the pedal.

It’s not as noticeable when seated, but something to be aware of from a foot stability perspective.

Wear And Tear

I will sheepishly confess that whilst the Cheeseplays have been installed on Ribble CGR for nearly a year, they haven’t seen the volume of winter use necessary for a proper longevity test. But then none of my reviews, if we can call them that, contain any proper testing.

Chinese Speedplays pedal test

The pedals have definitely seen wet rides on assorted rural cack-groads. And I’ve certainly not spit, polished and dried them afterwards. They’ve been left to grot.

Chinese pedals wear and tear

And they’re holding up well so far. Signs of damage are minimal. The pedal helm still spins around the shaft with a nice slo-mo, well-greased gloopiness.

So all the signs are good. If you want more rigorously achieved insights, again I’ll direct you to the warlock of all things Chinese bikery, Trace Velo, and his video on a similar set of pedals.

Value

This comes entirely down to the lens you choose to perv through. If you erect your tent firmly in Camp Speedplay, then these knock offs, at just over £60, are great value. The standard Wahoo ones, with the heavier chromoly spindle, go for £135. The titanium-spindled NANOs will set you back £380. Consulting Fibonacci, I’ve determined that’s a lot more than 60 squid.

pedals on the bike

The downside is that the design isn’t as good as the official ones. There’s probably a reason that Speedplay stopped production of the stripped back Paves. And as I’ve alluded, these are not the pedals with which to pop your Speedplay-style cherry. Try the official ones first and get the Cheeseplays further down the line, as I’ve done.

If you’re looking at the pedal landscape more broadly, the value story is less persuasive. Standard Shimano SPD-SLs go for around £40. The 105 version, whilst RRPed at over £100, can be bought for £70. I’m not the pedal expert but the Look range seems to occupy the same ball bearing park.

If you’re not an established Speedplay user now, I can’t see the value argument being one to switch you straight to the knock offs. There are cheaper offerings from mainstream manufacturers that offer a more user-friendly route in to the world of clipless.


And with those magnificent insights joyously ejaculated, we’re done.

I’ve got other articles. Here’s one about my shiny gold shoes. They’re also AliExpress spec. Go read it.

Or not.

Monty - Sportive Cyclist
Monty is an enthusiastic road cyclist with only moderate talent. He started Sportive Cyclist in 2013 to record the journey to his first 100 mile ride, the RideLondon 100. Over time the blog has expanded to include training advice, gear reviews and road cycling tales, all from the perspective of a not-very-fit MAMIL. Since you're here, Monty would also like you to check out his YouTube channel. Also, Monty really needs to stop referring to himself in the third person.

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