Irrespective of the merits of Speedplay’s four-bolt Zero and X Series pedals themselves, fitting their flat-bottomed cleat is usually something of a faff. It requires thick, fiddly wedges to match the curvature of road shoe soles with the LOOK-pattern three-bolt mounting.
The obvious alternative is to opt for shoes with Speedplay-specific soles, which offer accurate installation and, by keeping the cleat close to the sole, reduce stack height. The problem with such soles is two-fold: they limit the wearer to riding with Speedplay pedals, and since the foot sits on a curved topsole they offer increased stack height as the cleat is moved away from a notional central position.
Northwave’s new Speedplay Adaptor System is designed to get around both problems by offering the same consistently low stack height throughout a range of fore-and-aft adjustment on a sole that also provides LOOK-pattern cleat compatibility.
The all-carbon sole of the Extreme Tech SBS shoe has two sets of perforations, one of which is for a plate provisioned with the three female threaded bosses that work with LOOK-style cleats. The other set comprises three slots, one in front of and the other two behind the first three. Blanking plugs fill the slots when the LOOK-pattern bosses are in use. Remove them via a flap in the topsole and the basis of the adaptor can be installed. This is an isoceles triangle-shaped plastic piece, pictured outside the sole, with aluminium threaded bosses moulded in situ to accept attachment screws.
Now comes the external component of the adaptor, which is in two parts. The first is a steel plate that houses the two frontal Speedplay cleat mounting bolts, while the latter is a plastic plate with stainless steel wear plate and curved upper (sole-side) surface shaped to fit the shoe sole and ensure consistent stack height through the adjustment range. Slots are provided in the plate to permit lateral adjustment of the cleat. Once the whole lot has been assembled, the cleat is held securely some 2.7mm closer to the foot, according to Northwave, than with Speedplay’s own adaptor wedges.
Complex? For sure; there are lots of small parts needing to be fitted together to make the whole. Effective? Assuming it does what is is supposed to, and it is surely fair to expect Northwave to have tested the sytem thoroughly, then it should prove an attractive alternative to Speedplay-specific soles and a good reason to buy Northwave’s Extreme shoe for anyone unsure of which pedal system to adopt.
Northwave Extreme Tech SBS shoe £279.99, sizes 41, 42, 43, 45, 48, 43.5, 44.5, 45.5, 42.5, three colours