For a long time, I was using standard flat pedals on my gravel bike. And I was OK with that until someone told me that I should try an SPD for improved pedaling efficacy. So I did but I did not like the way the pedals were blocking my feet from movement. Then I found out about Speedplay Frog pedals. And this was a revelation for me. But let start from the beginning…
When you are using the standard flat pedals your feet are moving freely. This is both good and bad. Good, because nothing is blocking you from executing your natural feet movement while pedaling. Bad, because with all that movement it is hard to pedal efficiently especially on a bumpy terrain (instead of putting all the power down you are thinking about not losing the touch with the pedals).
SPD pedals (and any other clip-in pedal) answers the peddling efficiency issue but at the same time make your feet locked from natural side to side movement. If you did a proper bike fitting and your knees are in good shape this should be no problem at all but in my case, none of those things happened. I was really struggling with finding the best position by myself. To make things worse, the left knee was not in good shape at all. I don’t know exactly if this is the direct cause, but soon after I switched to SPD pedals my meniscus broke apart. SPD, in my opinion, was not an option anymore for me so I had to look for something else. After long research, I found the solution: Speedplay Frog pedals.
In many ways, there are similar to the SPD pedals. You can use them with your current SPD shoes (you just need to replace SPD cleats for Speedplay ones) and you can walk with the cleats without any problems (which is very handy on a gravel bike). But in other ways, they are very different. Instead of a fixed lock, Speedplay uses a round locking mechanism that allows your feet to move freely from left to right. This puts much less pressure on your knees because your leg can find the more natural (your own) way of movement. The locking mechanism itself is quite similar (you just click in) and to unlock you also rotate your feet (but you have to rotate the feet a little bit more). The cleats mounting is also much less bothersome because you really do not have to worry about the right angle – just screw cleats tight and thanks to the round clicking mechanism your feet will naturally find its best position.
In terms of the lock itself, I did not find it to be any less reliable than an SPD one. The only real downside that I see with Speedplay pedals is that you can’t adjust the distance from the crankset (with SPD you just move the cleats left or right to achieve the desired position). With Speedplay Frog you just get the 54 mm spindle variant (although I think that you can try to find the different lengths of the spindle from other Speedplay pedals variants). Personally, I think that I could have a spindle with 57-58mm length but for sure, this is not a deal-breaker for me. For some, the real deal-breaker could be the price of the pedals. I have the cheapest Chrome-moly variant (which costs 105 dollars). Stainless steel one costs 135 dollars and a titanium version MSRP is a whopping 250 dollars (but it also weights the less – 206 g whereas stainless steel is 250 g and variant that I have: 255 grams).
For me, the Chrome-moly version is more than enough. It worked flawlessly for the last 12 months. The only thing you have to remember (but I think this is true to all clip-in pedals) is to clean both cleats and pedals on a regular basis. Because once they are filled with dirt and mud, the clipping mechanism may stop working properly (but, as Speedplay advertises their pedals, I believe this is still less of an issue than with SPD pedals).
So, should you buy them?
Like I said at the beginning: if you don’t have knee problems and you feel good with your click-in pedals then probably NO. But if you are struggling with pedals like SPD and/or feel some discomfort while using them then I sincerely recommend you buying a set of the cheapest Chrome-moly Speedplay frog pedals. You will be surprised with the difference that they will make to the overall comfort of your bike riding…
Pedały Speedplay Frog to świetne rozwiązanie dla każdego, kto męczy się ze sztywnym mocowaniem SPD i/lub ma problemy z kolanami. Dzięki swobodnemu ruchowi stopy pedałowanie jest bardziej naturalne. Speedplay Frog pasuje do każdego buta SPD więc wystarczy wymienić wkładkę, by z tego rozwiązania korzystać (i nie trzeba przy tym precyzyjnie ustawiać wkładek w bucie dla osiągnięcia wygodnej pozycji stopy, bo dzięki kołowemu mechanizmowi i swobodnemu ruchowi, stopa sama się ustawi we właściwym, naturalnym położeniu). Jedyne minus, jaki widzę to, oprócz oczywiście wysokiej ceny, brak możliwości szybkiej zmiany położenia pedałów na szerokość (musimy wymienić całą oś mocującą – standardowa jej długość to 54 mm).