There... We've got that out of the way. It's undeniable that the first aspect of Speedplay Zero Aero Titanium pedals you notice are the dimples. They're everywhere. They're beautiful and they definitely set this set of Speedplays apart from anything the San Diego company has produced thus far.
They kind of look like a normal Speedplay pedal, they kind of work like a normal Speedplay pedal and they're light like most Speedplay pedals... Except they're very different.
Think of a fairing on a racing motorbike. It may seem purely cosmetic (an obvious place to put logos, etc) but it serves an important purpose in terms of aerodynamics. Rather than air move through the frame and over the engine, thus creating drag that slows the machine, the fairing allows air to flow over this area. There is considerable heat build up but that's the trade off for being more aero.
Apply that same logic to a pedal system – albeit without the heat buildup – and you have the Zero Aero Titanium pedals. That's where the dimples come into play.
Speedplay's Zero pedal system is already one of the most aerodynamic on the market thanks to its design that allows the pedal to actually sit inside the cleat, thus reducing drag. Now go a step further and create a cleat which boasts a curved shape, complete with those aforementioned dimples and a pedal that now sports a fairing on its underside.
The 'dimple theory' follows the idea that a dimpled surface creates smoother airflow, much like a golf ball. It has been utilised with success by Zipp in the manufacture of their performance carbon wheelsets and is now recognised by many cyclists as a technique offering significant benefits when it comes to aerodynamics.
In a nutshell, the dimples substantially reduce drag by creating a 'turbulent boundary layer' as air passes over the surface of the pedal, which reduces the wake. Less wake equals less drag. This aerodynamic factor has been verified in wind tunnel testing; drag reduction is the most important contribution of the dimples.
The key in the case of Speedplay's pedals, is that the curved shape of the pedal, combined with the dimples employed on the surface of the pedal, combine to reduce drag by effectively acting in the same way a golf ball does during its trajectory. Air is given more 'energy' as it passes over a surface, so to speak, and doesn't cling onto the surface of the pedal for as long - thus making it more 'slippery'.
A major feature of the Speedplay Zero Aero Titanium – when compared to a regular Speedplay pedal – is the addition of this dimpled 'pedal fairing'. It allows for smoother airflow under the pedal, saving the rider enough watts to be the chosen by Sir Bradley Wiggins in his quest for the Hour Record.
The 2012 Tour de France champion and Olympic track and time trial gold medalist set a new record of 54.526km on June 7, 2015, at the Lee Valley Olympic Velodrome in London. Enough said.
Speedplay co-founder and inventor Richard Byrne believes the Zero Aero pedal provided Wiggins with approximately a minute's advantage in his pursuit of the hour record – a significant saving and one that should appeal to those looking for precious seconds in time trials and triathlons.
And given the propensity of track riders to be exacting with their equipment choices and settings, the Zero Aero is a good option according to Speedplay because it allows, 'rotational float to be precisely micro-adjusted to the exact range needed or set in a fixed-position anywhere within the 15-degree adjustment range'.
Even with this aerodynamic curved design that features the 'pedal fairing', stack height is a minimal 8.5mm (when used with the 4-hole mounting option). For those needing to go with a 3-hole mount, stack height is 11.5mm. With the 3-hole mount, the additional required baseplate also features the same dimpled shape as the rest of the pedal system.
The downside is that you give up the double-sided entry that has become a hallmark of Speedplay pedals – one side now sports the dimpled fairing. And in terms of price they're a dignificant commitment – there's every chance you'll be keeping these pedals for quite some time however, given the pedigree and reputation they've already garnered.
For those wanting a more value-oriented option, the Speedplay Zero Aero pedal is also available in a stainless steel version; they don't give up much in terms of weight compared to their Titanium cousins and their aero benefits are identical. They just lighten your wallet as much.
Weight is a tiny 161g for the pedals only, with cleats weighing 122g, making the complete pedal system just 283g. For the stainless steel version, pedals weigh 213g for the pair, with complete system weight coming in at 335g.
To get yourself onto a pair check out Bike Bug.