First Impressions: Speedplay SYZR Pedals

Update: Speedplay has published a SYZR quick start set-up guide which you can read here.

Speedplay‘s SYZR pedals were in development for so long that many riders–myself included–wondered if the unique pedals would ever make it to market. With claims of road-worthy power transfer and superior mud-clearing ability, the San Diego-based company’s pedals achieved a near-mythical status. Then, in 2015, the wait was finally over when the SYZRs officially hit the shelves.

SYZR pedals pair

The SYZR may look like your standard off-road clipless pedal, but the design is anything but ordinary. For starters, Speedplay reversed the pedals’ latch mechanisms–SYZRs utilize a pivoting front latch instead of pivoting rear latch. According to Speedplay, this new latch design reduces the likelihood of accidental release when pulling hard on the pedals (because you no longer pull up against the release mechanism). Then there are the cleats. Speedplay threw convention out the window, and moved the pivot mechanism directly inside the cleat, enabling micro-adjustable float adjustment.

Like the company’s road pedals, SYZRs are available with three spindle options–chrome moly ($165), stainless steel ($199), and titanium ($389). All three models feature 55 mm spindles, but spindles are also available separately in 50 mm, 53 mm, 59 mm, and 65mm lengths. Despite their somewhat beefy appearance, the SYZRs are reasonably light. My stainless steel pedals came in one gram under the claimed 312 gram weight, with the cleats weighing 65 grams. By comparison, Crank Brothers‘ Candy 7 pedals are 320 grams, and Shimano‘s Deore XT SPDs tip the scales at 343 grams. While the SYZRs’ cleats are on the large side, I didn’t encounter any incompatibilities with shoes from Five Ten, Louis Garneau, and Pearl Izumi.

Due to the SYZR’s pivoting front latch, clipping-in requires a different motion compared to SPD-style pedals. Instead of the usual heel-down action, you enter the Speedplays with a toe-down/forward motion. If you’ve used the company’s Frog clipless pedals, the feel is somewhat similar. I found it easiest to clip-in with the pedal positioned at the 12-o-clock position, taking advantage of the pedal stroke’s natural forward motion to engage the cleat. The big difference between the Frogs and SYZRs, though, is the latter’s tactile feedback and adjustable tension. Even when set up with easy release tension, there’s no mistaking the distinctive click that accompanies clipping into the SYZRs.

Riding SYZRs for the first time reveals what is probably the pedal system’s greatest asset: superior power transfer. The SYZR’s cleat/pedal interface is 100% metal-on-metal, and unlike conventional MTB clipless pedals, the SYZR doesn’t rely on contact with the sole to transmit power. As a result there’s no play between the shoe and pedal–gone is the fore/aft and side-to-side slop typically found on off-road pedals. I’ve ridden thousands of miles on Speedplay’s road pedals (Light Actions, Zeros), and the SYZRs easily offer the same levels of stability and power transfer.

SYZR exploded view

Like Speedplay’s other clipless pedals, SYZRs feature non-recentering float. Setting the inner and outer limits is easy thanks to the cleats’ twin 2 mm screws. Because all float takes place inside the cleats, there’s no wear to the pedals’ retention latches. And when it’s time to clip out, the cleats’ ceramic rollers ensure a consistent release in all conditions. Initially I was concerned that the complex cleat design would seize up in mud and snow, but after more than four months of consistent, predictable performance, the SYZRs have erased any skepticism.

The SYZRs do have a couple of minor quirks that are worth mentioning. When you unclip, the cleat remains at that particular release angle. If you have the outer release position set to a very wide angle, your foot will need to match that angle when clipping in. This is really only noticeable if you set the cleats up with an extreme, heels-out position. Conversely, if you set the SYZRs up with minimal outward float, your exit and entry positions will be nearly identical. Additionally, because the SYZR’s front latch is hinged, you could–in theory–unclip in certain situations such as descending very rough or technical trails while riding with your toes pointed downward (I’ve yet to experience this in nearly five months of riding the SYZRs).

With its direct power transfer, micro-adjustable float, and open architecture design, Speedplay’s SYZR pedal is ideal for gravel and dirt road riding. No longer do I have to sacrifice stability and power transfer for walkability. In the past, I’d sometimes avoid dirt roads or trails rather than risk clogging my road pedals’ cleats (or turning an ankle due to the shoes’ slippery soles). Not so with the SYZRs–I can go for a ride and not have to worry whether I’ve got the right pedals/shoes for unplanned exploration (or just walking into the convenience store for a drink or snack). Any product that simplifies–and at the same time, improves–my riding experience is a winner in my book.

Disclosure: Speedplay provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.

23 thoughts on “First Impressions: Speedplay SYZR Pedals

    1. No accidental releases
      No guessing whether you’re clipped in or not
      Easier entry/exit in mud, snow, ice
      More solid pedal/cleat interface (no rocking of shoe)

      1. I took my first ride on these today, very nice! Although sometimes my right shoe clips in at too much of an angle (toe-out) and I have to unclip, rotate my foot, and clip in again. Do you ever experience that?

        1. That hasn’t been an issue for me. You may need to experiment with the float adjustment screws.

      2. I had an accidental release the other day. I tried to lift the front wheel, and in doing so, applied forward pressure on the left pedal. My foot came out and I hit my shin on the pedal. Made me a bit less confident. Otherwise they are very stable and I like them, although the Frogs were easier for me to get into.

        1. Ouch ! That doesn’t sound like something that builds confidence in using the pedals. They seem very pricey -would you buy them again if you could do it over again ?

          1. Yes, I need the longer pedal spindles (65mm) that you can get with Syzr but not with Frogs anymore. Also, I applied quite a lot of forward pressure, not a normal situation for me, and I have the pedals on low release tension.

          2. Forward (Uphill) pressure on the pedal with low resistance to release seems like a likely setting for mountain biking. Never had a pedal release unexpectedly and never want to !

  1. The road pedals need to be re-greased regularly,(especially after a wet ride) are these the same or do they have better sealing?

    1. They appear to be better sealed than the road pedals. I still grease them at regular intervals, but it’s less frequent than with the road pedals.

  2. Do you still think these are the most ideal gravel pedals after a winter of riding ?
    Have you ever experienced any trouble clipping in ? How does the MKS UBS compare or differ ?

    1. The short answer is, yes. I don’t think there’s a better clipless pedal out there for gravel riding.

      I can recall only one instance where I wasn’t able to clip into the SYZRs on the first attempt. After walking through a mix of snow, ice, mud, and fine gravel (the consistency of kitty litter), it took 2-3 attempts to clip into the left pedal (I clipped into the right pedal on the first try).

      My chief complaint with the MKS’ USB pedals is that they became increasingly difficult to clip into. I don’t know if it was due to the cleats or the cleat guides wearing, but it was noticeable enough that it made switching to the SYZRs a no-brainer.

      For me, personally, I do best with pedals that offer unrestricted float and provide a very stable shoe/pedal interface. The SYZRs fulfill those two requirements, and they do really well in gritty conditions found here in Colorado.

        1. I remember reading James’ review and being surprised by his findings. That said, I don’t use SYZRs for ultra-technical MTB riding (I run Crank Brothers’ Candy pedals, because that’s what I’m used to). In hundreds of miles of dirt/gravel riding, I’ve never been unable to clip out of the SYZRs (and that includes plenty of snow, ice, and mud). In my experience, it’s extremely important to keep the SYZRs’ cleats lubed for easy entry/exit. While the official Speedplay dry lube is good, I prefer a silicone spray lube as it tends to attract less dirt/grit (spray the cleat sparingly, wait a few moments, wipe off any excess, allow to dry overnight). Hope this helps.

          1. Yes it does help. I have Speedplay pedals on my road bike and I like them a lot. I wish I could try the Syzr out first, though. Anyway, thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my comment, and for the advice too!

        2. I have ridden Syzrs now for 1 year, gravel, mountain, winter fat biking and commuting. They are without a doubt superior to Frogs. No ice up/clog up in winter. Period. For commuting they are great because they are as tight as a road pedal but you have the walk ability of a mountain shoe. No accidental releases. Easy to get out of in dicey situations. The only issue I’ve had as a gravel/summer mountain shoe is dismounting in very thick clay/mud – it somehow became like cement in the cleat and it took several miles to work it out and successfully clip in. Then it was fine. If you want free float without spring centering, these are absolutely the best mountain pedals on the market. I will be buying another pair so I don’t have to swap between mountain / fat /cross bikes.

  3. Any issues with the cleat “binding” up?
    I got a pair, used them on a few road rides to make sure my knees would like them. They seemed perfect free float + walkability are awesome! So i went all in and got a second pair for my gravel bike.

    I used them on a gravel / dirt / singletrack / Jeep Trail / all road ride. By mile 85 the cleats were clogged up. The left one was so gummed up that it required extra force to get the shoe to move at all. I could go heel all the way in or all the way out, but not anywhere in the middle. The right cleat was gummed up, and squeaking with every stoke, but i could still adjust my heel angle.

    After the ride I took the left cleat apart, cleaned out the dirt, washed it, dried it and re-lubed it.
    For the right cleat i simply re-lubed it. The left one still feels stiffer than the right one, and the right one still squeaks a bit.

    I know we rode over a dirt road that was freshly watered, so that was about worst case senario with a fine misty dirt going right up into the cleats, and there was plenty of Hike A Bike sections.

    I want to like these cleats, but they seem high maintenance (and ive used Zeros for years, so i can deal with the weekly lube job)

    1. Which lube did you use? As previously mentioned, I find that silicone spray works really well and doesn’t attract (or hold) dirt/grit.

      Also, consider adding the (included) cleat shims/discs that are designed to decrease resistance.

      1. I used Speedplay SP-Lube per the manual. I think I’ll clean them again, install those shims and give them another go. I can find some silicone spray lube to try.

        D2R2 is a few weeks out, that will be a good test.

        One more question – Once you mount the cleat to the shoe, can you still rotate the cleat by hand? I installed them using 4Nm of torque on the screws, and the cleats are pretty hard to rotate, as in almost impossible.

        1. I found that ease of rotation varied with the particular shoe (curvature of the sole, stiffness, etc). The little discs/shims made a big difference in reducing resistance. There’s also a lot of contact between the pedal/cleat, so allow some extra time for everything to break in.

    2. I have used these in mud, gravel, dirt and snow. Only clog up was in clay-cement mud, took a few miles to work out the gunk and clip in. No ice up in snow, perfect for winter fat biking. I end up buying a second set so I didn’t have to swap between fat bike and CX bike. Well worth the money.

      1. An Update to my problem, after cleaning and lubing the cleat and still having the issue where the cleat would only go all in or all out. I took both cleats apart and discovered the small circle “spring” was damaged on 1 cleat. So it wasn’t an issue with the mud or gunk, the cleat actually failed on me.

        I decided that having a cleat that could fail on me was not good for the type of riding I want to do so I took the pedals off both bikes and put them on my shelf.

        I also discovered / realized my knees were not happy with the default lateral spacing of these cleats / pedals.

        These Syzr cleats have NO Lateral adjustment, and it turns out I was not ok with that. I don’t like the fact that the only way to move your foot left/right on the pedal is order custom spindle lengths. What happens when you buy new shoes that put the cleat in a different spot.

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