Michael Hanslip Coaching

If you want to go faster, you have to pedal harder

August 2023

Digital shifting thoughts

The Red Axe gear on my commuting bike still tempts me into riding too hard. I want to cruise to work in a reasonable manner. Actually I want to try out about 6 months of hours-per-day Zone 2 training on the same bike - which means not going to work (so that isn't going to happen) - but in lieu of all that fantasy, I want to ride to work at a brisk but not breakneck pace.

Red doesn't seem to permit. This morning I averaged 135 - about 20 bpm higher than usual - just because the sun was out and I felt like pedalling.

I can't put my finger on what part of the Red group goads me into pushing harder. I find if I watch my HR on the Garmin screen, then I am OK. If my screen is set to something else, then I blow through my ceiling.

Incidentally, I got about 800 km on the first charge for the rear derailleur. I charged the front too, but it didn't require it quite yet. While 800 km isn't going to cut it for Paris-Brest-Paris in one go on one battery, probably, it is more than enough for my needs.

Red is attractive. The shifting is flawless. Now that the bike has some use, it is also silent. It took a few rides to get some of the noises to settle down. And the rear brake was rubbing but it has finally been centred and remained for more than one ride (ten days in fact).

It rained a bit in the past week. My bike is now quite dirty. I plan to wash it on the weekend if it is sunny out. It is mostly adhered plant matter from the pathway surface that got splashed up onto the frame and dried out in place. Easy wash.

I've hooked up the Garmin to the shifter so it can display both the gearing I have selected and the battery status of each of the four batteries in the system. On Monday night when the rear derailleur crossed the low battery threshold, the battery indicator on the Garmin went red, and there was a beep. Hard to miss both signals.

I got back on my AXS MTB after a brief hiatus last weekend, too. It's odd, but I really like the ease of adjusting the saddle height with the wireless dropper post. It isn't hard to do on the other bikes, but it is SO easy on this one. I just love the soft lever action.

AXS is addictive. Don't succumb if you don't want to get hooked.

Wahoo Speedplay pedals

I have been using Speedplay pedals for a VERY long time. The first I tried were the Magnum MTB pedals almost 30 years ago. They updated them with a revised design and a better cleat and called it the Frog - I bought those straight away and used them until I got tired of lots of cleat maintenance. Soon after that I bought some X pedals for the road bike. They were great with one caveat. The X-shaped retention spring in the cleat ran over the pedal axle. Thousands of kilometres and numerous rotations of the pedals resulted in a shallow groove in the pedal axle. Speedplay's response was that they had never seen an axle break on the line, but I wasn't convinced. Perhaps neither was Speedplay because it wasn't too long before the Zero pedal was released. Like the Frog was a vast improvement on the Magnum, the Zero was an update and improvement on the X pedal. I sold my two sets of X pedals and bought some Zero pedals. I'm still using them.
Literally. I still have those original pedals in use. I think I bought four pairs of navy blue Zeroes in one go, and they are still going well today. Regular greasing and cleaning does wonders for pedals, I guess. I added three pairs of the Zero Track Special along the way too. I actually preferred the stiffer release of the Track version so they found their way onto my track bike, my road racing bike and my time trial bike.
I put my left foot down when I stop. So I clip/unclip much more with my left than my right. This can be seen in the wear on the plastic pedal body of the Zeroes. I started using a pair of the Track Specials with my red Checkpoint three years ago - they were both red. But after three + years of commuting not to mention all the use before that, the pedal bodies were looking rather worn (the letters moulded into the bodies to identify left and right were gone).

Meanwhile, a few years ago, Wahoo of smart trainer fame bought the Speedplay company. They completely changed the pedal line. Gone were all the legacy options: no more MTB pedals (they did a replacement for the Frog and a flat pedal), no more X pedals, and the Zero had an easier in-and-out little brother called the Light Action - all gone. The Zero was totally reworked with new plastic (no more colours - boo), new metal (better bearings fit in the revised design, and the pedal body was fully ringed in steel) and new cleats. But they retained full compatibility with the Zeroes of old. Old cleats fit new pedals and new cleats fit old pedals. How clever. And in deference to the discontinued Light Action, they made a new cleat with easier release. (In my opinion this is a much better option because once you get accustomed to clipless pedals in a Light Action pedal you would have to change pedals to get better retention - under the new system you only need to change your cleat.) The old cleats were anodised aluminium; very slippery to walk on. The new cleats have a built in rubbery cover; apparently (I haven't tried them yet) much better to walk on. I have coffee shop cleat covers for the old cleats. Don't require them for the new cleats.

When I was sourcing all the parts for my new commuter bike I found some Wahoo pedals on sale. I bought one set. Now that I have been using them for a couple of weeks, I thought I would reflect on them. The new Zero seems as stiff as the Track Special, rather than the regular Zero of old. This is a great thing, I thought the regular pedals were too light in their action. Other than that, the transition has been invisible. They click into the old cleats fine. They release fine.

Soon I'll have some experience with the new cleats because I have decided to retire my commuting shoes, deprecate my racing shoes to commuter duty, and roll out my new-old-stock been-sitting-in-the-cupboard-for-over-a-year new Northwave Extreme shoes to racing duty with a pair of the new Speedplay cleats on the soles.

Wahoo also bought some in-development power measuring pedals company and solved their technical issues and released a Speedplay power pedal. I'd love to try those. In fact, the bike magazine and I tried to get me a set to review. The agent wasn't interested in having their pedal reviewed and neither was Wahoo in the US. So these remain on my list...