Speedplay Syzr mountain bike pedals review

Great for riders with specific fit requirements if you don't mind maintenance

Speedplay’s Syzr pedal makes for a great recessed cleat road and gravel road pedal. Unfortunately, if they aren’t maintained, performance can go south when the Syzrs encounter mud.

Speedplay’s Syzr pedal makes for a great recessed cleat road and gravel road pedal. Unfortunately, if they aren’t maintained, performance can go south when the Syzrs encounter mud (click to enlarge).

Lowdown: Speedplay Syzr Mountain Bike Pedals

If you are up for maintaining your cleats and pedals, Speedplay’s Syzrs offer road-like adjustable float and different spindle lengths in a walkable cleat off-road pedal. They are perfect for mountain bikers or gravel riders with particular fits needs, assuming maintenance is performed.

Stat Box
Weight: 325g pair w/59mm stainless spindles Price: $199
Options: Titanium, stainless, or chromoly spindles, 50, 53, 55mm (65mm offered aftermarket) Rating: 3.5 Flamin' Chili Peppers 3.5 out of 5

  • Aftermarket spindle lengths
  • Inconsistent release in wet conditions
  • Adjustable float
  • Must clean and lube regularly
  • Stability independent of shoe lugs
  • Perfect walkable cleat road pedal

Review: Speedplay Syzr Mountain Bike Pedals

Starting with a clean slate is a daunting task, especially when trying to take on one of cycling’s iconic products. But that’s exactly what Speedplay founder Richard Bryne did with the Syzr mountain bike pedal. Bryne has innovated for decades and his approach is often different, yet methodical. When he took time to examine the mountain bike pedals on offer, he saw two problems that needed solving: adjustable float and engagement that didn’t rely on the lugs of the shoe as an interface.

As Speedplay’s Zero road pedal models illustrate, many people benefit from the ability to dial in the amount and placement of a pedal’s float. But it was only available to road riders. Mountain bikers didn’t have this option — until now. The Syzr has 10 degrees of adjustable float. This feature is fairly obvious to most cyclists, but the second problem Bryne identified was a little more involved.

Other mountain bike pedals rely on the shoe lugs on either side of the cleat to lend stability to the system. When everything is new and clean, this isn’t a problem. But as shoes and pedals wear, slop can develop. This increased movement can affect a cyclist’s knees and ankles whether they realize it or not. Byrne, by creating a system that is independent of that interface, has created a pedal that should perform more consistently over the life of a cyclist’s shoes.

Mounting Process

The Syzr cleats are a two-bolt affair like any other mountain bike cleat. But that is where similarities end. The cleats also house the system’s float with the engaging part of the cleat rotating around the center fixed portion of the cleat. Adjusted using a 2mm Allen key, two limit screws narrow the movement of the cleat as desired. I ran the cleats with maximum float (my preference) but also as Bryne recommends running as much float as is comfortable when riding the Syzrs. This helps with cleat retention, as it keeps you farther from the disengagement points on the cleat.

Because the part of the cleat that is engaged by the pedal can move, it also means that clipping in can change from one time to the next. This isn’t too bothersome, but worth noting. With the cleats wide open, it was sometimes necessary to clip in with a toe-in foot orientation. This took some adjustment on the part of the tester, but eventually felt natural.

The Syzr cuts a low profile.

The Syzr cuts a low profile (click to enlarge).

When using Syzrs it’s important to drop your heels when riding over bumpy terrain, as the engagement of the pedal is on its front rather than on the rear like a Shimano SPD. A toe down orientation means that you’re relying entirely on the engagement spring for retention. On a couple occasions, I accidentally clipped out while riding a gravel bike over rocky terrain. On a mountain bike with suspension, I had no problems, even while bombing rough singletrack.

Sticking Point

I rode the Syzrs as they came out of the box, without any cleaning or maintenance for over a month. All went smoothly for four weeks riding road, gravel, and mountain. Problems arose, though, when I encountered mud. Upon trying to clip in, I struggled. Once engaged, the pedal’s float was essentially gone and I had a series of unwanted pedal releases.

Somewhat disappointed, I contacted Bryne. He asked lots of questions regarding setup, but we settled on a lack of lubrication as the culprit. I took apart the cleats, greased the moving parts, and reassembled them. I also applied some of Speedplay’s SP lube to the contact points on the pedals.

Continue to page 2 for more of our Speedplay Syzr mountain bike pedals review »

About the author: Nick Legan

Nick Legan is happiest with some grease under his nails and a long dirt climb ahead. As a former WorldTour team mechanic, Legan plied his trade at all the Grand Tours, Spring Classics, World Championships and even the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In recent years, gravel and ultra-distance racing has a firm grip on Legan’s attention, but his love of mountain biking and long road rides hasn’t diminished. Originally a Hoosier, Legan settled in Boulder, Colorado, 14 years ago after finishing his time at Indiana University studying French and journalism. He served as the technical editor at VeloNews for two years and now contributes to Adventure Cyclist, Mtbr and RoadBikeReview. To follow along on Legan’s cycling adventures, find him on Instagram at @nlegan and be sure to check out his new book Gravel Cycling: The Complete Guide to Gravel Racing and Adventure Bikepacking.

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  • dan says:

    Thanks for the honest and objective review. I rode Frogs for about a decade then went Eggbeater. Many have bearing issues with EB, but my two pair are over 8 years old. New set picked up last week for $30 (pedals and cleats, brand new mailorder). I also use my mtb pedals on the road bike, saves money on shoes and cleats, and I truly wanted the Syzr to get back on, but as you wrote there are too many issues when compared to other options that cost less, weigh less or don’t require so much maintenance. Thanks for the writeup.

  • Brian says:

    Haven’t used mine in debilitating mud but I’d agree with most things said here. The solid connection with free float is a revelation. Maybe wouldn’t be the best enduro pedal but for something like all day pedals it’s amazing. And for me a squirt of lube in the cleats once a week keeps them fresh.

    Also one thing to note, the pedal connection is so solid you can get away with less stiff shoes and not get hot spots. I think this would be the idea bikepacking pedal.

  • SomeDude says:

    I had issues with mine in just the SoCal endless sandy dirt. But, it came down to lubing just like in the review. IF you need the float these pedals are great. If you don’t, get Shimano.

  • John says:

    I’ve been riding the Syzr pedals from the time they first came out. I agree with Dan that the solid connection between bike and rider is an ah-ha moment. It really does have the connected feel that a road pedal system has but in an mtb format.

    I’ve not had any issues with mine but most of my riding is gravel riding. I also put them on my fatbike that sees solely winter trail riding and beach riding. There, the only place I had a problem, was with the super sharp crystal sand that we have on our beach. The problem then wasn’t with the pedal per se but with the rotating wings on the cleat and the shoe (Lake winter cycling boots) where some sand got in between the guides on the cleat and the shoe sole and made it hard to rotate the cleat. I’m not writing this off to a cleat/pedal problem since this sand that we have has trashed all kinds of beach equipment that isn’t supposed to have sand problems (ask me about the destroyed windsurfer mast for example).

    I think it’s fair to say I’m an enthusiastic Syzr user. I haven’t had problems with mud nor with most dirt/grit. Snow is no problem. The only place I had an issue is with our large grain sharp crystal sand and then only with one shoe/boot. I like them a lot and I like the ability to set up different spindle lengths. I’m really looking forward to the ability to cant the cleat side to side that they are supposedly getting ready to provide. You can’t do that with any other cleat and I need a wedge on one side.

  • David says:

    Hello Nick,

    Thanks for writing this review! I’m considering this pedal because of the option to order one pedal with a higher stack height. I have a 5mm lift on my left shoe when road biking, but this becomes harder to accomplish with spds. You mentioned you use one XT and one XTR pedal. I was considering something similar. Do you know of any combo of mtb spds with a 5mm stack height difference? Thanks, David

  • InDustWeTrust says:

    CAn some one please explain me what is the problem with SpeedPlay Frog pedals and why they needed improvement?? I use a pair of Frog titanium since 1997. Only part in my mountain bike unchanged for almost 25 years now. Frogs titanium are the lightest, they work great. Replace bearings after 20.000km if you want. 6$ for the full set of bearings on ebay. Replace cleats after 10.000Km maybe, is the only downside, not 7$ cleats like shimano, but 40$ cleats, still, lightest decent pedal system.

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