2012 Pedal Lineup
The 2012 Shimano Dura Ace pedal, synonymous with performance and durability. A pedal design that any mechanical engineer would approve. The big S have brought many Shimano loyalist into 21st century with their top of the line Dura-Ace 7900 pedal. This pedal features a full carbon fiber body mounted on a 3 bearing axle that is arguable beefier than their competitors. The previous generation of the Dura-Ace (7800) pedal was extremely popular with many pro and amateur riders. Lance Armstrong rode them to several Tour de France victories, just think back to the famous mussette bag inccident where a fan caused Armstrong to crash in the final kilometers of the Tour de France. If it wasn't for the wide Shimano pedal platform Lance would have not been able to ride partially engaged from the crash damage. If the 7900 is a bit out of your price range, checkout the Ultegra 6700, the function is indentical, but the bearings and their housing are slightly different and heavier. Shimano offers two cleat choices: the SH11 which has 6 degrees of float; and the SH10 which is fixed (no float). Keep in mind that Shimano's 6 degrees of float is still LESS than Look's 4.5 degrees. If you're coming over from Look it might feel more like 3.
Look pedals are ridden by Tom Boonen, Alberto Contador, Team RadioShack, Laurent Jalabert, Astana, and Quick Step. Look offers various pedals at different price points. At the top is the Look Blade Ti’s, with a full carbon body, titanium axle and carbon entry/release blade mechanism. These pedals are packed full of the high end features you’d expect to see at this price range. Their best selling Keo 2 Max is available in both a composite and a carbon version to suit every pocket. The only difference being weight. There are from the same next generation line of as the blade. Look took notes from Shimano and made a wider platform similar to Shimano to offer more power transfer. Look offers 3 different clean float options: Black (0 degrees float), Grey (4.5 degrees float), and Red (9 degrees float). As I've mentioned before the grey is still more float than Shimano's 6.
Speedplay pedals are different from most pedals on the market. Most pedals have the entry and release mechanism in the pedal, where as Speedplay mounts the mechanicals on the shoe and the pedal is the smallest lightest portion of the system. Speedplay offers a dual sided entry which allows them to manufactuer a thiner pedal which results in more pedal/cornering clearance, although if you are clipping a Shimano pedal on a corner you're probably leaning too aggressively :). What is irrefutably superior is the low stack height (the height the system adds between your shoe and the pedal spindle. Depending on the model Speedplay pedals can be used fixed, or with up to 15 degrees of adjustable float, this allows you to dial in the perfect amount of float for your knees. The most popular pedals offered by Speedplay are the Zero Titanium (the spindle is Ti), the Zero Stainless pedal (stainless steel spindle), and the Zero Chrome-moly which uses a (lower grade steel spindle). These pedals are not as widely used in the pro ranks, but are used by Thor Hushovd, Cadel Evans, and Fabian Cancellara.