I had a chance to talk with Wahoo Fitness CEO Chip Hawkins this morning about the acquisition, including both their near term and long term plans. It’s clear from the discussion that Wahoo has big plans for Speedplay. Chip noted that there were two initial catalysts for the acquisition, mainly centered on the appeal of the product itself, but also the lack of clarity around which pedals a consumer should choose.
For example, he highlighted that if you did a comparison chart between the Speedplay pedal and most other competitors, a consumer would find that the Speedplay was lighter, more aero, better cornering clearance, as well as being dual-sided. But it was actually when he as a triathlete, went to pick out a pair on Speedplay’s website that everything went a bit fuzzy – with so many options to choose from and so little clarity about which was the best option.
He said that going forward their plan will be to simplify and clarify a bit of the product lineup, and “reduce the confusion when people go to buy the products”, which is an area that Wahoo has largely excelled at over the past few years. If you look at where the trainer market was when Wahoo first joined the scene, companies like Tacx and Elite had dozens of models to choose from. These days, those companies are down to just a handful of core models each – mirror Wahoo’s simplified Apple-like lineup.
Still, he sees room for product expansion as well. Saying that based on the patents in place “We can do cross pedals, and mountain pedals… and there’s lots of opportunity. I’m just excited, I love the mechanical gadgetry stuff!”
He says that the approximately 25 employees and the company’s operations will continue to be largely San Diego based for now. Though, he concedes they’ll be looking to dramatically increase production and capacity (all products are currently made in San Diego today). As such, roles and locales might shift over time. One of the two husband and wife founders, Richard Bryne, will remain onboard in a consulting position. However, the other founder, his wife Sharon Worman (previously serving as President of Speedplay) will depart the business.
Speedplay as a brand will continue, and simply be another product line in the Wahoo basket – just like KICKR or ELEMNT is today. It doesn’t sound like Speedplay will need to lose any vowels in order to stay within the Wahoo branding playbook.
He did note though that with the acquisition they’ll be looking to simplify and streamline interactions with the local bike shop/retailer base, in particular making it easier for them to obtain products and making it easier to sell Speedplay products. Further, they plan to “dramatically expand” the retail base for Speedplay products, which has dwindled a bit in recent years.
When asked, Chip laughed a bit. As for an answer, he was clearly trying to be a bit coy on that, but his ultimate answer doesn’t really leave much ambiguity. He says that “It is definitely an intriguing space”, followed a few seconds later by “I’m definitely interested in pedals for power.”
As readers may know, there have been attempts in the past for Speedplay based power meter pedals. Notably first by Metrigear (who was ultimately acquired by Garmin, and became Vector), and then as well as by Brim Brothers. Neither ever came to market with a pedal based power meter. And while it’s unlikely anyone from those or other companies would agree to be quoted on the topic – Speedplay is well known within the cycling industry for their ‘lawyers first’ approach, being aggressively litigious.
But Chip says, he plans to change that, in particular around licensing. He even noted that “We have a ton of patents that cover every aspect of that pedal and that fashion. But I think we’ll be more open with others, and we won’t be considered litigious…we won’t be hard to work with.”
He went onto say that he wouldn’t be opposed to working with other companies, in the same way Wahoo today works with numerous other partners on a variety of projects.
Ultimately, Chip’s official response aside – there’s considerable demand for a Speedplay based power meter, and I suspect that demand is a large part of Wahoo’s strategy here.
Still, don’t expect anything near-term tech-wise. Unlike some acquisitions, the two companies (Wahoo & Speedplay) haven’t been quietly working on new products for years behind closed doors. Instead, Wahoo’s going to initially focus on the simplification and expansion of Speedplay’s existing business, likely well before they start focusing on anything in an ‘intriguing space”.
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A friend gave me a set of Speedplay pedals years ago and I was converted on the first ride. I found them much easier to use than my previous, one-sided pedals. I hope this acquisition will bring benefits to the consumer. I am interested to watch how this develops.
As someone who is committed hard to the aesthetic beauty of both Speedplay pedals and Cannondale hollowgram cranks, even a glimmer of a possibility of a powermeter option is welcome.
I’m a Speedplay fan and if they ever come out with their own pedal based power meter, I would definitely jump in. Come on Wahoo make it happen!
Happy to see Speedplay getting some support. Garmin would have bought Speedplay if they didn’t use ‘Kona Count’ to predict market demand.
If Speedplay can add accurate power reading to their pedals, it could really shake up the industry. I’m not a fan of Look style pedals or crank based power meters so having Speedplay as an option would be hard to pass up.
I’ll believe it when I see a collaboration with others. Right now their record speaks against them. IMHO of course.
I think if we look at the history of Wahoo as a product company, they’re pretty easy for other companies to work with. After all, they were the first company to have an SDK to control their trainers – which ultimately set the direction for this entire industry.
That doesn’t mean we (the Royal We) always agree with what Wahoo is doing, nor does that mean they’ll always say Yes. For example, them backtracking on 3rd party CLIMB integration is a good example. Or, ultimately not implementing the Running Dynamics standards in their TICKR straps. I think a case could be made that when it comes to standards, Wahoo’s maybe not quite as strong as they used to be (another example would be lack of FTMS).
But on the flip side, they did integrate recently Varia Radar, and they’re doing some stuff around the indoor bike and technical broadcasting bits that nobody else is doing (and doing it in an open way).
Still, I don’t think that the line means Wahoo is always going to say yes in every situation, especially if it hurts their business. I think that’s true of just about any company.
This was a subtle troll about someone at Speedplay who was rumored to be behind litigiousness, not a comment on Wahoo.
Hesitant to jump in b-c I always seem to be piling on Wahoo. But the Climb backtrack always stands out to me as petty. I also view Varia support as indicating GARMIN is easy to work with, not Wahoo. Tho takes 2 to tango.
Speedplay a MUCH better experience than Keo. Nice development. Assuming the DCR Shimano thesis doesn’t outrun em all !
The thing that boggles my (emphasis on “my”) mind is how it took them almost two years of consumer pressure to incorporate radar and how it would have hurt their business to allow others (tacx and elite come to mind) incorporate Climb*. That could have only resulted in increased sales, no?
But you are correct, we are outsiders, and Wahoo does not have to answer to anyone but the shareholders in their business decisions.
*(or even Zwift for that matter, so that they didn’t have to share anything with other trainer companies)
“first company to have an SDK to control their trainers” They also didn’t have any good software to control their trainers so let others do that work for them allowing them to sell more trainers. There was no downside.
“integrate recently Varia Radar” An open Ant+ standard from Garmin they decided to support after a pretty long time of the Ant+ standard being out. Garmin is the one who helped others, they could have kept the broadcast protocol from their radar unit proprietary.
To me it’s surprising that they have backtracked on the CLIMB. I would have thought that they would get more sales/revenue from non KICKR owners buying CLIMB. They obviously have run the numbers and worked out they will get more revenue by encouraging people to switch to a full Wahoo ecosystem
one of teh first things they could do it tidy up the instructions/documentation that comes with a set of speedplays – the number of times things are repeated is ludicrous and forces everything to be printed to small, so that they can repeat everything 3 times. getting spares is a PITA as well so quite a lot of room for improvement there. speedplay PM would be a game-changer
“It doesn’t sound like Speedplay will need to lose any vowels in order to stay within the Wahoo branding playbook.”
Having Vector 2 (now sold) and currently Vector 3 (with no door/battery/electronics/missing right pedal/etc issues, knock wood) I have considered SP pedals but have too much invested in the Look compatible pedals. And dont want crank/hub power.
BUT-if Wahoo/SP develops a PM pedal and its as stable as Vector 2, I will be interested in it replacing my V3 as the next step, so to speak. While my customer service issues with Wahoo a few years back drove me to Tacx (actually a great move for me) I am willing to give Wahoo a chance on the pedals.
Speedplay power meter pedals, that’s not something i thought i would hear today. but truly awesome!
and, hopefully they can re-design the ‘walkable’ cleat covers to not fall off after about ( sorry, ‘exactly’ ) 1,000km.
would seem an odd purchase for Wahoo unless there was some tech principle to apply, so i’ll start saving up now.
I’ve been using these things for several years: link to keeponcovers.com and the only time one ever came off was during a slow-speed crash in a circuit race. They work very well, and are pretty inexpensive to boot.
I’ve been using the Keep On Covers too. I use the X-2 pedals. Speedplay doesn’t make walkable cleats for the X nor do I think they ever will; the X is a legacy pedal and I’m just happy I can still buy them. I’ll stockpile a few extra soon as I have a sense Wahoo will eliminate. I would imagine that Zeros or LA work fine for 99% of Speedplay users.
Fall off? – never had this happen but have a seen a few people who haven’t attached them properly in the first place
“But it was actually when he as a triathlete, went to pick out a pair on Speedplay’s website that everything went a bit fuzzy – with so many options to choose from and so little clarity about which was the best option.”
I’ve been using Speedplay pedals for years and this statement is 100% correct. I think they mostly succeeded in business in spite of themselves. Certainly acquisition shouldn’t have been needed to clean-up their marketing and product line, but maybe it was. The other comment about their instructions is also accurate, however I’ve purchased several Wahoo products over the years and always thought their directions were pretty bad as well. Always noticed an aversion to using helpful diagrams rather than just words. Maybe that has gotten better.
I’ve loved Speedplay’s products since their first “X-series” pedal. For me the jury is still out on Wahoo – love some products while others just seem “meh” which does not mean bad to me.
Bottom line is that I’ll continue to ride Speedplay Zero pedals as long as they remain as purely and simply functional as they are today. Any power meter they add will need to display vector mapping, like Pioneer, on a Garmin bikecomputer
Maybe Wahoo can help Speedplay improve their gravel pedals (Syzr). That would be ironic but very welcome.
I think you’re onto something. SYZR already is a Wahoo like name. It’s probably what caught their attention.
In Australia: Shimano SPD cleats are $10-$15, cheap M520 pedals for $40 Speeplay Syzr cleats are $90. cheap Chromo pedals are $250
I’m a Speedplay user for life most likely, unless someone can come to market with a pedal with more float and more ease of entry. That said, it has become more and more aggravating to find replacement cleats and parts. Hopefully this will improve that side of the experience and not just mean their rpad pedal line is reduced to indoor cycling accessories. I did notice that every glamour shot of the Wahoo Bike showed Speedplay pedals…
I’ve been using speedplay for years and was on the original Brim bros. waiting list. I would love to see Wahoo finish the work that Barry and co started. Brim were near before they folded but given the size of Wahoo you would expect the the R&D spend to be available to do a good job and package more effectively. I have no clue where the Brim brothers Zone DPMX IP resides but it would be good if Wahoo somehow took profit of that R&D and covered some of the Brimbrother’s investment. It needed to be worked on and I never liked the pod that sat on the shoe with the Zone DPMX. Times have moved on and I see no reason why that could not now be built into the wearable rubber cleat.
Glad to see this, and hopefully Wahoo will broaden the range into PM pedals. I’ve been using Speedplay road pedals since the 90s, and converted from SPD to Syzr pedals about a year and a half ago for mtn/gravel/cross. They are such a stable platform and allow for a great amount of float–I’m not looking back.
Favero seems like an easy partnership to produce a speedplay version of the assioma. Change the end of the axel to match speedplay’s design and license the body from wahoo. All the electronics are in the “pod” so probably shouldn’t have to change… should only take as long as it takes the lawyers to argue about the