Nikola Zivo road bike pedal with position based dynamic Q-factor

Among the more interesting inventions to come out at Interbike was Nikola’s Zivo road bike pedals, which actively change the Q-factor throughout the pedal stroke’s rotation. Here’s the official introduction:

Coming to marketing in Fall 2014, Nikola is the first road pedal that produces power, efficiency, and comfort. Nikola Innovation, located in Cleveland, Ohio, has been in research developing the optimal performance pedal. Studying the motion of speed skaters and cyclists has been the foundation of this new technology called “Zivo” which has Serbian origination meaning “alive”. Nikola completed studies at the Human Performance Lab of Cleveland State University refining the Zivo technology producing peak power improvement of 7% in a 30 second Wingate tests and efficiency improvement of 2.1%. This new motion creates comfort with riders’ knees and hips with its patented Synchronized Q-factor generated by Zivo. Two versions will be offered, one in Titanium at $549, the second in Stainless for $339. Both pedals are using a standard 3-hole standard style cleat and compatible with any 9/16” crank-arm threading.

Wanna see how it works?

Nikola Zivo road bike pedal with position based dynamic Q-factor

Inside the pedal body is a keyed cylinder that rotates on the spindle, and unfortunately he didn’t have the spindle with him when we caught him toting the gun case holding these samples.

The pedal body rotates on that cylinder, sliding in near the top of the pedal stroke and out near the bottom. Total lateral movement is 25mm. Founder Nick Stevovich says they’ve tested narrower and wider, but this was the best mix of cornering clearance and effectiveness.

There are several claimed benefits. First, it uses more of the adductor and glutes, which means more muscle activation for more power. Second, it gives you a more natural motion, which can ease knee pain or hip impingement issues. Clinical trials being conducted at Allegheny Hospital and University of Pittsburgh will allow them to make medical claims in the future, but they’re just getting started. He’s been working on the idea for about 16 years, but only really been developing it for the past five.

Nikola Ziva road bike pedal with position based dynamic Q-factor

The inner cylinder slides on a bushing to reduce friction and allow it to both rotate and slide freely.

Nikola Ziva road bike pedal with position based dynamic Q-factor

On the outer surface of the cylinder is a groove that’s timed to a wave pattern. The actual wave pattern took a lot of time to develop and went through a lot of iterations.

Nikola Ziva road bike pedal with position based dynamic Q-factor

A pin rotates on a sealed bearing and slots into the wave groove. That keeps the pedal body from sliding all the way off the cylinder. As usual, video comes to the assist:

Since everyone’s different, you’ll be able to clock them to suit your own needs, generally having them sit at the widest point near the bottom. They’re working on an accelerometer based set up system to calibrate it perfectly for maximum power output, but for now it’s by feel.

They have Look Keo compatible bodies and are working on SPD versions and flat pedals for commuters. They’re alloy bodies now, but they’re looking at magnesium and other materials.

Stainless are claimed at just under 300g. The Titanium model comes in at an estimated 225g with a 250lb rider weight limit with steel bolt and 180lb with titanium bolt.


  1. Didn’t Shimano exploit this (albeit to a much lesser extent) with the previous SPD-SL cleat design? If memory serves right, there was a bit of lateral play because the toe section was a bit narrower than the pedal slot, but then they widened it upon the 9000 debut to make it a fixed point.

  2. The biomechanical correlation with speed skaters is interesting. Of course, they need this outward movement due to the nature of their propulsion device (i.e. skates), but it shows imagination to see the overlap of the two motions, and try to integrate it into the pedal stroke.

  3. They aren’t achieving this with float, they are forcing the cyclical motion.

    I can see a lot of roadie luddites choking on this one. How can they square this with their desire to mimic the Q factors of french bikes from the ’50s?

  4. This cyclical left/right motion is only adjusting your stance width and does not contribute directly to forward motion. If it tried to, the forces on the groove on the spindle would be tremendous.

  5. I designed and manufactured the Pedals for Nick- taking his patent from idea to reality in under 12 months. The idea seems well grounded in science but the hard work was creating the pedal to function correctly, be aesthetically pleasing, stiff and lightweight. We broke the mold on traditional pedal design by employing a large diameter hollow spindle to create an incredibly stiff pedal but lightweight.

  6. I can see this working well for running on the pedals or out of the saddle climbing. I would add a spring to return the body to a neutral position and neutralize the on ice feel. To the retro grouches; everybody plays with position, bar width and aerodynamics and eventually accepts what works, why not give this a try too?

  7. I think BR added more info to the article.

    Anyways, considering the mechanics of rocking the bike in a sprint, I have to wonder how much this helps. Other gains in power might be from being able to recruit a few more muscles for power gain instead of just using the side muscles to stabilize the legs.

    With a stack height that large, I have to imagine the only way this product will be taken seriously is if a pro team like Sky with their marginal gains stuff manages to take it to a TdF podium.

  8. I would think a custom linear bearing round a smaller, hardened steel spindle would work better under load ?

    Also, the addition of a return spring to neutral position would make it more stable platform under power. You don’t really need a huge amount of sideward slide in the pedal, a 3~5mm range either way is a lot already for the vast majority of the people out there.

  9. This has been done before in the Netherlands. Some triathlets tested a similar pedal around the end of the 90’s with coach Louis Delahaye (now coach of Belkin professional cycling team).

    Never heard anything of it, so probably doesn’t work.

  10. It isn’t “float,” although that’s the quality that’s already present in pedal design that’s most similar. From what I can tell, it’s a varying-Q feature, timed to provide a higher Q as your feet (probably) reach their lowest point. The pedal has a predetermined Q-variance (via that groove), and at any given pedal body/crank arm angle is always going to have the same offset.
    They could offer multiple wave forms for the groove to adapt to different riders, with high or low variance and possibly rate changes, too.
    I bet they really just wanted to get rid of their chain tattoos.

  11. I have a 2cm leg length discrepancy in my left leg. Presumably I could take the shims out from my cleat and the lateral play would allow my longer leg to move out commensurate with the length of the discrepancy?

  12. @Maxx have you seen the cost of sourcing a custom linear bearing, even from TW? Good luck with that. At the very least, going bushings is a sound method for this early pedal sample.

  13. Joe, looking at the size of the bushing used, I’m quite sure a pair of LM12UU linear bearings would make almost perfect replacements. Though there might be some weight penalty in that arrangement.

  14. Trever ye selected the wrong sport that could contribute to pedalling performance. Your idea has the same problem as Q-rings, rotor cranks and bio pace etc, all of them are trying to add more torque where maximal torque is already being applied. The correct sport with muscle action to improve performance is indoor tug o’war, which can make it possible for a rider to apply maximal torque through 12, 1 , 2 and 3 o’c, and this can be done with standard equipment.

  15. I’ve tried them numerous times now on short and long rides. Bottom line: they end up rubbing the insides of the shoes at the 6 o’clock position.

    The pedals ALWAYS end up with the pedal closer to the foot at the bottom of the rotation, therefore the crankarm ends up rubbing my shoes – super annoying and has now rid my Campy logo from the crankarms : (

    No matter how many times I adjusted them – correctly – the same thing happens. They’re great right after adjusting them, but it ALWAYS comes back to that point. Good idea, but needs some serious R&D work. I really do like the feel of the glide.

    My limited grasp of physics tells me it has to do with the crank arm length. As it rotates around, the spinning/gliding aspect of the pedal is going to alter because of the overall circumference of the rotation… There’s no way the difference between a 175mm and 160mm crank arm isn’t going to be different and alter the pedal position while in use.

  16. Double Deed,

    This is Nick with Nikola Innovation. We are sorry you experienced positioning issue with the pedals. A solution was put in place to address this issue which was sent to our customers and our apologies if you did not receive this. Please contact us at or phone 707-335-9486.

    To answer the question on the physics of various crank lengths. The purpose of the 2 piece spindle was to ensure the pedal moves in exact position with your crank arm. When the pedal spindle is attached to any length crank arm the motion will always move in synch with your crank.

    Please do reach out to us to ensure you find the benefits and pleased with your pedals.

    Thank you,


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