Shimano SPD-SL pedals always come to rest after clipping out with the rear of the pedal facing down. You don't even have to look down to clip in as you know exactly how the pedal will be oriented. I've never understood the complaints about this. SPD-SL's are low maintenance, replacement cleats readily available at most bike shops and offer a decent amount of float for most riders. I have to admit that I like the "Made in the U.S.A." aspect of Speedplays, but I'm gonna stick with my Shimano's until they break....which will probably be never.
I neither own or have owned or ridden on Speedplay pedals but I know several people that have them and a lot of them curse the day they bought them. These are guys that ride daily and put lots of miles on their bikes and they not only go through several cleats a year but they have to constantly maintain the pedals so they can disengage without fighting the pedal. I guess this doesn't happen if you only ride on the weekends. While some of them are too cheap to get other pedals and shoes, some of these guys have already canned their Speedplays. I have been riding on SPD pedals for almost three years and have had zero issues or maintenance problems with them. I'm on the original pedals and have only changed my cleats twice in that time period. The way I see it, shoe retention is the goal of any clipless system. As long as the ones you have do the job, it then becomes a matter of preference, just like the bike you ride.
I guess everyone's experience differs. I ride 500km a week and never had an issue at all with my cleats or pedals. Lasted well over a year and going strong still! As for maintenance, I don't really count squeezing a little lube into the port every two months or so as maintenance...but yeah...I guess this could be a huge PITA?
Thanks! Didn't know they existed. Just ordered a pair. Thank you, as the cafè covers that you put on were constantly a pain. I'd try clipping on forgetting they were on, I'd forget to put them back on, etc. This sounds like a perfect solution. SO thank you again!
As to the OP's assumption that everyone MUST be just like him, and so Splay is the best system out there, well, it has worked for me so far - I started having knee pain on my SPD SL's and switched and the pain has gone away. But I'm sure there are other systems that work just as well for people with different needs.