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10 Best SPD Pedals for Mountain Bikes (Reviewed Aug, 2020)

You may already know that SPD stands for “Shimano Pedal Dynamics”. When it comes to the designing of professional bike pedals, ‘Shimano’ is the name that pops into our minds. It is a reputed company founded in Japan that has been leading the pedal industry for decades.

When you want to select a pair of pedals for mountain biking, you need to find those pedals that can push it to the limit. Mountain bike pedals need to be built in such a way that they can withstand the extreme pressure for aggressive cycling, at the same time they should be able to provide support and comfort.

After relentless hours of researching and testing, we were able to come to the conclusion of making a list of the best SPD pedals that will be favorable to any rider. Our selection was based on the surface area, the release mechanism, the cleats, the seals, and other crucial parts. We have found that the Shimano Saint PD-M820 has what it takes to be the perfect set of pedals for any rider under any circumstance. That’s why we have selected it as our “Overall Best Choice”.

Shimano Saint PD-M820

Innovative system with better control & performance | Overall Best Choice

The Shimano Saint PD-M820 offers all the privileges you need for mountain biking. These pedals offer wider surfaces for maximum shoe-to-pedal contact, 4 height adjustable pins on each side of the pedal for keeping your feet comfortable, adjustable spring tension mechanism for flexible entry and release, an open binding mechanism with robust retention claws for grabbing your feet with more stability and superior mud-shedding design to make sure mud or debris won’t jam them. Moreover, these pedals are durable for their solid Aluminum build quality where the Steel chrome-moly axles contain sealed bearings that are placed in angular positions maintaining adequate distance between each other. These will undoubtedly be the perfect pedals for mountain biking and they will look elegant on any bike for their sleek profile.

  • Type: Multi-Purpose (SPD/Flat)
  • Platform Dimension: 0.6” x 0.6” x 0.4”
  • Weight: 1 lbs (Pair)
  • Spindle Diameter: 9/16”
  • Body Material: Aluminum
  • Included Cleat: SM-SH51
  • Optional Cleat: SM-SH56
  • Axle Material: Chrome-moly
  • Bearing Type: Sealed Cartridge

 

In the following table, we’ve listed the best SPD pedals for different types of mountain bikes:

PedalsWhy we recommend this
Shimano Saint PD-M820Best SPD for MTBs. Innovative system with better control & performance
Shimano PD-M530Great for Enduro Mountain Biking
Shimano XT PD-M8120Wide Pedal Surface with Integrated Cage
Shimano PD-M520Excellent Pedals for Trail/XC MTB
Shimano PD-M540Lighter than the M520 model
Shimano XT PD-M8020Excellent build quality with Lightweight & high performance
Shimano XT PD-M8000 XCStrong, Durable Adamant Design
Shimano PD-M647Innovative, Better control, High performance
Shimano XTR PD-M9020Improved Stability & Extremely Wide Platforms
Shimano PD-M9100 XTRLightweight with Perfect fit & grip

10 best SPD pedals you can buy today for your mountain bikes

The pedals that we have chosen in our list can provide not only power for efficient pedaling but also the ease of control for rolling the crank arms smoothly.

Like most of our articles, we have sketched out a comparison table so that you can easily get a quick overview of all the pedals from our selection. And as usual, we highly suggest you read the whole post for your own benefit.

PedalPreviewTypeSpindle DiameterPlatform DimensionWeight (Pair)Body MaterialAxle MaterialBearing Type
Shimano Saint PD-M820SHIMANO Saint PD-M820 SPD Pedals Black; One SizeMulti-Purpose (SPD/Flat)9/16”6” x 5” x 3”1.25 lbsAlloyChrome-molySealed Cartridge
Shimano PD-M530SHIMANO PD-M530 Mountain PedalsMulti-Purpose (SPD/Flat)9/16”0.6” x 0.6” x 0.4”1 lbsAluminumChrome-molySealed Cartridge
Shimano XT PD-M8120SHIMANO DEORE XT PD-M8120 SPD Pedal, Without Reflector, Includes Cleat, Black, One SizeMulti-Purpose (SPD/Flat)9/16”9” x 5” x 3”0.96 lbsAluminumChrome-molySealed Cartridge
Shimano PD-M520Shimano PD-M520L Clipless Bike Pedals 9/16inMulti-Purpose (SPD/Flat)9/16”4.6” x 4.1” x 3.9”0.84 lbsAlloyChrome-molySealed Cartridge
Shimano PD-M540SHIMANO PD-M540 SPD Pedals; BlackMulti-Purpose (SPD/Flat)9/16”6.3” x 4.9” x 2.2”0.776 lbsAluminumChrome-molySealed Cartridge
Shimano XT PD-M8020SHIMANO PD-M8020 Pedals - BlackMulti-Purpose (SPD/Flat)9/16”7.9” X 3.2” X 1.6”0.899 lbsAlloyChrome-molySealed Cartridge
Shimano XT PD-M8000SHIMANO XT PD-M8000 XC Pedal SPD; One SizeMulti-Purpose (SPD/Flat)9/16”7.9” X 3.2” X 1.6”0.756 lbsAluminumChrome-molySealed Cartridge
Shimano PD-M647SHIMANO PD-M647 Clipless Pedal with Outer CageMulti-Purpose (SPD/Flat)9/16”5.2” x 4.2” x 3.2”1.25 lbsAluminumChrome-molySealed Cartridge
Shimano XTR PD-M9020SHIMANO XTR PD-M9020 Trail Pedals One Color; One SizeMulti-Purpose (SPD/Flat)9/16”9” x 5” x 2”0.379 lbsAluminumChrome-molySealed Cartridge
Shimano XTR PD-M9100SHIMANO PD-M9100; XTR; SPD Flat Bike Pedal; Cleat Set IncludedMulti-Purpose (SPD/Flat)9/16”6.3” x 4.3” x 2”0.68 lbsAluminumChrome-molySealed Cartridge

[1] Shimano Saint PD-M820: Innovative system with better control & performance | Overall Best Choice

Shimano Saint PD-M820

  • Type: Multi-Purpose (SPD/Flat)
  • Platform Dimension: 6” x 5” x 3”
  • Weight: 1.25 lbs (Pair)
  • Spindle Diameter: 9/16”
  • Body Material: Alloy
  • Included Cleat: SM-SH51
  • Optional Cleat: SM-SH56
  • Axle Material: Chrome-moly
  • Bearing Type: Sealed Cartridge (Angular Contact)

Features & Considerations
  • Wider Contact Area: For better stability, they feature wider contact areas on the surfaces that can adapt a huge combination of AM shoes.
  • Height Adjustable Pins: When your feet are not clipped into these pedals, you can adjust the height for improved grip as there are 4 adjustable pins on each platform.
  • Adjustable Tension System: Ensure flexible entry and release of your feet with adjustable tension settings.
  • Binding Mechanism: The binding mechanism remains protected for the pedal body and retention claws are robust enough for smooth release and engagement.
  • Mud-shedding Design: An open binding design provides a superior mud-shedding feature that flushes out any mud and debris when you step in.
  • Thinner Body: The thinner pedal body helps them to maintain a low profile and enables a lower stack height for avoiding obstacles.
  • Available Reflector: For the enhancement of visibleness, an optional reflector SM-PD60 is available.
  • Build Quality: The frame is made of Aluminum where the spindle axle is made of durable Chrome-moly Steel.
  • Installation: Installation is simple and requires an 8mm hex wrench mount.
  • You may get a 2-year warranty for this product depending on the retailer.

Some Weaknesses
  • Compared to other SPD models, they can be a little bit heavier.
  • While the entry, the traction pins, and the platform itself may interfere a little at the rear of the pedal.

The Shimano M820 Saint SPD pedals remain hefty when they come straight out of the box. They are wider pedals yet they are slim where you can measure 19mm in the center. These pedals let you adjust the height according to your comfort with 4 adjustable traction pins where two of them are situated at the front and two are at the back on each side.

The rigid Chrome-moly Steel made axles of these pedals are supported with dual cup and cone bearings. The engagement may seem pretty similar to the Shimano XT M8120 model.
These are solid constructed products with machine tuned bodies and come with gold anodized lock bushes for an elegant appearance.

Shimano Saint PD-M820

Shimano Saint PD-M820

[2] Shimano PD-M530: Great for Enduro

Shimano PD-M530

  • Type: Multi-Purpose (SPD/Flat)
  • Platform Dimension: 0.6” x 0.6” x 0.4”
  • Weight: 1 lbs (Pair)
  • Spindle Diameter: 9/16”
  • Body Material: Aluminum
  • Included Cleat: SM-SH51
  • Optional Cleat: SM-SH56
  • Axle Material: Chrome-moly
  • Bearing Type: Sealed Cartridge

Features & Considerations
  • Dual-sided Entry: These pedals can offer smooth entry and exit for their dual-sided platforms.
  • Integrated Cage: Even if you are not clipped in, you will be supported with their large integrated cages that will increase the riding stability and handling control.
  • Large Platform Area: The large surface area ensures a close-bodied contact with the pedal and your shoe for efficient power distribution.
  • SPD cleats: These pedals come with 2-hole mount cleats that can accommodate most SPD-style shoes.
  • Adjustable Tension System: In order to get easy entry and exit, the rider can customize the release tension individually for his preference.
  • Mud-shedding Design: Superior mud-shedding design guarantees no mud or debris when you clip in.
  • Robust Retention Claws: The binding mechanism of these pedals is equipped with robust binding claws and it is protected by the large cages.
  • Available Reflector: An additional reflector part SM-PD60 can be found if you want to upgrade the visibility.
  • Low Maintenance: Stout spindle axles offer long-lasting service and they have deficient maintenance.
  • Build Quality: Constructed with high-quality Aluminum to endure aggressive usage.
  • Color: These can be found in either White or Black color.
  • Depending on the retailer, you can expect a 2-year warranty for these pedals.

Some Weaknesses
  • Compared to other models in its series, the cages offer less support.
  • They are not super light and some may find them quite heavy.
  • They may start to make clicking noises even when they are used for a short period of time.
  • Lacks in quality and the bearings may wear out sooner than you expected.

Shimano presented these budget-friendly yet brilliant PD-M530 pedals for those who enjoy riding with less cage support. These pedals have an innovative design for not letting you get stuck on rocks and for flushing out mud and debris when you step your foot into them. They offer a large surface area for more stability and adjustable tension release for more versatility when you ride from trails to tarmac.

Almost all SPD compatible shoes work very well with these pedals and we barely found any shoes that don’t adopt them. These pedals include SM-SH51 cleats as most Shimano SPD pedals and you can also use SM-SH56 cleats with them. For their rigid structure, they can ensure minimum loss of power while pedaling. They can maintain the expected acceleration and speed if you switch to different terrain.

Shimano PD-M530

Shimano PD-M530

[3] Shimano XT PD-M8120: Wide Pedal Surface with Integrated Cage

Shimano XT PD-M8120

  • Type: Multi-Purpose (SPD/Flat)
  • Platform Dimension: 9” x 5” x 3”
  • Weight: 0.96 lbs (Pair)
  • Spindle Diameter: 9/16”
  • Body Material: Aluminum
  • Included Cleat: SM-SH51
  • Optional Cleat: SM-SH56
  • Axle Material: Chrome-moly
  • Bearing Type: Sealed Cartridge

Features & Considerations
  • Wide Pedal Surface: These pedals offer wide pedal surfaces to maximize shoe-to-pedal contact.
  • Low Stack Height: These pedals ensure a lower platform design so that whenever you are using cleats, you will get low stack height for better stability.
  • Included Cleat Spacer: To interact with various types of shoes with different lug heights and outsoles, 1mm tuned spacers are included with these pedals.
  • Integrated Cage: Large integrated cages increase the stability and control to another level when you are not clipped in and from any impacts, they protect the binding mechanism.
  • Retention Claws: The binding mechanism offers retention claws that are robust enough to guarantee smooth engagement and disengagement.
  • Adjustable Tension System: Like most SPD pedals, these also provide the option to customize the tension system for flexible entry and release.
  • Build Quality: An Aluminum structure makes these pedals durable and viable where the spindle axles are made of strong chrome-moly Steel.
  • Available Reflector: An optional reflector part SM-PD60 is available for enhancing visibility that is sold separately.
  • Great set of pedals that will work perfectly with AM and ME series off-road shoes.
  • You may get a 2-year warranty depending on the conditions of Shimano.

Some Weaknesses
  • These pedals may not work with some shoes.
  • For mountain biking, these pedals may not offer the expected weight and they might seem to be a little bit heavy for some riders.
  • These pedals may not shed mud or debris like other SPD pedals in their series.

The Shimano DEORE XT PD-M8120 pedals allow you to ride aggressively on rough trails for their improved durability and firmness. They offer wide platform surfaces that lead to extensive contact zones for maximum power transfer while pedaling and for improving cycling control. Their integrated cages act like shields for protecting the binding mechanism. The cages also allow you to engage and disengage the pedals easily.

These pedals are excellent for the trail, enduro, and all-mountain cycling. These pedals are equipped with the standard SM-SH51 cleats and if you want, you can use the optional SM-SH56 cleats. Like all DEORE XT series pedals, these pedals have gone through some trail-tests in order to prove their reliability, durability, and performance. The legacy of DEORE XT has proved to be important for serious mountain bikers nearly for decades.

Shimano XT PD-M8120

Shimano XT PD-M8120

[4] Shimano PD-M520: Excellent Pedals for Trail/XC

Shimano PD-M520L Clipless Bike Pedals 9/16in

  • Type: Multi-Purpose (SPD/Flat)
  • Platform Dimension: 4.6” x 4.1” x 3.9”
  • Weight: 0.84 lbs (Pair)
  • Spindle Diameter: 9/16”
  • Body Material: Alloy
  • Included Cleat: SM-SH51
  • Optional Cleat: SM-SH56
  • Axle Material: Chrome-moly
  • Bearing Type: Sealed Cartridge

Features & Considerations
  • Compact Body: You can accommodate the pedals easily for their compact design.
  • Open Binding: An open binding design of these pedals will adjust your feet smoothly and this will also access an easy entry.
  • SPD system: Their SPD system will make pedaling more efficient for a handful of shoes and the recessed cleat will make them more comfortable.
  • Mud-shedding Design: These pedals promote a superior mud-shedding design that will flush out any mud and debris when you step in.
  • Adjustable Tension System: Like other SPD models, you can enjoy easy entry and release with their adjustable tension settings.
  • Build Quality: Made of high-quality Aluminum and the spindle axles are made of chrome-moly Steel maintaining Shimano’s standard.
  • Low Maintenance: These pedals axle units that can be maintained with low effort and service.
  • Color: You can purchase these pedals either in Black or White color.
  • Available Reflector: In order to enhance the visibility, these pedals have an additional SM-PD22 reflector part.
  • Depending on the retailer and manufacturer policy, you may get a 2-year warranty for these pedals.

Some Weaknesses
  • There are some complaints that these pedals start to make clicking sounds like crazy after using them for a short period of time.
  • You may experience grease leaks from the bearings and they might wear out sooner than your expectation.
  • The cleats may be short for some people and it is better to adjust the tension or you may get some bruises.

The Shimano M520 pedals are for those who are willing to start riding with clipless pedals or for those who are seasoned veterans looking for some quality pedals that are also budget-friendly. These are great performance pedals featuring durable steel axles, compact shape, sealed bearings, and open, mud-shedding design.

These pedals can be used with SM-SH51 cleats as they initially come with the package. But you can also use the SM-SH56 cleats as they intend to be used with most SPD pedals. They might be a little heavy for some users, but they can offer extra support for their faux bear trap alloy cage. If you are looking for a high-end pedal for mountain biking at an entry-level price, these pedals will do the job.

Shimano PD-M520L Clipless Bike Pedals 9/16in

Shimano PD-M520

[5] Shimano PD-M540: Lighter than the M520 model

Shimano PD-M540

  • Type: Multi-Purpose (SPD/Flat)
  • Platform Dimension: 6.3” x 4.9” x 2.2”
  • Weight: 0.776 lbs (Pair)
  • Spindle Diameter: 9/16”
  • Body Material: Aluminum
  • Included Cleat: SM-SH51
  • Optional Cleat: SM-SH56
  • Axle Material: Chrome-moly
  • Bearing Type: Sealed Cartridge

Features & Considerations
  • Dual Sided Platform: These pedals access easy entry and exit for their dual-sided platforms.
  • Classic SPD Cleats: You can rely on these classic SPD cleats for easy engagement and disengagement of your feet with the pedals.
  • Mud-Shedding Design: Shed off the muds and debris while cycling in terrains or mountains as these pedals offer an innovative mud-shedding design.
  • Low Maintenance: These pedals have cartridge axle units that are reputed for low maintenance.
  • Binding Claws: Binding mechanisms offer fluorine-coated open binding claws for an auto attachment of your feet.
  • Available Reflector: An optional SM-PD22 reflector is available for these pedals if you are thinking of improving the visibility.
  • Build Quality: Like all the high-quality pedals, they are made of Aluminum and come with Chrome-moly steel spindle axles.
  • Lightweight: The outstanding construction of these pedals made them very light.
  • Easy Installation: An 8mm hex key is required for a simple and hassle-free installation of these pedals.
  • Color: Two colors are offered with these pedals, they are -Black and Silver color.
  • You should probably get a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty with these pedals.

Some Weaknesses
  • The cleats that come with these pedals are quite hard to release them.
  • You may off the bike for losing balance if the release mechanism does not cooperate properly.
  • Rather than traditional Shimano wrench, these pedals need an 8mm Allen wrench or hex key for installation. That may lead to extra arrangements.

The Shimano PD-M540 SPD pedals were mainly introduced for off-road and cross-country cycling. Yet this has also made them also very reliable for mountain cycling. These pedals were designed in such a way that they can easily get rid of muds and debris while you are cycling on off-roads. For this purpose, these pedals better beat others in their class. The dual-sided platform allows them to be used either as normal pedals or as clipless pedals.

The open binding mechanism of these pedals has the ability to attach your feet automatically. The binding claws are coated with fluorine and they ensure the right positioning of your feet during the whole ride. Like most SPD pedals, the SM-SH51 cleats are included with these pedals. Then again, you have the option to use the optional SM-SH56 cleats as well.

Shimano PD-M540

Shimano PD-M540

[6] Shimano XT PD-M8020: Excellent build quality with Lightweight & high performance

Shimano XT PD-M8020

  • Type: Multi-Purpose (SPD/Flat)
  • Platform Dimension: 7.9” X 3.2” X 1.6”
  • Weight: 0.899 lbs (Pair)
  • Spindle Diameter: 9/16”
  • Body Material: Alloy
  • Included Cleat: SM-SH51
  • Optional Cleat: SM-SH56
  • Axle Material: Chrome-moly
  • Bearing Type: Sealed Cartridge

Features & Considerations
  • Shoe-to-pedal Contact: Compared to the PD-M785 model, these pedals can deliver 11.7% more shoe-to-pedal contact.
  • Low Stack Height: Lower platform design to get a low stack height when you clip-in for more stability.
  • Integrated Cage: Get better control and stability when cycling for the integrated cages that also protect the binding mechanism from impacts.
  • Retention Claws: The binding mechanism offers retention claws that are very robust. These claws also ensure smooth release and engagement.
  • Adjustable Tension Settings: You can customize the tension adjustment for flexible entry and release.
  • Build Quality: Excellent build quality consists of a forged alloy body, a revised cleat interference, and chrome-moly steel axles.
  • Available Reflector: Get and install the optional reflector part SM-PD60 if you want to enhance the visibility.
  • Lightweight: These pedals were made light as feathers for mind-blowing performance on any trail.
  • Installation: These pedals instruct a simple 8mm hex wrench mount installation process.
  • You can hope for a 2-year warranty for purchasing this product.

Some Weaknesses
  • When it comes to the mud-shedding design, these are not as good as some of its competitors.
  • These are light but not super light pedals.

The Shimano XT PD-M8020 pedals are outstanding choices from the DEORE XT M8000 series. These pedals are ultra-durable yet light, offer strong build quality, improve control and stability. All these features make these pedals a great value product. Watch this video below as it shows important aspects of these pedals in details –

A pair of SM-SH51 cleats come with the package and as usual, you can also use the SM-SH56 cleats as alternatives. These pedals have a low and sleek design that lowers the stack height of the cleats for improved stability. These are well-designed pedals made for the trail, all-mountain, and enduro bikes. In the SPD mechanism, the platforms are equipped with alloy cages.

Shimano XT PD-M8020

Shimano XT PD-M8020

[7] Shimano XT PD-M8000 XC: Strong, Durable Adamant Design

Shimano XT PD-M8000 XC

  • Type: Multi-Purpose (SPD/Flat)
  • Platform Dimension: 7.9” X 3.2” X 1.6”
  • Weight: 0.756 lbs (Pair)
  • Spindle Diameter: 9/16”
  • Body Material: Aluminum
  • Included Cleat: SM-SH51
  • Optional Cleat: SM-SH56
  • Axle Material: Chrome-moly
  • Bearing Type: Sealed Cartridge

Features & Considerations
  • Adamant Design: Promote an adamant look featuring large pedaling surfaces for efficient power transfer.
  • Shoe-to-pedal Contact: Compared to the PD-M780 model, these pedals offer 7.7% more shoe-to-pedal contact that makes them more reliable than the other pedals in their series.
  • Adjustable Tension Settings: Like all the XT M8000 series models, these pedals offer an adjustable tension setting for smooth entry and release.
  • Cleat Spacer: Along with the cleats, you will get a 1.0mm cleat spacer in the package.
  • Mud-shedding Design: Feature an innovative mud-shedding design where any mud and debris will quickly get removed when you step your feet in.
  • Retention Claws: The engagement and disengagement of your shoes with the pedals become smoother for these robust retention claws.
  • Build Quality: The body of the pedal is constructed with forged Aluminum and the spindle axle is made of strong, durable chrome-moly Steel.
  • Available Reflector: Purchase the SM-PD60 reflector part separately if you wish to upgrade the visibleness.
  • Installation: The installation process is fair and easy, only requires an 8mm hex wrench.
  • You can expect a 2-year warranty for these pedals.

Some Weaknesses
  • Offensive riding for several times with aggression may break the platforms loose from the steams.
  • For a fixed gear bike, the spring tension may wear out eventually and these pedals show no progression for such bikes.

When you are willing to get an edge on the competition, the DEORE XC race pedals are the exceptional choices clearly. And among all the models, the Shimano XT PD-M8000 XC pedals can set the standard for MTB performance to another level as it is equipped with the new XT components. Shimano describes these pedals and the M520 pedals in this video and we have found this very helpful, especially when you want to compare them –

Maintaining its reliability and durability, the XT PD-M8000 XC pedal comes with several improvements compared to its previous M780 model. Because these pedals offer 7.7% more contact between the shoes and themselves and shorten the stack height to 0.5 mm more power transfer and pedaling stability. The standard SM-SH51 cleats come with these pedals and they can also be used with the optional SM-SH56 cleats.

Shimano XT PD-M8000 XC

Shimano XT PD-M8000

[8] Shimano PD-M647: Innovative, Better control, High performance

Shimano PD-M647

  • Type: Multi-Purpose (SPD/Flat)
  • Platform Dimension: 5.2” x 4.2” x 3.2”
  • Weight: 1.25 lbs (Pair)
  • Spindle Diameter: 9/16”
  • Body Material: Aluminum
  • Included Cleat: SM-SH51
  • Optional Cleat: SM-SH56
  • Axle Material: Chrome-moly
  • Bearing Type: Sealed Cartridge

Features & Considerations
  • Pop-up Mechanism: The entry and release will become easier than ever as the “pop-up” mechanism of these pedals can tilt the binding at a 12.5° angle.
  • Innovative: Integrates the outer sole of your shoe and the pedal into a single form eliminating any toe-clip for merging power while pedaling.
  • Greater Efficiency: The SPD system not only boosts power but also responsible for greater stability, comfort, and efficiency.
  • Adjustable Tension Settings: Adjust the spring tension to your preference so that you can access an easy entry and release.
  • Mud-shedding Design: These pedals feature a superior open binding mud-shedding design that can wipe out muds and debris in an instant.
  • Build Quality: Made of high-quality forged Alloy where the spindle unit is made of chrome-moly steel reinforced with Steel collar.
  • Available Reflector: An optional reflector part SM-PD60 is available if you wish to upgrade the visibility.
  • This product is covered with a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Some Weaknesses
  • Unlike the CrankBrothers pedals, they lack to remove muds and debris.
  • These pedals are not affordable for all people because of their price.
  • As for the price, they feature no replaceable pins.
  • Despite having an excellent build quality, the pedal cages are made of plastic.

The Shimano PD-M647 is the right set of pedals for extreme conditions and tough competitions. They were designed for enduring the rigors of extreme riding and BMX racing. You can enjoy the SPD or SPD-SL feature on both sides of these pedals. What is unique about these pedals is the pop-up mechanism, it tilts the binding at a 12.5° angle that is great for easy and smooth entry and exit.

Aside from the pop-up mechanism, these pedals are equipped with swivel cages for accelerating and facilitating access to the pedals. Moreover, they have an open binding mud-shedding design that clears a significant amount of mud and debris when you step in. This makes them an excellent choice for off-road or BMX cycling. Although the SM-SH51 cleats are included when you purchase these pedals, you certainly use the optional SM-SH56 cleats without any issue.

Shimano PD-M647

Shimano PD-M647

[9] Shimano XTR PD-M9020: Improved Stability & Extremely Wide Platforms

Shimano XTR PD-M9020

  • Type: Multi-Purpose (SPD/Flat)
  • Platform Dimension: 9” x 5” x 2”
  • Weight: 0.379 lbs (Pair)
  • Spindle Diameter: 9/16”
  • Body Material: Aluminum
  • Included Cleat: SM-SH51
  • Optional Cleat: SM-SH56
  • Axle Material: Chrome-moly
  • Bearing Type: Sealed Cartridge

Features & Considerations
  • Extremely Wide: Your feet will stay in extremely wide platforms that will increase shoe-to-pedal contact areas for excellent control and power transfer.
  • Wide Bearing Space: Bearings are placed in wider spaces that will increase rigidity.
  • Sealed Cartridge Bearings: Sealed cartridge bearings deliver excellent performance for rotating the crank arm and they are nicely lubricated in order to keep out dirt and moisture.
  • Improved Stability: These pedals can function flawlessly under any type of riding condition and increase the stability when they are not clipped in.
  • Adjustable Tension Settings: Customize the tension according to your own comfort for a smooth entry and release.
  • Superior Mud-shedding Design: You will barely notice mud and debris when you step in the pedals for their open binding mud-shedding design.
  • Slim Axle Unit: Axle units are now slimmer in order to increase space between bindings.
  • Build Quality: These pedals are built expertly with Aluminum with a proprietary coating and the hollow chrome-moly axles are made of Steel.
  • Retention Claw: Get smooth engagement and release for these robust retention claws.
  • Lightweight: These might just be the lightest pedals can find for mountain biking.
  • The larger platform protects the binding mechanism from any impact.
  • You will get a 3-year warranty from the date of purchase.

Some Weaknesses
  • You need to be careful of the side edges of these pedals otherwise, you might get injured.

The Shimano XTR PD-M9020 pedals from the PD-M9020 series are some of the top-of-the-line products of the company. These pedals can offer unified power transfer and control for enduro, rough terrain, or all-mountain type cycling. These pedals were built keeping in mind that they will be able to tackle single track and technical descents confidently with control.

Their slim and hollow spindle axles are equipped with two sets of angular contact bearings and they are placed keeping a wide space between them. Unlike ordinary Shimano bike pedals where standard 24 bearings are used, these XTR pedals use 22 highly polished Steel bearings. Shimano declares that these are assembled by the hands of highly skilled technicians in Japan.

Shimano XTR PD-M9020

Shimano XTR PD-M9020

[10] Shimano PD-M9100 XTR: Lightweight with Perfect fit & grip 

Shimano PD-M9100 XTR

  • Type: Multi-Purpose (SPD/Flat)
  • Platform Dimension: 6.3” x 4.3” x 2”
  • Weight: 0.68 lbs – Short Axle / 0.69 lbs – Normal Axle (Pair)
  • Spindle Diameter: 9/16”
  • Body Material: Aluminum
  • Included Cleat: SM-SH51
  • Optional Cleat: SM-SH56
  • Axle Material: Chrome-moly
  • Bearing Type: Sealed Cartridge

Features & Considerations
  • Wide Contact Area: Wide edge-to-edge contact area provides more shoe-to-pedal interference and can efficiently transmit more power fast and constant acceleration.
  • Wide Bearing Space: These pedals are rigid for their wide bearing placement, which also helps to distribute load uniformly.
  • Slim Axle Unit: Now the axle units are slimmer in order to make the pedals weight-optimized.
  • Optional Axle Unit: An optional 3mm shorter axle is available that optimizes the overall weight a little.
  • Cleat Spacer: A 1.0mm cleat spacer will be included in the package.
  • Lower Stack Height: These sleek low profile pedals ensure lower stack heights for the cleats. So, your feet will attach to the pedals firmly for better control and stability.
  • Lightweight: Excellent pedals for their light weights, almost 310gm per pair.
  • Build Quality: Strong and sturdy pedal body made of top-grade Aluminum and come with Steel chrome-moly spindle axles.
  • Installation: These pedals promote an easy installation with an 8mm hex mount.
  • Superior Mod-shedding Design: Cylindrical mud-shedding design offers better mud clearance for constant stepping in and out.
  • Available Reflector: An additional reflector part SM-PD60 is available for the regular axle type and SM-PD22 for the 3mm shorter axle type.
  • Shimano covers all its XTR pedals with a 3-year warranty that is measured from the date of purchase.

Some Weaknesses
  • After a limited number of rides, the seals may fall out from the axles.
  • These are relatively shoe dependent. So, they may not be as good as your expectation if you want to use them without cleats.

The XTR M9000 series pedals are the most advanced pedals for mountain biking form Shimano. Equipped with the high-end components, you can find these pedals for trail and race. And you can consider the PD-M9100 XTR as the flagship model of this series for the next generation of cycling. These are the gold standard pedals that are perfect for the XC, CX, and gravel riders. Shimano has really pushed its engineering leadership for inventing these top-grade mountain bike pedals.

With an intuitive and seamless interface, these pedals have enhanced the pedaling efficiency to a great extent. These pedals offer 2 different length options for the spindle axle. You can either choose the 52mm or the 55mm axle that dials in your fit. These pedals are the benchmarks of better traction control and predictable steering, which make them the weapon of choice for the World Championship around the world.

Shimano PD-M9100 XTR

Shimano PD-M9100 XTR


What should you look for when purchasing pedals for mountain biking

When you are going to buy pedals not just only for mountain biking but also for any type of cycling, several questions may pop-out into your mind. These questions can be pretty straight forward yet their answers aren’t so predictable. For this reason, we want to discuss with you the solutions to the questions that you really need to ask yourself when purchasing mountain bike pedals.

What is the appropriate size of the pedals?

You might be wondering what size should fit you the best while you are looking for a pair of pedals. This question is obvious and it is reasonable to ask yourself as you will the one who is going to ride with them. Well, there are different sizes of pedals. Some pedals may be larger than the other while some may be smaller. Okay now let us break it down for you by categorizing the pedals into three sizes, they are – large pedals, medium pedals, and small pedals.

Let’s start with the large size pedals. Nukeproof Horizon CL, HT X2, Crank Brothers Mallet DH, DMR V-Twin are some of the big pedals that you can either find available in the local store or online. Because of their large surfaces, they can provide more support under your feet. As a result, you will make efficient strokes for pedaling for the unified transmit of power. Whether you are clipped in or not, these pedals your feet security by not allowing them to slide off. Most of the time, these pedals are heavy and they are suggested for those who started riding with clipless pedals or for the gravity riders.

When it comes to the small pedals, we can mention Crank Brothers Candy or Shimano PD-M530 pedals as references. They do provide an adequate contact area as the front and rear portion of the cage is now optimized. However, there are some ‘skeleton’ and ‘lollipop’ style pedals that can be considered in this category. They are the Crank Brothers Eggbeaters that have skeleton type design and Speedplay Zero pedals that look more like lollipops. They offer no platform protection and for those who are more professional riding with clipless pedals. And you need to have compatible stiff shoes in order to use them.

After describing the large and small pedals, now it’s time to discuss the moderate or medium size platform pedals. These are also called the ‘enduro’ size pedals. These pedals are smaller than the larger pedals and bigger than the smaller ones. Although they use moderate size platforms, they include grip pins. So, you can use them even if you are unclipped. They have placed themselves in the latest category of pedals and are recommended for any type of user with various aspects. Shimano 9120 XTR/8100 XT, HT HT1, Nukeproof Horizon CS, and Crank Brothers Mallet E can be some of the great examples of these pedals.

What functionalities are you specifically looking for?

Different pedals offer different functionalities. The functionalities they offer also depends on their brands. Some pedals are specifically built for specific purposes yet some have special designs in order to perform well for that purpose.

Aside from the platform, weight, and price; some riders go for the same pedals again and again for their particular sets of functionalities. Shimano pedals have been leading the industry for decades. These pedals are much similar when it comes to their functionalities. They have similar build qualities, adjustable tension mechanism, bearing type, axle units, and most of the time; they can be used with similar type cleats. Although the action for clipping-in and out may vary, you can not adjust the height between the pedal and shoe. In other words, the stack height is fixed.

Other popular brands such as Crank Brothers and Time use a hoop-based mechanism that provides a smooth and quiet riding experience. This is also better for mud clearance and ensures a hassle-free engagement and disengagement. Crank Brothers pedals do not offer spring tension settings. However, you can tune the gap between your shoe and the pedal with shims. For accomplishing the same job, DMR uses different shims and rubber bumper heights.

On the contrary, H2 pedals fit mostly in the BMX background. As BMX cycling is aggressive and requires sudden jumps and movements, they make sure a secure feel with their double-sprung mechanism. Although loose foot connection requires less strain to unclip your shoes from the pedals, the genuine racing professionals might prefer a fixed foot connection. The float may vary depending on the pedal. But you can alter it from 0 to 20° by switching a different pair of cleats.

How much are you willing to invest in the pedals?

Your budget is also another major fact. It has a great influence on your choice. This significant factor raises in our minds first before we buy something. As for pedals, the choices do not always in line with the investment. However, you will get more options if your investment is higher.

Cheaper pedals do not offer any special features, they can be compared with the most regular ones. As the price increases, the quality and features also increase. You can expect to get adjustable pins, spring-tension system, wider pedal surface, open binding mechanism if you are willing to spend more.

Some pedals use different types of coating in order to increase their longevity so that they can carry on providing service for a long time. Some fancy pedals use different materials such as Titanium or forged Steel in the axle unit. This not only just gives a premium vibe but also improves the performance potential.

That being said, it doesn’t mean that you can always expect to get a more reliable product if the product is expensive. Today, the reputed manufacturers built quality pedals in such a way that they remain budget-friendly so that people from all classes can buy them. They follow a brilliant principle, that is – to make performance pedals available to every class of people at an entry-level price. The Shimano’s SPD and XTR series pedals are the prime examples of this. These pedals are smartly built in such a way that you will hardly notice any difference between them and the expensive ones.

So, are you going to spend a whole lot of cash under a pair of pedals, or you would buy something decent that suits your budget? We let you decide that for yourself.

Professional tips for Pedal and Cleat setup

It is hard to deny that professional cyclists spend most of their time on bikes and there is just about no one who spends more time on their bikes like them. So, it is no surprise that they are the ones who know cleats better than anyone and they know how to set them up in the proper way.

It’s a common problem to disengage the cleats from the pedals when you are using them. Then how do the professionals deal with this problem? Well, many professional riders use different color cleats when they are on their track. But we will get back to this fact after giving you some advice to set up your cleats properly.

Step-by-step guide for setting up your cleats:

  1. Start pedaling without the cleats:
    Start to pedal only with your shoes. This time, do not attach any cleat under your shoe-sole. If you have already attached cleats, remove them immediately. Perhaps this can be an opportunity for you to replace new cleats with the old ones. Try to tighten your shoes as normal and don’t forget to wear normal socks.
  2. Locate the ball of your foot wearing shoes:
    While you are putting on your regular cycling shoes, try to locate the ball of your foot by pressing with your thumb on the inside edge of the shoe. This should be easy to figure out as this is a bony part sticking out sideways at the bottom of your toe.
  3. Mark the ball:
    Mark on the side of your shoe where the center of the ball is situated. Here you need to be as accurate as possible. You can ask one of your friends to help you out with this. Repeat the same procedure for the other foot.
  4. Draw a line under the sole according to the mark:
    Now take your shoes off and put them on a flat surface. Against the mark on your shoe, place a straight edge. Draw a line with a pencil or marker straight under the sole along the edge of the mark. Check if the mark is visible by turning over the sole.
  5. Line up the ink with the mark:
    Place a cleat on the line aligning with the mark and make sure it stays on the point where the center of the pedal axle will be. In order to indicate the center of the pedal axle, many cleats have marks on their sides and this is usually done by a notch or line. So, we assume you will not face any difficulty here.
  6. Fore and aft set up for cleats:
    Now, this is important as it can be a little difficult to understand; especially if you are new. To find out if your foot sits closely at the center of the pedal axle, you need to move the cleat side-to-side. Move the cleats inwards in order to move your foot outwards if you like to ride spreading your knees. If you like to ride keeping your knees narrow, then move the cleats inwards and your foot outwards. This setup can be described more specifically with Q-factor. Perhaps this image can give you a better idea –Q-factor Setup
  7. Adjust float and tension:
    Tension sets the difficulty for the entry and release of your feet from the pedals. Most pedals do offer spring tension systems to adjust the rigor and constriction of their feet when they are clipped-in. In the beginning, it is wise to go for the lightest settings. When you think you are natural with this setting, you can go for the next stage. This picture may guide you to adjust the tension –Spring Tension Adjustment

As for the float adjustment, try out different cleats and judge which one suits you better. If you like to have your feet close-bodied with the pedals, you can go cleats that have 0° float. If you like to freely move your feet, you can choose the cleats that have 6° float. Again, the cleats with 2° float can offer a little bit of comfort and performance.

Some like a close-fitting so that they can get ultimate performance while some might like a relaxed fitting to move their feet more freely and these types of cleats also help them to get an easy release.

Shimano offers 3 different colors of cleats with three different float adjustments. This picture of Shimano cleats will give you a broad idea about their float –

Shimano Cleats Colors
Again Look also provides pretty much the same offering but here the colors of the cleats are different. Take a look at this picture for details –

LOOK Keo Grip
This video from GCN (Global Cycling Network) will show you that different colored cleats are used by various professionals for their sprint. They will also tell you about the float angles and how much tension they have set to make pedaling efficient at the same time comfortable. So take a look –

Conclusion

At the bottom of this discussion, making the right decision is very important when it comes to the selection of the right pair of pedals. No matter what type of pedal you choose, do it wisely. Making the right decision is very important when it comes to the selection of the right pair of pedals. We suggest you buy any of these pedals as they have proven to be some of the best you can find in the market without any doubt. You can already get an idea about the qualities of these pedals if you have taken their features into your account. We always try to present the features of each product so that you can make a fair decision for your choice. We hope that reading this article, you have already come to a position for buying the right set of pedals that suit you the most. We appreciated a lot if you have read this article taking your precious time and hope this was beneficial to you even if it’s a little.

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Last update on 2020-07-31 at 16:02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dion Lewis
My name is Dion Lewis.

I’ve been cycling from my childhood. When I was in high school, I started racing in our local competitions.

At my college life, I took a part time job in a bicycle shop and I learned how to repair and maintain bicycles professionally.

Though I love racing, mountain biking is another thing I do frequently. My friends, neighbors, and colleagues treat me as an avid rider and take my suggestions while they plan for a new bike or a bike gear.

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