4 Best SPD Pedals for Mountain Bike (2017 Reviews)

Having spent hours on end putting SPD pedals to the test, we came to a conclusion that the list below was the most favorable for any rider. My panel was made up of pros in the mountain biking arena that were more than willing to push these pedals to the limit on and off the track.

Mountain bike pedals have to be sufficient enough to withstand extreme riding as well as provide ample comfort and power all through the experience. We found that the Shimano Unisex PD-M520 MTB Pedal did just that and we selected it as the best SPD Pedal for mountain bikes for this year.

Shimano Unisex PD-M520 MTB SPD Pedal

Best SPD Pedal for Road Bike

  • Aluminum body with steel retention springs and plates
  • Includes Shimano SPD cleats, washers, and bolts for SPD compatible shoes
  • Compact two-sided design
  • Weighs 380 g (one pair)

Shimano has for a long time been leading in pro bike pedal design. The most crucial parts of any pedal are the platform, the cleats, the release mechanism and the seals. All these need to be well designed so as to be able to provide favorable cadence. Our lists provide pedals that not only provide power but allow the rider the ease to control or handle the pedals.

Our 4 Best SPD Pedals for Mountain Bike

Shimano Unisex PD-M520 MTB SPD Pedal

Best Buy

(Best SPD Pedals for Mountain Bike)

The Shimano Unisex PD M520 MTB pedals come with some very attractive features which are why they topped our list. The adjustable tension is one of them. Mountain bike riding involves a lot of vibrations on the bike, and these will be transferred to the feet. An adjustable tension determines how hard the cleats can be held in place. This affects the strength that the rider needs to get the foot off the pedal. The pedal provides settings that are favorable at both extremes. The broad platform provides safety precautions that even in the milliseconds your feet miss the cleats, you are good. The wide platform also provided larger cleats allowing for a faster exit in case of sudden stops. This was a point of contention since some pro-riders preferred slimmer platforms for the purpose eliminating a lot of guesswork. We also found them very easy to install a quality that any novice rider will find useful. These pedals are heavy gauge weighing more than most which is okay for a mountain bike. Mountain bikes are heavy bikes and not for the reason of function but strength. The seals cover the bearings and springs well enough to minimize the need for maintenance every once in a while.

Buy Shimano Unisex PD-M520 MTB SPD Pedal!

Shimano PD-M530 MTB SPD Pedal

The Shimano PD M530 comes in second for some reasons besides being so reasonably priced. The group applauded the aluminum and steel blend that provided heavy gauge functions ensuring that the pedal lasted.

The cleats allowed a smooth entry and exit. This helps unlock feet from the pedal fast and easy. The adjustable mechanism also makes it ideal for the same. A very tight cleat will cause the foot to get stuck for longer since the rider will need more strength to get it off while a loose one will keep releasing the foot so often. The fact that a mountain bike ride is too bouncy means that the foot will come off often with a loose cleat. An adjustable one allows one to calibrate the exact tension needed for a comfortable release.  The platform is wider than the best choice which is a good thing for beginners. This ensures that you have some riding space even when the clips disengage. The double-sided cleats give a chance after chance to lock in for convenience. The wide entry points allow sufficient float during riding avoiding knee and ankle injuries by which occurs by bending or twisting the foot.

Buy Shimano PD-M530 MTB SPD Pedals!

Shimano A530 SPD Pedals

Our third best choice is the Shimano A530 SPD. These were the lightest pedals we came across which is a good thing for the riding around town or the track racers. These were designed with the beginner in mind thanks to the double feature. They have a platform on one side and a cleat cage on the other for the pro. The platform allows the rider to ride in luxury when not in need for speed. The SPD side provides the power needed when pushing the bike. This was not a huge advantage for my pro friends because they liked dual pedals that had cleats on both sides. Cleats on both sides increase the chances of clipping. A platform on one side only makes clipping harder. The rider will have to keep rotating the pedal with the shoe clips until the cleats lock. Despite this, the pedal has wide cleats making this somewhat easier. You get an adjustable float and longer rides thanks to the platform and considerable weight. The seals are well placed for lesser maintenance on the bearings and other hidden parts. This pedal costs more than the previous two which is also one of the reasons it is placed third.

Buy Shimano A530 SPD Pedals!

Shimano PD-M647 Clipless Pedal with Outer Cage

The biggest disadvantage of the Shimano PD-M647 is the price. We felt that this was too much for this specific pedal. Despite the price, it would still be one of the best choices for your mountain bike. The pedal comes with large cages for the purpose of a better float. These also make entry and exit easier which is a much-needed action on a mountain bike. People riding round pavements and regular roads may not find this useful because the feet will not be bouncing helplessly. The cages add stability and comfort all through the ride. The pedals are also double sided making clipping easier. This comes in handy in case you keep missing clipping in. The cleats double the chances of getting it right. You also get proper seals providing low maintenance needs and cleat tension adjustment properties. The rider works with preference when it comes to the strength needed to unhook the feet from the pedals. The type of terrain mostly determines the type of pedals the rider uses. The Very rough terrain is likely to disengage the feet from the cleat. A moderate adjustment prevents premature disengagement which leads to loss of power and concentration during riding.

Buy Shimano PD-M647 Clipless Pedal with Outer Cage!

How did I Pick the Best SPD Mountain Bike Pedals?

Picking the right pedals for you involved a panel of pro bikers and countless hours of research both off and online. It also took putting the pedals to test so as to ascertain the claims made. One of the first consideration made was the price. These pedals range very widely in pricing which can be tricky. Most riders will fall into the trap of cheap or expensive pedals without really knowing what it is in it for them. Not all cheap pedals are okay, and not all expensive ones will work wonders. Some reasonably priced pedals will outperform most which is the conclusion we came to. We wanted to pick pedals that will not cost an arm and a leg while at the same time providing timeless service.

We also broke down the functions one by one by exposing the pedals to dangerous conditions. These included mud, rain, water, ice, and pebbles. This was done during rigorous riding after which we checked the pedals that held together best. Exposing them for a while without washing also proved what was better when it comes to seals. We also brought in some old pedals from other riders of the same makes and compared them to the new ones to determine how strong each was. The best of the best had to have the right pricing, functions, and longevity for the rider. The functions include ease of installation and clipping when riding. Mountain bikes can be used in different ranges, but the most common one would be the rough terrain. This meant that the pedals had to be forgiving enough to keep the riders foot on them as well as enable engaging and disengaging at will without straining.

Detailed Reviews of Our Selected SPD Pedals

Shimano Unisex PD-M520 MTB SPD Pedal

Best Buy

(Best MTB SPD Pedal)

Feature Description
Price This is one of the most reasonably pierced pedals for the value it brings. The fact that it comes with dual functions for that tag makes it more than ideal for every rider looking for something cheap but perfect.
Seals The seals prevent frequent maintenance and damage to the bearings on the axle. The seals are also made of stainless steel for longevity.
Cleats The cleats are wide and sufficient for fast entry and exit. They are also well placed I an angle to allow ease of engaging and disengaging while in motion.
Platform The platform is not as wide as the others but is enough for a pro rider. Novice riders may not find this ideal because you will not get a place to rest your foot in case you miss the pedal when taking off.
Float The pedal comes with sufficient float that allows you to move your foot about without damaging your knee or tendons. This is also easily affected by the adjustment option that comes with the pedal.
Tension Adjustment The pedal comes with a tension adjustment for the cleat. The tool allows the user to set the precise release mechanism during riding. The highest digit and the lowest digit are still ideal enough to allow the rider to engage or disengage while riding easily.
Duality The double sided feature is ideal for quick clipping while in motion. The feature increases the chances of clipping two times over.
Resilience The metal pedal is the strongest we have ion the list. It is made of aluminum and stainless steel with steel being the main component. It is no doubt designed to last as long as the bike does.

Buy Shimano Unisex PD-M520 MTB SPD Pedal!

Shimano PD-M530 MTB SPD Pedals

Feature Description
Price The price is right for this pedal. It comes with great features that fall into the category of more expensive pedals while outplaying most of them. This is a pedal likely to fall within your budget if you are looking for something that provides two features for one price.
Seals The seals are ideal preventing frequent maintenance needs.
Cleats The cleats are wide enough for ease of entry and exit which is also improved by the adjustment options. The cleats are also double sides increasing the chances of clipping your foot on while in motion. This makes them ideal for pro riders that are seeking a quick engagement mechanism.
Platform The pedals come with an ample wide platform. This has provided space for broad cleats that allow a quick engagement. The platform also allows slight recovery of the foot while riding as the rider can rest a foot on them.
Adjustment Mechanism You get an adjustment option that allows you to manage the cleats to your liking. You can tighten or loosen them or just leave it the way it is if you like. The lowest and the highest options are also ideal.
Float You get ample float for your foot reducing the locking position. The float allows your foot to move without disengaging now and then.
Duality You will also get cleats on both sides of the pedal for double time engagement. This ensures that you do not slow down in case you suddenly need to disengage and the engage.
Resilience It is made of steel and aluminum for extra strength ensuring that you ride in some of the most treacherous places without any mishap.

Buy Shimano PD-M530 MTB SPD Pedals!

Shimano A530 SPD Pedals

Feature Description
Price It is very reasonably priced for a pedal that has both platform and cleat options.
Seals The seals are not exactly the best as the mechanism is exposed.
Cleats The cleat is wide allowing easy entry and exit at any point of the ride. This is what makes this pedal the best for beginners and pros alike.
Platform The pedal has an entire platform that allows you to ride with regular comfortable shoes if you like. This is an ideal option for riders that take long trips with their mountain bikes through various tracks.
Adjustment Mechanism The adjustment mechanism increases or decreases float as well as loosens or tightens the cleats. This affects the amount of strength needed to get the foot off the pedal.
Float The float is ample and can be adjusted to the liking of the rider. A loose float may lead to premature disengagement and a tight one to your foot getting jammed.
Duality The platform and cleat option is ideal for a beginner looking to improve riding skills. Both options provide different riding circumstances for the user.
Resilience You get a steel pedal body with aluminum parts. The only issue is that it does not come with a sufficient seal.

Buy Shimano A530 SPD Pedals!

Shimano PD-M647 Clipless Pedal with Outer Cage

Feature Description
Price This is pricier when compared to the other three which is the reasons why it comes last. The pedal is still cheaper than most in the market providing similar options.
Seals Compact seals prevent frequent maintenance. The design is minimal which provides tenacity.
Cleats Double-sided cleats are perfect for pro riders improving entry and exit while riding.
Platform The platform is large enough to allow wide cleats and a footrest in case the rider misses to clip in.
Adjustment Mechanism You get an adjustment mechanism that is marked for accuracy.
Float The adjustable device allows an adjustable float for the safety of your feet during a commute.
Duality The pedal is double sides increasing the chances of clipping in on transit.
Resilience This is a sturdy pedal made of stainless steel and aluminum for longevity.

Buy Shimano PD-M647 Clipless Pedal with Outer Cage!

Features to Consider Before Buying an MTB Pedal


This is the most important factor for most people. The budget decides what kind of pedal gets picked. In as much as this may not be the best way to pick a pedal, it is most at time inevitable. Pedals will range in price with some costing as low as $10 and others as much as $200. These two extremes do not necessarily determine the ability of the pedal. Some of them are merely the brand and the manufacturers being greedy. The best has to be worth the price. We found that the most reasonably priced pedals are some of the most outstanding. The four options provide a good range when it comes to pricing. It is important that you spend some time to invest in the right pedal for the right performance. Taking time to go through the shops both online and offline will give you a good idea of the options you have within your budget. Picking the best within the budget comes with knowledge and research.


It is not wise to downplay the role seals will play on a pedal. This simple parts mainly determine the longevity of your pedal. The seals cover the bearings and other delicate parts of the pedal. A good seal will ensure that the rest of the parts are well protected both from external impact and weather agents. The latter may not be possible but still ideal. Seals also determine the overall look of the pedal. They also act as a part of a footrest. Good seals will be made of stainless steel for the purpose of remaining corrosive free. They will also reduce the end for maintenance on the parts by offering ample protection.


These are what determines whether a pedal is clipless or not. They are also what determines the type of the pedal. The right type of cleats will also determine how good the engaging and disengaging action is. Some of the best pedals will offer wide cleats for some reasons. Wide cleats will also you ample entry and exit while riding. Adequate entry reduces the time taken to get your foot locked onto the pedal. This helps prevent toppling over before you even begin. The exit helps disengage the foot fast and easy. This is ideal especially when you need to stop suddenly. The inability to disengage the foot will lead to falling over which can hurt both you and your pride. Pedals can also come with dual cleats. One-sided pedals have the challenge of having to rotate the pedal so many times before getting your shoe clipped. This is a novice problem, but a problem nevertheless. A double-sided pedal will increase the chances of getting clipped to the pedal fast and easy. It is important that you determine the type of cleats you have on your pedal before making the purchase. Your level of riding should also be taken into account. Picking a pedal with a platform on one side and a clipless option on the other is okay if you are a beginner. It is also okay if you ride for very long distances. Double sided pedals are meant for fast extreme riding for shorter distances.


The pedal platform is as important as any other part of the pedal. Riders may have a different outlook on this part for some reason. Pro riders will sometimes prefer smaller platforms since they have mastered engaging and disengaging from the cages. A smaller platform will be a faster way to clip on for someone that has learned using these pedals. On the other hand, wider platforms provide a few basic advantages for the rider. A wider platform will provide the much-needed footrest, especially when riding for long distances. A wider platform also provides wider cages for cleats allowing easy entry and exit during riding. Larger platforms are associated with novice riders which are not accurate.

Some pro riders will work with these platforms so as to provide more float. Pedals that have these will allow for more space to adjust cleats as well as increase float when needed. It is not all the time that a rider will want more power from the bike. Long distant riders will seek for comfort and a reasonable drive all through. This is provided by a wider platform with wider cleats or cages coupled with proper adjustment. S0me of the challenges that pro riders will find with bigger platforms is lesser clearance. Riders that use rocky paths will need all the clearance that they can get. Broader Platforms may mean bigger pedals. Slimmer pedals will come with better clearance.

Adjustment mechanism

Issues of premature disengagement and getting stuck can all be traced to the issue of adjustment. It is wise that you pick pedals that allow you to adjust this mechanism. These mechanics adjust cleats in such a way that engaging or disengaging your foot from the bike becomes easier or harder. Making it too easy makes it very easy for the foot to get off the pedal losing power and speed. This may be okay if you are riding on a smooth track. Loose adjustments on a very rough track will not work since the foot bounces too often. This leads to premature disengagement.

Tightening the cleats too much also leads to bigger problems. The foot gets stuck, and you will also need more strength to get your foot off the pedal. This can be timely especially if you are tired from cycling for a long time. This leads to toppling over hurting yourself. It is important that you go for a pedal that allows you a wide range of adjustment. Getting the right one is purely a matter of preference. Those that come with permanent cleats may be too loose or too tight presenting a consistent problem every time you go riding. It is important that you take the time to get help from a professional if you do not understand how the mechanism works. Do not adjust it if you do not have any idea how to get the right level for your needs. You will, of course, get a hang of it with time as you keep riding.


The float refers to the allowance your foot gets to move about while riding. This may not sound like a good thing, but it is. Imagine your foot stuck one position with the only motion allowed being the cadence. Any twist or shift in the knee will lead to a severe tear of the tendons. The flat is determined by the adjustment at the cleats. These pedals will come with two types of floats. These are the lateral and twist float. The lateral float allows the foot to move side by side while the twist allows the foot to move up and down on the pedal. These movements provide the foot with resting positions and that very crucial motions needed before engaging and disengaging from the cleats.

A float should also not be too big since it will lead to premature disengagement. It should also not be too minimal to cause stiffness while riding. A good float will allow the foot to engage and disengage without a struggle.


Both sides of the pedal should be usable if you are looking for a good mountain bike pedal. Duality provides the ability to multitask on the bike. The pedal can have two sides with different functionalities or with the same. This means that pedal can have cleats on both sides or have a platform and cleat on the other side. Duality is purely a matter of preference but is also recommended for different types of riders.

Beginners will have trouble clipping in which is why a pedal with a platform on one side and cleat on the other will come in handy. This provides a point of reference when they miss engaging on the cleat. Having cleats on both sides could lead to a nasty fall if one foot is engaged and the other is not.

Pros will find having cleats on both sides ideal. This provides a premise for quick entry and exit when riding. Missing one side while trying to clip on provides the other. There are moments however when pros will find platform options ideal. Riding for long distances can be a tiring affair. A platform option provides the much-needed foot resting position. The fact that riding shoes are stiff also means that they can be uncomfortable. Platform options allow the rider to wear regular comfortable shoes and still ride.


The type of material used to make the pedal is a major factor. Mountain bikes, unlike the track bikes, are used in more difficult conditions. These conditions expose the bike to falling over, extreme weather and scratching. A pedal that is weak will fall apart in a very short time. It is for this reasons that resin-based pedals are avoided to some extent. Metallic pedals are deemed to be the best options for the purpose of durability. The best pedals will be made of stainless steel and aluminum. Both metals are non-corrosive and tough providing the mountain bike with the right strength. The pedaling a mountain bike is also more rigorous to overcome obstacles. Pedals with a strong axle make of stainless steel are ideal. Ensure that you pedal is strong enough to withstand the conditions you are willing to expose it to.

Why Should You Trust Me and This Review?

I have been riding since I can remember and pushing speeds is my forte. The right speed comes with the combination of some factors when it comes to bikes. All these factors have to be well streamlined so as to get the best-rated performance for your bike. There are moments where seconds make the difference. This means that the weight, design, and functions of any party of the bike will determine whether you carry the day or not. Bike pedals are no different from any other part of the bike. They are in fact the main point of contact when it comes to speed. Getting te3h right ones should be one of your priorities.

It is easy to assume that you can get the right pedal by taking a simple look at the features. The fact of the matter is that this is not always true. There are thousands of clipless pedals on the market that offer the promise of the best ride but fail miserably. One of the best ways to make sure that you get the best is to ensure that you put them to the test. This is one of the reasons why you should trust me. We put these and much more pedals to the test on various outbacks, and these came out shining. Some of the professional mountain bikers that I know and worked with previously also swore by them. Narrowing down this list took hours on and off the track to ensure that they are what they purport to be. A good pedal has to withstand the test of time too. A few months would not have given the right results on this which is where experience came in. Taking the time to talk to some pro riders across the board led to a compilation that is truly accurate. It is a well-known fact that preference often goes a long way to pick any product. It is also a fact that the best will always remain the best and those who know what to look for will agree on the same item.

Is This Guide for Me?

Knowing your pedals is one of the best ways to get a grip on your riding skills. This includes every other part of the bike. The type of pedals you install in your bike will determine the number of things ranging from the speed of the bike, how comfortable you are when riding, how far you can ride, how safe you are while riding and how much money you will use in the long run. This is for you whether you are a pro or novice rider. It comes a time that you need to replace the pedals, and the right move will either take you some steps forward or sidetrack your progress. The right pedals will get you ahead and in some instances improve your game.

Some pedals are ideal for beginners and those that will work best with experienced riders. Taking the time to read about the features of the bike helps the rider pick what works best at their level. A novice rider is better off with wide platforms and large cages for the purpose of clipping with ease. Pedals that have platforms on one side will also work best for the much-needed breaks. A pro rider will be at home with a double-sided clipless pedal. This increases the chances of clipping as well as the power in case the foot disengages. The biggest determinant of all this will be the intention of riding. A competing rider will want a high-performance pedal while a simple bike owner will want coming something more laid back.


The right pedal for your bike is a matter of the right research and decision-making. The four options we have proven beyond any doubt to be some of the best in the market today. We recommend that you take into account all the features we have listed so as to make the best decision. Creating a form of a checklist will help you rule out some deceptive options in the market. It is important to note that you cannot ride a mountain bike the right way until you have the right parts in place. The wrong pedals will not only cause accidents but damage your feet during your ride.

Shimano Unisex PD-M520 MTB SPD Pedal

Best SPD Pedal for Road Bike

  • Aluminum body with steel retention springs and plates
  • Includes Shimano SPD cleats, washers, and bolts for SPD compatible shoes
  • Compact two-sided design
  • Weighs 380 g (one pair)

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Last update on 2017-12-16 at 09:24 / 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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