Bicycle and Gear Reviews

On a budget: Shimano PD-M520 clipless pedals

2 Comments 19 July 2010

Shimano M520 Clipless pedal

If you’re not an avid biker, you probably might not know what a clipless pedal is. Even their name is a bit confusing, as it originally meant that “It is not a toe clip pedal, so it’s clipless” and people just continued calling it that. You might have spotted these small, funny looking pedals on bikes that usually look about half the weight of your bike, but if you’re driving any longer distances clipless pedals are very, very good investment.

As we spoke earlier in our post about shoes and soles, a hard sole is important but it’s even better if your foot is attached to the pedal. It is not only helping you control your bicycle better, it allows you to make use of the upstroke on your other foot – which naturally helps you conserve energy, go faster and allow you to climb those hills much easier.

We went on a search for clipless pedals on a budget, it’s best to buy a bundle with pedals and shoes since you’ll usually save money with them. We ended up with a bundle from local Finnish retail chain: Bike Planet and their offer of a Shimano branded bundle. It included the Shimano PD-M520 clipless pedal and the Shimano SH-M063 (the review for the shoe is out tomorrow) show with cleats for 99 euros.

You could also buy them separately from say, our partner Chain Reaction Cycles for about the same price – but as it always is with shoes, it’s better to try them on before buying.

So, a clipless pedal has two clamps on the pedal and the shoe has a cleat that the clamps grab. It works very similar to alpine skiing boots and the ski bindings, you clip to attach to the pedal and twist your foot to release. If someone tells you it’s difficult and/or dangerous, they’re lying. Modern clipless pedals are very easy to use and you can select the ease of release from the screw you can see in the image above on the bottom half, left from the Shimano logo in the pedal.

While the producer describes the PD-M520 (that’s Pedal, model 520 in Shimano language) as an off-road pedal, you can use it wherever you want. As long as you’re connected to the pedal, you don’t really care what kind of pedal you have. The pedal attaches to the shoe with a nice and loud (enough) click that you know you’re good to go and in all honesty, the pedals are large enough to pedal even with normal shoes. My shoes are size 48 (euro, which is about 13 in the UK?) and I have no problems with the pedals.

The good thing about the “off-road” aspect of these pedals is that they’re an open design, allowing muck and grime to flush through instead of having planes where it could gather and hinder the operation of the pedaling mechanism. For their affordability, availability and care-free operation, the PD520 comes highly recommended for a starter pedal.

Our verdict: ★★★★½

The price/quality with these pedals is astounding, even more so if you find them in the discount bin which you can often do.

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Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.

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Coming Thru (or Coming Through - as that URL was taken) is a daily updated bike magazine - a collection of writings and links that relate to biking in its every form. The idea started from when Maarten met Markus decided to finally start collecting the things we like about bikes and talk about our everyday adventures in dodging moving objects at high speeds.The site is run by a collage of cyclists, most notably by Canadian Johanna MacDonald, Belgian Maarten Patteeuw and Finnish Markus Sandelin.

It all started in the spring of 2010, after a record breaking snowy winter when Markus bought a house 25 kilometers from the office and decided to handle the commuting with a bicycle. It turned out the bike wasn’t up to standards for that kind of stress and the first weeks were more tragicomic than glorious. Thus the idea began to brew to actually document this journey.

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