I have been riding the Shimano XTR PD-M985 trail SPD pedals since April of 2012. But I don’t use these pedals just for trail riding. I use them for cross country mountain bike riding, and also for cyclocross racing. Here’s why!
At 390 grams, they are only about 80 grams heavier than the other Shimano XTR PD-M980 XC pedals. I don’t find 80 grams to be a big deal as far as weight goes, especially in an off road context.
But I do find the metal cage around the pedals to be extremely useful, and worth the 80 grams. The cage makes these pedals brain dead easy to click into, without accidentally overstepping, or understepping and slamming the pedal into your shin. Your foot can this target under the most stressful situations, which is when you really want to be able to hit your pedal and not miss it.
Also, the cage protects these pedals against rock strikes, when you’re climbing something technical and trying to muscle through it and misjudge your pedal stroke and end up hitting a rock you are trying to ride over. That can save you some real money if the cage prevents you from ruining your pedals.
I used these pedals for the entire fall season of cyclocross racing in 2012, and I can tell you that I didn’t see another pair of these on the cyclocross course. But in a situation where getting a good start is hugely important (much like mountain bike racing), being able to immediately step onto your pedal and get right in provides an advantage. Maybe I just really suck at getting in my pedals and no one else on earth has a problem stepping into the standard XC pedals. But even so, the cage makes a positive difference for me.
The cage around the pedal also makes an excellent platform that allows you to keep pedaling even when you aren’t clicked in all the way. In cyclocross, after you jump back onto your bike after a barrier, it’s very useful to be able to continue pedaling somewhat efficiently for a few pedal strokes when you didn’t hit the pedal perfectly and didn’t get in. In a mountain biking situation, it lets you keep pedaling after you have dismounted, or dabbed your foot.
Aside from cyclocross, I have the lower XT model installed on my 2012 Specialized Stumpjumper 29er carbon comp mountain bike right now, to save a few bucks. But I successfully completed the 2012 Leadville 100 on the XTR pedals that are now on my cyclocross bike, with zero problems or issues.
I’ve ridden these pedals in a few muddy situations, and the cage sheds mud well, and still allows a muddy shoe to connect and clip in, just like you’d expect from the high end of the Shimano SPD line of pedals.
Like all other mountain biking clipless pedals, these are double sided pedals. It doesn’t matter which end is facing up when you stomp on them.
Overall, I think that Shimano sets the standard for clipless mountain biking pedals. You can’t go wrong with riding some kind of SPD pedal, and you’re likely to be able to try out your buddy’s bike if you use them, because so many other people have them too.
I have been very happy with these pedals, and recommend them. If you don’t want a cage, then go for the XC version, which is otherwise the same basic pedal without the cage around it and an extra 80 grams.
Got any questions about these pedals? Have you had a good experience or bad experience with them? Leave a comment and let us know!