Clipless Pedal Suggestions

After 5 or so year hiatus from biking I decided I need to spend less time working on the computer and more time being active. I picked up a second hand bike ( found on here! ) a couple months ago and am slowly getting back into the groove and having a blast. Back when I was biking I did a little bit of DH and Road biking, both of which I used clipless pedals and I recall liking using them. I am now doing casual XC / Trail riding and want to look into getting a set of clipless pedals and shoes.

I was looking at the Shimano XT pedals which are on sale at does anyone have experience with these pedals? Would they be OK for beginners? How about shoes?

From my understanding the PD-M530s are pretty much just as good as the XT/XTR pedals. They may weigh a little more but otherwise feel/function about the same and hold up just as well. I’ve been running them for 4 years now and they’ve taken quite the beating but still going strong.

Shimano ships all their pedals with SH-51 cleats. I swapped them out for the SH-56 multirelease cleats and never looked back. I liked the way the multirelease cleats worked way more. Easier to get your foot out in case you need to dab on technical stuff.

For shoes I’ve been using a these for the past 4 years. I like them. Comfortable and my feet feel secure in them. They’re beginning to get a little beat up now. I think I’ll probably need to buy a new pair after this season. Well see.


I’ve been using the xt trails for years. They are great and take a beating. I also ran eggbeaters and candies which I liked but seemed to be not so great if continuously exposed to water and grit.

How did you find the float with the crankbrothers pedals compared to the SPDs? Always been kinda curious if I’d like more float or not.

I’ve found them to be great. Easy in and out.

They do change as the brass cleats wear in. Stiffer at start and loose towards the end.

Currently running candies but I’m considering mallet e for next set.

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I don’t seem to recall accidentally popping out of the crank brothers pedals. I’ve always liked a bit more float and I like tightening the springs up a bit on the shimanos. I recently tried a set of flats on my bike but couldn’t keep my feet on the pedals. I guess I pull up a lot in the spds, so I like them tight to keep me out of trouble.

I would add Time pedals to the list…

I started out with SPD pedals, which is what the XT’s are, and then decided to switch to Time as I heard they were much better at shedding mud and needed very little tweaking with regards to ease/ difficulty clipping in and out…

That was close to 15 years ago and I would never switch back. My reasons for picking Time:

  1. You can move your foot around laterally, while still clipped in. This is the float people talk about and I like the ability to shift your foot around, even if it is only a little bit.

  2. No matter what the riding conditions, you can always clip in and out, as they shed mud, dirt, debris like none other.

  3. They are simple. You don’t have to adjust the tension, or do anything for that matter, just clip in and out.

  4. For the most part, they are very durable. The ones I am using now are on their third bike, and are still going strong.

There are a few things to note about Time, however.

  1. To adjust the ease of entry/ exit, you need to decide how you want to set up your cleats. You can either set them up so you turn your feet 13 degrees, which is the easy setting, or 17 degrees, which is the harder setting. Some people like having more than two settings, but I find them fine.

  2. The cleats really do set the tone with regards to the ability to clip in and out, much like Crank Bros. As cleats wear out, they are much easier to clip in and out of. I find a pair of cleats lasts between 1 and 1.5 years, depending on how much you ride.

  3. For whatever reason, shops here are solely SPD and Crank Bros. If you need to get cleats, you have to order them as they are not stocked in local shops very often, if at all.

I would say if you are getting back into clipless, go with a set that are built for DH or Enduro, as they have a larger platform, so if you are having difficulty clipping in, you have some pedal to use. XC pedals have a much smaller platform and can be a pain when you are having trouble clipping in and have no platform to pedal with until you do.

As for shoes, it is all personal preference. I used XC shoes forever, but got tired of trying to walk in them when it came time to walk/ hike a bike as they aren’t great for that. I now own a pair of Giro Terraduros, which are nice and stiff for riding, but have a rubber sole that makes walking a breeze. Some of my riding buddies still swear by XC shoes, while others have opted for sneaker type shoes as they find them more comfortable. Go try a bunch on and see what feels best…

Good luck and happy shopping…


I bought and installed a pair of PD-M8020 pedals on one bike last week. I like the feel of them a little better than the PD-M520 pedals (no platform) on my other bike, but there’s not a lot of difference once clipped in. I think the recommendation for PD-M530 pedals is a good one as I can’t justify the extra cost of the XT pedals.

When I first started using clipless pedals, I used the multi-release (SM-SH56) cleats. I switched to the standard cleats (SM-SH51, which come with the pedals) after my first year and much prefer them. The multi-release cleats caused a lot of unintentional releases in technical sections for me, which I did not like. I set the tension on my pedals to the minimum and it’s easy to get out with standard cleats and I never unclip when I don’t want to.

I run XT pedals both with and without platforms (but mostly with). I run them with the standard cleats–not a fan of the multi release cleats. They pop out inadvertently all the damn time. Yuck. I keep the spring torque as tight as it can go.

I’ve also tried Crank Bros and Times. I can’t stand either of them. I despise float. I want my pedals to feel like ski boot bindings. Perfectly straight with zero movement. There’s still enough float with these to allow for some body english and keeping them tight means I don’t often come unclipped in unexpected moments.

I run 5.10 Impact VXi shoes that they recently replaced for me under warranty. The new ones have a fair bit stiffer sole, which is nice.

I also have a set of Saint flats on my hardtail. Great for keeping the skills up.


I have been running Crank Brothers for years, love them.

Also, if you’re size 9.5’ish, I might even have a pair of shoes you can use while you search out something new.


I’ve been using PD-M530 for almost 2 years now and I’m convinced they’re indestructible - I’ve bashed them on every rock in Fight Trail and they still work great.


Appreciate the offer! unfortunately I am a 11.5-12.

Thanks for the suggestions everyone, this is great. It sounds like the PD-M530’s are a good place for me to start, and at 35.99 its hard to go wrong!

I ride with the Shimano M520. They are $46 from MEC and have not let me down yet. I’ve had them for 5 years now. They are a bit heavy but solid.

Don’t think you’ll have a problem with the M520. Had them on my last bike. Upgraded to the XTR M9000 on my new bike but honestly don’t see any difference so far in feel or performance.

The biggest problem I have with SPD is that my pedals get completely gummed up with stuff at the pointy bit of the pedal/cleat interface (forward part of the pedal). This is unquestionably due to the fact I dab (walk) so much that my cleat gets encased in mud when I reinsert it, which makes engaging difficult.

That’s the killer feature for Crank Bros and Time. There’s nowhere for mud or snow to build up.


I will probably have to try out TIME, for some reason I’m not keen on Crank Bros. Possibly since their Gem pump failed me at an inopportune time (as if there were an opportune time for a pump to fail).

I’m pretty invested in SPD unfortunately.

I bought the new CB Highline dropper post, and it’s pretty clear that they’ve heard what people were saying about the quality of their products. They have seriously upped the game.

Regarding your mud shedding issues–I always found that a good sideways crack on the sole of the shoe against the pedal body was enough to get them operable again. Have to say I haven’t experienced it much and have always found SPDs to work well.

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I ended up with the Shimano M530 pedals and Five Ten Impact VXi Clipless shoes, should be here early next week.