Shimano Saint MX80 Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Do you desire bombproof pedals with good grip that you can install on your cranks and not think twice about until you buy a new bike? Are you willing to sacrifice 100 grams or so to get said bombproofness? Do you operate within a modest budget? Yes x 3? Buy these pedals. If your Sprinter van has a bumper sticker that says "My other car is a $10,000 mountain bike," maybe check out the Blackspire Robusto.
You will be totally underwhelmed if you ride these pedals as they come in the box with the spacers installed beneath the traction pins and slap them on your cranks. We guessed there was some sort of legal reason why these pedals shipped with spacers installed, because from a performance standpoint, it didn't make much sense. The Spank Spike didn't use spacers, but they did force us to install the pins ourselves. Furthermore, the two outermost traction pins were not installed upon receipt. Perhaps someone at Shimano determined this to be the most likely setup the end user would settle on, but we disagree. Each side of the pedal features nine traction screws that install from the bottom with a T15 torx.
Shimano includes a torx wrench with the pedals, which saved them from being thrown out our office window in a fit of rage. We think torx bolts are the Devil reincarnate, but maybe we just need a better multitool. The included wrench saved us a trip to the bike shop, but these pedals still made us skip our initially intended lunch hour test lap to spend half that time removing spacers and installing traction screws. It was time well spent though, as the outer pins go from a paltry 2 mm with spacers installed, to a much taller and grippier 3.3 mm without.
The two inner pins that sit parallel and in front of the pedal axle are 2.7 mm high. We also chose to install the outer two pins that the manufacturer left out and found this greatly improved foot retention. We were happy with the screw type pins as we feel traction is superior to smooth-top pins with an exposed ratchet head. Without spacers, we found grio comparable to the crankbrothers 5050 or Spank Spike. The bottom loading pins on the Saint MX80 ensure that even if the pins are damaged, removal will be an easy task.
This pedal felt like we didn't properly put our socks on and experienced what felt like lumps and creases underfoot. Like the Race Face Atlas and Spank Spike, whose large inner axle bearing housing sat tight up against the cranks, the Saint MX80 featured a similar hump but just outboard of the crankarm. This increased the Q-factor of the pedal and made it feel slightly inefficient. It also slightly elevated the inside of our foot, making us feel less secure on the pedals, especially when ridden as shipped — with spacers and outside pins removed.
The overall surface of the pedal platform (that our shoes actually rested on) felt smaller than its actual measurements, similar to something like the VP Components VP-Vice. The recesses on the outside edge of the pedal had a knack for packing with mud when lying the bike on its side and needed to be dug out instead of being cleared simply by stomping or spinning the pedal.
These pedals are not very free spinning, which is probably a good thing for your shins. A light flick of the pedals (once installed) only produces about a single revolution. The feel is ultra smooth. With many pedals, you can feel some sort of resistance when turning them by hand, which transmits as drag or ratchety movement, like that on the Bonmixc 9/16" or RockBros Platform. While we liked the relatively stationary nature of these pedals (unlike when the Spank Spike is used without a pedal washer), when kicking or lifting our feet from them during tricks, the weight and odd-shaped platform didn't make these a favorite for this type of riding.
Bearings are used on the inner and outer portions of the axle, which we felt was a design feature that should give these pedals a very long, trouble-free life. More commonly on other pedals, such as the Spank Spike, we saw a bushing for the outer end of the spindle that is more susceptible to wear. Loose 3/32 inch ball bearings roll in cup-and-cone bearings contained within a lock-bolt sleeve. Servicing these pedals will involve a little more handiwork than simply greasing the axle like we did with the Spank Spike and Bonmixc 9/16" But we don't think you even need to worry about that, as these are true set-and-forget pedals. Installation onto the cranks is with a 15 mm pedal wrench and as mentioned above, a T15 torx wrench is needed to add and remove traction pins.
Outweighed only by our test's heftiest pedal, the Blackspire Robusto (505 grams), this pedal is anything but lightweight at 490 grams. Below that, the next heaviest models, the crankbrothers 5050 and Spank Spike, lost 40 and 70 grams to the Saint MX80 at 450 and 420 grams. Obviously this is not the choice for the weight conscious, but if you want a rock solid pedal that can take a beating, look no further.
A great place for these pedals is on a beefy downhill bike or a rugged trail bike. A bike with some battle scars on it, that has a bunch of second-tier replacement parts on it because you've snapped all the chintzy, lightweight garbage in half. If you ride as hard as your bike suggests, you need a pedal that can hold its own for miles and miles.
The Saint mX80 was awarded our Best Buy despite two other pedals in this test being far less expensive. This pedal was the workhorse of our test. The pedal spins around a chromoly steel axle with cup and cone bearings that are the same internals used on all of Shimano's other pedals. If you ever need to service this pedal (you probably won't), replacement parts are inexpensive and widely available.
There are slimmer, lighter, and certainly better looking pedals to be found at this price range. Grip can be augmented by running the spacers that come pre-installed or removing them. Our test wasn't long enough (three months) to truly speak to the durability of these pedals, but a riding buddy of ours had a set of these on his bike that are absolutely hammered. His response to our questioning was, "Dude, I haven't done crap to these pedals in three years." That's all we needed to know.
Among a sea of shiny and colorful anodized metal, these black and silver pedals don't jump out at you. You don't need to look far to find a lighter, slimmer pedal, either. We weren't crazy about the odd-shaped platform and we still hold a grudge about the time wasted having to remove the spacers from the pins. We try to resist getting too bent out of shape about that wasted time, however. We'd guess the next time we will have to put a wrench to these pedals will be when we're swapping them out onto a new bike years down the line.
Shimano is better known for the SPD clipless pedals. The only other flat pedal is the DX BMX MX30 Platform Pedal. It is primarily a BMX pedal. However, Shimano offers a number of clipless pedals with large platforms such as the MT50 and M545 Pedal.
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