A paragon of performance, the XT mountain bike group has served mountain bikers dutifully since its introduction in 1983. Shimano's engineers have continued to innovate and build products that match the rapidly evolving sport of mountain biking.
The sensible workhorse of the Shimano pedal line up, the Shimano XT M8020 offers a higher quality, slimmer and more aggressive pedal than the Shimano M530 while keeping the price in check. This pedal features slightly larger machined platform surfaces, a trim anodized body and steel bearing retainers. These features result in a lighter, more durable pedal that performs better in the mud and muck.
Putting the XT pedals through their paces.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman
Ease of Entry
The XT pedals are no exception to the smooth engagement we've come to expect from Shimano, the small platform makes the pedal harder to miss and guides the foot into the mechanism. Once engaged, the machined aluminum surface provides a consistent feeling of resistance on the shoe wet or dry. Is it as easy to engage as the XTR M9120? Not quite. It doesn't have that buttery smooth snap that characterizes the top end pedal but entry still feels fast and intuitive, earning it high marks in this test for ease of entry.
Ease of Exit
Ease of exit seems like a hallmark of Shimano pedals; the distance between the end of the float and release is short, consistent, and accompanied by an audible click. When you disengage from these pedals, you know it; the platform, although larger and rougher than other iterations of the small platform pedal, still isn't a place you want to stand for long. More consistent than the Shimano M530, the roughly machined platform doesn't feel more slippery when it's damp.
There are no traction pins on any of the current Shimano small platform pedals. Consequently, there's no way to adjust the amount of grip you get on the pedal. In this sense, the Xpedo GFX, Crankbrothers Mallet E, and HT T-1 have a greater degree of adjustability.
Almost 50 grams lighter and a millimeter thinner than the M530, they're still a bit heavier than our average for this test, but we'd be mistaken to judge them for their gram count alone.
Their threaded steel bearing retainer and slimmed down axle don't allow for removal using a 15mm pedal wrench but provide fewer surfaces for mud to accumulate. Not quite as slim or trim as the XTR M9120, these pedals do get the nod from Shimano for being Enduro worthy, which is an endorsement that the XTR M9120 and M530 do not get.
The Shimano Mini-platform lline-up in descending weight order, M530 at 453 grams, M8020 at 404 grams and the M9020 at 372 grams.
Photo: joshua hutchens
The roughly machined surface of the pedal provides slightly more surface area than the painted M530, it feels stable and reassuring. This isn't a pedal that you want to unclip from and attempt standing on. It just doesn't provide that kind of traction to any but the stickiest shoes. This model earned a 7 out of 10 for the platform metric and was bested by the XPedo GFX.
Mud Shedding Ability
The M8020 was better than expected in the mud. They were not quite as unfazed as the simple Crank Brothers Egg Beater 3 but we were pleasantly surprised by how they seemed to defy the muck. These pedals don't have the slippery, clipped into ice feeling that characterized our experience on the XTR M9120 pedals. The lack of slippery coating on the engagement mechanism, coupled with the rougher machining of the platform, creates a bit more friction in the float. This wasn't a bad thing, just our observation.
Serious mountain bikers looking for versatility and value in a high-performance pedal will appreciate these. If you like to unclip and approach obstacles standing on your pedals unclipped, you'd be better off with the Xpedo GFX or Crank Brothers Mallet E. The Shimano small platform pedals have a larger surface area between shoe and cleat and provide a positive feel underfoot while engaged. They are not, however, a great option for riders who want to jump on wearing casual shoes for a trip to the pub. The pedal mechanism protrudes substantially from the pedal body and doesn't provide a comfortable spot for sneakers to rest.
Shimano XT M8020 is a great pedal for the price.
Photo: joshua hutchens
Value has always been an attribute of the XT group and these pedals are no exception to that. Not the budget buy we find in the M530, they do provide solid performance at a reasonable price point.
The XT M8020 Trail
pedal feels right at home on every bike we put them on. From hardtails to free-ride rigs, the XT pedal feels like a winner and we'd recommend them to almost anyone. Anyone not counting grams that is…