The Shimano M520 is one of the best deals out there for a clipless mountain bike pedal. It just narrowly misses the Best Buy award to the Shimano M530 SPD. The 530 is better for most people because it has a solid platform. However, the 520 is much lighter and less expensive. The 520 is easy to clip in and out of, incredibly durable, versatile, has adjustable tension, and retails for only $45 (but can often be found for less.) It's the no-brainer choice for someone on a budget who wants to travel light. The higher-end version is the Shimano XTR M9100 Race which shaves 60 grams (about 18%). The M9100 is a better pedal but is about triple the costs.
Shimano M520 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Decently lightweight, lightest adjsutable tension pedal we've tested, CHEAP
Cons: Minimal platform, only come in black
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|Pros||Decently lightweight, lightest adjsutable tension pedal we've tested, CHEAP||Lightweight, adjustable, low profile, inexpensive, available in many colors.||Lightweight, low profile, available in 2 different axle lengths||Silky smooth float, lightweight, great mud shedding, additional platform width||Platform feel, proven durability, good value|
|Cons||Minimal platform, only come in black||Heavier cleats, float isn't as smooth as Shimano||Narrow platform, expensive, not recommended for trail or all-mountain riding||Expensive, rear platform is under utilized, questionable durability||Higher stack than the XTR, lower mud clearance|
|Bottom Line||The lowest cost clipless model tested that's also among the lightest.||Thinner, lighter, and less expensive than the Shimano XTR Trail with more usable platform and more adjustability.||A highly evolved, race proven pedal that provides exceptional stability for its size.||Top of the line offering from Shimano, they're silky smooth, adjustable and renowned for their consistency.||This do it all pedal for most riders it renown for its durability and value.|
|Rating Categories||Shimano M520||HT Components T1||Shimano XTR M9100 Race||Shimano XTR M9120 Trail||Shimano Deore XT M8020|
|Ease Of Exit (25%)|
|Ease Of Entry (20%)|
|Mud Shedding Ability (10%)|
|Specs||Shimano M520||HT Components T1||Shimano XTR M9100...||Shimano XTR M9120...||Shimano Deore XT...|
|Weight per Pair (grams)||374g||372g||314g||397g||404g|
|Weight of Cleats and Bolts (grams)||50g||62g||51g||51g||50g|
|Cleat Type||SPD Mountain||HT X1 or HT X1F||SPD mountain||SPD mountain||SPD mountain|
|Style||no cage||mini-cage||no cage||no cage||mini-cage|
|Platform Dimensions (lxw)||42 x 61 mm||68mm x 83.5mm||71 x 68 mm||100 x 71 mm||96 x 64 mm|
|Total Width from Crank Arm||80 mm||90mm||84mm||84mm||89mm|
|Bearings||Dual Angular Contact||EVO+||dual angular contact, metal retainer||dual angular contact, metal retainer||dual angular contact, metal retainer|
|Cage Material||n/a||extruded/CNC machined aluminum||annodized aluminum||annodized aluminum||annodized aluminum|
|Pedal Wrench Type||8mm allen||8mm allen||8mm allen||8mm allen||8mm alllen|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Shimano M520 is an incredibly versatile, durable, and inexpensive clipless pedal. Our testers have owned pairs of these for multiple years and have used them on all styles of bikes, from road bikes to commuter bikes to hardtail cross-country bikes, to six-inch enduro bikes. This is the pedal to buy if you are on a budget.
Ease of Entry
This pedal is pretty dang easy to get into. The cleat seats into the mechanism with a satisfying, audible click. The Shimano M530 is essentially the same as this pedal but with the addition of a mini-cage around the clip-in mechanism. That small platform makes that model of pedal just slightly easier to get into than this pedal without a cage, which requires slightly better aim.
Ease of Exit
There is no cage to hang up on, so we think getting out of this pedal is quite clean and easy. It is comparable to other Shimano pedals in their disengagement which is confirmed with an audible click. It is much easier than some other styles of pedals, like those made by Time or Crankbrothers, that require much more twist before you hit the release point.
The tension on the M520 is adjustable using a 3mm Allen wrench, just like on all Shimano mountain pedals. This makes it so someone new to clipless pedals can have very soft tension for easy entry and exit, while a seasoned cyclist can crank up the tension to his or her liking.
The M520 are relatively lightweight, but not as light as you would think for such a small pedal, weighing 374 grams per pair. These are comparable to the Crankbrothers Eggbeater 2 which also don't have any cage or platform, but the Eggbeaters weigh just 278 grams. If you are interested in going as light as possible, we suggest those pedals over the M520.
There is no cage or platform on this simple pedal, however, when compared to the Eggbeater 2 there is twice as much surface area to stand on. If you want a little bit of a cage to help you clip in faster, we suggest the M530, which is the same great pedal with slightly more surface area.
Mud Shedding Ability
The mud shedding ability of the M520 is as good as it could be for an SPD pedal. Crankbrothers and Time pedals do have an advantage over SPD style pedals because of the more open design of the retention spring.
There is no cage around the clip-in mechanism to protect the pedal itself, but our testers have owned pairs of these affordable pedals for years and they never seem to die. For just $45 it would be hard not to get your money's worth out of these burly pedals.
This pedal is excellent for cross-country mountain biking or commuting. We also highly recommend the M520 for trying out clipless pedals without spending much money.
This is the least expensive pedal we've tested. Consider the versatility and durability of this pedal, and we think it is the best deal out there for a mountain clipless pedal. It retails for just $45, but you can find them for even less using our price finder tool. Additionally, the use of a common cleat means you are likely to already have a pair of shoes with these SPD cleats, so getting this pedal for your second bike is the most economical way to go.
The M520 is a quality clipless pedal at an unbeatable price. It is a supremely versatile and durable pedal with a very low entry cost and it will last for years.
This pedal works best with a hard-soled, cross-country oriented shoe like the Giro Privateer R or Sidi Dominator. It can work on a wide range of bikes from commuter bikes, to hardtails, to bikes with 4 to six inches of travel.
Other Versions and Accessories
- Cost - $90
- Does not have a pedal wrench flat
- The lack of a wrench flat saves a few grams, but it's not worth it in our opinion
- Cost - $69
- They are very easy to get in and out of
- Earned our Best Buy Award
- Least expensive offering in the mini-platform pedal category
— McKenzie Long and Luke Lydiard