The XTR M9000 race pedals are purpose driven and built for some of the world's top athletes. Their consistent, reliable, durable and almost as light as Shimano says they are. Their machined contact area provides a fair bit of stability while the rest of the body takes a minimal approach to keep the mud and muck from accumulating. They feature widely spaced bearings and highly polished axles. We don't find them as user-friendly as the mini platform offerings but built for competition components rarely are. We go deep into this pedal to determine if its worth the price premium. Read on to learn what we gleaned.
Shimano XTR M9000 Race Review
Cons: Narrow platform, expensive
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Shimano XTR M9000 Race pedal is the lightest and most refined of the Shimano offerings. A coating on the engagement mechanism protects it from mud. The spindle housing is ovalized increasing the size of the voids, and the rest of the forged aluminum body has been meticulously sculpted leaving little room for mud to catch a ride. Common Phillips fixing screws are replaced with fancy hexalobular fasteners, and the standard 24 bearings per pedal are whittled down to 22. The Chromoly steel axles are highly polished, and bearings are xtr quality smooth.
Ease of Entry
Easy to engage, the slippery coating on these pedals allows your foot to slide right into the engagement mechanism while exerting very little force. Edge to edge, it's smoth to move through the four degrees of float. Profile thickness is the lowest of any pedal we tested at 17mm, this keeps you lower on the bike and conversely helps to keep the pedals off the trail.
Ease of Exit
Cleat disengagement is crisp and reassuring, moving from the edge of the float to release feels like a short distance and efficient move. There's no ambiguity of partial release or reluctance of its mechanism even with the adjustable tension dialed all the way up. The slippery feel is amazing while engaged but don't try standing on this pedal unengaged, that slippery coating ceases being a plus.
A 3mm allen key adjusts your release tension. Make sure both pedals are equal. SH-51 cleats come stock on Shimano pedals. They release with an inward or outward heal rotation. You may want to request the optional SH-56 multi-release cleat if you're learning. It gives you a couple of upward angle outs as well.
The pedal's axle accepts a 8mm allen but does not have a slot for a 15mm wrench.
With a Shimano claimed weight of 285 grams, the XTR M9000 were the only pedals in the test that differed significantly from their claimed weight, tipping our scales at 310 grams. Still light weight, they're 30 grams heavier than the Crank Brothers Egg Beater 3 and the Shimano cleats tack on an additional 17 grams over the Crank Brothers standard brass model.
While the M9000 is not a mini-platform pedal, the machined surfaces interface with the shoe to create a substantial (for its size) platform. Power transfer is decent, but they don't have the same solid feel as the mini-platforms, which more metal underfoot.
Mud Shedding Ability
Packed with mud shedding features like the ovalized axle body, proprietary coating, high polished spindle and hollowed out body these pedals do a fantastic job of shedding the icky stuff. Tying for best mud shedding ability with the venerable Crank Brothers Egg Beater 3 in our test, it's no wonder these pedals are threaded into the crank arms of pros bikes around the world.
According to Shimano, the XTR pedals are hand assembled by highly skilled Japanese technicians while the remainder of their pedal lineup originates in Malaysia. Shimano recommends them for XC and all mountain riding; we recommend them for those who appreciate the subtle nuances of finely crafted parts and don't mind paying the extra few dollars for that panache.
Wanna keep the weight down? Like the nicer stuff? Confident on your pedals and don't need a platform to find em? These could be for you. You'll pay the premium to lose those grams and that may accompany a reduction in stability but a super stiff shoe will negate much of that.
— Joshua Hutchens