Shimano XTR M9100 Race Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Lightweight, low profile, available in 2 different axle lengths
Cons: Narrow platform, expensive, not recommended for trail or all-mountain riding
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Shimano XTR M9100 Race pedal is a no-frills and no-compromise piece of equipment. Its forged-aluminum body has been heavily sculpted, leaving little room for mud to accumulate. The body now features a wider edge to edge contact area that is slightly ovalized to help mud shed between the shoe-pedal interface. The new body also extends further inboard to offer more support to the axle and contact with the shoe. The clipless mechanism and hexalobular fasteners remain unchanged from the Shimano XTR PD-M9000. The highly polished Chromoly steel axles are now available in two lengths 52mm and 55mm, the former helping to pull the Q-factor a bit tighter for CX, XC and gravel riders. Long careers in the bicycle industry haven't diminished our desire to open up boxes of fancy parts and play with them; new XTR pedals are no exception. We were surprised to discover that the bearings in these pedals didn't feel particularly smooth, not Shimano smooth and certainly not "assembled in Japan, XTR smooth."
Ease of Entry
The M9100 is easily engaged. They have a slippery coating that allows the cleat to slide right into and click into the engagement mechanism with little effort or force. Edge to edge, it's smooth and noticeably wider. The profile isn't quite as thin as the HT T-1 but 17mm is pretty respectable, helping keep your center of gravity as low as possible.
Ease of Exit
Disengaging from the M9100 is almost telepathically quick with no hang-ups in the very smooth motion. You don't need to think twice or second guess it, the audible click lets you know when you've released. The cleat's float is slippery throughout its range, and release happens quickly and consistently. In contrast, the Look X-Track En-Rage Plus required considerably more force to reach disengagement.
Release tension varies from light to firm, and adjustments are made with a 3mm Allen key. The included cleats are the standard Shimano SH-51 cleats that allow for release inward or outward after 4 degrees of float. Optionally you can use the SH-56 multi-release cleats that allow for release inward, outward or in upward angles. Installation happens exclusively with an 8mm Allen as there are no wrench flats on the outside of the axle.
At 314 grams they're heavier than previous iterations of the XTR race pedal but still exceptionally lightweight. Notably, they're exactly the weight that Shimano says they are which we find refreshing. Still, for the racers and gram geeks, lighter pedals exist, such as the previously reviewed Crank Brothers Egg Beater 3 at 280 grams or the Time ATAC XS at 293 grams.
The platform is where the big strides have been made on this pedal, and it feels worth the weight. The machined surfaces that interface with the shoe have been stretched side to side to provide more contact laterally. That same surface has also been machined conically to decrease the chance of mud fouling your entry. Power transfer has been greatly improved from the XTR M9000 with every one of our test shoes.
Mud Shedding Ability
The XTR race pedals hold onto much of their mud-shedding technology from the previous generation but add this cylindrical machining to the contact area. They've essentially machined a slight convex curve to the area that interfaces with the shoe allowing mud or debris to squeeze off of the pedal platform during the engagement. It works well with a larger number of shoes and seems to address a mud-shedding issue that didn't have to do with the clipless mechanism itself.=
At their suggested retail price, the M9100 pedals are definitely a little expensive. We feel they represent the best value to the gram counting racer who values weight savings and the consistent and reliable performance that Shimano SPD pedals are known for.
Care for a lightweight pedal but hoping for something a bit more stable and durable? Stable they are, durable they may be. Three of our four test pedals had seals pop out on the second ride, and the bearing feel never improved. We'd love to endorse them, but there's some kind of unresolved quality issue with these pedals.
— Joshua Hutchens