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Shimano XTR M9100 Race Review

A highly evolved, race proven pedal that provides exceptional stability for its size.
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Price:  $180 List | $134.99 at Amazon
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
Manufacturer:   Shimano
By Joshua Hutchens ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 10, 2019
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82
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SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 19
  • Ease of Exit - 25% 9
  • Ease of Entry - 20% 8
  • Adjustability - 20% 8
  • Weight - 15% 9
  • Platform - 10% 5
  • Mud Shedding Ability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The XTR M9100 race pedals are the result of continual evolution and technological advancements. They're consistent, reliable, and more stable than their predecessors. The cylindrical contact area provides a fair bit of stability while still prioritizing mud shedding. They feature widely spaced bearings and are available in two different axle lengths. We don't find them to be quite as user-friendly as the small platform offerings but these are light, small, and race ready. These will likely be well received amongst XC, CX and gravel riders; lets hope they hold up.


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Pros Lightweight, low profile, available in 2 different axle lengthsLightweight, adjustable, low profile, inexpensive, available in many colors.Silky smooth float, lightweight, great mud shedding, additional platform widthPlatform feel, proven durability, good valueStable, great power transfer, excellent traction while engaged, inexpensive
Cons Narrow platform, expensive, not recommended for trail or all-mountain ridingHeavier cleats, float isn't as smooth as ShimanoExpensive, rear platform is under utilized, questionable durabilityHigher stack than the XTR, lower mud clearanceHeavy, sharp pins are a hazard to everything but your shoe
Bottom Line A highly evolved, race proven pedal that provides exceptional stability for its size.Thinner, lighter, and less expensive than the Shimano XTR Trail with more usable platform and more adjustability.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.A big step up in stability and traction, we find them worth their extra weight.
Rating Categories Shimano XTR M9100 Race HT Components T1 Shimano XTR M9120 Trail Shimano Deore XT M8020 Shimano Saint SPD M820
Ease Of Exit (25%)
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8
Ease Of Entry (20%)
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9
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8
Adjustability (20%)
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8
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Weight (15%)
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Platform (10%)
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Mud Shedding Ability (10%)
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Specs Shimano XTR M9100... HT Components T1 Shimano XTR M9120... Shimano Deore XT... Shimano Saint SPD...
Weight per Pair (grams) 314g 372g 397g 404g 550g
Weight of Cleats and Bolts (grams) 51g 62g 51g 50g 50g
Cleat Type SPD mountain HT X1 or HT X1F SPD mountain SPD mountain SPD mountain
Style no cage mini-cage no cage mini-cage mini-cage
Platform Dimensions (lxw) 71 x 68 mm 68mm x 83.5mm 100 x 71 mm 96 x 64 mm 100 x 79 mm
profile height 17mm 16.8mm 17mm 21mm 19mm
Q-Factor 56mm 56mm 56mm 56mm 57mm
Total Width from Crank Arm 84mm 90mm 84mm 89mm 95mm
Entry 2-sided 2-sided 2-sided 2-sided 2-sided
Adjustable Tension yes yes yes yes yes
Traction Pins 0 4grubpins 0 0 4/side
Bearings dual angular contact, metal retainer EVO+ dual angular contact, metal retainer dual angular contact, metal retainer dual angular contact, metal retainer
Cage Material annodized aluminum extruded/CNC machined aluminum annodized aluminum annodized aluminum forged and machined aluminum
Pedal Wrench Type 8mm allen 8mm allen 8mm allen 8mm alllen 8mm allen

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."

Performance Comparison


more substantial feeling than its predecessors  the XTR race pedal grows up.
more substantial feeling than its predecessors, the XTR race pedal grows up.

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.

Clean or dirty  the XTR race pedal is quick and easy to get out of
Clean or dirty, the XTR race pedal is quick and easy to get out of

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.

Adjustability


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.

Weight


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.

Platform


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.

Significantly more contact with the sole of the shoe results in increased stability
Significantly more contact with the sole of the shoe results in increased stability

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.

Best Applications


Shimano recommends these pedals for cross country, cyclocross, and gravel bikes; we recommend them for those resistant to adding a cage to their pedals but could benefit from some added stability.


Conclusion


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