Ah, Shimano PD-M520. You've got a bit of a clunky name and you're nothing special to look at, but is there a better all-round budget pedal than you out there? I think not.
M520s are technically mountain bike pedals of course, but you'll find them everywhere from full sussers to expedition tourers via Audax and commuting bikes. These pedals have been around in one incarnation or another for a long time; this is the third set I've owned and the other two are still going, somewhere, although one set got nicked with a bike out of the shed. They're pretty cheap at a list price of 35 quid (and you'll certainly find them cheaper than that), but that's not reflected in the build quality, which is excellent, or the performance, which is also excellent.
The M520s are alloy-bodied with steel mechanisms and axle. They run on cup and cone bearings which are easily accessible and replaceable with a £2.99 lockring tool. They're designed for the rigours of off-road and cope admirably there, shedding mud and knocks with ease. On the road they're solid and dependable and my top-of-the-list choice for, well, practically anything. I've had them on the road bike, the fixer, a couple of CX test bikes, my mountain bike, an urban bike, a tourer... okay they're a bit deep for super-fast cornering at race speeds, but aside from that you can pretty much use them for anything. The range of cleat tension adjustment is very good, and the entry and exit is positive.
Whenever the issue of SPDs versus 'road' pedals comes up, there's normally plenty of discussion as to whether you need that bigger platform. It's fair to say that at the level I ride the small SPD cleat has never been an issue for me in terms of function or comfort - all my longest rides have been on SPDs - and the convenience of having the same system on every bike outweighs any tiny incremental gains in efficiency. Plus, MTB race shoes look fine with a road bike* and you can walk in them at the caf. Everyone's a winner.
At 374g they're a decent weight for the money, and most of the bikes they get attached to won't be weight weenies. They're not the most beautiful pedals but they're not bad looking either, and they're available in white, black and silver to match your bike. Anyway, they're under your feet most of the time, so who cares?
*Don't tell VecchioJo I said that.
A classic and one of the best value pedals out there if you want a no-nonsense double sided SPD pedal for any type of riding
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shimano PD-M520 SPD pedal
Size tested: White
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
# Value for money dual-sided SPD pedal, a favourite XC mountain bike SPD
# Super-compact and lightweight design for a multitude of cycling uses
# Sealed cartridge bearing spindle keeps out water and mud for a smooth action, and makes for a durable pedal
# Open design helps to shed mud
Solidly built with a well sealed axle
Easy to clip in, good range of tension
These pedals pretty much last for ever
374g isn't the lightest out there but they're not bad
Great value do-it-all peds
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Cheap, solid, durable, dependable
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I have in the past, I will again
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 38 Height: 190cm Weight: 98kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.