Shimano's one above entry-level pedals put to the test
Shimano’s PD R550 SPD-SL pedals may hover around the bottom of Shimano’s pedal pecking order, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good quality. In fact, they offer excellent value for money with their sturdiness and ease of use.
It’s a pretty standard setup, with the pedals attaching to your bike via pedal spanner or 6mm allen key. Although it’s worth bearing in mind that Shimano stresses you can’t reach the necessary levels of torque (Shimano recommends 35 – 55 N-m) through just an allen key, necessitating the use of a pedal spanner.
Once they’re on, spring tension is dead easy to adjust, and by using an 2.5mm allen key you turn the screw either left or right to tighten or loosen the action depending on what you’re comfortable with. If you’re not sure, it’s always worth getting some advice on setting up cleat and pedals, so you don’t end up give yourself knee pain, or being unable to release from the system.
Shimano also has a useful way to avoid knee pain, and the level of float in the system (how much free foot movement there is) is determined by the colour of the cleat. So, a yellow cleat has the most (six degrees), blue (two degrees), and red which has no float at all.
Meanwhile, on the bike, these have a really nice action to them. The pedals feel super secure, allowing you to put down the power without worrying about pulling out of the mechanism. Plus, they’re weighted in such a way that when you unclip at a stop they roll backwards, sitting in a much better position for clipping back in. An action that comes with a reassuring and heavy clunk, so you know your safely in.
Watch: How to fit and remove your pedals
They feel great underneath your feet, and this is something that I personally prefer with Shimano’s SPD-SL system over others such as Look. The marginally larger Shimano pedals give more space to rest your feet compare to competitors and it makes a big difference. On long rides it doesn’t feel like your resting on pins, instead having a comfortable platform that supports your feet.
Despite being in a hard wearing area, the longevity of the cleats is brilliant, especially when compared to competitors. While the plastic tabs might wear down, this doesn’t compromise the performance of the product.
Longevity elsewhere isn’t an issue, either, especially considering the axles turn on sealed bearings. Certainly over the last three months of the British winter and springtime i’ve had no problems with their performance and they’re still turning smooth today.
For £69.99, you're getting an easy to use pedal, with boatloads of great performance and longevity to boot. The only downside perhaps being the weight, but at this price point it's negligible.