This article is part of a series called ‘A love letter to…’, where Cycling Weekly writers pour praise on their favourite cycling items and share the personal connection they have with them.
The below content is unfiltered, authentic and has not been paid for.
Shimano pedals. A love letter... to Shimano pedals? Really?
I know what you're thinking - how can you love a pedal? In fact, the very reason I confess my love for Shimano pedals is because I barely notice their existence, which makes me even question my own love for them. How can you love something you don’t even notice?
Hold on. let me explain.
Though it may seem preposterous, I really am a lover of Shimano pedals. It goes well beyond the wonderful tactility of every clipless clip in. Well beyond the spring-loaded retention system which has barely let me down. Indeed it goes well beyond the wide pedal platform that has allowed me to sprint to a shamefully small number of road race wins.
The humble Shimano pedal has facilitated some of my greatest memories on a bike, and so by default then, they have been there for some of my best-ever memories - and that’s pretty special.
My first ever bike race, the Oxford University CC Hill Climb; my school friend finally persuaded me to compete after I had dubbed the school cycling club ‘elitist’ and ‘far too competitive’. It’s safe to say this would not be my last event, far from it in fact.
My first criterium at the iconic Hillingdon Cycle Circuit in London, my first-ever road race, and from there it snowballed. Training around school, Junior National crash fests, and even a national title - every race enabled graciously by Shimano’s finest (well, not in the early days) SPD-SL pedals.
And my pedal loving is far from elitist. God no - I would never talk down on the very PD-RS500 £40 pedals that got me into cycling. In fact they still lay on my beloved steel framed 90s steed which I ride oh so much less than I should.
Though with the same honesty, I confess my love for Shimano pedals, I must also divulge the Achilles heel of a relationship.
Needless to say - it was me, not the pedals.
Upon signing a contract with my first under-23 team, I was made painfully aware the team would ride Look pedals. No, I shan’t slander Look. They were… fine, but I will say that the long 12-month stint away from the pedals I have hailed so highly was long, difficult, and left me feeling insecure.
Only in my retirement from full-time cycling (at the ripe old age of 21) was I granted the right to be reunited with my old faithful - and so we bloomed once again.
Liberated from training to race, we embarked on so many escapades together. Munich to Florence, the Stelvio and the Mortirolo in one day packed to the gunnels (next time I shall plan the route) and who could forget my longest-ever ride, The Traka 360?
A gravel race on road pedals - you may question my sanity, but it’s nothing more than an admission of my trust in Shimano pedals.
In all our years, never a failed bearing, never a bent axle, always comfortable - that’s the reality of our relationship. They are hard-working, reliable, and have never failed to support me. They are my cycling rock, and I quite simply couldn’t ask for more.
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