Look X-Track gravel pedals review - slightly wider platform boosts stability, compared to Shimano's M520 pedals
A quality SPD-compatible pedal that can handle plenty of abuse
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The Look X-Track pedals may be the entry level model in Look’s SPD-compatible pedal range, but they’re well made and durability and wear-resistance can’t be faulted. They’re comparable in price and weight to the equivalent Shimano M520 pedal, but offer a wider platform that helps with foot stability. This can increase mud build-up over Shimano though.
Reliable, positive entry and exit
Durable alloy bodies and quality bearings
Well priced entry level pedals
Slightly more prone to mud accumulation than Shimano pedals
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The Look X-Track pedal is a Shimano SPD-compatible double sided clipless pedal that’s designed for use with two bolt cleats, which Look supplies with the pedals. It’s a good option for mountain bikers and also for compatibility with the best gravel bike shoes.
Look X-Track pedals: construction
Compared to the Shimano M520 pedals, which are Shimano’s nearest equivalent, the Look X-Track pedals are slightly less skeletal, with raised, crosshatched areas on the alloy body inboard and outboard of the retention mechanism. This gives a wider, more stable pedalling platform than the Shimano pedals and even more pared-down designs like Ritchey Comp XC pedals, without resorting to a full platform design.
The X-Track pedals are at the bottom of Look’s two bolt pedal range. Look also sells the X-Track Race, X-Track Race Carbon and X-Track Race Carbon Ti, the last of these with a titanium spindle, carbon body and a claimed weight of 290g a pair, saving 100g over the base model. It costs $270 / £200 a pair instead of the $60 / £47 price tag of the model we have on test.
The X-Track pedal’s spindle is made of steel and the pedal body is alloy, with double seals to keep the bearings safe. There are steel cleat engagement plates affixed with chunky rustless Torx bolts. There are no spanner facets on the spindle, which is screwed into the crank from its end with an 8mm Allen key. An Allen bolt on the tail of each rear retainer lets you alter the release tension of each side independently.
Like Shimano, Look offers two cleat options. Its standard cleats, which come with the pedals, offer 6 degrees of float and have a 13 degree release angle with a single release direction; X-Track Easy cleats have the same amount of float and release angle but offer multidirectional release.
Quoted stack height of 16.8mm is just 0.2mm lower than the Shimano M520. Standard colour is black anodised, but Look has also offered other colour options including red and brown.
The Look X-Track pedals provide easy engagement when starting off. The wide platform means that you can also ride confidently unclipped if you do miss the front anchor when trying to engage, so it’s easy to remount and get going again even in tough conditions and on steep uphills.
There’s plenty of adjustability to the cleat release tension, so you can fine-tune this to your preferences. As with any SPD pedal, the recess around the release spring tends to collect debris, but it's easily cleaned out. The spring will benefit from the occasional squirt of lubricant or oil too, but otherwise the release mechanism is trouble-free.
Look’s wider sideplates mean that the X-Track pedals shed mud a little less easily than the Shimano M520 pedals, but it’s nothing that a quick bash of the shoe on the end of the pedal won’t clear – treatment that the pedals seem perfectly able to handle.
I’ve used a set of X-Track pedals as my principal off-road pedals for gravel biking, along with some winter road riding, for the last five years and they’re still going strong. There’s a little play in the left-side bearings, which have never been serviced, and some wear to the pedals’ outer stabilising surfaces and the engagement mechanisms. They’ve coped well with the occasional rock bash with only superficial damage.
The cleats too wear well and I’ve not had to replace mine, although I have used other cleats on different gravel bike shoes alongside them. As with any SPD pedal, the principal source of adjustability isn’t the cleats themselves, but the length of the slots in the base of your shoes.
As shown in the shot above, the shiny steel engagement surfaces are durable and resistant to wear, although they will rust if you pack them away damp as I have. But overall durability of the X-Track pedals is impressive and my old pair shows no sign of wearing out any time soon.
Value and conclusion
The Look X-Track pedal range closely shadows Shimano’s SPD pedals in price and weight and provides a good alternative to Shimano’s pedal system that’s compatible with it.
The standard X-Track pedals are comparable in price to the Shimano M520; the X-Track Race are similar in price to Shimano’s upgraded, lighter M540; the X-Track Race Carbon shadow Shimano’s M8100 XT pedals while the 290g X-Track Race Carbon TI pedals are a little more expensive than the 320g Shimano M9100 XTR.
The pedals and cleats wear well and the pedals are readily serviceable, although you can also treat them as fit-and-forget. The wider pedal body increases foot stability over Shimano’s pedals, making the Look X-Track a good alternative to Shimano and among the best gravel bike pedals.
Weight per pair: 390g
Cleats plus bolts: 54g
Float: 6 degrees
Release angle: 13 degrees
Stack height: 10.7mm pedals, 6.1mm cleats, 16.8mm total
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Paul started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2015, covering cycling tech, new bikes and product testing. Since then, he’s reviewed hundreds of bikes and thousands of other pieces of cycling equipment for the magazine and the Cycling Weekly website.
He’s been cycling for a lot longer than that though and his travels by bike have taken him all around Europe and to California. He’s been riding gravel since before gravel bikes existed too, riding a cyclocross bike through the Chilterns and along the South Downs.
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