Shimano's most affordable price point for a dual-sided clipless pedal is the PD-M520. They come with adjustable spring tension to give you full control on the amount of force required to clip in and out. They have a chromoly axle and sealed bearings. The Shimano PD-M520 Pedals come with cleats that are compatible with any mountain bike shoe.
Strengths: Smooth, easy clip-in and release, adjustable retention, cheap and bombproof.
Weaknesses: Heavy, don't play nice with mud, limited float.
I started with an older version of this pedal as my first foray into clipless over a decade ago and I've never had reason to use anything else. The current design is little better in the mud, but just about every other clipless design is still superior in wet conditions. I don't ride when trails are muddy, so this isn't an issue for me.
If you're looking to try clipless for the first time I can think of no better pedal. Buy these and a pair of multi-release cleats, set the retention loose and you'll be as comfortable as you were on flats in no time; they're that easy to get out of.
I'm sure these are too heavy and sub-par for serious racers, but if you just want a no-nonsense pedal that will last a long time I don't see how you could go wrong.
Date Reviewed: February 27, 2013
Strengths: Solid pedal, all around.
Weaknesses: Possibly a little heavier than the XT, but I wouldn't hesitate to put a pair on a road bike.
I've ridden these things HARD over the past 9 months—they take a boulder beating just fine. For $29.99 at nashbar.com, there is no better pedal for the price. I'd buy 2 more pairs of these M520L's before I even thought about moving up to an $80 pedal.
Date Reviewed: February 23, 2013
Strengths: It's pretty much bulletproof. Not much to go wrong here. I saw a review that said the cage had broke. I would have taken that back to the shop and got a replacement. I've been using these pedals now for four years. They are heavy. Part of the weight however is they click in on both sides. They are really easy to use. It's pretty much step and click. Once you get the springs adjusted for all side, it's foolproof.
I use them on my road bike and my commuter bike. It's a sturdy hard wearing pedal at a very economical price.
Weaknesses: It is a little heave. But maybe you could lose a few pounds.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: August 3, 2012
Strengths: Easy to clip in and out. Spin smooth
Weaknesses: Compared to XTR are junk. Poor seal design. Even if the bearing lash is properly adjusted they still have play. Pedal-cleat interface make a bothersome click every rotation if you put more than a minimal effort into pedalling. Inner and outer bearing separation too close together will cause rapid bearing wear and instability.
New pedals have play, even though the bearing lash is properly adjusted, due to the cartridge design. Seal design and placement is passive placement design, so dirt can easilty enter. The above mentioned clicking is magnified through the crankset and frame making it extremely annoying. Gave up on these after about 100 miles. I've had a complete 950 XTR gruppo, excluding pedals, since 1994 and am very impressed by all of the components. But the newest XTR is way overpriced. I assumed that trickle down tech would follow down to the PD-M520, which is partially true, yet poorly constructed. I assumed these would be better pedals than Forte Carve, even though the Carve pedal has no lash adjustment, and uses a brass bushing on one end, cartridge bearing on the other end, but assumed wrong.
Strengths: The shimano 520 pedal is a Low cost, bomb proof, easy to get in and out of pedal that will not fail you after being smashed off a rock like some over pedals on the market...
Weaknesses: maybe the weight but that's an issue unless your a pretentious gram counting weenie
as I sit here writing this going through the pedals I have used over the past few years, I realize I always come back to the Shimano 520’s. I currently have two sets of them one on my road bike, one on my stumpy, and a set of XT’s on my single speed. I have tried crank brothers as well as times, neither one of which screamed reliability to me like this do. The set of 520’s on my road bike are at least 5 years old, they’ve been through 4 different bikes, and have probably hit every rock in southern Maine they still work flawlessly. These pedals are kind of heavy however that makes them bomb proof and awesome, and realistically they are not a lot heavier than the XTR version, of course if you are a weight weenie gram counter you would not be looking here and reading about these pedals. But for everyone else, meaning you the one looking for a solid pedal without breaking the bank then these are it.
Similar Products Used: crank bros candy's time atacs
Bike Setup: Stump jumper evo 29 hardtail
a Weekend Warrior
from Traverse City, Michigan, USA
Date Reviewed: March 1, 2012
Strengths: inexpensive, good quality, biggish, works well
Weaknesses: could be heavy, not the easiest to get on (but then again I don't have the proper tools)
I'm a first time clipless user and I;m still getting used to these things but they seem great. I can't speak for durability as I've only used them a few times but I love them. I know ya'll have heard it before but these are great beginner pedals, cheap, high quality, works well. The tension adjust is great for a first timer like me and works well. The entry is easy once you get a hold of it (operative words there: once you get a hold of it) and exiting is a no brainer. Negatives sure they're probably heavy and not the easiest to install but when you can such great pedals for a great price these are nitpicks.
a Weekend Warrior
from Berthoud, CO
Date Reviewed: October 31, 2011
Strengths: Cheap, durable, solid engagement, ease of use
These are definitely a high Bang For The Buck product. I've used Candy's for awhile, and while those are good pedals the M520 is a superior product in most respects. The Candy is lighter and has a bit more float, but the M520 is far, far more durable and I personally prefer the SPD engagement / release.
Also, a previous reviewer has stated that these are throw-away pedals. That is not true - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXfrmkOTicM.
Similar Products Used: Crank Brothers Candy's (SL and standard cro-moly axle versions)
Bike Setup: Voodoo Canzo 29er, Surly Karate Monkey
a Weekend Warrior
from Peoria AZ
Date Reviewed: September 19, 2011
Strengths: price, ease of install, adjustability
Weaknesses: none so far
This is my 1st clipless pedal so I went for a product from a name I trust. I couldn't be happier with this product. It was easy to install and the adjustability is great. I'd used clipless before but never owned them. Other pedals were significantly higher priced and the only advantage was a slight weight savings. I would advise anyone looking to get into clipless to consider this pedal.
a Weekend Warrior
from Eustis, FL, United States
Date Reviewed: June 1, 2011
Strengths: Ease of use. The tension is adjustable and these are easy to clip in and out of. They do very well in muddy terrain; however, muddy terrain here in Florida is more like wet sand, so it really doesn't cake up in the pedals.
Weaknesses: None noted yet.
Was hesitant about converting from a platform to a clipless. Was almost certain there would be a huge learning curve and felt I would have to take advantage of my AFLAC and health insurance. So far the only falls have been because I have been tempting fate or attempting to do things above my ability. If you use commomn sense and operate within your ability, you will find these pedals are all you should need. Based on my knowledge of both road and mountain bikes, I really don't see the need for a more expensive clipless pedal; this one works great.
Similar Products Used: None, first clipless pedals.
Bike Setup: Gary Fisher Marlin
from ringwood, nj, usa
Date Reviewed: April 4, 2011
easy to install/adjust
Weaknesses: heavy but none other than that
i decide to go clipless because im starting to get into racing. i asked the guys at town cycle if the had a cheap entry level for of clipless pedals.they showed me these. i got them a few months ago and the only reason they are scratched is because i fell when i was learning them. i got used to them very quickly and now im loving them.
i would recommend these to the beginning rider or anyone new to clipless pedals.
pros or semi pro should go with the xtr model because it is lighter
a Weekend Warrior
from Fort Lauderdale, FL
Date Reviewed: March 9, 2011
Strengths: Super easy in. Wont slip out. Adjustable tension. Rock solid and virtually indestructible.
Weaknesses: A little on the heavy side.
I'll never use any other pedal. Sure, they may be a few grams heavier, but they will last a lifetime. I have two other sets of SPDs that have had the crapola beat out of them and are sitting in a box of spare parts and one day I'll put them back on something else that I throw together. A little money goes a real long way with these SPDs. You can spend time and money trying other brands or you can just get these and be done with it and have money and mental energy to spend on other things.
Bike Setup: Mountain cycle Fury, e-thirteen 34 tooth single, all XT, custom built Circus Monkey wheels. All mountain.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: January 22, 2011
Strengths: They were very easy to get used to once I adjusted the tension of the pedal. I started with toe clips on road bikes back in the 70's,But these are so much nicer. No worries about your feet slipping out of the clips or off the pedals while flying down the trail. They are also cheap.
Weaknesses: None that I can think of. They even work for me when muddy.
The 520 spd pedals may not be the most exspensive or the coolist but they are very good pedals. I can't justify spending 5 times as much for a higher end pedal.I dont abuse my stuff but face the facts, I step on them. I grind them against stumps, Rocks, Curbs Etc. It happens! In short Buy a set, They dont get much better and they are cheap to replace. They all need to be replaced sooner or later.
Bike Setup: 2003 Giant Reinier. Set up mostly for Rail Trail Touring these days. Getting old. Xt shifters front and rear derailleurs. Lx hollowtech 2 cranks for the steel rings. That last longer. Sram casset 990. Sram 971? chain. Mavic xm 719 disk 36 hole rims, Xt hubs, bb7 Avid calipers. ETC.