Strengths: They're light. The larger platform makes clipping in easier, and it adds to stability when unclipped. Really good pedals when working.
Weaknesses: THEY BREAK! The tip end of the axle can snap, allowing the pedal body to slide/fall off. A new axle will have to be fitted, and the Shimano warranty won't cover any costs. Plus, most bike shops don't carry replacement axles, so you will have to wait a while to have it fixed (3 months in my case). My local bike shop has a couple such axle replacement jobs going, so this problem is not uncommon.
I loved the pedals when they were operational. I'm annoyed that they broke under what I consider normal usage.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: August 9, 2012
Positive clip in - out
Weaknesses: The cage can catch on parts of your shoes, making it hard to clip in. Especially with studs.
The cage is supportive, but it's slippery due to it being hard metal. Some shoes are OK, however, there is a magical zero friction interface formed by the soles of my Bontrager RXLs and the surface of the XTR pedals.
They scratch up very quickly.
There isn't much difference between these and the bog standard Deore ones, except the XTRs are LESS RELIABLE.
The big downer is POOR RELIABILITY.
Not long after fitting these to a bike I noticed that one of the grease seals had come out and was sitting on the shaft. I bought another set hoping to get a refund on the originals but ended up getting a replacement set from CRC/Shimano.
I fitted the second set I'd bought and, lo and behold, not long after one of the seals has come out onto the shaft.
Now I'm on my 3rd set on the bike, fitted last night, and the second failed set are boxed and ready to go back.
So, what can one say? These are Shimano's top of the range trail pedal yet the seals are not fit for purpose. There is no mention of it in the supposedly knowledgeable press, but there never is when it's a big multinational with massive advertising budgets.
There is very obviously a design or possibly QC issue here which needs to be sorted out. In the meantime I would recommend you avoid these pedals, they are nice, and would be excellent if the seals were good but:
If Shimano owned up and said "serial numbers XXX to YYY are faulty, but we have now rectified the problem" then all would be good. But I doubt they will, they will leave it to you to buy the pedals, and have them fail and then go through the routine of returning them, to, potentially, get another faulty set like I did.
Now, I suppose that would be OK for the cheap n cheerful Deore variety, but it is absolutely NOT acceptable for XTR.
Strengths: engagement system, easy on easy off
platform support adds stability & control
cage takes a beating & still performs
Weaknesses: bearings & axle system
If it wasn't for the failed bearings after 9 months I would be be raving about the m985 platform spd.
My last pair of shimano's xtrs lasted 7 years of new england granite. In the end it wasn't the bearing or axle system that
failed but the metal cage & spd mechanism.
My dad has the xc version & his bearings failed after 4 months.
Hopefully shimano is addressing the bearing failure issue & standing by their product.
I am very disappointed in the durability especially considering the price point.
I went to email Shimano & they took down their email due to high volume. ??
Makes me hesitant to try the new xt version & the dx's are on the heavy side.
Similar Products Used: shimano spd's from the last 20 yrs
frog speed play
Bike Setup: Pivot Firebird with 180 Float
dt swiss 5.1 with hope2 hubs
a Cross Country Rider
from Liverpool England
Date Reviewed: February 3, 2012
Strengths: Light and easy to clip in and out of. Look fantastic.
Weaknesses: Grease seals came out and let muck in
My first ever piece of XTR kit and at first everything was great I loved the feel of clipping into these pedals and the feeling that I would never get stuck no matter how muddy.
However I noticed after 2 months that the right hand pedal had some play in it and 2 weeks later noticed the grease seals had come out of the gold nuts on both pedals. After only 3 months I have to decide do I send them back or service them. Not something I expected with an All Mountain pedal and certainly not one that cost £100.
Strengths: Large platform
Weaknesses: None yet
I've been using the XTR PD-985 pedals for over 6 months now and would recommend them to anyone. I have already put 1,000 miles of riding on these pedals and they still feel brand new. Time will tell how durable they are but the construction seems bomb proof.
I ride a mixture of XC and downhill and find these pedals to perform equally well in both scenarios. The metal cage gives a nice platform for mashing on the pedals on hard climbs and extra confidence when getting air. Clipping in and out is really smooth and I never have an issue coming un-clipped in rough terrain. The cleat tension is adjustable with an allen wrench so you can easily fine tune the engagement.
Compared to my previous pedals (Crank Brothers Candy C) it feels like I am transferring more power. Plus, they look good too.
Who should get these - Aggressive riders trying to keep their bike weight down yet want something that is sturdy and gives a large platform without going to flats.
Who shouldn't get these - Pure XC riders. Get a cage-less pedal.
Strengths: Looking good, in and out clipping works wonderful.
Not very expencive.
Weaknesses: Crappy bearings.
I've been riding XTR pedals for years, when I saw these I wanted them right away. So I bought two sets, one for each bike. They are wonderful, no problems with in and out clipping. Good steady platform.
But now after 6 months I have a lot of free play in the bearings. I was very disapointed when i found this out. My old XTR's run for years and the whole pedal's were worn exept the bearings. While now I have new pedals with worn bearings. I'll try a new set of these, and hope they don't wear out that fast.
Similar Products Used: previouse XTR pedals, and old Tx pedals.
Bike Setup: BMC trailfox, fox tallas, fox DHX 5.0 air, no tubes rims with rohloff speedhub, hope M4 disk brakes.
a Cross Country Rider
from Zagreb, Croatia
Date Reviewed: June 3, 2011
Strengths: Weight, looks, precise feeling.
Weaknesses: Maybe price.
Do you remember that feeling when you first got connected with your bike via clipless? You thought you are the king of the hill, you and bike - one machine. And then with years it just became standard.
I can with full honesty say that from the first moment I clipped into XTR Trail I got that feeling once again. It just takes clipless to a whole new level.
Clipping in feels ... not sure what is the best word ... sharp. You feel the precision. There is no fly, no wobble.
As soon as you are clipped in you feel the platforms of the pedals (those shiny unpainted parts). Of course, your shoes need to match, but I believe Shimano tested with all the popular manufacturers, and I guess that's what standards are for. Riding them, pushing them, you can feel that your whole foot is pressing against the pedal, not just that-part-in-between-feet-balls. I ride Specialized Comp shoes which have really rigid sole, and on all the other pedals I could feel the pedal (at least a little bit) poking me in that spot. With XTR Trail you have a stable and wide platform and you feel it.
They might be costly, but they are serious business.
My current bike has a low BB so I get a ton of pedal strikes on the rocky, rooty NE trails. I like to use the multi release cleats and I keep them loose. I also ride flat pedals and cross train a lot. If you can ride well and don't rely on the clips like a dummy to keep your balance, you can ride your clips low tension.
These pedals rule! Love them. Get them new in box on the bay.
Similar Products Used: Shimano DX, Tima Atac Z, Old school times
Bike Setup: Santa Cruz Blur XC Carbon w/ XTR kit, Stan's wheels
a Weekend Warrior
from Bath, UK
Date Reviewed: January 19, 2011
Strengths: Light Weight, awesome looks, good bearings, solid positive feel.
Weaknesses: Not quite as confidnece inspiring as the old M646 SPD's they replaced.
Bought these to replace the M646's I killed on the boardwalk on Whites Level in Wales. Front wheels ran wide and went off the edge, pedal hit decking and bend the axle.
I wasnt actually that convinced at first. To desribe them best would be to say that they feel like a half way house between normal XC Shimano SPD's and the proper old floating cage SPD's like the M626 DX's. The platform does feel more solid than the XC types, there is less foot roll, and seemingly less chance of unclipping. However they are not as easy to get clipped into on rough ground. The old DX types with the SPD centre that popped up enabled you to just stab at the pedal with your foot and you'd clip in. you cant do that with these. Also dont be fooled into thinking that the 'cage' will give any grip or support if not clipped in (if staying unclipped for safety is your thing), they wont.
One thing you cant knock them for is their weight however, under half that of the M646's they replaced.
Going to stick with them, but may try some M647's for hard use.
Bike Setup: Santa Cruz Chameleon '09, Magura Thors, Saint, Thomson, Rohloff, XTR trail, Nobby Nics
a Cross Country Rider
from Stamford Ct
Date Reviewed: January 18, 2011
Strengths: Light, strong, solid
Weaknesses: none yet
I waited for these for three months and was not disappointed one bit. Was a bit worried about spd coming from egg beaters but so far love it. My first ride was in mud and snow combo with no problems clogging.