In any category you could test the PD-M520 Shimano SPD in, it would struggle to better 75 percent. But it’s this level of consistency that has made it the most popular clipless pedal for UK mountain bikers (our highly unscientiﬁc research based upon riders we see out and about during our daily grind around the trails).
The pedal gets five stars because it uses the exact same mechanism to control entry and release as its more expensive Shimano XT and XTR brethren, with only materials down-specced to meet the price. Talking of price, the M520 costs little enough (prices online are as little as £20) so should complete failure occur, and it’s practically unheard of, you could bin them and buy more without too many tears being lost.
On the trail a new, well-lubed M520 is very hard to tell apart from the XT and XTR. The tunable release tension is the same, and while it can be a bit stickier when new, we’ve run them for years without ever feeling that we were hampering either our performance or the ride.
Service is certainly required yearly, on par with most other pedals at this price, and is something that takes the average rider about half an hour to do the pair.