Shimano R550 SPD-SL pedals£59.99

Base-level price, top-end features

BikeRadar score4/5

The Shimano R550 pedals are a feature packed, resin bodied road model that sits below Shimano's new 105 5700-C. The Japanese componentry behemoth is no stranger to using trickle down technology, and features that just a few years ago were only available in its top-of-the-line Dura-Ace range are now available in this lower end sibling.

We recently tested the new 105 carbon pedals and found them very close to their more expensive counterparts – so close, in fact, that we struggled to see why one would spend so much more for the higher-end offerings. Can the same be said for the R550?

The shimano r550 (below) offers a wider platform and replaceable metal cleat plate when compared to the r540 (top) :

The Shimano R550 (bottom) offers a composite construction, wider platform and replaceable metal cleat plate when compared with the R540 (top)

The basic R540 has for a long time been the entry into Shimano’s SPD-R road clipless system. Among recent model updates, the 328g R540 has remained unchanged with standard aluminium construction and plastic cleat surface, basic retention spring adjustment and a standard-width body.

The R550, available in either black or grey, is a new pedal that sits above the base model R540 and below the new 105 carbon pedals. The R550 borrows the ultra-wide platform and replaceable metal cleat plate from the higher models; all that it shares in design with the R540 are its axle and internals.

Clipping in with the supplied three-bolt, three-degree float, yellow cleat is a simple affair and ranks as one of the easiest road pedals to use. There’s a huge range to the adjustable spring tension, enabling you to easily increase the tension as your confidence improves. We do recommend a light chain-lube on the mechanism at first use, because clipping out can otherwise be a little sticky.

Once in, you’re met with a secure hold, and the extra-wide body adds a sense of lateral stability to the foot. The yellow cleats will suit the majority of riders; however other cleats are available aftermarket for people who prefer less free-float and a more locked-in feel.

We had the misfortunate of a crash during testing of the R550, and this certainly highlighted a downside to the lighter-weight composite material used. While metal-bodied pedals would shrug away such an incident, the resin body has a clear chunk of material missing. A quick use of a file and the pedals are useable once more, but it’s something worth noting.

The shimano r550 spd-sl pedals (back) are heavier, made of a softer material and a cheaper axle/bearing assembly compared to the shimano 5700-c 105 pedals (front) :

Which model to buy? Many will be torn between the R550 and the 5700-C 105 (both pictured)

So the big question many will ask is, if the R550s are so close to Shimano's 105 carbon pedals, why would you buy the 105’s – or even Ultegra, or Dura-Ace?

The answer's not a simple one, and for many it will come down to a decision over whether all-out durability and low weight is the prime concern, and if replacing the whole pedal every few years is an acceptable option. The R550 resin composite build isn’t as light – at 309g – or durable as the higher-end options, which weigh in at 276g (105 carbon), 256g (Ultegra carbon) and 248g (Dura-Ace). But for many riders, a pair of R540 will last many, many years – and, the odd nick aside, we'd expect the lighter, broader R550 to put in an excellent stint too.

David Rome

Editor, Australia
Having worked full-time within the cycling industry since 2006, Dave is our Australian editor based in Sydney. Riding and racing mountain, road and 'cross for over a decade, Dave's passion lies in the sport's technical aspects, and his tool collection is a true sign of that.
  • Age: 27
  • Height: 173cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 79cm / 31in
  • Chest: 89cm / 35in
  • Discipline: Mountain, road and cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Fast and flowing singletrack with the occasional air is the dream. Also happy chasing tarmac bends.
  • Current Bikes: Trek Fuel EX 27.5, SwiftCarbon Detritovore, Salsa Chilli Con Crosso
  • Dream Bike: Custom Independent Fabrications titanium, SRAM Etap and Enve wheels/cockpit
  • Beer of Choice: Gin & tonic
  • Location: Sydney, Australia

Related Articles

Back to top