Shimano’s M530 pedals offer incredible value for money to any trail rider. It’s true that upper-tier XT and XTR pedals may offer refined finishes and higher quality materials, as well as smoother operation. But the M530’s low price tag (£40/US$65) means we can’t find anything to complain about.
Shimano’s SH51 cleats ship with all of the company’s mountain bike pedals but cost £17.99 (US$19.99), while the M530s come with a set included. Besides being uber friendly to your wallet, we’ve found that the Shimano M530 pedals offer similar trail performance to higher-end models.
The only perceptible difference is the XTR’s smoother operation, which we attribute to the XTR’s stainless steel retention mechanism versus the M530’s plated steel components. We’ve been unable to discern a difference between the M530 and XT, which also relies on a plated steel cage.
Sure, there’s a bit of a weight compromise. But it’s smaller than you’d expect – the 224g (per pedal) M530 weighs just 57g more than XTR, and 47g more than XT per pair. Shimano might also point to incrementally higher-quality bearings and finishes on the more expensive models, but we’ve been on our M530s for more than six months and they’re still spinning smoothly. Plus, the bearing system is user-rebuildable should it dry out.
We’re sold on the larger platform on the M530s, as it offers legitimate purchase to your shoe when you’re unclipped. We’ve also found that it provides more stability when you’re clipped in, and protects the clipless mechanism better from rocks and other trail hazards. We’ve continually beat ours against rocks, and though they’re looking worse for wear we’ve yet to notice any degradation in performance.
We did notice that in sandy and dusty deserts, the M530s did get a bit rougher to use. We’d suggest using a bit of lube to maintain smoother operation.
We also noticed that we ran more tension on the springs than with our XTR pedals. Shimano say the tension produced should be the same on each model but we’ve found that the M530s require a few more turns on the adjuster to match the feel of their higher-end cousins. That said, we haven’t cranked them down totally, so there’s room for more tweaking should they find their way under larger or more aggressive riders.