BikeRadar’s High-Mileage Heroes | Warren’s Shimano RD540 SPD-SL pedals

Warren’s Shimano RD540 SPD-SL pedals have stood the test of time

Shimano RD540 SPD-SL road pedals

The lowliest of Shimano’s road bike pedal range might not sound like the stuff of hardwearing tech glory. They’re also not exactly the most glamourous of components, not when most of my own bikes are running Ultegra and even Dura-Ace pedals.

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However, these RD540 SPD-SL pedals have joined me on most of my test rides home and abroad, serving me well over the past decade.

Shimano RD540 SPD-SL road pedals
Scratched, scraped, beaten but unbowed the 540s are testament to a component well made.
Warren Rossiter / Our Media

Once fitted to a bike, pedals pretty much stay put until either the bike is sold on or the pedals need some bearing maintenance, and these humble 540s have had a seriously hard life and that’s why I’m so impressed with them.

They have been my ‘stunt’ pedals since I got them early in the last decade, switching from test bike to test bike on a regular basis.

As a rough estimate, these pedals have been threaded onto and taken off over 1,000 bikes since they came out of their original Shimano blue box.

BikeRadar’s High-Mileage Heroes

High-Mileage Heroes is a new series on BikeRadar showcasing the products that have stood the test of time and become part of our everyday riding.

These aren’t reviews, but rather a chance to talk about the kit we depend on and the products we choose to use when we’re not reviewing fresh gear.

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Well travelled

They’re not just fitted to test bikes at home either, the 540s are the pedals I chuck into my luggage whenever I head out to a launch (which hasn’t been for a while, admittedly).

Shimano RD540 SPD-SL road pedals
These 540 pedals are globe-trotting bits of hardware.
Warren Rossiter / Immediate Media

So these glossy white warriors have accompanied me everywhere from Taipei to Tennessee, as well as trundling through Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

They’ve gone through X-ray machines across four different continents and have been under my heels in the Appalachians, Alps, Pyrenees, and hammered along Paris-Roubaix cobbles.

Shimano RD540 SPD-SL road pedals
The 540s now weigh 327g a pair, when I first tested them over a decade ago they weighed 336g, that’s 9g of paint and metal worn away.
Warren Rossiter / Immediate Media

Here’s my shameful admission, though: in over a decade, I have done literally nothing to them.

They’ve never been taken apart, regreased, adjusted or even cleaned, the closest thing they’ve had is a quick splash of WD40 and the occasional fingertip of grease on the threads.

Despite this carefree attitude to pedal maintenance, they still spin freely, don’t creak or squeak. Yes, they look a state but the gloss white paint is frankly a stupid colour for pedals – they looked second-hand after my first ride on them all those years ago.

Shimano RD540 SPD-SL road pedals
With virtually no maintenance, the 540s have just continued working and never let me down (though that glossy paint is slippery when wet).
Warren Rossiter / Immediate Media

These Shimano 540s have truly been used and abused, and because they were so cheap, I’ve always had in mind that if they were lost on my travels, it wouldn’t matter because I’ve had my thirty-odd quid’s worth of use out of them.

If I’m honest, though, if I did lose these plucky little upstarts, I’d be gutted. They’ve been an ever-reliable companion on some of the best riding I’ve ever done and in sentimental value alone I’d choose these over a pair of flyweight R9100 carbon Dura-Ace pedals any day.

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  • Price: £34.99