Shimano's latest clipless pedal is essentially an XTR Race SPD pedal with a cage to add durability and support. It sits between the minimal Race and the old DX pedal in terms of size and protection. The cage itself doesn’t offer much support for your shoes but it does protects the pedal from bashing against rocks.
It also offers the huge benefit of stopping the pedal rotating when you’re hastily stomping on it to relocate your feet. This design doesn’t hamper mud clearance, and despite clogging in thick mud (like all pedals of this style), they perform admirably – you only need to bash the cleats a few times to clear excess mud.
You can adjust the tension to suit your preferred release style, and the click in and out is very positive. Combined with the outer cage this makes for a very solid and conﬁdence-inspiring platform. Despite taking a serious amount of abuse, our pedals have retained their engineered good looks.
The axle is a hollow chromoly unit that spins in smooth sealed cartridge bearings. Ours have developed a tiny amount of play, but that hasn’t got worse since it developed. The Trail pedal is slightly heavier than the Race version, at a shade under 400g, but this inspires confidence and is a great compromise between the featherweight and heavy options available.
We'd recommend the Trail over the Race for use with more ﬂexible shoes or where freeride fun rather than cross-country speed is to be had on a trail. But that’s just a guide – if you’re in the market for some new SPD action we’d recommend looking at both. The XTR Trail is pricy, but cheaper models are due for the XT and entry-level ranges.