Shimano’s Saint M821 is the brand’s top-tier gravity pedal line, so it’s not surprising that these pedals are a good chunk burlier and heavier than its other offerings.
Although designed to withstand the rigours of downhill racing, my testing on a variety of terrain has shown the M821 works equally well in trail and enduro applications, provided you’re not obsessing over every gram of weight.
Shimano Saint M821 details
Like Shimano’s XT M8120 and Zee’s ME700 platform SPDs, the Saints have a similarly tapered side profile, but to a lesser degree, narrowing from 19mm around the axles to 12mm at the leading and trailing edges.
They’re also wider, with a bigger machined flat section in the middle and four pins studding each side.
Internally, the Saints spin on Shimano’s traditional arrangement of cup and cone bearings, and on these the whole axle assembly can be removed as one from the bodies for easy maintenance.
The clip mechanism is fixed flat to the platform and isn’t sprung loaded to rotate back inside the cage, as the old Shimano DX downhill pedals were and DMR’s V-Twins still are.
Only the rear cleat retention jaw is sprung and, as with all Shimano SPDs, a 3mm Allen bolt on this makes for easy tension adjustment.
Shimano Saint M821 performance
My experience of Shimano’s XT pedals has been that the platforms taper down so much that they offer little in the way of foot support and essentially your foot is left free-floating on the cleat. In comparison, the Saints provide considerably more foot support but, even so, the removable pins – which screw in from underneath and have washers for height adjustment – are quite stubby and not long enough to contact the soles of my shoes on the front edges.
Shoe flex still gives good rear edge contact, though. Clipping in and out is uninhibited and the pins give a welcome bit of security if riding a section unclipped.
The 91mm long by 79mm wide platforms also give a big, easy to locate surface to clip back onto after a dab.
The tapered shape of the platforms has so far grazed past most of the obstacles I’ve nearly caught them on, but I’m confident that should I catch a pedal, the chucky alloy bodies will shake it off. Also, after a winter of wet rides, they’re still spinning as smoothly as when they came out of the box.
Shimano Saint M821 bottom line
Shimano’s Saint M821 pedal may not have the best foot feel of any platform SPD out there, and their 552g weight doesn’t make them the lightest either, but if you’re looking for a really robust set of pedals with a slick clipping action these are well worth considering.