Shimano’s Ultegra pedals, like their namesake groupset, hit the right notes when it comes to excellent performance. They’re not much heavier than the top-end Dura-Ace pedals and have a similar design and ease of use.
At this price you get a fancy carbon composite body that looks sleek and reveals an impressive lightness on the scales, helping to split the difference between the Dura-Ace and 105 models.
Three small, non-replaceable stainless steel plates are spread out on the wide pedal body to provide durability, smooth float and efficient power transfer.
The body rolls on a stainless steel axle with twin bearings, which are well sealed against the elements and can be replaced, but the longevity of the bearings is very impressive. The R8000s also come in a 4mm wider axle version if you need to increase your Q factor (the distance between the pedals).
Shimano’s familiar plastic cleats come in three float flavours, and the stock yellow cleats supplied in the box provide up to 6 degrees of float, the maximum available.
The range of float was more than generous for me, and it helps when aligning the cleats on shoes because there’s a larger window of angle adjustment. You can choose cleats with less float if you prefer, but it’s hard to fault the stock cleats especially if you’re worried about knee and hip joint health.
The float is smooth and gives a natural feel when pedalling, and the cleats are easy for walking around in and feel robust enough. They are also easy to engage into the pedal because the spring-release mechanism doesn’t require too much force to overcome, while the accompanying click is good and tactile with audible feedback.
I never missed engagement with the pedals, even when pulling away from a standstill. When it comes to clipping out, the level of force needed to twist and disengage is determined by the adjustable release spring, but even in its default setting it’s a straightforward twist of the ankle.
A small Allen key can adjust the tension though, from very light for easy unclipping to a much higher level, enabling the pedals to suit different experience and ability levels.
A bonus with Shimano pedals is that the weight of the release mechanism means the pedals are always pivoted nose up, which makes locating the cleat into the pedal much easier. This softens the learning curve when it comes to getting used to clipless pedals for the first time.
The Ultegras are cheaper than Dura-Ace and lighter than 105, but if the price is too steep, the 105 R7000 pedals also tested offer much the same level of performance.
How we tested
You know you’re a serious cyclist when you buy your first set of clipless pedals, right? But with so many to choose from, it can be hard to know which brand is right for you and what you need to look out for.
So we picked ten of the best out there to help narrow down your search and you’ll find plenty more in our buyer’s guide to the best road bike pedals.
- TC Keo Style pedals
- HT Components Carbon PK01 pedals
- Look Keo 2 Max Carbon pedals
- Look Keo Classic 3 Plus pedals
- Shimano 105 R7000 pedals
- Shimano Tiagra R550 pedals
- Speedplay Zero Chromoly pedals
- Time Xpresso 2
- Time XPro 10 pedals