Shimano XT M8120 Trail
For over 30 years Shimano XT has really been the benchmark against which all other mountain bike components are judged. It’s reasonably priced, durable kit that just works, and its unbroken reign is a huge testament to Shimano which improves it year on year to stay one step ahead.
Shimano’s excellent XT Trail pedal has been tweaked slightly again to create this PD-M8120 model, which is claimed to improve the shoe contact area over the previous M8020 pedal and increase cage clearance for mud-proofing.
The pedals now offer one of the largest usable platforms of all the trail-oriented pedals, excluding chunkier downhill or enduro targeted models such as the Crankbrothers Mallet and DMR V-Twin.
Both of these require some tuning of the platform to achieve a fit, and I like the simple fit and forget approach taken with the XT.
Simply bolt the cleat in and go, with the only option being a cleat shim – needed to help clearance with more thickly lugged outsoles. Of course, they didn’t offer quite the support of the enduro pedals, but it was more than enough for me.
On test, the cleat engagement never wavered from its snappy step-in and unmissable crack when releasing, which was confidence inspiring over technical ground. Also, I rarely felt the cage interfere with shoes, allowing a clean disengagement at all times.
One of my thicker outsoled XC shoes did clash, with the aggressive lugs fouling the rear of the cage to lock my feet in, but they probably weren’t the ideal shoe for this pedal and were an exception. Generally they just worked.
Where I have had a bit of mud clogging with the previous M8020 pedal, this version certainly seemed to have more room between the cage and mechanism, allowing mud to clear more readily. Again, I didn’t even have to consider this during the test, they just kept functioning without an issue.
And that is the best compliment I can pay the XTs, once bolted on they don’t need another thought. Fit and forget technology at its best.