Shimano R550 SPD-SL pedals review£59.99

Base-level price, top-end features

BikeRadar score4/5

The Shimano R550 pedals are a feature packed, resin bodied road model that sits below Shimano's new 105 5700-C. The Japanese componentry behemoth is no stranger to using trickle down technology, and features that just a few years ago were only available in its top-of-the-line Dura-Ace range are now available in this lower end sibling.

We recently tested the new 105 carbon pedals and found them very close to their more expensive counterparts – so close, in fact, that we struggled to see why one would spend so much more for the higher-end offerings. Can the same be said for the R550?

The shimano r550 (below) offers a wider platform and replaceable metal cleat plate when compared to the r540 (top) :
The shimano r550 (below) offers a wider platform and replaceable metal cleat plate when compared to the r540 (top) :

The Shimano R550 (bottom) offers a composite construction, wider platform and replaceable metal cleat plate when compared with the R540 (top)

The basic R540 has for a long time been the entry into Shimano’s SPD-R road clipless system. Among recent model updates, the 328g R540 has remained unchanged with standard aluminium construction and plastic cleat surface, basic retention spring adjustment and a standard-width body.

The R550, available in either black or grey, is a new pedal that sits above the base model R540 and below the new 105 carbon pedals. The R550 borrows the ultra-wide platform and replaceable metal cleat plate from the higher models; all that it shares in design with the R540 are its axle and internals.

Clipping in with the supplied three-bolt, three-degree float, yellow cleat is a simple affair and ranks as one of the easiest road pedals to use. There’s a huge range to the adjustable spring tension, enabling you to easily increase the tension as your confidence improves. We do recommend a light chain-lube on the mechanism at first use, because clipping out can otherwise be a little sticky.

Once in, you’re met with a secure hold, and the extra-wide body adds a sense of lateral stability to the foot. The yellow cleats will suit the majority of riders; however other cleats are available aftermarket for people who prefer less free-float and a more locked-in feel.

We had the misfortunate of a crash during testing of the R550, and this certainly highlighted a downside to the lighter-weight composite material used. While metal-bodied pedals would shrug away such an incident, the resin body has a clear chunk of material missing. A quick use of a file and the pedals are useable once more, but it’s something worth noting.

The shimano r550 spd-sl pedals (back) are heavier, made of a softer material and a cheaper axle/bearing assembly compared to the shimano 5700-c 105 pedals (front) :
The shimano r550 spd-sl pedals (back) are heavier, made of a softer material and a cheaper axle/bearing assembly compared to the shimano 5700-c 105 pedals (front) :

Which model to buy? Many will be torn between the R550 and the 5700-C 105 (both pictured)

So the big question many will ask is, if the R550s are so close to Shimano's 105 carbon pedals, why would you buy the 105’s – or even Ultegra, or Dura-Ace?

The answer's not a simple one, and for many it will come down to a decision over whether all-out durability and low weight is the prime concern, and if replacing the whole pedal every few years is an acceptable option. The R550 resin composite build isn’t as light – at 309g – or durable as the higher-end options, which weigh in at 276g (105 carbon), 256g (Ultegra carbon) and 248g (Dura-Ace). But for many riders, a pair of R540 will last many, many years – and, the odd nick aside, we'd expect the lighter, broader R550 to put in an excellent stint too.

David Rome

Former Editor, Australia
Dave was the editor of BikeRadar Australia until early 2016.
  • Age: 28
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