The latest entry into Shimano's carbon road pedal range, the Ultegra PD-6700C, sits just below the Dura-Ace 7900 model. But with a significantly lower price tag, is it the Ultegra that is now the better bet for the vast majority of cyclists?
The carbon pedal, which uses Shimano's usual SPD-SL system, takes much of the alloy version's design - stainless steel body, extra-wide shoe platform - and wraps it up in a carbon shell that sends total pair weight crashing to 256g from 314g.
Shimano have always shown willing in trickling their high-end components down to levels below at hugely reduced prices - see the terrific Ultegra Di2 for proof. The 6700C continues that trend.
Dura-Ace or Ultegra?
Performance-wise you'd be hard pressed to find a clear difference between the Ultegra and Dura-Ace pedals, unless you were the ultimate pedant.
The Ultegras are much wider than, say, the budget R540, and have a perceived advantage over that model in terms of getting back what you put through each pedal stroke.
Costs are kept down with a less complicated bearing structure in the chromoly axles, but the pedal still spins with ease compared to more budget options. This makes clipping in tougher, particularly on hills, but is nothing an experienced rider would worry about.
Theoretically, the Dura-Ace pedal should spin better for longer, but after riding more than 2,000km during testing we've been impressed by the Ultegra's performance.
The included SH11 cleats (the yellow ones) provided enough float without us ever feeling as though we weren't being efficient in our efforts, and clip in and out easily with a reassuring clank.
In terms of durability, the pedals have held up well. The replaceable stainless steel plate that sits across the width bears much of the abrasions and pressure caused during clipping and pedalling, though replacements aren't supplied in the package.
Those worried about the durability issues associated with using carbon over aluminium needn't worry - as long as they're careful. We used the pedals during the 780km seven-day Haute Route sportive this summer, and even with all the constant clipping in and out such a ride entails, the pedal came out the other side relatively unscathed.
The trouble with rides like that is that with hundreds of tired riders congregating at feed stations, your bike can end up flat on the floor, with the odd bit of scuffing and furring of the fibres on the outer edge of the pedal happening as a result. The Dura-Ace pedal, with its metal strip, helps negate this, but even this can be damaged through mishandling.
The small, 8g weight penalty going from Dura-Ace to Ultegra comes about mainly because of the shorter fibres used in the Ultegra. It's so minor that it's almost irrelevant to all but elite racers.
Theoretically, the Ultegra pedals shouldn't be as strong or stiff as the Dura-Ace versions, but it's hard to notice. The price difference - £80 (US$50) - isn't so irrelevant though, so the cheaper Ultegras may well get the nod when it comes to parting with your hard-earned cash.