Shimano's top-level road pedal has been redesigned, retaining the go-on-forever internals of previous Dura-Ace incarnations but now coming with a carbon composite body that lowers the weight... and raises the price.
The pedal body is 63mm wide, which is exactly the same width as Look Keo Carbon Blades (£274.99 with titanium axle, £179.99 with cro-mo axle), so you get a shed-load of stability. Your cleats just don't rock on these pedals; it's an absolutely rock-solid platform (as is the Look design). Where Shimano scores over its French rival is that the stainless steel plate across the centre of the pedal body - over the top of the axle - is replaceable. If you eventually wear it down, you can fit a new one without the need to buy a whole new set of pedals. That makes a lot of sense.
As for the durability of the rest of the pedal body, I've been running these for a few months now and they're still looking absolutely mint, so I don't see any reason why they shouldn't provide as much service as their predecessors. That means you'll get several years of use if you treat them nicely.
Clipping into the pedal is as easy as ever. As long as you get your foot vaguely in the right area and push, the pedal does the rest and an audible click lets you know your cleat has engaged. Once clipped in, your cleat will never come out accidentally if you have the tension adjustment bolts wound in tight. The retention springs are hidden away from the elements inside a little cover, and those adjustment bolts have diddy gauges that allow you to set them equally with the minimum of fuss.
The pedal body spins beautifully on its bearings. There are two ball bearings around the strong steel axle along with a wide roller bearing, and it's simple to open the pedals up for greasing and adjustment, even if you don't have much workshop experience. You won't need to do that often, but giving the pedals the once over from time to time will keep them smooth and extend their life. Do that and they'll go on and on.
The SPD-SL cleats you get in the box have 6 degrees of float - meaning that you can pivot your foot 3 degreees in either direction before becoming unclipped. I've always found that to be plenty for keeping the old knees happy although, of course, you might be different. Replacements cleats, including a fixed (no float) version, cost £19.99, which is the same as Look's.
You couldn't describe walking in the cleats as a whole lot of fun but they provide a decent middle ground between grip and durability. You certainly feel a lot less precarious clacking across damp roads in these than in many other cleats.
For all the weight weenies out there, my pedals hit the scales at 250g the pair. That compares to 190g for a pair of Look Keo Blade Carbon pedals. Bear in mind, though, that the extra weight gives you tension adjustment on the retention mechanism and replaceability on the stainless steel pedal body plate. The Shimano pedals are also £55 cheaper. Look's £130.99 Keo Carbons (with coil spring retention rather than the carbon leaf spring you get on the Blades) are also a little lighter at 230g (manufacturer's claimed weight).
In terms of function, these are great. They're super-stable, reasonably lightweight and durable. The only sticking point is the price. Okay, they are cheaper than Look's top-level pedals, but you can get a set of alloy-bodied Ultegras, which are almost as good and weigh just 60g more, for £99.99. So if you're looking for value, you might want to drop down a tier.
Super-stable, reasonably lightweight and easy to use, and they'll last you years, but the price is high
road.cc test report
Make and model: Shimano Dura-Ace pedals
Size tested: One style
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Shimano list these features:
Super lightweight carbon SPD-SL road pedal for high performance road racing
Lightweight carbon body provides large shoe contact area to maximise power transfer and support whilst reducing weight
The wide flat profile gives better road clearance and cornering, also allowing wider bearing placement for increased rigidity and uniform load distribution
Silky smooth 3-bearing axle system, two ball- and one wide roller-bearing
Stainless steel pedal body plate for increased durability
Open design allows for easy access and cleat adjustments
Wider shoe cleat has a long life and is easier for walking than other cleats
Large binding target allows quick engagement while wide cleats provides more efficient pedalling
Two types of shoe cleats available: fixed, or 3 degrees of float in each direction
It's not 'comfort' as such, but these score highly for stability which is kind of related in that it's how they feel
The price is high compared to other SPD-SL pedals in the range. Okay, these are the best road pedals Shimano make, but the leap from Ultegras in terms of performance is not that far considering the price gap.
To be fair, most of the other manufacturers follow a similar price structure, with their top-tier model much more expensive than the others for a comparatively small step-up in performance.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Perhaps
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but I'd suggest Ultegras for better value
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Price apart, these are a 9. With the price considered, you might argue that the score should come down to an 8. It depends on your priorities
About the tester
Age: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.