Like this site? Help us to make it better.


Shimano PD-M520 SPD pedal



A classic and one of the best value pedals out there if you want a no-nonsense double sided SPD pedal for any type of riding

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

What the scores mean

Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.

  • Exceptional
  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Quite good
  • Average
  • Not so good
  • Poor
  • Bad
  • Appalling

Ah, Shimano PD-M520. You've got a bit of a clunky name and you're nothing special to look at, but is there a better all-round budget pedal than you out there? I think not.

M520s are technically mountain bike pedals of course, but you'll find them everywhere from full sussers to expedition tourers via Audax and commuting bikes. These pedals have been around in one incarnation or another for a long time; this is the third set I've owned and the other two are still going, somewhere, although one set got nicked with a bike out of the shed. They're pretty cheap at a list price of 35 quid (and you'll certainly find them cheaper than that), but that's not reflected in the build quality, which is excellent, or the performance, which is also excellent.

The M520s are alloy-bodied with steel mechanisms and axle. They run on cup and cone bearings which are easily accessible and replaceable with a £2.99 lockring tool. They're designed for the rigours of off-road and cope admirably there, shedding mud and knocks with ease. On the road they're solid and dependable and my top-of-the-list choice for, well, practically anything. I've had them on the road bike, the fixer, a couple of CX test bikes, my mountain bike, an urban bike, a tourer... okay they're a bit deep for super-fast cornering at race speeds, but aside from that you can pretty much use them for anything. The range of cleat tension adjustment is very good, and the entry and exit is positive.

Whenever the issue of SPDs versus 'road' pedals comes up, there's normally plenty of discussion as to whether you need that bigger platform. It's fair to say that at the level I ride the small SPD cleat has never been an issue for me in terms of function or comfort - all my longest rides have been on SPDs - and the convenience of having the same system on every bike outweighs any tiny incremental gains in efficiency. Plus, MTB race shoes look fine with a road bike* and you can walk in them at the caf. Everyone's a winner.

At 374g they're a decent weight for the money, and most of the bikes they get attached to won't be weight weenies. They're not the most beautiful pedals but they're not bad looking either, and they're available in white, black and silver to match your bike. Anyway, they're under your feet most of the time, so who cares?

*Don't tell VecchioJo I said that.


A classic and one of the best value pedals out there if you want a no-nonsense double sided SPD pedal for any type of riding test report

Make and model: Shimano PD-M520 SPD pedal

Size tested: White

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?

# Value for money dual-sided SPD pedal, a favourite XC mountain bike SPD

# Super-compact and lightweight design for a multitude of cycling uses

# Sealed cartridge bearing spindle keeps out water and mud for a smooth action, and makes for a durable pedal

# Open design helps to shed mud

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Solidly built with a well sealed axle

Rate the product for performance:

Easy to clip in, good range of tension

Rate the product for durability:

These pedals pretty much last for ever

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

374g isn't the lightest out there but they're not bad

Rate the product for value:

Great value do-it-all peds

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose


Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Cheap, solid, durable, dependable

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product


Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? I have in the past, I will again

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 38  Height: 190cm  Weight: 98kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track


Dave is a founding father of, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

Add new comment


keith roberts | 12 years ago

Been using these for years on both my mountain and road bikes and also for triathlons too,using shimano mtb shoes as well...sure are easy to walk in and i havent experienced any problems at all with the pedals themselves,cheap,reliable and not tooo heavy.
I've posted about spds vs road cleats before and i still think that being able to walk to the coffee shop is preferable to shimmying like a constipated duck on ice...
spd's for me then...

act1969 | 12 years ago

Great pedals, been using them for years on an old MTrax MTB, my Giant winter trainer, also have a pair on my carbon BUT i wonder if Shimano will make me some which say 'Campag' on the side? so they blend with the rest of the kit  4

othello | 12 years ago

I picked up some 540s for my new Spesh Camber and I really couldn't tell much difference between them and the 520s I've always had. A few grams lighter perhaps and a fraction smoother bearings but not really worth the difference.

dave atkinson | 12 years ago

Nope, my bad - i was getting them mixed up with some other peds i'm testing  1 they are cup and cone, as the tech doc will attest (attached)

apologies for the mix-up, review is amended.

FatCycleRider | 12 years ago

These pedals do not have sealed bearings according to the Shimano technical document.

I recently bought my second set for £16.90. At this price you can just throw them away when they wear out!

joemmo | 12 years ago

I have pairs of these on my road and cx bikes and use them with some carbon soled specialized MTB shoes - no pressure points at all. I think they're great value and you can pick them up for under £20 from various online shops.

Regarding knee pain and alignment, there's definitely a need to tweak the cleat position but you should try adjusting the angle, side to side and particularly fore-aft position. I had some knee pain when I switched to some new shoes and realised that I'd put the cleat too close to the toe. Moved it back under the ball of the foot and it solved the problem.

Arthur Scrimshaw | 12 years ago

I've got two pairs of these, the most recent are 18 months old. When did they change to cartridge bearings? mine are cup & cone variety, still easy to service with the removal tool.

netclectic | 12 years ago

Came as standard on my Genesis Equilibrium, I originally planned to upgrade to SPD SL but after a few rides with these I decided to save myself a few quid and not bother with the upgrade.

Cooks | 12 years ago

You can get clip-on platforms for these. I have a pair on my commute. Faultless pedals.

zzgavin | 12 years ago

They are a great pedal and often not much more than the cost of the cleats. I bought a new set of these recently for my mountain bike, when I saw a set for £20, the cleats were about 15 on their own.
I think they look good in white too. I'm starting to wonder if I really need set of 105 pedals and should just get a good set of mountain bike race shoes instead.

cowspassage | 12 years ago

On different bikes I have 520s, 540s and the XT level SPDs (whatever the code number is). I must say I have never felt the 520 to be noticeably inferior to the higher spec pedals, although the cleat-action does clog a bit in muddy cross races.

I think that recreational cyclists using 3-hole cleat systems is a bit silly, but silly is ok.

John_the_Monkey replied to cowspassage | 12 years ago
cowspassage wrote:

I think that recreational cyclists using 3-hole cleat systems is a bit silly, but silly is ok.

Thank goodness  1

I love my SPDs, but they don't half make my feet sore after an hour & a half or so.

dave atkinson replied to John_the_Monkey | 12 years ago
John_the_Monkey wrote:

I love my SPDs, but they don't half make my feet sore after an hour & a half or so.

I think that's a very personal thing and the root of the discussions around SPDs vs road cleats, which is one of the reasons those discussions never get resolved  1

personally speaking, i did a 15-hour, 360km ride on SPDs (540s) earlier this year with no issues at all. I tend to find that the stiffer-soled road shoes can make my feet go numb. Each to their own...

cowspassage replied to John_the_Monkey | 12 years ago

Good to speak to you JtM. Been missing you on Twitter recently.

Obviously "hot foot" or the like is a good reason for avoiding a particular pedal system. I wonder though if getting a custom insole is a cheaper and more effective solution than using 3-hole pedals?

I put new cleats on my MTB shoes a few weeks back, and then started having some knee pain. Obviously the bike shoe/pedal manufacturers haven't solved all our problems yet.

JonD replied to cowspassage | 12 years ago

Bit of an obvious suggestion, but check the cleat alignment, and also check the new cleats against the old ones. I have found differences in the distant past (one set I bought had almost no float), plus if the old ones are well-worn they'll allow more float than the new ones, and might have allowed for a bit of cleat misalignment.

cowspassage replied to JonD | 12 years ago

Aye, a little tweak to the cleats and my knee seems happier. Shame there isn't an easier way to put the straight back in as they were. Or is there? Am I doing my usual and missing. Ething obvious.

cornelim | 12 years ago

Couldn't agree more. These pedals are superb.

Shiny Flu | 12 years ago

I had these on my roadie for a long long time, before that they were on my MTB and then on my commuter. The missus got me a pair of M540's for my birthday so now the 520's are just spares... but there's nothing wrong at all with them and it's been that way - unserviced - for 7 years.

Latest Comments