Pedals fall into two main categories: flat (usually with toe-clips) and 'clip-less' or 'clip-in' (where a mechanism in the pedal grips to a cleat on the sole of your shoe). The T400 pedals from Shimano (or, to use the full name, the PD-T400 Click'R) are the clip-less variety, but the gripping mechanism is incredibly light, so it's very easy to release your shoes from the pedals. They're a useful option for cyclists keen to try clip-less pedals for the first time.
It has to be said, these pedals are pretty chunky. The central part (the bit that grips the cleat in your shoe) is similar to Shimano's double-sided mountain-bike pedals such as the M520 or M540, but this is surrounded by a large plastic platform so the whole pedal measures about 10cm from end to end and over 7cm side to side.
But once you stop looking at the sheer size of the pedals, and get riding, then it's a revelation.
Having fitted the pedals to my bike, I clipped in my shoes (already fitted with Shimano 2-bolt cleats – more on that later) in the usual way, and they seemed to be nicely held in place. There was no difference in grip to the other Shimano pedals I use on my hack bike and winter/cross bike. However, with just the slightest outward swing of the ankle my shoe was unclipped.
Suspicious, I carried on for a few miles, reached a steep hill and deliberately stood up in a big gear, lunging out of the saddle, pulling up on the pedals as hard as I could, to see if I could force them to unclip.
Not a chance.
But then reaching the top of the hill, I sat down in the saddle, and with that slight outward swing of the ankles - both sides this time - my shoes were released once again.
Easy as pie.
For cyclists already comfortable with clip-less pedals (Shimano or any other brand) there's no need to use these T400s. However, for anyone keen to try clip-less pedals for the first time, but worried about being unable to unclip at a junction or emergency stop, the quick and featherlight release mechanism on the T400s makes them highly recommended.
The T400s are also easier to clip into than 'normal' Shimano pedals, as a separate spring between the main bit of the pedal and the plastic surround ensures the front of the gripping mechanism always stands proud, so your cleat can be very easily engaged. There's no need to turn the pedal over with your toe or look down to see what's happening.
Some aficionados might think the T400s look pretty ugly, but these pedals will be fine on winter bikes, tourers, hybrids and commuter bikes (commuters will also appreciate the inbuilt reflectors). If you're worried about style, you can use the T400s as an interim step, and upgrade to something sleeker once you're confident about the unclipping technique. And if you like the style, you can upgrade to the T700s, which are identical in appearance to the T400s but 60g lighter for the pair.
The T400 and T700 pedals come with a set of cleats to fit to your shoe. These are the SM-SH56 'multi-directional' variety, which allow you to release your shoe by swinging the heel horizontally outwards, or diagonally upwards, or anywhere in between. The T400 pedals can also be used with SM-SH51 cleats, which allow you to release your shoe by swinging the heel horizontally outwards only. Other types of Shimano cleat are not suitable.
Our test models had the black plastic surround; white versions of the T400 and T700 are also available.
As with most other Shimano pedals of this type, the gripping tension can be adjusted from 'strong' to 'weak' – or in the case of these pedals from 'very light' to 'even lighter'.
The pedals have a small amount of 'float' (the ability to move your feet from side to side slightly without releasing the cleat). The manual that comes with the pedals doesn't say how much this is, but I'd guess it's a couple of degrees. Of course, if you do reach the outer edge of the float, then your shoe will unclip more easily than with a standard pedal.
When it comes to cost, the recommended retail price for a pair of Shimano T400 Click'R pedals is a penny under £40, but you can find them for nearer £35 at some local bike shops and on-line stores. The lighter T700 is about twenty quid more.
Sturdy pedals with chunky appearance that belie a feather-light grip - ideal for first-time clip-less users.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shimano Click'R pedals PD-T400
Size tested: n/a
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?
This product is a pair of clipless (aka 'clip-in') pedals, with a mechanism that allows you to clip in and out very easily, making them ideal for cyclists new to this style of pedal.
Shimano's UK distributor's website has the following helpful line: 'PD-T400 Click'R pedal: To offer a more enjoyable cycling life to more people'.
Let no-one say Shimano doesn't aim high.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The website goes on to highlight the following features: 'Lighter spring for simple entry and release; Pop-up cage for easier step in; Integrated reflector; Adjustable entry and release tension settings; Chrome-moly spindle and low maintenance sealed bearing cartridge axle."
This is an entry-level pedal, but this still means a well-made piece of kit.
The pedals perform exactly as they're intended: you can clip your cleats in and out very easily indeed.
The advertised weight for these T400 pedals is 507g the pair. On the road.cc scales we made it 520g. Either way, they're not lightweight. The T700s weigh 460g the pair - still a chunk.
At a penny under £40 this is a fair price for what you get; a pedal ideal for beginners with an almost spooky combination of firm grip and easy clip-in/out.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The T400 pedals are designed to be very easy to clip in and out, and on this aspect they performed very well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Firm grip, easy clip in/out.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Personally, no, as I am happy with normal Shimano cleats and pedals.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they were new to (or wary of) clip-less pedals.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
It's important to note that cyclists already confident with 'normal' clip-less pedals won't necessarily need a pair of T400s or T700s. However, for anyone keen to try clip-less pedals for the first time (or for those that simply find normal clip-less a struggle), the easy release mechanism makes these pedals highly recommended.
About the tester
Age: 51 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp, or an old steel classic My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex (can you see a theme here?)
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,