Great day-to-day pedal for all types of riding

The Shimano PD-M540 is basically a slightly more refined version of the PD-M520 which I've previously described on these pages as "a classic and one of the best value pedals out there."

These look a bit smarter, they're 25g lighter and £20 more expensive at RRP; in reality you can pick up the 520s for around £17 while the 540s tend to be about thirty quid. If it was my money, I'd save the difference and get the cheaper ones, although both are excellent.

Most of the stuff that applies to the 520s is also relevant here. SPDs are designed as MTB pedals but you'll see them all types of bikes. Some people have issues with the smaller contact patch of the two-bolt cleat causing discomfort but I'm not one of them; these pedals saw me through a 360km, 15-hour epic from Bath to Colchester last year with no issues at all, as well as a 300km audax round Devon and Somerset in May.

Purists will argue that power transfer is better with road pedals. I'd argue that if the Bont Vaypor comes in a two-bolt MTB version then you're unlikely to be a good enough rider to be at a measurable disadvantage. And it's easier to walk to your table in the café. There are those who will only ride road pedals on the road, because that's how it is. That's fine with me: each to their own.

The only significant differences between these pedals and their cheaper siblings is that the axle is slimmer and doesn't have flats – meaning you'll have to fit them with an allen key from the rear of the crank – and the lockring that holds the bearings in is metal instead of plastic. The body of the pedal is very slightly slimmer too, which is an aesthetic improvement but not a performance one; I've found the two pedals to be entirely interchangeable and I wouldn't be able to tell you which I was riding.

Entry and exit is positive, with a good range of adjustability in the spring tension to suit all styles of riding and types of rider. SPDs are my go-to pedals for everything except track, where you have to use the Look Delta pedals on the hire bikes.

These ones have done maybe 2,000 miles over the last year and they're a bit rusty and scuffed but in terms of actual performance they might as well be new. The sprung plates are in good order and there's no play in the easily servicable bearing. They really are excellent pedals. The only issue with them is that the equally excellent PD-M520 is quite a lot cheaper.


A great day-to-day pedal for all types of riding.

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Shimano PD-M540 SPD pedal

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?

Compact dual sided SPD pedal designed for day to day use

Low maintenance sealed bearing cartridge axle

Cleat tension adjustment

Axle Material: Cromoly Steel

Cleats Included


Use: XC/Road

Weight (g): 352

Stable platform can be used with any type of SPD shoe and provides support for the foot.

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Solidly built, well sealed.

Rate the product for performance:

Easy to use, good range of adjustability.

Rate the product for durability:

For the money it's hard to see how they could be better.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

Solidly built but nor over-heavy.

Rate the product for value:

Good value but not as good as the cheaper 520.

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

Near faultlessly.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Construction, low maintenance, action, reliability.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? I'd recommend the PD-M520.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

The only bad thing about the PD-M540 is the PD-M520, really.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 40  Height: 190cm  Weight: 102kg

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: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track


Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.


therevokid [1023 posts] 6 years ago

love my 540's to bits ... who needs XT  1

joemmo [1163 posts] 6 years ago

Not having flats for a spanner seems a disadvantage to me. Good luck trying to get a seized pedal off with a 6 mm Allen key. I have 520s on 2 bikes and they are great, just need to wipe down the plates to stop rust appearing, keep the spring greased and they'll give you no problems.

mikroos [257 posts] 6 years ago

Great pedals indeed. Sometime there is some play and clicking in the bearings in some pedals but it's a 5-minute job to eliminate it (and is much less common than in M520's).

Overall, to me these are one of the best pedals in terms of quality and hands down the best ones in terms of value. Highly recommended.

Simon E [3813 posts] 6 years ago

I have a pair of M520s that have seen 4 or 5 winters of daily use, can't imagine why you'd spend more. But either way you get unbeatable dependability from the big S.

bigmel [116 posts] 6 years ago

Yup, all my bikes (only 3 at the mo) have M520's
Absolutely trouble free, lasted multiple winters and I still seem to have no problem leading the club run so where is this power loss I keep getting told about??
Plus I don't fall a-over-t at the cafe stop.  3

Linkinbassist [33 posts] 6 years ago

I bought a pair for Cyclocross to replace the M520s that came with the bike, best decision ever...

Iwein Dekoninck [64 posts] 6 years ago
joemmo wrote:

Good luck trying to get a seized pedal off with a 6 mm Allen key.

Don't the 540s take an 8mm allen key?

Furry Mommy [32 posts] 6 years ago

All 6 of my bikes (2 x off roaders, 3 x road bikes & 1 combination bike) have the Shimano M520 pedals and to be honest I have no idea how many thousands of miles that they have all done it total and are really the only SPD pedals I ever recommend.  38

As one person has mentioned getting a seized pedal off a crank with only an allen key would be nigh on impossible - so you would have to build in to your routine maintenance schedule to remove them, clean the threads, re-grease and refit them at least annually if not biannually (depending on how many miles & the conditions they are ridden in).

OK they can be really fiddly with the tiny bearings to service and rebuild but from my experience that is not needed that often - just remember which way to turn the plastic locking collar, shear that and you really are stuffed!  13

jackh [121 posts] 6 years ago

Well for what it's worth, I'd just go with the M520 as well. I have 3 bikes with them and I've never touched them over three years of riding in all weathers and the bearings feel silky smooth like the day they were delivered. I don't even lube the spring mechanism, it doesn't seem to need it!