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
Weight (g): 352
Stable platform can be used with any type of SPD shoe and provides support for the foot.
Solidly built, well sealed.
Easy to use, good range of adjustability.
For the money it's hard to see how they could be better.
Solidly built but nor over-heavy.
Good value but not as good as the cheaper 520.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
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.
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.