HT Leopard M1 Pedal - Review

May 20, 2016
by Mike Levy  
HT M1 pedal review test


HT is probably best known for their many platform pedal offerings, but it's the company's new lightweight cross-country pedal that's reviewed here. A pair of the pint-sized Leopard M1 pedals weigh just 299 grams on my scale, and the tiny CNC machined body is home to a proprietary clip-in mechanism that only works with HT's cleats. The are two options to choose from: the $229.99 USD M1T model that features a set of titanium spindles and weigh 252 grams (claimed), or the standard M1s reviewed below that spin on steel spindles and retail for a more reasonable $129.99 USD.
Leopard M1 Details

• Intended use: cross-country / trail
• CNC aluminum pedal body
• Wide tension adjustment range
• Needle bearing / IGUS bushing
• Proprietary HT cleats (4° or 8° float)
• Cleats fit SPD bolt pattern
• Steel (tested) or titanium spindles
• Eleven colour options
• Weight: 299 grams (steel, actual)
• MSRP: $129.99 USD (steel spindle), $229.99 USD (titanium spindle)


HT M1 pedal review test
At $129.99 USD and weighing 299 grams, the M1s offer a good price-to-weight ratio.
HT M1 pedal review test
HT pedals require the use of HT's own cleats.


It seems as though the majority of riders who clip-in choose either Shimano-style pedals that employ an SPD-compatible cleat, or something from Crankbrothers that require their own cleats. HT's pedal design features their proprietary clip-in mechanism, which calls for the use of HT's own cleats. Two different cleat options are available, with the pedals coming from HT with a set of their X1 cleats that offer 4° of float. Do you think your knees would prefer a bit more freedom? The X1F cleats, which can be purchased separately, supply a more forgiving 8° of float.

The clip-in mechanism itself works on the same wound-spring principle as other designs out there, although the shape of the rear jaw and the forward wire is different than what you'll see on other pedals. Tension is adjustable by using a 3mm hex key to preload the spring, and a visual indicator for each mechanism makes it easy to be sure that each one is running the same amount of tension. And speaking of tension, the M1s offer a massive range of adjustment, going from easy to get into and out of all the way to the rider feeling like he might be trapped for life. This should make the M1s good for both intermediate riders and advanced riders who are looking for a more secure feeling.
HT M1 pedal review test
Indicators make it easy to see how much tension each mechanism is running.


HT M1 pedal review test
  From left: endcap, locknut, the outer race/bearing/inner race of the three-part thrust bearing, the flat spring, and a washer.


The CNC machined aluminum body is home to three different bearing setups that HT refers to as their EVO+ system. An IGUS bushing is used on the inboard end, much like some other pedals out there, but HT has gone with a needle bearing in the center of the pedal body rather than another bushing, a standard sealed bearing, or nothing at all. Finally, the outboard end of each pedal is home to a tiny three-part thrust bearing and an even smaller flat steel spring to provide a touch of preload.

The aluminum endcap can be removed from the pedal body with a 6mm hex key, and bearing tension adjustments can be made with a thin-walled 8mm socket if need be. I had trouble tracking down a thin-walled socket for some reason (most hardware stores should have them), but it took only five minutes on the grinder to make my own.





Performance

Entry into the M1s happens much in the same way as an SPD pedal, despite the cleat and locking mechanism design being different. Toe in, then push down with the heel, which is a motion that will come naturally to anyone who's already used clipless pedals in the past. There's also an extremely positive 'ka-chung' when you lock into them, leaving zero doubt as to if you're secure or not, and the same goes for exiting the M1s.

I've been using them with HT's X1 cleats that supply 4° of float, although it's hard to detect any free movement of the foot with these cleats - I literally thought they had zero float until I clipped a shoe into the pedal with my hand and rocked it back and forth. It's there, but 4° sure doesn't feel like very much, so people who are sensitive to this should probably opt for the X1F cleat that offers a more forgiving 8° of float. The funny thing is that I've used other pedals that offer the same 4° of float and found them to be fine, so I wouldn't be surprised if the M1s actually have less float than HT claims.


HT M1 pedal review test
  In the left corner we have HT's M1, and in the right corner we have Shimano's XTR.


Just as with HT's other clipless pedals, the M1s offer a massive range of entry/release tension adjustment, with riders able to go from them being easy to exit to tight enough that shoe removal might be needed if you want to dismount. It may sound like I'm joking, but using a 3mm hex key to max out the tension results in incredibly high entry and release resistance, enough so that I'm more likely to be granted entry into the White House than entry into the M1s. Backing the adjustment screw out by two turns resulted in a much more useable setting, one that still provides a way more secure hold than what a standard SPD pedal supplies, but also not so much that I couldn't get out of them before I tipped over after stalling out on a technical climb.

In fact, I don't remember unclipping accidentally a single time while using the M1s, whereas I remember a foot coming unstuck from my XT and XTR pedals on nearly every ride, a scary thing when it happens at the wrong time. Of course, this comes down to riding style and how one uses their feet and legs, as I know people who run their Shimano pedals at minimum tension and never have an issue. You'll need to have the legs of Chris Hoy if you plan using the M1's with the spring tension maxed, but using the tension indicator windows to make sure that all four mechanisms are set to about three-quarters of max means that you'll never come unclipped by accident again.

My M1 test pedals might look like they've been through a war, but all damage is purely cosmetic and only to the aluminum pedal body. The left-side pedal did develop a touch of play in the bearing system, however, and I had to use a thin-walled (aka ground down) 8mm socket to snug up the locking nut that's hidden under the aluminum cap on the end of the pedal body. Other than that small adjustment, it's been smooth sailing.


HT M1 pedal review test
HT M1 pedal review test
A pair of XTR pedals comes in at 305 grams, while the M1s weigh 299 grams.


It probably makes sense to compare the M1s to what many riders would consider the gold standard: Shimano's XTR pedal. Let's do that. Since we're talking about cross-country pedals, we pretty much have to talk about weight, and the steel spindled M1s actually come in a touch lighter than the XTR pedals, at 299 grams versus 305 grams for a pair. The titanium spindled version, the M1T, is even lighter at a claimed 252 grams, although that 47-gram weight loss costs an extra $100 USD. Hey, it's your money... When it comes to price, HT beats Shimano when talking strictly about MSRP, with the steel spindle M1s retailing for $129.99 USD while the XTRs have a sticker price of $179.99 USD.

As far as dimensions go, the outer end of an XTR pedal measures 15mm tall, while the M1s come in at 17mm.


HT M1 pedal review test
  For what it's worth, the XTR pedals offer 2mm of extra clearance compared to the M1s.


Both the XTR and the M1s sport adjustable bearing tension, but how they go about it is drastically different. While Shimano uses a locking cup and cone setup, the inside of the HT pedals are home to an IGUS bushing on the inboard end, a roller bearing in the middle, and next is a three-part thrust bearing with spring-loaded tension applied to it that's adjusted via a lock nut at the end of the axle. Both setups seem to work well, although simply turning an 8mm nut is a lot easier than having to remove the axle and tinker with the cup and cone system of the Shimano pedals.



Pinkbike’s Take:
bigquotesThe Leopard M1s are lighter, cost less, and offer a wider range of release tension adjustment than Shimano's XTR pedals, but it's really that last point that makes them a winner in my mind. Being able to dial up the tension until I stop unclipping by accident means that I'll be keeping the M1s around for quite awhile longer. My one issue is that the stock X1 cleats seem to offer basically no float, and HT should either include both options or sell the M1s with only the X1F cleats that offer 8 degrees of float. - Mike Levy




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43 Comments

  • + 29
 The HT pedals are 2mm thicker overall compared to XTR pedals. Based on that measurement the XTR pedals should only have 1 mm more ground clearance compared to the HT pedals. You need to halve the height to figure out the distance from axle centerline, which really affects ground clearance. Unless you were already measuring the height of the pedal mechanism.
  • + 34
 This is extremely important!
  • - 15
flag WAKIdesigns (May 19, 2016 at 23:47) (Below Threshold)
 In racing, everything matters! Excelling is what makes us humans. I say it to those who are brave! Type in your paypal password. On this day... WE FIGHT!
  • + 13
 @WAKIdesigns: @WAKIdesigns: how do you manage to get downvoted so much
  • + 8
 @hamncheez: It's an art.
  • + 13
 Don't even read it, just downvote
  • + 1
 holy mother of god, really?
  • + 1
 HT pedals have the best platform I have yet to ride. Although their customer service is less than professional. I destroyed a pair of the dh pedals after not that long on them. HT is ghost. Not one return email and no return calls from the local shop where I got them. Stop reinventing things that work well and work on customer service. Pretty simple.
  • + 1
 @ShreddieMercury: I had the same experience. After not a ton of riding, the pedals became very loose on the spindle, and the nut was locked in place so I was hooped. Reached out for parts or maybe a warranty, and after struggling to find their contact, they were total ghosts. Great pedals, disappointing service. I moved on.
  • + 21
 I dont know.. how do you beat shimano pedals? I have the same $49 set of pedals that I rode for the last 6 bikes.. They work perfectly..
  • + 7
 Id buy these HT's. When I ride I like to jump off of stuff and jump into things that are awkward. And sometimes I come unclipped with shimano pedals. Scares me more than anything. If something like this pedal can eliminate that, then Id take it. Unwanted unclipping can turn into a big accident.
  • + 4
 Agree...in 15 years of riding I've had exactly 2 sets of clipless petals on my primary bike. An early shimano mid-level and my trail XT's. My trail XT's are nearly five years old...I've rebuilt them once...My mid-levels? Still in use on my second favorite bike.

These HT would need to be on the market for that long and be that reliable to make me switch.
  • + 6
 Intersting, but I struggle to upgrade my 7 year old set of XT's because each time I look at a cool new set of pedals, I realise. Well. Shit. My XT's still run flawlessly, without a single service. I would be interested to see how these hold up in the long run. After 5 years maybe...
  • + 3
 For sure, that's where it's hard to beat Shimano. For the most part, they just go and go and go. I have a set of XTs that have outlasted my older XTRs by years.
  • + 4
 anyone have trouble with shimano pedals creaking? my XTs from the last few seasons were so creaky and annoying. got XTR trails this year, now the right one has started creaking too. tried tightening up the torx screws, changed nothing
  • + 1
 My old pair would creak from time to time. The bushings seal was dried up and cracked. So material would get in there. Id just lube the living hell out of the axel. Then it was fine.
  • + 1
 I have two pairs that are near new (XTR) and I talked to the guy at Sea Otter who stated it was a old problem - I guess not. Didn't buy them from a LBS and they won't let me send them back direct? I tried re-tightening internal nut without any improvement @shimano
  • + 3
 I switched to time pedals back in 2011 and have never looked back. Good on the knees, never clip out, super light and durable. I'd give these a shot though, the tension adjust was my main complaint with shimano pedals.
  • + 4
 I'd really like to see more reviews on HT's enduro/DH offerings. They look really nice to me, but I'd like to know how they perform before I send off my trusty XT Trail's.
  • + 2
 "The Leopard M1s are lighter, cost less, and offer a wider range of release tension adjustment than Shimano's XTR pedals,"

but if you were going to be fair on price.... XTRs have a SRP of $180, but street price is about half that; I haven't seen anywhere they sell for more than $100. HTs appear to be going for SPR, so these are really about $40 more.

Getting the ball of the foot a mm closer to the spindle is worth way more than 6g of weight.
  • + 3
 And what's the point over $40 AUD PD-M520s at 380g. You could buy 4 of them for the price of one of these.
  • + 4
 What a Garand review. Big Grin
  • + 3
 nice one...
  • + 2
 Great review, loved the comparison to the XTR. However, how did the extra 2mm fair with rock strikes?
  • + 2
 Doubt you would even notice a difference
  • + 5
 @rrsport: No difference, of course, but it's a number that riders like to compare.
  • + 2
 @mikelevy: any difference in Wattage output?
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: not many people here appreciate your sense of humour. I've just snuffed effervescent VitC ! +++
  • + 3
 Seem like great pedals - riden em' once and they performed awesome!
  • + 1
 Probably not. Those cleats don't look like they could handle all of the walking that enduro racers do to get to each stage.
  • + 1
 Now only if we could get PB to do this type of head to head comparison with some bikes.....
  • + 3
 To be fair, most of our recent bike reviews do feature comparisons to models of similar intentions, at least when talking about suspension and handling. It's something you'll see a lot more of as well.
  • + 1
 @mikelevy: That's awesome! I know companies may not love this; having their product go toe to toe on the internet with direct competitors. But for many of us, we do not have the luxury of being able to test ride all the options when making a purchase. In the world of 5,6,and 7K+ bikes it would be nice to have an informed viewpoint that says "while Bike X is excellent here, Bike Y out performed here for these reasons...."

High dollar super bike reviews are really fun to read and you all do an excellent job on the depth of reviews. I'm not saying every review needs to be a shootout but, man, would an Enduro vs. SB6 vs. Mojo article be awesome!
  • + 0
 You can´t beat the consistency of Shimano Pedals. HT is like Crankbrothers, good for a few Months and then you have to rebuild them.
  • + 1
 It is about Time to mention some other pedals
  • + 0
 Look, it's too early to start cranking out puns...
  • - 3
 I'm here only for a speed play
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Wellgo for it anyway
  • + 0
 Do these pedals boost?

How do they work if your bike has a standard shock with metric travel?
  • - 2
 ...but are they endurbro?
  • + 20
 No.
  • - 2
 No. Just, no. Never... No.... Hell no.

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