Shimano XT Trail Pedal - Review

Mar 11, 2015
by Mike Levy  
Shimano XT pedal review test


The XT Trail pedal is one step down from Shimano's top tier XTR Trail model, but both share the same SPD mechanism that's mounted in a fixed position on the pedal body. The XT's bodies are slightly thicker, though, and they spin on solid axles as opposed to the hollow units on the pricier XTR Trails. The XT Trail model differs from the standard XT model in that it features a larger platform that, while not exactly comfortable to stand on, is there to offer more support for those split seconds when you can't quite clip in, and it sports chamfered edges to lower the chances of an abrupt stop should you suffer from a major pedal strike. The bearing system can be adjusted and maintained in the same manner as the standard XT and XTR pedals - a few wrenches and some fresh grease can get the job done - and tension of the SPD mechanism is adjusted via a 3mm hex wrench. The entire package weighs in at 408 grams for the set, and they retail for $119.99 USD. www.shimano.com / @shimano

Shimano XT pedal review test
Although slightly taller than the XTR Trail body, Shimano has pared a lot of the XTs where it isn't required.
Shimano XT pedal review test
Chamfered edges help lower the chance of a pedal strike and to let the pedal glance off of immovable objects.

Shimano XT pedal review test
The SPD mechanism is tried and true.
Shimano XT pedal review test
Tension is adjusted at the back of each pedal with a 3mm hex.


Pinkbike’s Take:
bigquotesAlthough their competition might disagree, or at the very least wish it wasn't so, I'd wager that the very large majority of riders who clip in are using some sort of Shimano pedal. They're simply the go-to option for most riders, and there's good reason for that: great reliability, a positive entry and exit feel that doesn't leave you guessing, and a wide range of pedal options to suit most riders' needs. And speaking of most riders, the $119.99 USD XT Trail pedal makes a lot of sense for most of us given that it's just twenty nine grams heavier than the $179.99 USD XTR version. Having spent multiple seasons on both the XT Trail and XTR Trail pedals, I can confirm that the functionality of both is virtually the same, and I'd challenge anyone to tell the difference between the two models when they're both underfoot, regardless of any differences in design. That means that the XT Trail pedal has the same unmistakable, loud 'click' that you can easily feel through the soles of your shoes when you're locked into them, and the release action offers the same positive stop before unlatching. There's no guessing here, but I do admit to being one of the few riders who would like to see a touch higher release tension at the maximum end of the scale - I've accidentally unclipped a few times when using a lot of body english. This happened more frequently as the cleats wore, but I do recall it occurring a few times when they were still new. I did have the same issue with the XTR model, though. Also, heavy, thick mud has the same effect in that they can sometimes need a few solid stamps of the feet and on the pedals to clear sticky muck out of the way before they engage. Reliability has been good, with plenty of rock strikes over the test period leaving behind some decent scars on the wider than average bodies but nothing terminal. Bearing life has also been up to par, with them just now needing a rebuild after nine months of use and countless indiscriminate post-ride pressure washings. That task is pretty easy for anyone with some common sense to perform, and it should only take fifteen minutes or so before they're back to spinning smoothly and without any play. My only noteworthy complaint is how the large silver nut on each pedal, the one that holds the entire axle assembly in the body, has a tendency to back off. It takes a rather large wrench to tighten it back up, and I suspect that it backing completely out during a ride would be a very bad thing as the pedal body would come off the axle.

The platform itself does offer more support when you can't quite clip in and just need something to put your foot on, but I suspect that most riders will also find the larger Trail version of the pedal easier to clip into than the standard, non-Trail model. How so? The Trail's platforms seems to make it easier to locate and align your cleats properly, which means that you're less likely to not be able to clip in quickly. It's hard to fault the XT Trail pedal given its great price-to-performance ratio, and I'd recommend them to anyone who's looking for a no frills pedal with a more forgiving platform around the clip mechanism. In fact, after buying both a set of XTR Trail and XT Trail pedals over the last few years, I feel kinda silly about purchasing the former. - Mike Levy


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120 Comments

  • 133 3
 I dont always clip in, but when i do, i prefer shimano.
  • 12 5
 I only clip in on my cyclocross bike, but yup. Shimano.
  • 59 1
 "Stay clipped in my friends"
  • 49 0
 also, a bottle opener!
  • 5 1
 bottle opener huh...imma have to try that.
  • 5 0
 My shed has a choice of 8 XT bottle openers hanging up...Race and Trail...shit hot pedals
  • 40 5
 I like toe clips with dunlop green flash sneakers.
  • 1 0
 sasquatch has a pair of these
  • 5 0
 I love these pictures. Those pedals have been through some shit, but they just keep working.
  • 9 6
 The only thing they need is a pedal wrench flange on them so you don't have to use a stupid 6mm allen key.
  • 3 0
 This doesn't use a 6mm allen.
  • 4 0
 8mm FTW
  • 91 6
 Pssh its not like we needed a review, everybody who has tried clipless is already running these...
  • 12 0
 Absolutely! It's nice to occasionally see good reviews of rock solid kit you've been quietly using for years though.
  • 2 1
 Ummmm no. I have sampled Shimano pedals on multiple occasions over the last twenty years having first clipped in with Onza's (lost plenty of blood with those) back in '94. The issues I had with Shimanos have always been the inability to get in or out of them when most needed and poor mud clearance. In '95 I began using Time ATAC's and they have remained my go to pedals. Their durability is unmatched (the original pair I bought are owned by my brother and they still work!!!), they require ZERO maintenance and their retention is always consistent no matter what kind of slop you are riding in. The current MX and Z designs provide plenty of platform too. I run the standard ATAC XC's on my CX bike. The only complaints I ever hear about Times is their positioning/lateral float if you have really big feet, but that's it. Ride whatever you dig though; I will stick with the French over the Japanese on this one.
  • 39 1
 I've been using the PD-M530's for a few years now with no issues. They're going for $29 these days. I'd like to see a review comparing these to the XTs.
  • 18 0
 I own both XT Trails and M530s. I can't tell the difference. The XTs have a slightly nicer finish, especially on the axle. But they work the same and the M530s are only a few g heavier. Durability-wise, my XTs have a season on them with no issues, though I do need to tighten up the axle nuts once in a while as mentioned in the review. My M530s have 2 full seasons with zero issues, and don't loosen at the axle nuts like XTs.
  • 2 0
 Gotta invest in a 2$ TL-PD40 pedal tool if you want to service the entry level pedals.
  • 38 0
 @GrantMcJ - Excellent suggestion. These XTs are a bit of a no brainer... we'll get a few sets of different budget clipless pedals in for review.
  • 5 0
 I have a few sets of the M530 trail pedals. About 4000 miles over 3 years on one set, not a single issue. Still spin nice with no rebuild. Bought the M530's for the price. The mechanism hardwear looks the same as the XT. The axle design is different then XT but it's the older spindle design, which always held up to heavy riding/jumping for me in the past. At almost half the price and a tad heavier, I'd say they are a win. And at $29 online with cleats ($15 just for replacement cleats), it's like you're stealing them..
  • 3 0
 I'm a M530 user too. Zero problem since 2012. Wink
  • 2 0
 i love 530s for their price and reliability. i go through a bike a year almost (perks of working in a shop) and i always sell my bikes with them still on. getting fresh pedals? cant tell because the old ones still feel like new after thousands of miles racked up
  • 7 0
 Cant recommend them enough, M530's are like the MTB'ers secret handshake. Kit that shies you know you're shit, that said the pretty axels on the XT are pretty...
  • 1 0
 I used to be on M540's. when the M530 came out, i started using it on my XC bike and liked the support provided by the extended platform. and now i use it on all my bikes (road, AM, trail bike and DH bike). its the only pedal is use nowadays. i got both white and black, don't think any color makes a difference though, haha.
  • 1 0
 Another happy M530 user here. I have tried the XTR Trail, and I did feel a difference in smoothness. Also, XTR's are a little bit thinner than the M530 and XT, which could make the difference between pedal striking and not... I think the best would be to compare the three of them Wink
  • 1 0
 Nice to see other M530 users too! Was reading the article thinking they look a lot like my pedals but over double the price. Bang for buck the M530s are awesome
  • 1 0
 Also on the M530! Have two sets now, both a bit over 2 years old! Brilliant pedals.
  • 1 0
 I use m530's and can't tell a difference from the XT's and they also work as a bottle opener. Love em.
  • 1 0
 Just got M530+MT34. Tomorrow test ride!
  • 13 1
 Yeah i ran crankbrothers for a while and you never really knew if you were clipped in or not on the downhills, and they are super loose.
  • 15 0
 Shimano's positive engagement, which can be said about all of their pedals, is their biggest plus. There's just no guessing.
  • 7 0
 Strange, because I always have disliked shimano pedals because of their feel when engaging and disengaging. When I started using time pedals I found them to be easier to get in and out of and they really shed mud well. To each his own I suppose.
  • 4 1
 I am the same.....I actually hate the feeling of Shimano's as I feel to restricted in movement and like a little bit of float. I personally prefer Crank Bros. I know a lot of people who use these though and love 'em.
  • 14 2
 I started with Shimanos, rode for few years with multirelase cleats and they were jolly fine, but then after I progressed in my riding I started clipping out unintenionally way too often which got sketchy. Then, for 3 years I rode just flats, one day decided to go back to Shimano but this time with "proper" cleats aaaand... bye bye Shimano. Trails I ride are slow it's XC with many rocks, roots, tricky sections and everyone puts their foot out every now and then on uphills. Despite 2 months of trying to get used to those clips I threw them away, I was just falling too often on trials - like sections, because I could not clip out easily. So I tried CrankBros for a few months - fanstastic float was the first thing I noticed but clipping out was even harder than with Shimanos and when brass cleats wore out, unintentionall clip outs, lack of ability to feel the limit of clipping out, were a nightmare. I have never ever been crashing so often. My last attempt at clips were Times aaaaand I am happy since then. As easy to clip in as Shimanos, float of almost like crankbros, easy to find clip out limit, easy to clip out. The positive engagement CLICK! may not be there, but you can guess it. Times tick all MY boxes.
  • 3 1
 Pedals are such a personal preference..........:-)
  • 1 1
 I've run flats, spd's and crankbros clipless and while I find ridin with flats for the most part more fun, when I clip in, I only use crankbros. In contrast to many, I have had multiple spindle issues with shimano and I find I unclip far too easily and the clip in again is more difficult. I find crankbros reliable, comfortable and more supportive and if I want I can ride just as fast with clipping in and out for the flat pedal 'foot out flat out style' or I can just keep my feet up and keep it clean. I personally prefer the the cleats slightly more worn out for the added float and I have never (in 2 years) come unclipped unintentionally from crankbros compared to at least once a run with shimano. I lose less time if I need to unclip because it's easy to clip back in and I can trust them to stay clipped in.

But pedals, like everything else, are down to personal preference.
  • 11 2
 I've been riding clippless since they first came out for MTBs like in the 90s. I've had CB, Shimanos, even some old Onzas. Literally thousands of miles. And I STILL sometimes can't get unclipped in the parking lot, and fall over. Usually in front of girls.
  • 4 0
 I almost went with XT Trails but ended up going with VP VX Trail pedals. I got them for $24.99 so I couldn't ignore that price and I'm using Shimano XC60 shoes. I couldn't have gone wrong with the XT Trails either. I'm switching over from Straightline platforms and 5.10's so we'll see how it goes.
  • 12 1
 Hard to argue with $25, especially if you're just trying out clipless pedals for the first time. VP make good pedals.
  • 7 0
 My favorite pedals. Period. And under $60 online. How could you go wrong?
  • 7 1
 Great Pedals. Ran them for a year. But switched to the VP XV Advanced for $85 and haven't looked back
  • 5 0
 You mean "VP VX" Smile I have the same pedals, I really like the platform on those VX pedals, gives a lot of comfort and stability. I also had a chance to try out these XT pedals and like them just as much, great pedals.
  • 8 0
 m647's for life!
  • 3 0
 Yeh bro M647 are mint!! Great for if you don't get time to clip in but need to get back on the gas.
  • 2 0
 M646 Master Race looks down on you!
  • 2 0
 I have to try some Shimano pedals, I run crank bro's and have always liked them allot. But the reviews make me feel like the grass is greener. I always feel clipped in on my candy 2s, and if I need to stick a leg out going into a corner I never struggle to get unclipped in time.
  • 3 0
 literally switched from crank brothers(candy&mallett DH) to shimano DX today and I wish I would have done it along time ago! there was zero learning curve and they felt great to get in and out of from the first clip. I had the hardest time getting out of my mallet DH pedals with my 5.10 impact shoes and the candy's small platform was ruining the soles. found mine for super cheap on amazon
  • 2 0
 I notice people seem to like the floating feeling that the play between the cleat and latch mechanism gives you. I personally hate it for the same reason I wouldn't want play in my pedal's bearings.
Is there a model of clipless out there that fixes this? Or maybe a shoe?
  • 2 0
 I think the play provides better mobility for your knee. I never notice the play, but I have been using SPDs for close to 20 years.
  • 4 0
 Spd-sl
  • 1 0
 I personally prefer the floaty feel because it prevents knee pain from the twisting of a pedal with zero float. I tried 510s and flats and found they still caused me pain. (I've had a miniscus tear, 1 surgery and need 2 more)
  • 2 0
 I love SPD's. I love Shimano's pedals for this. I think it's great for road, xc and trail.
I don't get though why it's not banned from DH, just like lycra (yes I know, kind of different subject). How much I even love it, I would feel unsafe riding down rock gardens at full speed on a DH bike with SPDs.
  • 2 0
 I had a pair of the old 747 clips when they were hot. Beat the ever living piss out of them. And they kept working. I actually still have them somewhere but man are those pedals durable! I swapped to flats about 10 years ago and I haven't looked back but a good clipless.....might make a boy start to dream.
  • 3 0
 Those XT's look like they have had way more punishment than mine. Been on shimano spd's for 20 years never thought of changing. The XT trails are the best.
  • 3 1
 I run the DH Mallets and I've never once questions wether I was clipped in or not. And I much prefer the full platform for when I blow a foot off and can't find the pedal on a downhill to get back into.
  • 3 1
 Mallets to XT's = apples to bananas.
  • 3 0
 Ran these,were great no problems,upgraded to the xtr's the spindle snapped after 2 rides,apparently very common on xtr.Stick with these folks
  • 1 0
 I've had the right pedal of my XTR trails come off the spindle three times. Each time they replaced them with a new set. I still have the last replacement pair in a box and I bought the XT Trails. They haven't failed in three years. I still have my first set of 747s ( I think that's the model) from 1991, and they still work.

I have new mallets on my DH bike for the platform/clip combo. Very vague. I had to turn all of the pins down to work with my new 5.10s, otherwise they hang up. I love the Shimano DXs (647?), but they are thick, heavy and don't grip well when unclipped.
  • 2 0
 What he said about the nut backing off has happened to me in les gets just before the largest wooden feature drop. My foot came off with my DX pedal on the bottom of my shoe. Much hilarity for all involved.
  • 1 0
 I've ridden the XT pedal and the´re ok. I say ok because I now ride the VP VX adventure pedal they are also SPD and offer much more support and pedal platform. It also eliminates some of the float that is very present in the XT trail.
They have platform sizes and the weight is in the same ball park as the Shimano.

www.vitalmtb.com/product/guide/Clipless-Pedals,21/VP-Components/VP-VX-Adventure-Race-VX-Series,14209

vimeo.com/89092992
  • 3 2
 I ride XT's but not the "trail" version. That 'platform' does nothing except get hung up on crap that wedges between it and your sole (like smaller roots of which there are shitloads in my area of the PNW)

In this day of 13" bb heights it just means even more surface area to strike. All it took me was one ride in north van to swear off the platform style of those.

Also, someone tell me what that platform is for other than aesthetics while off the bike? You cannot stand on it unclipped a al a 647 (for example). So what good is it?
  • 2 0
 THESE ARE WHAT I RIDE SO DO THE MATHEMATICS COMMA PEOPLE the larger platform really just seems like an illusion to me though. Can't feel it when unclipped. I do need new shoes though.
  • 1 0
 I am just curious, I had these pedals, thought they were ok but my favorite rides have a few stream crossings and my cleats would get very rusty after a ride. The next time I rode, the next day sometimes, they would not release, float or move. I could clip in, but that was it. Fell many times due to that. I am liking my Time pedals now but was wondering if anyone else has run into this?
  • 1 0
 I spent my time on various SPD's over the years and then I discovered Time Z's, only 100 grams heavier and SOOOOO worth it.
I haven't even changed the cleats since I've had them, 4 years , they're just flawless, best $ spent on pedals, no unintentional clipouts on tech sections, no loosening over time, just amazing
  • 1 0
 My first clipless pedals, the XT Trails, gave (and still gives) the assurance that I am clipped in and can clip out at will. Not being able to unclip is my biggest concern, whether that be falling over in traffic, or needing to save the bike by rapidly putting a foot down in the dirt. As the author states, price, durability, and the positive nature when clipping makes the XT Trails a solid buy.
  • 2 0
 XTs are easily equal to XTR in this department but I have moved to flats and won't be going back in a hurry (just my opinion)
  • 1 0
 Best clips hands down I've ridden both xtr an xt and must say the xt bearings have proven to be more durable. The beer opener is a bonus and a cool trail side trick for anyone who hasn't seen it
  • 2 1
 Have used XT's for years and always trusted them.

My latest build i got XTR's for under $100.00 so gave them a go.

The difference is night and day.
  • 3 0
 tell me more
  • 1 0
 How so? i don't doubt you. I ride the XC XTR pedals myself and love them. I also use the entry level version on by road bike which are a bit wobblier but thats understandable because of the huge price difference.
  • 2 1
 the engagement feels so much nicer. The spindles feel stronger - and I'm a fatass. Just feels better, i've even put the old XT's back on, and i can definately feel a difference.
  • 7 0
 Hhhmm, interesting feedback. My XT and XTR pedals feel identical... are you sure it's not because you also used the new cleats with the new pedals? Not doubting, just wondering out loud. I am curious as to how spindles ''feel stronger,'' though? Smile
  • 5 0
 @mikelevy I actually used the old cleats as well.

I'm using race face turbines, and when i'm out of the seat pedalling I can feel a light flex on the XT's (i'm 250 pounds btw) and with the XTR's they feel solid as a rock.

The XT's pedals were only a few months old as well, so there is no way that metal fatigue would be effecting them.

OR - this could just be some big ole placebo effect and i'm going insane.Smile
  • 10 0
 @oriion - Fair enough, I don't think my 165lb weight is going to have me feeling the difference between the hollow XTR axles and the solid XT versions. I obviously need to eat more candy and pizza to test gear properly! I'm on it...
  • 5 0
 Actually please don't do that to yourself.
Leave that to me, i'm already fat - you just stay young and youthful and such. Smile
  • 1 0
 maybe thats why i can't feel any stiffness difference... I'm 120lbs lol
  • 3 0
 Nice feedback. So the xtrs are lighter AND stronger? Niice
  • 4 0
 they have to, according to bontrager's law.
  • 2 1
 @rifu time to sound stupid... whats bontrager's law?

edit: nvm, bing does amazing things for those that ask it. cheap light strong.. pick two.
  • 1 0
 Interesting point about the stiffness between the two, maybe that was designed into the XTRs ? Smile
  • 3 0
 I use keywin DH. Same mechanism as shimano but a big burly platform.
  • 2 0
 If I ever get the notion to use clips again I'm going to go with the Keywins. I've never heard a bad word about them, and know many who would never use anything else...
  • 1 0
 As much as I love shimano pedals is one area I go elsewhere . Been running my set of mallets for years and don't plan changing anytime soon .?
  • 1 0
 M520-30 are really good but M540 pedals are the best value IMO. If people didn't care so much about image, Shimano wouldn't have any toes left.
  • 1 0
 I use Shimano M647 DX pedals and the only thing I miss on them is the bigger platform with pins like CB mallets have, except that they're great.
  • 2 0
 One of those "Fit and Forget" components.. Good guy shimano.
  • 3 0
 M747 old school
  • 1 0
 Definitely in love with these. One of the best purchases I ever made after fully committing to clipless many moons ago.
  • 1 0
 I run the trail version on my Freeride Hardtail. I cannot ask for a better pedal
  • 2 0
 The most basic version of these pedals is just as good.
  • 1 0
 M530 going on 3 years, aside from some creaking that was remedied with some cleaning and regrease, never had any issues.
  • 2 0
 this review, is a little late.
  • 2 0
 The SLX version, or whatever they are. Are just as good.
  • 1 0
 Slightly off-topic: Are Saints the only flat pedals Shimano makes? (Aside from MX30's)? Are there no flat XT's?
  • 2 0
 Looks like the Saints (which I run and love) and the DX30's are the only flat pedals for MTB:

bike.shimano.com/content/sac-bike/en/home/mtb/pedals/pedals.html
  • 2 1
 Shimano pedals are okay if you don't want to spend too much money. For everything else you go TIME!
  • 1 0
 I'll stay with me Shimano DX clipless pedals.They are so much better then these pedals.
  • 2 0
 Time ATAC. No mud clogging, ever.
  • 1 0
 Have two pairs of ATAC, one is 8 years old and going strong. Opened it up and regreased it once. Second pair is on it's 4th year on a DH bike, still solid.
  • 2 0
 Shimano=Toyota reliablility.
  • 1 0
 M530 are like cockroaches, very common and can whitstand armageddon scarless.
  • 1 0
 One question, mikelevy: warranty on the XTRs vs the XTs?
  • 1 0
 3 years on XTR, 2 years on XT IIRC
  • 1 0
 Best AM pedal on the market . Well deserve the XT tag .
  • 2 0
 beer bottle opener
  • 1 0
 Actually any decent stick will do as well. My Kubotan works well too. The lip of my tac light or my lighter work also.
  • 1 0
 best replacement of PD-636 DX! and best pedals ever
  • 1 0
 I have both XT trail and M647 and I prefer the M647 myself.
  • 1 1
 Typo : "wider than average bodie but nothing terminal."
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