Shimano 105 5800 SPD-SL pedals - review - Road Cycling UK

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Shimano 105 5800 SPD-SL pedals – review

Very good pedals at a decent price; wide, secure and easy to use

Pedals are one of those interesting areas of the bike that haven’t changed all that much since LOOK introduced their clipless prototypes back in the 1980s.

Yes, brands like Time and Speedplay have taken the idea in a different direction but – on the road at least – the fundamental ‘press down with your foot to engage, twist sideways to release’ mechanism has remained the same.

Shimano are a big player in the pedal market. Part of their appeal is the uniformity of their pedals. Regardless of whether you go for the budget R540s or the range-topping Dura-Ace 9000 pedals, you get essentially the same mechanism unlike, say, LOOK where it changes from a spring to a carbon blade as you go further up the range.

The 105 pedals sit third tier in Shimano’s line-up, but they don’t sacrifice much at all to Ultegra and Dura-Ace in the quality stakes

Spring tension is very easy to change, all you need to do is wind the adjuster on the back of the pedal clockwise (tighten) or anticlockwise (loosen) with a 4mm allen key.

There’s a wide range of tension as well, and using my totally unscientific scale of tightness I can tell you that the loosest setting is perilous enough that you may well pull a foot out if you sprint, and the top end is tight enough that you risk toppling over at the traffic lights because it requires a fair bit of force to shift your feet. Obviously you can experiment to find what works for you.

Tension is really easy to dial in on the road during your ride first. It’s as simple as taking an allen key or multi-tool with you on the first ride and adjusting until you find something that works.

I’d also suggest making sure that both pedals have a similar tension because although most of us have a foot we prefer to clip out with (the right, for me), you never know when you may need to remove the other foot in a hurry, and your decision to dial the tension right up because you ‘never take that one out’ could backfire quite badly.

Adjusting tension is very simple. Just insert and allen key into the slot and turn clockwise to tighten, anticlockwise to loosen

Like most manufacturers, all of Shimano’s road-specific pedals work with the same cleats, something that just makes life easier.

There are three types of cleat in the range and they’re colour coded: the SH10 which are red and have no float (fixed position), the SH12 (blue) with two degrees of float and the SH11 (yellow) with six degrees.

Which of these you need will depend entirely on your own personal preference, but the 105 pedals come with a set of SH11 cleats in the box to get you started.

The listed weight for a set of 105s is 285g, but ours weighed in at 276g, and it’s always nice when something comes in under the marketing claim.

Plus, when you think that the Ultegra pedals are £124.99 for a 260g set, you’re not getting a lot more (or losing a lot, as the case may be) for just 16g, but paying £45 more.

Even though it looks like a pedal spanner will fit, you need to install and remove the pedals using an 8mm allen key. The spanner attachment is for removing the axles

From a maintenance point of view it’s pretty simple. You can take the pedal axle out, re-grease it and put it back in. Not the most difficult task in the world.

It’s also worth pointing out that although it looks like you can install these with either a pedal spanner or an 8mm allen key, if you use the spanner you risk undoing the axle rather than actually removing the pedals. So the allen key is basically the only choice.

There’s a lot to like about the 105 pedals when you’re out on the road. The wide body makes cleat engagement easy, as there’s a bigger contact area to hit than with, say, LOOK, and that body also makes for a slightly more secure feel when you’re riding.

I changed to Shimano from LOOK a number of years ago and although I’ve ridden pretty much every pedal brand under the sun since then, I still find myself coming back to the comfortable, wide, secure feeling when I have a choice of what to ride.

The 105s offer by far the best value for money out of the brand’s three ‘named’ pedals

I’m not saying that Shimano are the best by any means (I reckon pedal choice is one of the most personal decisions on a bike) but it’s definitely worth giving them a go.

Conclusion

Out of the three ‘named’ Shimano pedals (105, Ultegra and Dura-Ace), the 105s offer by far the best value for money. Plus, if you look around you’ll likely be able to find them for less than the RRP.

Having ridden all three versions of the pedal in the past, I honestly think there’s almost nothing to choose between them in terms of functionality, and when they’re on the bike there’s no way you’ll notice a difference, though obviously there’s a minor weight penalty.

Ultimately, which pedals you buy depends on which brands’ system suits you best, but these are a very good set of pedals for a decent price.

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