Shimano PD-A 520 pedal £34.95
Not everyone wants to ride around in cycling shoes that make walking, whether from house to garage, around the supermarket or to the counter at the local café, an inelegant activity fraught with danger and loaded with the potential for an embarrassing pratfall. For sure, road pedals may offer a little more support, especially when used with stiff-soled shoes, but their cleats make life difficult off the bike.
Step forward Shimano’s A520 pedal, which is essentially a single-sided version of the Japanese manufacturer’s MTB pedals but with an increased surface area and, importantly, looks that don’t clash with even a highly-specified road, TT or track bike when it is leant against a wall.
First things first, then; the pedal has an aluminium body equipped with the same pressed steel cleat retention mechanism used on Shimano’s latest MTB designs. It is designed to work with any shoe with a recessed centre and the standard two screw fitment suitable for MTB-type cleats and pedals. The pedal is supplied with the SM-SH51 forged steel cleat, which allows release in one direction. Cleats that release more easily are available as an option. The system is adjustable for ease of release through a small screw.
The steel axle sits in Shimano’s usual sealed, plastic-housed cartridge bearing, which lasts well given an occasional dose of grease. Do this by extracting the entire plastic sleeve and bearings using the plastic tool supplied, putting a dollop of grease on the end of the axle and replacing. As you tighten the sleeve, the grease gets squeezed out of the confined space and through the bearings.
Unlike that of MTB versions, the pedal platform extends in front of and behind the retention mechanism to provide a more road-orientated look. More importantly in terms of function, the platform is shaped to provide maximum support for the rubber bars found on mtb-type soles either side of the cleat. The contact area is substantial on both sides of the pedal, preventing lateral rocking as well as ensuring effective power transfer. At a quoted 318g per pair, weight is respectable, close to that of the new Ultegra SPD-SL pedal and ligher than the 105 version of the same design.
How effective is the power transfer? Depending on the shoe, enough to race on at a reasonable level. The reviewer, who uses them exclusively, has won track races, ridden a long ‘21’ for 10 miles and made the podium of open time trials on them while wearing Shimano’s mid-range spd shoe with GRP insole. For sure, racing at a higher level, especially where sprinting is involved, would benefit from a stiffer sole, but the pedal will handle the task. It is only really limited by the design of the spd sole, with its compressible rubber bars and the extra weight they entail. But then, that’s a small price to pay for easy movement off the bike when touring, commuting or just loafing around.
The only real complaint concerns the black finish on the axles. This is thin and tends to corrode easily, especially in winter, where a chrome-plated axle would offer a cleaner look and better resistance to the elements. How about it, Shimano?