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The modern clipless mountain bike pedal is now 25 years old, as seen in Shimano’s recent celebrations of its SPD pedal last year. Shimano has much to be proud of, too. When it unleashed the original SPD under the likes of John Tomac at the 1990 World Championships it wasn’t a prototype or proof of concept, taking the giant and clunky road clipless pedal and converting it for the dirt. No, it was a fully fledged, ready for action system that has remained remarkably unchanged ever since.

Given how many other mountain bike concepts have changed since those days: headsets, forks, wheels, brakes, handlebars and stems have all changed size and function dramatically, the off-road clipless pedal remains recognisable and barely improved upon, such was the mark that was hit in 1990.

Shimano has trimmed some of the weight off the original pedal, but the cleat is the same and the two-bolt shoe plate is probably the only cycling standard that hasn’t changed in 25 years.

Not everyone is happy with Shimano’s system, though, and a number of competing pedals have arisen in the last couple of decades. Some go for lighter weight, some address mud performance, others aim to provide float for wonky pedallers.

We’ve assembled ten different pedals of different prices and intended uses and brought them together to see if much has improved in the last quarter century of pedalling.


Price: £129.99 // From: Extra UK,

Weight: 320g (pair), Crank Bros cleats: 36g

It’s fair to say that Crank Brothers has probably done a lot of introspection in the last few years. Having exploded onto the scene with the revolutionary Eggbeater pedal system there were a few years that were plagued by issues with bearings and product reliability. Then came the Kronolog seatpost that flat out didn’t work in the wet. Thankfully, Crank Bros took some time to see what really mattered and beefed up the quality of the products on offer, as well as just focusing on innovation.

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About Singletrack

We've got our fat bikes and thermal clothing at the ready and we live in hope of snow. So far all we've got is mud - on the trails and in the streets. If this carries on, issue 104 may contain a grouptest of wellies. However, this issue we bring you: We Work Here - Ragley. Barney takes a look a this Northern Irish manufacturer to see what innovations are leading their revival in the market place. International Adventure: Czech Mate - Rowan Sorrell takes a look at some purpose built trails​ in the Czech Republic​. The name of the place is unpronounceable but the trails are excellent and make for a perfect long weekend adventure. International Adventure: The Goat - So, you win a goat, you let it roam free in the mountains, and then later you decide to go and see if you can find it. Nathan Hughes takes us on an unlikely adventure with pro rider Timo Pritzel.​ Classic Ride: Pete Scullion rides Dumyat near Stirling, Scotland. Race Head: Rampage! Most of us will have spent some time on the internet watching clips from Red Bull Rampage, but there's a group of die-hard - or possibly fool-hardy - fans who make the trek into the desert to watch it live. Grinder Bike: Greg puts a beautiful looking titanium Vaaru through its paces. Is it as good as it is pretty? Bike Test: Full Plussers - a new generation of slimmer-than-a fat-bike full suspension bikes is appearing. Chipps put three ​from Salsa, Scott and Specialized ​to the test. In our exclusive subscriber section - available to subscribers or to purchase through our shop or premier dealers: UK Adventure: Sam Flanagan rides Black Sail​ pass in the Lakes​. A bit more remote than your average ride, he considers what skills and equipment it takes to step up your riding from trail center to the middle of nowhere. Last Word: Dann Allbright reckons he has the answer to all your technical questions...