Shimano PD-M520 SPD pedals review

Shimano M520 SPD Review
Our Score

The Shimano PD-M520 SPD pedals are a popular choice among mountain bikers, cyclocross riders, and commuters who need reliable and efficient pedals. They have been around for over 20 years and are still one of the most popular SPD pedals on the market today. In this review, we’ll take a closer look at what makes the Shimano PD-M520 SPD pedals so popular and why they might be a good choice for your cycling needs.


(Image Credit: SHIMANO)

The Shimano PD-M520 SPD pedals are built with high-quality materials to ensure durability and longevity. Weighing in at 380g per pair, these pedals feature a chrome-moly axle and low maintenance sealed bearings that help prolong the life of the pedal. The cleats, which weigh 54g per pair, are also included with the pedals.

One of the key features of the PD-M520 SPD pedals is their double-sided entry, which allows for easy and quick engagement of the cleat. This is particularly useful for riders who need to quickly clip in and out, especially in stop-start situations like mountain biking or commuting. The pedals also boast a class-leading mud and debris shedding design that helps keep the pedals clean and functional.

Another important aspect of the PD-M520 SPD pedals is their adjustable tension setting, which allows riders to customize the tightness of their shoe release. This is useful for riders who require a tighter or looser release, depending on their riding style or preferences. Overall, the construction of the Shimano PD-M520 SPD pedals is designed to provide a reliable and durable option for riders of all levels.

The Shimano PD-M520 SPD pedals come with SH-51 cleats, washer section and bolts, and are designed for 2-bolt type cycling shoes that are often recessed within the sole, making walking easy. The SH-51 cleats are single release, meaning that the shoe can be released from the pedals in one direction by rotating the heel outwards. However, if you prefer a multi-release version, you can opt for the SH-56 cleat.

The pedals are available in two finishes: black and silver. The construction of these pedals is sturdy, with a chrome-moly axle, sealed bearings, and double-sided entry.

Image shows the Shimano PD-M520 pedals
(Image Credit: SHIMANO)

It’s remarkable to see how the Shimano M520 pedal has managed to stand the test of time with over two decades of history. The pedal was introduced as an update to the original SPD pedal type M737/M505, among others. One of the main changes in the M520 pedal was improved mud clearance, which is evident when comparing it to the M505 pedal. The M520 has space between the mechanism and the axle housing, while the M505 had a plate that could more easily get blocked up. It’s worth noting that the cleats (SH-51 & 56) have remained the same since the inception of Shimano Pedal Dynamics (SPD) and will work in any iteration of the system. It’s impressive to see how Shimano has continued to innovate while maintaining the compatibility of their pedals with older versions, making them a reliable choice for cyclists.

Shimano PD-M520 SPD pedals review

It’s important to note that when installing the Shimano PD-M520 SPD pedals, it is recommended to apply a small amount of grease on the thread to make it easier to remove in the future. The pedals can be installed using either a 6mm Allen/Hex key or a 15mm pedal spanner, and they are clearly marked ‘L’ and ‘R’ to ensure that you don’t put the wrong side in. Once installed, the pedals look and feel sturdy and reliable. The initial tension of the pedals was perfect for me, so I didn’t have to make any adjustments.

Good advice! It’s always a good idea to start with lower tension settings and gradually increase them as you become more comfortable with clipping in and out. And as you mentioned, it’s important to make sure that the tension is the same on both pedals to avoid any surprises. Practicing clipping in and out while stationary and riding slowly can also help build confidence and familiarity with the system.


The Shimano SPD system is a familiar system to me, having ridden with it for many years. The PD-M520 pedals felt just as good as any other Shimano SPD pedals I’ve used before. The clipping in sensation was great and clipping out was easy, thanks to the factory set tension. During pedalling, I felt connected to the pedals and there was no feeling of being thrown out of the pedal over rough ground or when powering up a slope while standing up. The pedal axles rotated smoothly, and after the first ride, there was a little grease that had been ejected from the spindle seal, which I wiped off. However, there has been no further loss since then. This was just a settling-in thing from first usage, and it’s good to know that they are well packed with grease.

Double-sided pedals like the Shimano PD-M520 SPD are very convenient because you can clip in on either side, without having to look down and check which side is up. This can be especially helpful in technical terrain or during a fast start at a traffic light. However, single-sided pedals have their own advantages, such as a lower weight and a wider platform for better power transfer. It’s all about finding the right balance between convenience and performance for your riding style and preferences.


The Shimano M520 pedals are priced at $60/ £45 which is slightly more expensive compared to the Time ATAC XC 2, another dual-sided pedal that is well-priced at $58/£36. However, the Shimano pedals can be purchased at discounted prices, so it’s recommended to look for good deals. This makes them a much better value option than the Cranankbrothers Candy 1 which is priced at $80/£57.

To sum up, the Shimano M520 pedals are a versatile and reliable option for almost all riding disciplines, and their SPD system is efficient and allows for the use of shoes that can be walked in. Although certain disciplines may prefer different types of pedals, such as flat pedals for BMX or 3-bolt style shoes and pedals for road riding, the M520 pedals are a great all-around choice for most riders. Additionally, they are hard-wearing and come at a reasonable price, making them a classic and dependable option.


  • +Works well
  • +Long lasting
  • +Maintainable
  • +Can be used for many disciplines of cycling
  • +Keenly priced and includes cleats & bolts


  • -Requires a specialist (but cheap) plastic tool for servicing

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