Shimano XTR Trail Pedal M9120 Review
Words & Photos by Nic Hall
Shimano’s SPD pedal is synonymous with clipless pedals and has been at the top of many rider’s lists for decades for a reason. However, in recent years, there has been an explosion of clipless offerings from pedal manufacturers offering large cages and hybrid designs that were once reserved only by Shimano. We all know that Shimano doesn’t just release a new product without serious R&D, but does the new XTR Trail pedal improve their classic design, or fall behind in a rapidly evolving sector of the industry?
Shimano co-released these pedals with their new line of trail and DH shoes, increasing both the width and length of the pedal cage to increase the shoe contact area. The axle is Chromoly, while the cage is aluminum. Both bearings have been moved further out. They weigh in at 398g per set, which is a bit more than previous generations but makes sense given the extra material. The axle diameter has been decreased and ovalized to minimize the chance of mud or debris clogging up the clip mechanism. The retention level is still rider-adjustable and allows for a very consistent feel as the cleats wear in.
We put a wet spring and full summer and fall on the new Shimano XTR pedals coupled with the Shimano ME7 and Specialized 2FO shoes. Both shoes offered easy in and out, but the Shimano shoe made a bit better pedal contact on the sides of the pedal. The Shimano cleat noticeably protrudes on the bottom of most shoes and extends further than the sole, which does allow for easy pedal engagement but proves for some slippery rock walking and full tap shoe effect when getting a coffee or beer. While the larger cage provides more contact area when clipped in, it does not offer much support when unclipped and searching for temporary foot placement. We found it very slippery to step on when temporarily out of the clips for a dab or foot-out situation.
Retention is outstanding, and the pedals can be cranked down almost to the point of not being able to get out. I prefer some float in my pedals, though, which decreases as the retention is increased. I noticed myself coming out of the pedals at some points when cornering and pushing a knee into the bike. Finding your right spot can take a few rides to dial in. Once you’ve found your settings; however, disengagement and performance were consistent and predictable.
Shimano SPD pedal performance in the mud and snow is outstanding. We experienced some especially muddy trails this season and never had an issue getting back into our pedals. If our shoes did become entirely caked, a quick knock on the pedal would clear them. We were very impressed with the XTR Trail pedal’s ability to handle mud, it’s definitely the best of any pedal we’ve ridden.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Shimano XTR trail pedal is about as refined as a clipless pedal can get and has been designed to work effortlessly with Shimano shoes. While I prefer more float in my pedals, the engagement and retention of the XTR is outstanding. If you’re a clipless rider looking to try something new or a die-hard Shimano fan wondering if it’s worth the upgrade, we would highly recommend the Shimano XTR trail pedal. If you are just getting into clipless pedals, you might want to keep the retention system turned down or start with something that offers a bit more float, such as the Crankbrothers Mallet E.
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