I have an enormous amount of respect for my gear-obsessed colleagues here at Bike, who have lifetimes filled with all manner of wrenching experience and technical knowledge. Knowledge so deep that the only comparison in my brain library is American history. Aka, completely irrelevant to any conversation on bicycle engineering. That’s why my job is photo and video, not nuts and bolts. But when it comes to pedal preference, I put my foot down. They’re all riding the wrong pedals. Now, I’m usually mild-tempered and non-confrontational, and have no tendencies of part-inspired fanaticism. Except that I really, really like the Shimano Saint pedals, species name: M820. Normally, I might be off to the side of a discussion like this, maybe taking pictures or something silly like that, but if this topic comes up, I’ll give you my opinion. You didn’t ask? Well here it is anyway. Because I’m a fanatic.
Simply put, these pedals allow more control, comfort, security and durability than anything else I’ve ridden. That’s pretty much the sales pitch I’d want to hear for any piece of gear I take on the trail. But when we’re talking about the component that bears most of your weight in the most crucial moments, the impact on the ride is especially significant.
The Nitty Gritty
The Shimano Saint pedals feature, of course, the classic, proven, ever-unchanged Shimano clipless binding mechanism, surrounded by a robust body platform. I won’t dwell too much on the mechanism itself, as it’s a known benchmark for clipless performance. It’s functionally identical to XT and XTR, ubiquitous among other Bike staffers. Looking at a spec chart, the obvious difference between the Saints and the XTs is weight—408g for a pair of XTs versus 568g for the Saints. That weight difference, of course, comes down the platform on the M820s, and is a cost I’ll pay every day of the year.
Plus Schwalbe's overhauled "Super" series of casing options