Thursday, September 18, 2014

Shimano MX80 Saint Pedals Review (or how I found the best platform pedals I've tried to date)

If you've hung out in this space for any length of time, you are likely aware of my incessant pedal conundrum. It isn't so much that I have difficulty finding a bicycle pedal that I like, but rather that I always seem to have numbness issues when I ride. I have run the gambit of types of pedals from cruiser to platform to SPD (clipless) style, but the pain never seems to go away. Over time, I've come to understand that this is really more lower-back related than caused by my pedal choice, but there are certain pedals that do a better job of keeping this numbness to a minimum.
Shimano MX80 Saint pedals
*Image from Shimano
While waiting for the IndyFab bicycle to be completed, I went on a serious hunt for pedals that might work for the new bike, and during that time arrived upon the Shimano MX80 Saint pedals. I know it seems a bit strange to some to use a platform pedal on a road bicycle, but I won't get into my reasons here for not using SPD's nor any other form of clip(less) style pedal. Instead, I'd like to share why I really like these particular pedals and why you, if you're into more of a platform style, might appreciate these as well. Praises have already been sung for these pedals by BMX riders, downhill and other mountain bikers, but I think these could easily translate to road bikers who opt not to go down the clipless route.

First of all, the platform is really wide (each pedal measures approximately L-3.75" x W-4" x H-0.75" or L-9.5cm x W-10.1cm x H-1.9cm). This may not seem like a huge deal, but it provides support for the entire width of my foot, preventing the sides from spilling over the outer edge. I don't have a particularly big or overly wide foot, but it's always nice to have support on longer rides. I had noticed that while width wasn't always an indicator of foot numbness, I appreciate having the wider style for support purposes.

Their weight is pretty decent too (especially for a platform pedal). The pair together weigh about 500g (or just over a pound). If you're someone who's looking to strip every ounce or gram off of a bicycle, you'll probably choose a clipless system over a platform anyway, but it's nice to find a set of platforms that don't weigh more than my frame (which is only a slight comparison over-exaggeration).
The pedals blend pretty nicely with the Ultegra crank/kit
As for style, they are probably some of the least offensive platforms I have put on a road bike. Somehow, they really don't seem out of place to me (as many I've tried have appeared). They stand out more in the photo above than they do from a distance, but even with a closer shot, I still don't find them particularly obnoxious on the bike.

One of the nice features about these platforms is the pins. Those little nub-like points on the pedals are extremely good at keeping my foot where it needs to be, but not so ridiculously sticky that I can't move my foot if need be. It's kind of a best-of-both-worlds situation in that I don't worry about my feet slipping in wet conditions, nor is it impossible to shift them if I need to move just slightly one way or another at some point during a ride.

The thinner profile on these pedals may not seem like a big deal for someone on a road bike, but I appreciate it for the aesthetic value, and every once in awhile I wonder off the beaten path on this bike and its slimmer height has come in handy on these occasions. Additionally, the pedals are built with a strong axle intended for harsh rides, so I think they will do well over the long haul on a road bike as well.
I have read that some people experience a "clicking" when using these pedals. Some have become so frustrated with the sound, that they've elected to no longer use the pedals. Unfortunately, I found a similar problem pretty quickly after mounting the pedals. I don't know if it's a luck of the draw kind of thing, or if some are just less sensitive to the sound, but I wasn't thrilled to hear a click-click-click with every pedal stroke myself. It quickly became a huge annoyance while pedaling - in quieter spots particularly as it was all I could hear. But, Sam to the rescue. He removed the pedal that was making the noise and stuffed a whole lot of grease (he used an automotive/high mileage version) into the bearings and voilà, problem solved. When the same clicking started happening again a couple of weeks later, we realized it was the other pedal. So, a word to the wise, if a clicking noise presents itself, I'd highly recommend packing both pedals. Since the greasing, I have had zero issues with any kind of unexpected noises from these pedals.

The pedals retail for about US $100, but as of the date of this post, with a little research online it is easy to find a set between US $52 and $70, which seems an entirely fair price for something that works pretty splendidly as far as I'm concerned.

Surprisingly, I found a pedal that doesn't appear overly out of place, is comfortable, and that is able to keep my shoe on the pedal without a lot of effort. I have put only about 700 miles on these to date, but I think it's enough to know that they work - and they work well. As always, finding something that works is not always an easy task, but these are pedals I don't mind putting my feet on day after day.

11 comments:

  1. G.E., I'm a platform pedal convert too - after many years of devout commitment to Shimano's SPD clipless system. I divorced the SPD's and good bye hot spots! What I like about the MX80's you are showing in your post is the large, squarish size, and that the pins don't look overly aggressive. Some of the platforms I've looked at use traction pins that are razor sharp. I don't need them that sharp for everyday use, and the MX80's pins don't look bad.

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    1. Yes, it is wonderful to have a set of pedals without pins that are too long or overly sharp/pointy. The shape is also one of my favorite things about these pedals. I know there are several out there, but these seem to have struck a nice balance.

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  2. Thanks for the review. I've added these pedals to a list I keep of gear to consider. I just got a set of MKS Lambda pedals for my spouse. He has big feet and is unhappy with the cheap, slippery plastic pedals that came with his now decade-old hybrid. If the Lambda's don't work out, I'll order him a set of the MX80s.

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    1. Platforms can be an interesting challenge. I've seen a couple of brands of plastic, slippery-looking pedals and I sometimes wonder if they aren't as slippery as they appear (or perhaps worse than they look). I know that the Lambdas are pedals that a lot of people like as well, so hopefully, he'll be happy with them. As I recall, they don't have pins, but they do have a raised surface of some sort, so I'm sure it will have a similar result as far as keeping his feet from slipping off the pedals.

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  3. I got some Ergon Pedals. My numbness went away but they look clunky on a road bike. ;)

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    1. Sharon,

      I have a set of the Ergon pedals too, and yes, they do look a bit on the clunky side on a road bike, but they're super comfy! :O)

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  4. I have several pairs of VP Vice pedals, which I find to be great pedals. If you haven't had the opportunity to try a pair of 5_10 shoes, like their Freerider model, I would highly recommend them. Super grippy soles. I tried my first pair a couple months ago and am completely sold.

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    1. I have a set of VP pedals and really like those as well. It's great when there are some options available instead of having only one possibility.

      Another vote for five ten shoes... they seem to do well for a lot of people.

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  5. I use this pedals on my mountain bike and they are great, I have just purchased my first touring bike and I will definitely fit one in that as well, they are great and will be a great upgrade to any stock pedals.

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  6. My Saints, like G E's, also developed a clicking noise which got to be quite loud. Turns out that the right pedal had a different number of bearings in each of the races and checking the Shimano site's exploded diagram it does show 12 balls in each race. 12 is the maximum number of balls that would fit in the cup when rebuilding so I removed one leaving 11 in each race which I was always taught is the correct way to replace them; max number possible less one.

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    1. Interesting. How long ago did you rebuild your pedals? Has there been any clicking since then? I really love my Saints, so I'd love to be able to salvage them, if possible.

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