It's hard to beat the Shimano PD-ME700 pedals when it comes to durability and sheer value for money
Having gone back to clipless pedals recently, I can honestly say that being attached to your bike lets you ride faster on rough tracks. It’s also more efficient, and it also offers a bit more pedal clearance, handy if you have an e-bike with an impossibly low BB. If you fancy making the jump to clipless, a good place to start is this Shimano PD-ME700.
Sure, the name is dull, but Shimano makes solid and reliable clipless pedal. In fact, the PD-ME700 is very similar to the two pedals above it in the range – the DXR and XTR. It even uses the same binding, and despite the better pedals having a coating on the binding, I reckon there’s not as big a difference in terms of entry and exit as is claimed. Where you will see a difference is in your wallet, because this pedal is over 60% cheaper than the XTR pedal, and if you shop around you actually buy it for just over £35.
As you can see, there’s a physical difference between a regular XC-style SPD pedal and this one, which comes with a 100x75mm cage. It’s not a separate component, so isn’t replaceable and it doesn’t offer much in the way of support – the sole of my shoe only just touches on the sides – but it creates a bigger target to aim at, and that extra mass also protects the binding mechanism from rock strikes.
Release tension is adjustable on either side of the mechanism via a 3mm Allen key. It’s set in the middle position from the factory, but I always reduce it by a couple of turns, because I don’t like being totally locked in and I also feel it adds a little bit more float, so the cleat can move slightly before it disengages. Other pedals – such as Crankbrothers – have more float than Shimano’s, but you can maximise the 4º offered by angling the cleats slightly inwards when you fit them.
A set of SM-SH51 single-release cleats are included in the box, and I find they last about a year to 18 months before they need replacing.
Despite using an old-school loose ball bearing assembly, the bearings are solid. To service them you’ll need to buy a specific tool, but you can just bung in a load of fresh grease every six months and this usually is enough to keep them running sweet.
What I like about riding Shimano SPD pedals is you don’t have to do any complex foot gymnastics to get in, and they unclip just as easily, making them perfect for the first-timer. I also tested these pedals with a ton of shoes, and I rarely needed to shim the cleat away from the sole, or had clearance issues. They really are fit and forget.
Since the PD-ME700 is so cheap, it makes it somewhat disposable, because two replacement axle assemblies are around £20, and a new set of cleats is £15.99. In other words, the price of the pedals is effectively subsidised. But they should last ages.
See how these stack up against the other tried and tested options in our guide to the best mountain bike pedals. The other half of the connection equation is a great pair of clipless mountain bike shoes.
There are lighter and nicer finished pedals on the market but the Shimano PD-ME700 is tough, easy to set up, great in the mud and an absolute bargain.