Shimano still hasn’t perfected its flat pedal offering
Shimano Saint flat pedals have new, bigger cold-forged platforms, but a slimmer chromoly axle and more sculpting means they’re lighter than previously.
This unnecessary faff is compounded by Shimano’s pin design having top-threaded studs, which leads to issues removing once chewed up or when dirt compacts into allen heads like it did here. Despite unpicking dirt and using a sharp new Allen key, I couldn’t remove all the small studs to swap out. Extra attention is needed not to round out the longer studs installing too, and none of this hassle is exactly ideal.
On the trail, things weren’t much improved. Platform and pin placement feels skinny under shoes (especially on the corners) and the Saint is pancake flat, so there’s no dished out centre to stabilise feet. The platform isn’t as thin as plenty other pedals either, and all factors combine to reduce grip, stability, and increase the chance of pedals flipping over and smashing shins. To add concavity, I removed the middle four traction studs, which works, but still found less outright grip or planted foot placement compared to the best flats.
The Saints have adequate grip with the big pins and may well have great bearings and durability, but that’s something I’ll never know, because, craving maximum traction to enjoy every ride to the full, I simply didn’t use them enough. The platforms are relatively heavy to turn over pedalling and cost twice as much as the old Saints too.
Despite years of trying, Shimano still hasn’t perfected its offer for flat pedal riders. Both platforms and shoes don’t quite cut it, and you do wonder how much input comes from riders using flat pedals day in, day out.