Product Reviews November 11, 2012

Shimano PD-M545 Free-Ride Pedals

.......or "Is it possible to ever have too many pedals?"

I recently tidied up the bike shed on the premise of finding some order in a place that was rapidly becoming more and more chaotic. Everything now has its place and I can locate anything required in a matter of moments. There's hooks galore, a shelf full of tools and associated paraphernalia and of course the infamous bike boxes. (I am now glad I did not dispose if the dhb box as Lukey is going to put it to good use when we travel to Mallorca in a few weeks time). Indeed, I am confident of it passing a 5 S test! Amongst this order, I have hung up all my pedals.....and it transpires I have rather a lot of them. Pedals for every bike, every shoe type and every use. In fact, I have concluded I have a pedal fetish. Now this will come as a big surprise to my wife when she reads this since she will cite my apparent obsession with cycle jerseys as my real fetish, but evidence is hanging up in the shed!  

You see the problem with pedals is this; a pedal can be fit for purpose for considerable time, but the chances are it will be scratched, battered, chipped and dented through no fault of its own. So whilst it can do the job perfectly well, it does'nt, well, look very nice. Let me try saying this another way; after a while they tend not to compliment the bike. Take my Genesis Day One for example. After my altercation with a pothole (issue still to be resolved with Southern Gas networks) the frame (amazingly) was unscathed. Along with the right hand gear changer though, the right hand pedal took a very considerable beating. More accurately, the metal was shredded ripped where it should have said '105'. Shame, because the white pedals looked rsmart against the frame. Anyway my point is whilst still fully functional they take away from the overall look of the bike. However, because there's nothing mechanically wrong with them I hang onto them. This has happened on a few occasions now, hence the burgeoning collection. 

And then there's having a pedal that's fit for purpose. (Honestly, there is a review coming up in a minute.) On the road bike I've standardised on Shimano SPD-SL. I then thought maybe this would be a good pedal to use across the board. So then I applied it up the MTB, the Single Speed and the Day One. Problem is though that the shoes that accompany the pedals do not lend themselves to walking; which isn't very practical if I'm on either the SS or the MTB. So then I decided maybe I should use SPDs on these bikes. This made more sense as the shoes I subsequently bought are designed to walk about in. I bought a pair of boots (Shimano) and pair of road-type shoes. (Mavic Razor). Both are perfect for commuting which I do on the SS. For the MTB I then bought a pair of Shimano PD-M540 which came highly recommended - 4.6/5 out of 108 customer reviews. That's fine, but the contact area is pretty small and if you are on the Mountain Bike you don't always want to be cleated......

As was definitely the case when I recently went cycling with Swazy over the South Downs. What made this ride completely nuts (for him) was that I was on the MTB and he was on his SS with (fat) but slick tyres! It had been raining very hard the previous night and traction was at a premium. How he managed to ride what he did is beyond me. In the end it was a steady incline that eventually halted his progress. I managed to continue only because of some grippy tyres and low gearing. We made it to the top and then traversed the crest of the hill. This proved challenging since it was a chalk 'path' and extremely sticky. I came off twice, caught out by the ruts and bumps. The second time I came off I realised that having pedals that I could use 'normally' might be more of an advantage than being cleated into position.  And so we find ourselves at my latest pedal review....

With this experience fresh in my mind, I started browsing for a new pair of pedals. However, since my MTB riding is sporadic at best, these pedals would not see much action this way. As much as I like being on the hills (literally), I'm more at home on the road. Having fitted them to the MTB I switched them over to the Day One the following morning. This made much more sense. The (Free-Ride) pedals in question are Shimano PD-M545. They are large, heavy duty combination MTB pedals with a cleated mechanism on both sides. The footplate is huge offering greater stability which allows them to be used with work shoes if needs be. (The mechanism is pushed flat allowing a shoe to rest on the surrounding cage). They weigh 567 grams, are made of CrMo Steel and will withstand a significant amount of abuse. (SH-51) cleats are included. None of this matters much since the Day One is a heavy bike anyway so weight is not a worry. As it's my training bike the theory is it just makes me fitter!

So there you have it, the latest Shimano pedal to join the bikebritain family. Shimano PD-M545 retail for about £45. I bought mine from www.wiggle.co.uk but all good cycle shops will stock them. If you need a pair of hard wearing, no none sense pedals that you can use with our without cleats, this might be the solution for you. 

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