Posted by: audaxing | November 1, 2014

3 SPD pedals compared

All the bikes I’ve owned have been fitted with PD-M540 pedals. These are double sided SPD clip in pedals. They are quite minimalist, shed mud well and last well. They aren’t the bottom of the range item but they aren’t the super light bling top of the range either.

PD-M540 on the Surly

PD-M540 on the Surly

However, last year I decided to try something a little different. I got some second hand PD-A520.
These are designed for touring. I assume the idea is that the much larger plate to support the shoe means that they work better with more flexible shoes that can also be worn for walking. This is certainly my experience. The PD-M540 work best with super rigid shoes or boots like Sidi Diablo or Specialized Comp MTB. The PD-A520 are ok with more bendy ones like my much loved Shimano MT-60 Goretex shoes.

PD-A520 pedals

PD-A520 pedals

The disadvantage of the PD-A520 is that they are single sided. This means they are more difficult to clip into. Especially in the dark when you aren’t quite used to them. After a while though, it becomes second nature to feel the pedal and flip it the right way up. I was hoping that these pedals would be good with non SPD shoes. They are not too bad provided they are the correct way up!
I am doing a short commute to a nearby train station every day and it is more convenient to wear normal shoes without cleats for this. So I got yet another pedal to try out, the PD-T780

PD-T780 pedals on the Setavento

PD-T780 pedals on the Setavento

These are again single sided. But I am used to the flipping over now. Also they have a handy marking on the non clip in side to make it easy to see which way up they are. They work well with flat shoes or spd shoes. They have the additional benefit of orange reflectors on the pedals. It’s always good to be just a bit more visible during those dark winter commutes


  1. So, which are best for audax?

    • They are all good. I’ve used the PD-M540 on two PBP and lots of other rides in the past 10 years

  2. I don’t understand what the size of the pedal support-structure has to do with how it feels or handles? The shoe will make contact with the pedal only at the cleat anyway? I have some soft shoes that are good for walking and the SPD-cleat creates a horrible pressure/”burn” through the sole of the shoe after 2-3 hours of riding – regardless of the pedal!

    The A530 pedal is good for a commuter/everyday bike. One side for spd-shoes and one for normal shoes.
    Having used the A530 for a while, on my faster bike I then used the A600 and almost had a crash when trying to clip-in on the wrong side of the pedal with a very rigid and slippery carbon shoe! The wrong side of the A530 is very safe and flat, but the A600 is round and slippery – Careful with these!

    • it’s my impression that the sole of the shoe does have some contact with the body of the pedal away from the cleat. Agree that SPD shoes aren’t the best for walking but sometimes they are an OK compromise

  3. I have always used LOOK cleats on my audax/road bikes and use SPD’s on commute and MTB bikes. I am thinking of using SPD’s all round (so one shoe fits all). Do folk think this is a good idea – what has prevented me from doing this before has really been because I had a ‘bike fit’ which included (LOOK) cleat positioning etc. Not sure if bike fits address SPD cleat position or not…

  4. I’m a big fan of A600s – have them on both road bikes now.

    There’s a trick with these single sided pedals though. They are weighted to fall at a slight angle when stopped, presenting an easy angle for clipping in. If you push or stomp at them, they’ll spin around and you’ll miss cleating in. But if you relax and just gently aim your foot at them and slide it over they click in automatically pretty much every time. It takes a bit of practice, but it’s definitely a case that trying less hard works much better!

    I also ride M520s on my MTB, and have done in past on road bike. But I find the platform of the 600s much nicer on longer rides.

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