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Monday, October 31, 2022

Review: Shimano PD-ES600

 My Shimano M520s have been the mainstay of my cycling pedals for years and years. They have wrench flats, last pretty much forever (suviving multiple titanium frames in the case of my single road bike), and are double-sided, letting me just stomp and go. When contemplating building a steel bike as a backup road bike, however, I found the Shimano PD-ES600 on sale for about $60 shipped. They come with SH51 cleats, but for reference just a pair of SH56 cleats cost about $19! One of the reviews I read said that the shoe's wider platform meshed nicely with the lugs on a MTB shoe to give a firmer connection with the pedal, which was enough (along with the 100g weight savings and the improved pedal clearance --- something to consider when your favorite frame geometry has an 80mm BB drop) to tip me over to purchase a pair.

When they arrived, I had to get out my allen wrenches in order to install them, as the pedals do not have wrench flats. I didn't need to change the tension on the pedals as the default felt right for me. The pedals are single-sided, which means you can't just stomp and go, but the firm connection definitely feels nice! After a week of riding with them on and off pavement, I went out and ordered a second pair. I tried those on the triplet for one long ride and a couple of commutes taking the kids to school an bought a 3rd pair for the roadini.  Interestingly enough, the difference is much less with my stiff-soled SIDI dominator than with my Recon 1.0s, indicating that it makes the biggest difference when your soles aren't as stiff. The single-sidedness can be a problem for some, but what I discovered was that my feet naturally find the correct side about 75% of the time --- this is because the spindle is just stiff enough that if you step down on the other pedal the alternate side will be in the correct side to receive a cleat --- the people who don't step down in order to start a bike (which is the correct method) would probably have much more trouble. The other 25%, I can tell by feel that the pedal is flipped over, and it's not a problem to flip it over without looking at the pedal. Even on gravel/off-road riding it was not a big deal. The lack of wrench flats probably bothers me more than anything else. The improved pedal clearance might also make a difference though to be honest since West Alpine road is closed I haven't had a chance to test it in extreme conditions --- note that pedal strikes never actually bothered me much anyway.

I wouldn't have paid list price for these ($100), but at $60 included taxes and shipping, these are a good deal. I'll stick with M520s for the mountain bike, and if I were riding the tandem triplet with a new cyclist I'd probably still go for the M520s but my sons and I are so coordinated by now that we can feel when I need to stop pedaling to flip over the pedals as needed (which hasn't been often), and on the triplet the extra firm connection feels even more needed! I ended up getting these for all 3 of my road bikes. My brother tried them once on my single and decided he wanted a pair as well! Here's another indication of how effective it is --- once I had them on all my bikes, I stopped switching to the super-stiff SIDI shoes whenever I went on a road ride, preferring my touring shoes instead!

Recommended. If you've been riding M520s, these are the first pedals that felt like a real upgrade.

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