Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.
By Lennard Zinn
It’s no secret that Lance Armstrong never used Shimano’s SPD-R system. He rode what he liked and those were his old Look-compatible Shimanos.
After three successive Tour de France wins, the Japanese manufacturer finally decided it had enough of watching its decade old equipment bring Armstrong to the podium and set out to build a pedal Lance would approve of. It looks like the new design got the nod of approval: Armstrong has kept them on his bike since spring.
The svelte 276-gram/pair (plus 60 grams for the cleats, screws and washers) pedals are the fruit of their radical redesign labor. The three-hole plastic cleat is unique in that it uses a raised wall profile that drops into the opening in the pedal ahead of the spindle.
If you pull back when pedaling, the little wall stops the cleat from moving straight back. This is an improvement over Look designs, where a powerful straight-back pull could open the rear clip and allow the cleat to escape.
Another feature of the cleat retains one of the best features of SPD-R cleats, namely walkability. Where the SPD-R cleats had little pontoons with rubber pads out on the ends of them, the SH11 cleats have little raised yellow rubber pads sticking out to the sides of the cleat that make walking easy, quiet and not slippery. There is also a piece of this yellow rubbery material on top of the forward tip of the cleat to prevent it from wearing down so quickly the way Look and Campagnolo cleat tips do.
Likes: Clipping in and out is super easy and smooth, and the tension adjustment is nice, too. Initially, I did not like how much my feet were able to move laterally. The cleats are free to rotate quite a bit, but they are also free to move laterally a centimeter or so. This is because the hook at the tip of the pedal is quite a bit wider than the cleat is at that point. This is a significant design difference from Campagnolo and Look.
When pedaling, I found my feet sliding inward when I pulled up and outward, a full centimeter when pushing down. Initially, I found this disconcerting and somewhat straining on my knees. But, after their initial break-in period (and a little help of abrasive dirt to help rough-up the cleat/pedal interface), I found the sliding to cease. From that point on, I fell in love with their positive engagement and freedom of angular movement. I also liked the fact that the cleats have marks on the sides to indicate the location of the center of the spindle (as do Look and Campagnolo cleats), which greatly speeds up installation. One final nice touch is that the Shimano washers have ridges stamped into them so they don’t bend like Campagnolo washers.
Dislikes: One drawback of the cleats is that they only come with one set of very short bolts. I tried mounting these to a pair of Sidis, but the stock Shimano bolts would not reach down to the threads. Instead, I was forced to use 12.5mm Campagnolo screws, the shorter of the two lengths that come with Pro-Fit pedals. While the supplied Shimano bolts would work great for thinner-soled carbon shoes, (such as Shimano, LUST, Pearl Izumi and Northwave Genetix titanium soles) the bolts would not be long enough for others requiring bolt-in plastic inserts when using three-hole cleats (Carnac and Sidi).
— Lennard Zinn
Test dates: July-August 2002
Contact: Shimano American, 800/423-2420, www.shimano.com