We don’t want to say that Shimano’s DX M647 pedals have overstayed their welcome, but, to be truthful, they have. Shimano knew it was time for a more modern pair of pedals to enter the gravity realm, so they answered the call with the new Saint M820 pedals. Our testers strapped on their full-face enduro helmets, grabbed their Shimano clipless shoes and headed out to shred our local gravity-fed trails.
Tech info: The new Shimano Saint pedals are meant for enduro, bike park and downhill riders searching for clipless pedals with wider and grippier platforms and a thinner profile. The M820s have a platform that is 78x91mm wide and a thickness of only 19mm. Pedal pins are included; however, it’s up to the rider whether to mount them or not. Each pedal has four pins per side for a total of 16 for the pair. Riders can also adjust these pins using the included washers—from 0.6mm to 1.6mm. These adjustments allow riders to find the perfect amount of traction.
The pedal body is made of aluminum with grooved and machined traction pads and has a steel clamping mechanism.
The spindles are made of chromoly and have a standard Shimano bearing system that can be easily serviced when the time comes. The pedals weigh 554 grams with the pins installed and without cleats. Shimano sells these pedals for $160 and includes a pair of SH51 cleats, a couple of 1mm-thick shims and 16 threaded pins. Also included is a set of washers to allow riders to further fine-tune the position of the pins.
On the trail: Before mounting the pedals on our cranks, we installed all of the pins with the 0.6mm washers under their heads. It took only a few minutes, and the resulting protuberance was only 2.5mm. That’s not much when compared to flat pedals, but with clipless pedals, you still need to be able to rotate your feet to disengage the SPD clip.
Shimano designed these pedals to only be mounted using an 8mm Allen, so the classic pedal wrench will not work with these pedals.
On our first ride, the mechanism’s preload spring needed zero tuning, unless, of course, you’re really well-practiced in disengaging and desire more secure retention. In that case, you will need to use a 3mm Allen key in both sides of the clamping mechanism on each pedal. You can actually see the preload plates moving inside the mechanisms for a precise setting on each spring.
Our testers noticed that many of the shoes we tested with these pedals didn’t require us to use the included shims under their cleats. A few of the shoes we used, however, required us to add shims for smooth clip-in and clip-out action. Once clipped in, we had no doubt that the mechanism was fully engaged and noticed the pedals had a familiar Shimano feel with just a small amount of free-play, helping to relieve some of the stress you might have in your knees. Just beware that the M820 pedals require gravity-style shoes with flat soles to really dig into the rear pins. Also, a soft-sole compound will add more comfort, filtering vibrations during small hits. The pins in the front are there to better secure your foot when you fail to clip into the cleat. With all of our shoes, we had no trouble at all disengaging from the pedals with the pins protruding 2.5mm. Most of all, those pins, combined with the wider platform, gave us a much more stable feeling, along with added support.
The Saint M820 pedals are leaps and bounds ahead of Shimano’s DX M647 pedals. After months of use in any kind of gravity environment, the M820s had their fair share of dents and scratches but continued to work like new.
• Improved grip
• Slim profile
• Classic SPD reliability
• Must use soft-sole shoes
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