What do I do when my pedals are holding me hostage?

Q: Have ridden Shimano XTR Trail pedals since last year. They have developed a lot of play, and it is now quite hard to unclip. Should
I be servicing these pedals in some way? This is the first XTR product I’ve purchased, and to say I’m disappointed is an understatement.
—Martin, who would like to stop getting stuck in his pedals

A: Something is wrong, and you shouldn’t ride them until you get it fixed. We ride both Shimano XTR and XT Trail pedals and have more hours on them than any other brand.

It sounds like the pedals’ spindle (the axle that runs through the pedal’s body) is loose, or the cone on the spindle has worked itself loose. We disassembled a similar pedal in our June 2012 “Garage Files.” That will help you understand what is going on inside the pedal. If nothing is loose, move to your shoe cleat.

What you describe is what we’ve experienced when a cleat gets worn. (It’s counterintuitive, but the release actually gets harder, not easier, as the cleat wears.) If you are using the cleat that came with the pedal, however, the stamped-steel cleats just don’t wear out that fast. If you used an older cleat, try a new one.

Next, look at the shoe’s sole and gripper to make sure these aren’t the problem. If there is a problem, you will see where the pedal is rubbing the sole or grippers. If the shoe is SPD certified, this shouldn’t be an issue. If it does rub, file the shoe material away with a Dremel tool to give the cleat more clearance.

Look at the cleat closely. Maybe it got dinged on a rock. We are sure you would have already checked for a rock wedged in the pedal or between the cleat and the shoe. Also, check the cage (the silver, stamped metal bridge that the cleat clicks into) for signs of damage.
If no damage is visible, take your Allen wrench and tighten the pedals’ release adjustment to full tight (towards the “+” sign), and then back it all the way off (to the “-” sign). Clip in and feel the release. It should be very easy. Unclip and turn the release adjustment in two-click intervals until it feels comfortable. This might “reset” the pedals’ release mechanism.

If none of this solves the problem, take the pedals back to the shop. You paid a lot of money for those pedals, and Shimano will make it right if there is some type of defect.

Don’t give up on those pedals. We always say there are lighter pedals, more adjustable pedals, better pedals for mud and cheaper pedals, but there are no pedals that put it all together as well as the ones you are currently riding.

Got a burning question about mountain biking? Click the “Ask MBA” link above to get the Wrecking Crew’s take on it.

You might also like