gear review: shimano xt pd-t8000 pedals

I ride my Kona Sutra touring bike a lot, mainly as a Canmore-Banff commuter but also for zipping around town for beer runs, groceries, dropping off library books – tasks that really didn’t seem to warrant putting on cleated bike shoes. So from day one I went with a reversible pedal – one side flat, one side SPD – the Shimano A530. Dual-sided pedals seem to be routinely mocked in the bike world, but they served their purpose…clip in for longer rides, fine for heading out with sneakers for the above-mentioned tasks.

A Salsa Mukluk came into my life in 2016, along with a pair of winter riding boots…having heard stories of ice build up on cleats on winter rides, I figured I’d slap on a pair of the same A530’s on my fat bike to have a platform side if the ice build-up prevented clipping in. Well…the platform side which was ok when wearing sneakers was less than ideal for a winter boot with a stiff vibram sole. When things got icy and I couldn’t clip in, the flat side was fairly lousy at providing any sort of stable platform; without any real pins it was just too slippy.

“Why don’t you just get flats and ride in Sorels?” But I was still sold on the double-sided idea…I’d dropped some pretty pennies on those SPD-equipped Wolvhammer boots and gosh darn it, I was going to use them.

So there began the search for a better option. Scanning through the names of pedals out there is like reading the roster of a nineteenth century London street gang…Candy. Mallet. Saint. Chester.

When I saw a link to something called the “xt pd-t8000” I half-expected to be taken to a website selling droids, but instead found what has become a pretty good choice for my Mukluk for winter riding and bikepacking adventures.

pic of shimano xt pd-t8000 pedal
Yes, those are reflectors.

These pedals fall under Shimano’s “Trekking” category and are marketed as offering “high quality dual platform performance for touring, trekking and commuting.” They weigh in at 392 g, with the functionality of the SPD side working as well as other Shimano XT-level offerings. Sealed cup and cone bearings, check. The platform side comes with two lengths of pins if you feel you want more grip and has a nice, wide, concave cleat clearance. And reflectors, which are pretty nice to have for any sort of route involving nighttime roads.

The most common gripe of dual-sided pedals seems to be never being able to easily find the side you want, but it’s really a non-issue. The pedal hangs vertically at rest and even if you happen upon flat when you want clip, there’s plenty of grip to get moving and then flip to the clip once rolling. Mud clearance is good. And for winter, if the cleat is icing up the platform is nice and big and grippy.

img_8882.jpg
Bikepack outing #1 with the PD-T8000’s.

One thing that I did come to appreciate was the option to unclip and pedal the flat side when my knees began protesting¬†on my first real bikepacking trip going any sort of distance (a 90 km day in May 2017). The ability to micro-adjust my foot around to various positions and angles on the flat side helped relieve some of the knee pain that I attributed to general over-use early on in the summer. It’s nice to be able to have a reliable platform as well for any techy bits of trail when dabbing a foot here and there keeps you upright and moving.

So far these have served their purpose well and have stood up to a decent amount of rock-bang on rougher trails. I think they retail for around $150 Canadian bucks and are a solid choice if you don’t always need to be clipped in. Full details on the Shimano website here.

pic of a bikepacking Salsa Mukluk bike
May 2017, Burstall Pass parking lot lunch break.

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