Shimano has long-held one of the dominant positions in the road race components market. But the likes of SRAM & Campagnolo continue to be right there always vying for spec on road bikes. But when you look at the road pedals market, no one has the might of Shimano. And with the latest R9100 series Dura-Ace, we thought it was another good chance to see how their pedals stack up.

Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 clipless road bike pedals

Shimano introduced their major R9100 overhaul to the Dura-Ace groupset back in midsummer 2016. But while those four distinct new groupsets didn’t start materializing in the market until at least six months later, the new pedals took even longer. About a year after their introduction, we got our first hands on look at the revised pedals and began testing them soon after. That means that we’ve been putting miles on a couple pairs of these for almost six months now and have a good sense of their performance & durability.

Tech Details & Actual Weights

The new $280/270€ R9100 pedals are not a huge departure from the previous 9000 series SPD-SL carbon pedals, but they do get several updates. The new pedals again use a carbon reinforced composite body with stainless steel wear/contact plates, now with a slightly wider platform. That used to be a single larger (and replaceable) plate, and is now replaced with three smaller plates molded into the pedal body permanently. The pedal body itself is slimmed down a bit too, most notably with new hollow sections cutout to reduce weight (by a claimed 20g).

Inside the pedals move from a 3-bearing setup to a new design that uses two ball bearings, plus a wide roller bushing, something we’ve seen successful from other recent pedals as well. Shimano says that replacing the old roller bearing with a bushing improves long-term durability, keeping the pedals spinning smoothly longer.

The retention mechanism and tension adjustment remain unchanged.

Shimano claims a weight of 228g for the newest generation of Dura-Ace pedals. Ours weighed in just a few grams over that at 235g. When you add in the stock 2° blue plastic SPD-SL cleats that come with the pedals, total system weight goes to 305g, including all mounting hardware.

The newest cleats also shed some weight with a slightly more open design, but mostly by now using hollow shaft steel bolts (which only seemed to save a gram or two on our scale.) Fixed 0° red cleats and larger float 6° yellow cleats are also available. Both of our testers started with the blue-tipped cleats. With the tester coming from Look pedals content with 2° of float, and our tester transitioning from Speedplay preferring more with the 6° cleats.

Setup, Fit & Riding Impressions

 

courtesy Shimano, photo by Wouter Roosenboom

The new Dura-Ace pedals have a nice reassuring click when clipping in, and the tension range is pretty wide making it easy for our testers to get comfortable coming primarily from riding other road pedals. Even with a wide tension range, we mostly stuck with lower tension for easy clipping out. The pedals still felt quite stable with their wide platform, and retention on the lower setting remained solid.

Coming from Look Keo pedals a reduction in side-to-side movement of the feet was truly noticable. A big portion of that is how the plastic cleats wear & the more narrow platform. The difference from Speedplay was less pronounced since their protected pedal-cleat interface is less susceptible to the same type of wear. But even then, the new Dura-Ace pedals felt stable. The wide cleats made for a more stable platform when walking (always mildly treacherous in road shoes, especially on the terrazzo stairs of my apartment.) That also gave the impression of a more solid connection to the soles of our shoes, even if they are sharing the same three bolt attachment points.

The bearings in the R9100 pedals are excellent, spinning smooth out-of-the-box, and the half a year since. They immediately drop into their balanced position with the rear pointing down, ready to clip in. Our experience with other pedals, for example the Looks when they were new, it felt like we really needed to wear in the bearings to get them to hang. And as much as we love the two-sided Speedplay for performance like their resistance-free, customizable float, they were surprisingly not as easy to enter at the Shimano pedals. The Dura-Ace pedals are always hanging in the same position, making them easier to clip into on the first stab, once we trained our brains not to kick them into a spin.

courtesy Shimano, photo by Irmo Keizer

The downsides of the Shimano setup was probably just in getting the cleats exactly where we wanted them and aligned. Coming from Look, our tester lamented the loss of those pedals’ easy-to-use alignment pad that makes cleat replacement a no-brainer. The Speedplays are also a bit more simple to replace since an adapter usually stays fixed to the sole. Instead we had to take a bit of time to get it all lined up on the new pedals (which had slightly different float than we were used to.) And when it was time to replace cleats, we simply traced the outline of the existing cleat with a Sharpie to replicate the position.

The SPD-SL cleats also feel pretty low-tech compared to the rest of the setup. The plastic they are made from seems to scratch quite easily, and the rubber waling grippers are prone to separating from the plastic base rather quickly. Of course the cleat material must be softer than the pedal, so does not prematurely wear the pedal body, but our cleats looked properly worn after just a few weeks. And we feel the need to replace them more frequently that either the Keo or Zero equivalents.

Final thoughts

All in though, being slightly heavier than the top of the line Looks with carbon blade and slightly lighter than the Zero Stainless pedals that they replaced, they tick all of the performance boxes. The R9100 Dura-Ace pedals are a piece of a classic Shimano kit – well-engineered, durable, and reasonably, but not-over-the-top light. These are something you put on your bike and basically forget are there.

They do their job, do it well, and we haven’t really had to touch them since. We have just opened them up now for an easy winter service and some fresh grease. They were still spinning smoothly and the grease inside wasn’t really contaminated. That took a little care with the tiny loose ball bearings on the spindle, but was a fairly painless job that has them ready for another season of road riding.

Bike.Shimano.com

37 COMMENTS

      • Bob, some big online retailers are able to get an OEM/builder account from Shimano so they can buy at lower prices. At that point they sell them for about what bike shops can purchase them for directly from Shimano. Normal MSRP would give shops a decent margin but they are essentially forced to not carry or sell a lot of Shimano parts because everyone wants them for cost.

        • I understand the pricing issues that shimano presents but you did not answer why i should pay almost 50% more just to buy it from a shop. What value does the consumer get.

          • The same value a consumer gets buying anything from a retail store. Do you complain about buying food from a grocery store because you’re not getting it at cost? Why are you even commenting about this when you’re going to buy everything online regardless of the answer?

            • Do you pay 50% more for your groceries at a non-chain grocery store. would you drive farther to a mom and pop gas station to pay 50% more for your gas?

              • That analogy isn’t exactly applicable since both have overhead costs. The point is that a shop has higher overhead than online. You’re paying for the ability to look at what you’re purchasing beforehand and possibly picking it up immediately. Agreed, for parts that you don’t need to try on/out theres no need to buy at retail. For fitted items – clothes/helmets/shoes/bikes, most people would like to see it in person. If someone was going in to buy new shoes and pedals, it would be nice of them to pick it all up at once. But its not like shops are stocking DA pedals since people like you and me are going to buy them online. Most people going in to buy pedals are probably buying cheaper ones since they might not know what they need. There’s less of a price difference online vs retail so its not as big a problem.

          • The benefit you get is supporting a local business, specifically one that will provide service and advice that Amazon or whatever won’t. For pedals, at the very least you should get advice on how to install it on the bike, attach the cleat to the shoe, etc. for “free”, if not actually getting all hardware installed at the shop.

            Sure, YouTube exists, but at your LBS the conversation is tailored to you and you can get questions answered in a way a video might not offer. Then, if the product should break, you can get warranty help that might not be available otherwise.

            • So you voluntarily pay extra for your purchases at a LBS? if a little good then even more is great right.

              What is the positive externality of buying nothing because the price it too high? Is there not positive externality from the consumer having additional purchasing power?

              Google “Price Floor Effect” What is the PE of $0

            • Look, this isn’t EconRumor so no one is really interested in digging into this with you. Suffice to say that economics has a large philosophical component and your personal philosophy doesn’t seem to incorporate your local community. To each his own.

              • Money you overspend at a shop for parts is money you don’t spend on a cause or at another shop, local or otherwise. Supporting community isn’t as simple as making voluntary item price-based donations to your local shops.

            • In the positive externality case, it would make more sense to buy them cheap online, then go hand the bike shop cash to make up the difference. Which would be weird, wouldn’t it, because you’re not buying $120 worth of service when you buy pedals… which is why the internet is awesome. Pay the shop for the service you want when you want it, and don’t when you don’t.

            • I looked up “positive externality” and it was an interesting read. I then looked up the # of bike shops in the USA. Seems that the NBDA data shows 6195 bike shops in 2000 and 3790 in 2015. At the current rate, odds are better than good that your local shop will gone by 2025. That said, this is the time to act if you enjoy your LBS. Some, (not all) bike shops act as a community hub, offer clinics, promote trail building and get kids on bikes.

        • Questions:

          How does Shimano’s distribution work in the US? Is Shimano USA owned by Shimano Japan?

          Any bike shop in the US, do they have to purchase from Shimano USA?

          What about large distributors like QBP, do they buy directly from Japan or through Shimano USA?

          Seems odd that you can buy a part in Ireland and ship it across the Atlantic for free, and they make a profit and you save a pile of cash.

          Nice pedals.

          • You have to buy Shimano pedals directly through Shimano; QBP, J and B, Hawley, don’t have their pedals, but you can get other Shimano components through standard distribution. I don’t recall if pedals are on Dexter (Trek).

            I work at a shop and occasionally buy my Shimano stuff through Chain reaction or Merlin, occasionally our cost on Shimano is higher than online discounters.

            You see, a bike manufacturer buys 10000 XT drivetrains, because Shimano offers a huge quantity discount, but said manufacturer only builds 7000 bikes for that model year and ends up with 3000 kits. Since next year’s XT is always new and improved, the manufacturer has to buy new stock for next year’s bikes, so they sell their 3000 kits at some deep discount to Chain Reaction or Merlin or whoever, who, because of low overhead can afford to take a small 10-15% margin and turn over the 3000 kits as fast as possible. Since you and I don’t care about the latest greatest, we’re happy to have 2016 XT because the incremental improvements don’t matter enough, and we’re not trying to sell bikes. I’m assuming that taking a small bath on new items that aren’t last year’s stock, like pedals is just a way to make sure you’re returning to their sites and continuing to buy.

  1. It’s true Competitive is basically selling them at cost for a bike shop which sucks for shops.

    Getting rid of the replaceable plate also sucks. When my 9000s wore out, I found out that Shimano wasn’t even selling them as replacement parts – they were the only part that wore out – for me around 35k miles. The 7900 plates that they used to sell were drilled slightly differently. I like the 9100s but I feel like I was forced to buy them.

  2. Now that they make 105 pedals and even a trim line lower out of carbon, why spend the extra money for Dura Ace? Ever so slightly better bearings?

  3. people above may gripe, but the list of gripes is shorter than with ANY other pedal. These are the gold standard, never fail pedal. And my cleats last a year before getting chucked.

      • My experience with people saying speedplay pedal last forever is that those people don’t replace their cleats often enough. They develop side to side rotational play way before they ‘need’ to be replaced and the bearings are non replaceable and not as durable as shimano

      • Damn my speedplays are going strong at 16k but I’ve got to replace cleats every 5000 miles at 60-70 bucks a pop they’re basically what r8000 pedals cost online. I’m not going another year spending $120-140 on cleats just for dual sided engagement; anyone else make the transition to Shimano from Speedplay? How hard was it getting used to the single sided nature of the pedals.

  4. The above pricing argument is a bit misunderstood. The beef with Shimano is that the online stores are somehow getting OEM pricing which must be significantly less that what bike shops can even get them for. The internet is here to stay, and shops are working to adapt, but that sram derailleur that cost the shop $50 and is sold for $75 online is still a profitable item for the shop to sell, even though the margins are less than in the past. The shimano part, however, is $50 to the shop and being sold for $40 online. So the problem I believe is that parts are getting out of Shimano Europe or Asia at lower prices than the north american distributor sells them to dealers for. They constantly pretend like this isn’t an issue so they must be unable or unwilling to address it. It really seems like this would hurt Shimano NA a good bit. So a bike shop is unlikely marking a pair of pedals up $120 and expecting you to suck it up.
    It may just be a symptom of Shimano feeling the heat from more companies competing, although any bike under $1200 is likely to have a bunch of Shimano parts and the road bike market seems to still be dominated by them. MTB not so much.

  5. Amazon, Ebay, Wiggle and so on have never carried a rake 3 miles into the trail system on a Saturday morning to keep your trails well maintained. They have never loaned you a tube in the woods, pulled you into a headwind, adjusted your rear brake in the parking lot at the group ride, handed you a bottle at your race, given “free” advice about your possibly bent hanger, helped your wife pick out the perfect Christmas gift, known that you over use your rear brake because the pads wear too fast, reminded you to change your cleats or the hundreds of other things that great shops do. Great shops are the glue that holds the whole community together. Much of that happens in ways that are not easily seen. I have never seen a great cycling community in an area without shops. Many people appreciate that and more importantly find real value in it. You dont pay more for the same thing at a shop…you pay more because you get more. There is far more involved in your cycling than the products.

  6. I find DA spd-sl’s a very good pedal due to its width, it’s simplicity over Speedplay and entry + are very small. SP is very labour intensive. Btw look Keos blade is too hard on the back plate, develop wear at the front of the pedal, and I got a tiny stone stuck under the carbon blade and the pedal body ;/. So I just like the spd-sl pedals over any other now.

  7. I buy components from wherever is cheapest. I use my local bike shop for repairs etc…..thus contributing to my local economy. Best of both worlds!!

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