Shimano A520 pedals – review

These pedals have:

  • been pedalled thousands of miles
  • clipped in and of umpteen times
  • allow my foot to unexpectedly spring out a few times
  • caused me to fall off only once

and because of that, I think they are fine.


These were my very first foray into the scary world of clipless pedals and, to be honest, I was already content with my existing toe clip pedals.  It was the lack of easily available and reasonably priced cycling shoes that pushed me in the SPD direction.  It wasn’t difficult to learn how the Shimano SPD route was an easy one to follow as there was a good range of pedals and shoes stocked by many bike shops.  At the time I just wasn’t in the mood for anything too exclusive or aloof looking.

These are from a fairly limited range of Shimano touring SPD type pedals; there are a few others around but not a huge choice.  If you extend the range to include MTB type pedals, you then have about 14 with prices from under £20 to approaching £100 for the rather posh XTR version.  All of the MTB versions are double sided.  Some of the trekking,  commuting or utility versions are designed so they can be comfortably used with ordinary shoes without any cleats – handy for riding down to the shops etc.

The actual “touring” pedals are a choice of just three.  The others in the range are the slightly more expensive with the Shimano A530 (at about £44) and these are better when ridden with ordinary shoes.  The Shimano A600 is pitched at Ultegra level and resemble the more economical A520 but cost around £70 and are about 32 grammes lighter and have bearings which are of a higher quality.  All of these pedals are compatible with the multi direction SH51 cleat.

As far as my pedals are concerned, the A520s have worked very well.  Having covered thousands of miles with no maintenance, they are still smooth running although one is developing a little loose play (not that you’d notice when pedalling).  Clipping in took a bit of practice and determination to start off with.  Judging from other reviews and feedback, I am not alone with this view.  If ever you find yourself in this position, it is worth making sure the small adjustment allen key bolt is turned all the way to the minus mark (-).  They are slightly weighted so the back hangs down; therefore making it easier to flip the pedal forward and clicking the shoe in.

It really is worth setting aside time to make sure the position of the cleats is exactly right. Whatever you may have heard or read, it is good old fashioned trial-and-error experimenting and I’ll blog about that another time.

Now the pedals and cleats are wearing, I have the need to tension the allen key bolt and tension spring a little.  This is because the cleat has popped out when I’ve been pulling up, rather than pushing down.  This is no big deal and precisely what the tensioing spring mechanism is for.

The downside to these pedals could also be argued as part of the simple appeal.  Being single sided brings limitations which is compounded by making the underside surface unsuitably for using ordinary shoes (save the shortest of journeys).

By way of conclusion, these are generally good, economical, fairly durable, good looking and worthwhile.  I like their simple look and uncomplicated clean line.   I would happily either buy these again or maybe try out the A600 to see if they are twice as good (as they cost twice as much).


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3 Responses to Shimano A520 pedals – review

  1. Joe says:

    The SH-51 is not a multi release, that’s the SH-56.

    This is because the cleat has popped out when I’ve been pulling up, rather than pushing down. This is no big deal and precisely what the tensioing spring mechanism is for.

    The tension spring controls clip in force required, not release tension.

  2. Joe says:

    Also, have you had to service them yet?

  3. doug says:

    Hi Joe,
    Many thanks for your welcome comments. Happily these pedals haven’t been serviced as yet. One has a tiny amount of play and they are both as smooth as the day I got them – remarkable as they must on 15,000 miles by now.

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