NOBL Perspective: Saint Pedal Mods
The Logic Behind This Mod
After riding so many variations of Shimano’s venerable SPD pedals over the years, I’ve wondered why they don’t make something with a wide platform at a reasonable weight.
Their XC pedals are nice and light but I find their platforms to be quite small. If you run shoes with very stiff soles you probably won’t notice a disadvantage in power transfer for XC/Gravel. However, my feet get pretty sore doing longer rides with stiff shoes, so stepping up to a trail pedal starts to make sense.
The trail pedals have a bit more contact area and they have a protective cage. If you get unclipped the trail pedals offer a bit more support, but you’ll find your feet can still slip around because there are no pins.
If you’ve ever tried Shimano Saint SPD pedals, you’d quickly realize that they feel dramatically more secure than any other SPD pedal, largely due to the massive contact area with your shoes. They also have pins on the cage which will help you stay in control when unclipped, which is important for enduro and DH racing. The knock is the extra weight of the Saint pedals is significant, and it’s enough to turn many riders off.
So what’s the solution? Beer + Hacksaw should do the trick!
I decided to trim the wings off my Shimano Saint PD-M810 pedals to retain the benefits of the pedal/shoe contact area and lose weight, and I’m okay with missing out on the relatively small advantages the outer platform provides. Cutting down the pedals was fairly easy. I just clamped them in a vice and cut them with a hacksaw. I left enough material so as to not cut into the cylindrical holes that allow some bolts to pass through by mistake. To help reduce corrosion, I used a flat file to make the cuts smooth, and then used sandpaper to eliminate any rough spots.
Rather than swapping pedals back and forth to draw a comparison, I rode the bike with an unmolested version on one side. The difference in feel was nearly undetectable which reinforced my belief that the outer cage doesn’t really offer a benefit in the way the pedals feel unless you’re fully unclipped. I wasn’t using any cleat spacers and tried the setup with two different shoes from Specialized and a set of Giro Chambers. After a couple weeks running this setup I was convinced to take the plunge and modify the other pedal.
The Weight Changes
I removed 100 grams of weight from the pair of pedals, bringing them really close to the weight of the new XTR Trail pedals. That’s “mission accomplished” as far as I’m concerned!
No regrets thus far! For downcountry, trail, aggressive XC or whatever you want to call it, these might be the golden ticket. Enduro and DH riders will likely want the outer cage for a bit of added security, but for the rest of us mortals the somewhat awkward looking modified Saints simply feel better than any other SPD pedal I’ve been on (including VP’s lineup of SPD clones).
I’d be curious to see what measurable efficiencies are gained, because the power transfer and solid feeling you’ve got with this setup make me wonder if they’d even benefit XC riders despite the weight gain over true XC pedals. As would be the case with any manufacturer, I highly doubt Shimano would condone such a modification and it would void the warranty.
For XC and trail use, I can’t imagine I’ve degraded the durability of the pedals by a concerning amount. Naturally I’ll get some awkward looks, but that doesn’t make me feel like I’ve bastardized these pedals. I’ve brought Shimano’s best feeling SPD pedals into a more acceptable weight category without a significant downside for my intended use.