My mountain bike came with a pair of those cheap shop-fitted pedals, the kind they fit just so that you can use the bike and quite honestly expect you to throw away within a week; I used these for over a year, I struggled with them as they were one-sided and often rested with the wrong side up, so I ended up trying to pedal on the pedal axle rather than the platform. Eventually, after doing some research and umming and arring, I decided to buy a decent pair of pedals.
For a long time I looked at the Superstar Nano-x with Titanium axles in black, they received good reviews and looked to fit the bill for my strong, light-weight ideal requirements, however I decided against them for two reasons – one was the cost, at £85 for the pair it felt like quite a price for something I wasn’t sure about yet, second reason was nobody seemed to have heard of Superstar Components, meaning that I might have difficulty finding spares (or have to pay through the nose for them).
I decided to play it safe and go for the market leader – Shimano – selecting the Saint MX80 as a good solid looking pedal that seemed to be in every bike shop. I heard people saying there were problems with them but so far I haven’t experienced any, at the same time the Shimano pedals all have a reputation for being completely serviceable, with cheap and readily available spares and bullet-proof reliability through thick and thin.
I’ve had the pedals on for the winter and found no problems with them at all, they have helped my riding style and confidence enormously so I would recommend them to anyone; it’s easy to get hung up on what the in-crowd think you should be riding but at the end of the day if it works and I’m not in a race where every gramme of weight matters, it really doesn’t matter if they are 20g heavier than a pair that costs twice as much. I think with any product there will be people who have a bad experience, these are usually the voices that are heard the loudest when they leave reviews, there will be a lot more people who are perfectly happy who never leave a review.
I use Strava to keep a record of my efforts while out on my bikes, the time improvements with these pedals was staggering – no more looking down or trying to flip the pedal over to the flat side when I should have been concentrating on enjoying my ride and making the next turn.
When combined with Five Ten flat mtb shoes the Saints have turned out to be a great upgrade for me, I also discovered that there are orange pedal reflectors available which I added for winter riding on the road to and from the trails, a good road safety feature for those dull winter days or in case I find myself out after sunset.