"A high-value, low-maintenance workhorse pedal for riding and racing".
There are a few great things about Shimano SPD-SL pedals. They're dependable. They require virtually no maintenance. The wide platform gives a sure-footed connection to your bike. You have three choices of cleats for float options (fixed, one-degree and six-degree). Tension is easily adjustable. And, perhaps best of all, they're not fussy – you can put a foot down in mud or snow, then kick your foot on the pedal a couple of times, clip in and go.
Highs: Long track record of dependable design, wide platform, adjustable tension, three cleat/float options, virtually no maintenance
Lows: Takes a month or so for pedal to break in so that rear drops down for easy entry
Buy if: You want a dependable SPD-SL pedal that will last and last — without paying for Dura-Ace
The latest Ultegra iteration, the SPD-SL 6800, features a composite carbon body that spins on two sets of bearings around a stainless steel spindle. The stainless steel contact plate is replaceable, but good luck wearing that thing out.
Ultegra is often referred to as being almost as good as the top-end Dura-Ace, just a bit heavier – and a whole lot cheaper. The SPD-SL 6800 exemplifies this theory.
Once clipped in, there is really no way to differentiate an Ultegra pedal from a Dura-Ace model. On a scale you can discern a difference: we weighed an Ultegra at 129g and a Dura-Ace at 124g.
And, somewhat annoyingly, you can tell a difference in the first few rides before you clip in: our Ultegra pedals wouldn't drop down at the back for easy entry until the seals loosened up after a few dozens rides. This often meant looking down and pawing at the pedal to get it into position before stepping in.