Dirt Rag Magazine

Review: Shimano pedals and more

We test some gloves, some pedals and some tires in this article!

By Dirt Rag Staff

Shimano PD-M858 Pedal
Shimano pedals. A boring topic, right-can’t knock what works. Well, it’s not like Shimano to rest on its laurels so they’ve come up with still another pedal to add to your stable.

The M858 pedals have a cold forged aluminum alloy body with a chromoly sealed cartridge axle. Interesting features include a low profile design, 3 degrees +/- rotation in each direction and a cleat tension indicator. But let’s dig deeper, shall we.

The box says "Compact design." That would be true. They’re small, yet functional. I didn’t experience any trouble getting into them even though they are smaller than some other pedals out there and they have no top plate (if you compare the old style to new you’ll discover what a top plate is). I’ve experienced some pedals that were even more compact, but again never had much trouble in that department. Folks with big feet might want to beware.

The box says "Mud Shedding." That would be somewhat true. They shed mud better than past Shimano pedals I’ve used. And they didn’t give me trouble engaging or disengaging while riding in mud. But I can’t attribute that to its mud "shedding" ability as much as to its open design. The mud still gets in there (and it’s still there when I’m washing off the bike at the end of the ride) but the open design affords extra space to allow your cleat to enter and exit.

The box says "Use only SM-SH52 (Shimano cleats). That would be definitely false…but in a good way. I used whatever cleats happened to be in my myriad of shoes. Oh, and don’t tell me all long-time mountain bikers don’t have a myriad of shoes – oldest, newest, cold weather, really crummy muddy days, racing – I’ll stop there. Never had a problem getting in or getting out no matter what. However, Shimano says these 52 cleats are needed to achieve proper engagement and release and even that some cleats like the 51 and 55 may not disengage as well as could be.

The box says "Easy maintenance cartridge axle." That would be up for debate considering that the instruction sheet says "If you experience any trouble with the rotating parts of the pedal, the pedal may require adjustment. Obtain advice from a professional dealer."

The cleat adjustment indicator is nothing more than a little space with a moving part that (get this) indicates how much tension you have dialed into your pedal. Right now the indicator space happens to be filled with mud so I can’t read it, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s an added touch and some folks like that.

These 858s have a high sticker price being that they’re Shimano’s top of the line right now. Do you need them? Ask yourself a few questions: Do I ride in mud regularly? Do I have trouble adjusting pedal tension? Do I need the latest design from Shimano?
Retail: $160
Weight 371 grams per pair. (For comparo sake the 747s weigh 393 grams per pair.)
Contact: Shimano American Corp., 1 Holland Drive, Irvine, CA 92618; 949.470.4290; www.shimano.com. – Elaine

Bontrager Jones Tires 2.0 & 2.1
I tested a set of Bontrager Jones 2.0 & 2.1 Kevlar beaded tires here in the good ol’ dry crumbled granite of Arizona. As for their tread pattern, they are both the small square knobby style, which gives excellent traction on rain packed granite, mud, sand and hard, rough surfaces. However, if you are attempting to climb that hard slick boulder on an incline, let me say with my weight of 195 lbs., I slip and slide. Get that same rock wet and forget it, you’re dead or just one lucky rider.

Also let me point out that the harshness of the AZ heat and desert trails test the durability of any tire, and this set of tires has held up well under my weight and style. My rating of the tires performance for traction 8/5 dry/wet, comfort 9, wear ability 9. I like ‘em and would buy ‘em for what my opinion is worth. The suggested retail is around $42.
Contact: Bontrager, 801 West Madison Street, Waterloo, WI 53594; 920.478.4670. – Armand Powell

AXO Cycling Defender Gloves
Whether you are bashing gates on a dual slalom course, dodging rocks on the downhill circuit or "just riding along" on aggressive cross country rides, the Defender gloves offer up serious protection.

Features? You want features? These babies have more going on than you can shake a finger at, not that you would do that sort of thing. Let’s start with the backing, which is made of super thick 8mm EVA foam and pliable rubber for gate crashing confidence. The palm is further supported by some comfy padding at the base of the wrist. The rest of the palm is constructed of Clarino leather, a synthetic material that can withstand machine washing and is also breathable. Vent holes cut into the palm and fingers help to make the Defender glove breathable, too. In fact, I have been wearing them with temps in the 80’s, and they don’t seem uncomfortably hot or stuffy. There is a small area of terry cloth on the back of the thumb area for sweat wipeage.

I like having the extra padding, even if I never set foot onto a downhill or slalom course. The extra confidence you get from having good protection on your extremities translates into extra speed for me. Kinda nice how that works out, don’t ya think?

The Defender glove comes attractively packaged in women’s sizes small through large and men’s sizes double extra small through double extra large. Don’t know your glove size? No worries, just refer to the sizing chart on the back of the package. The Defender retails for $49.99 and comes in yellow or blue, both with black detailing.
Contact: AXO Cycling, 28307 Industry Drive, Valencia, CA 91355; 661.257.2756; www.axocycling.com. – Chris Cosby

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