Having been forced into changing pedals again due to the failure of the bearings in the Shimano pedals after very few miles, I decided to go with Look pedals instead.
These take the same SPD cleats, although I did find the Look ones more positive in their engagement, but that might have been because they were single direction extraction rather than multi-direction extraction of the Shimano ones.
Being two sided you cannot fail to find the clip-in, usually in a matter of seconds, and this is a real confidence booster to a new clipless devotee like myself.
These also give a decent surface area to reduce the chance of hotspots, although they were designed for off-road/mountain biking/trail riding more than road use. This type of pedal is justly popular with commuters, where clipping in and out will happen regularly within a town or city.
Weight for weight, there is very little between them and their Shimano equivalent and I went for the cheapest version of the Look X-track as I’m not fussed about a few grams here and there. They are heavier than single siders, and they are heavier than road pedals. The cleats are also recessed when using a touring/commuting/mountain bike style shoe, which will also have the added benefit of giving you a proper area of proper sole unit to actually walk on. You also don’t walk like a duck as you do in the road shoes.
I used them with my existing shoes although I did change the cleats from this picture, I’m showing you my shoes before they got covered in cack.
As you can see, the cleat is recessed which makes it wear less as it’s not in so much contact with the ground, and you also gain sole to ground cover when walking as I said above. The disadvantage of these, over the road shoe, is overall weight, if that’s important to you, and they do look a bit more clunky. It is possible to get issues with hot-spots on the feet due to the reduced contact with the pedals over longer distances, although if the shoe sole is stiff enough this will counteract it to a degree. I had no issues on either my 50mile or 30mile rides recently, and it was a nice temperature on both occasions which could have added to the possibility of issues as my feet got hot and swelled a little.
I found that clipping in and going up a hill is quite a revelation, and I wouldn’t go back to flat pedals on my road bike. On my Brompton, which has folding pedals and it’s used for different types of trips I wear 5:10 shoes for added grip, usually, although I have worn my normal work shoes and Converse canvas shoes.
I found the Look pedals appeared to be far better quality of engineering and build, and far classier to look at then the Shimano equivalents, and for the same sort of money. I also found the clip in was, in my opinion, more positive but the retraction back out was no more difficult as a result. All in all, even without the leaking grease issues, I prefer the Look pedals to the Shimano in terms of both looks and performance.