Shimano M520 VS M540 – Which Mountain Bike Pedals Reign Supreme

Are you tired of losing grip on the pedals during an intense mountain biking adventure? Look no further than the Shimano M520 and M540 pedals – but which can truly make you the king of the mountain?

In this article, you’ll find brief and detailed explanations of the key differences between the two, so you can make the right decision based on your riding style. 

Now, let’s dive in and look at the Shimano M520 VS M540 showdown.

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Shimano M520: A Quick Rundown Of The Details

Shimano M520 VS M540 - Which Mountain Bike Pedals Reign Supreme

The Shimano M520 is a popular mountain bike pedal known for its affordability.

Its reliable and mud-shedding design makes it an ideal choice for riders constantly encountering muddy trails.

This pedal suits mountain bike riders who want a reliable and durable clipless pedal for off-road riding.

The M520’s cartridge spindle and sealed bearing system help keep the pedals running efficiently over time, and the open binding mechanism allows for easy entry and exit of your shoe. 

Shimano M540: A Quick Rundown Of The Details

The Shimano M540 is a high-performance mountain bike pedal that builds on the success of the M520. Its robust and durable design can handle aggressive riding styles and challenging terrain. 

It’s ideal for aggressive mountain bikers who demand the swish in durability,  responsibility, and performance.

While it may be slightly more pricey than the M520, its added features and performance make it a worthwhile investment for serious riders.

Quick Comparison Table:

Before we dive in deep, here’s a brief overview of the main differences between these two pedals.

Shimano M520
Shimano M540
Narrow pedal platform.
Wide pedal platform.
Release Tension
Requires less power to take off the foot from the pedal.
More power required compared to the 520.
Pedal Weight
Compatible with SPD.
Compatible with SPD.
Pedal Float
4 °.
5 °.

Shimano M520 Vs M540: Features Analyzed

Here’s a detailed comparison between the two popular pedals from Shimano that’ll help you decide which one to go for.


Winner: Shimano M540

The Shimano M520 and M540 pedals have a similar design with an open binding mechanism. However, the M540 has a slightly wider pedal platform (3mm wider) than the M520. 

The M540’s wider pedal platform can provide better stability, support, and comfort during long rides, making it a better choice for riders who prioritize these factors. 

Additionally, the wider pedal platform can help reduce hotspots and improve overall comfort during long rides, making it a superior choice for endurance riders.

Release Tension 

Winner: Tie (Depends on the rider.)

The M540 has a higher release tension than the M520, requiring more power to withdraw the foot from the pedal. 

For more experienced riders who prefer a firmer pedal hold, the M540’s higher release tension can provide a more reliable grip on the pedal, making it a better choice for these riders.

However, if you’re a novice rider,  the M520 is a better choice as the M540’s higher release tension can make it challenging to quickly disengage from the pedal in important situations.


Winner: Shimano M40

The Shimano M520 pedals are durable and are commonly used by both beginner and experienced riders. Like the M540, they have a solid construction and can withstand everyday use.

However, the M520 has a slightly less robust axle, which means that it may be more prone to damage from water and dirt compared to the M540. This makes the M540 a better choice for riders who often ride in harsh conditions or put their pedals through heavy use, as it has a stronger axle.

That being said, the M520 is still a very reliable pedal that can provide many years of use, particularly for riders who stick to dry and relatively clean riding conditions.


Winner: Tie

The two pedals are viable with Shimano’s SPD (Shimano Pedalling Dynamics) fitting framework, generally utilized by mountain bikers and cyclocross riders. 

In terms of compatibility, both pedals are equally good as they are compatible with Shimano’s widely used SPD fitting system. So there’s no objectively better choice in this factor. You’ll be okay with either pick.

Key Takeaways

Shimano M520:

  • More affordable price point.
  • Adjustable release tension.
  • Easier handling.

Shimano M540:

  • Slightly lighter weight.
  • Better bearings for smoother pedal strokes.
  • Wider platform for more stability and support.

Shimano M520 VS M540: Which One is Right for You?

When deciding between Shimano’s M520 and M540 pedals, consider your riding experience and needs.

For beginners or those on a budget, the M520 is a dependable choice with an affordable price tag. Its sturdy build and adjustable release tension make it a versatile pick for various terrains and riding styles.

Experienced riders might be better off with the M540 for its added features, such as a lighter weight and improved bearings, resulting in a smoother and more efficient pedal stroke. 

Additionally, the wider platform offers greater stability for more aggressive riding, making it a popular choice among mountain bikers and cyclocross racers.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Shimano M520 and M540 pedals are both excellent for clipless mountain bike pedals. 

While the M540 offers some upgrades over the M520, such as a slightly lighter weight and better bearings, the latter is still a reliable and durable option at a more affordable price point.

Remember, choosing the right pedals is just as important as choosing the right bike, so it’s worth finding the perfect fit for your needs. Whether you’re a casual weekend rider or a competitive racer, the Shimano M520 and M540 pedals are versatile options that can take your riding experience to the next level. 

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy the ride!


Does the M520 come with cleats?

Yes. They usually come with a set of SH51 SPD cleats.

How much do the Shimano M520 cleats weigh?

A pair of Shimano SH51 SPD cleats, which the M520 uses,  weighs approximately 52g.

How much does the Shimano M540 weigh?

The Shimano M540 is a clipless mountain bike pedal that weighs approximately 352g a pair.

Can I use both Shimano M520 and M540 pedals for road cycling?

Yes, the Shimano M520 and M540 pedals can be used for road cycling and mountain biking. 

While they are more commonly used for off-road riding, they can also be suitable for road cycling, especially if you prefer clipless pedals’ convenience and performance benefits.

Can I use the Shimano M520 and M540 pedals for cyclocross racing?

Yes, both the Shimano M520 and M540 pedals are suitable for cyclocross racing. 

These pedals offer many advantages for cyclocross racers, including durability, easy engagement and disengagement, and adjustable release tension.

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