When singing cowboy Gene Autry coined ‘Old Faithful’ – a song now more commonly associated with rugby league’s Hull FC – it was written about a horse. Rugby league fans from the west side of the River Hull then adopted it in tribute to inter-war points-scoring machine Joe Oliver. Should your local club run ever suddenly break into spontaneous song, they might well dedicate it to Shimano’s 105 pedals.
“Old Faithful, we’ll roam the range together; Old Faithful, in any kind of weather,” the song goes, and that’s the beauty of Shimano’s mid-range SPD-SL pedals. Trickle-down tech means the latest iteration of the 105 pedals offer top quality and reliability at a price that’s difficult to argue with. Racing, training, commuting – you won’t get very far without pedals, but with Shimano’s 105 SPD-SL 5800 you’re well set for whatever riding you wish to take on.
Are they the best pedals out there? Well no, they only sit third in Shimano’s pedal line-up for starters, but relative to cost they deliver superb bang for your buck. The 5800-series pedals, launched in 2014/15 with the slick reimagining of Shimano’s third-tier 105 groupset, really stepped things up from what was already a value-for-money hotspot.
Out went the aluminium pedal body in favour of carbon, with a steel contact plate, and consequently down went the weight. The current iteration of Shimano’s 105 pedals tip the scales at 276g, whereas the latest second-tier Ultegra pedals weigh in at 259g and the new Dura-Ace pedals – introduced as part of the overhaul of Shimano’s flagship groupset earlier this year – are just 228g per pair, as a result of using more carbon.
But really we’re talking marginal gains and you have to pay for that lower weight: £40 more for Ultegra and nearly £100 more for Dura-Ace. Dedicated weight weenies might be happy to shell out – and would also be inclined to look at Speedplay’s Zero pedals or Time’s Xpresso line-up – but the 105 pedals all but match those more expensive offerings.
The aforementioned trickle-down tech means you still get a rigid pedal, with a wide, secure berth for your cleats and that satisfying snap when you clip in or out. The 105s even look near-identical aesthetically – with the uniformity of Shimano’s pedal system range one of its major attractions.
We picked the Shimano 105 SPD-SL 5800 pedals in last year’s RCUK 100, and when it comes to value for money you’re still going to be hard pushed to find better. Shop around a bit and, having been around for a couple of years now, you’ll find them for even more affordable prices too.
Sure, they may not be the lightest or flashiest in the Shimano range, but if you’re after a very solid, reliable and affordable set of pedals, 105 will serve you well. The Old Faithful of the pedal world.
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