Here’s a quick summary of pedals – namely the bottom-end of the market, Look Keo vs Shimano SPD-SL. Here’s a little something to summarise the features of either:
I am basing the cleats section on the default cleats supplied with the pedals, Keo’s come with grey cleats (4.5 degrees of rotation), and SPDs come with yellow cleats (6 degrees of rotation)
- Keo: Definitely lighter at < 300g (270-290 depending on model)
- SPD-SL: Heavier at around 325g
- Durability of body
- Keo: Plastic body does wear quickly, which can lead to instability. Keo Max has a steel plate built in to address this.
- SPD-SL: Aluminium body with steel plate built in, does not show noticeable wear even after >5000km
- Ease of clip in
- Keo: Free running bearings mean that the pedal can spin endlessly when trying to clip in, can be annoying. Rubber parts of cleat can get in the way when clipping in.
- SPD-SL: Pedal does not spin as freely as Keo, hence clipping in is very predictable.
- Except for the Keo easy (grey model), tension is adjustable in both models, but it doesn’t really make a difference when clipping in.
- Ease of clip out
- Keo: Clip out seems easier and smoother than Shimano, with a soft and predictable ‘edge’ – you can clip back in easily if you need to.
- Shimano: The clipping out action is solid which does place more strain on the ankles, and most of the time it is not easy to clip back in after clipping out momentarily.
- Spring tension does make a difference here, Lowest tension on Keo can result in accidental clip-outs, whereas shimano’s tension is much stronger even at lowest setting.
- Ease of walking with cleats
- Keo: Narrower design than Shimano, means that more balance is required. Grey (classic) models also have no rubber on cleat, gets very slippery
- Shimano: Wide cleat with rubber on 3 corners means excellent stability.
- Durability of cleats
- Keo: If the pedal is worn, cleat surface will wear irregularly. As rubber parts are in the path of clip in action, they do wear quickly and can fall off after many clip-in/outs.
- Shimano: Highly durable though rubber parts do wear out after a lot of walking, but are not worn by clipping in/out.
- Both pedals need a special tool for dismantling/servicing, which is needed in order to grease / overhaul pedal.
- Both pedals have pretty good sealing around the shaft/pedal interface.
My pick here is still Shimano SPD-SL’s. They last longer and are easier to walk in compared to the Look Keo’s. However, they are not as easy to clip out sometimes, but it can be reassuring to know that you are less likely to clip out by accident.