I bought the very first SPD pedals, and shoes, you had to buy both, as SPD was so new, there was only Shimano’s single model shoe you could use with them. I had been using toe straps on aluminum cage pedals just like everyone else. I was also fairly new to MTB, this being the very first years of the 1990’s. Every single part of the MTBs of the day was in a constant state of change. Every time I visited the high end bike shop near me, there would be a new collection of stuff in the glass case that made my credit card cry. I ran up a lot of debt that took years to finally pay off – all because of companies creating exciting bike parts I had to have.

Here we are, 33 years later, and I’m still running Shimano SPD pedals on all my bikes. But that is about to change I think.
But why? And have I been missing out on lighter and cooler pedals? I often look to the world cup pro bikes to see what they use, as some get to choose a few custom components not from sponsors. When I finally went to a modern World Cup race back in 2019, the race in West Virginia, I immediately ran to the pits on the saturday before the XCO race. And what struck me quickly was how FEW spd pedals were in use. Aside from the fully Shimano sponsored teams, the big teams, virtually none of the others used SPD pedals. I saw HT pedals all over the place.
Recently when I noticed many Sram sponsored racers using the new Time pedals, and a bunch more using Look pedals, there are even more pro level athletes not using SPD pedals.
I never used Crank Bros. pedals, but one brand that has always piqued my interest is Xpedo. They have been around a very, very long time, but I don’t see them in person. They used to also have a great variety of shoes as well, but it seems those are no longer being offered. I want to try something new, and these other brands all seem to have something just for us XC racers. Light, strong, and minimal designs are the norm now.
HT and Xpedo probably make OEM pedals for others I’d imagine. I don’t know this to be true, but companies like these often do just that, which means they probably know what they are doing.
So which brand should I try? I need another set for a project bike I’m working on. My goal is to use as many “new to me” products as I can. I’m a creature of habit I must admit.
Next time you are looking for gravel and XC type pedals, I guess the obvious Shimano SPD and Crank Bros. are no longer all you need. Xpedo, HT, Look, Time? Welcome to the party!