When it comes to general recreational and utility cycling there is a surprising lack of flat pedal options that combine high-quality bearings and a grip design that won’t tear apart your casual (or not so casual) shoes. It’s that latter element that effectively rules out almost anything made for mountain biking or BMX. Meanwhile, most recreational-type pedals lack a build quality conducive to long-term use.
While not a ground-breaking or game-changing product in any way, Shimano’s new PD-EF202 and EF205 pedals manage to fill a surprising void in the market. They’re Shimano’s answer to the casual lifestyle-type flat pedal for commuting, around town, and general recreational riding. The two models offer subtly different styles of pedal bodies for variances in grip, but both feature an overbuilt aluminium body mated with a cup-and-cone ball bearing system. The result is a simple pedal that can withstand regular use and that won’t carve a hole in your shins or jeans if your attention lapses. And better yet, they are each available in a choice of black, silver, red, blue, or gold.
The EF202 offers a more traditional open pedal body with subtle and smooth raised nubs for traction. Shimano recommends this one for use with its new range of flat pedal e-bike shoes or more sport-focused sneakers.
By comparison, the EF205 sees the raised metal grip notches replaced with plastic grip plates that fill the gaps of the alloy pedal body. With a flat surface to stomp on, Shimano suggests this model is for those wanting to wear casual sneakers and formal shoes. I also believe they’re well suited for use with Lachlan-Morton-approved sandals and barefoot riding (not that I condone this). In other words, the fully flat pedal surface is equally good for footwear lacking sole stiffness as it is for not chewing up those soles.
It’s the silver-coloured EF205 that I’ve had threaded into the cranks of my town e-bike for the past month. With no obvious traction pins or abrasive material, the grip simply can’t be compared to a mountain bike pedal, but I’ve still found it perfectly ample for around-town use. When wearing flat-treaded Nike sneakers I can still move my feet on the pedals when cruising, but the traction noticeably improves as you weight the pedals. That said, if I was constantly riding in the rain I’d want something with a pin-based grip.
The 96×95 mm pedal body gives plenty to stand on with more flexible shoes. Such a large pedal surface aids in traction but more importantly helps spread load across the shoe to make up for a lack of sole stiffness. And it’s with flexible or thin-soled shoes that a filled-in body design like the EF205 wins over. There’s no sense of feeling the shape, ridges, or pins of the pedal – it’s just comfort.
Shimano is known for creating extremely durable pedals, but it’s worth noting that the cup-and-cone bearing system used here isn’t as easy to adjust or maintain as what is found in many of Shimano’s SPD and SPD-SL pedals. Namely, to easily service these pedals you’ll likely need Shimano’s own pedal cone adjustment tool (Tl-PD300) which, for what’s effectively just a fancy socket, crazily costs more than the pedals themselves. Thankfully even if you don’t service them then the build quality and bearing sealing offered is still a big step up from almost every other comparable pedal I’ve seen in this category.
One other small annoyance is that while Shimano produces reflectors for these pedals, they’re strangely sold as a separate piece (SM-PD69). Given the target market for this product, I can’t help but feel these should just be included in the box. The counter to this argument is that those reflectors are nothing more than plastic waste if unused.
Look’s novel Geo City Grip pedals arguably sit as the most closely comparable option to these Shimano’s, but in my testing, the Shimano pedals manage even better traction underfoot and with a bearing system that feels a step above. I quite like those Look pedals, but they’re a hard thing to recommend after having tried these new Shimano offerings.
Price: PD-EF202: US$40 / AU$80; PD-EF205: US$45 / AU$80
Weight: PD-EF202: 503 g; PD-EF205: 587 g (weights are per pair)