Which clip-in shoes and pedals for DH/AM?

hey lee,
quick question– i’m going to try to do clipless this year in time for sea otter and need to buy the setup. For shoes i am between the shimano DX, adidas hematoma, and specialized hybrid DH/AM shoe (forget what its called, around 200 bux). For pedals — mallet C’s, Times, or shimano DX. Any reccomendations as to what you have had good luck with? BTW I will be using them for DS/4X on a 07 yeti DJ and for DH on my demo, so all arounders would be great.
Thanks Lee,

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Hey Baxter,

There are no bad choices here.


Those are all great shoes. In order of price:

Shimano DX – $85 – I’ve had an older model for at least six years. I raced in them for a couple seasons, and now they’re spares. They work fine, and they’re still pretty much like new. A great value.

Adidas Hematoma – $130 – I’ve never worn ’em, but many riders love ’em.

Specialized BG Trail SL – $200 – These shoes are extraordinary. They’re light, efficient for pedaling and very good for walking. The 3/4 cuff protects your ankle bones for DH action. I tested a pair of prototypes here in Colorado. After a season of pushing my Demo up this mountain, the soles were toast, but the production sole is much tougher. This is more shoe than the DX in every way except the number of elementary particles (aka weight). You get more protection AND better pedaling.

Surprise: The more you spend, the more you get. You can’t go wrong here. It’s all about budget.


Again, these are all great pedals. I’ve only run Shimanos, but I’ve been exposed to the others.

Shimano – The original and still very good. I’ve been running SPDs since they came out. I only have problems in sticky mud and ice.

Crank Bros – These are much more open than the Shimanos, and they work better in muck. Compared with Shimano, I’m told they’re easier to get out of, but they can be tricky to get into. Major snafu: If you hit the underside of your pedal on a rock, you sometimes come unclipped.

Time – I’ve only heard good things. They’re open like the Crank Bros, but I’ve never heard a single complaint. My man Lars at Trail Head Cyclery swears by ’em, as does pro DHer Steve Wentz.

I run Shimanos because they work and because I have a bunch of them. If I were going to start over I’d probably try Times.

What do your buddies run? Swap-ability is a good thing.

Simon says BRAAAP,

— Lee

4 replies
  1. Mark says:

    I have raced DH two years with Shimano and two years with Time. The only difference I have noticed is that with shimano you need to “think” about clipping in…what I mean by this is you have to make sure to put that pointy tip into the clip before you press your heel down. With Time, you just step on your pedal and your set. Another advantage of Time over Shimano pedals is that I have found Time gives a better platform for just a regular shoe if you do not have your clip shoes with you. However, both are great products, but out of the two I would go with Time.

  2. Chris says:

    I agree with Lee on the mud capabilities with Shimano, or lack there of. I rode Dakota Ridge yesterday and had to do some hikin around and in some mud. Well lets just say i had a few of those clipless pedal experiences. I ride DX pedals, but never in the mud again!

  3. vapor says:

    Apples to apples:

    The “DX” is now “M…” Shimano has two pedal designs that use the same cleat. For DH clip in the “M 647” is their newer design that clears mud as well as anything else on the market. “M545” and “M424” are the original shimano design that clears mud kinda ok some of the time. Shimano is super durable and only needs maintenance if you are bored and into such things. They have adjustable tension, but most people run em tight. They release accidentally sometimes even full tight, and more often if run loose, but easier to clip in if loose. If you are finicky, Shimano feels a little notchy and metallic, not super smooth, and it gets a bit worse with lots of use. Obviously most people don’t notice this or their pedals wouldn’t be so popular.

    Time is possibly the most durable, requires no maintenance, is easy to clip into/out of, never accidentally releases, and weighs a bit less than Shimano. We’re talking about the Z series downhill clip in here. For the finicky- time is supposed to have your shoe sole rest on the pedal. Shimano shoes are always good for this while other brands vary. Eventually time pedals wear into the sole plate of the shoe, but this is not generally a problem. Time gives a really smooth, organic, and solid connection. Lube the rubber seal and they won’t squeak.

    Crank Brothers entered the market in XC with a pedal that mimicked time but weighed way less. The only difference was durability. Time has met the challenge by using new materials in their newer XC pedals. As far as DH clip ins, the mallet series, Crank bros is lighter ONLY if you go for the magnesium version. The mallets can release if something hits the bottom (time does not have this issue). Durability can vary, but they are happy to sell you the spare parts;).

    Good luck! It really doesn’t matter too much what you go with unless you want a pair for each of a few bikes. At that point you might as well have the ones YOU like best.


  4. Fritz says:

    Shimano has a new MTB shoe, the AM 50.
    It is light and protective and stiff and I hope they catch on so I don’t have to rathole 3 pairs for the future. They make the Hematomas look silly because of their inherent weight. I had the Addidas one step lighter/less protective than the Hematomas and the new Shimanos blow them away in efficiency and comfort.

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