Barring some cosmetic differences, Shimano’s XT Trail pedal has changed very little since it was first introduced. Rather than having a proper platform, the XT Trail has protrusions at each end that do more to protect the mechanism than actually support the foot. In comparison to the cageless XT pedal, the Trail has greater real estate either side of the mechanism to provide better lateral support.
Even though the body and cage is the smallest here, it still feels supportive under foot, thanks in part to the stiff axle and wide stance. The forged aluminium body is as tough as old boots, and despite the sorts of pedal strikes that have you looking for aluminium shrapnel, they have survived relatively unscathed.
In fact, we would recommend the XT Trail if you happen to ride rock-strewn trails every day. Being Shimano, the clip mechanism utilizes the fixed front, sprung rear jaw approach to cleat retention. Release tension is adjustable, and easily accessible, using a 3mm hex key. It is also indexed, enabling you to accomplish even and reliable release, no matter which side you use.
Shimano’s steel cleat wears exceptionally well and provides a comfortable amount of float without feeling too vague. Engagement is accompanied with a crisp, precise snap. It’s not a pedal for riders wanting the added reassurance of a large grippy cage when unclipped, but for sheer reliability and unfussy performance, it’s a faithful companion.