Cylocross pedals - clogging in heavy mud

Hi, I wonder if anyone could help with some advice. The last couple of cyclocross races my pedals have got so clogged with mud i’ve been unable to clip in at all for the last few laps. I’m running shimano PD-MD520 spds. I’ve heard crank brothers egg beaters / candy are supposed to be better for mud clearing, has anyone had any luck with them? Or would the shimano xtr pedals be likely to perform any better? If anyone’s got any tips that would be great!

There are just certain conditions that will lead to this. Sometimes it’s unavoidable and everyone is dealing with the same issue. I have no experience with Crank Brothers, but I have heard on more than a few occasions that the egg-beaters are weak and eventually break. Sometimes it’s not that the pedal is clogged with mud, but your cleat and shoe are to blame.

I run the same pedals as you and when the mud is cold and thick and there is grass they clog. If the mud is warmer and it’s looser they are fine. Many pro’s run Shimano SPDs. You could look into Xpedo’s, they are another SPD style pedal that might be worth trying, but chances are you’ll come across conditions that will inevitably pose the same issue regardless of your pedal type.

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I’ve been running Eggbeaters for over 2 years, the same set without issues. I’ve ridden them in mud, sand and snow without issue. I’ve bashed them on rocks in Utah and Colorado and drug them through rain and mud for a week straight in Scotland. I’m a fan and I have no complaints. I do have their top end set, but they’ve been bomb proof for me.


Time ATAC are well regarded for their mid clearing capabilities.


Watching my wife race last weekend, most of the bikes (and riders) looked about ready for the skip, but there was another constant. Their pedals. Almost everyone in the ladies and men’s field we running Shimano SPDs, similar to yours.

They all complained of the issue you’ve raised and the overriding advice given was to bash your feet down as you clip in. I’m no Cross racer but it did seem to make sense.


Thanks for all the tips! Think I might try some time atac pedals and see if that helps.

do a search of this problem and you’ll find at least one other topic.

I’ve tried shimano m520s, crank bros eggbeaters and look s-tracks and I think shimano are the best.

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Try eggbeaters. However if the cleats are clogged up, that might still not work, and I prefer being able to ride spds without being clipped in. Eggbeaters have a much smaller surface to stand on when not clipped in.

Most of all, this is normal and happens to everybody, even the pros. Stamp the pedals to get rid of some mud, and learn how to ride on flats/without being clipped in. If you have the luxuary, changing bike every half-lap helps too… :smile:

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Of the current generation of Shimano pedals the XTs have better mud clearance than any of the others in the range. The lower profile of XTRs means that there isn’t quite as much room to squeeze the mud out front and back. The 520 series have a really thick body around the axle and the mud struggles to get through. Pros always appear to be riding prototype pedals for cross…

I’ve riden ATACs for years for mountain biking in the summer as the feel is great but I’ve never really been convinced by the mud-shedding abilities for cross racing. There’s not much space to squeeze mud through the rear of the mechanism.

Used Eggbeaters years ago but never for cross. Something about the way they feel put me off using them long-term. The engagement isn’t that positive and the amount of rotation that you get depends on which of the four sides you clip into. By all accounts mud shedding is good and they’re quite popular on the US scene.


M8000 XT with Pam for me works well enough.


After preriding clean your cleats and pedals, spray silicone lube on your cleats and some on your pedals. Pam also works pretty nicely.

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Thanks for the reply. By the look of the other thread it sounds like you were having similar issues with the shimanos. Did you manage to resolve it somehow?

Make sure you’re cleaning the cleats really well after the races. I take an awl and pick out every little bit of mud or perhaps tiny rocks that tend to find their way to the nook where the cleat meets the shoe.

But if you do get enough mud in there, there is nothing you can really do but keep riding and trying to get the mud to dislodge enough to get the cleat to engage.

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Thanks for all the great advice!. I’m thinking out of familiarity I will stick with spds. Would anyone else agree that XT would be the way to go if was to upgrade (instead of the XTRs). They seem to be a similar price at the moment.

XTRs are lighter but wear down way faster. In terms of mud clearing they are about the same since the axle and machining are the same diameter, which is much smaller than M520s as pointed out above. I had a set of XTRs that got relegated to the gravel bike and replaced with XTs that work just as well. If price is the same and its not going to log a ton of miles I’d go XTR

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I was watching a bike check of Katie Compton’s bike, and her husband (also her mechanic), said that they use XTs, because they clear better, and are also cheaper.

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Time ATAC. I use the XC 8 or older versions with the carbon body. Only time I ever had problem with mud was a CX race where the temps were right around freezing. The mud would freeze after every dismount and it took a lot of pounding the cleat into the pedals to get them engaged. Everyone had the same problem regardless of pedal. Never had an issue before no matter the mud type.

Only issue I have ever had was the retaining pins that hold the spring and retaining bars has backed out of the pedal body. I had one set do it on the first ride but those were warrantied. It has also happened on sets that are more than 5 years old and have been bashed on rocks too many times but a little JB weld solves that problem. I’m currently running a set that are 6 years old and have never serviced them once.

I tried Crankbrothers Eggbeaters many years ago. Ran them for about 2-3 weeks. Engagement was good and I liked the feel but the first race I did with them was a Xterra Tri on an extremely technical rocky course. The bike leg was two laps and I broke the retaining spring on a rock during the first lap. Couldn’t clip in the rest of the race. Crankbrothers warrantied them but I sold the warranty set on ebay as soon as they arrived. I’ve heard too many stories like this to go with them again.

The Time design has been around for 20 years and has barely changed. IMO Crankbrothers and Look are basically a copy of Time.

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I had ridiculous muddy clay clogging issues at the practice race on the Nationals course earlier this year. I was running the XC XTR pedals, and it was bad enough that I figured I might as well look into other options. I’ve been on eggbeaters for the last two races and have found them to be much better about mud/dirt/sand clearing. I don’t love how they feel - definitely less stable and locked in than the SPDs. But hey, what good is feeling locked in if I can’t get clipped in, right?
Time will tell for durability, but on the nats course with three runups and a giant sand pit, any issues with pedal engagement are a potential race killer.

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I used 520s and Crank Brothers for CX over several years. Finally settled on Crank Brothers Candy pedals. They clear mud just as well as Eggbeaters. They have a MUCH better platform though. There is a part of the body on both sides of the spring that interfaces with your shoe and makes it feel like a much more solid connection. I don’t like Eggbeaters because they feel like you’re standing on the spring. Candy pedals are a much better choice. Most of the complaints you will see about Crank Brothers pedals will be specific to the Eggbeaters. We have been dealing with non-stop thick mud in the CHI Cross Series this year and I haven’t had much issue with clipping in.

Also, I think clearing the cleat is as important to clipping in as clearing the pedal is.


No I didn’t resolve it, I just tried some other types of pedals and found them to be no better.

I didnt like the “vague” feeling of the eggbeaters. They dont give a very solid feeling of being connected to the pedals, and theres no SNAP of clicking in and out of them.

The looks were good, but required far too much force in heavy mud to clear the cleats/pedals. They’re also more square than oblong, so finding the correct side to clip in to isnt as easy as shimanos.

Shimanos have their limitations in the mud, but their ergonomics in other areas means I’ll be sticking with them for the foreseeable future (and kicking them when they’re clogged).