Shimano XT Pedals vs XTR – Which Functions Better?

If you own a trail bike, it is a regular thing for you to need a change of pedals from time to time especially if you love races. Shimano is renown world over for their pedals which have been rated high-quality. We look at the differences that lie between Shimano XT and XTR pedals.

Last week, I was out cycling in the tracks out in Portland when I lost my balance and crashed into a rocky patch. While is sustained some injuries, it was nothing severe. The same cannot be said of my bike as I the right pedal had been totally crushed.

Since then, I have been browsing online and physical stores for my next set of great pedals. When I came across the Shimano brand, there were too many options to choose from but I was drawn to the XT and XTR models.

To review their differences, I came up with a short summary that could help guide anyone else in the same situation.

What are the key differences between Shimano XT Pedals and XTR

Shimano XT
Shimano XTR
2 and 4 pot calipers
2 and 4 pot calipers
10-45t and 10-51t
10-45t and 10-51t
28-36/ 26-36
28-38/ 30-38
Bar Clamp
Two-way Release lever

Shimano XT Pedals vs XTR – How they compare


XT pedals feature a brake lever with an additional point of contact to the bar further minimizing stiffness and boosting modulation.

They also have twin-piston calipers and for those with a descending bias, they have instead fitted them with chunky four-pot calipers. Pads on the two-pot brakes have no changed from previous versions but the four-pot models have taken after the XTR models.

XTR pedals have both two and four piston breaks with the former being for more fun and adventurous light races and the latter being for the more aggressive further outback rider. Bar clamps have been moved inboard nearer to the lever.

They are made of aluminum calipers and ceramic pistons. M9100 has a carbon lever blade and M9120 has an alloy one.

Both the XT and XTR pedals offer both two-pot and four-pot type brakes but the XTR models are more advanced in providing smooth rides.


XT pedals offer both 10-45t and 10-51t cassettes providing users the option of wider or narrower spaced steps within the range.

They also feature their own hubs as well as the Micro Spline freehub interface that is a Shimano trademark.  With a wider steps range, these pedals have adjustable tension and clutches with alternative switches.

XTR produces two speeds with three cassette sets. You can access 12 speeds from the 10-51t or the 10-45t and 11 speeds with a 10-45t cassette.  Space in the cogs has been improved increasingly by 6t per cog.

Taking the 10-45t cassette and removing the largest sprocket from it increases the speeds from 11 to 12. The difference between the two lies in the number of gear steps they offer with one going up to 45t and the other 51t.

While XT pedals feature the Micro Spline freehub, XTR pedals have the Sylence technology which emphasizes a quiter ride.


Both the XT and XTR have similar features in regard to their chainring offerings. They do have both single and double cranksets with a 24mm spindle or axle.

XT features 28-36t chainrings for the single cranksets and 26-36t for the double. XTR offers 30-38t chainrings for singles and 28-38t for doubles. The cranks on XTR are made of alloy material while the XT are of aluminum build which makes XTR lighter.

XT’s single chainrings use narrow-wide teeth on a Chain Engagement which assists the pedals in regulated energy transfer along the chain creating a quiet and smooth ride.

For XTR, they use the Dynamic Shape Engagement Plus mechanism to create an even better performance in relation to the chain and teeth movement. It also limits the speed range possible to 12 speeds.

XTR steps range is wider than that of the XT pedals and limits speeds to 12 which is quite high and a great option for most cyclists.


The type installed in the XT pedals use a single bar clamp to control both the brakes and the shifter with an added advantage that gives them ability to adjust positioning and rotate for angle finding.

They are however not as adjustable as the XTR pedals because they offer a 20-degree rotational angle compared to XTR’s 60-degrees.

Aside from the higher angle degree provided by XTR pedals, they also feature a two-way shift release system that lets you shift it up using the index finger rather than thumb like in other models.

A paddle that moves up and down by pushing or pulling on it will provide you the adjustments needed for the XTR pedals.

Shifters on the XT are adjusted by use of a single bar clamp but on the XTR pedals, they use a two-way release lever that is easier to manipulate.

Shimano XT Pedals vs XTR – A Comparison Overview

Shimano XT Pedals – Overview

[amazon box=”B00WLFT6HK” template=”horizontal” ]

XT pedals have been built from the basis of XTR pedals which means they share a lot of characteristics with some minor variations. They have two and four piston type of brakes and they work to reduce stiffness and increase modulation abilities.

Two-pot models are lighter than four-pot brakes. Their stoppers in type and design has remained the same for the two-pots but has upgraded to match XTR pedals in the four-pot models.

They offer both 10-45t and 10-51t type of cassettes. Their unique selling point is the Shimano’s Hyperglide+ which has uniquely built ramps fitted into the sprockets for smoother shifting and better noise regulation.

XT pedals are available in single and double chainrings with three different Q factors to them. The pedals feature a Hollowtech 2 axle bracket design measuring 24mm.


  • Two and four-pot caliper brakes
  • Wide range of steps
  • Single bar shifter


  • Heavy in weight

View Price on Amazon

Shimano XTR Pedals – Overview

[amazon box=”B07H8W4CF5″ template=”horizontal” ]

They have been built for strength and durability with a great emphasis placed on keeping them light in weight. These pedals lack pins and they have a wider platform and toe cage size.  They feature three different types of drivetrain either the 1×11, 1×12 or 2×12.

M9100 model has two piston breaks and M9120 has four and they were designed for the racers who appreciate a light and quick setup in cross country rides.

Their bar clamps are closer to the lever and extra support added to add to the stability and minimize flex. Calipers are made of aluminum and pistons are of ceramic material.

M9100 has no free stroke but M9120 has an added advantage of Servo Wave Technology and tool-free reach adjustment mechanisms.

They offer two types of speeds on their pedals provided by three different sets of cassettes; 10-45t and 10-51t. they have 2 types of chainring available with single and double cranksets. They have a varied Q factor between the two models.


  • Two speeds possible
  • Double cranksets work similar to singles
  • Varied Q factor


  • Easy to release chainring

View Price on Amazon

Verdict: So, which is better, Shimano XT Pedals or XTR?

Shimano XTR Pedalsowing to the fact that they are an improved version of the XT pedals, have greater technology capabilities and feature more benefits to their design.

As a cyclist, you will appreciate the wider gear rage, the two-way release shifter lever, their 60-degree rotational angle and their awesome boost factor. The use of carbon and alloyed material has made the XTR successfully lighter which is another aspect that is highly appreciated by riders.

Whether you plan a short race on the weekend with your family and friends or you are setting your bike up for an intense cross-country race, the XTR pedals will serve you perfectly.