Installed and ridden! A few of the reviews I've read on the net are useless. So I'll put a few words down for the benefit of anyone Googling for info.
I own a few bikes, all are equipped with SPD-SL pedals from the 105 level PD-540 to a few sets of Ultegra level SPD-SLs. All of them have the plastic base plate that is worn through, argh. After getting my new bike last December I've been looking around for a new set of pedals for it. The requirements were #1 lightweight, #2 lightweight, #3 light...you get the picture. Crankbrothers - ick ugly! Speedplay - look the goods and are light (down to 150g for a nice Titanium pair), expensive though.. the major issue is that a lot of the Speedplay weight is moved to the cleat, in the ballpark of 110 grams. So spending major $ on Speedplay would also require purchasing a few lower models for my other bikes.
Spotted on CyclingNews.com were some pro teams running prototype Dura Ace pedals (model PD-7810). Two major updates to this pedal over the previous PD-7800 model, a metal baseplate, and a wider platform. Both features appealing to me, the new baseplate and the fact I've got a wide foot. So I chose these as the new pedal upgrade. A few months went by of Googling for info on their release, and a few lol's at putting in "PD-7810" in Google Images with SafeSearch off - it reveals an interesting bedroom toy. Shimano Australia was advertising the new pedals in Cycling Australia early in the year, but no sign of them hitting retail stores yet.
I kept an eye on ProBikeKit.com for the PD-7810's and also saved an eBay search so I'd be notified of them being listed. eBay was the first to bite. Sellers in the US and Europe claiming "limited stock, buy today!" Prices ranging from US$198-239 with US$20 postage to Australia. All up I was looking at approximately AU$260. A few bike stores in Japan listed them - conversion rates being around AU$160-180 however none of them were willing to post to Australia. Even Cecil Walker had them on the front page for around AU$260, but I can't see them listed there anymore? Anyways... ProBikeKit defied their 'we hold lots of old stock' view I hold of them and came up with the goods!
AU$182.78 @ PBK. Nice! Order placed on Thursday and they arrived on Tuesday. Given the choice, I'd rather spend the money locally - but there is something horribly wrong with prices charged in Australia on cycling components. PBK will wins hands down over eBay and US pricing for these pedals. They must have some serious contacts at Shimano. Some sites in the States have a ban on exporting Shimano gear - I guess they can't enforce that out of the UK?
Installing and riding them.....
No pedal spanner required, an 8mm allen key from the inside of the crank arm is required. I thought this would be worse for getting them on and off - it turns out its much easier as you can get better leverage from the crank. The PD-7810 has a slightly lower profile than other SPD-SL pedals by around 2mm, so if you're an Eddy Merckx with your seat height (a Sunday in Hell reference), then you'll have to lower your saddle a tiny amount to make things equal.
Pedals on, shoes on (same cleats as before), time to ride. A nice clean snap lock - nice. The bearings are baby smooth very nice from the get-go. Out of the saddle I could feel the wideness coming into play. My wide hoofs must spill power over to the edge of the pedal, something that wasn't apparent with nothing else to compare them to. I guess this will allow me to focus getting more power down 'over' the pedal rather than trying to bust out the power over the edge of it, if you know what I'm saying.
Anyhow - in a nutshell, these pedals are a winner. Well worth the PBK asking price, well worth the upgrade, and backwards compatible with existing cleats. The weight is trim, but doesn't resemble Lindsay Lohan after a six week drug binge which would then require a 'maximum rider weight' limit. Last of all, they are just damn nice looking. I'm a sucker for nice engineering, and these are damn sexily made.
If Shimano want to send me any of their other products to test, I'm up for it!