At £42 the M530's are the cheapest Shimano pedals you can buy if you want a double sided SPD pedal and a cage around the mechanism. We weighed them at 454g, so although they aren't the lightest they aren't total beefcakes either. The XT version will set you back £95 and will only save you just 47g per pair. There isn't much of difference in looks either, especially once they are covered in mud and have been smashed off a rock face or two.
Shimano say these pedals are designed for cross country riding and technical descending, we've done a lot of both and have found the cleat interface easy to locate on every occasion. The cleat snaps into the pedal with a resounding click that can be felt as well as heard, meaning you're never left in that 'no mans land' wondering "am I clipped in?"
Like all Shimano SPD's the M530's feature an adjustable entry and release tension setting in the form of an allen key adjustable dial on the rear. It's worth clearing this of mud before attempting to alter the settings or you risk rounding the dial off, rendering it useless.
Speaking of mud, the M530's shed the brown pow quickly and easily, with any more determined clumps dislodged with a swift stamp on the top of the pedal. The outer cage is supposed to provide extra foot stability, I'm not so sure of this myself but it does make locating the pedals in a hurry an easy job. They're not a pedal you will want to spend too much time on riding 'unclipped', that's a pretty slippery affair, but with the cleat easy to locate and drive home, these instances should be few and far between. Going by the state of our set, the outer cage does provide excellent protection for the cleat mechanism!
I've used both the M530's and the more expensive XT SPD's and I'd be lying if I told you we could tell the difference between the two without looking down. The pair you see here are 6 months old and still going strong. I've used them on average five times a week, in all conditions, the sealed bearings have kept their promise and barred entry of water and mud, providing me with a durable pedal I can rely on.