Coming Home: a Letter From Matt’s M737 Pedals

Coming Home: a Letter From Matt’s M737 Pedals

Let me begin by saying that we almost never reprint anything from other sources. Almost never. The big reason is that by the time we’ve read something amazing, it’s usually already being run by a publication we like. This is one of those rare exceptions. The folks at Shimano got a letter from the sort of customer that can be described with no other terminology than loyal. And satisfied, all things considered. Our interest in this letter is less about the way it testifies to the quality of one of the finest sets of pedals ever devised—seriously, we’re still fans—than the many other things this letter does. It traces the trajectory of a life, from adolescence through to middle age. It’s part travelogue as well. And no matter what your view on nostalgic looks back, it is a fun reminder of some of the great mountain bikes through the history of the sport. Finally, there’s the raw inventiveness of writing the letter from the view of the pedals themselves. Cheers to Matt, Shimano, and these pedals that have earned renown among the cycling’s greatest innovations—Padraig.

Attn: Shimano Family
Re: Coming Home
From: M737 Pedals from 1991

Dear Shimano Family,
I’m writing you this letter to let you know I’ve decided to come home. It’s been 25 great years since my owner, Matt, bought me at the Wheel & Sprocket in Milwaukee. I’ve survived three different mountain bikes, countless rides, thousands of miles and more crashes than I could have ever imagined … but I’m finally tired and I’ve decided it’s time to retire at my Shimano home where I started—25 years ago.

Matt and I met in 1991, when he sold his GT Karakoram and upgraded to a new Specialized Stumpjumper. Matt and I forged our love/hate relationship immediately at the Emma Carlin Trails in Southeastern Wisconsin. He hated me because he had to get used to un-clipping, but he loved me because all of the riders that came up from Chicago were jealous because now Matt had me and they were still riding with flat pedals. Suckers!

A year later, Matt went to college at UW-Madison and took the Stumpjumper and me with him. Looking back, that was way cool—and I was way lucky. Matt would switch me out with flat medals every weekend so I’d be along for his mountain bike trail rides and he’d use the flat pedals for campus commuting during the week. While I regret not hanging out with Matt around campus, I am glad Matt swapped pedals every weekend—because in 1996 his Stumpjumper was stolen on campus. Good thing those boring, inefficient flat pedals were stuck with some bad Karma jerk and not Matt.

I was majorly bummed at first, because riding the trails with Matt was delayed for a bit in the Spring. But then, with the help of an insurance check, Matt bought a brand new 1997 Stumpjumper S-Works from Ben’s Cycle in Milwaukee. It was like $1,500 at the time, which was absurdly expensive. It was green with a red shock, the Christmas bike. So, I was equally excited and nervous—excited, because I knew we’d start riding again, but nervous because his new bike had full XTR. I felt so stoked when Matt bought the bike and told the guy “don’t bother with the pedals, I’m set with my 737’s from my old bike.” So off we rode….

I’ve never forget our first ride at Emma Carlin. We went with a group of friends and during the ride, we stopped at a trail intersection and of those guys from Chicago totally checked me out and the new S-Works and he was way jealous. So I had that going for me … which was nice.

M737 Pedals

The riding with Matt and friends continued in Wisconsin for a few years. Then, in 2002, Matt decided to move to Salt Lake City, Utah. Part of that move was precipitated by a visit to Moab in 1997. Matt and I rode the Slickrock Trail and Porcupine Rim—two decades before paved parking lots and new hotels and all the crowds. That was so much fun—me, Matt, some friends and miles of riding.

Matt and I joined a road bike club in Salt Lake City and continued riding together for years. Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming … countless miles and solitude on the trails. Our rides together continued, even in the face of constant mocking regarding the age of both Matt’s bike and me.

Then in 2010, Matt decided to buy a new full suspension Stumpjumper. It was probably time. I was scared out of my mind. A new bike for $4,000 surely meant new pedals, right?

To my relief, and surprise, Matt bought the new bike and told Ben’s Cycles (again) that he didn’t need new pedals. Amazing.

So I was mounted on a new Stumpjumper and our adventures continued. Since that new bike, Matt’s had a shoulder surgery, broken ribs, a few concussions and a C4-5 neck fusion—but every time he still takes me out on the bike and we ride.

Well, we were in Moab this past weekend and I realized I’m out of gas. My bearings are totally shot, and my springs are worn. I hated to do it, but I told Matt it was time—time for me to retire. 25 years ago, Matt took me out of the box and put me on his bike. He literally has not once adjusted my tension or cleaned me out. He went to REI yesterday and bought a new set of M8000s. I hope they carry the torch well. If they last as long as I did, Matt will be 66 years old. I’ve probably lasted longer than most marriages in the U.S. and holy s**t has it been fun.

So, I just wanted to say thanks and it’s great to be back home.

—737 Pedals

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12 comments

  1. Timbo

    Great letter.

    I’ve been riding and completely neglecting my M520s since 1998 (bought used), and they’re still going strong to this day. Shimano did something very right with their SPD engineering right out of the gate.

  2. Fausto's Schnauzer

    I have two bikes that I still ride with M737’s and one classic garage queen with a like new pair. I also have a NOS pair in a box waiting for the right build.

    Love ’em!

  3. John Kopp

    Did he actually send the pedals back? I want to believe that they are sitting in a trophy case at Shimano HQ, or the factory!


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Yep. Those are the pedals. I’m sure they will be put on display to remind everyone why it pays to do your best.

  4. AC

    Send this to Crank Bros for an example of what real customer service is. Making products that don’t require contacting the company for customer service.

    1. Doug

      Agree – Crank Bros are junk. Had two pair break down within 1,000. One set left me stranded for the first time in 45 yrs of riding. Called their customer service and wasn’t impressed. Went to Shimano SPDs on all my bikes, mountain, road and gravel, and couldn’t be happier.

  5. wayno

    its hilarious that even 737’s recognize that Chicagoans at the Kettle are suckers! The pedals words, not mine 🙂

  6. Michael

    Hah! 737s are the best. My wife and I are on a cycling vacation right now and she wanted to ride with shoes she can walk in, so I grabbed some 737s off my old mtn bike…

  7. Joel

    I too bought a pair of PD-M737’s to go on my Klein Pinnacle fixed front fork mountain bike in 1991. I still have both the Klein and the pedals. The pedals have moved around onto various bike and just today I pulled them off my Niner Jet 9 to take them up to my shop, Peddler Austin, where they are building up my newest whip, a Twin 6 RandoTi.

    The M737’s are one year older than the mechanic working on my build.

    I too have gotten tens of thousands of miles from my M737s, and coincidentally, I also have a fusion from a bike accident (mine is C6-C7). Thanks for posting this letter. Great stuff.

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