Pedals are one of the most vital parts of a mountain bike. It’s the primary contact point between us and the bike. The bike won’t run without it because it serves as a platform for us to transfer our energy onto the drivetrain.
But choosing a pedal for your mountain bike is surely confusing because of the many choices out there. You also need to consider a lot of things such as the brand, design, type of pedal, and other factors.
Luckily, you’ve found this article, because we’ll be showing you the best mountain bike pedals. We’ll also help you choose which one fits you best, and the things to consider when getting one.
Things to Consider When Choosing Mountain Bike Pedals
Flats or Clipless Mountain Bike Pedals
The first thing to consider when buying a mountain bike pedal is the kind of pedal. There are two types of bike pedals. These are flats and clipless.
Flat pedals are the most common kind of bike pedal because of their simplicity. They’re basically a solid platform comprising pins on both sides. These pins keep your shoes attached to the pedal.
Flats also give you the freedom to move your feet wherever or whenever. This makes it favorable especially on technical downhill terrain where you need to dab.
Meanwhile, clipless mountain bike pedals have a mechanical attachment that connects to your shoes. You also need to have a special shoe for clipless pedals which has a cleat. This cleat then clips onto the pedal.
Most cross-country riders prefer clipless pedals because of the better pedaling efficiency. But this comes at a cost because you can’t quickly remove your feet from the pedals. Although there are some clipless pedals that let you do this, most are hard to remove.
There are also times when you forget you’re clipped in that’s why you fall along with your bike. Note, though, that you just need to twitch your foot to the sides to unclip it from your clipless pedals.
Related: The Best Flat Mountain Bike Pedals
Some might say that you need not be too much concerned about the brand because it’s all just marketing. Although there’s some truth to this. It’s still important to treat this as a major consideration.
Established brands are usually synonymous with high-quality products that can endure a tough beating. Don’t settle for unknown brands. It’s because they rarely have much experience in constructing solid pedals built for the rough trails.
Mountain bikers are meticulous people, especially with looks and aesthetics. So, why not include pedals?
Choose the pedal that appeals most to you. This includes the color, highlights, shape, and even the lining patterns. There are even some pedals that feature the signature of a famous rider that endorses the brand.
Every pedal has its own structural composition. There are some that have wide arches, while others have octagon-shaped outers or large platforms.
This is where the length of the pins come in. The longer the pin, the better grip you get. But this comes at a cost because long pins can also wound your shin if you accidentally slide your foot from it.
And last but not least is the price. Choose a pedal is within your budget. It might surprise you to know that the average price of a proper pedal is around $50 to $100. This sure is expensive for most.
But this price range is justifiable because manufacturing quality pedals is very intricate. They should be light but also durable enough to take a lot of beating.
Add in the materials used which can either be composites or aluminum alloy. And you’ve got yourself one heck of a pricey pedal.
Best Mountain Bike Flat Pedals
Nukeproof Horizon Pro Sam Hill
Nukeproof dominates the flat pedal niche thanks to their Horizon Pro Sam Hill pedal. This is designed and used by Sam Hill, the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Enduro World Series champion.
But this is more than just branding as it’s considered as the best flat pedals by many bike magazines. These feature 10 pins each side and have a concave shape to make it comfortable and stable for riders.
You can also adjust the pins from 5mm to 6mm. Remove the shims and move them using a 2.5 mm Allen key. They also come in 6 different colors. These are black, gray, bronze, blue, purple, and red.
- Stylish brushed aluminum surface
- Excellent grip
- Used by EWS champion, Sam Hill
- Long pins might be too much for some rider
DMR Vault Brendog
The DMR Vault Brendog pedal is endorsed and used by the famous downhill rider, Brendan Fairclough. It features a concave shape along with 11 pins that keeps your feet in place. You can also remove and change the pins depending on your preference.
These have sharper pins compared to other pedals. This makes them a bit dangerous if you’re a beginner. But the sharp pins provide excellent grip.
- Excellent platform shape for comfort
- Long pins provide grip
- Minimalistic appeal
- Sharp pins could lead to injuries
- Very simple design
Crankbrothers Stamp 7
Crankbrothers, also known as the Crank Brothers, is one of the best pedal brands out there. And there Stamp 7 proves just that. This is the pedal that has the biggest surface area. This means it provides a lot of room for your foot to rest on when riding just like the Mallet.
This uses sealed Igus LL-glide bearings that go along well with its low-profile design. The shape isn’t very concave, though. In fact, it’s flat, which is awkward for some. But this translates to better comfort and stability. There are also two sizes to choose from, which are small and large.
- Large platform
- Multiple size options
- Lacks grip because of short pins
- Flat surface leads to less stability
- Best Mountain Bike Clipless Pedals
Shimano XT M8210 Trail
The Shimano XT M8210 is one of the most popular clipless pedals because of its affordability and functionality. This trail pedal features the Shimano’s SPD mechanism that provides easy clipping and unclipping. It’s also very durable because of its alloy platform.
What sets this apart from others is it requires little-to-no-maintenance. It doesn’t matter if you use it on muddy or sandy terrain because it’ll survive. It’s also got a snappy cleat engagement making this ideal for beginners.
- Trusted brand
- Snappy clipping and unclipping
- Durable material
Nukeproof Horizon CS
Then there’s Nukeproof again with the Horizon CS. We can’t deny them this spot, though, because they really produce quality pedals. This is an all-around pedal as it functions like a flat and clipless. It has 4 removable pins each side that measures 4 mm. You can also shorten this if you’d like.
It even has an SPD mechanism which lets you clip in from different directions. They come with 4-degree float cleats. But you can buy a larger 8-degree float if you’d like.
- SPD mechanism allows clipping from different directions
- Sleek design and aesthetics
- Hybrid design
- Awkward design for some riders
Time ATAC XC 6
The Time ATAC XC 6 isn’t named for anything. In fact, the XC is a perfect description of its purpose. This is specially designed for cross-country riders because of its lightweight composition. It also has a slender shape that provides better comfort for your clipped foot.
They’re also good at clipping in or out even with mud or snow. But be careful when clipping in because its cageless design can roll the pedal forward. But don’t worry because there’s another version that has a cage.
- Comfortable structure
- Multiple version options
- Doesn’t have a flat platform
Choosing the best mountain bike pedals might sound easy. But it really isn’t. You need to factor in lots of things for you to get the right one.
Choose if you’ll go for flats or clipless. Weigh the pros and cons or if you’re willing to compromise one from the other. Then consider the brand, design, and overall look and feel.
Don’t rush things out. It’s best if you try them first on a ride before you buy one. When you do, then you’ll surely choose the best mountain bike pedal for you.
A writer by day, a tech enthusiast by night, and a mountain biker at the weekends.
After four years in business school and working for multinational clients, Jomar believes he can improve the world through his writings.
Jomar has six years of experience as a writer and has a degree in entrepreneurial marketing. Some of his works have been published on Blokt, Clutch Points, and iTech.