What Mountain Bike Pedals To Buy?

You may not think that mountain bike pedals are that important. They are just thing that you rest your feet on and move your bike along right? Not really, they are actually really important components of your bike. They are points of contact between you and your bike. This means much of your input is transferred through your pedals. Alos you get a lot of information back through your pedals about what the bike is doing and the surface you are riding on. In this post I am going to help you decide what mountain bike pedals to buy.

So how do you choose what mountain bike pedals to buy? You have a few different choices to make, I am going o go through them and highlight the advantages and disadvantages of each type. I will also give you some recommendations.

Flats or Clipless?

Your first decision is to choose between flat and clipless mountain bike pedals. Both have their advantages and what you choose will be down to personal preference and type of riding you do.

Flat Mountain Bike Pedals

Flat mountain bike pedals are also referred to as platform pedals. Most mountain bikes will come with some form of flat pedal, whether it be plastic or metal items. The advantages of flat mountain bike pedals are:

  • You don’t need special shoes to use them. You can use a pair of flat soled trainers, but you will feel the benefit of some proper flat pedal mountain bike shoes.
  • It is easy to dab a foot down on a tricky corner if you need to.
  • You can jump off the bike to save yourself during a big crash
  • Lower end flat pedals are cheaper than clipless versions.

Flat mountain bike pedals have improved a lot in the last few years. They have got lighter, more streamlined, and provide way more grip than they used to.This is helped when riders combine them with specially-designed shoes by brands like Five Ten. Some people who ride flats with proper mountain bike shoes claim that it’s just as stable as being clipped in.

This grip comes from the combination of super grippy soles, the design of pins and shape of flat pedals.

 

Clipless

Clipless mountain bike pedal have a special cleat that allows the shoe to a mountain bike-specific shoe. This physically attaches the shoe to the pedal, giving you a connection to the bike. You clip in by stepping down until you have a firm connection and you unclip by twisting your heel to the side.

If you have never use clipless pedals, this can take a bit of practice to get used to.  There are some advantages of using them:

  1. Your pedalling efficiency is improved, as you can pull and push at the same time.
  2. When the terrain gets technical, clipless pedals give you improved handling. Your feet are attached to the bike, giving you more security on bumpy descents. Bunny hopping is much easier too.
  3. The smaller size of clipless pedals make clearing rocks and logs etc easier.

There are several different types of clipless pedal you can buy. Therefore, you need to make sure the shoes and pedals you buy compatible. The clipless pedal types you need to know about are SPD, Time, and CrankBrothers. SPD is the most common standard used by most brands.

When you first start riding with clipless pedals, I recommend that you practice clipping in and out before you hit the trails. You should also set them to their loosest setting while you are getting used to them, so it is easy to get out of them. I found that I had lots of low speed crashes with them, when I couldn’t unclip quick enough.

Combination Pedals

Combination mountain bike pedals give you the advantages of both flat and clipless pedals. There are two different styles. One type has a clip on one side and a platform on the other, and the other type has a clip integrated into the platform on both sides, so that each are accessible at the same time.

The main compromise when you choose combo pedals is that thy are often quite heavy. Also, the clips are not as good quality, making it more difficult to slip in and out compared to a proper clipless pedal.

Combo pedals that only have a clip on one side tend to rotate. This means that the clip side is always pointing towards the ground due to the weight of the clip. This sometimes makes clipping in a bit annoying.

The biggest advantage of combination pedals, is that they are great if you use you bike for different things. You can clip in for the trails, or just jump on you bike for commuting or going to the shops without having to wear the specific mountain bike shoes.

Things To Look Out For When Buying Mountain Bike Pedals

  • Weight — Less weight is generally better. However, durability can be compromised. Therefore, if weight is at the top of your list, make sure you look in to how durable the pedals are before you buy the lightest ones you find.
  • Self cleaning — Look for pedals that have open spaces. This reduces the build up of mud and mud can be pushed out when you put your feet on the pedals.
  • Adjustability — For clipless pedals, adjustability is very important. You need to look in to the pedal tension settings. This is the amount of force it takes to clip and unclip. The other setting you need to look in to is float. This is the amount you can rotate your foot when clipped in. When it comes to flat pedals, some models allow you to replace or have different length pins. Some will even let you change the colours on the pedal body.
  • Durability — Pedals take quite a beating, so It’s a good idea to choose a solid pedal that won’t bend or dent with rock strikes. You also want pedals that have smooth bearings that won’t need loads of maintenance.
  • Ease of maintenance — Cheap pedals won’t need much maintenance, but they won’t last very long and will ned replacing. You can rebuilt some pedals and  replace parts. This is something you will want to do if you buy expensive pedals. 

My Recommendations For What Mountain Bike Pedals To Buy

Flat Pedals

Nukeproof Horizon

Nukeproof horizon pedals

These are my choice of mountain bike pedal. I use them on my Nukeproof Mega and absolute love them. They are very comfortable underfoot and provide a great platform giving you plenty of control and security. There are a few version of the Nukeproof Horizon pedal. Which ones you buy really depends on your budget. I have the Sam Hill Pro Enduro versions, but you can spend less or more money. The top of the range ones are pretty pricy, thanks to their titanium spindle.

The Nukeproof Horizon pedals are easy to service and there is a rebuild kit available, so you can do it yourself.

  • Body Material: Forged and CNC-machined 6061-T6 Aluminium
  • Axle Material: CrMo
  • Use: MTB, Enduro
  • Axle: 9/16″
  • Bushings: 2x DU bushings
  • Bearings: 4x sealed Z989 cartridge bearings (per pair)
  • Spare Pins Included: No
  • Weight: 407g (approx)

DMR V12 Magnesium Flat Pedals

what mountain bike pedals to buy - DMR V12 Magnesium Flat Pedals

I am a big fan of DMR pedals, the V12 has a great feeling underfoot with a good concave shape. The level of grip is very good and the pins are not too long to suit rides with lots of pedalling involved. The V12 gives you enough grip for most types of riding, but you may want something a bit more secure if if you ride a lot of technical downhill trails. It provides a good platform for jumping with a softer flat pedal shoe. DMR have great build quality, so the bearings will last a long time with little maintenance.

  • Material: Magnesium body, CrMo (cromoly) axle
  • Axle Size: Standard 9/16″ thread
  • Bearing Type: Fully sealed bearings
  • Dimensions: 95x100mm (width x length), 16mm depth
  • Larger Platform Area: 10% more surface area than the classic shape
  • Lower Profile: At just 16mm deep, these pedals are as slim as possible whilst still retaining DMR’s legendary concave feel
  • Lighter Weight: 20% weight saving from the previous model
  • All pins on the pedal are replaceable and tunable for preferred grip
  • Replacement Pins Included: No
  • Weight: 350g per pair

DMR V12 Magnesium Flat Pedals

what mountain bike pedals to buy - DMR V12 Magnesium Flat Pedals

I am a big fan of DMR pedals, the V12 has a great feeling underfoot with a good concave shape. The level of grip is very good and the pins are not too long to suit rides with lots of pedalling involved. The V12 gives you enough grip for most types of riding, but you may want something a bit more secure if if you ride a lot of technical downhill trails. It provides a good platform for jumping with a softer flat pedal shoe. DMR have great build quality, so the bearings will last a long time with little maintenance.

There are two different version available, the standard V12 and the magnesium version. The magnesium version offers a less weight for not much more money, these are the ones I recommend, but you can’t go wrong with either of them.

  • Material: Magnesium body, CrMo (cromoly) axle
  • Axle Size: Standard 9/16″ thread
  • Bearing Type: Fully sealed bearings
  • Dimensions: 95x100mm (width x length), 16mm depth
  • Larger Platform Area: 10% more surface area than the classic shape
  • Lower Profile: At just 16mm deep, these pedals are as slim as possible whilst still retaining DMR’s legendary concave feel
  • Lighter Weight: 20% weight saving from the previous model
  • All pins on the pedal are replaceable and tunable for preferred grip
  • Replacement Pins Included: No
  • Weight: 350g per pair

Hope F20 Flat Pedals

What mountain bike pedals to buy - hope

Hope are renowned for their quality of products and their F20 flat pedals are no exception. They are beautifully finished and very durable. These flat pedals are designed to take a lot of punishment. The materials used in these pedals are very resilient scrapes and dents. The construction of the F20s are ideal for people that ride in wet conditions a lot, as they are very well sealed, preventing water and dirt to get in to the axle.

Grip comes from hollow steel pins. I would say that the the grip is reasonably good, but the pin length won’t make you feel glued to pedal like the Nukeproof Horizon.

  • Material: CNC Machined 2014 T6 Aluminium (pedals); Heat-Treated CrMo (axle)
  • Axle Size: Standard 9/16″ thread
  • Norglide bush and 3 cartridge bearings in a sealed chamber
  • Concave platform
  • 20 replaceable steel pins (titanium and aluminium available aftermarket)
  • Spare Pins Included: Yes, 10 included (5 per pedal)
  • Weight: 390g (Pair)

Clipless Pedals

Nukeproof Horizon Clipless Pedals

what mountain bike pedals to buy- Nukeproof Horizon CS

There are three different versions of the Nukeproof Horizon clipless mountain bike pedals, the CS, the CL and the CL Ti DH. All three have the same duel action clip in system. The CL is the larger version, while the CS is the small one and the CL Ti DH is designed for more aggressive downhill riding.

The CL is one of the longest clipless mountain bike pedals you can buy. The larger size helps you distribute the weight over a larger area on the shoe. This means it doesn’t feel like you have loads of pressure on a small area. When you buy these pedals, you get a variety of thru-pins and grub screws included. This is so you can adjust the platform to get the grip you’re after.

The Nukeproof Horizon is a very supportive pedal, which means you don’t get much rocking from side to side. This is also a wide pedal, meaning that your foot is placed further away from he bike, giving you more stability.

As with all Nukeproof products, the Horizon pedals are very well made and built to last. There is a servicing kit available, so you can give them a bit of TLC. I recommend that you do this once per year, especially if you ride in wet conditions often.

They are very easy to get in and out of, thanks to their light action. This makes the Horizon a good option for new comers to clipping in.

  • Cold forged T1- 6061 alloy body with CNC finishing 
  • Tough and lightweight CrMo axle 
  • Proven axle system- 2 x high quality DU bushings & 4 x sealed cartridge bearings (Per Pair) 
  • Low profile contoured chassis with optimised leading edge 
  • Side Support Platform 
  • Dual Engagement Mechanism 
  • SPD compatible 
  • 9/16” axle
  • Suitable for Multi twist cleats
  • Cleats included
  • 57mm Crank arm to pedal centre
  • Weight: 526g

Crankbrothers Mallet E

what mountain bike pedals to buy - crankbrothers Mallet E

The Crankbrothers Mallet E are lighter pairs down versions of the Mallet. They are designed for riding tighter trails without getting in the way.

The Mallet E has an aluminium  platform with six adjustable pins each side for grip, this is helped with the Crankbrothers Traction Pad Technology, which consists of two replaceable plastic plates that help to provide a solid connection with your mountain bike shoes. You supplied with pads of two different thicknesses to ensure that you get the best fit for your shoes.

It takes a bit of effort to get the Crankbrothers Mallet Es set up, but once you do, they are one of the easiest pedals to clip in and out of.

  • Concave platform for secure foothold
  • 6 adjustable pins per side for grip
  • Traction pad technology
  • Customisable interface
  • Ribbed body for better traction when unclipped
  • Chamfered edges to reduce rock-strikes
  • 52mm q-factor for manoeuvrability on tight trails
  • 4-sided entry
  • Superior mud shedding
  • Customisable float & release angle
  • Premium bearings & double seal system
  • Spindle Material: Forged SCM 435 CrMo steel
  • Body Material: 6061-T6 aluminium
  • Wing Material: 17-4PH stainless
  • Spring Material: 300 series stainless steel
  • Q-factor: 52mm
  • Inner Bearing type: Igus LL-glide bearing
  • Outer Bearing type: Enduro cartridge bearing
  • Endcap: Hex alloy
  • Cleat: Premium brass cleats with shims included

Shimano M530 Trail SPD

what mountain bike pedals to buy - Shimano M530 Trail SPD

The Shimano M530 Trail SPD is at the lower end of the market, hence the low price. However, that doesn’t meant that it isn’t any good.

It may not offer the support that other clipless mountain bike pedals give you, there is still enough even if your mountain bike shoes are pretty soft.

The clip in system works well, with a comfortable level of float. It also has a nice range of tension adjustment. The mechanism is shaped to avoid rock strikes although you can only clip in to one side.

The M530 is  pretty reliable, with its simple design consisting of  a simple cup and cone bearing system. This also makes it really easy to service. They are not the lightest pedal on the market, but you won’t find them too heavy.

These pedals are a great option if money is tight or you want an entry level pedal to try out the clip in life.

What Mountain Bike Pedals To Buy? - Answered

Do you have any experience with these pedals? If so, let me know in the comments section below. Also, if you have any questions, ask away and I will get back to you ASAP.

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