In this mountain bike flat pedals Buyer's Guide, we are breaking down everything you should consider before buying your next set of flat pedals for your mountain bike. Just how important your pedals are can sometimes go unnoticed or forgotten. The pedals are one of the few contact points your have with the bike and can drastically change your experience on the trail. If you are riding with flat pedals that don't provide much traction, it will be tough to keep your feet on the pedals through rough sections of trail. We are here to walk you through what makes a good pedal a good pedal and which pedals give you the most bang for your buck.
+ For beginner mountain bike riders, starting with flat pedals is a good idea because it allows you to develop skills that you might otherwise miss out on if you were using clipless pedals. For example, to do a bunny hop properly, it's important not to rely on pulling up with being clipped in to the pedals. That is something that with flat pedals you can't use as a crutch.
+ One of the biggest benefits to riding with flat pedals is that they give you a bit more freedom compared to clipless pedals. Of course all of us want to take a foot off and shred corners like downhill world champion and enduro world series world champion Sam Hill. Flat pedals allow you to slip, slide, adjust yourself on the pedals. No matter is you are riding at the skatepark, out on the trail bike, or doing downhill laps, flat pedals can be a lot of fun!
- One of the negatives to riding with flat pedals is that compared to clipless pedals, it's hard to pedal as efficiently or put out as much power. Riders that are putting in long days in the saddle or are racing their bikes where pedaling efficiency is key, riding with flats may be a disadvantage.
One is not necessarily better than the other, flat and clips just have their own pros and cons. If you are looking to race a cross country mountain bike race, chances are you will be better off with clipless pedals. If you are going to ride your hardtail mountain bike at the skatepark, flats might be a better option. In the end, riding with either flats or clips comes down to personal preference. Thankfully there are plenty of options for both!
Just like with most all the components on your mountain bike, not all pedals are made from the same materials. While the majority of both flat and clipless pedals are machined from aluminum alloy, more and more pedals are now also offered in some kind of composite option. With high end premium options, you will find pedals with more exotic materials like titanium pedal spindles for example. One step below using those exotic materials, most high end pedals feature a high level machined aluminum alloy body with a chromoly steel spindle. At a lower price point and more popular recently, you will find pedals made from injection molded nylon fiber composites. Those different composites are durable, lightweight, and cost much less to manufacture. Your budget will largely affect which materials your pedals are made from. If you are someone that is looking to leave no stone un-turned, then an extremely light weight pedal that utilizes titanium and aluminum might be your best bet. If you are looking for a budget friendly set of pedals, there are plenty of options made from different composite materials that are still packed with performance features.
In the photo below you'll see two different pedals, the Crank Brothers Stamp 7 pedals on the left and the Crank Brothers Stamp 1 pedals on the right. The body on the Stamp 7 pedal is made from 6061-T6 aluminum. The body on the Stamp 1 pedal is made from a nylon composite. Both pedals use a somewhat similar shape and both use chromoly steel axles. These are just two examples of different materials used throughout different flat pedals.
As you go up and up in price, you usually go up and up in quality. One thing that makes a pedal high quality is it being fully serviceable. Over time, even premium bushings and bearings wear and eventually need to be replaced. Having a set of pedals where all of the internals can be either serviced or replaced will absolutely lengthen the lifespan of those pedals. Most of these different manufacturers offer rebuild kits and bearing kits for their nicer pedal options. Keep in mind that not all pedals are serviceable.
If you were to cut a pedal in half and take a look inside, you will see the spindle that slides through the center of the body of the pedal, and you will also most commonly see a combination of two bearings or bushings. Those bearings and bushings are what allow the pedal body to spin around the spindle. Surrounding those bearings or bushings you will see a variety of o-rings and seals to help keep water and crud outside of the pedal. In the photo below you will see a cut-away of a OneUp Aluminum pedal a long side a pedal refresh kit from Crank Brothers.
Flat pedals come in all shapes, sizes, and as we just pointed out, materials. Finding the right set of flat pedals that suit your needs is huge. When it comes to pure performance, traction is arguably the most important thing to consider. When you look at the shape, profile, and pins on a pedal, you can learn a lot about how grippy it might be. Keep in mind that pairing your pedals with the correct shoes plays a major role in how that combinations performs.
Below you will see two different pedals from the side profile. First is the Deity T-MAC Signature pedal, which features one of the most concave profiles you will find with any flat pedal. The concave shape allows your foot and shoe to sink in to the center of the pedal, almost like the pedal is cupping your shoe. Along with the 14 adjustable pins per side on the T-MAC pedals, its deep concave shape makes it one of the grippiest pedals on the market. The benefit to this concave shape is that with so much grip, your feet don't get slapped around on the pedals when the trail gets rough. The negative to a pedal with so much traction is that it can be hard to re-adjust your foot on the fly when it's not quite in the right position.
The second pedal below is the OneUp Components Aluminum pedal, featuring a much more flat almost convex profile. The flatter shape on the OneUp pedals allows you to slip and adjust your foot with ease while the traction pins still keep your feet stuck to the pedals. The benefit to flatter pedals like the set from OneUp components is they allow you a pit more freedom. If you are someone that like to take a foot off in the air and keep things light and steezy, a pedal with a lower pin profile might be a good option.
Pairing the right shoes with your favorite set of pedals is just as important as the pedals themselves. Just like pedals, there are mountain bike flat pedal shoes that are intended more for downhill, trail riding, and casual riding. Of course, FiveTen is the most popular flat pedal mountain bike shoe. Thanks to their soft Stealth Rubber, FiveTen has a wide range of flat shoes with different rubber compounds, sole designs, and stiffness properties intended for different types of riding. The classic Five Ten Freerider is a great all around flat pedal shoe perfect for riding anything from dirt jumps to downhill. Other brands have brought out their own contenders like the Afton Keegan and Giro Jacket II shoes.
When you go to buying your next set of flat pedals, try to think about what type of riding you are going to be doing? Is traction the most important quality to have in your flat pedal? Is durability most important? Is serviceability most important? Is cost most important? Below you will find five of our favorite alloy flat pedals and five of our favorite composite flat pedals. No matter your budget, there are plenty of great options available at a variety of different price points.
The TMAC pedal has become a staple in Deity's pedal lineup. After thorough feedback from Tyler McCaul himself, Deity has come up with one of the best performing flat pedals on the market. The TMAC Signature pedal features a deep concave profile to deliver unmatched traction, control, and contact feel. Here you will find a 110mm x 105mm footprint from a pedal that thanks to its non-offset desing, feels like a an even larger platform under your foot. The TMAC Signature pedal utilizes a high level of machining and an a polished anodized finish available in eight different colorways. VitalMTB has ranked the Deity TMAC pedals as one of the top 2 pedals available today. We are big fans of this pedal and that's why it's at the top of this list.
Besides their excellent quality, what sets the Crank Brothers Stamp 7 pedals apart is that they are offered in both a size small and size large platform. For riders with a size 10 shoe or larger, Crank Brothers recommends the size Large platform featuring a 114mm x 111mm footprint. If you wear a size 10 shoe or smaller, Crank Brothers recommends the Small platform with a 100mm x 100mm footprint. Both pedals use a slightly concave shape to help cup your feet and secure them to the pedals. The Stamp 7 pedals are forged from 6061-T6 aluminum, utilize a chromoly steel axle, and use 10 removable traction pins per side.
The Black Kat pedal from Deity is Deity's perfect blend of performance, durability, and feel. Deity is known for their variety of quality products and the Black Kat pedal is no different. The Black Kat pedals do offer plenty of grip but aren't quite as locked in feeling compared to the TMAC pedals. The double cartridge sealed bearing design stands up to the elements and keeps water and grime out. The pedal body is made from 6061-T6 aluminum and house a chromoly steel axle. With a slightly concave profile, 8 removable pins per side, and machined traction grooves, the Deity Black Kat is packed with performance and is built to last.
The OneUp Components Aluminum pedals utilize a large 115mm x 105mm platform with ten removable traction pins per side. One feature we love on the OneUp Aluminum pedal is that the main spindle bearing is pushed outside the platform keeping the pedal as thin as possible. This also allows OneUp to use a larger bearing that is more durable then they would otherwise if that bearing lived inside the pedal body. These pedals use a very thin chamfered leading edge to help reduce pedal strikes. The Aluminum pedals use a shot peened finish available in seven different anodized colors.
The Spank Oozy pedal might be fifth on this list but is still a great option for those looking for a solid, strong, and high-performance pedal. Similar to the layout on the OneUp Aluminum pedals, the Spank Oozy features a larger inner bearing that is slightly outboard from the pedal body. This keeps the center of the pedal much thinner, allowing Spank to achieve a flat pedal body profile all while keeping the leading edge of the pedal 12mm thick. The preassembled pins are longer away from the center of the pedal and create a virtually concave shape. The Spank Oozy features a 100mm x 100mm platform footprint with a shot-peened and anodized finish with some high polished accents.
The OneUp Components Composite pedals utilize a large 115mm x 105mm platform with ten removable traction pins per side. The Composite pedals of course feature a nylon composite construction that is lighter than the Aluminum pedals OneUp offers. The composite material is lightweight and also durable. These pedals use a 13.3mm tall chamfered leading edge to help reduce pedal strikes. The Composite pedals are available in six different color options. What we love most about these OneUp Composite pedals is the price point!
The Chester pedals are Race Face's attempt to deliver a nylon composite pedal with all the same features found on a high end premium aluminum pedal. The nylon composite is light, durable, and also slippery enough to glance off rocks and roots. The Chester uses a 110mm x 101mm platform footprint and features 8 rear loading traction pins per side held in with nylon locking nuts. The Chester pedals are fully serviceable with replaceable DU bushings and cartridge bearings and are available in 9 different vibrant colors. Race Face backs the Chester pedal with a 2 year manufacturer's warranty.
The Deity Compound pedal is one of the best nylon fiber composite pedals on the market. What's great about the Compound pedal is they have a true flat shape with longer pins on the leading and trailing edges, giving the pedal that concave feel that we love. The Compound pedal uses 6 replaceable chromoly steel pins per side with a similar DU bushing and seal cartridge bearing axle system found on other Deity pedals. The Compound pedal is offered in 5 different colors and is a perfect fit for your trail or dirt jump bike.
Just like the Crank Brothers Stamp 7 pedals above, the Stamp 1 pedals are also offered in two different platform sizes. For riders with a size 10 shoe or larger, Crank Brothers recommends the size Large platform featuring a 114mm x 111mm footprint. If you wear a size 10 shoe or smaller, Crank Brothers recommends the Small platform with a 100mm x 100mm footprint. Both pedals use a slightly concave shape to help cup your feet and secure them to the pedals. The Stamp 1 pedals are packed with performance and are still some of the most cost friendly pedals on this list.
The concave profile and tall pins on the iSSi Thump pedals give them just the right amount of grip. The Thump pedals are offered with either nylon molded pins for casual riding or replaceable steel pins for more aggressive riding. The Thump pedals are also offered in two different platform sizes, the standard size for size 9 shoes or larger or the small size for size 9 or smaller. The Thump pedals are yet another great composite pedal option. From riding at the skatepark to long trail bike rides, the Thump pedals are designed to perform.