The best mountain bike pedals are one of the most important components when it comes to the contact points on your bike, and for a good reason. Finding the right pedals for your preferred riding style is important because they are essential for everything from climbing to cornering. You’ll learn all about the best mountain bike pedals in this guide, so you’ll know your flats from your clipless.
Best Mountain Bike Pedals 2023
The rider interacts with the bike’s cranks (or transmission and gears) through the foot-to-pedal connection to drive the bike forward. Additionally, it is a component of the system that allows a mountain biker to steer, jump, and bunny hops the bike.
How much of the power is transferred to crank the pedals or steer the bike in the direction the rider wishes to go depends in part on the shoe-pedal contact.
The best mountain bike pedals have changed significantly over time, as can be seen by taking a quick glance at the mountain bike pedal’s history. Off-road riders’ first pedals had a flat platform and a body that provided some sort of grip. They frequently resembled hunting traps, and if you were unfortunate enough to experience some sort of slip, there would also be a lot of blood.
Following this, flat pedals had a slow evolution that gave rise to features like concave pedal bodies, replaceable pins, and increased mud and ground clearance. In order to increase the bite into the pedal pins and hence grip, flat pedal shoes with soft, sticky soles were also developed as a result. For novices, flat pedals are an excellent alternative for honing your cycling abilities and body alignment.
Read on to learn more about the best mountain pedals to buy in 2023:
HT Components T1
- Sheds Mud Well
- Excellent Shoe/Pedal Interface
- Highly Adjustable
At the conclusion of our testing, the HT T-1, a high-quality, low-profile, mid-cage clipless mountain bike pedal, won out. While still being lightweight enough to be considered for your XC or trail bike, this pedal is made to withstand the rigors of enduro racing. Despite having the lowest profile height in our test, these pedals nonetheless feature a sizable surface area that will contact your shoes’ soles for superior lateral stability and control. The wide platform, grub pins that are positioned in the front, and adjustable clipless mechanism provide rapid and reliable engagement and controlled release. They also have a simple engagement mechanism that makes mud cleaning effective.
Both the front-mounted grub pins and the release tension can be moved up or down. Two sets of cleats are provided with the pedals; the X-1 cleats offer 4 degrees of lateral float, while the X-1F cleats offer 8 degrees, depending on your preferences.
The pedal bodies are made of CNC-machined extruded aluminum and come in a variety of colors, including stealth black, which has a spindle and clipless mechanism that are anodized black. IGUS bushings support the CNC-machined Chromoly steel axles of the T-1, and Evo+ precision sealed bearings. Although quality and performance are not cheap, these pedals are reasonably priced.
Shimano PD-M8120 XT SPD
- Good Value
- Legendary Durability
- Solid Platform Underfoot
The M8120 XT from Shimano is the most recent version of the perennially popular XT Trail pedals. They managed to maintain the same dependable and predictable performance of the prior model while also enlarging the overall platform and reducing the profile of the pedal, resulting in increased shoe-to-pedal contact and an improved sense of lateral foot stability and control.
We think this is a wonderful pedal for anyone looking for a steady entry and release with a big platform, from enduro racers to dedicated XC trail riders. With the tried-and-true SPD retention system and cleats, ease of entrance and exit is as accurate as ever. In addition, we think the M8120 offers excellent value, given the robustness of these long-lasting, high-performance pedals.
The new Shimano M8120 XT pedals have a lot of great features, but there is one problem that is difficult to overlook. When tightened to the appropriate torque specification, the hexagonal locknut by the pedal’s spindle tends to stick out over the pedal’s body. The shoe/pedal interface was slightly hampered as a result. Additionally, the new version is a little bit heavier than the old one. Beyond that, we still adore the XT Trail pedals, especially with the current version’s enhancements and tweaks.
- Adjustable Release Tension
- Stable, Grippy Platform
- Dual-Function Pedals Work for Flat and Clipless
- Reasonable Price
The Xpedo Ambix blends a mid-cage clipless pedal that is lightweight and effective with a full-featured, stable, and grippy flat pedal on one side. The Chromoly axles and the 6061 aluminum pedal body are rolling on three sealed cartridge bearings. The clipless side has a wide-open engagement mechanism with a static front bar and spring-loaded rear, similar to a standard clip-in pedal. The XPC cleats that come with the release have an adjustable release tension and a 6-degree floating range. Although they would likely work for that, these dual-purpose pedals weren’t designed for riding your enduro setup to the shop while wearing flip-flops.
There are eight evenly placed and adjustable grub pins on the flat side of the pedal. We appreciate that these pedals let you choose whether to ride in flats or with a clip-in, and they are effective in both situations.
When riding that side, the pedal’s platform size and pin location work nicely with a clipless shoe and aren’t too noticeable. We cherished the fact that you could ignore the pedal’s additional use while riding on either side of it. The Ambix fills a need for a pedal that can allow a rider using a flat pedal to climb a hill more quickly or provide a clipless rider an opportunity to back off from commitment in risky conditions. The only major issue we have is that when clipping back in, it can be a little less user-friendly to orient the pedal with the mechanism on only one side of the pedal.
- Reasonable Price
- Easy Exit and Entry
- Adjustable Release Tension
A brand-new, entry-level tiny platform pedal with a very affordable price is the Shimano ME700. It costs far less and has a similar appearance and performance to its more expensive XT and XTR brothers. The Shimano SPD clipless mechanism in this pedal, which is essentially a replacement for the tried-and-true M530, is equally robust, adaptable, and dependable. With a wide range of release tension adjustment, entry and exit are simple and reliable. The ME700 has a medium-sized platform that encircles the clipless mechanism. This platform helps to orient the pedal and adds lateral stability.
The ME700’s larger weight is its primary disadvantage. They aren’t terribly hefty at 482 grams for the pair, but most riders who are concerned about their weight will definitely want to explore elsewhere. Compared to the anodized finishes on the higher-end models, the painted pedal body’s finish is more likely to trap mud and show wear. Beyond those issues, we could not find much to dislike about this versatile and reasonably priced pedal.
Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3
- Sheds Mud Well
- Simple Design
The Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3 will be most appreciated by cross-country riders and races or those looking for the lightest gear. It is the most lightweight mountain bike pedal in our review, weighing only 280 grams. These pedals, which got their name from their remarkable resemblance to an eggbeater, feature an unusual, open design that helped them win our mud-shedding test. They don’t clog easily and permit access from all four sides of the pedal. Additionally, they have a floaty feel that may take some getting used to yet may assist some users in avoiding knee pain.
The Eggbeater 3 is the smallest pedal we tested; therefore, we don’t suggest it for anyone who is just starting out with clipless pedals. They should only be used with shoes with very hard soles because they have almost no platform and might not feel as laterally stable as other pedals with more surface area. The little cage does require some skill and care to get your foot lined up exactly, but they are not overly challenging to engage.
OneUp Components Composite
- Solid Construction
- Very Affordable
- Respectable Grip
- Agreeable Mid-Range Size
Our testers were thrilled by the competitively priced OneUp Components Composite flat pedals. It is essentially a composite-bodied version of the more expensive Aluminum pedals, and they have ten evenly placed pins on each side to dig into your soles for a respectable amount of traction. 114 x 104 mm is a decent mid-sized platform size for these lightweight pedals, which function well with a wide range of foot sizes. They are also somewhat low profile to help prevent rock strikes. The composite pedal body feels strong and resilient and should withstand years of misuse. Although they don’t have the strongest grip, the composite models we examined have the best grip. The pedal’s own motion is well-controlled, and its axle doesn’t spin around excessively freely. Additionally, they are quite simple to service, and pin and bearing kits are easily accessible.
Given the pricing, we consider the Composite to be a superior flat pedal alternative. They grip well for the price, and in our opinion, they’re a great choice for those just getting started or for anyone on a tight budget. Despite this, they don’t offer as much grip as some of their more expensive rivals.
Race Face Atlas Pedal
- Excellent Grip
- Quality Construction
- Easily Serviceable
- Concave Platform
In our evaluation of flat pedals, the Race Face Atlas received top marks for the redesign. These pedals have a substantial 111 x 107mm concave platform, 10 strategically positioned, sharp, bottom-loading pins on each side, and superb support and grip to hold your feet firmly on the pedals while still allowing for some movement when you need to adjust your foot position. The pedal profile isn’t the narrowest, with 14.8mm leading and trailing edges and 12.8mm at the spindle. Still, with chamfered leading edges, we found that pedal strikes were limited, and the concave design felt fantastic underfoot. The pedal spins quite smoothly and steadily, and when it comes time for a rebuild, they are among the easiest pedals we’ve tested to maintain. Additionally, they are relatively lightweight, which increases their versatility and makes these gravity-oriented pedals an attractive alternative for trail and all-mountain bikes.
Even though we adored almost everything about the Atlas, there’s no denying that they are somewhat pricey. However, given their lifetime warranty and high-quality build, we believe most riders will get their money’s worth. Over the years, we’ve tested a ton of flat pedals, and we believe the new Atlas pedals are the finest of the best.
We formulated our ideas and chose our victors after months of riding around and using our feet to conjure adjectives, conversing with one another, and gathering data. We hope our diligence and pedaling will make it simpler for you to decide which pedals to place on your whip. We hope that with the findings of our thorough analysis and ratings, this review will make it simple for you to choose the best mountain bike pedals.
Does More Pins Equal More Grip?
The interface between a flat pedal and a soft compound rubber mountain bike shoe is provided by pins. According to this reasoning, having more pins will improve your grip; the longer they are, the more secure your shoe-to-pedal interface will be.
Theoretically, more pins are better, but if they aren’t distributed properly, they are useless. It’s important to put the pins correctly; this is where pedal engineers truly make their money.
Should I Go for Metal or Plastic Flat Pedals?
Aluminum alloy is used to make the majority of high-end flat pedals since it is lightweight, strong, and much simpler to replace damaged pins on a metal pedal body than a plastic one.
However, plastic pedals have the advantage of being far less expensive, and some manufacturers produce variations that are identical duplicates in terms of the size and shape of their best aluminum pedals. However, the plastic iterations come with the drawback of difficult pin removal.
Are Bigger Flat Pedals Better?
In general, larger pedals are preferable since they allow you more surface area for foot adjustability. A greater contact surface will also disperse impact pressures when riding drop-offs or landing jumps.
Although all of the pedals on this list are appropriate for average-sized feet, if your feet are especially small, check them out before you buy. Choose a smaller type if the pedal platform protrudes much from the side of your shoe. On the other hand, if your pedals are overly big, you can hit more pebbles or tree stumps while riding.
Is Flat Pedal Thickness Important?
When selecting a pedal, pedal thickness is an aspect that is frequently disregarded. On technical trails, it can impact balance and confidence; therefore, it’s a significant one.
Your center of gravity will be lower if a pedal is thinner; this difference in thickness is sometimes measured in single-digit millimeters. Thicker pedals indicate you’re less likely to get bucked around on rougher slopes when off-the-saddle descending with level cranks.