This article was updated on 10/31/19:
As flat pedals continue to evolve in design, weight, and size we’re committed to keeping you up to date on the best options out there for flat pedals. We’ve seen some cool new options added to the flat pedal offering, so we’re updating this list.
We found some great one on one discussion regarding flat pedals over on our Components Forum.
What to look for in flat pedals for mountain biking
Flat pedals or clipless?
Mountain bike pedals come in clip-in pedal style and flat pedals. This list will show you the best pedals we’ve tried to date.
The appeal of flat pedals is two-fold. First is that the rider can release from the bike instantly and the rider can put a foot down or jump away from the bike when needed. The other upside of riding flat pedals is it trains the rider how to properly ride a bike without yanking on it and fighting it. Since the rider is not locked on to the bike, he’s forced to use proper weighting and loading/unloading techniques to maintain contact and pressure on the bike. These skills allow the rider to handle the bike more fluidly and safely much like a skateboarder or surfer.
How big and how thin?
With all this attention, there is a growing trend now on pedal weight, grip, and pedal thickness. Thin pedals are all the rage these days as the rider is able to get lower on the bike, yet minimize pedal strikes on the ground. The pedal stroke is more efficient as well, placed as close to the axis of rotation as possible. And finally, the traditional factors of platform size, stiffness and pedal durability all still apply.
We took the time to give you actual weight, thickness, and size of each pedal.
Long or short pins?
The Best Flat Pedals
OneUp Composite pedal
OneUp Components introduced two pedals recently, an aluminum one for $125 and this composite model available at $48 a pair. We’ve been fascinated with this composite pedal not only because of its low price but also because of our experience with composite pedals absorbing rock blows without jarring the rider and without showing much damage to the pedal.
The best thing about them is the grip. Heel down, heel up or pedaling out of the saddle, the pedals always provided reliable and predictable grip. They felt very natural with FiveTen Freerider Pro shoes. These shoes don’t have the stickiest sole available but they were a perfect match with the OneUp shoes providing pedaling efficiency and grip.
The platform is big at 115×110 without being too big as it extends the pedaling surface close to the crank where the axle meets it. 10 long, removable pins are placed at the outer edges and on the middle of the pedal.
The platform is fairly open so although untested in our road trip, we can see that this pedal will shed mud well. Edges are chamfered as well to deflect obstacles and rock hits.
Crank Brothers Stamp 3
The new flat pedals from Crank Brothers have impressed even the most devout Crank Brothers doubters with its quality. The Stamp flat pedals have a thin profile, use 10 replaceable traction pins per side and have a concave shape to cup your feet to the pedal. Available in small and large, the larger size platform is designed for shoe sizes 10 and up and the other one 10 and below. Both sizes are available in anodized black and anodized red. The two pedals are so far apart in size that we wish the Small was slightly larger in size.
Many models are available and they come with an impressive 5-year warranty
Race Face Chester
Race Face surprised us with their Chester pedal. They were quite proud of it and that was refreshing since it was a nylon $55 pedal. It is a nylon pedal with 8 traction pins per side that’s fairly thin and fairly wide. And it was surprisingly light at 340 grams. Was it good enough to survive and thrive in rough and diverse conditions? We took it to many road trips to find out.
Shimano XT PD-M8040
Shimano is offering a new XT level flat pedal. The PD-M8040 is available in two sizes. The small-medium (100mm x 105mm) is recommended for riders with a 36-43 size foot, while the larger platform (110 x 115mm) is best for those from 43 and up.
Both pedals have a concave platform, with 10 pins per side. The pins are available in either 3.5mm or 5mm. Claimed weight is 460g for the smaller platforms or 503g for the larger version. Retail for either is $100.
Not thin at 18mm thick, these pedals excel more in terms of smoothness and durability. The shape and mud-shedding abilities are good too. Take note though that they ship with flattish 3.5 mm pins due to a lawsuit wary manufacturer. Absolutely change them over to 5.0mm pins if you’re going to ride with these aggressively.
Replaceable pins boost the grip for confidence on wicked descents and switchback berms. The TMAC’s machined aluminum body provides a stiff and responsive feel, while micro sealed bearings spin fast and smooth.
At just 14mm thick at the center, these pedals offer an abundance of clearance for picking through narrow channels and techy terrain. They are a bit thicker at the edges, but that engineered concavity further secures the connection between shoe and pedal. Regardless of whether you’re on a single or dual crown fork, additional traction is always a good thing.
Not cheap at $169, The TMACs excel with amazing grip and a good concave shape with a massive platform. The hollow pins create more surface area for traction and there’s an extra set of pins with the set. Downsides are bushing require more servicing. There are no size options too for folks with smaller feet or areas where pedal strikes are very common.
Race Face Atlas
The Race Face Atlas is an interesting contender indeed. It is 12mm thin at the axle and flares out to 14.5mm to the edges to form a concave footbed. It is light at 355 grams but it is long at 114 mm for maximum fore and aft surface area. But it is not too wide at 101mm to give it better side clearance on rocks, roots and other debris. The pins on the front are angled towards the back to give it better bite on the shoe. And with its BC roots, a fully sealed bearing and grease port design are designed in.
The Xpedo Spry has all the right moves with a 260-gram weight, 11mm thickness and a $79 price tag. The platform has a nice shape to it too and is right in the sweet spot with a big 106 x 110 area. There are some reports on the forums that the pins and the body get damaged badly with repeated rock hits due to the softer magnesium material used. We’ll report back when we get a set to test soon.
9. DMR Vault MG Ti
The DMR Vault is not thin, nor is it new but it is beloved by downhillers across the globe and new versions of the pedal keep coming out. At 17mm, it is far from the thinnest but it has a platform shape that is concave for a better fit with the shoe sole. And the edges of the pedal are angled nicely to bounce off rocks and other trail obstacles. There is an affordable Vault and a lighter Vault MG (magnesium) version. Our particular test version is the MG Ti for a steep price and a stunning 290 grams of weight.
Spank Oozy Trail
The Spank Oozy Trail pedal is indeed thin with a 12mm pedal height not including the pins. At the same time, strength is not be compromised as this kind of pedal will be subject to a severe beating throughout its lifespan. The body itself is cold-forged for strength. Cold forging has proven itself over the years as the best way to mold metal into a shape that flexes the least and exhibits the most durability. The pedal body is beveled and polished toward the edges to give a nice look and to provide a finish that will survive the countless rock hits that it will encounter. Just like the Spank Spike, the Oozy Trail features an identical 110 x 110 platform for a secure interface with the shoe. It is 12mm thick throughout and all the edges are beveled and shaped to glance off rocks and other debris.
With the titanium axle upgrade from Spank ($75), the weight of the pedals can be dropped to 300 grams.