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Varying massively in performance, mountain bike pedals are a testament to great design. Despite the fact that they don’t have an extensive array of features or moving parts, the best mountain bike flat pedals can still make the difference between a fun ride and an awkward slip-up.
If you’re still not sure what makes the best MTB flat pedals, we’ve compiled this article from the most up-to-date research on the web, so you can buy armed with the right knowledge. Not only that, but you’ll notice our list of top picks. These are, in our humble opinion, the best flat pedals on the market. So, read, enjoy and learn everything there is to know about these simple, yet brilliant additions to your mountain bike.
The Best Mountain Bike Flat Pedals
Designed to save you time on changing your pedals, these dual-sided bike pedals work brilliantly for commuters, or those who simply have a ways to travel before reaching their mountain biking destination. With one side including cleats and the other hosting a flat, gripped platform, these are the ideal surface for multiple uses.
With an oversized platform, these will match just about any shoes you need to wear, whether that’s on the commute or on a trail run. And, with over a thousand positive reviews, you can be sure that these Shimano MTB pedals have been tried and tested- and loved.
Great for multiple uses
No constant changing of MTB flat pedals
Made from a nylon composite material, these bike pedals from RaceFace are a great, lightweight option for those who love a touch of novelty- as they are available in many bright, eye-catching colors. The chromoly steel axle ensures you maintain the same secure riding, even with the ultra-light 340g pedals, and the removable pins allow for a little added personalization- as you can choose which pins best suit your riding style.
- Weight1.2 pounds
A huge advantage to these Imrider Polyamide bike pedals is their anti-skid abilities. The removable pins are a nice touch, although you’ll get a spare pair with your purchase- something that increases the already great value-for-money. Made for pretty much any riding style, the extra long platform improves grip and, overall, this is a bike pedal that is loved by users of many bike types.
- Weight11.2 ounces
Another option from Shimano is the extra-wide, extra-low-profile PD-MX80. Developed specifically for downhill racing, these pedals are formed to create the highest grip possible, with a concave platform design and longer pins for added grip.
A great choice for those who love to race and take part in downhill riding, these are the best flat pedals for mountain bike riders who love speed but don’t want to compromise on grip and security.
- Weight1.4 pounds
The unusual design of these mountain bike pedals shouldn’t throw you off. They have one of the strongest designs out there, thanks to the triangular structure, which has improved the overall stability and durability of these pedals. It also helps that they’re lightweight and ultra-thin, making them ideal for those who favor speed.
Don’t worry though, the 16 replaceable pins will ensure you stay secure with the added anti-skid, non-slip effect that is hard to come by in such thin mountain bike flat pedals.
4 sealed bearings
- Weight13.4 ounces
Available in some great, eye-catching designs, these nylon composite bike pedals with a chromoly steel axle favor comfort and easy maintenance over speed. These pedals are waterproof, dustproof and anti-skid, and therefore designed for longevity and peace of mind.
Being easy to install and super comfortable to ride, these are a great choice for new riders, or those who simply aren’t too sure on what to choose yet and aren’t willing to spend a lot of money, finding out their preferred riding style.
Long service life
More stable than others on our list
Easy to install
- Weight12.8 ounces
The only option on out list that is made with magnesium alloy, these MTB pedals are designed to handle the toughest and most grueling trails. A concave, 4”x4” platform refuses to give in to poor grip and the long, fat pins will ensure you feel in full control, the entire time you use these pedals.
With proven durability and a super-tough material, these are great for those who are looking to try out the rockiest, most uneven tracks.
Magnesium alloy material
- Weight1.01 pounds
An eye-catching design and lightweight material- made from a high-strength aluminum- these are a great, affordable choice for those who are dipping their toes into the world of flat mountain bike pedals. A superb all-rounder, you won’t find anything that particularly stands out with these pedals, but that also means you won’t lose out as you would with other constructs- who lack in some areas to make up for their superiority in others.
Universal fit for MTB, road bikes and so on
Easy to install
Aluminum alloy material
- Weight1 pounds
Another fantastic hybrid option, without the necessity of using cleats on one side of their platform, these dual-sided mountain bike pedals are perfect for commuters and long-distance bike riders who need the comfort of a road pedal with the security of a mountain bike pedal. Being lightweight and reliable, these are highly-rated online and loved by those who like to cycle to work.
The biggest drawback here is there are no removable pins, so there’s a definite lack of grip when riding and therefore these aren’t great for those who are looking to ride the trails.
Strong and lightweight
Great for multiple uses
- Weight1.3 pounds
Another high-strength aluminum alloy compound material, these mountain bike pedals are lightweight and highly durable. The anti-slip design works brilliantly with the larger size of the platform, and many customers note how secure and strong these pedals were. A great addition to any all-rounder, these might not be the best quality on the market but they’re still a great choice for casual riders and beginners.
Aluminum alloy material
- Weight1.2 pounds
Best Mountain Bike Flat Pedals Buying Guide
What to Consider When Buying a Flat Pedals
As with all things bike-related, the material of your flat pedals can make a huge difference in comfort, speed, overall weight and strength of the mtb pedals and bike as a whole. For this reason, you’ll notice that many of the choices given to mountain bikers are usually a compound material, although some of the more expensive brands might have refined materials to get the best overall performance. The most common materials include:
Not a great choice for the seasoned rider, but their cheap nature and easy manufacturing means they’re a great option for those looking to get a good idea of what types of pedals they prefer. Available in a range of sizes, and usually with built-in pins, it’s a good place to start if you’re looking for a cheap, light entry-level flat pedal.
Just remember that plastic flat pedals are much more fragile, and therefore are unsuitable for mountain bike riding or rough areas.
The heaviest option but usually the most secure, as it’s less likely to suffer from impact- although if your skin makes contact, they usually hurt a lot more. Generally speaking, all except the very best flat pedals with have some area or other made with at least a small part of steel- such as the bearings. Of course, the outer layer is the most important for grip and steel will usually be a mixture of both affordable and tough.
That said, they’re also the slowest option, as they add considerable weight to your bike and can be a little tough to get going, at first. These usually aren’t suited to mountain bikers as their tough but firm nature doesn’t allow for much flexibility. They also hurt- a lot- when they strike against your shins.
A much lighter option that can still hold its own, depending on the quality and manufacturing process. Aluminum pedals are, like all things, dependent on good, high-quality production process in order to make a high-quality material and therefore a high-quality pedal.
Aluminum is great for shock absorption and is the lightest material available, which makes it great for races and downhill biking, or biking in rougher areas. It’s also less likely to rust than steel, which is a huge advantage to those who only take part in irregular riding.
This is the most expensive of the options, as titanium is the hardest, strongest and one of the lightest options available. They’re much harder to come by, as they’re generally only used by those who are very serious about their biking or are simply professionals. Many users swear by their ability to improve their bike riding experience and feel of the overall ride.
The toughest surface, however, naturally requires tougher tools to get the job done. As such, you would also need to invest in high-quality tools to fit and maintain your titanium mountain bike pedals, which significantly increases the overall cost.
Also referred to as a composite, compound materials are simply a mixture of any two materials which are considered the best use of metal types. So, you can combine aluminum and steel to create a tougher pedal that is better at shock absorption, for example. There’s nearly endless possibilities here, although very few are beneficial to mountain bike riding, so we’ll leave you with the knowledge that this option is available, if you’re unsure as to which material to choose.
- Surface area
Generally speaking, an increased surface area is pretty much always a good thing. In this case, the improvements come as part of the grip- having a larger surface area gives you more room for foot placement and means you’re less likely to slip off. It also allows for more pins to be placed around the pedal itself, which can also improve grip.
The issue, of course, is that the wider the pedals, the more trouble you’re likely to have with ground clearance, since the added width with inevitably be more likely to catch on the surrounding areas. As such, your best choice is to go for a pedal with a surface area that you feel comfortable with. If you like to cycle around rocky or uneven surfaces, it might be a better option to go for slimmer bike pedals, which are less likely to cause issues as you ride.
Similar to surface area, added thickness equates to added stability. In this case, the biggest benefit to thicker MTB pedals is that they are less likely to bend over time and become damaged. The thicker the pedal, the less likely it is to break or bend, should you have a fall. However, thicker pedals can have some issues in that they feel a little clunkier, and you become much more aware of their relation to yourself and the bike, as you ride.
Thinner pedals, on the other hand, lack the same durability but allow for a much smoother ride, since you feel more in tune with the trials and tribulations of the bike itself. When using thinner pedals, you tend to feel as though the bike is less prone to rolling. They also feel less secure than their thicker counterparts, especially if you’re not used to riding.
As such, it’s best to go for an option that gives you the best of both worlds- being thin enough to feel the bumps and lumps a lot easier, but not enough to compromise on the stability that a thick pedal provides.
MTB pedals have to face a lot of pressure, from both the cyclist themselves and the trail or road that you’re cycling on. Therefore, having a pedal with enough strength to carry you through regular- or not so regular- cycling can be a huge benefit, both in terms of longevity of the bike pedals themselves and for your safety.
The strength usually comes from the three considerations above, so be sure to check out the different variants you make of the material, thickness and surface area to see what works best for the kind of riding that you prefer.
The two shapes you’ll find in flat mountain bike pedals are the truly flat- in that there is no wave or form to them at all, bar the pins used on the surface of the MTB pedal- and concave. Some might see the concavity as cheating a little bit, since they’re not truly a flat pedal in these instances. Of course, this is simply another design feature that works best with how you feel, when you’re using the pedals.
The level of concavity can adjust the feel of the pedal itself and general performance. If you’re not sure which one to go for, as you’re looking for your first flat bike pedal, then go for a good medium between the two. This usually comes in the form of a medium thickness, that has a very slight concave shape, allowing you to enjoy the best of both worlds.
- Experience of the rider
At the end of the day, it all comes down to your personal preference. And the only way you’ll create a personal preference is through experience. So, if you’re not entirely too sure about what types of MTB pedals you prefer, try out a few of them. Local stores will usually let you have a play around with different types, although you won’t truly get a good feel for them until you’re doing what you plan to do for the rest of the pedals’ lives.
Still, this will give you a better idea of what you feel most comfortable with and what preferences you’re likely to develop. You likely won’t know if you have a bad pedal until you’ve ridden with one, unfortunately, so check out reviews and try to go in, armed with knowledge, about what kind of rider you are and where you like to ride.
Flat Pedals Maintenance
The first thing you should remember when it comes to maintaining your flat pedals is that prevention is better than a cure. So, be sure to regularly clean own your mountain bike after a day’s ride and ensure that your bike is in good condition before you take it out, again.
The best way to service your mountain bike pedals is as follows:
- Take your pedals off the main frame of your bike
- Remove the dust caps (you can do this with a standard kitchen knife)
- Use a ratchet to undo the bolts holding the axle in place
- You may have to shake your pedal a little to get the bolts out of the pedal itself, there might also be a washer in place- be sure to set these aside for later
This next bit can be tricky, so be patient and move carefully. You’ll need two containers for this.
- Over a tub or wide bowl, slowly slide out the axle to access the bearings. Do this horizontally, so you don’t lose any of the bearings on the other side
- Holding it over the other container vertically with the way the axle came out pointing up, tap the pedal body to collect all of the bearings in the container
- Ensure all of the bearing are out
Now you can start to clean!
- Make sure to use a high-quality de-greaser, using a small paintbrush to clean up the bearings
- Next, you need to grease them up again (yep)
- Using another brush, apply grease to the bearing cups
- Then replace the bearing seal onto the axle from the last step and grease the seal and the cone on the axle, then grease the cone and the threads on the other end of the axle.
- Replace the bearings into the bearing cup that is closest to the crank
- Add more grease to the bearing cups
- CAREFULLY insert the greased axle being extra cautious not to knock any of the bearings out of place
- Give the axle a few twists, to ensure a liberal, even coating of grease
- Hold the axle into the pedal body and flip it upside down, so that the threads of the axle face down, and then drop the bearings into the gap between the pedal body and axle
- Push the bearing cone into the pedal body and turn it, until you feel it threading back onto the axle
- Rotate the axle until it is tight enough not to wobble, but not so tight that it damages the bearings
- Pop the dust cap back on
- Wipe down any mess created from the process
- Refit the pedal to your bike.
Do Lot of Pins Mean a Stronger Grip?
Not necessarily. While a good number of pins is always a benefit, there’s actually a few, little things that can make all the difference when it comes to a stronger grip from the pins. After all, too many pins can be more of a hindrance than a help, after a while. The main thing, when it comes to flat pedals, is to try to avoid bear-trap style teeth, which usually line the outer sides of the pedal- these are too aggressive and can actually hurt more, over time. Using pins is easier on your shins and they’re less likely to bend and catch on rough surfaces, too.
Thick pins are great as they don’t bend when impact has been made or if you use your bike a lot- but they also have a tendency to round-off quicker than their thinner counterparts. Very fat pins also don’t provide much in the way of grip, as they’re too low to make any real connection with your shoes. Thin pins do bend easier and are more likely to caught on the ground or catch roots and rocks. That said, they are better for grip- especially with flat shoes.
If you’re still not sure which you might prefer, try to opt for a flat bike pedal that has the ability to change the pins. These are slightly more expensive but being able to replace your pins as and when they wear out is a huge advantage and can save you money in the long run.
Our Top Pick
Shimano have become a name that is synonymous with affordable quality and the PD-A530 SPD Dual Platform Bike Pedal is another notch in their belt, as it truly lives up to its reputation. One of the highest rated MTB pedals on the marke today, these Shimano MTB pedals are dual-sided, making them perfect for those who like to use their bike for multiple purposes.
Whether you just want the simplicity of being able to flip-over your pedals to adjust the riding style of your bike, or you know you have to handle multiple surface types as you ride around, these are perfect for on-and-off-road biking, thanks to flat platform on one side and cleats on the other. This is THE pedal to have if you’re a commuter, or need to travel longer distances to get your mountain bike riding destination.
- Read our guide on buying flat pedals and shoes for mountain biking - Red Bull
- Buyers guide to MTB flat pedals - Merlin Cycles