As former Pinkbike tech editor Richard Cunningham liked to say, “flat pedals are just flat metal,” and he's not wrong. Unless they're made of plastic, of course, but I'll get to that in a bit. The basic design of a flat pedal is quite simple – take an aluminum body with traction pins threaded in, a chromoly spindle, some combination of bearings and bushings to allow them to spin, and bingo, you've got a flat pedal...
Except that it's not actually that easy. The dimensions of that platform, the orientation of the pins, and the size and number of bearings all have a noticeable impact on the way a pedal feels underfoot. Personal preference also comes into play when trying to decide if one pedal is better than another; some riders want the maximum amount of grip, while others want the ability to re-position their foot without lifting it all the way off of the pedal.
The following 12 options are some of the best mountain bike flat pedals currently on the market in 2020. They're all relatively thin and grippy and suitable for hard riding, but there are design features that elevate a few to the top of the charts. If you already own any of the pedals included in this round-up, congratulations – all of these are worthy options that should be able to withstand numerous seasons of hard riding without any major issues.
Are there other high-quality options that aren't mentioned here? You bet. These 12 picks are only a partial selection of what's out there, a compilation of some of the standouts that I've been spending time on over the last 24 months.What about plastic pedals?
The focus of this article is on aluminum-bodied options, but I've mentioned if there is a comparable plastic version where applicable. Going with a plastic-bodied option is a great way to save money – plastic pedals are typically half the cost of their more expensive aluminum siblings, without that much of a performance difference.
Aluminum pedals do tend to hold up better to repeated rock smashing – they'll get scuffed and scraped, but typically don't get as battered as a more malleable plastic body. Some riders prefer the feel of a plastic pedal when it hits a rock, claiming that it glides over it rather than sticking, although I wouldn't say that's the best reason to choose one over another. Hit a rock with any pedal and you'll feel it – plastic doesn't really make that impact any less jarring.
Join the club! I have one of them bear claw gashes from a Crank Brother Stamp pedal..
Even the best riders can slip off of their flats. I had it happen when my chain broke...
Hopefully my SPD pedals arrive soon so I can keep my streak alive now that I have jinxed myself
Here’s a picture of my leg: www.pinkbike.com/photo/18793198
Close-up of the leg gash: www.pinkbike.com/photo/18793197
Mt Hood pro dual slalom on Rotec with Black Widows: www.pinkbike.com/photo/18793221
Mt Hood pro dual slalom finals with BMX legend & NORBA Pro Darrell Young as a stoked 16-year-old: www.pinkbike.com/photo/18793253
Here are more pictures of those pedals on my 1998 rigs: www.pinkbike.com/u/WRCDH/album/Odyssey-Black-Widow-gash
Here are the Atomics: www.pinkbike.com/photo/18793371
Of course, if you ride flats all the time the rate of injury drops off substantially as you learn how to use flats ... just saying
No idea what Muni is...but if your injuries are so much worse, post some pics, haha. I’ve seen crank-break gashes and whatnot, but not many worse pedal injuries. It was a pro dual slalom race I was in, age 16, and was also a runner-up, injured, in the bunny hop contest at 28”, lost to a guy at 29”...so yeah not much learning to ride flats going on at that point.
- top loaded
- back loaded, but pins are narrower towards end
Both solutions are OK.
What is not ok is having full width pins screwed from the back, bacause they are impossible to replace when bent, you need a hacksaw or a grinder to "unscrew" them.
So the real con goes for: Nukeproof, DMR, Yoshimura.
I ride Nukeproof, they are great, but still undecided if i throw them away or try to replace pins for few hours...
My dad has a set and dropped off a curb completely shaving 4 pins off. There was no issue replacing pins, nice rounded head. No pedal body damage. Nice!
Have fun out there! Yeww
I came here to say exactly this. Bottom threaded pins are a pain in the ass. Luckily my DMR Vaults have pins that can be reversed (for less traction, but the correct side to thread in) and my chromags have thinner ends to their pins. Bottom-load pins with full threads to the end are a 100% negative when shopping for pedals
A Dremel tool and a pair of vice grips can be your friends when dealing with stubborn pins. Luckily it’s usually only a few pins that need replacing - it’s rare that you’d need to swap out all the pins on both sides of your pedals.
So what's the point in buying long lasting aluminium pedals if there is so much fuss with rebuilding them.
Nope, nothing at all. stoked with the and spindle strength and countless pedal qualities over the others. Like I said, I've already broken and damaged pins (as expected from normal riding) and had no problem changing them out.
Currently in my garage I have a pile of broken and bent pedals;
2 sets ht03 flats, 2 pairs Shimano xtr 9000 spd, 1 set xtr9000 trail spd . Shimano saint 985's (flats) , and kona wah wah.
These are heat treated, ceramic coated alloy steel. Sweet!
Dumb shinner if I've had one.
I love Hope gear, I run their brakes on both bikes and I only choose their hubs, but I found the grip and support of the platform on the Stamps far superior. The Hopes are gorgeous to look at and still perform really well, and I think they will last much longer than the Stamp7s, (I've had no problems with either set of stamps) but they just don't feel as secure and controllable.
I think a lot of that has to do with the pins, the Cranbros use threaded grub screws, with the threads offering more bite into the sole of the shoe. Whereas the Hopes use smooth sided pins, admittedly they seem to be really strong.
Not that I dislike looking at these fancy aluminium pedals...
I say no 'practical' reason, because the finish on the alloy NP Horizon is absolutely beautiful. It wouldn't be too difficult to talk yourself into it when you seen them up close. As is the same for most NP products actually, i'm a big fan (the Sam Hill bars are a delight to ride with).
@Nukeproofinternational I'm happy to be a brand ambassador if you like, i could talk about the quality and finish all day. You don't see the brand enough out on the green trails and i could be the man to make that market explode. I do blue trails too. I can also do red depending on the trail but we'd have to talk about it first. Anything else, well, you're already paying Sammo so i'd best leave some work for him.
No clue on how they'll last but replacement body's are available for a reasonable price (albeit black only). My XT trail spd pedals look like I threw them in in the dryer with a handful of rocks so I was nervous about plastic pedals for serious riding.
I have had two saddles crack in extreme cold temperatures,like -30 cold. No issues with a Brooks leather saddle.
I have asked a polymer pedal manufacturer if they have tested their pedals at -30 (I don't care if it is C or F at that point) and got no response, so I will keep on riding with Al pedals.
One note about polymer pedals: not all polymers have the same characteristics. Even the same monomer can behave differently depending on the way it is polymerized, what is added to the polymer for reinforcement, how the pedal is manufactured, etc.
Would it be possible to select a polymer that can withstand -40? Yes, but it might have implications above 20C/70F, just like winter tires.
Also, I can't stand to even look at pins that are just machine screws with threads to get buggered up all the way to the end. And I do not believe that Al is the correct material for pins.
I’ve ridden the oneup composit pedals down to around -25F with no issue. They’ve lasted a few seasons of switching between the fat bike and trail bike with no issues!
thanks for the info. I have been riding on a skinny tire bike all winter but I am planning on building a Fatbike for next winter and for $50 US these sound OK. They do have plain old machine screws passing as traction pins, but I can probably live with that... maybe file them down or buy some decent pins from someone. I suspect that the decision to use machine screws is a cost cutting decision.
I honestly think the machine screws work well. They have plenty of grip and they are dirt cheap to replace at the hardware store. I’ve been running these for several seasons now and I’ve never had an issue with slipping pedals. Plus the pins are a uniform size so you can buy longer ones if you want them
Also last pair I got from Planet X for silly money - they're currently £15 but could swear I got them for like £8 or something.
Some examples of body cracks: www.pinkbike.com/photo/18790366
And no, they don't f*cking have an axle bulge.
If anything I've given them too many chances, I wouldn't buy anything as complex as a pedal off them these days.
I will admit I've not tried the newer V6 hub but I believe they had an issue with the pawls initially but replaced all customers hubs for free.
Their customer service can be pretty good, I'll give them that. They don't argue much and they're good communicators.
In the end he bought a 12x135 axle and a dummy 12 mm to QR adapter to fill that axle and it's been working since then.
@zoobab2 if those are the Teslas (if I'm not mistaken), another friend had issues with that as well. Plus had issues warrantying it too. He then put a completely different hub on the bike.
- light (esp. in the mg and/or ti version)
- not too big
- great concave shape
- any colour you like
- cheap as chips (~£40)
I had Vaults but found them a bit too wide. I also had some HTs and Superstars but found them too flat, they were less grippy and became uncomfortable after about an hour’s riding. The only pedal I like as much is the old Specialized Bennies or Saints, but they’re heavy...
You don't, and they dont, true. However the fact that your foot has an arch means the pressure is distributed towards the ends of the arch. The portion under the arch doesn't have as much force through it. So raising the center of the pedal slightly will increase that pressure in the middle, making the central pins do more work, potentially increasing overall grip.
I’ve been happy with the pedals, because the warranty helped me out, but will be moving to other pedals that hopefully won’t fall apart.
And yeah, sorry, I know it's bad taste to say 'pedals X are creaking' when you're not actually really sure it's that, but I've just started thinking about the BB/crank being a possible issue on my ride (that I finished an hour ago), I was pretty sure it's the pedal yesterday.
This is the only pedal I've never slipped. Of all the nasty pedals scars I have, none are from the Vault.
I'm an Arizona rider and hitting pedals on rocks is as common as getting your tires dusty. Soft thin pins get mangled easily. That mangled pin gets dirtier and turns in to a wicked piece of flesh destruction. The damage to skin from thing mangled pins is brutal!
I'm a DMR fan boy and for good reason.
Yeah man but, if I wanted more of a lockdown feel, I would go back to clipless; for me, the horizons in combination with my 5-10s are more than enough. I never-ever had a slip and the feel underfoot is good. Maybe if the die, I'll try something else but, for the moment, it is more than enough.
one up resin
vaults are the grippest (more so that the horizons I've tried) followed very closely by the one up's then the burgtec are noticeably less grippy but still fine.
Concave is in the top 3 most important things for a flat pedal to have, all these super thin ones feel so ugly under the foot with huge axle and bearing bulges.
Got my pair of Spyr from AE for 30€ and changed the pins with longer setscrews for 5€.
So far I really like them. Around 285g and the grip is insane. And they use bearings on both sides instead of bushings.
Have them for 6 months now on my trail bike. If they hold up well I would buy them again.
Downsides: you need an extra-stubby T25 to get into the pedal for service, the bearings haven't lasted super long, and I did tear a couple of pins out (although I was able to save the threads). I assume that anodizing magnesium has issues because most of the SPRY colour options other than Oil Slick are paint instead of anodizing—which looks bad once it wears.
At least for me, with 5-10s
I never had any problem repositioning my foot on the vaults. On the horizons, the sole is stuck, feels like glued to the pedal.
On occasion, I had feet slip of the pedal. With the horizons, never, not a single time.
If there are gripier pedals, I cannon imagine where and how ppl use them.
Please note that I have shims under the pins and I am not using them at full height. Personally, I don't need that much grip in my life. Cheers.
They have some extra qualities over the others. Which puts price and quality up as expected.
-Heat treated alloy steel ceramic coated spindle (extreme strength, seal-life, and corrosion resistance)
-angled pins for platform comfort
-bearing spacer (similar to what you'd find in a hub driver) for bearing life
-recessed access/maintenence cap. Hidden from damage, easily rebuildable
-full USA made, almost entirely in house. and killer warranty
-CRAZY seal life and weather proof.
Yes they hit things, the leading pins looked very second hand but nothing would break no matter how many rocks they hit. Bearings are stupid smooth (not even considered servicing them after a good 12 months of abuse) and run like butter.
Only mod I have made its to put the long pins in the 4 outer most spots and have to stay put when it gets rowdy with twisted feet because the grip is just mad and don't want to try and move my feet around.
I have Saints as well, they're fantastic but the XT is just a nicer feel. Small size with sz 10 shoes is perfect. Bmx history makes me less likely to feel comfy on big slab platforms.
I do however miss my old Syncros Mental stainless flats I had years ago. 23 stitches from a pedal also but goddamn they were indestructible.
Cheap , light strong. Pick all three.
That's a silly con. Why don't the other ones (except the Cromags & the Yoshimuras say "Inboard empty space won't be for everyone".Unless you expect people to be standing partially on the spindle? The bugles don't take away from usable space since of other pedals that space is non-existent. Could maybe say it takes away usable position, but is anyone really pedaling with their shoe that close to the crank? I know my size 9s would do more than just rub on the cranks if stand all the way inboard, partly on the spindle.
Yup - 641 it is! I was too lazy to search up the service guide before posting. ...Maybe that's telling about how and why my pedals find themselves in the state they're in haha.
Not sure how to edit my original post, but I appreciate the clarification!
My personal conclusion is that the OneUp aluminum pedal is my favorite and the most reliable I've ever owned.
I like my Deity T-MACs, but they are too expensive, a tiny bit too wide for, but mostly crappy quality for the price (compared to the OneUps). The OneUps can take a beating and the pins never rip off, the T-MAC can't take a beating at all. I had 3 warranty replacement on my enduro bike before switching to OneUp, I keep the T-MACs as backup.
And if Yosh is anything like Blackspire, good luck with warranty if you do break off a piece.
I don`t use them on my mountain bikes though, I have a set of race face plastic pedals on my Honzo since 2016, it is my most used bike. I also have two sets of older wah wah pedals on my old demo and my Hei Hei, they work great but perhaps some other pedals would compensate better for my lack of riding skills and tear and slash my lower legs less. Almost 40 years of mtn biking have left my lower legs a scarred mess. There was a time when I rode clipped in all the time, but I think even then I tended to unclip and smash the pedals into my shins when crashing anyway.
I have no idea what kind of pedals came with my bike .
All i know is that my feet don’t slip off of them so that good enough for me. ????
Ten years with metal pedals and on nylon one since 3 years. I have the exact opposite experience. Broke or bend many metal pedals... My raceface chester are still ok despite many rock smashing (and it seems they absorb part of the impact too, sending me and the bike a little less out of my way on such impacts).
I only have experience with 2 kinds: the kind that have grub screws that screw in with an allen from the top, and the kind that have longer, narrower screws that go through the whole pedal and out the other side. I prefer the latter so far.
The other kind I see look like they screw in from the top with a wrench, but the width of the pins make me worry the grip will be less...similar to grub screws. Any opinions would be appreciated. Thanks!
The side are, that from the riders perspective effective seat angle becomes steeper and chain-stays grow.
Pins are moulded plastic though so wear out and also not as good if wet.
Wouldn't recommend for a proper bike unless it was for really casual rides or a pub bike or whatever.
The new shape v8 can be found really cheap and are like the v12 but not sealed bearings.
The Nukeproof Horizon plastic version is great for the price but CRC seem to have pit all their prices up at least 10% since lockdown. It's cheeky.
I got some plastic Horizons for about 20 quid a few months ago , now they are 32.
Same for loads if other products.
UK mountain bikers check your prices, CRC are ripping you off during lockdown coz they know loads and loads of people want bike stuff at moment.
Putting new bushings in helps, of course, for only a month or two.
Then the inboard bearing, it's a special bearing in unstandard dimensions, meaning it can only be bought in their rebuild kit (sometimes hard to find). Plus it's badly sealed, due to which I've had to superglue the bearing to my axle twice when I sti had them in order to loosen the bearing after it seized and the inner race slid over the axle instead of the bearing rotating.
Granted one of the cases when this happened was when the bike was on the rear of a car on a ride home during a rainstorm but all the other bearings survived with no problems.
I sold the previous bike with the spanks with an original gxp pressfit bottom bracket (that went through the same rainstorm) with the rainstorm supergluing occurrence happening on the original bearing set, after which I replaced them, but the same thing happened later on on the new set as well. Yet still the same BB bearing set...
cons: cracks too easy
*insert predictable Sam Hill comment here*
Translation: "All opinions but mine are irrelevant."
If he had said something like
"I have found flat pedals not to work for me, its amazing that so many people like them. Its cool that MTB has room to cater for so many different types of riders"
He likely wouldn't have been neg propped, instead he insulted about 50% of mtbers for no reason.
Firstly, I am allowed to have a different opinion to everyone one else jumping on bandwagons. For the record I do not give a flying toss if that goes against everyone else opinions of i get neg propped!
Secondly, @Patrick9-32 how I word my comments is entirely up to me. I would not word my comment in the way you have. Why??.....because I am me and not you!!
So for the record i will keep commenting my opinions whether people like it or not.
Have a good day peeps!!
Will take avoiding muscle/tendon injuries over clipping in just cuz.
Dude with all your cycling insider knowledge I'm surprised you don't hold a couple world titles by now. If only the pro's could figure out what you know!