Pinkbike Buyer's Guide: The Best Clip-In Trail MTB Pedals for 2021

Apr 6, 2021
by Sarah Moore  



Welcome to a new series of Pinkbike buyers’ guides. We’ll be revising and updating these guides periodically as new options get released, and we get more feedback from our team.





Flats or Clipped In?
At some point every mountain biker makes a choice: will they ride flat pedals or will they ride clipped in?

Flat pedals allow you to wear a flat-soled shoe that is held onto your pedals with pins that dig into the rubber sole of your shoe. They’re often chosen by riders who want to put a foot out quickly in technical terrain, or riders who want to do tricks. You can walk more easily in flat pedal shoes, and they’re often more comfortable.

On the other hand, clip-in pedals require a special shoe that connects to the pedal using a cleat. Clip-in pedals (also called “clipless” pedals, we know it’s confusing) ensure that your feet are held securely to the pedals, and always planted in the same position. Many riders also feel that they allow them to engage more muscles in their leg when pedaling, and encourage smoother, more efficient pedaling technique.

Regardless of your choice, most mountain bikers should try clip-in pedals at some point. After researching and testing countless pedals, we’ve narrowed down our top picks for you below, depending on your riding style, budget, and preferences. We’re confident that each of the Pinkbike Editors’ Choice options below will serve you well.

Why are they called “clipless” pedals when you clip into them?

Pedals used to have “toe clips” that held riders’ feet on the pedals with a cage or strap across the top of their shoe. In the mid-80s when pedals that you clipped into without the toe clip started showing up, they were marketed as “clipless” pedals to differentiate them from toe clips.

They're referred to as clip-in pedals in this article to avoid confusion, but clipless is technically the correct term.


The Testers
I’ve been mountain biking for over half my life, and I’ve ridden clipped in since day one. I’ve raced World Cup cross-country races and EWS enduro races in all conditions, and have seen my fair share of bad pedals.

Pinkbike technical editors Mike Kazimer, Mike Levy, Richard Cunningham and Daniel Sapp also contributed to this test. As long-time bike industry tech editors, they’ve reviewed dozens of clipless pedals in the past decade.


How We Chose
There are literally hundreds of pedals on the market. We narrowed down the list of pedals to include in this test by polling our own technical editors, and assessed the following criteria.

Mountain bike specific pedals: Road cycling and mountain biking clip pedals are different. We chose pedals that are specific to mountain biking and will suit the majority of trail riders. Unlike clip pedals used for road cycling, mountain bike shoes use cleats with a 2-hole design that are recessed into the sole. This allows for more comfortable and safe walking.

Two-sided clips: There are pedals that have a clip on one side and a flat pedal on the other. We only included pedals with clips on both sides.

Popularity: We reached out to our contacts at various pedal manufacturers and bike shops asked them what their best selling mountain bike clip pedals are.

Durability & maintenance: We sought pedals that have a reputation for lasting for a long time, and have rebuild options or are easy to maintain.

Weight: We chose pedals with a platform that are a reasonable weight for their intended use.

Pricing: We chose pedals that have a good price to weight ratio. We didn’t look at any pedals over $200 USD, because in the trail and enduro categories they’re just not worth it. Pedals get smashed up, and the few grams you’re saving are better saved elsewhere.

Availability: We chose pedals that would be available to the majority of mountain bikers around the world. We didn’t include any “Limited Edition” pedals.

Other Feedback: In addition, we read a slew of consumer reviews on websites that host them as well as the opinions of other cycling media. We chose to focus on pedals that are consistently well liked.


How We Tested
Each pedal and cleat combination was weighed. Then we installed the cleats on a Specialized 2FO Roost shoe to see whether there were any compatibility issues or if shims were required. We rode each pedal on the same bike in regular conditions for general performance feedback. We checked the amount of contact with our test shoe.

In order to level the playing field, we created a “mud test” where we poured 1 cup of mud onto each pedal and then tried to clip in and out repeatedly. We tested each pedal in the middle of any adjustments they have (tension, float, etc.), as well as at their extremes.

What is float?

Float is the degree of free movement allowed by the cleat side to side while pedaling before you unclip. If you're focused on efficiency and power transfer, you will likely prefer your foot to feel more secure in the pedal and ride a pedal and cleat combination with less float, while more gravity oriented riders, or riders with any type of joint or knee problems, tend to prefer the mobility of a cleat and pedal combination with more float.

We also took apart each pedal (or attempted to) in order to assess serviceability. Durability is very difficult to assess with a small sample size of testers, so our durability scores rely heavily on our longer-term testing and user reports. If you have issues with any of the pedals we’re testing, please let us know in the comments.





Contents






Shimano XTR PD-M9120



• Weight: 386 grams (pair)
• Cleats: SPD
• Float: 4°
• Dimensions & features: 98mm x 68mm x 16mm
• Tension: Adjustable using 2.5mm Allen key
• Colours: Black/silver only
• Internals: Heat-treated alloy steel axle with cup-and-cone ball bearings
• MSRP: $189.99
bike.shimano.com


Shimano’s first dual-sided clip mountain bike pedals were released to the world in 1990 and after three decades on the market, the chances that you or someone you knows is using Shimano SPD cleats and pedals is very high. In fact, several manufacturers including Look, Ritchey, XPEDO, and Wellgo, make pedals that are SPD compatible.

The XTR PD-M9120 is Shimano's top of the line platform pedal, and is the most expensive in this round up at $189.99 USD. The new XTR Trail pedal is longer and wider and therefore heavier than the model it replaced, but the updated platform adds stability. In addition, the inside has been hollowed noticeably in the quest to shed mud and crud. Despite the added weight, they are some of the lightest clip-in trail platform pedals available at 386 grams. Shimano did not make any provision for pins on the XTR pedals.

The pedal uses a bomb-proof, step-on-the-pedal-and-go engagement which provides a resounding click to let you know when you've secured your foot in the pedal or released it. There are 4° of float which will be sufficient for many, but may not seem like enough for very active flat pedal riders who want to be able to move their feet around when riding without accidentally unclipping.

Adjustments to the tension of the pedal can be done on the fly with the help of a 2.5mm Allen key. A set of standard SH51 cleats comes with the pedals, but they are also compatible with a SH56 multi-release cleat. That multi-release cleat will allow the rider to pull their foot out of the pedal with the traditional outward heel twist, but will also release if you yank your foot up out of the pedal, good for beginner riders who are nervous about clip pedals, but terrifying for advanced riders expecting their feet to stay in place when they are riding.

The pedals are user-serviceable, with a cup and cone style bearing system and axles that screw in from one side of the pedal with a 15mm wrench. It is worth mentioning here however that our reviewer had an issue with a wandering contact seal back when we wrote our review of these pedals and this was a complaint that other riders also had about the top-of-the-line XTR pedals when I looked through reviews and online forums.

NB: Confused about all the numbers and letters after the words Shimano XTR? Here's the deal. PD stands for Pedal, M stands for Mountain, 91 means we're talking about an XTR product in the 9100 series, and 20 means it is the clip pedal model with a platform.



Scores:

Ease of entry & exit: 9
Tension/security: 8
Adjustability: 10
Mud-shedding: 8
Value: 6


Platform: 8
Float: 7
Weight: 10
Serviceability: 10




Shimano Deore XT PD-M8120



• Weight: 429 grams (pair)
• Cleats: SPD
• Float: 4°
• Dimensions & features: 98mm x 68mm x 16mm platform
• Tension: Adjustable using 2.5mm Allen key
• Colours: Black/silver only
• Internals: Chrome-moly spindle
• MSRP: $130 USD
bike.shimano.com

The Shimano Deore XT PD-M8120 pedal is one step down from Shimano's top tier XTR model, but borrows from the top-end XTR with a wider platform than the previous generation. Both share the same SPD mechanism that's mounted in a fixed position on the pedal body. The XT's bodies are about 45 grams heavier though at 429 grams, mainly due to the fact that they spin on solid axles as opposed to the hollow units on the pricier XTR Trails. They come in at $130 USD.

Like the pricier XTR pedals, when you clip or unclip the pedal, there's a reassuring click which leaves no room for confusion as to whether or not you're actually clipped in. They also come with SH51 cleats but are compatible with a SH56 multi-release cleat. They use 4° of float, which will suit most riders, although Mike Levy has said that he would prefer a touch higher release tension at the maximum end of the scale since he has "accidentally unclipped a few times when using a lot of body English. This happened more frequently as the cleats wore, but I do recall it occurring a few times when they were still new."

Reviewers and happy customers from a variety of sites and forums comment on the pedal's reliability, longevity, and overall, they are highly recommended for their feel and reliability. The bearing system can be adjusted and maintained in the same manner as the XTR pedals - a few wrenches and some fresh grease can get the job done - and tension of the SPD mechanism is adjusted via a 2.5mm hex wrench.



Scores:

Ease of entry & exit: 9
Tension/security: 8
Adjustability: 10
Mud-shedding: 8
Value: 9


Platform: 8
Float: 7
Weight: 8
Serviceability: 10




Shimano PD-ME700 Pedals



• Weight: 482 grams (pair)
• Cleats: SPD
• Float: 4°
• Dimensions & features: 98mm x 72mm x 19mm platform
• Tension: Adjustable using 3mm Allen key
• Colours: Black
• Internals: Chrome-moly spindle
• MSRP: $65 USD
bike.shimano.com


The least expensive of Shimano's trail clip-in pedals, the $65 USD ME700, have an aluminum body, a chromoly axle, and use Shimano's proven cup and cone bearing system. They take cues from the pricier Shimano XTR and XT pedals but the pair is significantly heavier at 482 grams. The ME700 features a wide platform and can be installed using an 6mm Allen key or a pedal wrench while higher-end models can only be installed with an 8mm Allen key.

The PD-ME700 uses the same clip in mechanism found on Shimano's other pedals and works the same way as the pricier XTR and XT pedals, although some people say that the entry isn't quite as quick and slick since the PD-ME700 lacks the slippery finish of its more expensive siblings. Like the other SPD pedals in this round up, they come standard with the SH51 cleats, but they are also compatible with a SH56 multi-release cleat that allows the rider to pull their foot out of the pedal with the traditional outward heel twist, but will also release if you yank your foot up out of the pedal. The price point for the PD-ME700 pedals is a good one for beginners and if you're nervous about about clip pedals, the SH56 cleat could be a good option to try.

Although the PD-ME700 has a slightly larger platform than the XTR or XT pedal, they still aren't meant to be ridden while not engaged and the surface does not contain pins and is made of a slippery metal. As the platform doesn't contain as deep of a cut out, it is slightly more prone to holding more mud than its more expensive siblings.

These pedals are said to be very durable and receive positive accolades whenever they are mentioned. It is worth noting however that they require a special tool (TL-PD40) to service them. It's not expensive, but it is an extra step.



Scores:

Ease of entry & exit: 9
Tension/security: 8
Adjustability: 10
Mud-shedding: 7
Value: 9


Platform: 9
Float: 7
Weight: 6
Serviceability: 9




Crankbrothers Mallet E



• Weight: 427 grams (pair)
• Cleats: Crankbrothers
• Float: 0 or 6°
• Dimensions & features: 88mm x 75mm x 18mm with 6 adjustable pins per side
• Tension: Not adjustable
• Colours: Black, Blue
• Internals: Cromoly spindle, inner Igus LL-glide bearing and outer Enduro Max cartridge bearing
• MSRP: $169.99 USD
crankbrothers.com


Crankbrothers' pedals are probably the second most commonly used option out there, next to anything with that SPD acronym on it. They use a 4-sided clip-in mechanism, mounted in the middle of the hollowed out platform. Six removable pins are found on each side of the Mallet E pedal for extra grip, along with two removable polyurethane traction pads that are available in different thicknesses to allow riders to fine tune the interface between the pedal and shoe. They weigh 425 grams and retail for $169.99 USD.

For riders accustomed to the feel of Shimano's SPD pedals, there's a distinct difference in how the Mallet E pedals feel underfoot. Where Shimano's clipless pedals have a crisp 'click' upon entry and exit, the Mallet's are a little less distinct, especially when clipping out. They also have six degrees of float compared to Shimano's four, which may not seem like much, but it's instantly noticeable. It's a matter of personal preference, but Mike Kazimer said that he "came to appreciate the extra float – the additional freedom of movement makes using the Mallets feel more like riding with flat pedals, allowing for more possible foot positions, which can be helpful when extra body language is required to wiggle through a tricky section of trail."

There's no way to adjust the release tension of the Mallets, but their design means it's virtually impossible to release upwards. The feel of the pedal can be adjusted with the height of the traction pins. You can also adjust your release angle by changing cleats. There are four cleat options, with either 0° or 6° of float and either 10° or 15° release angle. The pedals come standard with 6° of float and a 15° release angle. While not a knock against them, the design of the Crankbrothers pedals and cleats means that you must take the time to set them up correctly. You should be doing that with any type of pedal, of course, but it's especially important with Crankbrothers pedals. Once they're set up properly, you'll find that the design of the clip-in mechanism is well suited to muddy conditions.

In between the Mallet E's aluminum body and the chromoly spindle is an Enduro cartridge bearing and an Igus bushing that was developed specifically for Crankbrothers. A double lip internal seal system is in place to keep water and other contaminants at bay, and there's another external seal to add further weatherproofing. Mike Kazimer did find that one spindle had developed a fair bit of corrosion after half a year of abuse, but the other spindle was corrosion free. We'd recommend that riders in wet climates check and re-grease the internals. It's a quick procedure, and can be performed with the pedals still on the bike.



Scores:

Ease of entry & exit: 9
Tension/security: 8
Adjustability: 7
Mud-shedding: 10
Value: 7


Platform: 10
Float: 9
Weight: 8
Serviceability: 9




Crankbrothers Mallet 3



• Weight: 502 grams (pair)
• Cleats: Crankbrothers
• Float: 0 or 6°
• Dimensions & features: 100mm x 74mm x 17mm with 6 adjustable pins per side
• Tension: Not adjustable
• Colours: Raw, Red
• Internals: Cromoly spindle, inner Igus LL-glide bearing and outer Enduro Max cartridge bearing
• MSRP: $139.99 USD
crankbrothers.com

The Crankbrothers Mallet 3 pedals use the same 4-sided clip-in mechanism as Crankbrothers' other pedals, mounted in the middle of a less hollowed out and therefore heavier platform. Like on the Mallet E pedals, there are six removable pins on each side of the Mallet 3 to provide extra grip. The Mallet 3 however does not have removable polyurethane traction pads to allow riders to fine tune the interface between the pedal and shoe. They are the heaviest of all the pedals in this round up, weighing 502 grams and retailing for $139.99 USD.

Just like the other Mallet pedals, there isn't a crisp 'click' when you clip in or out of the Mallet pedals. They have six degrees of float which makes it easier to move your foot around on them without unclipping, giving them more of a flat pedal feel. If you have trouble clipping in, the big platform with its six pins provides support for your foot. There is more surface area around the 4-sided clip-in mechanism on the Mallet 3 compared to the Mallet E and six smaller cutouts instead of two larger cutouts, which means that they're still reliable in muddy conditions, but they're more likely to carry around added mud and dirt.

The same traits of the Mallet E apply to the Mallet 3 - there's no way to adjust the release tension, but their design means it's virtually impossible to release upwards. The feel of the pedal can be adjusted with the height of the traction pins. There are four cleat options, with either 0° or 6° of float and either 10° or 15° release angle. The pedals come standard with 6° of float and a 15° release angle.

In between the Mallet 3's aluminum body and the chromoly spindle is an Enduro cartridge bearing and an Igus bushing that was developed specifically for Crankbrothers. A double lip internal seal system is in place to keep water and other contaminants at bay, and there's another external seal to add further weatherproofing. It's a quick procedure to check and re-grease the internals on the Mallet 3, but it is worth noting that they use a slotted endcap instead of an a hex endcap like the Mallet E does.


Scores:

Ease of entry & exit: 8
Tension/security: 8
Adjustability: 7
Mud-shedding: 9
Value: 7


Platform: 9
Float: 9
Weight: 6
Serviceability: 8




Crankbrothers Mallet 2




• Weight: 498 grams (pair)
• Cleats: Crankbrothers
• Float: 0 or 6°
• Dimensions & features: 100mm x 74mm x 17mm, no pins
• Tension: Not adjustable
• Colours: Green, Silver
• Internals: Cromoly spindle, inner Igus LL-glide bearing and outer Enduro Max cartridge bearing
• MSRP: $99.99 USD
crankbrothers.com

The Crankbrothers Mallet 2 pedals use the same 4-sided clip-in mechanism as Crankbrothers' other pedals, mounted in the middle of the same platform that comes on the Mallet 3. The Mallet 2 however does not have removable pins on each side to provide extra grip. They are among the heaviest of all the pedals in this round up, weighing 499 grams and retailing for $99.99 USD.

Just like the other Mallet pedals, there isn't a crisp 'click' when you clip in or out of the Mallet pedals. They have six degrees of float which makes it easier to move your foot around on them without unclipping, giving them more of a flat pedal feel. The 4-sided clip-in mechanism on the Mallet 2 is a bit harder to rotate on the axle compared to the Mallet E and Mallet 3 and therefore they are harder to clip in to. Like the Mallet 3, they are reliable in muddy conditions, but there are six small cutouts on the platform which makes them prone to picking up dirt and mud.

There's no way to adjust the release tension of the Mallet 2, but their design means it's virtually impossible to release upwards. Unlike on other models, the feel of the pedal cannot be adjusted with the height of the traction pins. There are four cleat options, with either 0° or 6° of float and either 10° or 15° release angle. The pedals come standard with 6° of float and a 15° release angle.

In between the Mallet 2's aluminum body and the chromoly spindle is an Enduro cartridge bearing and an Igus bushing that was developed specifically for Crankbrothers. A double lip internal seal system is in place to keep water and other contaminants at bay, and there's another external seal to add further weatherproofing. It's a quick procedure to check and re-grease the internals on the Mallet 2, which use the same slotted endcap as the Mallet 3 pedals.



Scores:

Ease of entry & exit: 8
Tension/security: 7
Adjustability: 5
Mud-shedding: 8
Value: 9


Platform: 9
Float: 9
Weight: 6
Serviceability: 8




Time Speciale 8


Time Atac

• Weight: 396 grams (pair)
• Cleats: ATAC
• Float: 10° disengagement with ATAC Easy, 13 or 17° ATAC
• Dimensions & features: 90mm x 64mm x 21mm with four adjustable pins
• Tension: Micro-adjustable tension clamping system
• Colours: Black, Orange
• Internals: Hollow steel axle with steel bearings
• MSRP: $150 USD
time-sport.us

SRAM recently purchased the pedal side of Time business, giving them a stake in the pedal market. The Speciale 8 has a mid-sized aluminum platform intended for aggressive trail riders and retails for $150 USD. It is proportioned about the same as Shimano's XTR trail pedal and comes in just a touch heavier at 396 grams, including the optional four pins per side.

The ATAC engagement bears some similarities to the Crankbrothers design but its release action is adjustable and two-sided, not four-sided. Time's ATAC cleats are designed to be reversed, depending upon the rider's desire for a more prolonged 17-degree, or a quicker, 13-degree exit. There are also ATAC Easy cleats which are suitable for beginners, which disengage at 10 degrees.

Time's ATAC system requires a more directional entry than Crankbrothers, but provides a more similar feel to Crankbrothers pedals than Shimano pedals. Daniel Sapp said when he reviewed them that the dual-loop ATAC mechanism "feels smooth and progressive, so I can anticipate the release and feel confident that I'm securely clipped in right up to that point." Speciale 8's offer reliable engagement in muddy conditions and are unaffected by sloppy mud, but still require a bit of a shove to clear hard-packed stuff.

Reading through online reviews and comments, you'll find that Time pedals are well-loved by many riders due to their reliability and unique feel. Time's version of the double-loop spring mechanism has also proven to hold up better to rock smashes than Crankbrothers'.


Time Atac
Time Atac

Scores:

Ease of entry & exit: 9
Tension/security: 9
Adjustability: 9
Mud-shedding: 9
Value: 7


Platform: 8
Float: 8
Weight: 9
Serviceability: 9




Look X-Track En-Rage Plus



• Weight: 448 grams (pair)
• Cleats: X-Track (interchangeable with SPD)
• Float: 6°
• Dimensions & features: 67mm wide x 92mm long, 2 adjustable forward pins
• Tension: Adjustable spring tension using Allen key
• Colours: Black
• Internals: Cromoly spindle
• MSRP: $130 USD
lookcycle.com


Look pioneered the most successful clip in pedal design for road racing, but it took a while for them to come up with off-road pedals that appealed to mountain bikers, eventually deciding to follow Shimano's lead on both the engagement mechanism and the cleat instead of reinventing the wheel. The Look X-Track En-Rage Plus is a platform pedal that looks similar to Shimano's offering and comes in at $130 USD, the same price as Shimano's XT. They are slightly heavier than the XT pedals, partly due to the fact that there are two pins on each side of the pedal.

Look advertises the X-Track as offering 6 degrees of float, while Shimano SPD pedals list just 4 degrees of float. The X-Track cleats are nearly identical to a Shimano SPD cleat which means that standard Shimano SPD cleats will work fine with the X-Track pedal. The feel of the Look pedals is also very similar to that of the Shimano pedals when you clip in, offering a resounding click to let you know when you've secured your foot in the pedal, but there's slightly more wiggle room before you hear that distinct 'click' when releasing.

Adjustments to the tension of the pedal can be done on the fly with the help of a 2.5mm Allen key, and if you're the kind of person who rides your XT or XTR Shimano adjustment screws bottomed out and still wish for more release tension, Look's En-Rage Plus could be a good option since they offer a higher maximum release threshold. As Richard Cunningham said, "My XTR setting is four clicks out, but I needed to back out two more clicks to match the same release feel."

Like Shimano, the X-Track pedals are completely serviceable and seem to hold up well to the abuses that come with trail riding.



Scores:

Ease of entry & exit: 8
Tension/security: 9
Adjustability: 10
Mud-shedding: 8
Value: 8


Platform: 8
Float: 8
Weight: 7
Serviceability: 8




HT T1



• Weight: 379 grams (pair)
• Cleats: X1E / X1 / X1F (HT exclusive system)
• Float: 4 to 8° depending on cleat
• Dimensions & features: 68 x 83.5 x 16.8 mm with 2 replaceable pins
• Tension: Adjusted via a 3mm hex bolt on each side
• Colours: 14 colours
• Internals: Cromoly spindle. Sealed bearings with IGUS bushings
• MSRP: $135-159 USD depending on colour
ht-components.com


The HT T1 is the brand's enduro race pedal and at 379 grams for the pair, they're one of the lightest on test. The only pedals that are lighter are the Xpedo Baldwin pedals and the Wellgo M279DUs, neither of which has a substantial platform. They cost $135 to $159 USD, depending on which of the 14 colours you choose. The spring-loaded clip-in mechanism is HT's own design, with a wire bail at the front rather than the metal plate commonly seen with SPD-compatible designs. On that note, the T1's aren't SPD-compatible, which means you'll need to use HT's own cleats in order to properly clip in and out. The supplied X1 cleats provide 4 degrees of float, and there's another cleat design available, the X1F, that allows for 8-degrees of float.

If you've ever used a version of Shimano's clipless pedals then you're familiar with what 4-degrees of float usually feels like—there's almost no resistance up to a certain point, after which the cleat cleanly disengages and releases the shoe from the pedal. On the HT T1s, even for those first 4-degrees there's still a little bit of resistance, and the release feels 'springier' than it does with Shimano's pedals. When he reviewed them, Mike Kazimer said that "it's like the difference between opening the latch on a gate (Shimano) and lifting up the catch bar on a mouse trap (HT). It's a little less on/off, which means there's a greater range of foot motion for those moments when you need to almost—but not quite—unclip." This also means that the T1's may not be the best option if you're just getting used to riding clips. Clipping in and out is trouble free in all but the muddiest of conditions when they can clog a little bit, although a few solid kicks are usually all it takes to get clipped back in.

The T1 pedals offer up more spring tension than Shimano SPD pedals, a plus for riders who regularly find themselves blowing out of their SPD pedals even at max tension. Tension is adjusted via a 3mm hex bolt on each side, with possible settings ranging from 'snug' to 'my shoes are now permanently affixed to my bike.' There's a ton of available spring tension, and the middle setting is close to what would be the max on a set of Shimano pedals. On the trail, the T1's were easy to clip into, with a reassuring 'click' that makes it easy to know that you're securely attached. It's worth noting that if you crank the tension up all the way it's going to be harder to get in to the HT T1 pedals as well as getting out of them.

All that being said, in Mike Kazimer's review and countless others, when it comes to durability and ease of release, Shimano comes out on top since they are able to withstand multiple seasons of use without losing any of their smoothness or developing play, and retaining a consistent feel with every clip in or out. The pedals aren't as weatherproof as they could be and disassembly isn't too hard. It does require a thin-walled 8mm socket, but that comes with each set of pedals.



Scores:

Ease of entry & exit: 8
Tension/security: 10
Adjustability: 6
Mud-shedding: 9
Value: 6


Platform: 8
Float: 10
Weight: 10
Serviceability: 7




XPEDO - Baldwin



• Weight: 355 grams (pair)
• Cleats: SPD
• Float: 6°
• Dimensions & features: 62mm x 76mm x 19mm
• Tension: Adjustable using 3mm Allen key
• Colours: Black, blue, orange, silver, pink
• Internals: Cromoly Spindle, 3 Sealed Cartridge bearings
• MSRP: $119 USD
xpedo.com


Xpedo says that the Baldwin is a lightweight yet durable pedal that bridges the gap between the demands of XC racer to the enduro rider. It's one of the two lightest pedals on test at 355 grams, and features Xpedo's adjustable Posi-Lock retention system protected by a platform that is on the smaller side. The Baldwin includes Xpedo’s own cleats, however they are compatible with Shimano SPD cleats. They come in five different colours and retail for $119 USD, just $10 less than Shimano XT and Look X-Track En Rage Plus pedals.

The Xpedo cleats look very similar to the SPD cleats, but with an open end adjuster. They engage with what will be a familiar ‘click’ to SPD pedal users and keep your foot firmly in place once you're on the trails. The side to side float of the cleat in the pedal is 6 degrees which makes them similar to the Look X-Track En Rage Plus pedals. There's a bit more room to move your feet around before you unclip and it's a touch harder to get out of than the Shimano XTR, XT or PD-ME700 pedals.

Where the Baldwins differ the most from the Shimano and Look pedals is with the adjustability. There is range, but it's much more difficult to adjust the tension than with the Shimano pedals because there's just a screw paired with a scale with a high and a low on it. The screw is a bit harder to reach with your Allen key and there isn't a plus or a minus sign that help you figure out which direction to turn the screw based on whether you're looking for more or less tension. There's also no hard stop, so it's easy to over-loosen the pedals and have the nut loose contact with the bolt. A tedious reunification ensues.

There are 3 cartridge bearings and I found multiple reviews online that stated that the Xpedo Balwins are durable, however they get a low value score based on the quality of the tension system that you get for $10 USD less than Shimano's sleek XT pedals.



Scores:

Ease of entry & exit: 7
Tension/security: 8
Adjustability: 6
Mud-shedding: 8
Value: 6


Platform: 7
Float: 8
Weight: 10
Serviceability: 6





Wellgo M279



• Weight: 352 grams (pair)
• Cleats: SPD
• Float: 4°
• Dimensions & features: 62mm x 76mm x 23.5mm
• Tension: Adjustable using 3mm Allen key
• Colours: Black
• Internals: Cromoly spindle, polymer bearing
• MSRP: $59.99 USD
wellgopedal.com


The Wellgo M279 pedals are the lightest at 352 grams for the pair and the least expensive of the bunch at $59.99 USD. That light weight is in large part because they have the smallest platform. They are one of only three pairs of pedals in this round up that are installed using a 6mm Allen key, as opposed to a 8mm Allen key. The M279 uses an SPD mechanism and includes SPD cleats. The pedals themselves have the tallest stack height on test since the platform is thicker and the clip in mechanism protrudes more than on other pedals.

There are 4 degrees of float on the M279 pedals and engagement is crisp and smooth with the SPD mechanism, although the lack of a substantial platform and the elevated position of the clip in mechanism makes it feel like you're much more disconnected from the pedal than you are on the other SPD pedals in this round up.

Like the Baldwins, the Wellgo M279 is more difficult to adjust than the Shimano or Look SPD-compatible options. There is range, but it's much more difficult to adjust the tension than with the Shimano pedals because there's just a screw paired with a scale with a high and a low on it. The screw is a bit harder to reach with your Allen key, and there's also no hard stop, so it's easy to over-loosen the pedals and have the nut loose contact with the bolt. I found, along with many of the online reviews about them, that the M279s do not shed mud particularly well.

As for their durability, online reviews state that their bearings are not the most reliable and the mechanism is not as solid as other SPD pedals which gives them a low value score when combined with the lack of serviceability.



Scores:

Ease of entry & exit: 8
Tension/security: 7
Adjustability: 5
Mud-shedding: 7
Value: 5


Platform: 5
Float: 7
Weight: 10
Serviceability: 5




Ritchey Comp Trail



• Weight: 407 grams (pair)
• Cleats: SPD
• Float: 4°
• Dimensions & features: 90mm x 65.3mm x 22mm
• Tension: Cromoly Axle, ball bearing
• Colours: Black, green, orange, red
• Internals: Hollow steel axle with steel bearings
• MSRP: $68.95 USD
ritcheylogic.com


The Ritchey Comp Trail pedals are some of the least expensive on test and fit squarely into the middle of the pack at 407 grams. They can be installed using a 6mm Allen key or a pedal wrench. The M279 uses an SPD mechanism and includes SPD cleats.

There are 4 degrees of float on the Ritchey Comp pedals and engagement is crisp and smooth with the SPD mechanism. The platform feels more substantial than the one on the Wellgo pedals, although it doesn't feel as stable or as durable as the other SPD options. The Ritchey Comp Trail pedals opt for weight savings over a larger platform like that on the Crankbrothers models.

Like the Baldwins and the Wellgo M279, the Ritchey Comp is a little more difficult to adjust than the Shimano or Look SPD-compatible options. There is range, but it's more difficult to adjust the tension than with the Shimano pedals because there's just a screw paired with a scale with a high and a low on it. The screw is a bit harder to reach with your Allen key, and there's also no hard stop, so it's possible to over-loosen the pedals and have the nut loose contact with the bolt.

As for their durability, online reviews state that their seals are not the most reliable which means water and dirt can get into the bearings, making them noisy. They are also not serviceable. This gives the pedals a low value score.


Scores:

Ease of entry & exit: 8
Tension/security: 7
Adjustability: 5
Mud-shedding: 7


Platform: 6
Float: 7
Weight: 8
Serviceability: 5
Value: 6





Details

Scores


Editors' Choice Top Picks
Version 1. Evaluated April 6th, 2021.


Best Clip In Trail Pedal:
Winner: Shimano Deore XT PD-M8120
Runner Up: Time Speciale 8

Best Value:
Winner: Shimano PD-ME700
Runner Up: Crankbrothers Mallet 2

Best Flat Pedal Feel:
Winner: Crankbrothers Mallet E
Runner Up: HT T1





Got anything to add? Which trail pedals would you like us to check out and add into the mix?


431 Comments

  • 372 15
 I celebrate the choice to call them clip-in pedals and think that this should be the start of a movement to stop the archaic "clipless" term. The only people who still use toe clips in 2021 are hipster bike messengers anyway...
  • 79 8
 I just call them clip pedals. Times have changed and keeping the old nomenclature around provides no real benefit.
  • 18 3
 Couldn't agree more. Thank you, Pinkbike.
  • 67 36
 @Peally: My pops got me into mountain biking and he called them clipless, I will continue to do the same in his honor and expect my son or daughter to do the same.
  • 27 37
flag krka73 (Apr 6, 2021 at 8:43) (Below Threshold)
 I prefer "click-in" because, well, there is no clip....
  • 64 0
 Where are all the toe clip pedals in this review? Big miss.
  • 6 1
 Huzzah! I'm going to start just calling them clips, if the hipsters question it they can call them toe clips!
  • 9 2
 I refer to them all as SPDs, but then I'm old school and when I started riding Shimano was not only original in mountain biking with their SPD, they had the market to themselves. Looks like they still do pretty much. They're all I ride, and nothing else I've tried are close.
  • 16 2
 I thought everyone now just called them "clips". Seems like a sensible and easy way to describe them.
  • 4 0
 Yes! a new standard for pedal nomenclature!
  • 3 1
 Bumpy and/or Flat
  • 3 1
 Theoretically regular flat pedals should have been the ones called clipless instead, once straps were done.
  • 20 6
 Better yet, just ride flats and you don't have to talk about them at all.
  • 17 9
 I’m seriously over this discussion. Every pedal article for the last few years has started with someone’s opinion on naming and it’s getting pretty old. We officially know what you mean when you say Clipless, Clip in, or flat. No further need to debate it just pick the one you like and use it! I came to the comments hoping for insights on the pedals themselves and got yet another clipless argument.
  • 5 8
 I honestly don't care either way, it's just unnecessary to give the whole stupid schtick.

Just call them one or the other, what I hate is "Blah blah blah clipless pedals, which is weird because you clip in and it's called clipless, ISNT THAT WEIRD amirite!?!?!"

Yes, someone may be confused here or there, but they can do 4 seconds of research and figure it out.
  • 13 1
 @RobHesse: Why does everyone call pedals with concave..."flat"? For additional controversy and aggravation, I propose these pedals should officially renamed "Noclip Platform".
  • 1 3
 @Lineofbestfit Those things are death traps anyways! LOL (toe clips)
  • 1 0
 so clip-in pedals are sole clips then?
  • 6 4
 stop the madness: it's "clips" and "flats"
Pinkbike: thou shalt never type "clipless" ever again. Smile
  • 4 5
 It's cleats or flats. And it's referring to the shoes, with the respective pedal application implied. Get the with the program people.
  • 1 5
flag CSharp (Apr 6, 2021 at 14:04) (Below Threshold)
 @ Lineofbestfit: Oh, I still use the toe clips with straps on my hardtail. I refuse to ride clip-in (clipless) pedals - tried it and don't like it. Platform pedals for full suspension all the way.

For the longest time, I couldn't figure out why clipless pedals and shoes are called that way. I agree, they should have been call clip-in or click-in pedals. I still like the old road bike aero toe clips. They're sweet and sleek and no special cleats necessary!
  • 1 0
 @ClaytonMarkin: @ClaytonMarkin: Not back in the days when Internet is not ubiquitous!
  • 1 0
 How am I supposed to clip-in to my clipless pedals?
  • 3 3
 Imagine not using flat pedals, lol
  • 2 0
 I call them "pedals"
  • 2 0
 The only good clipin pedal is a dead one
  • 1 0
 Lol@Eatsdirt:
  • 4 1
 Why would anyone want to be Breaking Away from feetbelts
  • 1 0
 I just call them 'pedals'. The only archaic use here is from people who STILL need to attempt to belittle with the term 'hipster'. Yawn.. yes, if you ride a fixed gear bike you're better off with cages.
  • 2 0
 @Motorrader: you're never better off with cages. Too unpredictable, particularly in a city environment where you may not be able to get your foot off the pedal because the stupid strap has twisted slightly or the tread of your shoes stick on the pedal teeth and you can't lift your foot off to disengage. Clip-ins should replace every form of the Neolithic strap in system.
  • 1 0
 @JodyLeeJr: Oh I see, yes those Onza's were just like that, vicious pedals just waiting to tear into your flesh and not let go.
  • 2 0
 @mbosko7: you're a good man, Charlie Brown.
  • 1 0
 @RobHesse: you forgot to mention clicky dooos and I myself am offended others might also be offended but I won't offend them by assuming they're offended
  • 1 0
 @Peally: other than confusing people, there's no point
  • 1 0
 @krka73: all the Polish guys I know who ride call them clicks which makes a lot of sense. Cause this clip in clipless thing is silly and confusing
  • 1 0
 @briain: With that clicking sound, I think people using cleats can tap dance on their bikes - clickity, clickity, clack Wink
  • 2 2
 @CSharp: Having started racing on a bike with toe clips and cleats on my shoes, it is hard to transition away from calling clipless pedals what they are, pedals without clips, or clipless for short. The knowledge you are about to hit the concrete when your chain drops at low speed, but the leather toe straps still cinched down, totally locking your cleat onto the pedal will never leave my mind. Clipless pedals solved it, and that is their name.
  • 1 0
 @RobHesse: Exactly...These comments remind me of how my 14 yo son would focus on "being cool" vs actual quality of content.
  • 4 0
 Yes, much like I stop calling my Honda a "Horseless Carriage".
  • 1 0
 Did you know lower priced Mountain bikes are still shipped with toe clips. Trek Marlins still have toe clips shipped in the box. I believe if you are a millennial, then I can see y'all being confused. You want to take a tried and true product and make it your own. Have you ever seen a clip. Does the pedal you use look anything like a paper clip or a tie clip. The sound it makes in the interface is more like a snap. Did you know that the majority of Mountain Bikes sold, never see a Mountain. Why not call it a dirt trail bike? All the millennial jerks think that if it's a Mountain Bike, you can automatically do drop offs and jumps. Then when they break a frame, they get bent out of shape because they can't get the bike warrantied. Not used for the intended purpose. But if you want to continue to paperclip yourself to pedals, so be it.
  • 1 0
 @ClaytonMarkin: You snap in or click in. Papers are clipped together. Your tie is clipped to your shirt. When you snap in your pedals you are binded or cliked in.
  • 266 4
 The worse part of my XT pedals is that they have lasted for 6 years with virtually zero maintenance and still run like new. Therefore I can not justify to buy a new shinny set of Mallet Es to make my bike look cooler and therefor make me faster. Its a real bummer man
  • 14 0
 i have the same issue with an old dakine (or lezyne, i dont even know anymore) multitool i've got that just wont die
  • 9 1
 Depending on where you live in canada mallets are not the best in my opinion.. the brass cleats wear out super fast on granite so I was replacing them near monthly on Squamish. I did really like them otherwise though!
  • 7 0
 If you're like me and you sometimes miss a clip-in starting in the tech section, you should switch anyway. Being able to rely on your foot staying on the pedal even if you miss the clip-in is so handy. I was a long time shimano rider (20 years) and wouldn't go back from my mallets.
  • 18 0
 My 25 year old PD-M636’s still work flawlessly. I’ve rebuilt them once about 24 years ago, they haven’t needed it since.
  • 34 6
 @Bchambers09: Regardless of location- the fun part of Crankbrothers is that you will a) get to mix and match them as you will need multiples to ensure at least one pair works after three months of moderate use and b) you will always be up on the trends as no pairs will survive longer than a season of moderate riding. Sorry CB...still bitter from the times before my XT pedals when I assumed pedals were replaced at the same frequency as gloves or sticky rubber tires in the desert due to the reliability of your product.
  • 12 0
 @big-red: My saints are heavy but are excellent for this, with the pins at full length. Long lasting, low maintenance. I do not like a lot of float on the pedal though.
  • 6 1
 @snl1200: this perfectly encapsulates my crank brother’s experience. I’d been burned by the disintegrating egg beaters in the past but tried the mallet e’s last year on a whim. What an infuriating experience it still is. I spent more time rebuilding one set over four months than I did working on my three bikes for the rest of the year.
  • 5 0
 @ptrcarson: great choice too. Anything that won't leave you slipping if you miss. I've had too many nasty shin gashes or slipped-foot crashes over the years to trust anything without pins unless I'm riding road or xc. I've been lucky so far that the few pairs of CB pedals I've had have held up very well, even if they do need occasional rebuilds. Of course, if I could get the CB pedal with a shimano spindle assembly, I'd be in pedal heaven.

Edit: I guess my m636 pedals back in the day were pretty close. Those things were the best.
  • 3 0
 Yeah, pedals can last a long time. Shoes can wear much quicker to cause a lot of slop and a more loose feel with the pedals. New shoes can have a much tighter shoe to pedal contact as they are not as worn on the pedal/shoe contact points. I think shoe companies should make the pedal/shoe contact points last longer with more durable materials or be able to replace them somehow. I have shoes that are not worn much, but have a lot of slop because they have worn pedal/shoe contact points.
  • 7 1
 @snl1200: not sure what your doing but had a set of Mallets last me 4 years with no service in the set conditions of Pisgah and now in SoCal in the dyest conditions and still holding up. Service everyone a couple years is not too much to ask and if your complaint is about that then take your bike in for service.

Cleats for sure wear out for sure fast but the performance of the pedals is worth it IMO. I've found if you feel the cleats when walking then the set up isn't right or your shoes are worn.

There's a reason it's the most popular pedal DH. If you want a more free feeling and not feel like your shoe is bolted to the cranks then Crankbrothers is the play.
  • 5 1
 @mtbynot: Bro, CB obviously has reputation for having the most reliable products ever produced!
  • 3 0
 Same...I have an original set of PDM985's that are still flawless...ten years later.
  • 5 0
 @mtbynot: glad you have won the CB lottery. I was living on Vancouver Island when I was running them so hot and dry summers and super wet winters and rebuilt them regularly. At the time I argued the reliability issues I was seeing was worth it for the extra float and stability. I'm pretty used to the movement and stability on XT's now and don't see it as a huge deal and prefer the extra clearance now that BB's are lower. I think the Mallet's lived in DH for so long as there were few clip/platform pedals out there. The DX's were popular also and the Saints. I see less and less mallets around now and I would guess due to the reliability issues but that is all just anecdotal in my experience so am open to being totally wrong on it.
  • 3 0
 The Shimano ME700 will probably outlast your bike, and the next one and maybe the following one. These 60€ pedals are magic, on my bike they are dented like shit but still work flawlessly
  • 4 0
 Excellent attention to detail on this write-up Sarah.

I love my XT pedals! Nice to see where they sit with other makes/models.
  • 6 0
 Shimano pedal durability is crazy. I bought a pair of DuraAce road pedals from a buddy with 30,000 miles on them (not a typo) ten years ago. Gave them a bit of grease, and they're still going strong.

Also I don't know what metal they use to make SPDs, but I don't know how it's possible to smash them into rocks at full speed with all my body weight for years and not even have a scratch on them. The rest of the industry should look at Shimano SPDs as the holy grail of durability.
  • 4 0
 Try SPD Saints and just justify it as another option
  • 4 1
 Buy any of the Crank Brothers pedals and you get the opportunity to buy new pedals more often Smile
  • 1 0
 I had same issue... and just bought them anyway. I justify it by also buying another pair of shoes, so I have a pedal setup (stiffer soles xt trail) and less pedal setup (shimano somthing or another dh shoe and mallet)
  • 2 0
 Call me when you retire them after 12 years, as I did with my first pair of VP 133-DHs. The "jaws" became so worn they couldn't hold a new set of cleats. Best part of them: they were just 20 buck a pair on eBay. I got four sets. Oh, and they also have a pivoting cage, which makes clipping in a breeze.
  • 2 0
 @southoftheborder: I did the same. The VP VX Race pedals with chromoly spindle are excellent. Bought a few extra pairs when they were cheap, but I think they discontinued them. I can't find them anywhere now.
  • 2 0
 @Afterschoolsports: i had axles on 3 different pairs of CB pedals randomly snap so i gave up on them years ago even though i liked their clip in mechanism a lot. Back to , and sticking with shimano for the foreseeable future.
  • 5 0
 @snl1200: I feel like I'm the only person in the World (aka Pinkbike) who's had a decent experience with Crankbrothers durability.

I've been running them for over a decade on all my bikes. Never had one that lasted less than 2-years without maintenance. And the ones that needed rebuilding or replacement, earned it with serious sledgehammer-like rock strikes.

Plus, you can't beat the mud and snow clearing ability. It just becomes a non-issue.

I've got nothing against other systems and manufacturers. But it's worth pointing out that not everyone has Crankbrothers "famous" durability issues.
  • 3 0
 @atourgates: I pretty much share your experience. I’ve run Mallet E’s for 5 years after decades on Shimano SPD. They are not “zero maintenance” like Shimano pedals come close to, but maintenance is straightforward and I only need to do it every couple of years. The cleats do wear out pretty quickly though. But for the easy engagement, solid retention (I would release from SPDs when angling my hips), and the excellent platform feel, they’re worth it.
  • 3 1
 Anyone else still have a functional set of 747s?
  • 1 0
 Mine are on my 3rd bike and going strong.
  • 2 0
 @gotohe11carolina: not 747, but i have a pair of 646’s, the second run of the DX with a grey body (circa 2001). Still going strong.
  • 4 0
 I honestly have no idea how old my Shimano SPDs are. They migrated from my mountain bike to commuter bike about 3 bikes ago, they've been ridden thousands of miles through every season, put back in the garage, wet and covered in road salt, yet they're still spinning fine. They're the nuclear cockroach of the cycling world.
  • 1 0
 Hum, small play come really fast on one (on every pairs I've owned) and the platform don't last more than 3 years, worn out on the sides giving an uncomfortable and shaking cleat/pedal only contact even with new cleats. I'm niw trying the look enrage, stil looks new after a year, ZERO PLAY
  • 1 0
 Your screwed. I have a set of shimano SPD pedals from 1996, that still function perfectly and are still in use (though not on my daily bike, but a bike that is still ridden).
  • 3 0
 @big-red: Funnily enough I've spent the last couple of years on a set of Mallets and I've recently moved back to Shimano's. I had Mallet DH's and I now have Shimano DX's for the below reasons:
My foot re-engages smoother and easier on trail after taking a foot out.
The audible click means I never question when my foot is engaged.
The platforms are equal in performance, despite the DX plastic being the ugliest clippy pedal known to man.
Reliability on the Shimano's is far higher. Going through a set of bushes every year with CB's is annoying. The Shimano's go on, and on, and on, and on and MAYBE I'll have to throw some more grease in at some point...

Never thought I'd buy DX's, but I'm not sure there's a better (Enduro/DH) clippy pedal out there.
  • 1 0
 I take your 6 years and add 14 more for my old time ATACs that i am still running on my current bike. Never been apart still work as designed though they are starting to look a little worse for wear the last couple of years. I may have to buy a set of Speciale 8's.
  • 2 0
 @atourgates: That is awesome. Maybe I just had bad luck or something about how I ride didn't mesh with how they function. I don't really have plans on going back ever given my own experiences. My issues snow clearing tend to be in the cleat pocket on the shoe that packs up with ice/slush and takes a quick Allen key/twig to clear. I'm happy other people enjoy the CB's and have better luck.
  • 1 0
 @snl1200: No. That's wrong. You're supposed to pick a pedal and be a d*ck about it. Not allow people to prefer different things than you.
  • 1 0
 I have literally smashed my XT pedals going full speed on head sized rocks thinking "this is it, they are done". Get off the bike and not sure where the rock hit the pedal. Jump back on the bike and pedal like nothing ever happened. And I have done this more times than I care to remember. Shimano pedals are indestructible.
  • 1 0
 @kthackray: Exactly...
  • 64 0
 Pick a pedal and be a dick about it
  • 51 5
 Nice article, Sarah.

One nit: You describe float as "side to side" motion, which it is not. It is rotational motion (hence why it's defined in degrees). It's a small point, but for someone trying to understand the concept, describing it as side to side could be confusing. Cheers.
  • 18 0
 Agree
Especially because some pedals (like Time) have real side to side float in addition to normal float in degrees
  • 1 0
 @pakleni: and thats a good part of why times are my favorite, though not the speciale 8., the MX and XC are much better value, same clip. but somehow pinkbike didnt get to test these, though they could test alll versions of shimano and crank brothers Wink

since time is now specialized maybe time will have the right product placement in the future haha
  • 1 0
 There are both forms depending on brand, pretty sad that pinkbike didn't distinguish / describe the significant difference
  • 4 0
 @p1nkbike: Time is now SRAM, not Specialized.
  • 1 0
 @p1nkbike: Agree. Plastic body numbers 4 and above are great! Especially if you don't live in rocky area
  • 1 1
 @pakleni: I slammed my plastic Times into rocks many times. Way more durable than old Shimanos PD424. But what kills my times is rocks hitting and bending the springs. Happens rarely but it does. Can't decide between Mallet DH and Time MX4, both work better for me than Shimano like systems
  • 2 0
 @justwaki: , if have the mx4 and mallet e. Love both, and the mallet with all the screws all wind down, have a very similar (time) feel in float, but the platform for the foot is amazing, giving support all around vs only the rear of the mx pedal
  • 2 2
 @Pyres: My best experience so far is Mallets DH + 5.10 Hellcat Pro. this shoe has quite recessed cleat mount which allows for fine adjustment to the pedal. I have screws almost all the way in and taller plastic supports. Time MX still feels a bit wobbly to the sides when clipped in. Never had an issue to unclip when falling on downs but sometimes I eat crap on climbs when I fall to the left and tip of the shoe goes against the crank (ride left foot forward), so I can't clip out. When I use washers between pedal and the crank arm it gets much better with unclipping but then I clip out unintentionally sometimes. I take occasional pathetic fall on a climb over catastrophic unclip when whipping or riding a rough corner. I find Times have a bit better feel for float limit. can't decide really which one is better. Time with Mallet DH platform would be best I think
  • 1 0
 @justwaki: “ Time with Mallet platform”

YES ^^^^^

But, as a non-engineer, I believe the front of the pedal would interfere in a bad way to the clip in feeling
  • 1 0
 Did you go to “float” college?
  • 2 2
 @Pyres: If I only had time for Mallet Time... I spoke with a guy who could make one. Ut I don’t have time to 3d model it. Maybe @brianpark could have time to draw and print one Big Grin
  • 2 0
 @justwaki: 100% agree. This would be sweet. Also a cleat as long lasting as the Shimano. Then you'd have a winner.
I'm on Time Speciale now. I love the feel of that system.
Back in the day, the large Attack Z pedals were great but the body of the platform would wear out making the system get loose over a couple of seasons. But for feel, they were great.

After going flat for a few months (DMR Vaults) I miss the solid feel of a large pedal on landings and manuals.
  • 2 2
 @fxdc: I would buy speciale but the price as well as size of the platform is putting me off a bit. Is it any better than MX? Looks not much bigger, it seems that you just get pins you can screw out but then they would grab the shoe. How would you compare these two? MX and Speciale?
  • 1 0
 @fxdc: Could you elaborate on the platform wear on the Atac Zs? Thanks!
  • 1 0
 @justwaki: I had some MX4 way back and liked them fine. The material does wear out some but it burlier than the Shimano vinyl. The platform on the Special 8 I have is nice, like a XT but definitely not large enough for big impact landings. It's nice for tech trail riding where you can squeeze through tight spots without catching a rock. The stuff I ride is hard on big flat pedals. Too wide and catching in lots of places. The pin screws can be taken out or adjusted. I like it but I've had an issue with the spring retention pin backing out.
  • 1 0
 @Arierep: Those were the old aluminum large body ones. Not sure if they still make those big ones. Basically the top of the pedal where the cleat would swing out would gradually wear down the metal into a low dimple which would create play / additional float. New cleats would not change that. I think their pedal design has changed now so it doesn't happen anymore.
  • 1 0
 @fxdc: Yep, those older ones (DH4) are still available in Europe, for about half the price of the Speciale 8.

Are you happy with the Speciales? Are the retention bars holding up to pedals strikes and rocks?
Thanks
  • 24 0
 I just picked up a set of XTs after trying a few other pedals. While I think the XTs definitely can make gains in some areas (platform being number one, compared to something like my DMR VTwins), Shimano pedal reliability makes this a no-brainer. I still have my first set of PD-M520s from almost a decade ago, and until somewhat recently, didn't realize that pedal maintenance was a thing. Those pedals survived mud, ice, rock bashes, and years of wet riding without ever needing any maintenance whatsoever. I'm more than happy to stick to Shimano in the [realistic] hopes of cutting pedal maintenance out of my life entirely. Plus, you can pick up cleats anywhere.
  • 5 1
 I have very few complaints about my XT pedals, but I have found in the past few years that they have a tendency to get loose where the axle screws into the pedal body/platform. Not a big problem, but you have to be vigilant. I feel like the XT pedals from 15 years ago or so did not have this problem. But other than that, all good. I'm still rocking some XT SPDs from 2002 on my old hardtail commuter.
  • 1 0
 @TheR: good point, this was an issue for me a few years about 5 years ago , but I think this has been solved in the last redesign when they fattened them up.

Also if you are running Shimano but would like to try huge volume pedals, funn mambas use the same cleat. I didn't like them at first, but have them on a high BB bike at the moment and the ability to ride unclipped for a few meters is great.
  • 1 0
 @Mugen: Shimano are good. I just bought a set for my new bike with the flatter platforms. Hopefully they’ve fixed the issue like you said. Maybe I’ll give the Funn a try some day.
  • 2 0
 I did bought that tool to service my 530's after 5 years of abuse...I opened them,ooked at the grease still like new closed them and stored the tool away.
  • 1 0
 @TheR: I lost a screw off the platform on an XT pedal - first time in 20 years of shimano pedals.
  • 1 0
 @Mugen: just got the mambas and they're pretty great, coming from a flat pedal rider. Only complaint is that the grease port screw treads are so soft, got rounded before I even managed to open the tiny bolt. The stock pins are not the sharpest either, which can be great depending on your shoes.
  • 18 0
 Btw since pinkbike went thru the trouble of a nice complete data table, consider adding a column for the attribute that is usually so visible in flat pedal reviews: the thickness. Low and slack modern bike geo means many of us prefer 170 (or 165) cranks and a low profile pedal.
  • 3 0
 I was thinking the same thing. She mentions the high stack on the HT pedals, but not really anywhere else. I have low BBs on most of my bikes and don't spend all my time on groomed flow-trails. Some of the pedals in this review significantly increased my pedal-strikes. While many of them are similar in overall stack height, there are some differences and the shape of the platform makes a difference. I'm using my new XTR pedals (I think they are the ones reviewed) more often recently as the thin, tapered platform seems to catch on things a lot less than my older TIMES. The TIME platforms, though also tapered, are still really thick at the leading edge. This is despite being a TIME fan for at least 20 years (with a few frustrated crank-brothers, Ritchey and Shimano experiments along the way) and seriously preferring the ATAC platform over SPDs. I just really hate hitting things with my pedals, and don't feel like shortening my cranks to 170 or screwing-up my suspension settings to lift the back-end. If I can gain a few mm in the pedals, I'll take it.
  • 13 0
 Yeah we'll look at adding stack and spindle-length when we update this article.
  • 2 0
 That’s one of the key attributes of the XTR vs XT pedals. They’re a couple millimeters thinner for sure.
  • 6 0
 @brianpark: Check your math on the totals too - Mallet E total score is 77 not 70.
  • 3 0
 @Zak-B: pens down, times up, exam is finished....crankbrothers win Smile
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: Yeah, please update the scores on the final table. The math is incorrect for both the Mallet E and Mallet 3. Some might say y'all hate Crank Bros pedals...
  • 14 0
 Where is the DX? Imo it would check all the boxes except weight. Plus it would win the honorary title for the longest lasting producrion design.
  • 1 0
 This was based around 'Trail' pedals. The DX is a bit more BMX and gravity-oriented. No doubt about longevity with that series. I think (hope) I still have a pair of old 646's from 20 years ago in a box somewhere.
  • 1 0
 I’ve switched back to flat pedals for good now (tried clipless for 2 years to give them a good and fair trial) but the wife is still on her original DXs even though they’re over 10 years old and thoroughly abused, she didn’t get on with Mallets as she felt they were too vague feeling and the cleats dissolve rather quickly.
  • 1 0
 @danielsapp: yeah it's marketed as a DH pedal, right? I'm firmly a trail/enduro rider and they're my pedal of choice.
  • 1 0
 @2d-cutout: They are marketed as BMX.
  • 16 7
 When did we decide we needed platforms on these pedals? They look cooler, for sure, but your shoe is essentially your platform. You don't really need the rest around it. I suppose there is a slight advantage if you come unclipped and can't quite get the cleat back in, but mostly the bottoms of the shoes are so stiff that placing them on the platform without being clipped in doesn't exactly feel right, either.
  • 8 2
 It plays a difference when racing. If you need to dab and then get right back on the gas, having a small platform with some grip is way easier to push on vs just the retention part.

You are right that most platforms don’t actually touch or support when clipped in.
  • 3 1
 @Austink: I hear you. But I’ve found pushing on the platform with my SPD shoes with the hard sole is kind of sketchy. Maybe this type of thing would work better with a hybrid style shoe with a soft flat sole than with more traditional shoes. In other words — maybe I’m doing the shoe thing wrong.
  • 2 1
 I find the platform makes it far easier to orient the pedal upwards, and gives you a little more support if you’re clipped out on top of the pedal. Also protects from rock strikes and stuff.
  • 8 0
 @TheR: Yeah if your shoes are a hard slick sole, no reason to have a platform. But f you have something with some rubber on the bottom, the platform is nice.
  • 6 0
 @TheR: I tried the cage trend in the mid-2010s - even bought a set of 510s because i figured it was my hard soled shoes making them not as great as everyone said. My experience with them, even with softer shoes, was that the cage is pointless for me. The bigger pedal just gets mashed up in rocks more in my riding.

I've owned some of my SPD pedals since the very late 90s and they still work great, even if they look like hell. I think that's a bit of why I had issues accepting the change to caged pedals, I'm just so used to no platform. My riding style is also that I try to never dab and always try to keep cadence up. 25 years of muscle memory is a lot to overcome.
  • 5 1
 I tried the platform and noticed no difference. I'm back to the regular SPDs on my trail bikes.
  • 5 0
 Try Mallets, it is noticeable, and a benefit.
  • 3 1
 Had XTs, no matter how much tension they kept popping out landing hip jumps. Slightest bit of angle/rotation landing and you’re out. t least that was my experience. Plus the lack of float was hurting my knees. Switched to mallet E and both issues solved. Then switched to mallet DH and there is loads more control - never going back.
  • 1 0
 with 510s/ shimano shoes i found that the platform is definitely required or i get too much rotational slip, and hotpsots under foot from the cleat area on the sole.Much nicer locking in and being supported by the platform
this is for me at least, obviosuly if i tried a proper rigid xc shoe things may well be different
  • 1 0
 @Blownoutrides: did you get multi-release cleats (56) instead of single direction (51)?
  • 1 0
 @ruggedmaine:
I cant remember, my experince is based on some xpedo pedals which are supposedly shimano compatible..
felt like i was balancing my foot on a marble without the platform to back it up
  • 11 2
 I just picked CB’s over a decade ago and just stuck with them. Overall very little issue but I always hear from others riders how XTs and Shimano’s lower priced pedals last for decades and present zero issue.
  • 7 1
 I broke three separate egg beater pedals last year in my first 700 miles of riding. All were spring failures. I only bashed one on a rock. I've since switched to flats, which is ironic given my choice of username.
  • 1 2
 It's true, for some reason the Shimanos seem to be bombproof! They last for years and all I do is spray a little WD-40 on them once or twice a year.
  • 4 1
 @mybaben: yes! Spray that grease out of there!
  • 1 0
 @makkelijk: There is no grease on the outside of the pedal mate. I'm not talking about bearings in the spindle, just the outer spring and metal parts.
  • 7 0
 Always went with Time. 25 years ago when I started racing bmx needed to clip in to be competitive. I could never keep my feet in the proper position on platform pedals and lost some races due to this. Went into MTB and have always clipped in on all my bikes, bmx, DS and DH to this day. Still have my original Times plus 4 other pairs. I have found them to be indestructible and never had any issues getting out of them. Only problem was wearing out cleats and shoes.
  • 1 0
 @olddogbmxer I bought a set of ATAC's in the late 90's and those pedals are still running strong on my current Devinci Troy (though I did manage to lose one of the colored pieces this week). I have since bought several more pairs of these and run them on a number of bikes. They have proven to be very reliable and almost indestructible.
  • 8 0
 So.... if you take the "VALUE" column out of the equation, the TIME SPECIAL 8 is your PERFORMANCE winner over the XT... I would rather spend the extra $20 and go with the TIME SPECIALE 8.... TIME for the win here!
  • 6 0
 Frenchlinesandfrenchfriesandfrenchpedals
  • 6 0
 I have the same XTR pedal on my road bike for 2 years now. I have sent back the first pair as the seal on the pedal axle always moved it's way out from it's place. After some time the replacment pair started to produce the same phenomena. Really weird, should not happen with a pedal in this price range. On the other hand the pdm 785 (xt) and the pdm737 (the original spd pedals) are still running strong. Have to admit though that the 737 is a good weather pedal only compared to these new SPD versions and also super heavy. Guess that's the price of their longetivity.
  • 3 0
 Yes. I have found this to be a problem in more recent years. I hope Shimano isn't just coasting on its reputation for dependable pedals.
  • 6 0
 I don't get the hate for the Mallets.. myself and a few others I ride with have been running them for years with no issues. I am still running my pedals from 2012 and have yet to even service them. Find what works for you and ride.
  • 6 1
 i switched to flat pedals since moving to the UK as the trails are wet enough that i forget how to ride if im clipped in for like 9 months of the year... but now when i go back to my beloved and much preferred clips i realise how much they raise my COG, going from saint flats to saint SPD's i have to raise my saddle 15-20mm. it totally messes with my balance for a while, especially during cornering. i'd do anything for a set of clip in pedals that were as thin from axle to foot as an average set of flats
  • 4 0
 Is that because you position your feet on the pedals differently between flats and clip in?
  • 3 0
 @fabwizard: potentially! but i don't think its the full story, I'd wager its partly that and partly clip assy thickness
  • 5 0
 I’ve tried them all and Shimano still rules supreme. They just work. Really reliably. Time are a second place a decent distance back. Look are third, the rest I wouldn’t wish upon my enemies. Needing to rebuild the crank brothers every month drove me up the wall, even last year when I got some mallet e’s.
  • 5 0
 Shoes play a big part in how well pedals work. The shoe to pedal contact definitely plays a role in how solid or not your connection is. After a while, pedals do wear out the shoe to pedal contact areas on your shoe. If you have worn shoes, there will be a lot of slop. New shoes will fit tight with less slop.
  • 2 12
flag justinfoil (Apr 6, 2021 at 10:51) (Below Threshold)
 If the shoe is so important, why not just skip the cleat bullshit and use more of the shoe for good non-sloppy contact, even when it is worn a bit? (I mean just use flats, BTW)
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil: I like flats and have used them enough in the past. Just doesn't work for me in really rocky, rooty, technical trails. More security and less chance for me to slip a pedal with clipless . There is a reason why nearly all DH and EWS racers use clipless.
  • 2 9
flag justinfoil (Apr 6, 2021 at 12:50) (Below Threshold)
 @tacklingdummy: Racers used them because they are racing and every tiny gain that can help improve results literally equals money. Most people aren't in that situation, and thus it's silly to put all that effort into clipless (learning, adjusting, maintaining) when most aren't going to truly benefit. Better off getting better on flats, because that also makes you better on clips if you are into the occasonal race.

if you're so worried about getting bucked off your pedals that the clips make you feel better, I'm sorry.

I've been on flats only for about 7 years after 15-ish years on clips only, and I can't think of a single time that being clipped in would have helped. But I can recall a bunch where being clipped in made it worse.
  • 1 9
flag justinfoil (Apr 6, 2021 at 12:53) (Below Threshold)
 @tacklingdummy: If you're regularly being saved by clips from blowing a foot, I can't imagine you're in a good body postion on the bike. How can you be putting any force into the ground thru the bike to control the ride, if your foot is only being held in place by the clip and not actual pressure on the pedal?
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil: How much do you weigh? I always ride downhills like I'm riding flats with pressure on the pedals, however, I'm a light rider at 135lbs, so the gnarly technical trails can push me around some. The only time I would want flats more is riding obstacles like skinnies or sometimes jumping where you can ditch your bike if going to crash.
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil: I don’t think it’s Black and white. I ride a modern enduro on every kind of track, from really steep ones where you sometimes drop down to snails pace, to really fast trails and everything in between. The faster and sketchier it gets, clip-ins make it much easier to let the bike loose beneath you (and recklessly pedal in between for moar speed). If it’s slower or slippier, the „lower“ feeling of flats (close to the axle) provide me with way more control and feel of the bike.
I prefer flats, because I’m not racer-fast and look for more fun. But I can definitely see that racers prefer clip-ins at the insane speeds they are going for.
  • 2 1
 @theobviousfaker: Strong disagree on clips making it easier to let the bike loose.

However, agree on it helping with pedaling recklessly; BUT if you're racing and concerned about maximizing raw pedal power, should you really be recklessly pedaling, since that's probably not the best way to get max power into the pedals, and kind of negates one of the commonly cites benefits of clips.

However, even when "letting the bike loose", you still need to apply some pressure to the pedals, otherwise you'd never be able to bring it back under control. Completely letting up and letting the clips do all the work is just inviting disaster, since eventually that looseness is going to kick the bike hard and a pedal is going to unclip and then you're f*cked. If you're using the clips as just an insurance policy to save a race, then you can get light, but not totally loose, and let the bike do the work but still have control. And if you do come slightly off line and lose pressure on a pedal, then your race run isn't ruined. But dealing will all that clips entail to get that tiny potential gain for everyday riding, I just don't think it's worth it, and realistically it's not worth it for "most mountain bikers".
  • 2 1
 @tacklingdummy: I'm around 100 kg, but that's missing the point. If you need clips to help stop gnarly technical trails from "pushing you around some", then you're still asking the clips to hold you onto the bike, But that's going the wrong way, instead you should be holding on to the bike.

Maybe you need a suspension tune, or just need to look further ahead and prepare for upcoming trail features better, because if a gnarly trail is pushing you off the bike enough that you need some crutch to hold you on, there is a disconnect happening somewhere. And I personally would be super worried that I'm missing some crucial skill and/or riding way beyond my current skills.

No one should ever need clips to ride anything. They should be an insurance policy and provide marginal gains for raw pedaling power for race runs. They should NOT be a crutch for riding outside your skill level, that way leads to disaster.
  • 2 1
 @justinfoil: Like I said earlier, I ride with clipless like riding with flats, but clipless is extra added security in some really gnarly sections. Weight is a big factor as you can put more weight and pressure into the pedals. You must be riding non-technical flow trails all the time and going slow. ;P
  • 1 1
 @tacklingdummy: So can I run faster because I weight more and can put more pressure into the ground?

Yes, it's added security, but not worth the tradeoffs unless you're fighting for a better place in a race, ie: for a paycheck. Also, you said technical trails push you around enough to need clips, so it sounds like it's not security but necessary.

And previously you mentioned that you might want flats in situations where you might crash, but others have said clips don't effect getting off the bike in hairy situations, so which is it?

Also great job with quickly assuming someone is less skilled and riding easier trails slower just becuase they don't have to depend on clips like you do. In fact, I ride some of the well-known gnarliest stuff in New England (Lynn Woods, Gloucester, etc), definitely not "non-technical flow trails" and I'm not at pro speed but I'm not exactly slow either. In fact, I'm quick enough that one of the reasons I ride flats is that getting into and out of clips (which I had been riding for 15 years, so I was pretty damn good at it, and ran them full loose because it's not a crutch/necessity, it's a backup), when going foot out flat out back and forth on each side on twisty trails was literally slowing me down. I suppose I could flip it say that maybe you like clips because you're only riding flow trails slow enough that you never have to even think about putting a foot out, which quite frankly sounds damn boring.
  • 1 0
 @justinfoil: Do you get paid to troll? How much does it pay?
  • 6 1
 Take a CB DH pedal,nothing can beat the power transfer and feel of that pedal. Pick a nice 5.10 and you have your perfect combo.
SPD pedals have a poor interface with the shoe,like the egg batters,horrible power transfer with a not rigid like road shoe sole. I can´t trust any spd pedal,your feet can unclip in the worst moment, I said I do not like SPD pedals? hahahaha
  • 10 5
 Honest question: How much more dangerous are clipless pedals than flat? I don't like the idea of rolling up on a tech feature, needing to put my foot down, and then being locked into the bike.
  • 16 0
 It's never been an issue for me to unclip before a feature. The only place I don't like them is riding skinnies when I don't feel like I have much leverage and need to dump the bike ASAP.
  • 7 0
 Over time, unclipping definitely becomes more and more second nature. I got stuck and tipped over a few times when I started riding clips but luckily not on any dangerous features. Pretty much only happened messing around in the parking lot or something silly. You could always unclip and rest your foot on the pedal if you’re worried about needing to get a foot out as you roll into a feature.
  • 18 1
 Not at all? An experienced rider clipped in can get out very quickly, and in some cases more easily than on flats, since you can release by smearing your foot sideways – can't do that on flats that have any kind of positive retention (pins).
  • 6 0
 Once you get used to them you don't have to think about unclipping; it's as automatic and easy as taking your foot off a flat pedal. (If you run both it can take a little while to get used to remembering which ones you have on which can lead to some interesting moments though).
  • 7 0
 I would only say that they could be "Dangerous" if you are new to mtn biking. Everyone should learn to mtn bike on flat pedals. Once you are confident in most terrain, give clipless pedals a go. I ride all sorts of steep, technical jank clipped in and have never had a crash that was do to being stuck in the pedals. Once you are used to riding in them popping out becomes second nature.
  • 4 0
 It's an adjustment. I just went back to clips after riding flats for 8 years. I had some stupid uphill falls, but you adjust quickly. The other day I tried doing a fakie off a wall ride and unclipped like it was second nature. You learn fast.
  • 4 0
 No need to be afraid of being locked on during a crash. Clipless pedals released sooner than say ski bindings and it’s never been a problem for anyone I know running clipless. Even at the highest tension. Shimanos tend to be the easiest to click in and out of, so I’d start there if you’re a beginner to clipless.
  • 3 1
 @SterlingArcher: I might try them. I have been annoyed as of late when I have to F with my foot position on flats on a fast or technical part of the trail.
  • 11 0
 @HB208: at risk of being flamed by the purists, try the SH56 multi release cleats.

I had always been a flat pedal rider. Decided to try clips and went the standard SH51 route, as these are marketed as the "proper" cleats, but had a heap of embarrassing falls due to not being able to unclipped, even with the tension would all the way off. And it is always worse with those panic releases, the muscle memory isn't automatic and you just fall over.

So I went back to flats and then decided to try the SH56 and ignoring the "beginner" tag they are always reviewed as.

Hallelujah, these things are the best. I love em!

They stay clipped when I want them clipped and release when I want them released. I have had plenty of panic releases when stumbling through techy stuff and they come out every time because they are designed to release in a very similar motion to that panic foot out movement.

The only times I have had them auto release unexpectedly is when I'd want them to anyway (eg. rock strikes).

They are the perfect balance and I don't want to go back to flats or SH51s. They satisfy my OCD of wanting perfect and symmetrical foot placement, yet provide the freedom to move on the pedal and put a foot out when I want it out.

Good luck!
  • 8 0
 I would argue there are a lot of aspects that make them safer in that the likelihood of slipping a pedal is far less, bike stays with you in rocky areas, no floating off the pedal on drops etc. Nice to have constant control through those chattery chunder chutes...and yes I rode flats and still ride them from time to time...Sam Hill yada yada… just saying, generally speaking, I think there are some safety benefits to clips and most people learn to clip and unclip fairly quickly and release in crashes.
  • 2 0
 Once you get use to um they're great. It's practicing a different muscle movement is all. If you think about it you have to lift your foot up off of a flat pedal(especially if you have a particularly spikey one) and then put it down. That's two different movements that oppose each other. With a clipless pedal you just kick you heel out and it pops free. Little bit of practice you can pop it free and have a foot down it basically 1 movement.

You will likely have 1 or 2 zero mile an hour(zero kph for everyone else) flops while learning. That mainly just bruises your pride though.
  • 5 0
 Getting out of them becomes muscle memory. Getting back in them in can be difficult/distracting in challenging sections of trail, particularly if the cleats are clogged with mud. Also you're more likely to be stabbed by irate hikers in clips...
  • 12 0
 I've had a lot of experience riding both and here is my take - clipless pedals are less dangerous in some circumstances as they eliminate the possibility of "slipping" a pedal during technical descending and increase the control you have over the bike (makes it brainless to pull up on and hop your bike with clipless). Flat pedals are less dangerous in some circumstances as you can more easily step off the pedal, separate from, jump off of or run over your bike during slow speed technical maneuvers and crashes. When you do need to come off the pedals, its much better to step onto dirt/rock with a sticky rubber sole vs. a sole + clipless cleat. Also, having the ability to foot drag or dap your foot is fun when things get loose.

After riding exclusively clipless for 10+ years, I switched back to flats and have no intention of going back. I cannot put my finger on why, but flat pedals are so much more fun to me. I love the feel and support of a large pedal platform under my foot, and natural variation in foot placement is healthier for your knees/joints over the long haul. That said, there is absolutely a slight climbing power loss (I'd put it at roughly 10%) to riding flats over clipless. Try both until you're comfortable in each, then decide.
  • 2 0
 @KJP1230: Nice perspective. I've been on clipless since the "good old days" on the Look MOABs. Zero issues getting in our out, though I do ride in dry and dusty SoCal, so being gummed up with mud is not a factor. When I do try to ride flats, my downfall is that I pull up with my front foot on tech climbs, and that translates to simply lifting my leg into the air (followed by stalling) on flats. Not worth it to me to change 30 years of muscle memory since I see no need to ride flats personally. HOWEVER...if I was all about tricks and jumps...I'd take the time to relearn flats and have them on my play bike.
  • 5 1
 Be very careful with the Mallets. Use the shims and consider removing the pins. Was going after the locked-in, flat pedal feel and didn't come unclipped on a fairly innocuous fall and ended up needing surgery. Now I'm back on flats. While the security of clipping in is nice through really steep, fast, and choppy sections of trail, if you're not racing, I just don't see a real reason to switch.
  • 6 1
 @KJP1230: Same and I think it's the loss of connection to the bike and trail. The float in clipless pedals feels so vague to me and I feel much more disconnected from the bike and trail. Detracts from the sensory experience. I think I could definitely be a little faster clipped in, but not worth less fun.
  • 2 0
 Clipless pedals *maybe* are "more dangerous" than flat pedals for one or two rides (the first one or two rides you do). Once clipping out becomes a muscle memory action it's not more dangerous. I rode clips for over a decade before trying flats (now I switch back and forth) and when I'm riding flats I still just automatically rotate my heel outwards (the motion you do to unclip from clipless pedals) before I take my feet off. If you switch from flats to clips for the first time it's a good idea to spend a solid 30 minutes to an hour practicing getting in and out of your pedals in a flat grassy field before you go on trail first. That practice will help a lot.
  • 4 0
 @ihatton929: Watch any cyclocross race to see how easy and fluid getting out of clipless pedals can be.
  • 3 0
 @Ktron: This has been my experience exactly, word for word what I have told other riders curious about switching over from flats.
  • 4 0
 @Ktron: dude back in my day (boomer here!), I learned on the Onza clipless pedals where instead of springs, they used elastomers to control the tension. These were the top rated pedals those years in the mid 90s. This is also when forks ran elastomers also so it was a different time.
  • 3 0
 @KJP1230: i also rode clipless for a decade, but now ride flats (except racing) for the reasons you mentioned. However I think that it's easier to climb on flats since I can adjust my foot position as needed and that saves more energy than being clipped in. However, for sprinting in races clips are still the best cause you can just pedal with abandon and not worry about slipping off.
  • 2 0
 @SterlingArcher: Oh man....I tried those too.....terrible. Went right back to the big "S". Rode 737's forever.
  • 3 0
 @KJP1230: intelligent, thoughtful, no ego. You’re throwing off the curve bro Wink
  • 3 0
 The only dangerous part of clipless pedals is when you're pushed on top of an old dude with a knife and his friends are trying to pull you of of him head first. In all seriousness I take my foot off of flat pedals heal first because the motion is so engraved in my muscle memory.
  • 4 0
 I wish Nukeproof pedals would have been in the test. I have previously used Shimano pd-m520 and 540 pedals without any problems but nowadays using Nukeproof Horizon CL pedals with large platform for shoes and adjustable pins and digging them a lot. nukeproof.com/collections/components-clipless-pedals
  • 3 0
 Definitely a missed opportunity. I think the Horizon CS would be more applicable to this test. I like that they offer a cage for when clipped out, but when clipped in there is very little shoe contact. They also have an 8 degree cleat that works with any SPD pedal. It's a great combo if your knees need the float.

They're not as durable as Shimano. I had to service mine after ~2 years (whereas I have a set of 13-year-old PD-M959's that I've never actually serviced, they still work great). But 2 years is still pretty good.
  • 6 0
 "We checked the amount of contact with our test shoe."

Got any pics of that? How did that effect the scores? Its doesn't seem to be mentioned again after the intro...
  • 1 0
 Was thinking the same thing. Maybe it’s the ‘platform’ rating
  • 1 0
 @SterlingArcher: could be, but we still don't know what it means. Does a good "platform" rating mean lots of contact for good grip, or not much for ease of entry and exit? How are the platform scores weighted?
  • 4 0
 Personally I dig the saint pedal. XT's are kind of a no brainer, but they lack the flat pedal feel. Saints totally fix that issue with all the bomber benefits of shimano and durability of cleats etc. Kinda surprised not to see them here. They are heavy, but for enduro riding I won't be on anything else for a while.
  • 5 2
 In my quest to find something better than the XTs which I felt were not secure enough I tried a few of these...

The Looks you say "hold up well to abuses" but Ive had 2 pairs and have damaged that super soft tensions crew many times from rock strikes. They are more secure but ultimately I moved on.

HTs were too tight for me with not enough float.

I settled on the Times, after having ridden times long long ago. I run them at 17 degrees and they still feel pretty easy to get out of but they are 100% secure. Really glad they have tension adjustment too. Its only 2 turns but you can feel the micro adjustments imo.
  • 6 6
 I have it easier to clip out from Times than from CBs on "techy" climbs. I still eat crap after a stall every now and then. But Shimanos are for me either too easy to clip out from unintentionally or too hard to clip out at all. Can't find the sweet spot. Then they give damn pain to my knees after several clip out attempts on a ride. Also nothing beats Times and CBs for float when carving a corner Smile
  • 3 0
 I hope that SRAM fixes the retainer bars on the ATACs. I have speciale 12s and 8s. The new retainers get bent way too easily. It's not hard to bend them back with tools, but it can make part of a ride annoying. I also hope that I become immortal and fabulously wealthy. They're probably both as likely.
  • 1 0
 What HT cleat did you use? Everyone I know using the higher float HT cleat has favorably compared the float to Crank Bros or Times.
  • 1 0
 @Explodo: Those reports are the main reason keeping me at bay from a Speciale 8 pair. It's really confusing, as some people say they are indestructible, others complain about bars made of cheese.

Does anyone know if the DH4 (they seem to still be available) suffer from the same?
  • 2 0
 I was riding on Times for 4 years and loved them. Similar to CB but (I would say) more secure feeling and without possibility that a rock strike at the bottom of the pedal unclip your shoe.
However, for the new bike that is on the way I ordered a Msllet E long spindle. Availability of the cleats is the one and only reason for moving to CB. I just hope that I won't be missing my old Time pedals
  • 1 0
 @Arierep: The DH4s I can find online have the old style stainless steel bar retainers and they were much tougher in my experience. The new ones are some sort of forging.
  • 1 0
 @pakleni: The cleats are available all over as far as I can tell.
  • 1 0
 Counter point to your comments on Looks' durability: I've had the Look En-Rage (not Plus) for about a year and a half and they're holding up totally fine to the same abuse I have put two pairs of XTs through including plenty of rock smashing. Both previous XTs lasted about 3 years until the mechanism got a bit sloppy and I bent an axle slightly on each, so I'll keep an eye on the Looks for the next year or so. The "non-Plus" En-Rage feels identical to XTs to me, cost the same, weigh the same. They're blacker and the tension can go a little higher if you want it to, that's about it. I have no play in the axles right now so haven't touched them but you do need a proprietary tool (€10) to open them up so that's about the only minus point. Would buy again.
  • 1 0
 @Explodo: never heard of problems with those old wire springs.
This while being way cheaper and with what seems to be a comparable platform area.
What's the catch then, heavier? Not tension adjustment?
  • 1 0
 @Explodo: Online only. Not one single bike shop in Basel keeps them on stock. I couldn't even find them in Morzine.
Of course you can always buy a spare pair and keep it in your toolbox but let's be honest. How many of us keeps enough spare cleats and brake pads on hand?
  • 2 0
 @Arierep: The older ATAC pedals that had metal bodies are cast aluminum and are quite substantial in weight and have no tension adjustment. The old composite bodied pedals are significantly lighter, but the body doesn't last as long before creaking or breaking.

The new Speciale pedals are light(compared to the old metal ones) and have adjustment, but the retainers bend up too easily.

The DH4s you're looking at would probably last ages...mine have. I just put them back on yet another bike.
  • 3 0
 @pakleni: (raises hand)
  • 2 0
 @pakleni: also my experience. Some days ago got a set of 2008 vintage, nearly new (and for free, yeah) Atac Aliums to get a feel of the mechanism, but can't find cleats anywhere locally. It seems every relevant online store carries them, but not willing to pay for shipping for such an unsubstantial item.

On the other hand, was surprised by how big the Aliums are, the contact area is huge for a "XC" style pedal, at least as big as the Shimano trail pedals.
  • 3 0
 Saint clip less are my favorites. XT and XTR are nice but the front and rear should be a bit higher to offer more shoe support. Mallet E do offer a nice support but I think their shoe plates need a redesign. The rear foot is always a pain to get out of the pedal and the plates wear way to fast. Shimanos never let me down since their first dirt model around 30 years ago.
  • 3 0
 I have yet to see any clipless pedal implement a useful platform. They are more of a rock deflector than anything on current pedals. Many pros remove some or all of the pins because neither the platform nor the "pins" actually engage the shoe in any meaningful way. On pedals with adjustable pin height, you only make it harder to clip in/out if you try to use the pins. I think more than anything platforms on clipless pedals are an aesthetic feature to make a bike look more endurbro.

Until someone figures out the puzzle of having flat pedal grip and feel with the security of a clipless pedal, we're all just making due with what's available while companies are trying to make their pedals look hard core for marketability.
  • 1 0
 DMR V twins.. that is all
  • 1 0
 @Alan1977: I do love DMR products. I've always enjoyed their grips and flat pedals over the years. The Vtwins are probably the closest thing to what I envision as the perfect pedal, but with most people running them with spacers and no pins I can't imagine they offer the same rotational grip of a flat pedal. It seems that everyone has convinced themselves that they like the "float" in clipless pedals, but I think one of the primary advantages of flats is the ability to use your hips to torque through the bike in corners and while doing technical climbs. I've ridden about every clipless pedal, but not the Vtwins, so maybe I'll give them a shot.
  • 2 0
 @grizzlyatom:
so wit hte vtwins, i played around with the spacers and pins.. and got it how i like it i think.
as your foot engages, the spd mechanism rolls forwards, so if you have pins correct up fron, your sole is now locked into those. Naturally the rear of the shoe lifts away from the platform a little. so i guess those pins are only functional for the times your foot is out and moving about.
I cant get on with letting my foot rotate, i feel like im ice skating and it doesnt work for me.
see if you can find a set on here or ebay or such like as they are an expensive expeeriment.
  • 2 0
 Mallets. They’ve been around for ~15 years and do exactly what you are asking for.
  • 1 0
 @m-t-g: I've tried mallets. They never did it for me. I blew a pair up mid-run and I could never get the pins to do anything even after trying several different shoes, pins, and cleats. I don't get the hype. Of all the clipless pedals I've tried, Time and Shimano are the ones I've been most happy with. They're both incredibly durable and offer consistent performance, but the Shimanos have a lot of stack height and Times have a ton of rotational float, neither of which is my preference. I went back to flats and realized they don't make me slower and remembered how much fun they are. I'm still open to clipless, but not until there's something more ergonomic and functionally designed out there.
  • 3 0
 Can someone explain to me how the shimano's got an adjustability rating of 10 and the HT T1's an adjustability rating of 6?

Even by your own diction, in the paragraphs following, that doesn't align, at all, whatsoever.

Not to mention the HT T1's have pins, which are adjustable, while the shimano's do not.

Also, another gaping obvious nonsensical rating is platform. Both the shimanos and HT T1's scored an 8. However, one could simply pop the shoe in the pedal, flip it around, look at it, immediately discovering with your own two eyes that you would never have shoe/platform contact on a Shimano. While the HT T1's absolutely have platform contact while clipped in.

Hey, Pink Bike, if you ever need someone with more adept sensory input, I'm available.
  • 4 2
 I always think about the time we had to trailside fix a Crank Bros pedal with a large rock because it froze up anytime I see someone rocking those pedals. Much like a home furnace, pedals are a purchase you never want to think of again. Shimano, 1 and done.
  • 2 0
 i was driven to try SPDs in 2002 and bought a set of XTRs. I still have them as a spare set along with 5 other sets of XT and XTR they all work wonderfully. They all roll smooth and only one set was serviced. XTR outlasted the XT and oddly the new XTR looks almost identical to the old with an added cage. The adjustment screw are the same. I opted for one set of dual .... one sided flat the other SPD... shimano rocks.
  • 5 3
 Stiff soles and xc style pedals (non platform trail models) are much better choice if you want to ride clipless.
Gives you better power transfer, platform is useless anyway in that case, pedals are lighter and cheaper and less chance of catching on ground due to smaller footprint.
  • 2 0
 I like stiff soles for the power transfer, but find a wide platform to be very comfortable with them too. It’s my preferred setup.
  • 1 0
 my Sidi Drakos are the best damn riding/pedaling shoes I've EVER owned. They are also the worst shoes EVER for anything off the bike, especially things like rocky terrain where traction matters Wink Now that they are on their last legs, after many years of abuse, I am going to the Sidi Defender 20 for something a bit better on "off bike" aspects
  • 2 0
 @SprSonik: Shimano XC7 have been great for me. Stiff carbon composite with proper rubber lugs that's far more sturdy and durable than older shimano models where outsole started to come off the middle. You can get them in Wide (E) size if you have normal feet.
  • 1 0
 @SprSonik: careful with the Sidi Defenders. They have stitching/seems on the outside our the shoe right where you tend to come into contact with crap on the trail. They come apart pretty easily with regular trail use on techy trails. Maybe if you ride flow trails they hold up fine. The soles are great, but wish the uppers were more like the indestructible Dominators I went back to.
  • 1 0
 @SprSonik: m.pinkbike.com/photo/20406961

They’re my indoor trainer shoes now. :-)
  • 2 0
 Ok, total dumbie question here but maybe someone can help me out here- if I’m running clip in pedals, does the bigger platform of these pedals tested as compared to my CB candy’s help in any way? Would I be able to unclip and use the platform in more technical areas?
  • 2 0
 On most pedals, no. Dual sided pedals would work for that application. It’s easy to step on the pedal and accidentally clip in.
  • 2 0
 Standing on a clipless pedal not actually clipped in is always sketch, even with mallets. If you are riding the scary terrain you may want flats on, it would be terrifying. I have no idea why this is considered a selling point. However, the large platform does make the pedals much more comfortable on long descents particularly. I have sensitive feet and without a large platform it feels like trying to balance on a golf ball. The larger area for your foot to push on prevents me from getting sore spots directly on top of the cleat.
  • 1 0
 @mtb-thetown: It's terrifying riding not clipped in.
  • 2 0
 It all depends upon shoe contact with the pedals. My Northwave soles wore faster than the cleats. The shoes would rock on the pedal. Not so with SPD cleats and Shimano pedals. But the release on them is terrible.

Candy pedals are sublime to use. Just make sure you have a shoe that works well with them. The "wings" on either side of the cleat should contact the pedal body. Shimano update their platform pedals to provide even greater shoe contact. But to me it will reduce float and that is what makes Crankbrothers pedals so nice to use. Lots of movement is allowed before release.
  • 1 0
 @bcboy: I love my Candy 7's. Some people dig the Eggbeaters but I like the Candy's small platform just in case. Pedals are a very personal thing but for me they beat the daylights out of every SPD I've tried and that goes all the way up to XTR's.
  • 3 1
 I is my opinion that the platform surrounding the pedal is not value added. Doesn't give any meaningful support. I've had the platform fail and get jammed into the mechanism. Never been able to break a naked clip. They do look more serious though.
  • 3 0
 hi guys, did you by any chance measure the axle width? im not sure how to call it but the equivalent to q-factor. sometimes thats an important variable esp if you have knee issues.
  • 1 0
 Great suggestion. We'll add that to the list for when we update this piece.
  • 4 0
 I have had the same XT M8020s on 3 different bikes and never done a lick of maintenance on them. I can't imagine changing to another pedal...
  • 4 1
 What is the deal with all these "trail" clipless pedals? If you're clipped in why do you need all the extra weight and bulk of the outer pedal cage? Are these designed specifically for "Clip-flops"??
  • 3 0
 Real blunder not including the Nukeproof Horizon @PinkBike. Work every bit as well as the shimano counterpart and you can get ti-axles for half the price of the contemporaries.
  • 3 0
 We'll be adding to this as time and availability allow. Smile
  • 3 0
 @brianpark: and Saint while you're at it please
  • 2 0
 I still own the Shimano xt and xtr I bought 100 years ago. Nothing goes wrong with them ever. Not sure why anybody would even bother with any other clip less pedal. And last time I checked, being able to walk easier in something should not be a selling point for something related to cycling. Yeah, I ride clipless and I'm a dick about it.
  • 2 0
 @pinkbike I have a question. I ride spd pedals without the platform/cage because in my experience, non of my shoes have ever came in contact with the platform so i ditched them because I figured it the platform or cage just increased the likelihood of pedal strikes and added unnecessary weight. Am I missing out on something?
  • 4 0
 Not saying they are like, good, but surprised that Crankbrothers Mallet DH pedals didn't get tested. By my scientific count they seem to be on approx 173% of all bikes.
  • 3 0
 After the nuclear apocalypses where everything will be nothing but dust there with be giant mutant cockroaches running around on Shimano Clipless pedals, to say they are bomb proof would be an understatement.
  • 2 0
 Rode clipless - shimano M636's back in the late 90's. National DH race gapped a steep drop onto a gravel road - bike went one way I went the other. Knee didn't comply. I rode bmx street after that and got pretty decent at bunny hopping oil drums... When I got back to riding trails/dh/enduro I found all my friends on clips have poorer technique or often have to re-start on tech sections cos they couldn't clip in... My feeling is Flats teach you to read the trail more instinctively to float the bike by being more active in your pre-loading. Flats for life!
  • 1 0
 +1 FFL here
  • 2 0
 I've always been a fan of Crank Brothers Clipless pedals. I've ridden them for years and utterly beat the ever living shit out of them. Smashed em' on rocks, ridden in water, packed em' full of mud, sand, you name it. And ya' know what... they always just WORK. I like how it's easy to setup the float too. Absolutely mindless. Just ride on and bunny hop like a king. I love em !
  • 3 2
 After almost 3 years on flat pedals, last November or so I decided to try clips and got a set of Shimano M530s. Not only bent an axle within 2 weeks of use, kept having accidental releases.
.
Got a pair of XT M8120 next, great build quality, and for the first few weeks felt secure enough. But it only took a tiny bit of wear on cleats/retention mechanism for the accidental unclipping to come back, even with tension maxed out (at that point, conversely, voluntary unclips started to feel too hard). I was bad on dry weather, borderline dangerous in the wet. All this paired with Shimano AM7 (AM702) shoes.

Went back to flats, no point using SPD if my feet were feeling less secure that way.

Some people say that Time are great for people suffering from my issues, any comments on that? I guess I twist my feet too much for SPD
  • 6 1
 1) Increase the pedal release tension spring
2) get single release cleats
3) you'll never accidentally release
  • 3 0
 @IluvRIDING: not sure if you actually read my comment, but I specifically mentioned that I was already maxing out tension. Also, never used multi release cleats, only the regular SH51
  • 3 0
 HT T1 can get tighter than Shimano with the same (if not better) great feel. I haven't had an issue with unplanned release with them in 2+ years on multiple bikes, and that is running the initial cleats for that entire time.
  • 1 0
 The Times allow you to move your foot more, and the release is progressive rather than a sharp "click" out. However, the overall difference in retention is not huge. You might just prefer flats, which is a thing. I switch back and forth constantly. I would check the angle on your cleats first. If the cleats are off on their angle, it can lead to release issues. Then, I would do what IluvRIDING suggests and adjust the tension or try different cleats.
  • 1 0
 Ok, I know where the problem might be. For SPD pedals to function correctly you need a good interface between the shoe sole and the pedal. If the cleat is too deep below the the sole you will not get full retention and it will be very easy to unclip. Have you tried different shoes?
  • 1 0
 I've tried to go back to spd a couple times because they are everywhere and the cleats last forever. But blowing out of a pedal when in the air or hopping a log is no fun, except for the person watching. So back to Times I go. My knees like them better too.

Short answer - for me, Times 100% fix the accidental release issue. If I do get an accidental release, it almost always means it's time for new cleats.
  • 1 0
 @IluvRIDING: the Shimano AM7 I use actually have a fairly decent contact patch with the pedals. Also tried more traditional xc style shoes and it was even worse
  • 1 0
 @rollingdip: thanks.
You're describing exactly my problem
  • 1 0
 @rollingdip: With a correct SPD setup, if you don't use multi release cleats and apply reasonable tension there is no way you can blow out of a pedal accidentally. That's the way it is. Thats 30 years of evidence from millions of people...
  • 1 0
 @IluvRIDING: Been doing this stuff for 30 years now, and have never used multi release. I know plenty of people who have zero issues, and godspeed to them. I can tighten spds to the point (max or close to it) that I don't blow out, but I don't need to because I use time. Silky smooth every time, no worries, happy knees, no trying different things to make them work correctly. What could be better?
  • 1 0
 @rollingdip: To be honest, if Arierep hasn't tried Times, he probably should. The only thing that's been keeping me out of them lately is how thick they are compared to my Xtrs. I started using them on the coast because of the mud (there's a huge difference there) and after a few years, they were all I really wanted to ride. That is, until the bottom brackets started to drop. Also, every single pair of Times I've ever purchased is still in-service.

It always surprises me that they aren't more popular than they are...
  • 2 0
 Mallet DH 100% problems solved
  • 1 0
 @IluvRIDING: sorry, but that's simply not true. Plenty of people with correct setups complain about the same, even some pros say they use CB due to that. I think it comes down that some riders just twist their feet too much, and that's life
  • 5 0
 How would Shimano Saint compare to Mallet E and XT?
  • 2 0
 The Saints my current preferred clipless pedal. They have a true flat pedal support feel, and that perfectly reliable SPD mechanism. I have large feet and ride flats half the time so prefer the widebody clip less feel even on my trail bike. The mallet’s are trash. I had to install new bushings every month. After the fourth replacement, I sold them and went back to the saints.
  • 1 0
 I just got a pair of the Saint SPDs and I'm very excited to try them in dirt! I ran the M520 SPDs for years, then had M8020 XT Trail for the past 4 years with great luck, but the pins and big platform of Saints has me really excited!
  • 2 0
 I just commented on that. Saints have all teh shimano benefits and a solid flat pedal feel with a bit of a weight penalty. Been super worth it for me.
  • 5 0
 Xpedo change your name believe me, you'll sell more pedals
  • 11 0
 Come on, they're *ex* pedos, not current pedos.
  • 2 0
 @MtbSince84: right, but the fact remains they were pedos at one point. Maybe change the name to Reformedpedos
  • 3 0
 Has a long time Time pedal user, I support this result and love my Speciale 8's. Looking for another pair for the fat tire bike!
  • 1 0
 I have been using a set of the ME700s for a few months now and I love them. I tend to smash pedals on rocks here in AZ, especially on my SB165 (super low BB) so I was reluctant to go with the XTs.

They are heavy, but like most Shimano pedals, appear to be bombproof so far.

I am curious about the PD-M820 pedals. They look pretty solid, about the same price as the XTs but they actually have pins.
  • 1 0
 I have fairly big feet. I found the Time 10° cleats extremely helpful, since other brands cleats as well as the regular Time cleats tend to lead to a blockage. When I shove the cleats far back, my toe box touches the crank arm (of the rear crank) and I can’t clip out.
  • 1 0
 It would be nice if this article talked about spring tension more. I blow out of Shimano pedals all the time and now only use them on my gravel bike. For people that need a lot of spring tension the Looks and the H1s have by far the most spring tension. Having an objective spring tension rate measurement for pedals sure would be nice, the way they have for ski binding DIN. Same thing for handlebar flex, just a 1-10 rating or something so that bigger and smaller riders could know if they're buying a noodle or a piece of unbendable pipe.
  • 1 0
 Torque to release would work. Weld a cleat to a socket or something and use a torque wrench to find the release torque.
  • 1 0
 I have some old Look Delta road pedals that have a little window for a numerical indicator of the release tension (in Newtons, I think?). Probably much easier to implement on a big, 1-sided road pedal than on anything for MTB, unfortunately.
  • 3 0
 too all ceptic guys: been on flats over 29 years.
decided to try clips, and what a great change!!! give it a try!! and no... i didn´t kill myself (i tought i would too)
  • 1 0
 Shimano pedals, cheap and not so cheap, for life. I tried Mallets... they were fine, but I just didn't like the soft feel on engagement, and I totally got stuck in them and tipped over in my driveway. My Shimanos are like others'... Just won't quit.

The only bike I'm not using Shimanos on is my gravel bike, where I've got ISSIs, just for the +12 spindle option... I've found I really need an MTB stance/q factor or I get weird hip pain. If Shimano had a wider spindle option, I'd be back on them in a heartbeat. In about 500 road and gravel miles, they look like shit and I've already rebuilt the bearings on one.
  • 1 0
 I´m a happy owner of xtr pedals, love them and bought them new for almost half the price noted here, miss some pins but they feel a lot safer compared to the crankbros I used to have, that sometimes I slip a foot because of moving it on the pedal.
  • 1 0
 I always had Shimano PD-M424, these have these plastic cages. They are really durable(for years), cheap, rebuildable and last for years. Also plastic cage is friendly to skin. Only problem is getting in them in winter, but i think thats a common problem.
  • 1 0
 I have a pair of Shimano PD-M324 (dual platform) from 2008.

Durability: 9/10
Serviceability: 2/10

I'll buy another pair of Shimano when the current ones have been beaten to oblivion. I don't think I've ever worn out a pair of pedals ... even when the races are pitted, the bearings can be adjusted a bit loose. And carry on...lol.
  • 1 0
 Near impossible to pull straight out of crankbros, but in 15 years I've figured out the two ways. 1) smack them straight down on a rock and it pops the cleat out the other side. 2) ride a brakeless fixie and do some sweet skids down the hills of SF and just pull straight out. 2 is way scarier.
  • 1 0
 what's the consensus on double sided pedals, ie Clips on one side, flat on the other. I've tried clips but found I crashed waaaay too much thanks to not been able to clip out in time in split second moments like a front wheel washout. What I did love about clips was the muscle engagement and perceived efficiency of pedaling in smoother circle, but when the trails got wild I got a bit weirded out.
  • 1 0
 Great article. I’ve run those Shimano DX pedals, Mtn 520, Saint Clips, OneUp composite flats and now Funn Mambas. SPD is ok but I’ve never been completely comfortable with the floating sensation. I’m leaning towards trying those DMR V-Twins to have some feeling of the platform while still being clipped in. Anyone have experience with them?
  • 1 0
 On HT pedals....
If you can't stay in Shimano's try HT's, as mentioned in the article the spring tension is different from SPD's
I can never stay in Shimano's, always poping out of them at the wrong time, usually in the air or through some heinous situation.
I run my HT's at a pretty low setting and can always get out of them, clip into them, and generally never prematurely release :-) Shimano's I needed to crank right up.
The older version had some longevity issues with the bearings, but starting last year there was some quaility control adjustments them made a huge difference.
  • 1 0
 I've had 4 sets of Time pedals in my life. A set of Z ATACs when I first started clipping in in BMX 16 years ago, and I still have those pedals. Never serviced, beat to hell, they're still not loose, spin great and clip in/out like a champ. I have 2 other sets of ROC MX pedals on my mountain bikes that are both 8+ years old. And my 4th set I sold a few years back. I've tried Shimano and HT, but could never make the switch (as far as MTB pedals). I'll be on Times for life. Hopefully a new composite body pedal comes out to complement the Speciale 8 now that SRAM has the business.
  • 1 0
 Been switching between flats for hike a bikes and technical exploration rides to dx pedals xc rides, i think the main issue for me is the cleat position on the shoe, i feel they should be at least half an inch lower for better pedal position for confident descending. Im already on my lowest position on my giro chamber.
  • 1 0
 Not sure if this was already mentioned. Another category to consider is range of pedals/crossover to other pedals types and or riding styles/disciplines. I'm sure I'm not the only one who considers that when choosing which pedals and brands to use.

For example I ride one type of clip in pedal for DH, another for enduro/trail, a different pedal for XC, another for BMX, and just to really mix it up Flats for my DJ

But I like them to all have that same feel and design that allows me to use one pair of shoes/cleats for clip and one for flats.
  • 1 0
 The Problems what I have with pinkbike testing is that you often forget great products:

tatze-bike.com/products/tatze-two-face

An award winning pedal. Sturdy, life long warranty for the axles and great weight even with CroMoly Option instead of the Titanium Option which is even lighter.
  • 1 0
 Looks to me Sarah Moore guide has the wrong winner.. if you add up the scores Crankbrothers Mallet E has 77 points... look's like she forgot to add the last 7 in the row. I'm a speedplay frog user and been using them for over 25 year's maybe 30 year's.. They last for ever..., I do have some of my bikes with CrankBrothers because Frog's are hard to find. cleat's on CrankBrothers need replacing it seem's like a couple of times a year. Frog's in my opinion beat's them all.
  • 1 0
 I have had XT and XTR trail and XC pedals with all sorts of shoes but the last couple years I use Saints on all my bikes with the Shimano ME5 shoe or the GR9 for bike park. This is the best setup I've ever had, for trail or DH and couldn't ever see myself going back to these smaller pedals and less comfortable shoes.
  • 1 0
 Used Shimano SPD's myself. Got a set going on 8 years now with one regrease for the bearings. Bashed the bollocks out of them and they keep going. Did a 2 year stint on Flats to get more in touch with technique but then went back to clipins. They have released at some unwanted moments but they have been flawless this winter when I backed out the tension. Would like a bit more of a platform but riding tech and rowdy trails and also uncut forest trails - they are way better. Problems I had with flats were - chewed shoes, chewed shins and calves, and not getting foot in the right position on the pedal when needed. I dab no issues with clipins and am much more comfortable dealing with chop where I know where my feet are. Would like a plastic cage which is replaceable for a little more support but not wanting to put anchors on my cranks for the riding I do. Lift days - heavy platformed SPD pedals would be no problem.
  • 1 0
 There was no word of shoe + pedal combination which can result in totally different feel. For example clipping in fiveten hellcat shoes with shimano pedals leaves 0.5cm free space between them and results in horrible floating combination but then crankbrothers mallet e + same shoes does not leave any float space between the shoe and pedal resulting in very precise feel.
  • 3 0
 HT T1 all the way for me, they just work and more float then shimano and better mud shedding plus cheaper(vs xtr)
  • 2 1
 The biggest downside is how much maintenance they require and how you need a $100 tool set to replace the bushings/bearings. They are still my favorite, but no review really mentions this.
  • 1 0
 @Austink: i dont see the point servicing pedals, T1's last bit over a year and thats enough
  • 6 6
 Can pinkbike incorporate a script that autocorrects ‘clipless’ to the correct term—clip-in? Anyway, IME the HT T1 continues to be the overall pedal of choice since it avoids the binary on/off feel of Shimano. Many of us used crank bros reluctantly for years despite the well known negatives—the progressive resistance feel was sort of worth it—but the HT manages to combine most of the Shimano advantages with a better feel when twisting out.
  • 10 0
 No! I'm not signing up for a name change!
  • 1 0
 I have 3 sets of T1s and came off over a decade of XT/XTR prior to them. I haven't seen any difference in service/reliability, but they do feel just that little bit better and can get nice and tight.
  • 1 0
 I wish companies would offer more spindle length options, thus far Crankbrothers is the only that has the extra length and this is the reason i use them. Would try others out if they offered a wider Q
  • 2 0
 It should be noted that Shimano pedals with the SH51 cleats have +/- 4 degrees of float...for a total of 8 degrees of rotational float.
  • 3 1
 I find with the crank brothers that you can catch the clip mechanism on the underside of the pedal and your foot gets released
  • 2 0
 This has happened exactly once in a year of riding 5+ times a week. It’s possible but (at least for me) incredibly rare.
  • 2 2
 Best part about XTR's is the 3 year warranty. Never had a pair last half that long, always send em back for a new pair. Buy once and free pedals for life. I'd recommend keeping a spare pair for the inevitable warranty delays/fights.
  • 7 7
 I appreciate the front matter to the article but its a real shame that cleat differences weren't mentioned.

I've had friends that tried clips and hated them...and it turns out they were using the less forgiving cleats. They just had no idea that they were even a thing.

Shimano's multi release cleat (as opposed to their single release cleat) has been my main stay for cleats when riding all mountain or downhill in clips and I can't imagine someone using the single release cleat on gnarly technical lines.
  • 8 2
 I can’t imagine using a cleat that releases when you pull up under some arbitrary tension. On a tech line, you’re either riding down or crashing down, and I can release with SH51 no problem.
  • 2 5
 @MaplePanda: it doesn't.
  • 3 4
 @MaplePanda: They don't. Shimano pedals have adjustable tension. And just because you can release just fine with the road cleats doesn't mean that the article shouldn't inform people that multi release mountain biking cleats are even a choice.
  • 6 1
 @Ktron: You’re telling me that a cleat designed and proven to release when you pull up isn’t going to release when you pull up?
  • 5 2
 @hbar314: “ A set of standard SH51 cleats comes with the pedals, but they are also compatible with a SH56 multi-release cleat. That multi-release cleat will allow the rider to pull their foot out of the pedal with the traditional outward heel twist, but will also release if you yank your foot up out of the pedal, good for beginner riders who are nervous about clip pedals, but terrifying for advanced riders expecting their feet to stay in place when they are riding.” The SH56 were indeed mentioned, but an argument was given why the author wouldn’t recommend using them. Dialing up the tension to stop a multi-release cleat from popping out seems quite contradictory.
  • 1 5
flag Ktron (Apr 7, 2021 at 0:24) (Below Threshold)
 @MaplePanda: they're not and they don't.
  • 1 3
 @MaplePanda: No offence to the author, but Sarah obviously has no real personal experience with them and is regurgitating the same beginner vs "advanced" rider bs.

See this video by Clint Gibbs at 2:24
youtu.be/JJBEkKK5liY

They don't release when you pull up on the pedals.
  • 1 0
 @Ktron: That stationary demonstration doesn’t compare to how much pulling force you can generate when actually riding. He also demonstrated how pulling even slightly off-axis (like what will happen in the real world on a real trail) will indeed clip out.
  • 1 0
 @MaplePanda: You're attempting to talk about something you don't have experience with. Which is why you can only offer opinions and conjecture.

Having ridden 10 years of all mountain and dh riding on multi release cleats they don't just arbitrarily release your foot when you pull it up. But they are way easier to get out of...you don't have to think about it (or which way) which is perfect for mountain biking where sudden ejections tend to present themselves.

If you do end up getting more into mtn biking you should give them a good try.
  • 3 0
 @Ktron: I can provide some real world experience, I have always used the single release. Recently I have been feeling less confident due to welcoming a baby and riding less. I saw the multi release when I was buying new cleats and bought them. I have been having issues with my shoes coming unclipped when riding now. The most common time to come unclipped being when I would normally hop over a trail feature with bunny hop to avoid loosing speed by running over it. Sometimes they also come out when boosting a jump, did today. I run my saint pedals tight so don't think it would have to do with how much tension used.

I would guess it depends on what angle your natural posture puts your feet on pedals but for me they do release when I pull up on the pedal hard. I will wear out the multi release and then I will replace with the single release.

I don't think the beginner vs advanced is the right way to look at it but it is simply not correct to say the multi release to do not release when pulling up on the pedals.
  • 1 0
 @hbar314: I'm perfectly happy with my SH51, thank you very much. With enough practice, you don't need to think about it at all.
  • 2 0
 @MaplePanda: as Hbar pointed out, you don't have first hand experience with them, bit the video does as good a job as showing how they work.

I have been riding on them for nearly 2 years now and as per the video, they don't release when you pull up.

They do release when you pull sideways, as Clint demonstrates in the video, which happens when you want to get out.

I've never had them release on me when I didn't want them released.

You're comfy on SH51, great. No need for you to try 56.

My issue is that the 56 often gets this type of criticism from those with no experience with them, like Sarah above. This discourages people from using them who otherwise might find them to be exactly what they want (like I have).
  • 1 0
 @ptrcarson: I have been riding on them for 2 years and don't share your experience, bunny hopping, manuals, wheelies or jumps. And I run my Saints (trail bike) and XT xc pedals (xc race bike) as loose as they allow.

Mind you, as a long term flat pedal rider, I don't rely on my cleats for moving the bike or keeping my feet on them. Proper weighting of the pedals is how it should be done.
  • 1 0
 @Ktron: That's a fair point. I still think riding SH56 is silly, but you probably think the same of SH51. It's just preference at the end of the day I guess.
  • 1 0
 @Ktron: I ride both flats and clips. Can ride either and do happily on same trails. Not sure I would call it relying on cleats to move the bike so much as utilizing the greater performance available when I have it.

I agree completely with your point that some may appreciate the ease of exit and labeling them as one for beginners and one for expert is dumb. Everyone should ride what they like best and no one else should care what makes someone else happy when riding.
  • 1 0
 Been riding shimanos for almost 3 decades. They seem indistructible.
Lately tried out „Tatze“ Pedals. Award winning and impressive lightweight. Not enough time for a verdict yet.
  • 2 0
 I'll bookmark this article if my Shimano DX 636's ever wear out. I've replaced the chrome clip in part about 10 years ago from some donor pedals, but apart from that...
  • 3 0
 I can't be the only one who sees "xpedo" and thinks it sounds like a reformed offender.
  • 3 3
 "It's worth noting that if you crank the tension up all the way it's going to be harder to get in to the HT T1 pedals as well as getting out of them"

If that's "worth noting" on these, it's worth noting on all adjustable ones, which means it's really not "worth noting", it's just a fact.
  • 1 0
 Hey team, would love to see comments about the contact between the pedal cage and shoe be included. I know there's a ton of variability but a reference shoe could be useful. Just a thought.
  • 1 0
 Good point. Certain shoes have a deeper more recessed cleat box.
  • 3 0
 shimano saints with spacers behind the pins to shorten them a bit+fiveten hellcats are the best.
  • 2 0
 Saint are hands down my favorite trail pedal now. I've tried these others and none of them compare. I haven't tried them with the five tens but I'm sure it's similar to the softer ME7 shoes. So comfortable.
  • 2 0
 @crankbrothers - you might want to call for a recount on the Mallet E total results.. I could be wrong but the score does not add up correctly. Maybe because I am a user?
  • 1 0
 Timely breakdown, I'm on the market after selling my M530s. For those that have also ridden the XT/cageless Shimano pedals, does the cage make a big difference? The weight difference is substantial.
  • 1 0
 What about clipless/clip-in shoes? I tried to use a pair of Shimano shoes I had with a pair of Mallet E pedals and it felt like I was standing on marbles. I assumed the shoes were just not compatible with the pedals.
  • 1 0
 Clipless forever. If you put your foot in a pedal cage then pull a strap to tighten it up. You are clipped in to the pedal. If you snap yourself into a pedal mechanism, you are cleated in
  • 6 2
 Mallet E's are the best.
  • 2 0
 should include the DMR V Twin or the Cheaper Shimanos, both with the "pop up" spd mechanism
  • 1 0
 Agree. I wanted to see how the shim system works with different shoes
  • 3 0
 i will probably run Shimano XT Trail pedals for forever
  • 1 0
 Honestly nothing better than Good`ol HT pedals. Long lasting Clickers, Adjustable Bearing play, easy Service, and good Stiffness to it, Shimano was way too soft for me...
  • 2 0
 How come the Mallet E's match or exceed the Mallet 3s in every category and they end up with the same 70 points?
  • 3 0
 When will they release pegs for ebikes?
  • 3 0
 They have them. All the Surrons locally I've seen have dropped the pretense and pulled off the cranks and pedals and installed motorcycle pegs.
  • 3 0
 Crankbrothers E
9 + 8 + 7 + 10 + 10 + 9 + 8 + 9 + 7 = 77!
  • 2 0
 we found the accountant.
  • 1 0
 Why no pedals without platforms? I prefer to wear carbon sole shoes and they definitely don’t need any extra support, so platform seems like extra weight for no reason.
  • 1 0
 Thank you Pinkbike. Flats are clip-less so it absolutely makes sense, and if you want to get technical Clip pedals should be called Cleat pedals.
  • 1 0
 Best Flat Pedal Feel:

Is this the same as air suspension with coil like feeling?
Then just buy flat pedals or coil suspension.
  • 1 0
 Running the same shimano XT pedals for more than 5 years. Bashing them around without any consideration. They are impressive.
  • 1 0
 Just call them 'pedals,' and just call the other type 'flat pedals.' They're not called flat pedals and flat pedals with pins are they?
  • 1 0
 Crank Bros adjustability should score alot less. Not sure how you can even compare the adjustability to others, there is none.
  • 1 0
 nice that the Crankbrothers Mallet E have in total actually 77 points, and thus are place 1 in the score list, but only 70 points were counted
  • 2 2
 About time they are called Clip In pedals. I've banged on about this for years about how ridiculous it is that they are called clipless!!
  • 2 0
 Don't buy wellgo or ritchey, those pedals are straight dog shit!
  • 2 0
 i couldn't agreed more
  • 3 0
 Wellgo make more pedals than anyone. Including many of the above. They are the Giant Bikes of the pedal world. Wellgo is their reasonable price line, Xpedo the race line.
  • 1 0
 @fabwizard: What’s the point of having a reasonable price for a pedal if the quality is not good at all. I’ve had two pairs and neither one of them worked right out of the box.
  • 1 0
 @lalientoxc: I only pointed out they make everyone's pedals not a recommendation to buy or not. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience.

That being said, I just took a pair of (almost 20 YO )wellgo (not sure on model) flats off my my RM7, still working well.

Also, I used a pair of Xpedo triple Ti clip ins for 10 years of XC/cross racing only had to replace the bearings once.

So my experience with Wellgo and Xpedo have been great.

Note I did hear of several XC racers breaking their Xpedos, but they did have a 180 pound weight limit.
  • 1 0
 I did buy some Ritchey SPD (non trail) pedals as they were lighter than Shimano for my gravel bike. I eventually removed them and went back to Shimano.

The reasons why I went back to Shimano were interesting. If I recall correctly the main reason was that it seemed like they started letting go of my cleat when Shimano didn't...this could be unfair as I was using Shimano cleats and they were worn, but they worked fine for the longest time. I was using same shoes/cleats across all bikes (2 road, 1 gravel, 2 mtb) so the malfunction was a minority in the situation.

The other thing I noticed was the feel of the pedal engaged to the cleat/shoe. Normally you wouldn't feel this with a really stiff shoe but mine weren't THAT stiff and it always popped into my mind when I was riding. The difference was that the cleat engagement just felt smoother with Shimano, and easier to find/do. The other thing was that when cranking power in a gravel situation the Shimano SPDs just felt nicer to power down onto (the platform I was cranking power into felt better on pressure distribution).

End conclusion is that Shimano SPDs have been regarded as benchmark because... from what I've experienced, they really are ultra bulletproof, refined, dialed in (is this redundant?) like a really fine Japanese engineered piece of perfection.

Nothing against the Ritchey pedals, it's just that Shimano really refined SPDs to a really high level.
  • 1 0
 I love the float and ramp up feel on my Times. I'm not into the on/off feel of Shimanos.
  • 1 0
 PRE Sram Time for the win!!! Don't take the highest model, take middle one and be happy for many years to come Wink
  • 1 0
 Is anyone else tempted to tap and drill some one sided Shimano PD-H530 pedals and put studs on the flat side? I am...
  • 1 0
 Did you mean the PD-A530? If so, Shimano is now basically doing that for you if you buy the new-ish PD-EH500.
  • 1 0
 @barp: Thanks, yeah, pd-a530. Yhose eh500's look good!
  • 2 2
 F every Crank Brothers pedal ever made. Weird feeling and fragile I would ride with wooden blocks gorilla guled to my shoes before riding CB pedals again.
  • 2 0
 Do the oil slick HT's glide off of rocks??
If so, take my money.
  • 1 0
 Did I miss it or was lateral float (in contrast to the standard angular, ie Shimano) not discussed?
  • 2 0
 Not discussed. Poor show - considering how different it feels to have your feet sliding side to side a little bit in CBs, compared to locked in place with only a little angular rotation in spuds
  • 1 0
 Wait, why did you push the o-ring back in before you took a photo of the XTR?
  • 1 0
 Aren't they all platform pedals to some degree? Just that these platform pedals are clipped in! Big Grin
  • 1 0
 Interesting how the new XTRs don’t have the model name on the side but the XTs still do. I wonder why.
  • 1 0
 But....are any of them better than a hard boiled egg in your pocket on a cold, rainy day?
  • 1 0
 It just wouldn't be a Shimano product without requiring a special service tool
  • 2 0
 The best clip in pedals. Flat pedals enough said
  • 2 0
 Time pedals over all others. So good once you are used to them.
  • 1 0
 hands down best
  • 1 0
 Well, why don't we talk about why Shimano SPD's are almost indestructible? That would be a great article.
  • 2 0
 Crankbrothers E score is 77, not 70.
  • 2 0
 X 2 misssing
  • 2 1
 I’ll give you XT but HT T1 is second.
  • 2 0
 cheap shimano. done.
  • 2 0
 Saints FTW
  • 1 0
 Is there a reason you did the xt and the xtr instead of the 530?
  • 1 0
 Where are the xpedo Gfx??
  • 1 0
 Time should have the highest score for float
  • 1 0
 Do they still have that lateral side to side play? Or are they now locked in with just angular rotation like spd's?
  • 1 0
 @WoodenCrow: Got an original pair from when they first released them and two other pairs on other bikes. None of them have lateral side to side play.
  • 1 1
 No Tatze????? Whats up, u forgot the best on the market
tatze-bike.com/en/products/mc-fly
  • 1 0
 "Availability: We chose pedals that would be available to the majority of mountain bikers around the world."

We should check those out though, I hear good things.
  • 1 0
 Definitely the best pedals on earth!!!
  • 1 3
 @brianpark: I cannot explain why you miss them - or just ignorance?
  • 1 1
 CB Mallet E's are easily top of the pile for me but the bushes/bearings are made of cheese.
  • 1 0
 Oh and you can’t buy any of them anywhere’s this year
  • 1 0
 Should have reviewed the Time MX series as well... Outstanding pedal...
  • 1 0
 Are these Jandals compatible?
  • 1 0
 We need to add Cinelli M-71s
  • 1 0
 one job: buy the shimano pdm 647 (DX) Wink
  • 1 0
 Has anyone said "pick a pedal and be a dick about it" yet?
  • 1 0
 Where are -- HT X2 -- ???
  • 1 0
 yay i have the best clip pedals
  • 1 0
 Crankbro’s is where it’s at! I will always run them tup
  • 1 0
 It was only a question who was going to get 2nd
  • 1 0
 CRANKBROS should just go in the trash
  • 1 0
 HT T1's get my vote
  • 1 0
 shimano DX!!!
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