Review: Crankbrothers' New Mallet Trail Pedals

Feb 28, 2023
by Henry Quinney  
photo
Crankbrothers' new Mallet Trail pedals.

Crankbrothers have added a new model to their pedal lineup, the Mallet Trail. As the name suggests, it sits between the larger platformed Mallet E pedals and the smaller Candy pedals.

The Mallet Trails may initially just look like a rehashed Candy, but that's not the case. This platform is notably bigger. Whereas the Candy has a platform size of 67mm x 73mm the Mallet Trail is noticeably longer, while also coming with pins to dig into the rubber of your shoe.
Mallet Trail Details

• Long spindle, 57mm q-factor
• 2 adjustable pins per side plus traction pads
• 5-year warranty
• Weight: 356 grams
• Price $180 USD
crankbrothers.com

It should also be noted that the Mallet Trail has the longer 57 mm spindle as standard. Of course, this could be retrofitted on the Candy, but it's nice to just have one thing less to do. Those of you with larger feet will appreciate this - or at least I certainly did.

The new pedal is as much a Candy Extra as it is a Mallet Light. However, I think it was a smart move by Crankbrothers to lean on the Mallet branding. Although merely speculation on my part, I can imagine they found themselves between a rock and hard place when it came to weight-sceptical trail riders who saw the Mallet E as too much, yet the Candy somehow too light. Throw in Shimano's range, who arguably have the market cornered thanks to their bombproof trail pedals, and it's easy to see why Crankbrother felt they had a gap to fill.


Tech Details

Crankbrothers' eggbeater system, which uses a four-sided entry, is the beating heart of their range. Each different model has a different platform built around the mud-shedding profile that would have the Come Dine With Me Whisk Guy licking his lips. And the platform is the right word. Whereas some pedals offer a cage that will merely stop the cleat from rolling up your calf should you go into a rough section of trail particularly lopsided, the Crankbrothers Mallet system that the new Trail pedal falls within has typically given the rider a large amount of engaged support when clipped in - with the sole of the shoe contacting the platform itself.

The Mallet Trails use the double-lip internal seal, Enduro cartridge bearing, and IGUS LL-Glide Bearing assembly that other Crankbrothers pedals use. While I sometimes find my cleats wear faster than some other brands when using Crankbrothers products, the longevity of the bearing assembly itself tends to serve me very well, and that was no different while using the Mallet Trails.

The pedals also use the changeable traction pads that you see on their other pedals. The stock 1 mm option can be swapped out for a 2 mm version. Similarly, the pedals also come with 1 mm cleat shims, should you want less contact between the pedal platform and your shoe. They also use the same cleats as the rest of the range.

photo
The pins are there to help more when you're unclipped than when the mechanism is engaged.
photo
Changing traction pads between the stock 1 mm option and the thicker 2 mm pad can help increase support.

Setup

Bike setup is subjective in general, but when we come to the setup and feel of our clipless pedals it feels like that subjectivity is turbocharged. Typically, I prefer the Crankbrothers system, and if I had to rely on systems with less float, as well as less platform and support while engaged in the mechanism, I wouldn't be riding clipless pedals at all.

When setting up the Mallet Trails what I wanted was something as close to the Mallet E's feel as possible. I hoped that I would be able to achieve this in a slightly lighter system (around 40 grams per pedal). Another acknowledgment should be that, for me, weight isn't my utmost priority.

When initially setting up the pedal I noticed two things. Firstly, how reliant the Mallet E's are on their platform to ensure support for the shoe, and secondly that the traction pins of the Trail pedals tend to sit within the cleat channel of most shoes, meaning that you can't rely on them to stop your shoe from twisting as you move your weight around the bike.

To try and remedy this, I used the thicker 2 mm traction pads. This helped to some degree, but it never quite achieved the exact feel I was after. I ended up changing the stock 1.5 mm shim for a 1 mm shim on my shoes (the excellent Crankbrothers Mallet Lace), and this helped a little. However, that same option wasn't available to me in my other shoes.

photo
The 57 mm standard axle is welcome.

Ride Impressions

The Mallet Trails are a decent pedal, but I think that they're always going to suffer in comparison to their bigger and burlier siblings. The problem is that they don't offer support through the platform, and are more reliant on the traction pads. This means that if you're riding anything that includes a lot of rider input, you're going to want to have the 2 mm traction pads. However, the trade-off is a more vague sensation of getting clipped in and out of the pedal, without completely delivering on the feel you were hoping for in the first place.

There are some things that are worth noting, though. Firstly, I ran this pedal with three different pairs of shoes and I found that the Crankbrothers Mallet offered a better feel than the Five Ten Hellcat Pros or the Northwave Corsairs. This is mainly because they come stock with that 1.5 mm shim, which gives you some space to push into. I was using both other shoes without any shims under the cleat. This may sound silly, and I would also think that I've gone completely mad if I read it, but I think a 1.5 mm traction pad could help this.

photo
photo
Removing the axle is very easy, with just an 8 and 6 mm Allen key, plus a 9 mm socket required.

The problem with the 2 mm traction pad is that it lets the cleat preload the underside of the pedal mechanism too much. This seems to be the reason for the more vague sensation, especially when getting clipped in. It should be noted that this issue lessens as the cleats bed in, but if you want a distinctive in-and-out feeling then I don't believe the Mallet Trail will be able to offer that. This issue was also worse in some shoes than others, most notably the Northwaves.

This pedal isn't bad, but I'd consider it a great option for gravel and XC and merely an okay option for more aggressive riding. It should be stated that Crankbrothers do aim this at the gravel crowd - as they should - but as the name suggests it's also for trail riding. When I think "trail" I think 140 mm of travel and a mixture of burn-the-lungs climbs and flat-out single track with a peppering of decent and fun tech. I would say that for the latter part, there are better options, most notably the Crankbrothers Mallet E.


Price and Weight

The pedal costs $179.99 USD, and is well made. It's all metal, it's available in different colors should that be your thing, and comes with a very solid five year warranty. It's around 20 grams per pedal lighter than the XTR trails, which is probably its main rival, and around 40 grams lighter than the Mallet Es.

photo
The Mallet family just got a little bigger.



Pros

+ A lighter option than any other Mallet pedal
+ Traction pad adjustment
+ Five year warranty and easily servicable

Cons

- Not as much support as other pedals
- Lacks distinctive in-out feeling when thicker and more supportive pads are installed
- Traction pins sit inside cleat channel on some shoes



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesIn recent years there seems to be something of a movement to label bikes and parts as "trail", and then go on to describe their best purpose as XC or gravel in the actual description of the product. I don't disagree that this pedal is fairly well suited to trail riding, but also I feel that there are better options. It also suffers because you could stay with the Crankbrother's feel, and for just a little bit more weight, around 40 grams per pedal, you could go to the excellent Mallet E pedal and have something that is very much up to the task of aggressive trail riding.

Cross-country and gravel riders will find a lot to like about the new Mallet Trail, while more gravity-focused riders will find a better fit in the Mallet E or DH pedals.
Henry Quinney


Author Info:
henryquinney avatar

Member since Jun 3, 2014
311 articles

87 Comments
  • 99 22
 "easily servicable" the thing is, you don't actually need to service pedals from Shimano. The XT will outlast 1-2-3 bikes and are cheaper
  • 27 38
flag FrankS29 (Feb 28, 2023 at 8:05) (Below Threshold)
 Same, I couldn't stand CB pedals. as soon as the conditions became muddy they were awful and clogged up horribly. Swapped back to XT Trail pedals and all is right with the world again.
  • 7 4
 I switched from CB and HT to Shimano for this exact reason. It trying to rebuild pedals every 6 months.
  • 20 0
 @FrankS29: I always thought that no clogging was one of the few strengths of Crankbrothers.
  • 45 1
 Haven't serviced my CB Mallet E's in 4 years either and they're working great.
  • 5 0
 @IluvRIDING: lol. yeah they are unrivaled in this regard.
  • 18 0
 I ride in pretty horrendous conditions (pop back and forth between wet coastal mountains and kitty-litter/dusty mountains) and have historically needed to service my pedals only once every 1-1.5 years. Doing so costs very little, takes a few minutes, and essentially gives me brand new pedals. I've had significantly better experiences over the last 8 years after switching to CB compared to the previous 12 on Shimano.
  • 7 0
 I've had my mallet e since they came out. 1 service and solid. Of course now that I typed this I btr service em lol
  • 3 5
 @IluvRIDING: Maybe for the eggbeater type, but anything with a cage becomes a PIA. Everyone I know that has run CB pedals have swapped to, or back to Shimano for exactly the same reason I did.
  • 10 0
 FWIW my Mallet 2s are coming up on 12 years old with one bearing replacement and one axle replacement (snapped on a massive flat landing in Whistler which was fair), and my Mallet DHs are coming up on 8 years old and haven't had any service work done on them, so in terms of reliability I'd say mine have proven to be quite reliable.
  • 5 0
 Only pedal I've ever broken was an XTR Trail..
  • 1 0
 I have Shimano pedals on all my bikes, have for years. I've never had an issue until.....

Last week I was riding my trainer w a pair of ~7 year old XTR pedals, and one of the pedal bearings completely locked up. Like the pedal wouldn't spin AT ALL, the body got really hot from the friction. Super weird! And very glad I wasn't in the woods when this happened.

But yeah, this as probably the 5th bike these pedals have been on.
  • 2 0
 Same with Time pedals: bombproof for years and no service needed.
I tried Crankbrothers pedals one time and it was the last because of endless axle and bearing issues.
  • 2 0
 @danstonQ: between myself and a guy I ride with we have 3 broken/bent crankbrothers axles in the last 2 years.
  • 7 0
 my shimano pdm520s, as heavy as they are, are the same pedals that moses shredded with, the same pedals my grandfather used in 'nam as backup hand to had combat weapons, and the only pedals that chuck norris can use on his bike. ive banged them into more things than your mom, i think i used them for skeet once, and the only "service" i've done on them is greasing the threads when i move them from bike to bike. shimano pedals. I rest my case
  • 28 3
 If you like Crank Bros mud clearing abilities but hate the poor reliability, try Time pedals.
  • 9 0
 Huge TIME fan, but beware:

I have several sets of old ATAC XCs from Time... as old as the early 00's and never ever had any issue with them. Bashed them on rocks for literally decades no problem.

The newer "Enduro" style pedals, including the first generation "Speciale" had SUPER WEAK retention bars/springs that would bend instantly if you have a rock strike, after that they were un-usable. Time sent me extra springs, but I'd blow through one every other ride on my local New England chunk. I had to go back to flats.

I have a new set of "Speciale 8" and I haven't had any issue yet, but they are on a hardtail, so don't get quite the abuse. I'm not sure how the Speciale 12 are relative to the original Speciale (they look the same, but who knows).
  • 10 0
 I've found I enjoy the CB mud clearing, feel and their reliability.
  • 7 0
 Yeah - Time Atac have a feel and float more like CB but are a lot cheaper.

Im a weirdo who spends 4-8 months on flats then 4-8 months clipped as I get the benefits of both and can never ever decide.
I hate it Frown

The biggest reason I dont run Shimano is knee issues (I have a heavily offset ankle/foot from breaks) and cleat position. The Time pedals are awesome for that.
  • 3 0
 @bhuckley: I've been very happy with the speciale 8s for three years
  • 3 0
 Been on speciale 12's for ~2 years. No issues.
  • 2 0
 @bhuckley: such reports are what kept me away from a pair of Speciale 8s in the past. I love the feel of the older Times I tried, plus the supposed reliability and the fact that they're made (assembled ?) In Europe. But couldn't stand the idea of getting bent bars.
My XTs, on the other hand, will be here long after Putin presses the button...
  • 2 0
 Delighted with my Time Atac MX2. Light, good size, buoyancy and duration of the cleats
  • 3 0
 I'm an SPD fan but I've been enjoying the Speciale 12s for a bit.
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: Shimano is the undisputed king of pedal reliability. You can't kill them. If I had better knees I would run them.
  • 3 0
 and the great float. I signed in just to give you props.
  • 2 0
 +1 for the speciale 8s being not so durable; had a pedal strike mid ride that knocked the pin that the atac system rotates around out of the pedal. this made both sides of the pedal unusable and i spent a good hour jamming the pin back in there. Ever since that happened, i sometimes come unclipped mid air when pulling for larger gaps, which is pretty scary. I switched to mallet Es and have been pretty happy since.
  • 1 0
 I would love to know the reason the three people had for the down votes? They most believe CB are reliable.
  • 1 0
 @bhuckley: I have the same experience as you. I am very disappointed that the "Speciale" ruined the brand's good reputation for me. I actually got several pairs until I succumbed to admitting that they are in fact too weak for the marketed intentional use of Enduro riding.

I've gone to a more freeride phase and have now used flats for the past two or three years. I wonder if it will be hard to find a good clip-in pedal when I get back to a more "efficiency performance" phase again. Though, I do have a pair of "Speciale 8" I haven't used much yet, and that I can now hope to give me more longevity, even though providing less of a platform than I would have liked as they do not have pins at the back of the pedal. Fingers crossed!
  • 16 0
 A 10 min pedals/Quinney video. Golly! Used SPD for a long time, then flats for a few years. After winning the CB shoes here (really??), it gave me an excuse to try the Mallet E LS - to which I'm enjoying quite a lot. Yea CB pedals float, but I like how you can "tune" the float resistance compared to SPD, which feel as if I'm standing on ice. I DGAF how long they last (and they've been fine). I just feel more confident / connected to the bike with CB compared to SPD. YMMV
  • 9 0
 Super appreciate the "what would I buy?" summary at the end! I'm probably getting a new trail bike this spring, and I think I'll keep my trusty Mallet E's for it. On the other hand, I probably will invest in some Mallet Trails for my hardtail which gets used for some of everything, including commuting, bikepacking, and gravel rides.
  • 7 0
 Henry is so good. This is exactly the review I want. Actually imagining a person buying pedals, comparing to other pedals and giving a final opinion.
  • 7 0
 Notably bigger and noticeably longer than the candy?
Why not just list the actual dimensions?
  • 3 0
 Slightly off topic: Anyone care to comment on using Mallet E vs Mallet DH with Five Ten Hellcat Pros? With the Mallet E, I didn't seem to get much platform contact and I'm wondering of the Mallet DHs are any better with this shoe.
  • 5 1
 I've tried both pedals on that shoe. For me, the Mallet DH had much better platform contact. I prefer the DH over the E version for that reason. However, I find myself riding my flats over the Mallet DH most of the time. I have commitment issues with clipping in.
  • 2 0
 The other commenter is right, the DH has a lot more platform which I'll use for more descent-focused days and racing. I rock the Mallet Es 90% of the time though because 1. I'm too lazy to switch them out all the time 2. they're lighter.
  • 4 1
 Cranks are good pedals if you really want to be locked in vs Shimano pedals where accidental blowouts are too common. I ride both flats and clips and when I'm clipped in, I want to stay clipped in. Also, for hike a bike sections Crank cleats are way more forgiving to walk on that Shimano cleats. Rode all types of clips for years including Shimano (which are nearly indestructible) but a few years back went to Cranks. Been back and forth to Shimi but they just release too easily.
  • 4 0
 Ive always found the opposite. CB had loads of unintended unclips. Partly caused by the mechanism sticking out of the bottom of the pedal hitting something
  • 1 0
 @chrismac70 and @MikerJ

I guess it's give and take how much the mechanism on the pedal is protruding vs how much the cleats on the shoes are.
Shimano has the cleats protruding making them bad for hike a bike.
Crankbros has has the mechanism protrude more, which make them more vulnerable to catching the ground and lead to unintended unclips.

Looking at how the mechanisms look like, Shimano has a flat that is less prone to catching the ground and instead glide over any rock it strikes. Maybe there could be a pedal developed for the future that has both this good function of the Shimano and also the float variability (and other good stuff) of the CB (and Time). What do you guys think?
  • 3 0
 In my opinion this is just one niche too many... Either you want a sturdy pedal for aggressive riding and choose the Mallet E, or you want a light XC pedal and choose the eggbeaters. These "trail" pedals seem like a senseless compromise...
  • 3 0
 Henry, thanks for the review! One thing it looks like CrankBrothers did improve with this pedal Henry didn't mention: You can access the grub screws from the back side with this design. That way you don't have to drill/file the head of the pin to remove if you flatten it against a rock! If you ride CB and you ever change out pins you know what I'm talking about!
  • 2 0
 That would require Henry to say something positive, which I don't know is possible at this point.
  • 2 0
 Give the candy some teeth and call it a mallet? I use the dh versions with dh clip in shoes (for normal “trail riding”) and they are awesome. Good grip and the big platform on the pedals makes up for the floppy dh sole when pedaling. It’s just a heavy setup (if you care about that)
  • 2 0
 Is the Mallet-E concave like the DH or flat like the Trail? Also it looks like the Shimano actually offers support/contact on the backside of the cleat, is this correct?

Would love to see close up shot of the profile of the pedals with a shoe clipped in on all of the different comparisons so see where traction pins/contact points actually hit (understanding the clear channel issue mentioned)
  • 4 1
 As much as I want to like Crank Brothers pedals, I keep going back to my XT's. Nothing matches the secure feeling SPD provides IMO.
  • 3 0
 What's the point of traction pins if they don't contact the grippy part of the shoe?
  • 3 0
 You can still use them to get started pedaling before you clip in on tricky sections.
  • 4 0
 If they contact the shoe they then make unclipping much harder hence Henry winding the pins all the way in
  • 4 4
 Every set up Crank Bros that I’ve seen have side to side play and have this terrible noise when they spin. They literally sound like they’re gonna fall apart after a year of two of riding. XT and TIME pedals are great are the better option.
  • 2 0
 Every pedal (system) has its good a bad. I think it's too bad there's no good info on it all. It would be a lot better for the end consumer. And it would lead to development of better products.
  • 4 0
 Excellent review with very helpful details and insights.
  • 2 1
 Even a CB fanboi doesn’t like them. And they still have the fragile wires (wings) that break or release if you bump the bottom of the pedal while riding.

If I’ve gotta clip in, SPD. But-Deftraps.
  • 1 0
 It's not in the article here, but Crank Brothers measures the Mallet Trail platform at 78mm x 61mm. It may be 'noticeable longer' than the Candy but at 67mm x 73mm the Candy 7 is also significantly wider.
  • 2 0
 Might be a typo on the product page - Candy 7 and Mallet Trail pedal body width is exactly the same
  • 1 0
 I have all the CB models and they all work great. My Acid pedals need a service but overall still work awesome. Ran Shimano over 20 years ago and they suck in muddy conditions.
  • 1 1
 I hate to say it, but the Silca Titanium cleats make Crankbothers pedals feel much better. The brass stock cleats are so soft that they don't engage as well, especially after a bit of wear. The Silca pedals keep the float, but give a much more distinctive clip in and out feeling. That being said, I pretty much exclusively ride flats on my MTBs these days.
  • 1 0
 Great review! I used to ride the CB Acid pedals before they were discontinued and have ridden Mallets ever since, which I love. This seems to be as much a reboot of the Acid pedals as a beefier version of the Candys.
  • 1 0
 will the quattro cleats work with these? like to run 3 bolt road shoes on my gravel bike and the old quattro cleats work with the candy pedals
  • 1 0
 Well Henry, that's two good videos in a row. If you do another good one, that will be "a winning streak."

jokes aside, great review. keep up the good work.
  • 1 0
 I’m loving the HT T1 titanium pedal right now. They work perfect for flats and clipless, I have two different shoes devoted to the trails I ride.
  • 1 0
 I did CB, tried HT, but ultimately converted back to tried and true SPD. BUT I am VERY curious about the new Hope clipless pedals.
  • 1 0
 Crankbrothers "Pedal Refresh Kit" is the printer ink cartridge of the bike world. Randomly imploding pedal internals is a feature not a bug!
  • 1 0
 Nice work Quiney! That was a fantastic, transparent piece of easily understandable journalism about a somewhat complicated, opinionated subject. Much appreciated.
  • 1 0
 Looks the same as they did back in 2011. Groundbreaking tech. If it ain't broke don't fix it I guess.
  • 2 0
 Thanks for the great video review Henry!
  • 4 1
 Daggas
  • 1 0
 Hopefully, CB have improved their cleats, the proprietary brass/butter alloy was not great.
  • 1 0
 The CB brass cleats do wear fast.

Silca makes a titanium CB compatible cleat thats supposed to be 3x more durable, the downside is the $85 price tag.
  • 3 0
 @Jshanney: I've spoken with CB about those cleats; they don't recommend them because they'll prematurely wear out the wings of the clip mechanism on the pedal. Much cheaper to replace cleats than the wing assembly of the pedal...
  • 2 1
 Do they still snap at the spindle causing the body to fall off, leaving an exposed jagged post to slice your shins open?
  • 1 0
 The problem with CB cleat mechanism pops open and your fit come out of you catch the bottom of the pedal on a rock
  • 1 0
 Anyone knows if the longer 57mm spindle will fit any mallet pedal or do they only fit LS models?
  • 7 9
 A - "Weight Doesnt Matter" - Henry Quinney
2 - Still made by Crack Bros, so use for a year and sell on pinkbike classifieds before they fail.
D - These are obviously downcountry pedals, right @mikelevy?
  • 1 1
 Never been a fan of crank brothers. They don’t have a positive clip in and out feel.
  • 1 0
 How does the doubleshot compare?
  • 1 0
 Plastic candies for me, same spindle but lowest weight in catagory
  • 3 0
 That’s the ticket. Plastic Candy’s with long spindles. Budget pedals and close in weight to those baller Ti Candy’s.
  • 1 0
 Used mallets. Feet Kept coming out. Went to saints. never looked back.
  • 1 0
 Great work Henry. One of the best reviews I've ever read
  • 1 0
 Have they stopped making their bearings from cheese?
  • 3 3
 Chances these last longer than 2 months?
  • 1 1
 Slim
  • 1 1
 Merci...mais non-merci !
  • 5 7
 Question: SPDs or Eggbeaters?

Answer: Flats.
  • 1 2
 Nice infomercial.
  • 7 0
 The one where I say that there are better options and to buy Shimano if you want a lightweight trail pedal?
  • 2 0
 @henryquinney: In true Pinkbike commenter fashion, I've missed that part.
Sorry for my Alentejo wine-induced silliness.







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