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
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.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.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.
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.