Mountain Biking

The Best Mountain Bike Flat Pedals of 2021 – GearJunkie

fFlat pedals offer a degree of flexibility that clipless options can’t. We’ve done the dirty work and nailed down the best mountain bike flat pedals of the year.

Getting out on the trail in new gear can be both exciting and intimidating. And flat pedals have a lot to offer, but they can certainly take some getting used to.

Whether your focus is on value, overall performance, or weight, our testers put everything into consideration as we ripped up and down our local trails.

If you’re unsure where to start with flats versus clipless riding, check out our buyer’s guide and FAQ at the bottom of the page before you scroll on. Otherwise, read on to see our staff’s list of the best MTB flat pedals for any and all types of riders.

Also, if you’re more interested in a certain category, you can jump to it right here:

The Best Mountain Bike Flat Pedals of 2020

Best Overall: RaceFace Chester

This could be the only pedal you’ll ever need. Better yet, you can actually afford it. The RaceFace Chester ($41-55) has everything you need in a flat pedal, with a wallet-friendly price that you rarely see at the top of year-end lists. Make no mistake, though: This pedal truly is a mountain biker’s dream. And the price is just the icing on the cake.

Where the Chester really makes strides is in its weight-to-durability ratio. For a pedal to be this light and this tough is noteworthy. And rarely do composite pedals have such a perfect harmony between these two all-important features. After a full season of riding, though, our testers’ pedals looked almost brand-new. And they certainly didn’t mind, given the eye-catching colors.

The only drawback our testers could find was that during truly aggressive riding, the grip on these pedals sometimes wasn’t where they wanted it to be. But given the price, the light weight, and the bulletproof durability, we had no problem giving them rave reviews.

  • Weight (per pair): 360 g (12.7 oz.)
  • Pros: Lightweight, ultra-durable, great price, cool colors
  • Cons: Grip can be lacking during aggressive riding

Check Price at Amazon

Runner-Up: RockBros MTB Pedal

A well-rounded pedal that won’t even come close to breaking the bank, these RockBros ($28) have all the stuff we want and none of the stuff we don’t. The anti-skid replaceable pins keep our feet nice and secure, even when that early-season mud is caking our shoes.

The corrosion-resistant hardware and sealed bearings add to our wet-weather security. And shock-proofing and abrasion resistance give us some insurance for any rough rides ahead.

The size of these pedals is just right. It’s nothing too crazy. So if size is your top priority, you might look elsewhere. But it’s suited just right for the average rider. In fact, if there’s anything negative our reviewers had to say about these pedals, it’s that they didn’t really stand out in any one category.

Considering how easy it is to swing and miss, that’s an accomplishment in and of itself. So if you’re looking for a well-rounded pedal that’s as cheap as the dirt on your bike, this is a solid option.

  • Weight (pair): 365 g (12.9 oz.)
  • Pros: Well-balanced, grippy, all-weather performance
  • Cons: Slightly higher weight, no standout metrics, durability concern

Check Price at Amazon

Best Budget: Imrider Lite

Mountain biking can be a pretty expensive hobby. And our testers are always trying to save money where they can. That’s why we love these Imrider Lite pedals ($20). Not only can we save a bit of extra cash for our next big trip, but we’ve also got a grippy pedal that performs in any conditions our trip might throw at us.

An anti-skid surface, sealed bearings, and a corrosion-resistant spindle contribute to the all-conditions performance. So when you’re caught in some unwanted rain, you won’t have to panic.

Add in a traction-friendly concave shape, a larger platform, and replaceable pins, and you’ll be surprised just how far your dollar goes with these pedals.

Our testers’ only concern was that after a season of tough riding, they showed more wear than other options. This makes them more suited for a casual rider than a dedicated everyday mountain biker.

  • Weight (per pair): 358 g (12.6 oz.)
  • Pros: Larger platform, good traction, budget-friendly
  • Cons: Durability concerns

Check Price at Amazon

Most Versatile: Funn Mamba Clipless/Flat Pedal Set

What’s more versatile than getting two pedals in one? Not much. If you’re a rider who might not want to fully commit to a flat pedal setup, this dual-sided option ($110) allows you to easily switch between mountain bike flats and clipless pedals.

When riding flat, simply use the flat side of the pedal, and vice versa when going clipless. It’s that easy. And it may make the transition to flat riding that much more painless.

These pedals also have a large platform that’s both wider and longer than many competitors. Our testers were split on this. Some thought the larger size increased control and foot comfort, while others thought that the size often made the clip-in function tougher and was sometimes a problem depending on what shoes you wore.

These problems may require some getting used to or some adjusting of the removable pins. But for those who may still be clinging to clipless, these pedals are a great option.

  • Weight (per pair): 450 g (15.9 oz.)
  • Pros: Allows for both flat and clipless riding, large platform
  • Cons: More expensive, heavier, some riders found the platform too big

Check Price at Amazon

Most Durable: Bontrager Line Elite MTB Platform Pedals

For those who are no strangers to pedal strikes and daily falls, this tough, sturdy platform pedal ($50) is the one for you.

The durable axle, sealed cartridge bearings, and nylon pedal body all add up to one reliable pedal that doesn’t mind taking a beating. Reviewers also love the high-performance grip it offers, thanks in large part to the replaceable steel pins.

Super-tough and ultra-grippy, these pedals might be the ones to choose for long rides on tough terrain.

  • Weight (per pair): 350 g (12.3 oz.)
  • Pros: Grippy, durable, lightweight
  • Cons: Might not be the best for riders with large feet

Check Price at REI

Best Lightweight Pedals: Crank Brothers Stamp 1 Flats

Anyone looking for a thin profile, a generous platform size, and a low weight in their mountain bike flat won’t be disappointed by these pedals ($37-48). The thin construction and low weight add up to a lightweight feel that’s barely there, while the larger surface area lets you know these pedals certainly are there when you’re searching for them.

The small version of this well-rounded pedal is so light that it slips just under 300 g at 299. Our reviewers didn’t notice any significant hits to durability or performance to achieve this weight. If you’re looking to shed down some weight and achieve a lighter, freer feel, snag these pedals for your next ride.

  • Weight (per pair): Small 299 g (10.5 oz.); large 329 g (11.6 oz.)
  • Pros: Lightweight, thin, larger platform
  • Cons: Spindle bump can be obtrusive

Check Price at Amazon

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose Mountain Bike Flat Pedals

Platform Size & Shape

Not all flats are created equal, and there’s still a lot to think about once you’ve decided to roll with flat pedals on your mountain bike.

While it’s a pretty good rule of thumb that a larger pedal will mean a more even distribution of force and a more comfortable ride, you need to make sure your pedal size matches up with your shoe size and the shoes you’ll be riding with. If the pedal is bigger than your shoes, you may not be able to engage the pins in the right way, and your traction will suffer. Be sure to maximize size with caution.

There’s also shape to think about. While some pedals are truly flat, many have slightly convex or concave shapes that offer different pros and cons while riding.

A concave platform allows your foot to sink into the center of the pedal, maximizing your grip as you ride. Meanwhile, a pedal with a slightly convex shape allows your foot a bit more freedom to adjust and move around. When looking at the shape of your pedals, ask yourself if you’re focusing on security or a more playful experience.

Photo credit: Funn

Weight

It’s no secret that a lightweight pedal will make for an easier and more comfortable ride. But as you shop around, make sure your pedal isn’t sacrificing durability for a lower weight.

You want to find that sweet spot where you won’t feel weighed down by your pedals, but where you’ll also feel confident in their ability to withstand some brush-ups with roots and rocks. Average riders should feel comfortable leaving the insanely lightweight pedals to competition riders and focus on searching for the best strength-to-weight ratios they can find.

Pins

With pins, it’s simple — the more pins you have, the more grip you’ll get. It’s up to you to decide how many pins you want on your pedals. Most pedals have 10-12 pins, but it’s certainly not uncommon to see more or fewer depending on what the pedals specialize in (grip versus freedom).

One important thing to consider is whether the pins are replaceable. Removable pins allow you to swap in newer hardware when your pedals have taken a beating over time. And they also allow you to customize your pin placement, giving yourself a looser or grippier setup for the terrain and ride ahead.

As with most gear, you may have to pay a little extra for an option with replaceable pins, but the benefits are usually worth it.

Value

When trying to maximize value with your mountain bike flat pedals, it’s important to think of your own values as a rider. Newer riders might need to look for a pedal that emphasizes security and durability, while a more experienced rider might feel more comfortable paying a bit extra to bring down weight.

Take stock of where you are as a rider and what you’re looking for. Then move those values higher up on your list of essentials, so when it comes time to possibly make trade-offs, you know what’s important to you.

FAQ

Flat Pedals vs. Clipless: Which Is Better?

As with most comparisons in the world of outdoor sports, the answer to this question isn’t a matter of better or worse, but which one works for you. There are pros and cons to both options.

If you choose to go for flat pedals over clipless pedals, for example, you might be sacrificing the control and smooth power transfer that clipless pedals deliver on the climb. This consistency of foot placement and connectedness to the bike helps clipless riders feel powerful and in control, both on the climb and the descent.

The trade-off is that, unlike with flat pedals, there is now a piece of gear connecting you with your bike. Whether you need to bail quickly or readjust your footing on a scrambly summit section, some riders prefer the adjustability and freedom that flat pedals offer, especially in variable terrain. By the same token, however, clipless riders might approach those same tough sections with more confidence knowing that their feet won’t slip out. Different things work for different riders.

One important factor to consider is whether you feel that flat pedals may improve your riding ability. Many people switch to flat pedals to avoid the inherent safety net that clipless pedals provide, which can lead to riders developing bad habits.

From bunny hops to rear wheel lifts, the only way to learn with flat pedals is by doing. There are no shortcuts, and getting comfortable on flats can lead to that same “in control” feeling that clipless pedals deliver, only now in a more natural sense.

Are Mountain Bike Pedals Universal?

Yes, mountain bike pedals are essentially universal. Technically there are two types of pedals: a half-inch in diameter and nine-sixteenths of an inch in diameter. But half-inch pedals are usually only used in older or low-cost bikes, so you should feel comfortable buying nine-sixteenths-inch pedals for almost any modern mountain bike.

Are Plastic MTB Pedals Any Good?

We think so, considering we’ve put so many on this list! While composite and nylon pedals come with a cheaper price tag, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a significant step down from pedals made with metal alloys.

Pedals made with metal alloys are more durable and are usually thinner, which can result in fewer rock strikes and less damage to the pedal when strikes do occur. However, composite pedals absorb the shock better than alloy pedals. And although they may become more damaged than their metal counterparts, the experience for the rider will be smoother and potentially safer.

With all the technology in the outdoor industry that’s being put toward creating sturdy and lightweight polymers, plastic pedals are lighter and stronger than ever. And while they may not always hold up to those made with alloys, they’re certainly nothing to shy away from, especially given their agreeable price points.


Have a favorite flat pedal? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll check it out for future updates to this article.


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