Best Mountain Bike Pedals
When it comes to mountain biking, there are a number of essentials that you need to enjoy this sport to the fullest potential. First, you’re going to need a helmet for protection, and second, you’re going to need a quality mountain bike. Once you’ve got those two taken care of, the next step is to choose a quality pair of mountain bike pedals that work best for you. This comprehensive list will get you pedaling in the right direction.
- Race Face Chester
- VP Components Vice Platform
- Crank Brothers Large Stamp
- DMR VAULT
- Shimano XTR PD-M9000 Race
- Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3
- Race Face Aeffect
- Shimano Deore XT M8020 SPD
- Deity Components TMAC
- Xpedo GFX DH Clipless Platform Pedals
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Race Face Chester
Lightweight, easy to use
Removable steel pins
Large platform area for added impact protection
May show increased signs of wear and tear more quickly in rough terrain
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran at mountain biking, a good pair of platform pedals is a great tool to help you enjoy the sport that much more. These pedals from Race Face offer both the stability of a platform pedal and the grip and performance of a clipless pedal all rolled into one.Read more
These mountain bike pedals feature a series of eight removable steel pins that can easily grip into any shoe, but still allow for easy release if necessary. Whether you have to step off to take a rest, regain your balance, or avoid smashing your toes against some sharp rocks, these pedals allow you the freedom to move your feet around or have them secure as you see fit.
These pedals offer a relatively wide pedal base, which offers a fair amount of protection from an impact on the trail or during an uphill climb. While it isn’t perfect, it certainly helps.
Additionally, these pedals fall into the platform category of pedals, which makes it a great choice for a beginner, or for someone who is tackling a more technical trail, where quick foot movement is essential.
These pedals are relatively lightweight, and have an overall thickness of about two inches, making them some of the easiest pedals to use that we’ve found.
Featuring a nylon composite body, removable steel grip pins, and a chrome-steel axis, this pedal is not only very lightweight but also durable. In addition, both the bearing and brushing system are fully serviceable, so an experienced biker or technical can perform the necessary maintenance quickly and easily. However, it should be noted that there have been some reports of pins and screws becoming damaged during rides in very rocky terrains.
When it comes right down to it, the Chester Pedal from Race Face offers the most for both the beginner and an advanced mountain biker. The pedals are lightweight, yet durable, and offer the ability to firmly grip the pedal or release as you see fit.
2. VP Components Vice Platform
Easy to install with hex keys
Durable aluminium body
Solid grip, even when wet
Scuffed easily by repeated rock strikes
No indication of L/R orientation
This pedal features extra pins for extra grip, regardless of weather conditions or terrain, a wide body to ensure a stable feel, and a price point ideal both the beginners and the budget-conscious.Read more
This pedal features twelve pins per side to ensure proper grip with any kind of shoe. They also feature a nice wide and low-profile body to ensure a stable feel, even in wet conditions.
The wider platform of this pedal is not only ideal for stability but offers a good amount of protection from rocks and roots underneath you, as well as potential debris. The wider body can make tighter places somewhat unfavorable, however, so keep that in consideration as well.
These are platform pedals, making them ideal for beginners or those who like the additional responsiveness they provide.
Measuring at 14mm (excluding pins), the VP Components Vice Pedal is a good mixture of thinness and durability.
These have proven to be quite durable, though may get scuffed up from repeated rock strikes.
If you're just starting out, or want a good quality platform pedal on a budget, you'd do well with the VP Components Vice. They're designed for durability and strong grip while being lightweight and easy to install. The pedal studs are adjustable to accommodate for most any shoes, and the widebody will help protect your feet from potential debris kicked up during your adventures.
3. Crank Brothers Large Stamp
Larger size, great for larger feet
Easy to use
Great overall grip for a platform
Bearings are known to wear away quickly
This mountain bike pedal from Crank Brothers offers a professional level platform that provides a great shoe to pedal interface and a grip that can rival even the best clipless pedals on the market today.Read more
This pedal features ten pins on each side of the pedal that are fully adjustable so that you can easily control the level of grip that you experience with each pedal stroke. In addition, the concave shape of the platform means that it’s easy to have a secure foothold, no matter the terrain.
The wider platform of this pedal provides not only a great foot to pedal ratio, but also offers a fair amount of protection from debris and rocks that might fly up during the ride. The larger footprint, however, makes these pedals somewhat unfavorable when it comes to tighter places, so that should be a consideration when deciding where to travel.
This pedal falls squarely into the platform camp when it comes to mountain bike pedals, making it a great choice for beginners or for those who prefer the responsiveness of the platform versus the other options.
When it comes to platform mountain bike pedals, this entry from the Crank Brothers is one of the thinnest and lightest on the market today. At the thinnest, this pedal measures about eleven millimeters in thickness.
Overall, these pedals proved to be fairly durable, with the only significant problems being the bearings themselves. A number of customers found that the bearings and the pedal did not spin easily after just a few cycles or uses.
If you have larger feet or demand a platform mountain bike pedal that can truly go the distance; you can’t go wrong with this entry from the Crank Brothers. They are designed to have the maximum amount of surface area for your foot to grip, and their overall lightness makes them relatively easy to use. The only real complaint that some customers had was that the bearings wore through relatively fast.
4. DMR VAULT
Great color options
Can provide too much grip for some
The DMR Vault pedals offer an extremely lightweight clipless pedal that is strong enough to withstand nearly everything that you can throw at it, and light enough to keep coming back for more. Each pedal features 11 pins, 7 of which can be adjusted to fit long or short, depending on your preference.Read more
When it comes to grip, these pedals from DMR brand feature one of the best in the clipless class overall. The design is relatively simple, which means that there is little room or chance for mud interference, and clipping into them is a relative breeze.
These pedals make use of a larger platform which helps immensely to avoid rock strikes. The concave design and grip of the pedals also help to avoid slipping.
These pedals clearly fall into the clipless category, making them a great choice for a more advanced mountain biker, or for those more technical trails where clearance issues may be a factor to consider.
These pedals have an overall thickness of two and a half inches, and together weigh about 1.2 pounds, or 0.6 pounds each, making them extremely lightweight indeed.
These pedals are a great choice when it comes to overall grip and responsiveness, and durability is no different. The aluminum material proves to be strong and ready to take on any terrain. The only damage we have seen to these pedals is a pin being knocked out of place on a particularly tricky trail, but overall, these are very durable pedals.
If you’re looking for a pedal that is fairly responsive and lightweight, extremely grippy, and you’re not too worried about putting it through the wringer, these pedals from DMR are a great choice overall.
5. Shimano XTR PD-M9000 Race
Relatively easy to use
Small cross section, easier to fit into tight spaces
Bolts wear through more quickly than most
If you enjoy speeding down the hills like there is no tomorrow, you’ll need a pedal that can not only keep up with you but also provide the support and responsiveness that you’ll need. The XTR PD-M9000 Race Pedal from Shimano can do all that, and more.Read more
This clipless pedal is designed with an easy and adjustable grip release mechanism, so you not only have the security of a firm grip when the cleats are engaged, but you can also very easily disengage if necessary during your bike ride.
While the smaller size doesn’t provide that much protection from impact to your feet, it does help to keep you clear of sharp rocks and get you through tighter spaces easier.
These pedals are of the clipless variety and come with a pair of cleats to ensure a proper fit each time.
Although they are by no means the thinnest or smallest clipless pedals on the market today, these pedals still can hold their own. At their widest, they measure about two inches. However, because of the solid construction, these pedals may feel a bit heavy for some cyclist.
While the metal construction makes for a very solid and durable pedal overall. The only item that did see a bit of undue wear according to customer complaints was the bolts were sometimes easily damaged.
If you feel the need for speed when biking through the mountains, then having the right pedal is important. Not only is the Shimano XTR PD-M9000 Race pedal an easy to use clipless performance pedal that is easy to use, but it is also quite durable as well.
6. Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3
Easy grip and release system
Small and relatively light weight
Very durable construction
Not suited for beginner mountain cyclists
If you’re looking for a great pair of clipless mountain bike pedals that offer the ability to quickly release at a moment’s notice, then the Eggbeater 3 Pedals from Crank Brothers should certainly be on your list.Read more
While these pedals don’t feature removable steel pins, the overall design of the pedal makes them easy to grip with the proper mountain biking shoes, and even easier to release when it becomes necessary to do so. These pedals feature a customizable release angle and a four-sided entry, so getting back into the game after a muddy spill won’t be that much of a problem.
Like most clipless mountain bike pedals, these from Crank Brothers don’t really have too large a platform, so they offer limited protection from impact.
These pedals fall into the clipless category of mountain bike pedals, so they are really more suited for more advanced bikers than beginners.
At their thickest point, these pedals measure approximately two inches in thickness, most of which is used to maintain a superior grip between the pedal and the rider himself.
These pedals are created from cast stainless steel and feature both a spring steel spindle for added strength and a protective aluminum end cap.
The Eggbeater 3 from Crank Brothers offers a great choice for those more advanced bikers who want to be able to use their mountain bikes more efficiently.
7. Race Face Aeffect
Reduced spindle length saves weight
Hex threaded for added security
Pins can be sharp
If you're looking for a visually stunning pedal with durability to match, the Race Face Aeffect is a good choice. Sporting Chromoly steel axels, a concave platform design, and bottom loading hex pins, these pedals will definitely be able to keep up with you no matter where you go.Read more
This pedal uses ten bottom-loading hex pins per side to ensure a stable grip while providing extra security in any environment. There have been reports of the pins being sharp, however, so take care when mounting and dismounting.
The platform is just shy of four inches wide, providing average protection from debris. The traction pins are known to be sharp, however, and thus may not provide the best protection from impact.
These are platform pedals, designed for ease of use and quick footwork when necessary.
Measuring 15mm at the thinnest and 16.9mm at the thickest points, these are about average thickness for aluminum platform pedals, with a slightly concave design, assisting in overall traction.
The Chromoly steel axels still spin freely even after extended use, with little to no dirt making its way into them, indicating a strong seal once installed. The platforms themselves can withstand any conditions, from trails to thick mud to even slushy snow.
The Race Face Aeffect pedals are designed to look great while providing strong traction and security, with minimal wobble and debris getting into the seals near the crankarms. The waterproof aluminum design ensures resilience in any number of conditions.
8. Shimano Deore XT M8020 SPD
Easy to engage system
Wider platform than other clipless pedals
Solid and durable construction
A bit heavier than we would like
Sometimes a combination of the best from a clipless pedal and a platform pedal is what you need to get the job done. The Shimano Deore XT M8020 SPD Trail Pedal offers a great balance between ease of use and overall performance that is hard to match.Read more
This pedal features the ability to anchor in from either side of the pedal, allowing for a quick and stable entry of the mountain biking shoe after a release. They also feature superior float integration and the use of two-bolt SPD cleats for added control. In addition, the slightly wider platform allows the pedal to be found easier without looking, so the cyclist can concentrate on the task of cycling instead of pedaling.
The slightly wider base does offer a bit more protection from impact than more traditional clipless pedals, although they can become a bit of a hindrance when operating in tighter places.
This is one case where the idea of combining more than one style into a third worked out beautifully. This mountain bike pedal from Shimano offers a great combination between the ease of use of a platform pedal and the security and grip overall of a clipless one.
At the thickest point, these pedals measure just over 1.5 inches in size, making them fairly small. However, because of materials used in the construction of the pedals, they are a bit heavier than their size would dictate overall.
This pedal features cro-moly construction and sealed cartridge bearings, which helps to prevent undue wear and tear on the pedal itself. In addition, the cleat and pedal interface is designed specifically to reduce the chance of dirt, mud or debris from getting into the gearing of the pedal, adding to the overall longevity of the pedal.
Ounce for ounce, this pedal is a great choice that provides a balance between overall ease of use and durability. While it is a little heavier than we would like, overall it is a solid choice for both a novice and advanced cyclist.
9. Deity Components TMAC
Overall size and shape makes it easy to grip
Great protection from impact
Grip pins wear through quicker than most
Overall profile is not very thin
If a great platform pedal is more your speed as you shred along some of the mountain trails in your area, one pedal that you should consider is the Deity Components TMAC pedal. It’s lightweight, yet durable, and offers more gripping capability than even some clipless models on the market today.Read more
The concave shape and replaceable grip studs on these pedals provide it with superior gripping action, even in less than favorable cycling conditions.
Overall these pedals offer a moderate amount of protection from impact and feature slightly thicker areas at the ends of the pedals that are designed to withstand extra bombardment.
These mountain bike pedals are platform in nature and design, making them a great choice for beginner cyclists.
These pedals feature a variation in the overall thickness of the pedals, starting at about 14 millimeters at the center, and becoming slightly thicker at the ends. Thankfully, the concave shape allows for the shoe to fit comfortably in the pedals and reduces the need for a uniform thickness overall.
These pedals feature a relatively lightweight aluminum body but were found to be not as durable as some of the others on this list. While the bearings have proven to be relatively free of problems, the grip points have been known to wear down remarkably fast with frequent use.
If you’re looking for a great platform pedal that offers great overall comfort and grip, this pedal is a hard one to match. Although we would have liked to see a bit thinner profile and better durability of the grip pins, for the price this is a solid choice overall.
10. Xpedo GFX DH Clipless Platform Pedals
Relatively easy engagement
Heavier than most pedals we’ve seen
Doesn’t offer much impact protection
This spot on our list is taken up by a great combo mountain bike pedal by the Xpedo brand. These pedals offer the responsiveness of a clipless and the relative sturdiness of a platform all in one.Read more
These mountain bike pedals from Xpedo have proven to be relatively easy to grip or release as needed. The engagement points can float as needed, so re-entry into the pedal while on the go is a fairly simple process.
While these pedals do have a platform component, they offer very little when it comes to overall impact protection compared to some of the others on this list.
These pedals clearly fall into the combo area of mountain biking, and offer quite a few of the benefits that the clipless and platform pedals bring to the table. Unfortunately, they also have brought some of the disadvantages as well. These include extra weight overall and a tighter fit in areas of low clearance.
These pedals are some of the thicker ones on our top ten list, measuring just about 3 inches in thickness and weighing about 1.5 pounds overall. These pedals will certainly be felt, especially during and after a significant ride.
These pedals are constructed well, featuring Chromoly steel spindles with an aluminum pedal body. There is no reason why these pedals shouldn’t last for quite a few seasons with proper care.
While they are certainly not our first choice when it comes to the best mountain bike pedals on the market, this entry from Xpedo offers a fairly decent combo mountain bike pedal that features great characteristics from both the platform and clipless varieties of pedals.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When it comes to the best mountain bike pedals, grip can be a bit of a double edge sword. The grip of a pedal is its ability to be held firmly by the biker during pedaling. If a pedal doesn’t have enough grip, the cyclist may have trouble controlling the pedals and the bike overall. However, if the grip is too tight, releasing the pedal in times of an emergency may become difficult.
The mountain bike pedals presented here offer a very good balance between the ability to grip firmly and the need to release quickly as the situation warrants. Platform style pedals offer a bit easier for release since you just have to lift your foot. However, they also offer less responsiveness when it comes to pedaling than the clipless variety. The clipless style of pedal, however, such as the Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3 offers superior gripping power and control, but require that the cyclist remove their foot at a particular angle for releasing the grip. While more advanced cyclists can do this with ease, a beginner may have a bit of trouble with the process at first.
Protection from Impact
Believe it or not, a mountain bike pedal can be your first line of defense against injury while on the mountain trail. Rocks, mud and other debris can easily be thrown up into the air around your feet and ankles, leading to scrapes scratches and even things being embedded into the skin.
In addition to allowing you to move the bicycle forward, the best mountain bike pedals also offer a bit of shielding for your feet while you’re moving. Simply put, the larger the pedal is, the more surface area is available for rocks and debris to hit. This means that the pedal can be used to deflect dangerous debris away from your feet and ankles as you ride.
Clipless vs. Platform vs. Combo
There are essentially three different types of mountain bike pedals available on the market today. The first is what is called platform pedals, and they’re most akin to the square or rectangle pedals that are often seen on children’s bikes. You simply place your foot on the pedal, push down and repeat once it comes into position again. They’re simple, straightforward and easy to use.
Clipless pedals get their name from the fact that unlike older styles of mountain biking pedals, which “clipped” onto the shoe, these pedals actually fit into specialized mountain biking shoes in a tongue and groove manner of speaking. They offer much better grip and control than platform pedals, but removing or lifting the feet quickly off the pedal can take a bit of practice, especially for a beginner.
Combo pedals, or sometimes called hybrid pedals are pedals that feature characteristics of both the platform and clipless pedals. They often feature a much wider platform than clipless pedals, but most often have the gripping features of a clipless pedal, although to a lesser extent.
Another thing to consider when finding the best mountain bike pedals for your use is their overall thickness. A thicker pedal usually means that more material is being used, which means a heavier pedal. A heavy pedal isn’t something that you want.
Think of it this way; each time your foot pushes down or lifts up while you are pedaling, you’re either pushing down or lifting up the pedal itself. While it’s true that the rotational force does add some extra power, your feet and legs are doing most of the work. That’s part of what makes mountain biking such great exercise. However, if the pedal itself is on the heavier side, which usually happens when it’s, thicker overall, it can put some unnecessary strain on your body.
Thankfully, modern mountain bike pedals are often made with a more lightweight material and feature a much thinner, more compact design overall. The list presented here provides quite a few examples of where thinner, yet stronger materials made it possible to make a lighter and easier to use a pedal that was still durable enough to withstand the rigors of mountain biking.
Everything that is manufactured will eventually break. It’s just the nature of the beast. However, the durability of the best mountain bike pedals will often play a factor into how soon or how often a pedal needs to be repaired or replaced. Durability, in turn, is often dictated by the overall workmanship, materials used, and by overall design.
For the most part, the pedals on this list are well made and have every ability to last through many seasons depending on the frequency and severity of the mountain biking. These pedals were shown to use quality materials, and feature quite a few design characteristics that help to prevent significant damage during use.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Switching to clipless pedals can feel daunting at first. To avoid looking like a fool, it's best to practice attaching and disengaging from the pedals in a stationary position until you get the hang of it. However, after you figure out how the pedals work, you will be able to improve your speed, efficiency, and comfort.
While mountain biking may be your main form of exercise, it is also important to exercise certain muscles off of the bike. Your glutes, for example, are a powerhouse and doing squats or lunges can help to make them stronger and create a stronger stride.
Other Factors to Consider
While you can’t predict every single type of area that you’ll ride through on your mountain bike, sometimes having a general idea will make choosing a bike pedal to be a bit easier. If you expect to be traveling over rougher terrain, where things such as bunny hopping between rocks or places where sharp turns and changes in position are needed, a clipless bike pedal might be more beneficial. The reason is that the clipless bike pedal offers greater overall control and a smaller overall footprint than platform or even combo pedals. Since you don’t have to concentrate on keeping your feet on the pedals, you can concentrate on things such as balance, use of your body weight, and the relationship between shifting, turning, and be pedaling to get the job done.
However, if the trails you like to follow consist mainly of wider paths with more loose debris and gravel, and areas of steep descent followed by flat areas, a pedal that allows you to quickly release if necessary may be a better choice overall. A platform or combo type of pedal would probably be your best bet in those types of situations.
Another thing to consider when purchasing a new set of mountain bike pedals is your overall experience when it comes to mountain biking. While using a pedal on a bike might seem simple enough, both clipless and combo pedals are a bit more complicated to use than platform pedals.
Unlike platform pedals, which allow you to simply lift your foot off the pedal when necessary, both clipless and combo pedals only allow the foot to be released with certain motions, such as tilt or turn of the ankle, or a lifting of the toe area. This allows the specially designed shoes to release the part of the pedal that they are gripping. While it’s not exactly hard to do while you’re pedaling like mad, it does take a bit of practice and experience to do it well.
Frequently Asked Questions
There really isn’t anyone answers to this question such as “after three years, buy a new set”. Rather, when you replace your mountain bike pedals depends on a number of factors. First, consider the overall wear and tear on the pedals themselves. Can they still turn freely? Do the retention mechanisms on the clipless pedals still work? Is the plastic on the platform still able to provide a grip? Are the bearings in good condition?
If any of the answers to those questions is a “no” or “I’m not sure” it is probably time to consider replacing the pedals on your mountain bike.
When it comes to mountain bike riding, there are a few essential things to have, a few nice things to have, and a few luxuries that make the whole thing easier. First, you’ll need a good mountain bike and a helmet. Those are the essentials. Next, it’s nice to have a pair of gloves to help you grip the handlebars well when you get sweaty, a pair of sunglasses with protective lenses to protect your eyes from debris, a water bottle or hydration pack, a small first aid pack, and repair items such as a pump, spare tube or patch kit, and a cycling multi-tool to change out your pedals, tires, and gears as needed.
After those items are present and accounted for, most avid cyclists also consider clothing and shoes that are specifically designed for mountain biking. The clothes are often lightweight and relatively form-fitting and made from moisture wicking materials. Shoes, depending on whether you use clipless or platform pedals may also be specifically designed for gripping purposes. And of course, depending on when you’re riding, things such as a detachable headlight, taillight, and an emergency whistle might be beneficial as well.
When choosing a pedal, you want to first determine what type is best for you. Most entry-level mountain bikes will have platform pedals. They’re ideal for beginners, as they don’t require special shoes; any sturdy shoes with a flat bottom will work. It’s also easier to get off of the bike if necessary, which is great for beginners, as well as downhill riding and dirt jumping. They’re also typically less expensive than clipless pedals, at least for entry-level models.
Clipless pedals feature a special cleat that is then attached to a shoe specifically designed for mountain biking, providing a true connection between foot and pedal. It can take beginners a bit of time to get used to clipless pedals, but they do come with their advantages. The connection can improve handling on rougher terrain and bumpy descents. They also have a smaller overall size and are typically lighter in weight than similar-quality platform pedals.
As stated above, clipless pedals use special cleats and shoes to hold your foot in place on the pedal. “Float” refers to how much your foot can move while clipped into the pedal. This is important when it comes to rough terrain and areas where precise footwork is necessary. Float is typically an angle from 0 to 15 degrees, and the exact amount of float will depend on the specific cleat.
Clipless pedals involve specific ways of detaching them, the most common being to pivot on the ball of your foot so you can twist your heel outwards. “Tension” refers to the amount of resistance needed to do this. The angle of release is also important, as it determines on what plane your foot with disengage from the pedal. These are both crucial in regards to how quickly you can unclip your foot from the pedal, so take these factors into consideration as well.