Best Mountain Bike Pedals – 2021 Review

Anthony
| Last Updated: June 29, 2021

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Finding the best mountain bike pedal is critical for a successful racing or riding mission. You will encounter different models on the market, and you may be overwhelmed when making that crucial purchase decision. 

This article will take you through the most important things to know about mountain bike pedals and a detailed review of the best pedals on the market. 

Be sure to read through to the end for more information on the different pedal types and answers to common pedal questions.

Comparison of the Best Mountain Bike Pedals

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Fully serviceable bushing and bearing system
  • Lightweight, durable nylon composite body
  • Large platform boasts same grip as traditional pedals
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  • Made to withstand rigors of off-road riding
  • Sealed cartridge axle system for simplicity and reliability
  • Lightweight and high performance with forged alloy body
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  • Best for the Money
  • Ultra thin concave platform for comfort and security
  • Threaded pin offers added security and bite
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  • Best Mountain Bike Clipless Pedals
  • Ribbed body gives better traction even when unclipped
  • Concave platform for secure and comfortable foothold
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  • Best Flat Mountain Bike Pedals
  • Easy and quick installation thanks to design
  • Wide 101mm pedals supports foot much more evenly
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  • Best Mountain Bike Platform Pedals
  • Strong aluminum alloy pedals are flat and durable
  • Anti-skid pedals for effective pedaling
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  • Best Mountain Bike Flat Pedals Under $50
  • Fully sealed pedals keep spindles from dust and water
  • Ultra thin concave platform for comfort and security
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Characteristics of Our Favorite Mountain Bike Pedals

Our favorite mountain bike pedals excel in the following areas:

Pins

Pins act as an essential grip interface between the pedal and the biking shoe. The right pedal should have more pins for the rider to experience a super grip and traction. Pin placement should be even for the mountain biker to maintain constant grip while contacting any part of the pedal body. 

Size

The best mountain pedals are slightly oversized to provide a large surface area for foot placement. A large contact area is better as it helps spread impact forces when the bike jumps or hits a block. Pedal thickness is also a key feature to consider when you want to achieve proper foot balance. 

Photo credit: Bikeradar.com

Construction Material

The ideal bicycle pedals have either plastic or metal construction. Metallic pedals are more durable and resistant to pedal breakages. Metal remains stiffer to provide better power transfer. They last longer so you won't have to do frequent replacements. 

Shape

The pedal shape can either be flat, convex, or concave. a slightly curved shape is ideal for enhancing grip, but either concave or convex provide a better grip than a flat platform pedal. A flat pedal is still a great choice for teaching proper balance and technique, especially for beginners.

Review of the Best Mountain Bike Pedals 

The secret to enjoying the feel of your mountain bike lies in using the right pedals. If unsure, you can try an MTB pedal from our list for a better riding experience.

Best Overall:
RaceFace Chester PD16CHEBLK

RaceFace PD16CHEBLU Pedals

pros

  • Provides a solid grip for more stability during light rides
  • Can absorb shock and noise 
  • Durable product with great wear resistance
  • Relatively thin and lightweight with properly placed and sized pins
  • Balanced platform as you bounce over obstacles

cons

  • Does not provide adequate grip for aggressive riding
  • Platform pedal may be too large for some people

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers say the pedals require little maintenance. You only need to apply grease lubricant to smoothen the movable parts. The nylon pedal body does not damage easily. Others enjoyed the traction pins, especially when cruising through mud, rain, and ice without slipping. The pedals provide the necessary grip for most mountain biking.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The pedal has eight reasonably wide traction pins. The platform pedal design is convenient for shoe traction and getting on and off quickly. By using nylon covering, it shelves off some grams, making it lightweight.

The bushing and bearing system are fully serviceable and require minimal maintenance. The durable material construction is critical in ensuring that this pedal serves the user for an extended period.

The axle comes in fully sealed for convenient mounting as you begin to operate. The setup process is a breeze as long as you follow the manual instructions.

Bottom Line

The Race Face Chester is suitable for riders looking for a lightweight pedal that will be soft on landing. Most importantly, the pedal offers a maximum grip, which is suitable to enhance your riding experience. The rider experiences negligible shock while riding over uneven terrain.

Runner-up:
Shimano PDM8020

SHIMANO PD-M8020 Pedals - Black

pros

  • Durable construction using alloy material makes it cost-effective over a long lifespan
  • Offers super performance in off-road situations with a comfortable ride
  • High-end pedal that improves stability and ease of pedaling
  • Fully sealed cartridge axle system that requires low maintenance
  • Offers a perfect platform for great shoe traction

cons

  • Mud shielding ability is relatively low
  • Significantly heavier than similar models

What Recent Buyers Report

The most exciting factor that makes it popular among users is the easy installation process with the guidance of YouTube videos. It is usable on various terrains without reports of complicated challenges.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Shimano PDM8020 is a lightweight product that has a forged alloy body that is highly durable. For increased stability, it has an improved cleat interface.

Typically, this type of pedal requires minimal maintenance. The serviceable bearing system requires the only grease at least once per year to maintain your operations for a long time.

You can take full advantage of the versatility of this pedal on different terrains. For instance, it tolerates both off-road and cross-country trail riding. The presence of a sealed cartridge axle system makes it convenient for mounting on different bikes.

Bottom Line

Shimano PDM8020 offers a great platform for shoe traction. A little greasing keeps one moving for a considerable period.

It is suitable for experts and beginners who often require more stability. Thanks to the improved cleat interface, this is possible all year round.

Best for the Money:
RaceFace Atlas PD1305-Parent

Race Face Atlas Bike Pedal, Blue

pros

  • Offers large concave width platform which provides better shoe traction
  • Absorbs shock and mutes sound for a comfortable riding experience on all terrains 
  • Lightweight and durable, wear-resistant aluminum body
  • Threaded hex-head pin design for additional grip
  • Fully sealed cartridge bearings that are easy to maintain 

cons

  • Platform happens to be too large for some users
  • Less grippy than other models

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent customers like the pedal design for the extra grip it provides with different types of shoes. The pedal has a huge platform to offer the needed foot adjustments. Most buyers appreciate the sizable inner bearing system that requires low maintenance. Not to forget, this pedal is stiff and light, which is a great feature in offering a comfortable ride. It withstands different weights without chipping or breaking.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The pedal is made of forged lightweight aluminum that is strong enough to withstand mechanical stresses and serve the user extensively. It has a thin concave platform that provides comfortable foot placement.

The hexagonal threaded pin design offers more grip for convenient riding. Maintenance is usually low as one can grease the full bearing system only once for a long time of regular use. Pins are adjustable to get the right shoe fit. There are accompanying replacement pins and washers suitable for making adjustments. The pedal is easy to install.

Bottom Line

With this pedal, you get an unrivaled grip thanks to the concave width platform. Maintenance is easy and affordable as the package includes extra pins and washers for convenient adjustment of the height. The high-strength aluminum construction results in a long pedal that doesn't wear out despite regular use.

Best Mountain Bike Clipless Pedal:
Crank Brothers Mallet

Mallet DH Bike Pedal Pair, Black

pros

  • Compatible with any clipless cycling shoe
  • Customized with integrated traction pad technology for a refined fit and power transfer
  • Simple, reliable, and backed by a generous industry warranty
  • Has four-sided entry to enhance superior mud shielding
  • Has a wide platform that is convenient for support on rough surfaces

cons

  • Occasional rotational resistance 
  • Not as durable as other versions

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent customers express satisfaction with the pedal's versatile design. One can choose between clipless or flats from a single pedal. It has superior aesthetics that add to the bike's overall beauty. Buyers take note of its easy mounting process on the bike that requires only a few minutes to complete.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Users enjoy excellent mud shielding thanks to the four-sided entry. It is a versatile pedal that becomes useful in racing and enduro riding. The pedal features integrated traction pad technology that promotes gripping with all types of shoes.

It scores higher on durability than most other clipless mountain bike pedals because the designer uses corrosion-resistant cast steel for construction. It has a wide platform for comfort and optimum stability. It has cartridge bearings that are easy to service.

Generally, this pedal is great for downhill riding. Any rider, whether intermediate, beginner, or professional, can use it comfortably.

Bottom Line

This pedal remains clean when riding in wet areas, thanks to superior mud-shedding. The wide platform provides sufficient shoe traction and promotes comfortable riding. The pedal is compatible with almost any clipless cycling shoe.

Best Flat Mountain Bike Pedals:
ROCKBROS Mountain Bike Pedals

ROCKBROS Mountain Bike Pedals MTB Pedals Bicycle Flat Pedals Aluminum 9/16' Sealed Bearing Lightweight Platform for Road Mountain BMX MTB Bike Red

pros

  • Wide platform that is super grippy to support bigger feet
  • Ultra-smooth bearings that spin quietly 
  • Lightweight and durable aluminum alloy materials construction for long service
  • Multi-purpose pedal that is compatible with nearly any riding style
  • Lifetime warranty with a money-back guarantee

cons

  • Slipperiness issues reported by some users
  • Not as durable as other similar products

What Recent Buyers Report

The pedals are super light, with unmatched comfort when you wear a proper cycling shoe. Most recent users say it has an incredible grip that promotes comfort during cycling. While they work perfectly on a mountain bike, users also had excellent results mounting the pedal system on a road bike.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Rockbros pedal has a wide platform to accommodate all foot sizes for a convenient riding experience. Moreover, there are stainless steel anti-skid spikes to provide a good grip. More importantly, it has sturdy studs that prevent the shoes from sliding.

The pedal has a durable aluminum alloy designed to handle rough terrains without breaking easily. It has ultra-smooth bearings that are corrosion-resistant, which makes it a good choice for wetter climates. The bearings when greased are good for keeping off dust, sand, and water that could cause unpleasant screeching.

Versatility is what defines this pedal. You can mount it on different types of bikes effortlessly and get great results.

Bottom Line

Our favorite thing about this pedal is that it has a wide platform to accommodate different foot sizes. The durable materials used make it cost-effective as users don't have to pay for frequent replacements. As proof of high quality, the manufacturer offers a generous lifetime warranty. Ultra-smooth bearings keep your ride smooth and quiet.

Best Mountain Bike Platform Pedals:
MZYRH Ultra Strong Mountain Bike Pedals

MZYRH Mountain Bike Pedals, Ultra Strong Colorful CNC Machined 9/16' Cycling Sealed 3 Bearing Pedals(Black 3 Bearings)

pros

  • Has anti-slip cleats with anti-skid pins to provide a firm grip when riding and racing
  • Durable high strength aluminum construction that provides good value for money
  • Contains a lubricated sealed bearing system that's easy to maintain
  • Easy to install on all kinds of bikes and work equally well as road pedals
  • A suitable option in winter and heavy rain

cons

  • May not be durable enough
  • Can be less grippy with clipless shoes

What Recent Buyers Report

Users are grateful for the presence of convenient studs that provide more grip for comfortable racing and riding. One would not need an expert to do the entire installation. The pedal proves to be wear-resistant even when subjected to rough handling. The high-quality materials serve users for a long time before replacement.

Why it Stands Out to Us

One exciting feature about this pedal is the anti-slip cleats and the anti-skid pins. They work together to provide a better grip and enhance the racing and riding experience. The package has both left and right pedals that are easy to install.

Durability is what most buyers look for, and this pedal does not disappoint. It has a high-strength aluminum alloy that does not break easily. The pedal is versatile as one can still mount it to other models beyond the mountain bikes.

The pedal has a lubricated sealed bearing that enhances a smooth riding experience.

Bottom Line

This pedal is suitable for different bike models. Its durability is beneficial since you won't have to do frequent repairs and replacements. It has strong cleats to provide a good grip for your mountain riding.

Best Mountain Bike Flat Pedals Under $50:
Puroma Mountain Bike Pedal

Puroma Mountain Bike Pedal Nylon Fiber Non-Slip 9/16 Inch Bicycle Platform Flat Pedals for Road Mountain BMX MTB Bike (Black)

pros

  • Wide concave platform provides optimal surface area for pedaling efficiency
  • Built to last courtesy of high-quality materials that withstand mechanical stress
  • Has 12 traction pins to provide additional grip and convenient control
  • Easy to install as it is compatible with most bikes 
  • Has sealed bearing for better stability and clearance

cons

  • Rampant complaints about bearing failure
  • Lacks washers thus have a wobbly fit

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers acknowledge that this pedal has excellent anti-slip properties to promote a great riding experience. It is lightweight and easy to install. One great feature that makes it popular among users is its durability. The cast aluminum materials used are dependable for a long time with use.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The wide concave platform offers a large footrest to enhance your pedaling efficiency. The use of nylon materials results in a lightweight pedal that is easy to use. It has a sturdy, fully sealed bearing system that resists dust and water to promote better performance.

You can still enjoy reasonable control and enhanced grip courtesy of threaded traction pins. Mounting this pedal is a breeze. It is a good choice for commuting and recreational riding. The pedal model is compatible with other models such as road bikes.

Bottom Line

This pedal has a wide concave platform for efficient gripping with different types of shoes. You do not need the help of an expert to install the pedal. The fully sealed bearing system is easy to maintain as you only need to apply grease to reduce friction and eliminate screeching noises.

Are Mountain Bike Pedals Universal?

Mountain bike pedals are usually universal. However, their compatibility revolves around the type of crankset that you may be using. For example, where you are using a one-piece crankset, it will require a half-inch diameter pedal. 

On the other hand, a two or three-piece crankset requires 9/16 inch in diameter pedals. If you are looking for greater efficiency, then use a three-piece crankset. The three-piece type is stronger and promotes a smoother ride courtesy of a more robust construction.

Common Bike Pedal Issues

A pedal has specific parts like bearings, a crank, an axle, and a spindle. Such parts may have some malfunctions. This section highlights some common pedal problems. 

Dirty and Greasy Parts

Greasy parts of the pedal easily accumulate dirt and dust. This dust and other particles cause more friction, which leads to increased resistance to rotation. Be sure to inspect the parts to determine if there are bent components where dust and other unwanted objects would find a home. You also have to clean off the old grease and replace it with a new one.   

Worn Out Bearings

The bearing can wear out easily, especially if you don't grease it properly.  Improper greasing leads to dryness and due to the friction, the bearing wears out with time. As a remedy, it is advisable to replace the bearing, depending on how you have been using the bike. Typically, a good bearing lasts about 6 months to a year. If the problem persists after the change, it is important to seek the services of a professional bike mechanic. 

Photo credit: Sheldonbrown.com

Inefficiency After Regular Use

It is worth noting that each pedal has a particular lifespan during which it offers optimal efficiency. Beyond this time frame, its usability dwindles and the efficiency dips such that you have to use extra force when pedaling. If you have a worn-out pedal, you should replace it immediately to get better efficiency. In case you sense some friction a little lubrication usually does the trick. 

Mountain Bike Pedal Types

Here are some common types suitable for mountain biking. 

Clipless Pedal

Mountain bike clipless pedals are mounted with a special spring (cleat) that connects to the riding shoes' sole.

Combo Bike Pedals

Combo pedals merge the features of flat pedals and clipless mountain bike pedals for better performance.

Cage Pedals

These do not require a mountain bike shoe. Instead, they have toe straps made of plastic, rubber, or leather to hold your foot in place. 

Flat Pedals

These do not require the use of a mountain bike shoe and allow free foot placement. They have the least effective pedal stroke but do encourage proper balance.

Platform Pedals

This type features pedal pins that help maintain good shoe traction. 

What Are SPD Pedals?

SPD stands for "Shimano Pedaling Dynamics", the company that makes the SPD brand of bike pedals that are versatile and perform well whether you are on or off-road.

They have recess cleats for comfortable walking. They allow the user to pedal more efficiently and with stability. 

What Are Clipless Pedals?

Photo credit: bikepacking.com

A clipless pedal has a special cleat attached to the shoe to enable the rider to make a connection between their foot and pedal. The rider can toe clip into the pedal, an action that involves stepping down and twisting the heel to the side. 

Mountain Bike Pedal Comparisons

Wondering which kind to get? Check out these comparisons to help you out. 

Flat Pedals vs Clipless        

Flat pedals have a flat surface and lack an interface for clipping the shoe into place. For a beginner, you can wear regular shoes. You can wear special shoes if you have more skills in racing. Such pedals are stable, encourage proper balance, and provide a considerable surface for supporting your feet. 

A clipless pedal has a metal or plastic cleat that clips onto the shoes' sole. They use either a two or three cleat design. 

A two-hole cleat system is popular with mountain bikes and commuters. A three-hole cleat system is suitable for road riders. 

Photo credit: Bikeradar.com

Crank Brothers vs Shimano

Shimano pedals have a recessed cleat that promotes a comfortable riding experience. The Shimano system helps the user to pedal with more stability, efficiency, and comfort.

On the other hand, Crank Brother pedals use a specialized cleat that fits onto a shoe and is mounted using two bolts. Although the two products may appear similar, they are incompatible. 

Platform Pedals vs Clipless

Platform pedals are convenient for shorter rides in ordinary shoes. They are a good option when you have an ankle or knee injury. They have a wide platform that gives more lateral support than the clipless option. 

Using cleats, clipless pedals keep your feet in the correct riding position. They allow the rider to use more muscles throughout the pedal stroke, thus enhancing your efficiency.  They generate additional power through the whole rotation of the pedal stroke. 

Plastic vs Metal Pedals Mountain Bike

Plastic pedals are affordable and light while offering almost as much grip as their metal counterparts. The only downside about plastic pedals is that their pins are not replaceable since they are not part of the metal mold. 

Metal pedals are made of steel or aluminum. Some have titanium or magnesium construction and are slightly more expensive. 

SPD vs SPD SL

SPD (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) is a good producer of mountain bike pedals. SPD cleats are made of metallic materials that are slightly smaller than SPD SL cleats. This alternative allows one to use two bolts when fixing the shoe. 

SPD SL (Super Light) pedals are the lightest pedal type. An SPD pedal has lightweight plastic construction, so you don't have to pedal too hard. Another distinct feature of the SPD SL is that they have three points of attachment to your shoe. The three-bolt cleat enhances overall performance. 

Photo credit: road.cc

How to Change Pedals on a Mountain Bike

Required Materials

  • Spare set of pedals
  • Pedal wrench 
  • Grease

Procedure

  1. Secure the bike on a stand and shift your chainring into the big ring before loosening the pedals.

  2. Shift as you pedal the crank arm to get into the appropriate ring.

  3. Apply pressure to loosen the pedals that you want to change.

  4. Fit the right size pedal wrench your wrench flats between the crank arm and the pedal.
     
  5. Using the correct size wrench, loosen the pedal. Always remember that the left pedal has reverse threading. 

  6. Before installing your pedals, ensure that the threads are clean.

  7. Apply a grease layer on the threads to avoid seizing the crank arms when racing on the road. 

  8. Check on the designation of the pedal, which differentiates between the right pedal from the left one. The pedal axle spindle would have either an "R" or "L" mark. 
     
  9. Ensure that the pedals move in without any resistance when you install them.

  10. You can now tighten the pedal by using a hex wrench. 

  11. At this point, your mountain bike will be ready for use once again.

You can watch the below video for more details on the process we have just described.

How to Clip into SPD Pedals

  1. Stand over or sit on your bike with one foot rooted firmly on the ground.

  2. Locate the pedal's U-shaped side and slide the ball of the foot.

  3. Drop your heel until you hear the engagement click.

  4. Ensure the clip is secure by wiggling your foot.

  5. Repeat the above step on your other foot.

Check out the below video for a helpful clipping practice. 

How to Use a Clipless Pedal

  1. Begin by trying the double-sided pedal first. You can still use the pedals that allow you to clip on one side.

  2. Slacken off the spring tension.

  3. Practice how to unclip as you hold onto a fence or a doorway. Use a clean outward swivel of the heel for better unclipping. 

  4. Use MTB shoes which are helpful for stop-start commuting. 

  5. Avoid walking too far in a mountain biking shoe. 

  6. For more comfortable cycling, keep an eye on any cleat wear. 

  7. Keep the clipless mechanism clean to avoid clogging due to the accumulation of dirt.

Be sure to refer to the video below for a detailed overview of the usage of clipless pedals.

Conclusion

Getting yourself a mountain bike pedal that best suits your needs doesn't have to be so hard. Once you are equipped with the right information on what to look out for it’s just a matter of picking the right pedal for your skill level and intended purpose. Go for a pedal that has a robust construction, so it lasts you a long time of regular use with no need for unnecessary repairs.

Ensure you choose the right platform depending on the size of your feet. If you have smaller feet, pedals with a larger are the best bet for you as they offer a larger surface area for the feet to rest on.

People Also Ask

In this section, let's consider some of the most common questions people ask concerning mountain bike pedals. It will help you have a clearer view and ease up your decision-making process. 

Are Platform Pedals Good for Mountain Biking?

Platform pedals are good for mountain biking as they provide a larger surface area for more shoe-pedal contact to enhance stability even when you are negotiating sharp bends. They enhance the ability to tweak foot placement for better bike control and balance. They provide lock-in traction for more stability and enhanced pedaling comfort. 

Do Mountain Bikers Use Clipless Pedals?

Clipless pedals are suitable for mountain bikers since they are stiffer, which helps to improve power transfer. They are an ideal choice since they ensure that your feet stay put on the pedal regardless of the terrain's roughness. 

What Grease to Use on Mountain Bike Pedals?

Grease is a critical factor in the proper functioning of your mountain bike. White lithium grease works well on mountain bike pedals. If you are just lubricating the threads, then it is advisable to use any standard grease.

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Anthony

"I'm Linda's husband. We got married in 2018 and are loving life together. We met in one of my many competitive races and hit it off right away. Our best dates are when we're riding down a trail enjoying each other’s company in the beautiful Colorado weather. I enjoy writing about everything pertaining to bikes. "