To an untrained eye, mountain bike pedals may appear irrelevant, owing to their small size and purpose. The fact is, the pedals play a crucial role when finding a bicycle that suits you. Selecting between a quality pedal and a bad one can make a huge difference depending on the purpose of your bike.
How to select the right kind of pedal
When selecting a pedal for your bike, it is essential to put some considerations in mind. By the end of this article, you will be able to evaluate all possible factors and the advantages and disadvantages of each choice of a pedal.
A Look At Clipless Versus flat pedals
When settling on any given bicycle pedal, the first consideration you should make is whether you need a clipless pedal or flat pedal, also known as platform pedal. Most of the new mountain bikes are fitted with flat pedals that are either in a metal or plastic design. Below are the advantages of using the platform pedal.
Pros of using Platform pedals
- No special shoes are needed to use the pedals. You can use any shoe that has a flat bottom to ride your bike.
- The pedals allow for an emergency bailout from the bike in the case of beginners and dirt jump bike stunt performers.
- The platform pedals are cheap compared to the clipless pedals.
How Do Mountain Bike Pedals Make A Difference?
Flat pedals have significantly transformed over the years. The pedals are now grippier, sleeker, and lighter compared to their original design. Some companies have gone ahead to design special shoes for the pedals to compound the thrilling experience of having flat pedals. Many riders talk of flat pedals as being stable as those of a clipped pedal.
Over time, the technology of flat pedals has tremendously improved, especially on the design of the shape and pins of platform pedals. The platform pedals special shoes have also improved in terms of grip to match the ever-evolving technology of the pedals. If you are yet to upgrade your flat pedal shoes, today would be a great day to do so. However, despite all the pros of using a flat pedal, experienced riders will still opt to use a clipless pedal for a more solid pedal to foot attachment.
Clip-in mountain bicycle pedals are fitted with a unique spring known as a cleat, which connects to the sole of the riding shoe. The spring mechanism allows the rider to attach and detach the cleats on the shoes when pedaling. To attach the cleat, the rider has to push his foot in a forward and downward direction of the pedal until the cleat mechanism fits into place. The foot remains fastened to the pedal until the rider is done riding and decides to unclip the cleat. To detach the cleat, the rider simply moves the foot outwards until the moment the cleat detaches. For beginners, some practice is needed for clipless bike pedals before they are able to exploit the pedal’s benefits.
A clip-in pedal is known to provide better control over a bicycle. Secondly, the pedal gives the rider the utmost confidence when riding in wet conditions knowing his feet would not slide off the bike pedals. A well set up clip-in pedal keeps the feet in place at all times over the axle of the pedal. In doing so, the rider will find more efficiency and power output being generated from his quads and hamstrings.
Clipless pedals come in two categories. The first type is the mountain bike clip-in pedal, and the second type is the road bike clipless pedal. The difference between the two is brought about by the number of holes present in the cleat and the number of cleats present on both sides of the pedal. In addition to having two or more cleats on either of the pedals, a mountain pedal has two holes designed to allow mud to sip through to the ground more efficiently. The small cleat also allows riders to wear the shoes for both recreational and commuting activities comfortably.
Road bike pedals have four holes at most, and apart from being one-sided, they are much bigger. The cleats have a large surface area, which makes power transfer from the legs to the pedal much more efficient but makes the shoes cumbersome to walk in.
Pros of a clip-in pedal
- Reduced size. Clip-in pedals have a footprint that is much smaller compared to that of a flat pedal and makes it easier to remove debris from the pedal.
- Lighter. Compared to other pedals of similar quality, clipless pedals feel light on the feet.
- Better Handling. When undertaking a technical ride, clip-in pedals gives your feet solid attachment to the bicycle when taking on rough descents and adds to the fun of bunny hopping.
- Better efficiency. The pedal strokes provide more energy to the rider, making the ride more fun.
In the market, several clipless standards make cleats incompatible with each other. The main standards are CrankBrothers, Time, and SPD standards. SPD is the most popular standard in many of the clipless pedals. The issue of standards, however, should not be a significant concern if all you are interested in is finding the right pedal for your bike.
Combo bike pedals
Combo or combination bicycle pedals, as the name suggests, is a merge of features for both the clipless pedal and flat pedal. The pedals come in two varieties. One has a clip and platform on different sides of the pedal while the other has the clip placed on both sides of the platform pedal such that the clips are accessible simultaneously. For a multipurpose riding, this type of brake pedal is awesome to have on your bike. You have the choice of staying clipped to your bike or stay unclipped when doing stunt riding.
Combo pedals to the mountain bike rider provide many benefits, such as allowing the rider to put the clip on only when needed and also use normal pairs of shoes to ride for commuting purposes. This is made possible by having a clip-in pedal and platform pedal on both sides of the pedal.
The main disadvantage of selecting a combo bike pedal is a weight issue arising from having the clip on just one side of the pedal. In most cases, the side with the clip will always be facing the ground due to the clip’s weight, and this makes clipping a bit challenging and annoying for the impatient rider.
BMX bike pedals
Similar to mountain bike pedals, BMX pedals, are much simple in design and are more robust. The pedals are made from steel, aluminum, or resin. They are much heavier but cheaper compared to other bike pedals. In spite of their similarities to mountain pedals, you should be keen to check for the diverse axle standards associated with BMX bike pedals.
Toe Clip pedals
This rather outdated and least popular type of pedal works by attaching the feet to the pedals using a strap and cage. The exceptional feature about them is that they allow you to attach your foot to the pedal without necessarily having a special shoe. To most riders, these pedals are seen to be unreliable compared to the clipless pedals as the cycling shoe can, at times, be trapped in the pedal during an emergency.
Other factors to consider when choosing a pedal are: –
- Adjustability– When selecting a clipless pedal, it’s imperative to consider the pedal tension adjustment settings and the float. Knowing how much force you need to clip your foot on the pedal and how far you can rotate your foot when the clip is on will go a long way in giving the pedal proper care.
- Mud Shedding features– The pedals should have openings where mud and snow can sip out through when muddy feet are placed on them.
- Weight of the pedal-A light pedal will most likely be made from plastic. A heavier pedal will be steel made and more durable.
- Easy to maintain– A good pedal should allow you to swap broken parts. Other pedals have to be replaced in full, which can turn out to be expensive.
- Durability– a bike with smooth bearings will require little to no maintenances. A pedal suited to mountain bikes will persevere the rough terrain and constant scratches and rock strikes, and still, stay effective after a long period of time.
Maintenance tips and spares for pedals
Like any other part of a bike, pedals require routine maintenance for optimal performance when they are being used. The least you can do for your pedal is to inspect the pedal surface and cleats regularly. The cleaner the pedals, the more efficient it is for the cleats to attach to the pedal body. This makes it easy when clipping in and out of the pedal.
The spindle attached to the crank arm of the pedal utilizes bushings and bearings, and you must refresh the bearings by applying grease to the pedal to ensure the pedal remains in perfect condition. Pedals such as Speedplay have holes to facilitate re-greasing of the pedal. With some minor mechanical background, you can disassemble the pedal and grease it. When you properly grease the pedals, you minimize the chances of annoying creaks arising from the pedal. Besides, the chances of the pedal seizing up or getting stuck in the crank arm reduce by 90%.
When washing, pressurized water should not be directed at the location of the bearings to avoid damage.
Mountain bike pedal types explained
- Nukeproof Pro Sam Pedal
The pedals derive their name from the 2018 World Series champion known as Sam Hill, who used the same exact bike pedals to win the title. So far, no ills have been reported regarding the pedals largely because of the performance of the pedal witnessed by people when Sam was using the pedals. The body’s pedal is perfectly sized to provide support and grip better. The more high-end version of the Sam Hill pedal despite having the same shape as the standard model has a machined look and is more appealing to look at.
With dual-sealed bearings and DU self-lubricating bushes, the pedals remain to be a top performer.
- Excellent shape
- Has great grip brought about by the pins coating the pedal
- Has been used in the past to win a world series competition
- Easy to replace
- Are the least durable type of pedals.
- Deity TMAC
This pedal is characterized by an extensive platform area with fourteen pins situated around the edges of the pedal and a few bearings combined with a DU bushing. The bushing plus the three bearings smoothly keep the pedal spinning. The large surface area makes the pedal more susceptible to ground assault by rocks, but their robust reduces any chance of damage.
The pins’ design limits easy removal, and in the event of pedal damage, the pedal has to be disassembled to remove a damaged pin. The large footprint allows for swift changes instances while keeping the grip in check. The concave shape allows for a firm fit of the cycling shoe with the pins providing a death grip to the soles.
- Spread out the pedal platform for holding the foot better.
- Low maintenance is required for the pedals.
- The shape allows for a sturdier grip of the shoe.
- Colorful paint job
- The pins grip the shoes perfectly.
- Susceptible to rock strikes.
- The pins can be prickly on a barefoot.
- HT PA03A
This mountain pedal is sturdy, light, and cheap. However, they are small in size and weigh very little. The pedal’s flat body is manufactured from nylon instead of alloy and comes with several holes to push mud out of the pedal. The scruffy-looking pins on each side of the pedal maximize the grip on the pedal regardless of the choice of cycling shoe or its condition.
- They have a large surface area that aids in gripping the foot on the pedal.
- They are cheap
- Very light
- They possess a scruffy look.
- Burgtec MK4 Flat pedal
Manufactured using nylon, the concave-shaped pedal has a similar pin structure to that of the Penthouse MK4 pedal but with shorter pins that facilitate shifting of the foot position, are lighter in weight than their counterparts made of steel. Their composite bodies allow them to flip over debris on the ground.
- They provide a decent grip and good size ideal for riders.
- Have removable pins
- Have a well-shaped platform surface.
- They are known to be situated near the cranks increasing the shoe rub tremendously on the arms of the crank.
- Gusset flat bike pedal
The pedal’s design was inspired by a former red bull athlete known as Matt Jones. It’s metallic design, other than being significant; possesses chamfered edges to deflect ground rock strikes. Their concave shape makes the pedals appear rather deep but for a good reason, which translates to better grip when combined with the removable pins found around the pedal. The axles contain high-quality bearings and bushings that make them more durable.
- Excellent grip provision.
- Relatively cheap.
- Concave shaped to help avert ground attacks.
- If mud fills the pins’ heads, it becomes cumbersome to replace the pins.
- Supreme ANS10 flat pedal
The pedals are manufactured with acute angles edges with an obvious concave shape. The concave design keeps rock strikes at bay and your feet firm in rugged terrain. The slightly sharp pins also contribute immensely to the exceptionally firm grip. The IGUS bushings and sealed bearings keep the pedal running in optimal condition.
- The pin’s length is adjustable.
- The axle’s length rests the foot in a comfortable position.
· Small in size.
- DMR BRENDON BIKE PEDAL
Concave shaped in appearance with eleven evenly placed pins, the Brendog pedal does a superb job of ensuring your foot does not wander off the bike pedal. The pins are removable and changeable, and any form of damage on the pedal does not affect their removal. The pedals have angled edges that deflect them away from ruts and rocks during cycling. The sharper pins in the more advanced version of Brendog pedal known as Brendog Edition make the pedal even grippier. The halo edition is super light but very expensive too.
- Well placed pins.
- Pin removal is easy
- The angled edges deflect rocks on the path and other forms of ground strikes.
- Some editions of this pedal are very pricey, with some retailing over 200 dollars.
- Pedaling Innovation Pedal
This pedal is known for its impressive large size. The design was based on the ability of a pedal to support the whole foot so as to provide more power to the pedaling strokes and at the same time, provide more control to the rider. The pedals are also known to provide impressive stability and tight grips to the sole. The adjustable fourteen pins are configurable individually to suit the needs of the rider. The main drawback of these pins is that when the pins are damaged, they are challenging to repair as they can only be fastened from the platform area.
- The large size improves the pedaling dynamics. The foot, when lying fully on the pedal, gets all its power from the ankle and foot flex points. When this is achieved, more energy is supplied to the pedal stroke and later to the crank arm.
- The large surface area of the pedal reduces fatigue during long rides and steep climbs and also provides optimal force transfer.
- Better stability and improve comfort. The pedals are surprisingly very comfy as they allow you to shift the weight of your back a bit, allowing you to assume a more stable position when riding.
- Posses a sleek aerodynamic design
- They have configurable traction pins for maximum grip to the shoe sole.
- It comes with a thirty-day money-back guarantee.
- They provide good performance.
- May appear unattractive due to their large size.
- Fun Ripper
With their rather large surface areas and flat shapes, the pedals are a favorite for many. The pedals are designed with an SPD Shimano system that makes the clip adjustable. The pins surrounding the pedal provide an excellent grip so that your foot can’t twist around. The pedal’s concave feature makes riding downhill an exhilarating experience. The bushing and bearings are also known to be durable compared to other pedals.
- The large size provides better foot posture.
- The pedals have a noteworthy pin positioning.
- The excellent choice of bushings ensures a smooth running axle.
- The pedal is also easy to clip in.
- Incompatible with narrow shoes.
- Superstar xEvo Nano Pedal
This flat bike pedal has a wide platform and comes with extra replacement pins. The large surface area provides an excellent grip. The unique design of the pedal makes it easy to replace the pins from below the platform using an Allen key. The angled edges aid in deflecting ground rocks.
- It has a large platform for maximum grip.
- Has a burly build.
- The price is friendly too to the pocket.
- They have numerous color options to choose from.
- Its adonized finish is likely to attract scratches.
- Shimano PD Pedal
The Shimano Company manufactured this pedal with a simple but reliable design. They are a popular choice for mountain cyclists due to their clipless nature. Alternatively, the pedals can also be used for commuting. The pedal is relatively cheap despite its excellent performance. The release tension is unable to meet the rider’s needs. Service is needed only once a year, so durability earns this pedal a five-star rating.
- Pricing is pocket-friendly.
- User-friendly adjustment.
- Simple maintenance.
· They lack a classic look.
- Crankbrother mallet pedal
True to their expensive nature, the mallet pedals are known to be high performing pedals more so when combined with the DH cycling shoes. The Concave shape provides a solid grip between the soles and the pins attached to the pedal’s body. The open design allows for efficient mud shedding. The surface is also ripped to provide improved grip. The pad also comes with internal and external seals that ensure water or dust particles do not enter the pedal. The pedals are similar in all mallet models, and this ultimately eases servicing done by the use of a refreshing pedal kit.
- The chamfered edges protect against rock collisions by sliding off the rough terrain or surface with rocks.
- The concave shape allows for an improved foothold.
- The pedal’s float keeps the feet firmly clipped to the pedal and at the same time, allows the rider to shift his feet on the bike. This makes the cyclist have better control of his bicycle.
- They are easier to rebuild in comparison with other models.
- The release mechanism requires a bit of time before a rider can familiarize himself with it.
- Nukeproof Horizon Pedal
The flat-like pedal has four detachable pins on each side of the pedal, which protrude four millimeters above the surface of the pedal to provide the rider with more grip, especially in wet conditions. The pins can be adjacent whenever needed to suit the rider’s needs. The SPD designed mechanism allows you to clip in the foot from any direction you wish to. However, the small contact arear provided by the cage can limit you to the type of shoes you wear when riding the bike.
- The pedals are decently light.
- The Tractions provide exceptional grip on the sole.
- Extended pins could cause pain in the shins after some time.
- DMR Twin
The DMR Twin pedal comes with several adjustable pins that are tuneable to the rider’s comfort. The SPD feature enables easy clipping, although, at times, this can turn out to be cumbersome when you try to unclip your foot from the pedal due to the nature of the grip.
- The pedals are adjustable and adaptable to wet weather conditions.
- They can feel heavy.
- They are a bit pricey
- Reliability is not a guarantee
When selecting a bike pedal, it is important to consider the type of cycling you will be undertaking. If you are a mountain biker, then see if the clipless pedals are what you need for that optimal pedaling efficiency or the platform based platforms that provide better maneuverability or perhaps a blend of both pedals of which you can settle on a combination pedal.
Let’s say you settle for a clipless pedal, you should ensure the choice of your shoes, the cleats, and pedals all work as one entity to achieve the ultimate purpose of efficient cycling experience. Meaning, your decision will determine how comfortable your biking experience will be in the future.
Last but not least, remember to properly care for your pedals by cleaning the pedals with outmost care, replacing broken parts in full or in part, and using the right shoes on the pedals. It is through routine repair, checking, and caretaking you will have smooth biking all way through.