Best Mountain Bike Pedals You Won’t Regret Buying

Stock pedals are usually not the most reliable ones unless you’ve bought the very best mountain bike out there. Now if you’re stuck with cheap plastic pedals, it’s high time to change them up into the best mountain bike pedals you could ever place your feet on.

So, how would you know if a pair of pedals can help you achieve superior performance?

In this article, I’ll be introducing you to the best MTB pedals available in the market right now. I’ll highlight their key features and give you tips on how to choose the most suitable pair for your own ride.

Let’s begin.

Product Review Table

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 04:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

A Guide To Bike Pedals – What To Consider

Before giving you the list of my top pedal choices, it would be appropriate to discuss the various types of pedals, how to determine which ones are durable, and how to identify the kind of pedals that feel suitable for your kind of ride.

Types Of Pedals

Pedals are among the most important parts of a mountain bike. Since your body is directly in contact with them, they need to have a reliable interface. Plus, you should be able to control them with ease.

Basically, there are two types of mountain bike pedals: the flat and the clipless. Other variants simply sport a combination of both.

Flat

Flat mountain bike pedals provide you with just the basic platform for each of your feet. One convenient feature of flat pedals is that they’re double-sided. This means you can use a flat pedal no matter which way is up.

To give you more grip, some flat pedals provide pins.

Now, what you need to look at when choosing from among flat pedals is the platform or face area. The bigger this is, the easier you can control your pedaling. Of course, that’s because bigger platforms give you greater contact with your bike.

Also, with flat pedals, you don’t need to wear special shoes just to use them. A robust pair of flat-bottom shoes should do well for you.

By the way, platform or flat pedals can either be made of plastic or metal. The weight, of course, would depend on the type of metal used.

If you’re still a beginner, flat pedals allow you to bail off more easily in case you have to (in the face of an accident) or whenever you’re riding downhill.

As for the price, entry-level flat pedals are generally on the cheaper end of the budget compared to entry-level clip-type pedals.

Clip

“Clipless” pedals, also known as SPD (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) pedals, can be a little confusing by name since they actually “clip” onto your shoes by means of special cleats.

The name “clipless” was adapted because this was how the pedals were introduced. They eliminated the bikers’ need for using dangling straps and toe-clips just to have their feet stay on the pedals.

So, “clip” pedals (I prefer calling them that way) are typically smaller compared to flat ones. They are still actually double-sided since they only employ a mechanical attachment.

Since they use special cleats, clip pedals need to be used with a mountain bike-specialized shoe. This will give you and your bike a “true” connection.

One advantage of clip pedals is giving you efficiency in terms of transferring a much larger percentage of your pedaling energy to the bike. While clip pedals may take some getting used to, they allow for more secure rides over bumpy ascents or descents.

Finally, since they have a smaller footprint than flats, clip pedals allow you to avoid or clear rocks much easier. In terms of weight, they tend to be lighter as well.

Combination

“Trail” pedals use a combination of the features of flat and clip pedals. Like platform flats, these provide a large pedal surface while giving you a mechanical cleat attachment feature to secure your feet on them.

One specific type of combination mountain-bike pedals features two different faces: one side has a clip and the other has a platform. With this type, you may find it a little bit more difficult to engage the clip since it tends to point toward the ground (as the clip side weighs more).

The other kind of combo pedals integrates the clip on the platform for each of the sides. This set-up makes the platform and the clip accessible at the same time.

While combo pedals offer you the most flexibility and versatility, that’s of course at the cost of carrying additional weight.

Adjustability & Durability Of The Pedal

If you’re the kind of rider who loves adventurous rides, you should have already experienced getting your bike smashed against a rock. In that case, you’ll need to use a more durable pair of pedals.

When it comes to durability, much needs to be credited to the material used. Plastic is basically the cheapest material, but it’s obviously not the strongest.

Most mountain bikers lean towards what’s lightweight. Now, if you want to combine that with durability, you might want to completely do away with plastic and prefer lighter but stronger metals.

Chromoly immediately comes to mind as the preferable material, while stainless steel and aluminum combos are pretty much a standard.

In terms of adjustability, many high-quality MTB pedals are equipped with adjustable pins. You can choose to attach only a few or all, depending on how grippy you’d want the pedals to feel. Note that if you’re getting the flat type, having these adjustable pins could really help in having a more secure ride.

Ability To Withstand Mud & Debris

As a mountain bike rider, you tend to roll around places with plenty of mud. Needless to say, mud can cause trouble up to the tiniest components of your bike. Pedals, no matter how comparatively big and wide, are no exception.

Take clip pedals for instance. Mud can easily get into them, and worse, they could get clogged. Flat pedals are not necessarily mud-resistant either. Those machined spaces can still carry mud, adding to the weight you take with you while you’re on the ride.

So, pedals with grooves and spaces that are specifically designed to shed mud are going to be your best choice. With such pedals on, you can bring home much less dirt, and you can feel lighter after rolling over a rather murky trail.

Furthermore, a solid pedal should include smooth bearings. These shouldn’t require you a ton of maintenance work though. The greatest among pedals would be able to withstand scratches and even multiple bumps against rocks.

Type Of Riding

Riding classifications may have blurry lines in between them, but I’d like to identify a few basic types here and set their fundamental differences. These elements should help you when trying to determine the type of bike pedals you’d want to use.

  • Cross-Country (XC). This style typically centers around cardio fitness and high-speed racing.
  • Enduro. It’s a style of racing where you’re challenged on the technical side of bike handling. 
  • All-mountain. This is usually interchangeable with trail riding, where you roll on a wide variety of terrains. Some would even equate this to enduro riding, but I’d say all-mountain is like enduro riding outside of a race format.
  • Downhill (DH). Downhill riders perform technically-specific rides. You’re going to shuttle to the top of a hill and then ride down it.

Trail or all-mountain, XC, and enduro riders would all benefit from using clip pedals since they provide the grip you need when the terrain gets tough or when you have to climb up steep slopes.

Meanwhile, your feet need to have more freedom when it comes to downhill riding. And having flat pedals would give you just that.

Still, if you want to shift from one type of riding to another, combo pedals offer you the versatility you need.

Top-Rated Mountain Bike Pedals Reviewed

Let’s check out each of the highest-rated mountain bike pedals and see what makes them preferable among all others.

1. SHIMANO Deore XT M8020 SPD

Key Features

  • Comes with Shimano fixed angle release cleat
  • Chromoly spindle with 8mm hex wrench mount
  • Adjustable entry and release tension settings
  • Low platform height for greater pedaling stability
  • Robust retention claws
  • Superior mud-shedding design
  • Weight per pair: 408 grams

The Shimano Deore XT M8020 SPD Trail Pedals are among the most highly praised pairs in the category of combo pedals. The M8020 model encases the SPD mechanism in a platform.

Each M8020 pedal is quite convenient to use since it clips on either side. And it fits virtually all modern cranks and shoes. This model already includes cleats.

Also, the M8020 pedals just weigh 408 grams per pair, so they’re pretty lightweight for a combo design.

Overall, the Shimano XT M8020 would be an excellent choice if you’re weight-conscious about your bike and at the same time aggressive about your rides.

Just a tip here. To install these pedals, you’ll need to use an 8mm hex wrench plus some bike lube. And finally, in case you’re curious, these pedals are sold in pairs.

Pros

  • Feels solid
  • Easy to adjust
  • Ergonomic design
  • Lightweight
  • Sleek-looking
  • Easy to clip in and provides good support
  • Initial setting for the cleat release is already very efficient
  • The cleat release tension can be fine-tuned
  • Very comfortable to use
  • The pedal action is very smooth
  • Works even with short-distance rides with sneakers
  • Pulling your feet out of the pedals is pretty simple
  • Gives you more bike control
  • Works well with sandy, rocky, and even thick clay trails

Cons

  • There might be a little delay with the shipping (depends on the shipping method you choose)

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 04:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Crankbrothers Eggbeater 2

Key Features

  • Chromoly steel spindle; cast stainless steel body; steel wing; 300-series stainless steel spring
  • Float: 15 to 20
  • Cleats: brass
  • Weight per pair: 285 grams

Just by the name itself, you should sense the Crankbrothers “Eggbeater” 2 Pedals are of the clip type. They do look like eggbeaters.

They’re so lightweight — as expected from clip pedals — plus they don’t clog up mud. Thanks to their open and aerodynamic design. And of course, to a wise inclusion of Chromoly among the materials.

One downside is that you can only use them with bike shoes. 

Anyway, if you’re used to having clip pedals, you should find the Eggbeater 2 smooth and easy to use, especially the spring. If you’re still a beginner, just note that it would require you a more precise aim as you clip in. Nonetheless, it’s very easy to exit from these pedals, since there’s no platform to deal with.

Lastly, these Eggbeater 2 pedals could be great if you’re doing cyclocross or cross-country racing. Just not with rocky roads maybe or a challenging downhill, as the springs don’t really have protection. Probably the best thing about the pair is that they won’t weigh you down. 

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Good-looking
  • Sturdy feel
  • The cleats are included
  • The float feels comfortable
  • Open and aerodynamic design
  • Easy to put on and maintain
  • Can clip at any angle (you don’t need to look down)
  • Just at the right price
  • Multi-clip design: easy in and easy out
  • Easy to shed off any mud (mud won’t clog up)

Cons

  • Can only be used with biking shoes (you can wear walking bike shoes for added convenience between stops)
  • May not last too long (depending on use) and may be separated from the spindle with heavy-duty use

3. SHIMANO Saint PD-M820 SPD

Key Features

  • Stainless steel spindle; aluminum body
  • Four height-adjustable pins
  • Adjustable tension
  • Superior mud-shedding design (open binding)
  • Dual-sided (clips on both sides)
  • SPD-compatible; includes SPD cleats
  • Lightweight for its design; only at 546 grams a pair
  • Warranty: 3 years

The Saint PD-M820, also from Shimano, are two-sided combo pedals. Their wide and solid platform support feels they are a bit more like flat pedals. With the clipping mechanism on, they can provide you with even more security and control. Best of both worlds.

In fact, they feel so secure that they can handle your all-mountain, enduro, or downhill rides.

Since they’re dual-sided, you can always clip in no matter which side is up.

If you have the old M545, you might want to know that these Saint PD-M820s feel a bit lighter. They also have a larger surface area, but they aren’t as thick.

At 546 grams a pair, some would feel the M820s are on the heavier side. But again, you might not even notice that during the ride. Anyway, the weight could be worth the increased durability.

They already include SH51 cleats, by the way, and they are sold in pairs.

Overall, the M820s are a reliable combo pair. These could crash into rocks and get exposed to mud, grit, and sand — and still work all the way.

Pros

  • Rock-solid platform support for downhill trails
  • Provides a perfect balance between flat and clip pedals
  • Legendary SPD click
  • Easy to clip in and out
  • Great for aggressive trail riding
  • Works with winter commuter cycling
  • Platform design allows for greater grip if you can’t clip at some point or if you want to ride with your regular shoes
  • Pins do not interfere when you’re clipping in
  • Fit for either long or short rides

Cons

  • Could feel a little heavier than other pedals

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 04:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Crankbrothers Stamp Flat BMX/MTB

Key Features

  • Spindle: Forged SCM 435 Chromoly Steel
  • Body: Forged 6061-T6
  • Adjustable Pins: 10 per side
  • Footprint: 100mm X 100mm
  • Weight: 345 grams per pair
  • Warranty: 5 years

If you’re looking for purely platform pedals, the Crankbrothers Stamp Flat Bike Pedals could be an excellent choice.

With the adjustable pins on, these pedals can give you a strong and reliable grip. In fact, you can access the pins from either side. They help you keep your traction as you go through water and mud, and even as you climb up.

So, with the right biking shoes for flat pedals, these Stamp flats could very well make you feel that you’re still clipped on. It’s really great if you want to transition from actual clips to flats.

Just pick the right size, and you should have an area that’s wide enough to keep your feet stable. The Stamp flats are also slim rather than thick (compared to other brands), which means that they can avoid unintended contact with any object along your terrain of choice.

Overall, these pedals can provide you with a solid landing, whether you’re riding in the desert or scaling through rocky mountains.

Pros

  • Platform feels sturdy
  • Solid support when landing big jumps
  • Smooth and silent
  • Adjustable pins are accessible on both sides
  • Excellent grip
  • Can withstand rocks strikes without bends or dents
  • Provides excellent traction with your shoes
  • Open and mud-shedding design

Cons

  • Can take time to get used to if you’re using too many of the pins
  • You need to pick the right size for your feet or you might find them too large, too small, or too thick

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 04:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. XLC PD-S01

Key Features

  • Aluminum body and cage; Chromoly axle; ball bearing
  • Dual-sided (clips on one side, cage on the other side)
  • Compatible with Shimano SPD cleats
  • Weight: 466 grams

The XLC PD-S01 Pedals are not the same kind of “dual-sided” pedals as the SHIMANO Saint PD-M820s (which clip on both sides). The XLC PD-S01s instead have two different sides — one for clipping (SPD compatible) and the other for your casual sneakers.

So, as I’ve mentioned in the buying guide above, this kind of combo pedal design has one little drawback. The side with the clips on will always orient downward. So, when you’re wearing clip-in shoes, you have to flip the pedals each time you’re clipping in.

Having said that, the PD-S01s are pretty easy to clip in and out of (once you got the right side up). In time, you could get used to the flipping without looking at your feet.

Anyway, these pedals don’t spin very easily. But that’s likely intended so they can stay upright when you have to engage the clips.

Also, the clip is low enough, so you might not notice it a lot if you’re stepping on the clip side with regular shoes on.

Overall, these XLC pedals are hard to beat for the price.

Pros

  • Fits SPDs on one side and works with sneakers on the other
  • Feels sturdy with the all-metal construction
  • Affordable; offers great value for money
  • Not too heavy for a combo pair

Cons

  • Flipping to the clip side can take time getting used to
  • Initially, the bearings could feel a little too tight

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 04:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6. Crankbrothers Mallet DH

Key Features

  • Two-piece machined aluminum body
  • Cast stainless-steel wings
  • Forged 435 Chromoly steel spindle
  • 300 series stainless steel spring
  • Premium brass cleats
  • With adjustable pins
  • Weight: 479 grams
  • Warranty: 5 years

The Crankbrothers Mallet DH Bike Pedals offer a simple combo system for clipping in and out and for throwing in free pedal strokes. The cleat system features a design that allows you to clip at any angle. You simply stomp down on the clips, and they would hook up.

Adding to the simplicity of the system is the fact that you can clip on both sides of the pedals. So it’s probably the kind of dual-sided combos you’d prefer.

These Mallet DH pedals also have adjustable pins that you can screw well in if you want to move your feet around on the pedal (even while clipped in). Or, you could leave some more length on the pins to keep your feet straighter and feel more caged.

Moreover, the platform is wide enough to support your shoes when unclipped, especially when you’re pedaling through some technical sections along the trail.

So, whether you’re going for enduro riding or racing, these Mallet DH pedals can provide you with a reliable and safe pedaling experience.

Pros

  • Simple and comfortable to use
  • Feels sturdy
  • Offers great grip
  • Easy to clip in and out
  • Provides stability
  • With well-made bearings
  • Open design easily sheds off bits of mud

Cons

  • Beginners may take some time to get used to using this pair
  • You could feel the springs through thin shoes while unclipped

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 04:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Our #1 Pick!

So, we’ve just reviewed six of the best MTB pedals out there — any one of which would be a great buy. But there’s one model that stood out for me, and it’s the Shimano Saint PD-M820 SPD Pedals.

As a “true” double-sided combo type, the Saint PD-M820 provides an excellent balance between flat and clip pedals. It’s pretty easy to clip in and out no matter which side is up, and it provides you with a wide platform support for downhill trails, especially when the ride gets aggressive.

With wise use of stainless steel and aluminum, the M820 pair feels robust, whether you’re on for an all-mountain, downhill, or enduro trip.

Also, the open-binding design sheds off the mud with ease.

So, whether you need your feet clipped in or free, the Shimano Saint PD-M820 SPD Pedals can give you quite the all-around ride.

Last update on 2020-09-25 at 04:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Perry
Perry
Hello, my names Perry and I've been a freelance writer for the past 5 years and a cycling enthusiastic since I can remember. I love the road, but my main passion is mountain biking.