You can’t ride a bike without pedals—unless you don’t want to go anywhere! Pedals seem like a small detail when it comes to choosing a mountain bike; however, you need to choose the right pedal for the type of riding you intend to do, or else you’re not going to be comfortable on the trails. Some of choosing pedals is up to personal preference, but riders need to make sure they’re choosing the right pedals for their type of riding, as well as ones that are durable and last.
We surveyed reviews of the best mountain bike pedals currently available. From our research, we found out how to choose pedals, which pedals are best, and the specific pedals to pick if you want platform, flat, clipless, or downhill pedals. We also found a great model of pedals if you’re looking to get a new pair on a budget. After you read our picks, you’ll be able to decide which pedal you need to optimize your ride.
Choosing the best pedals for your bike takes an understanding of what each of the available types of mountain bike pedals are engineered to do. There are three basic types: Platform, Clipless and Combination.
Platform pedals, also called Flat pedals, are pedals that don’t need any special shoes and don’t use clips to keep a rider’s feet in place. They’re great if you’re using your bike for sport and commuting, or you want a simple, light pedal that doesn’t clamp in your foot. You can easily get out of these pedals, so if your bike is falling you can easily jump off. Because of this, Downhill riders are most likely to choose Flat/Platform pedals.
Clipless pedals are ones with a special cleat to prevent riders from falling off their bikes on rocky trails. It sounds like a Clipless pedal would have no clamping at all, but that’s not the case. With these pedals, you clip your foot in by stomping down on the pedal, and twisting your food to the side. These cleats are also easy to jump off if needed, but keep your feet in place so you can pedal to your leg’s fullest strength and maneuver on tricky trails. Clipless pedals are also smaller than Platform pedals. These are not the best choice for a beginner because they take some getting used to—however, once you master Clipless pedals you open up a new way of riding.
Combination pedals are can either offer different parts of Flat or Clipless pedals; or, they could have one option on each side of the pedal. Usually, they have a wide platform (bigger than a Clipless pedal) but still have a clipping cleat. They also can have pedals attached if a rider buys foot pedal clamps. Combination pedals are the heaviest type of pedal, and often since they’re different on one side, they tend to have an unbalanced weight. Some riders love these teypes of pedals for their versatility, others find them annoying. Could be a great choice if you are using your bike on a variety of terrain types.
Finally, there’s small things you want to look for to make sure your pedals will last for a while and will fit into your overall biking setup. Durability is an important concern. Can the the pedal stand up to rocks and the elements? Maintenance is another concern. Is the pedal easy to fix and take care of? Does the pedal have smooth, simple bearings that look easy to fix? If one part breaks, would it be easy to replace just that part? Adjustability is something to keep in mind, especially if you’re using a clipped pedal. Can you change the pedal tension (force to clip in) and the float (degree you can rotated a clipped in foot)? Can you add new spikes to the pedal if the old ones wear out? Does the pedal have the ability to shed mud during a wet, messy ride? How heavy is the pedal? Will it offset your riding balance?
While these are smaller considerations, they’re what set each pedal apart from the competitors. So, once you determine which type of pedal you want, you’ll want the pedal that has the most durability and adjustability, with easiest maintenance and low weight.
We chose the best pedals for all types of riders below.
Best Overall Mountain Bike Pedals
The Shimano A530 SPD Pedals
The Shimano A530’s are perfect combination pedal for almost any rider, which is why they receive our “Best Pedal” designation. They’re a great, all-around pedal for no matter what type of biking you’re doing. Mixing the best of flat pedals and downhill pedals, these Shimano A530 are perfect for practically any rider. Whether you’re tearing up the trails or riding your bike to work, the Shimano A530 is light, reliable, and safe. Shimano designed the pedal so riders could effortless switch between trail riding and commuting. With it’s SPD cleat, single-sided pedal design, it offers a one-sided design with a mock-two sided interface. It feels like you’re riding a pedal with a gripping spike no matter what. With an ovalized, oversized aluminum plate, you can wear any shoe when you ride. However, if you want to wear your mountain biking shoes, the pedals are still designed to clip to your boots. The pedals are made with steel, laced in steel spindles and uses sealed-cartridge bearings so they can stand up to a lot of punishment. Their intense durability makes them a pedal that might outlast your entire bike. If you’re looking to take down the weight of your bike, the Shimano is only 1.2 pounds—surprisingly light for a combo pedal. Because these pedals are so cheap, so light, so versatile, and so expertly crafted, they’re our general pick for Best Pedal on the list. If you bought a pair of Shimano A530s as a general pedal, then bought a more specialty model for certain bikes or types of riding, you can’t go wrong.
Best Platform Pedals
Wellgo MG-1 Magnesium Seald Platform Pedal
These Flat pedals are great for riders who want a sturdy, stable pedal that won’t break under extreme use. They’re made of Magnesium, a slightly lighter metal than Aluminum, so you’ll notice the difference in the heft and weight of the pedal. They’re 9 inches long, so they offer riders plenty of foot room while riding. Best of all, they’re simple and easy to repair with CroMoly spindles and MG-1 seal bearings.
Best Clipless Pedals
Shimano PD-M430 MTB SPD
These aluminum/steel pedals are great for riding on rough trails in intense elements.They have a firm cleat right in the middle that can attach to a mountain biking shoe, or be swapped out for more general clipping cleat. The Shimano brand always makes a high quality pedal, but this one is especially durable when standing up to hard elements. Clipless pedals usually run more than their Flat Pedal counterparts, but Shimano PD-M530 MTB SPD pedals are a great clipless petal that allows a huge range of customization for its low price.
Best Downhill Pedals
Crank Brothers 5050 3 Platform Pedals
These top-of-the-line Downhill mountain biking pedals are really a sight to see. The body is made from aluminum, molded into a wide pedal with a stable, two platform base. The spindle is made of super-light weight chromoly steel—totaling at only 480g per pair. That’s not even a pound! There’s no cleat on these pedals, so strap in and let the gravity take you down hill. The Crank Brothers 5050 3 has all the best-in-class special features. There’s adjustable pins on each side for riders to choose a specialized grip to their preference. There’s a reason these pedals are the most expensive pair on our list—because they’re made for true downhill professionals.
Best Budget Pedals
GEEDIAR CNC Aluminum Road Mountain Bike Bearings with Super Light Stable Plat
These flat pedals are a great buy if you’re looking for a bargain. They’re lightweight, aluminum; easy to install and fix; and give you exactly what you’d expect for a flat pedal if that’s what you’re in the market for. You are sacrificing durability with the GEEDIARs, as users report the pedals don’t last long in harsh-elements outdoor sporting. But, if you want to buy pedals right now, or you’re looking for a cheap option to try out flat pedals, the GEEDIAR brand makes one that will live up to good expectations.
When buying pedals for your mountain bike, first determine if you want Flat pedals (ones without any clip) or Clipless petals (ones with a cleat that can add clips). If you want versatility and the option to choose between both, a Combination pedal is your best bet. Examine the pedal for fine details like durability, maintenance and quality of parts. We recommend the Shimano brand as top of the line for mountain bike pedals. Wellgo is making some great flat pedals out of magnesium that need to be rode to see the awesome potential of this lighter metal. Racers might prefer Crank Brothers 5050 3. Which ever you choose, you’ll be riding fast and furious out on the trails thanks to the power of your pedals.