Crank Brothers Mallet E Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Stable, confidence inspiring, versatile, attractive
Cons: Heavy, traction pins, vague engagement, expensive
Manufacturer: Crank Brothers
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The new Crank Brothers Mallet Enduro is the welterweight entry to their platform pedal line up. It's a versatile platform offering up a high level of stability with a tad less weight than the Xpedo GFX. This new offering from Crank Brothers sees a slimmed down, concave body with chamfered edges, customizable traction pads and adjustable traction pins in an updated configuration. The slightly concave pedal shape is designed to cradle the shoe and enhance traction while unclipped. Do the impressive list of features result in impressive performance? Read on to delve into the results of our testing below.
Ease of Entry
As with most of the Crank Brothers pedals, entry is relatively straight forward; the pedal technically has a four-sided entry, but its cage makes it essentially a two-sided pedal. The traction pins, while helpful in many situations can hang up on some shoes, preventing smooth entry. This pedal's entry performance isn't affected by mud, sand, or debris, and can be relied upon when the trails (and your shoes) are in rough shape.
The entry is mostly consistent, sometimes offering more feedback in the way of auditory response and sometimes not giving much feedback at all, leaving the rider to wonder if they're engaged or not. Engagement is not affected by moisture, nor does it change the feel of the pedal's float as much as previous iterations of the pedal. The new polyurethane traction pads that replace the machined aluminum surfaces provide more consistent friction when they're wet. Despite any complications with traction pins, the slightly larger body of the Mallet E makes them just a bit easier to hit and engage than the Candy 7.
Ease of Exit
The exit release on the Mallet E feels consistent yet vague. The end of the float feels a lot like the beginning of the disengagement, if you've got the hang of riding Crank Brothers pedals, this isn't a big deal, and most riders quickly understand where exit release occurs. The issue with the new traction pads, however, is that they provide a bit of reluctance to the float; it's reassuring in terms of platform stability, but it diminishes the already vague feel. While these pedals can be set up to have a 15 or 20-degree release angle, depending on cleat arrangement, the amount of float seems at times, uncertain. By contrast, the Xpedo GFX have a smooth float and a hard stop before a solid click disengagement.
These CrankBrothers pedals have inherently less adjustability than most pedals on the market. With the Mallet E, however, there are a few tweaks that the user can make. All of their pedals offer six degrees of float, with a switchable 15 or 20-degree release angles using standard cleats. Reversing the mounting of the cleats changes the release angle from 15 to 20, which is a relatively simple task. These pedals come with 1mm and 2mm thick traction pads. You can adjust the level of contact with your shoe soles by switching between these two.
By increasing or decreasing this interface, it gives more or less stability to the pedal platform. The Mallet E features six adjustable pins that can be inserted to different heights or eradicated for less aggressive traction. For enhanced efficiency, Crank Brothers also sell a 0-degree float cleat. All this adds up to a fair bit of 'adjustability' for a Crank Brothers pedal, but the Xpedo GFX (that also has adjustable release tension) takes the win for this category.
At 420 grams per pair, this model is lighter than most pedals offering a platform of this size along with traction pins. Unlike the mini platforms, the adjustable pins provide reassurance when unclipped. If you're vacillating between the Mallet E and Crank Brothers Candy 7, the extra 100 grams provides substantially more traction when unclipped.
Crank Brothers pedals and durability haven't always been a common pairing, but since 2016, all models have been upgraded to new bearings and seals intended to keep muck and grime out. These changes lead to increased life and time between servicing. Pedal refresh kits that contain bearings, bushings, and seals will cost you $25.
This pedal excels in technical situations where the rider may want to disengage from the pedal mechanism but still utilize its platform. It doesn't offer the stability or traction of a flat pedal but its a great compromise between the efficiency of a clipless and reassurance of a flat. The Mallet E is a good option for the enduro racer/all mountain rider or those wary of adding too many extra grams.
Bested only by the Xpedo GFX in the platform category, the Mallet E gives the rider a stable and grippy purchase. At $169, this model is on the higher end of the price spectrum and are not what we'd consider inexpensive. Its a relatively large sum for a component you'll be bouncing off roots and rocks and dragging through the mud. That said, they're two of the five interfaces you have with the bike and one of the components that can make a serious impact on your level of confidence. While they do not offer the tremendous value we found in the Shimano M530, we still consider them a pretty good buy.
Mud Shedding Ability
The internals of this pedal are legendary for their resistance to packing up with mud, the addition of a platform only slightly diminishes its prowess in the foul weather. The Mallet E clearly outperforms the Xpedo GFX in this category repeatedly resisting our attempts at choking it with mud.
If you're after a versatile pedal that will help you approach features with the caution of not being clipped in and the confidence of having traction the Mallet E offers a fine product. The somewhat vague entry and release didn't impress us but the pedal's ability to be unfazed by mud and debris was a certain plus.
This pedal is best paired with a free ride shoe, like the Five Ten Hellcat where the soft rubber sole can take advantage of the traction pins. While not a bad choice on a cross country bike, the bulk and weight of these pedals leaves us to recommend them for bigger bikes where platform is more of a priority.
— Joshua Hutchens