Hands-on Gear Review

Crankbrothers Mallet 3 Review

Crankbrothers Mallet 3
Price:  $135 List | $90.26 at Amazon
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Pros:  Lighter than the other full platform clipless pedals, easy to get in and out of
Cons:  Plastic portion of cage, no adjustable tension, not available in man-blue or enduro green
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Crankbrothers

Our Verdict

As a full platform clipless pedal designed for downhill, enduro and all mountain riding, the Crankbrothers Mallet 3 is most comparable to the HT X1, Shimano DX M647, and its big brother the Crankbrothers Mallet DH Race. Among these pedals the Mallet 3 is the lightest weight and is one of the best performers. It even comes in lighter than our Editors' Choice winner, the Shimano M530, which is a mini-platform pedal. With an adequately sized platform and decent mud-shedding ability, we find the Mallet 3 to be the best choice for enduro/all-mountain riding and give it our Top Pick award for this application.

Read our full Mountain Bike Pedal Review to see our in-depth comparison of 8 clipless pedals for trail riding.

New Version of the Mallet 3 - 2017
Crankbrothers has updated this pedal since we reviewed it. The inner body of the pedal is no longer a composite material. It is now die cast aluminum. The shape and performance of the pedal have not changed.

Scroll down for a more detailed comparison of the new Crankbrothers Mallet 3 vs. the older version.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Mountain Bike Pedal Review

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
McKenzie Long and Luke Lydiard

Last Updated:
Thursday
March 2, 2017

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The New Crankbrothers Pedal vs. The Old Pedal


Crankbrothers has confirmed with us a minor update to the inner body of the Mallet 3 pedal. The newest version of this product now has an inner body composed of die-cast aluminum, a change from the composite material in the version we reviewed. The price remains the same. The photo below shows the small difference in the appearance of the new model (on the left) and its predecessor (on the right).

Crankbrothers Mallet 3


Hands-On Review


A full platform clipless pedal, the Crankborthers Mallet 3 is most at home on an enduro or all-mountain bike, but it also works well for downhill riding. Just like bikes that are designed to handle anything, this pedal can handle uphill just as well as it can ride lifts and hit jump lines in the bike park.

Performance Comparison


The Mallet 3 is most at home on six-inch enduro bikes  like the Trek Slash 9.8 pictured here. This full-platform pedal provides distinct advantages for downhill riding  but is light enough not to hinder the pedal up.
The Mallet 3 is most at home on six-inch enduro bikes, like the Trek Slash 9.8 pictured here. This full-platform pedal provides distinct advantages for downhill riding, but is light enough not to hinder the pedal up.

Ease of Entry


The Mallet 3 is easy to clip into. The platform makes it easy for your foot to find the spring and the Crankbrothers spring action is smooth. Unlike the platformless Crankbrothers Eggbeater 2, which requires precision to accurately clip in, the platform on the Mallet 3 allows your foot a place to rest and push if you don't get clipped in immediately, and it also guides your foot to the spring, allowing for faster entry.



Ease of Exit


Exiting the Crankbrothers spring is smooth and easy. The traction pins on the platform make it a bit harder to get out of these pedals because they grip the rubber on the bottom of your shoes. However, the amount of grip depends on how high you run the pins. We recommend trying different pin heights front to back and side to side to dial in the feel that works for you.

The biggest problem with release from the Mallet 3 is the shoes you are likely to wear with these pedals, which can be so wide in the forefoot that they hit the crank arm at certain angles, preventing a full release. Once your cleats and the edges of the shoe break-in this will become less of a problem. Beware that with a new pair of Mallet 3s, new cleats, and a fresh pair of Five Ten Hellcats, you might find yourself falling over in front of your buddies.

Note that this is where the Crankbrothers Mallet DH Race and the Mallet 3 differ: the Mallet DH has a 10mm wider stance, which may make unclipping easier and prevent interference with the crank arm. This wider stance is known as Q-factor. To note the differences in stance width between products in our test we measured the distance between the outside edge of the crank arm to the center of the clip-in mechanism on each pedal. The Mallet DH's distance is 5 mm wider than the Mallet 3's, resulting in a 10 mm wider stance overall, which allows for more space between shoe and crank arm. So in summary, the Mallet DH may be slightly easier to exit than the Mallet 3.

The grip of the Mallet 3 can be fine tuned using the traction pins. They can be dialed up for a more aggressive grip or screwed down for a smoother  less grippy feel.
The grip of the Mallet 3 can be fine tuned using the traction pins. They can be dialed up for a more aggressive grip or screwed down for a smoother, less grippy feel.

Adjustability


Just like with all Crankbrothers pedals, there is no adjustable tension to the clipping mechanism on this pedal. However, as we mentioned above, the feel of the pedal can be adjusted with the height of the traction pins. The Mallet 3 has 6 pins per side on each pedal, while the Mallet DH Race has 8 pins per side, giving you an even greater range of grip adjustability. We find that 8 pins per side isn't necessary, and we get plenty of grip with the Mallet 3's 6 pins.

You can also adjust your release angle by the way you install the cleats on your shoes. If you put the cleat with the indented dot on your right shoe you will get a 15 degree release angle, whereas if the cleat with the dot goes on your left shoe providing a 20 degree release. Because of the problem of shoe/crank arm interference we mentioned above we recommend you go with 15 degrees if you are running these pedals with beefy shoes like Hellcats or Minnars.

Weight


The Mallet 3s are heavy when compared to platformless pedals, but are lighter weight than the Mallet DH Race. Amazingly, the Mallet 3 actually weighs less than the semi-platform Shimano M530 by a little over 7 grams per pair.

Size comparison between the Shimano M530 (left) and the Crank Brothers Mallet 3 (right). Even though the Mallet 3 is larger  it is actually ligher than the M530.
Size comparison between the Shimano M530 (left) and the Crank Brothers Mallet 3 (right). Even though the Mallet 3 is larger, it is actually ligher than the M530.

Platform


The Mallet 3 platform is just a tiny bit smaller, but nearly the same size as the DH Race and the HT X1. We find this 4" x 3" size to be confidence inspiring. The platform allows a rider to pedal short distances without being clipped in, though the cleat retention spring sticks up slightly, making it less comfortable than a standard pair of flats.

The full platform pedals in our test (plus a pair of flats) for size comparison. From left to right: Shimano DX  Crankbrothers Mallet 3  Crankbrothers Mallet DH Race  HT X1  Shimano Saint flats.
The full platform pedals in our test (plus a pair of flats) for size comparison. From left to right: Shimano DX, Crankbrothers Mallet 3, Crankbrothers Mallet DH Race, HT X1, Shimano Saint flats.

Mud Shedding Ability


The mud shedding ability of this pedal is pretty good for a full platform clipless model. It is not quite as good as the Mallet DH, which has a more open design, but sheds mud way better than the Shimano DX or the HT X1, which have more small spaces to trap mud in the engagement mechanism.

Durability


The one downside in durability to these pedals is that they are half plastic, and plastic usually does not hold up well on a mountain bike pedal. But, despite the half plastic platform these are very durable pedals. Since the outer portion is aluminum, and this is the section of the pedal that takes the hardest beating, we have had no issues with the plastic bits. Compared to the Mallet DH, which has a completely aluminum cage, they seem about as durable.

The outer half of the Mallet 3's platform is aluminum while the inner half is plastic  which saves weight. The outer half of any pedal is more prone to damage from rocks (as you can see by the scuff marks) so this combo of metal and plastic is clever and advantageous.
The outer half of the Mallet 3's platform is aluminum while the inner half is plastic, which saves weight. The outer half of any pedal is more prone to damage from rocks (as you can see by the scuff marks) so this combo of metal and plastic is clever and advantageous.

Best Applications


This pedal has long been the daily downhill pedal for a number or our testers. We think it works just as well on an eight inch downhill bike as on a six inch enduro bike. The platform gives the Mallet 3 an advantage for the more gravity-oriented branches of mountain biking, but it isn't overly cumbersome or heavy for grinding uphill.

Value


At $135, the Mallet 3 is quite a bit more than the Shimano M530, but it is lighter and has a bigger and better platform. Compared to other full platform pedals, the Mallet 3 is the least expensive in our test. We think this is an excellent deal if full platform clipless pedals are what you are looking for.

Conclusion


The Mallet 3 is our favorite full platform pedal that we tested, which is why it wins our Top Pick Award for enduro and downhill riding. We would choose this model to put on our downhill bikes over any of the others, and it is our favorite pedal for using on all of the bikes in our upcoming enduro bike review. It is lightweight, durable, and has adjustable pins to customize the amount if grip for your foot. If you want a full platform clipless pedal, you can't go wrong with the Mallet 3.

The Mallet 3 is best partnered with a softer  grippy shoe  like the Five Ten Hellcat pictured here.
The Mallet 3 is best partnered with a softer, grippy shoe, like the Five Ten Hellcat pictured here.

Recommended Pairing


This pedal is best paired with a softer bike shoe such as the Five Ten Hellcat and a six-inch enduro bike such as the Trek Slash or the Santa Cruz Nomad. Wear a pair with an extended coverage mountain bike helmet, and you will be ready to enduro enduro enduro! We also think this pedal is a good choice for a full blown downhill bike.

Other Versions and Accessories


Not only does the Mallet 3 come in red/black but they are now available in all black and camo, which is a combo of greenish, orange, and black. We love having more color options. (The better to match with!)

The Mallet also comes in several versions:
Mallet 1
Crank Brothers Mallet 1 Pedal
  • Cost - $60
  • Plastic body
  • Cast steel wings
  • Cartridge bearing/bushing

Mallet 2
Crank Brothers Mallet 2 Pedal
  • Cost - $95
  • Aluminum and plastic body
  • Stamped steel wings
  • Cartridge bearing/bushing

Crankbrothers Mallet DH Race
Crankbrothers Mallet DH Race
  • Cost - $165
  • The 3's big brother
  • Wider platform and Q-Factor
  • More traction pins per side
McKenzie Long and Luke Lydiard

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Most recent review: March 2, 2017
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