Are flat pedals for mountain biking on your list? We've tested 15 of the best sets over the last 3 years, with 11 of the most current highlighted in this review. Using different riders from a wide range of backgrounds with a variety of riding styles and abilities, we've put each to the test. Each pair has been tested over 350 miles with over 56,000 feet of vert. We've tested in all sorts of terrain, all over the USA. From the smooth single track of the desert to the technical rocky trails of the Sierras. After doing the dirty work, we evaluate key performance metrics to evaluate each pair head-to-head. The result? The best-unbiased recommendations you'll find on the market to get you riding faster.
The Best Flat Pedals for Mountain Biking
Best Overall Mountain Bike Flat Pedal
Deity Components TMAC
The Deity TMAC earned our Editors' Choice award this year by dominating the competition every time we threw them on a bike. The TMAC was designed and tested to meet the demands of Tyler McCaul, one of the most versatile downhill and free riders in the sport. These pedals are a beautiful blend of thoughtful engineering and exquisite looks. The symmetrically designed pedals are extruded and machined from T6 Aluminum for strength and durability. They offer excellent balance, a large platform, and ample grip with 14 pins per side. Their 2.5mm concave depth enhances grip and foot comfort while climbing and descending. The symmetrical shape of the pedals delivers a balanced feel and helps distribute weight evenly across the platform. No matter the terrain or conditions, the TMAC delivered phenomenal feel and confidence. Riders will find that these pedals work great across many forms of riding and their versatility is what makes them such a great pedal. Not only did it prove plenty capable for downhill or enduro use, but it was also equally at home on dirt jumps, freeriding, or in the bike park. Constructed from high-quality components and available in 8 colors, the TMAC is our Editors' Choice Award winner.
Read review: Deity TMAC
Best Bang for the Buck
Nukeproof Horizon Pro
It was challenging to narrow down one winner for the Best Bang for your Buck. We tested a full range of flat pedals comprised of many different materials and designs all aimed at making the best flat pedal. We were pleasantly surprised with the results from the lower-priced pedals we tested like the HT PA03 or the RaceFace Chester, both of which come in way under the $100 mark and displayed impressive grip and held up well to the demands of our testing. Ride after ride, however, it was impossible to deny our preference for this mountain bike flat pedal, the Nukeproof Horizon ahead of it's nearest competitors. It wasn't the lightest nor the narrowest pedal that we tested, but you wouldn't know that if you were riding with them. We feel the Horizon's construction from machined aluminum is superior. Adequate for downhill and enduro use, we could also maneuver about the platform while dirt jumping, free riding, and when hitting bike park jumps. The rebuild is done with regular tools that you probably already own, and pin kits are available, although not included. Excellent performance and a nice price make these pedals the Best Bang for your Buck.
Read review: Nukeproof Horizon
Best for Enduro Racing
Race Face Atlas
The Race Face Atlas took all the things we liked about various other mountain bike pedals and put them together into an awesome Franken-pedal. Don't be mislead. This is not a slammed together, mishmash of random pieces, and the R&D team seemingly stopped at nothing shy of creating a masterpiece. Everything good is made better. "Concave? How about we make it double-concave? Are these traction pins grippy? Yeah, but they'd be grippier if we slanted them inwards. Hey, a hidden grease port would be pretty sweet. Let's add one of those." How in the heck was one of the biggest pedals in the test also just grams away from being the lightest? We'll leave the science to the engineers, but the fact is this pedal delivers with low weight, a huge platform, and insane grip. The Atlas has impressive attention to detail with unique design features that set it apart from any other pedal in our test. This featherweight, large platform pedal begs to be ridden on your enduro bike. Enduro racing has forced manufacturers to make equipment that is simultaneously light and strong and the Atlas fits that mold. The thin profile will let you pedal instead of coast as it floats over rocks and stumps, while the double-concave platform and angled pins keep your feet attached from start to finish. If enduro courses don't cram enough technical gnar down your seat tube, these pedals make an excellent choice for downhill racing or big hits at the bike park!
Read review: Race Face Atlas
Why You Should Trust Us
Our team of testers come from a wide range of riding backgrounds. They range from back-flipping freeriders to enduro-riders to trail-thrashers. Using testers from a variety of riding disciplines works to ensure that these pedals are tested in any possible scenario. Our head reviewers are Tasha Thomas and Al Morrison, two Tahoe locals with a penchant for shredding. They both ride well and ride often, putting serious demands on their bike components.
We smashed these flat pedals through the elements for months and then evaluated each carefully. We considered vital metrics including grip and traction, platform feel, mobility, serviceability, and weight. Which pedals are best for enduro racing? What pedal is the best bang for your buck? Overall, we were consistently impressed by the control and power transfer offered by these flat pedals.
Related: How We Tested MTB Flat Pedals
Analysis and Test Results
To find the top performers in the market of mountain bike flat pedals, we bought the best-rated and most popular seven models out there. Through three-plus months of testing in California and Nevada, our expert testers pushed each pedal to its limit across a variety of mountain biking disciplines in riding conditions. Our riders installed, serviced, and removed the pedals countless times on different bikes to gain a full perspective of ability. On top of charging downhill, park jumping, and enduro racing, we carefully inspected each model at our workbench. We scored our findings and experiences in five performance metrics, which, weighted appropriately, combined to give the overall score.
Related: Buying Advice for MTB Flat Pedals
It's easy to get sucked into spending a whole lot of money on your bike and all its accessories. We tried our best to test high-end and entry-level pedals to better gage the flat pedal market and tell you what the best pedals available are. We used and abused each pedal to test their durability and ensure that consumers are getting a good value when they purchase pedals. We inspect the materials used in manufacturing, the quality of bearings, and the overall fit and finish of the pedals we test.
This rating metric relates to the interface between the soles of our shoes and the pins and platforms of the pedals. Different type, number, and height of traction pins all combine to make each pedal feel unique. What felt good for dirt jumping could be terrifying on a rocky downhill trail. Some pedals like the Deity TMAC are designed to have high concavity, or a "cupped" like shape to increase grip. Other pedals like the HT AEO3 used a flatter design pedal to improve movability or achieve a better feel while pedaling. There are multiple factors critical for proper grip and desired feel when using flat pedals. We've dissected all the pedals to determine the best grip available.
Many had no adjustment like the RockBros Platform, Bonmixc 9/16" 4 pcs, and Funn Python. In general, we found grub screw traction pins like those found on the Deity Bladerunner and Crankbrothers 5050 3 to offer good traction in addition to mobility and feel. It's not that simple though, as the mountain bike flat pedals with those types of pins were not necessarily the grippiest. Other factors like platform shape play a huge role in how a pedal feels. In fact, neither one of the pedals that scored highest in this category, the Race Face Atlas or Nukeproof Horizone had grub screw pins.
The angled pins and concave platform of the Race Face Atlas combined for maximum grip factor, along with the long pins of the Nukeproof Horizon and TMAC pedals. Depending on the type of shoe we wore, some pedals felt grippier with certain shoes over others. This is due to the softness of the rubber compound on your shoe.
Good pedals must be supportive but not overbearing. When your foot comes off a pedal, how easy is it to regain its composure? A large platform provides a solid foundation for riders to push against, weight the bike in turns, and pump terrain features without slipping off the edge of the pedal. It also gives the rider a solid landing zone for their feet to return to. There's a limit though. Go too large and clearance quickly becomes an issue, as does leaning the bike deep into turns. Rocks, roots, and stumps all seem bigger as you continually smash your pedals into them. A thinner pedal can alleviate some of the risks by offering increased clearance. By thinning out the profile of a pedal, the platform shape may lose its concavity, thereby altering its grip factor.
We particularly liked the RaceFace Atlas and thought it featured an impressive amount of grip on top of a well-balanced surface area all while having a relatively thin profile, along with design features like chamfered edges and tapered sides. The chamfered edges allowed the pedal to brush off impacts that would bring other pedals to a halt. The HT AEO3 with a thin 11 mm profile and 9mm leading edges had the ability to swoop over, instead of straight into, rocks. The Race Face Atlas shared a very similar platform shape but was a whopping 14 mm larger in width. With beveled edges, and a thin profile of 14.5 mm front and back, we experienced a slight uptick in pedal strikes; its meager weight (340 grams) and vice grip foot locking retention made it our preferred flat pedal for enduro racing and long technical rides.
The Deity TMAC and Deity Bladerunner both have large square platform shapes. Shaving millimeters from the pedal profile was the preferred method for avoiding pedal strikes, and it proved to be capable enough for us. The Bladerunner has a thinner profile but delivers less grip and more mobility. The TMAC is an all-out grip monster with a thicker profile. Our Best Buy award-winning Nukeproof Horizon hads a smaller platform. Bigger is not always better. Some riders enjoy how a smaller platform never gets in the way of their feet when performing tricks that require you to remove and then replace your feet onto the pedals.
What we mean by pedal mobility is the rate and quality by which the pedal spins around its axle. Just like when your shifting is perfectly adjusted, and you've tightened and tensioned everything so that all you hear are the sounds of nature and your friends hooting and hollering with excitement behind you, a smooth spinning pedal lets you concentrate on having fun instead of having to worry. Don't be confused into thinking that pedals that spin the easiest are the best in this category. Many cheaper pedals that come stock on bikes feel very loose and spin at a very rapid rate. Cheap bearings and bushings and poorly machined materials that don't mate together perfectly will do little to increase your confidence while riding.
Further, if you're performing freestyle tricks that involve taking your feet off the pedals, it's challenging to re-engage your feet onto pedals that spin freely when not weighted. Coming down on a pedal that is oriented vertically can be extremely dangerous. In essence, we preferred pedals that have smooth motion and spin at a moderate rate; ones where unweighting the pedal doesn't send them into a spinning frenzy. Knowing that your pedals are correctly oriented when your foot wants to find its home on the platform is reassuring and much safer.
On the stiffer side of things was the RockBros Platform. You won't get a full rotation out of these pedals with a hard hand spin, and our tester didn't feel comfortable taking these pedals through the jump line after a single lap. When the pedal got oriented vertically while kicking a foot off, it remained in that position throughout his flight. When he went to replace his foot, the firm nature of the pedal resisted and caused him come back to Earth with his foot on the leading edge of the pedal facing upwards. Not wanting to snap an ankle, he swapped pedals for the next in line.
Most other pedals in the test had similar rotation speeds, falling under the desirable "not too fast or not too slow" description. Regarding smoothness, the very high quality Race Face Atlas rarely had problems with slipping off this pedal, as it was very grippy and the platform was massive. We also didn't find it to be an exceptional bike park or freestyle oriented pedal, so mobility wasn't as much of a factor for these.
For the most part, mountain bike flat pedals are one of the few pieces of bicycle componentry that you shouldn't have to mess with too much. The biggest issue facing flat pedals is usually a lack of grease on the pedal shafts. We found the Nukeproof Horizon axle to be a little dry on grease when servicing but after a quick lube the pedal was back in business. Cheaper pedals often have weaker seals which allow dirt and water to penetrate the internals of the pedal.
Another servicing factor to keep in mind is replacing worn out or missing pins. Fast downhills and rocky sections can rattle pins out and wreak havoc on pedal strikes. When replacing pins, we preferred pins that were back mounted instead of the top. Pins that insert from the top can become damaged, and the Allen head can become mangled or packed full of dirt from repeated ground strikes. Some pedals come with a choice of different pin height and thicknesses or use washers to dial in desired grip and performance.
We found the half plastic, half aluminum platform of the Crankbrothers 5050 3 to require an annoying extra step to access the axle nut and disassemble the pedal. Two long T25 Torx bolts hold the halves together, and also must be removed. We weren't crazy about the material choice in the first place and the additional step to service the pedals didn't help to win us over.
The hidden grease port feature on the Top Pick Race Face Atlas performed well, although it did require a long-hosed grease gun which you may have to go hunt down at a hardware store — rebuild kits are available to remove the large inboard bearing.
A lot of the guys crushing enduro races are coming from a more downhill oriented background. Forced to pedal uphill now, they are looking for ways to shave grams. Material choice also plays a factor in weight, as well as the strength and design of each pedal. We tested a mix of composite and aluminum pedals with about 100 grams separating the heaviest from the lightest. The lightest pedals we tested were the HT AEO3 and HT PAO3, both weighing in at 345g. Interesting enough, one pedal is composite-based, and the other is machined aluminum. The heaviest pedal we tested was the Deity TMAC weighing in at 437g, but you wouldn't know that just by riding the pedals.
For downhill use, the Shimano Saint mX80 is fantastic. They're a bombproof pedal, but one you might not want to spin for hours on end. We found the enduro-centric Race Face Atlas to offer the same superb grip as the Deity TMAC at a fraction of the weight. At 340 grams, the Race Face Atlas is an excellent choice for the enduro racer looking for a big platform and unshakeable grip in the lightest possible package. The Best Buy Award-winning Nukeproof Horizon was a bit heavier than the Atlas but packed the same level of grip.
The Deity Bladerunner is still only 380 grams per pair and has a thin 12 mm profile, making it an excellent choice as an enduro or freeride pedal. The Raceface Chester (composite-based) weighed in below the middle of the pack at 358 grams, making it a competitive pedal for not only its weight but its price. As light and cost-effective as the composite based pedals like the Chester and HT PAO3 can be, the sacrifice is added thickness to maintain strength and durability. The ability to machine aluminum at small tolerances and still maintain strength allows flat pedals to be constructed thinner and lighter at the same time. In the case of the latter, the trade-off is higher manufacturing costs.
Sometimes flat pedal riders give little regard to their pedal selection when in fact it should be a component worthy of much more consideration. As one of three contact areas with the bike, handling can be greatly diminished or improved depending on your pedal choice. When it comes to choosing the best flat pedal, every pedal we tested met our demands for performance and quality. But when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, there are important details that separate some pedals from the rest. If you're searching for ultimate traction, the Deity TMAC and Raceface Atlas deliver serious grip. If you're looking to minimize pedal strikes, the HT AEO3 and Deity Bladerunner both have thin profiles and are excellent choices that won't disappoint. Serious about enduro racing? The Raceface Atlas are the perfect weapons of choice for racing. And for those in need of a budget option, look no further than the Nukeproof Horizon which provides mega grip at an affordable price. We experienced high speeds, big jumps, steep switchbacks, and adverse conditions to deliver the best pedal review to date, and discovered which pedals were up to the task!
— Sean Cronin