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The Best Flat Pedals for Mountain Biking

Grippy aluminum and nylon composite flat pedals.
By Sean Cronin ⋅ Review Editor
Monday June 15, 2020
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Searching for the best mountain bike flat pedals? We've tested 15 models over the last 3 years, and focus on 10 of the best in this comparative 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 for hundreds of miles and tens of thousands of vertical feet. We've tested in all sorts of terrain, all over the USA. From smooth single track in the desert, technical rocky trails of the Sierra, to shuttle and bike park laps, these pedals have seen it all. After doing the dirty work, we evaluate key performance metrics to evaluate each pair head-to-head to bring you the best-expert recommendations to suit your needs and budget.

Related: The Best Mountain Bike Flat Pedal Shoes
Related: The Best Mountain Bike Pedals

Top 10 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10
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Best Overall Mountain Bike Flat Pedal


Deity Components TMAC


Diety Components TMAC
Editors' Choice Award

$169 List
List Price
See It

87
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Grip and Traction - 25% 10
  • Platform - 25% 9
  • Mobility - 20% 9
  • Servicing - 15% 9
  • Weight - 15% 5
Weight per pair: 437-grams | Traction pins: 14 per side
Large concave platform
Serious grip
28 grub screws per pedal (14 per side)
Customize easily with multiple color options
Versatile for all types of riding
A little spendy
Thick midsection
Prone to pedal strikes
Heavier weight

The Deity TMAC earned our Editors' Choice mountain bike flat pedal award 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 talented downhill and free riders in the sport. These pedals beautifully blend 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 loads of 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. Riders will find that these pedals work great across many forms of riding and their versatility is what makes them such a great pedal.

While we loved these pedals for their incredible grip, we admit that it may be too grippy for some riders. Those who like a little foot mobility should probably look elsewhere. Additionally, we found the large symmetrical pedal body and thicker profile of these pedals to make them slightly more prone to pedal strikes. That said, for riders who prioritize grip, durability, and style, we think the TMAC is the best there is.

Read review: Deity TMAC

Best Bang for the Buck


Nukeproof Horizon Pro


Nukeproof Horizon Pro
Best Buy Award

$75 List
List Price
See It

82
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Grip and Traction - 25% 10
  • Platform - 25% 8
  • Mobility - 20% 8
  • Servicing - 15% 8
  • Weight - 15% 6
Weight per pair: 426-grams | Traction pins: 10 per side
Excellent grip
Sleek looks
Well-built
Outstanding price-to-performance ratio
Heavier weight
Thicker profile
Limited colors available

It was challenging to narrow down one winner for the Best Buy Award. We were pleasantly surprised with the results from the lower-priced pedals we tested like the NukeProof Horizon Pro, which cost half of the price of some of the competition. These affordable pedals displayed impressive grip and held up well to the demands of our testing. They aren'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 durable. We found them to work well for downhill and enduro use, and we could also maneuver about the platform while dirt jumping and free riding. Servicing them is done with regular tools that you probably already own, and pin kits are available, although not included.

Due to the thicker profile and square platform shape of the Horizon Pro, we found them to be a bit prone to pedal strikes compared to the thinner competition. They are also one of the heaviest pedals in the test, certainly not the best option for weight-conscious riders. Beside those concerns, we feel that their excellent performance and reasonable price make these pedals an impressive value.

Read review: Nukeproof Horizon

Best for Enduro Racing


Race Face Atlas


Race Face Atlas
Top Pick Award

$169.95
(6% off)
at REI
See It

85
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Grip and Traction - 25% 9
  • Platform - 25% 9
  • Mobility - 20% 8
  • Servicing - 15% 7
  • Weight - 15% 9
Weight per pair: 347-grams | Traction pins: 10 per side
Hardcore gripping power
Large and lightweight
Double concave
Grease port tucked away
Super pricey and lack versatility
Not compatible with all cranks

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. 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 is a great option for enduro and aggressive trail riders. 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 laps at the bike park.

While we were impressed by their tenacious grip, it does limit their versatility somewhat as we found them a little too grippy for dirt jumping and riding where you want a little foot mobility. They are also one of the most expensive models we've tested. If you can justify the expense, we feel these are one of the best pedals money can buy.

Read review: Race Face Atlas

Best for Trail Riding


HT Components AE03 Evo


HT Components AE03 Evo
Top Pick Award

$140.00
(12% off)
at Amazon
See It

77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Grip and Traction - 25% 8
  • Platform - 25% 7
  • Mobility - 20% 7
  • Servicing - 15% 8
  • Weight - 15% 9
Weight per pair: 345-grams | Traction pins: 10 per side
Slim profile
Good pin placement/solid grip regardless of foot position
Lightweight
Moderate size platform
Pin heads are somewhat exposed
Expensive

HT Components may not have the most creative names for their pedals, but the AE03 Evo impressed our testers and is our Top Pick for Trail Riding. These slick-looking aluminum pedals are the thinnest we've tested with a moderately sized 102 x 107mm platform and heavily angled leading edges. This ultra-thin profile and streamlined design make them far less prone to rock strikes when riding in technical terrain. Their 10 well-placed bottom loading traction pins per side, 8 around the perimeter of the platform with 2 along the spindle, ensure solid grip regardless of foot placement. The grip is good without being overwhelming, staying glued to our shoes in rocky terrain while still allowing for some foot mobility. At 345-grams for the pair, they are also impressively lightweight and won't bog you down on pedal heavy rides.

Due to the impressively thin profile of the AE03 Evo pedals, the heads of the pins are less hidden and therefore a bit more susceptible to damage from rock strikes. The moderately sized platform may also feel a touch small for those with especially large feet. Otherwise, we feel these lightweight and sleek mountain bike flat pedals are an amazing option for trail and all-mountain riders.

Read review: HT Components AE03 Evo

Best on a Tight Budget


Race Face Chester


76
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Grip and Traction - 25% 8
  • Platform - 25% 7
  • Mobility - 20% 8
  • Servicing - 15% 7
  • Weight - 15% 8
Weight per pair: 358-grams | Traction pins: 8 per side
Affordable
Tough and durable
Nice mid-sie platform
No traction pins along the axle
Only 8 pins per side

The Race Face Chester is an affordable flat pedal with an excellent price to performance ratio. It is one of the least expensive models we tested, yet it still scored admirably across all of our rating metrics. This lightweight model tips the scales at a svelte 358-grams and has a rugged nylon composite platform. The platform is moderate in size at 101 x 110mm with a 14mm profile and sloped leading edges that help reduce pedal strikes. There are 16 replaceable pins per pedal (8 per side) that provide excellent grip with good foot placement. Servicing the internals is straightforward, and removing/replacing pins couldn't be easier. They also have a timeless style and are offered in loads of different colors.

The Chester pedals are great, but they aren't perfect. With only 8 pins per side and none along the axle, they don't have the strongest grip and can feel a little slippery in wet conditions. The platform is also moderate in size, and may not be ideal for those with larger feet. Beyond that, we liked everything about these tough, lightweight, and affordable pedals.

Read review: Race Face Chester


Testing the RaceFace Atlas Flat Pedals
Testing the RaceFace Atlas Flat Pedals

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 review team was led by Sean Cronin with input from Tasha Thomas and Al Morrison, two Tahoe locals with a penchant for shredding. They all 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.

Our testers took it to these pedals with hundreds of miles of real-world riding.
Testing flat pedals on the pump track.
From the bike park to chunky technical trail rides  these pedals have seen it all.

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 models around. 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

Value


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 models to better gauge the mountain bike flat pedal market and find the best options available. We used and abused each pedal to test their durability and ensure that consumers are getting a good value when they make a purchase. While the most expensive models are often the highest performing, some reasonably priced options also score well for their performance. The Nukeproof Horizon Pro and the Race Face Chester are great pedals that cost less than the competition.


Grip/Traction


This rating metric relates to the interface between the soles of your shoes and the pins and platforms of the pedals. Different types, numbers, and height of traction pins all combine to make each mountain bike flat 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 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.


In general, we found grub screw traction pins like those found on the Deity Bladerunner to offer good traction in addition to mobility and feel. It's not that simple though, as the 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 Horizon Pro had grub screw pins.

The Nukeproof Horizon flat pedals produce excellent grip and are easy to maintain
The Nukeproof Horizon flat pedals produce excellent grip and are easy to maintain

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 used, some pedals felt grippier with certain shoes over others. This is due to the softness of the rubber compound on your shoe.

Platform


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, however, 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 (347 grams) and vice grip foot locking retention made it our preferred flat pedal for enduro racing and long technical rides.

The extremely thin HT AEO3 flat pedals did well in muddy conditions but longer pins would greatly increase grip
The extremely thin HT AEO3 flat pedals did well in muddy conditions but longer pins would greatly increase grip

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 had 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.

This pedal is a Best Buy award winner for its great value and performance
This pedal is a Best Buy award winner for its great value and performance


Pedal Mobility


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.

HT PA03 pedals are a great value and were one of our favorite composite based pedals
HT PA03 pedals are a great value and were one of our favorite composite based pedals

Most 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 the 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.

Servicing


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 with 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.

TMAC disassemble and servicing process
TMAC disassemble and servicing process

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. Rebuild kits are available for most of the models we tested and typically include new bearings, bushings, and sometimes pins. Some pedals come with extra traction pins, and you can typically find replacements online.

This pedal was light on grease when we disassembled but with easy serviceability we had it running smooth in no time
This pedal was light on grease when we disassembled but with easy serviceability we had it running smooth in no time

Weight


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 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.


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 347 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.

This is a top-performing flat pedal that can shave precious grams from your enduro race bike.
This is a top-performing flat pedal that can shave precious grams from your enduro race bike.

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.

Conclusion


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 aluminum Nukeproof Horizon or the composite Race Face Chester which provide great performance at an affordable price.

Sean Cronin