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The 8 Best Mountain Bike Pedals of 2022

We tested mountain bike pedals from top brands like Shimano, Crankbrothers, HT Components, and more to discover the best
Best Mountain Bike Pedals of 2022
Rest assured, we were sure to test some less-popular pedals.
Credit: joshua hutchens
By Joshua Hutchens ⋅ Review Editor
Thursday November 10, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

Looking for the best new mountain bike pedals? After researching nearly every clipless pedal on the market, we bought 19 to test and compare side by side. When an exciting new model hits the market, we buy a set and put them through the same rigorous testing process. We test each pedal over hundreds of miles of riding with a variety of shoe styles, various bikes, and the full range of trail types and terrain. After rigorous testing, we rate each model on ease of entry and exit, adjustability, mud-shedding ability, weight, platform, and durability. We have recommendations for everyone, no matter your riding style, preferences, or budget.

We've tested a variety of mountain bikes and bike accessories over the last decade. If you're looking for flat pedals, our flat pedal review may also be of interest. We've tested the full range of bike shoes for men and women, as well as flat pedal shoes. We've also reviewed essentials such as half-shell helmets, the best bike racks, bike multi-tools, and more to get you outfitted for your next adventure.

Editor's note: This review was updated on November 10, 2022, to ensure that our pedal selection and recommendations are up to date.

Top 19 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 19
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Awards    Top Pick Award  
Price $190 List
$190.00 at REI
$172 List
$143.99 at Amazon
$124.80 at Amazon
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$160 List
Check Price at REI
$130 List
$124.98 at Amazon
Overall Score
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71
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Pros Silky smooth float, lightweight, great mud shedding, additional platform widthAdjustable, excellent performance, available in an array of colorsLightweight, low profile, available in 2 different axle lengthsStable, great power transfer, excellent traction while engaged, inexpensiveSubstantial pedal platform, stiff release spring
Cons Expensive, rear platform is under utilized, questionable durabilityHefty, expensive, pins don't provide much tractionNarrow platform, expensive, not recommended for trail or all-mountain ridingHeavy, sharp pins are a hazard to everything but your shoeHeavy, less impressive in the mud, higher profile design
Bottom Line Top of the line offering from Shimano, they're silky smooth, adjustable and renowned for their consistencyLarge, heavy and adjustable, this pedal will find its audience, but its price to performance ratio isn't in line with its competitorsA highly evolved, race proven pedal that provides exceptional stability for its sizeA big step up in stability and traction, we find them worth their extra weightGreat performance, solid interface but quite hefty
Rating Categories Shimano XTR M9120 T... DMR V-Twin Shimano XTR M9100 Race Shimano Saint SPD M820 Look Cycle X-Track...
Ease of Exit (25%) Sort Icon
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Ease of Entry (20%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Adjustability (20%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Weight (15%)
7.0
1
9.0
3.0
5.0
Platform (10%)
6.0
6.0
5.0
10.0
7.0
Mud Shedding Ability (10%)
8.0
5.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Specs Shimano XTR M9120 T... DMR V-Twin Shimano XTR M9100 Race Shimano Saint SPD M820 Look Cycle X-Track...
Weight per Pair (grams) 397g 610g 314g 550g 449g
Weight of Cleats and Bolts (grams) 51g 54g 51g 50g 55g
Cleat Type SPD mountain SPD style mountain replica SPD mountain SPD mountain SPD
Style no cage mini-cage no cage mini-cage mini-cage
Platform Dimensions (lxw) 100 x 71 mm 107 x 82mm 71 x 68 mm 100 x 79 mm 93 x 67 mm
profile height 17mm 20mm 17mm 19mm 21mm
Q-Factor 56mm 55mm 56mm 57mm 55mm
Total Width from Crank Arm 91mm 95mm 84mm 95mm 89mm
Entry 2-sided 2-sided 2-sided 2-sided 2-sided
Adjustable Tension yes yes yes yes yes
Traction Pins 0 7/side 0 4/side 4 grub pins
Bearings dual angular contact, metal retainer sealed and serviceable dual angular contact, metal retainer dual angular contact, metal retainer not listed
Cage Material annodized aluminum extruded / machined aluminum annodized aluminum forged and machined aluminum Forged aluminum
Pedal Wrench Type 8mm allen 6mm allen 8mm allen 8mm allen 8mm allen


Best Overall Mountain Bike Pedal


HT Components T1


87
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Exit 8.0
  • Ease of Entry 9.0
  • Adjustability 10.0
  • Weight 8.0
  • Platform 8.0
  • Mud Shedding Ability 9.0
Weight: 372-grams | Profile Height: 16.8mm
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight
Sheds mud well
Highly adjustable
Excellent shoe/pedal interface
REASONS TO AVOID
Float can feel a little gritty

The HT T-1 is a quality, low-profile, mid-cage clipless mountain bike pedal that came out on top at the end of our test period. This pedal is built tough enough for the rigors of enduro racing but is lightweight enough to consider for your XC or trail bike. The wide platform, forward-placed grub pins, and adjustable clipless mechanism make for quick and solid engagement and predictable release. Despite the fact that these pedals have the lowest profile height in our test, they still boast a sizeable surface area to interface with the soles of your shoes for excellent lateral stability and control. They also feature a minimalist engagement mechanism that allows for efficient mud clearing. Release tension is adjustable, and the front-mounted grub pins can be adjusted up or down. Included with the pedals are two sets of cleats; the X-1 cleats provide 4 degrees, and the X-1F cleats provide 8 degrees of lateral float to suit your preferences.

The T-1's CNC machined Chromoly steel axles ride on Evo+ precision sealed bearings and IGUS bushings. The pedal bodies are CNC machined extruded aluminum and are available in over a dozen colors, including stealth black which features an anodized black clipless mechanism and spindle. Quality and performance don't come cheap, but these pedals are competitively priced.

Read more: HT T-1 review

mountain bike pedals - best overall mountain bike pedal
The HT T-1 cutting through the mud and delivering performance
Credit: joshua hutchens

Best Bang for the Buck


Shimano ME700


75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Exit 8.0
  • Ease of Entry 8.0
  • Adjustability 8.0
  • Weight 5.0
  • Platform 8.0
  • Mud Shedding Ability 7.0
Weight: 482-grams | Profile Height: 19mm
REASONS TO BUY
Reasonable price
Versatile
Easy exit and entry
Adjustable release tension
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavier weight
Painted platform

The Shimano ME700 is a new, entry-level small platform pedal with a very reasonable price. It looks and performs similarly to its higher-end XT and XTR siblings but costs considerably less. This pedal essentially replaces the tried and true M530 and features the same durable, adjustable, and reliable Shimano SPD clipless mechanism. Entry and exit are easy and consistent, with a wide range of release tension adjustment. The ME700 has a mid-size platform that surrounds the clipless mechanism, which aids in orienting the pedal and provides a nice width and added lateral stability.

The main drawback to the ME700 is its heavier weight. At 482 grams for the pair, they aren't absurdly heavy, although most weight-conscious riders will probably want to look elsewhere. The finish of the painted pedal body is more prone to holding onto mud and will show wear more quickly than the anodized finishes of the higher-end models. Beyond those concerns, we found little not to like about this versatile and affordable pedal.

Read more: Shimano ME700 review

mountain bike pedals - best bang for the buck
The substantial shoe interface and adjustability make these a great choice for a wide variety of riders.
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

Another Great Trail Riding Pedal


Shimano PD-M8120 XT SPD


79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Exit 8.0
  • Ease of Entry 9.0
  • Adjustability 8.0
  • Weight 6.0
  • Platform 8.0
  • Mud Shedding Ability 8.0
Weight: 430-grams | Profile Height: 18mm
REASONS TO BUY
Solid platform underfoot
Legendary durability
Good value
REASONS TO AVOID
Oversized fixing bolt can interfere with float feel

Shimano's most recent iteration of the ever-popular XT Trail pedals are now known as the M8120 XT. They carried over the same reliable and predictable performance of the previous version while managing to slim the pedal's profile and enlarge the overall platform, creating more shoe-to-pedal contact and a greater feeling of lateral foot stability and control. Ease of entry and exit remains as precise as ever with the proven SPD retention mechanism and cleats. We feel this is a great pedal for anyone from enduro racers to hardcore XC trail riders, or anyone looking for consistent entry and release with a generous platform. We also feel the M8120 is a great value considering the durability of these long-lasting and high-performing pedals.

We loved most things about Shimano's new M8120 XT pedals, but we found one flaw that was hard to overlook. The hexagonal locknut by the spindle tended to protrude above the level of the pedal body when tightened to the recommended torque specification. This resulted in slight interference with the shoe/pedal interface. The new version is also slightly heavier than the previous one. Beyond that, our love affair with the XT Trail pedals continues, especially with the improvements and updates to the new version.

Read more: Shimano PD-M8120 XT SPD review

mountain bike pedals - another great trail riding pedal
The new pedals feature changes all around, many of them welcome additions.
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

Best Dual-Sided Pedals


Xpedo Ambix


71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Exit 8.0
  • Ease of Entry 6.0
  • Adjustability 7.0
  • Weight 8.0
  • Platform 6.0
  • Mud Shedding Ability 7.0
Weight: 384-grams | Profile Height: 19mm
REASONS TO BUY
Stable, grippy platform
Dual-function pedals work for flat and clipless
Adjustable release tension
Reasonable price
REASONS TO AVOID
Not the best clipless platform
Engagement can be complicated

The Xpedo Ambix combines a full-featured, stable, and grippy flat pedal on one side with a lightweight and efficient mid-cage clipless pedal on the other. These dual-function pedals aren't made for riding your enduro rig to the store in flip flops, although they'd certainly work for that. The 6061 aluminum pedal body and Chromoly axles roll on three sealed cartridge bearings. Like a regular clip-in pedal, the clipless side features a wide-open engagement mechanism with a static front bar and spring-loaded rear. The release tension is adjustable, and the included XPC cleats offer 6-degrees of float. The flat side of the pedal features eight nicely spaced and adjustable grub pins. We loved that these pedals give you the option to ride with flats or clipped-in, and they do a good job at both.

The pedal's platform size and pin placement interface well with a clipless shoe and aren't overly obtrusive when riding that side. We loved that while riding either side of the pedal, you could forget that it had another function. The Ambix satisfies a demand for a pedal that can give the clipless rider a chance to step back from commitment in precarious situations or add some efficiency to a flat pedal rider's haul up the hill. Our only real gripe is that it can be a little less user-friendly to orient the pedal when clipping back in with the mechanism on only one side of the pedal.

Read more: Xpedo Ambix review

mountain bike pedals - best dual-sided pedals
The Ambix offers stability on one side and security on the other.
Credit: joshua hutchens

Best for Enduro and Downhill Riding


Shimano Saint SPD M820


75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Exit 8.0
  • Ease of Entry 8.0
  • Adjustability 8.0
  • Weight 3.0
  • Platform 10.0
  • Mud Shedding Ability 8.0
Weight: 550-grams | Profile Height: 19mm
REASONS TO BUY
Stable, low platform
Excellent power transfer
Reasonably priced
REASONS TO AVOID
A bit heavy
Only one color option

If you care more about your trail, enduro, or gravity bike's performance and stability than how much it weighs, you might want to check out the Saint M820. These gravity-focused pedals were stable and confidence-inspiring on the trail. The Saint is a wide-bodied, fixed mechanism, clipless platform pedal with four traction pins on each side. The forged pedal body is burly and appropriate for the rigors of gravity-focused riding. The platform is substantial, helping you engage quickly and giving you a more secure, stable footing and excellent lateral support. We prefer the Shimano Saint M820 to its closest competitors in this test because they're slightly smaller, lighter, and have a lower profile height.

The Saint pedals aren't lightweight, and adding them to your bike may add a little heft compared to lighter models. The platform is also quite large, potentially leading to more pedal strikes for riders who frequent especially chunky terrain. That said, we found them to be the best option for their intended application, and we highly recommend them to the gravity crowd.

Read more: Shimano Saint M820 review

mountain bike pedals - best for enduro and downhill riding
You have 5 points of contact with your bike, increasing your pedal contact patch this can make a big difference in your level of control.
Credit: joshua hutchens

Best for Weight Savings


Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3


60
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Exit 8.0
  • Ease of Entry 5.0
  • Adjustability 3.0
  • Weight 9.0
  • Platform 1.0
  • Mud Shedding Ability 9.0
Weight: 280-grams | Profile Height: 21mm
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight
Sheds mud well
Simple design
REASONS TO AVOID
Very small platform
Can be difficult to engage

Cross-country riders and racers or those seeking the lightest weight gear will most appreciate the Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3. At only 280 grams, it's the lightest weight mountain bike pedal in our review. Named for their striking resemblance to an eggbeater, these pedals have a unique, open design that made them the top performer in our mud-shedding test. They resist clogging and allow entry on all four sides of the pedal. They also have a floaty feel that can take some getting used to but may help to alleviate knee strain for some users.

The Eggbeater 3 is the smallest of all the pedals tested, and we don't recommend them for beginners or those new to clipless pedals. They're not too difficult to engage, but the small cage does take some skill and patience to get your foot lined up perfectly. They also have virtually no platform, so they should only be used with very rigid-soled shoes and may not feel quite as laterally stable as other pedals that provide more to stand on.

Read more: Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3 review

mountain bike pedals - best for weight savings
Putting the Eggbeater 3 through the paces.
Credit: Michelle Powell

Best Overall Flat Pedal


Race Face Atlas Pedal


Weight: 338-grams | Platform: 111 x 107mm
REASONS TO BUY
Quality construction
Easily serviceable
Excellent grip
Concave platform
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive

The redesigned Race Face Atlas earned top honors in our flat pedal review. With 10 well-placed, sharp, bottom-loading pins per side and a sizeable 111 x 107mm concave platform, these pedals provide excellent support and grip to keep your feet glued to the pedals, yet they still allow for a little mobility when you need to correct your foot position. The pedal profile isn't the thinnest with 14.8mm leading and trailing edges and 12.8mm at the spindle, but with chamfered leading edges we found pedal strikes to be minimal, and the concave design to feel great underfoot. The pedal spins in a very smooth and controlled manner, and they are among the most easily serviceable pedals we've tested when it comes time for a rebuild. They are also competitively lightweight, making these gravity-oriented pedals a viable option for trail and all-mountain bikes and expanding their versatility.

While we loved nearly everything about the Atlas, there's no denying that they are fairly expensive. That said, they now come with a lifetime warranty, and along with their quality construction, we feel most riders will get their money's worth. We've tested loads of flat pedals over the years, and we think the new Atlas pedals are the best of the best.

Read more: Race Face Atlas Pedal review

mountain bike pedals - best overall flat pedal
The redesigned Atlas pedals are our favorite flat pedals for all types of riding.
Credit: Byron Adams

Best Overall Composite Flat Pedal


OneUp Components Composite


Weight: 359-grams | Platform: 114 x 104mm
REASONS TO BUY
Respectable grip
Solid construction
Very affordable
Agreeable mid-range size
REASONS TO AVOID
Not the grippiest
No pins along the axle

The reasonably priced OneUp Components Composite flat pedals impressed our testers. It is essentially a composite-bodied version of the more expensive Aluminum pedals, and they boast decent levels of grip with ten well-spaced pins per side to bite into your soles. These lightweight pedals have a good mid-sized platform of 114 x 104 mm and work well with a large range of foot sizes and they are relatively low profile to help avoid rock strikes. The composite pedal body feels rugged and durable and will likely stand up to years of abuse. While they don't have the most tenacious grip, they are the grippiest among the composite models we tested. The pedal itself has good controlled mobility and doesn't spin too freely on its axle. They are also relatively easily serviceable, and pin and bearing kits are readily available.

For the price, we think the Composite is an excellent flat pedal option. That said, they don't provide the same levels of grip as some of the more expensive competitors. For the price, they grip quite well, and we feel they are a great option for those just starting out, or anyone who is operating on a budget.

Read more: OneUp Components Composite review

mountain bike pedals - the oneup composite pedals work very well, especially considering...
The OneUp Composite pedals work very well, especially considering the price.
Credit: Pat Donahue

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
87
HT Components T1
ht components t1 mountain bike pedal review
$135
Editors' Choice Award
82
Shimano XTR M9100 Race
shimano xtr m9100 race mountain bike pedal review
$180
81
Shimano XTR M9120 Trail
shimano xtr m9120 trail mountain bike pedal review
$190
79
Shimano PD-M8120 XT SPD
shimano pd-m8120 xt spd mountain bike pedal review
$130
Top Pick Award
76
Time Speciale 8
time speciale 8 mountain bike pedal review
$158
75
Shimano ME700
shimano me700 mountain bike pedal review
$65
Best Buy Award
75
Shimano Saint SPD M820
shimano saint spd m820 mountain bike pedal review
$160
Top Pick Award
73
XPedo GFX
xpedo gfx mountain bike pedal review
$195
71
Xpedo Ambix
xpedo ambix mountain bike pedal review
$105
Top Pick Award
71
Look Cycle X-Track En-Rage Plus
look cycle x-track en-rage plus mountain bike pedal review
$130
71
DMR V-Twin
dmr v-twin mountain bike pedal review
$172
68
Shimano M520
shimano m520 mountain bike pedal review
$50
66
Crankbrothers Mallet E
crankbrothers mallet e mountain bike pedal review
$170
65
Crankbrothers Candy 7
crankbrothers candy 7 mountain bike pedal review
$180
60
Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3
crankbrothers eggbeater 3 mountain bike pedal review
$140
Top Pick Award
59
HT Components D1
ht components d1 mountain bike pedal review
$145
56
Crankbrothers Double Shot 2
crankbrothers double shot 2 mountain bike pedal review
$100
53
Crankbrothers Double Shot 3
crankbrothers double shot 3 mountain bike pedal review
$140
48
Time ATAC XC 8
time atac xc 8 mountain bike pedal review
$137

mountain bike pedals - testing pedals involves significant amounts of time out riding. our...
Testing pedals involves significant amounts of time out riding. Our testers aren't complaining.
Credit: Laura Casner

Why You Should Trust Us


Author and lead tester Joshua Hutchens is a mountain bike veteran who has held almost every job in the bike industry. From shop gopher to shop owner, bike guide to bike coach, Joshua has led cycling trips around the world and competed in every discipline he has discovered. He rides like Lionel Richie sings and has a meticulous and analytical approach to testing.

We put these mountain bike pedals through rigorous testing in the Sierra Nevada mountains. We search out nasty, technical terrain, take the big lines, smash obstacles, ford streams, and occasionally we stop for pictures. These aren't the pedals you want to buy second-hand once we're through with them. We carefully scrutinize their performance and rank them based on predetermined metrics. We evaluate them for ease of entry, ease of exit, overall adjustability, weight, platform feel, and how well they can shed mud. We fret over the results so you can kick back and read about it.

We measure the dimensions and platform of each pedal with calipers...
We measure the dimensions and platform of each pedal with calipers and examine how that translates out on the trail.
To test mud-shedding ability we find a nice sloppy mud pit to play in.
To test mud-shedding ability we find a nice sloppy mud pit to play in.

Types of Pedals


There is no shortage of things to consider when buying a pair of mountain bike pedals. There are many different types of pedals for different styles of bikes and riding. You'll first need to decide if you want to clip into clipless pedals or ride on flats. This review focuses on the full spectrum of clipless mountain bike pedals.

Analysis and Test Results


There are few things as exciting as buying a brand new bike. New bikes, however, rarely come with pedals. Although a seemingly minor part of the bike, you can't really ride without them. When considering a new bike purchase, we recommend thinking ahead and buying pedals in advance if you don't already own a set. It's also a great time to get some new shoes, so you can optimize your connection to your new bike. Likewise, upgrading or replacing your old pedals can enhance your bike's performance and your riding experience.

Value


We don't rate the products we test based on their price, but we always appreciate a good value. Price and performance often go hand in hand, but that is not always the case. The Shimano ME700 and M520 are great values. They're roughly a third of the price of the pedals that score higher. The 520 is less expensive than the ME700, but it has a small platform and isn't as easy to engage. We feel the ME700 is a better all-around option for most mountain bikers. Another great value is the Shimano Deore XT M8120. It scores just behind the HT T-1 but typically sells for considerably less.


mountain bike pedals - a tester unclipping to drop a foot and rally through the steep...
A tester unclipping to drop a foot and rally through the steep left-hand corner coming up.
Credit: joshua hutchens

Ease of Exit


Ease of exit refers to how easy it is to unclip your foot from the pedal. If you're unable to unclip when you want to, it can create an unsafe situation that may result in the rider falling over in awkward and sometimes dangerous ways. As such, we weighted this metric a bit heavier than others. Unclipping isn't something you do only at the end of the ride; technical sections and loose corners often call for a quick foot dab to maintain balance.

Generally speaking, the easiest pedals to exit are those with the least amount of obstruction or interference. Some of the newer pedals without traction pins are easier to disengage because there's nothing for your shoe to hang up on when unclipping. Those with multiple grub pins and larger cages can create obstacles to getting your foot free.


Some of the models that can be more challenging to get out of were those with lots of floatation. Floatation refers to the number of degrees you have to twist your foot before the cleat releases from the retention mechanism. If too much heel movement is required to disengage, the toe of the shoe can engage the crank arm before the cleat releases. The Shimano XTR M9120 and XTR M9100 pedals were the easiest to exit. The M8120 XT is right up there with its more expensive siblings. These above-mentioned Shimano pedals have four degrees of float and no traction pins. The Time ATAC XC 8 was the most difficult pedal to disengage as it has 13 or 17-degree release angles. Though the Crankbrothers have 15 or 20-degree releases, we still found them easier to get out of than the Time pedals.

The Time and HT pedals are the only pedals in the test to use lateral float, which allows your foot side to side movement. While often touted as beneficial for those with existing knee issues, we didn't feel the consistency of release was worth the potential upside. It wasn't just the full range of motion that made them difficult — it was the lack of consistency.

The Time pedals feature a front arch that is responsible for release tension. If you're pedaling or standing on the pedals with toes pointed downward, you're exerting pressure on the release spring. This can create an inconsistent release which makes them hard to trust. The HT pedals have spring tension on both sides of the engagement mechanism and considerably less float, which is less troublesome but still doesn't provide perfect consistency.

mountain bike pedals - low profile, large width platform, and wide open clipless mechanism
Low profile, large width platform, and wide open clipless mechanism
Credit: joshua hutchens

Ease of Entry


This metric assesses how quickly and easily a rider can clip into a pair of mountain bike pedals. This is important because it determines how fast you can start pedaling your bike. Ideally, clipping in should be a simple process that doesn't require too much thinking or effort so you can focus on the trail and on not falling over.

Engaging the Shimano or Xpedo models requires little effort and produces an audible click. This helps you know that you're engaged and ready to roll. Clipping into the Crankbrothers or Time pedals doesn't reliably produce the same audible confirmation. There is a dull, somewhat vague sound that often accompanies the engagement but not always. Overall, most of these pedals are relatively easy to engage but knowing that you're securely clipped in aids in confidence.


The mini-platform pedals are the easiest to engage in. The extra bit of material helps guide your feet, and kicking the cage flattens them out underfoot, putting them in the prime spot for engagement. We rated the HT T-1, Shimano XTR M9120, and the Shimano XT M8120 highest in this metric. The Shimano XTR M9120, with its long body, felt almost magnetic with the cleat. In contrast, the small Time ATAC and Crankbrothers Eggbeater pedals were a harder target to hit, and when you did, the pedal wasn't always oriented perfectly for engagement.

On the other end of the spectrum, the large-bodied Crankbrothers Mallet E and HT D1 were easy to find and orient, but their sticky traction pins could hang up on your sole and complicate the engagement process.

mountain bike pedals - checking out the internals. here is the partially disassembled...
Checking out the internals. Here is the partially disassembled Mallet E.
Credit: joshua hutchens

Adjustability


Adjustability refers to how much we could change the feel and function of each pedal. Some pedals allow us to adjust their release tension. Some allow for different degrees of float (that is, how much you can move your foot around or float side to side before the cleat releases). Others have adjustable pads or pins that interface with the sole of the shoe creating friction or helping to orient the pedal for engagement.


The most adjustable pedals are the DMR V-Twin, HT T-1, and XPedo GFX. These pedals feature adjustable release tension, adjustable float, and had traction pins, allowing you to customize their performance in a variety of ways.

Some models we tested didn't allow us to personalize the feel or adjust for performance. The Crankbrothers pedals don't have adjustable release tension, which is likely fine for the average rider. Beginners and lightweight riders, however, may benefit from less release tension and an easier exit from the pedal. Similarly, heavy or aggressive riders can lessen their chances of accidental release by having a pedal that can accommodate their level of force.

mountain bike pedals - all of the shimano pedals have release tension adjustment on each...
All of the Shimano pedals have release tension adjustment on each side of the pedal.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Release Tension

The Shimano, Time, DMR, HT, and Xpedo pedals all allow the rider to increase or decrease the effort required to release by adjusting the amount of spring tension holding the cleat. Crankbrothers pedals have a bit of a disadvantage in this regard because they do not feature adjustable release tension.

Float

The Time Speciale 8 cleats can be mounted to provide 13 or 17 degrees of float, depending on their attachment orientation. Time also sells an easy cleat that allows for 10 degrees of float. The Crankbrothers standard cleats provide 6 degrees of free float and a 15 or 20-degree release angle based on how they're mounted (more on that below). Crankbrothers also offers a zero-degree or no-float cleat that is intended to enhance pedal efficiency. The Xpedo cleat allows for six degrees of float, and the Shimano cleats provide four degrees. Shimano sells a multi-release cleat that allows for release in any direction without changing the float, a great option for beginners. The HT T-1 includes two sets of cleats that offer 4 or 8 degrees of lateral float.

mountain bike pedals - these are the brass cleats that come with crankbrothers pedals. note...
These are the brass cleats that come with Crankbrothers pedals. Note that the tips are asymmetric and only one cleat has an indented dot on it. You can choose your release angle by how you install the cleats on your shoes.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

Traction Pins and Pads

The traction pins (or grub pins) on the HT T-1, Time Speciale 8, and Look X-Track En-Rage Plus are all adjustable. These pins provide traction while unclipped and can be raised or lowered by threading them up or down. Lowering the pins makes the pedal feel less aggressive, with less bite into the sole of the shoe. Raised pins engage the soles more, particularly on soft rubber shoes, but can complicate entry and exit to the engagement mechanism.

mountain bike pedals - the crankbrothers pedals all employ the same engagement mechanism...
The Crankbrothers pedals all employ the same engagement mechanism, the traction pads seen here on the Candy 7 (center) and Mallet E (right) are a relatively new feature.
Credit: joshua hutchens

The Crankbrothers Candy 7 and Mallet E pedals feature textured traction pads. These pads are polyurethane bumpers that sit adjacent to the cleat interface on the pedal. Both models include 1mm and 2mm thick pads, and swapping them out will create more or less interface between the shoe and pedal platform. The thicker pads offer more resistance to float, and the interchangeable pads allow you to customize the pedal to your specific shoe. The DMR V-Twin uses nylon bumpers that sit fore and aft of the cleat mechanism under the traction pins. Spacers beneath the bumpers will raise the pads and pins toward your shoe. Some pedals also include thin, 1mm cleat spacers that push the cleat further from the sole of the shoe, lessening the friction between the shoe and pedal.

You can also adjust the feeling of the Crankbrothers by swapping the orientation of the cleats on your shoes. There is a small indentation on just one cleat. If you mount the cleat with this indent on your right shoe, you will have a 15-degree release angle. If the cleat with the indent goes on your left shoe, you will get a 20-degree release angle.

mountain bike pedals - not every rider will be concerned with the weight of their pedals...
Not every rider will be concerned with the weight of their pedals, but most people like to keep the weight of their bike as low as possible.
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

Weight


Weight is an important metric for certain riders and riding styles. Those who prefer pointing their bikes downhill while gravity does most of the work probably don't mind adding a few ounces here and there, particularly when there is a performance benefit. Cross-country riders and racers, on the other hand, tend to be more weight conscious. The less weight you're pushing, the faster you can go and the fewer calories you expend. For many riders, though, there are criteria more important than weight — performance and value come to mind.


The heaviest clipless pedals we tested are the DMR V-Twin, at 610-grams, and the lightest pedals are the Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3, at 280-grams. When you factor in the additional weight of their cleats, it's a 351-gram difference between the two. That's a significant weight difference between two parts that perform roughly the same function. In general, the manufacturer's stated weights corresponded closely to the weights we observed on our scales. When that's not the case, we take note and list our observed weights. The HT T-1 weighs in at 372-grams for a high-performing pedal with a mid-sized cage. For comparison, one of our other most highly rated mid-cage pedals, the Shimano XT M8120, weighs in at 430-grams, nearly 60-grams heavier. Many times, price and weight go hand in hand. For example, the Shimano ME700 costs significantly less than the XT-M8120 and weighs 52-grams more.

mountain bike pedals - we weigh each set of pedals we test for consistency and comparison...
We weigh each set of pedals we test for consistency and comparison with claimed weights.
Credit: Joshua Hutchens

Mud Shedding Ability


We evaluated how well each pedal sheds mud and resists jamming in muddy conditions. The muddier the trail, the more likely you are to put a foot down. When this happens, mud gets transferred to your cleats and the pedal and may clog up the clipless mechanism. The best mud shedding pedals have some way of evacuating mud to allow engagement. Simple designs are often rewarded here.


The HT T-1, with its wide-open design, is well-built for the challenges of mud and sloppy conditions. The Shimano XTR M9100, with its conically machined platform, also did remarkably well when our soles and cleats got muddy. Surprisingly, the Time Speciale 8, with its solid body design, does incredibly well and is renowned for its ability to keep riders going through the slop. Like the HT, the Time pedal employs a minimalist front clip that leaves nowhere for mud to hang on.

Pedals like the Xpedo GFX and the Crankbrothers Double Shot 3, with lots of surface area, were notably worse on wet trails. Both accumulated mud as we rode.

mountain bike pedals - measuring the platform length on the candy 7.
Measuring the platform length on the Candy 7.
Credit: joshua hutchens

Platform


We analyzed how effectively the presence or absence of a platform surrounding the clipless mechanism supports performance. The pedals in this test vary widely in the amount of platform provided, and there are advantages and disadvantages to more surface area. If you're spending your time in the saddle hammering away at the pedals with stiff shoes and not riding much technical terrain, a platform might be of little benefit. However, a platform becomes more important when you find yourself on more demanding terrain, which can often require more body movement and frequent unclipping. Pedals with small platforms like the Eggbeater 3 are lightweight and resist mud well but don't provide much lateral support for the foot.


A larger platform increases your feeling of stability and gives your feet more control. The Shimano Saint M820 and HT T-1 both offer wide, stable surfaces that are easy to find with your foot and are less likely to roll beneath your shoe. Likewise, the Shimano XT M8120, XTR M9120, and ME700 also provide a substantial platform that provides ample shoe/pedal contact and improved lateral stability and leverage. The downsides of the larger platform include added weight, increased incidence of pedal strikes, and more surface area for mud to accumulate.

mountain bike pedals - we put in lots of time, miles, and abuse on each set of pedals to...
We put in lots of time, miles, and abuse on each set of pedals to test their durability.
Credit: Jeremy Benson

Durability


To test durability, we rode these pedals hard. We bashed rocks and stumps and rode them in snow, rain, mud, and sand. We swapped them between many bikes and riders. In the several months we spent abusing these competitors, we found some unexpected issues with our XTR pedals. Shimano pedals have been renowned for their durability, often lasting a decade or more. The XTR M9100 and XTR M9120 pedals that we tested, however, all had their seals pop out by the third ride, and by the end of the test, they required readjustment. Interestingly, the new XT M8120 did not experience this same issue despite appearing to have a nearly identical design.

We've noticed throughout our riding careers that Crankbrothers, Time, and HT pedals all require rebuilds every year or two. They all sell kits for this, which generally cost around $25. The service process takes about an hour. Servicing a Shimano pedal's bearings, however, isn't typical. We have had many SPDs in our stables for years on end without servicing. Let's hope the latest generation of Shimano pedals hasn't changed that.

mountain bike pedals - no matter your riding style, there&#039;s a pair of pedals to suit your...
No matter your riding style, there's a pair of pedals to suit your needs, preferences, or budget.
Credit: Laura Casner

Conclusion


After months of riding around conjuring adjectives with our feet, chatting with each other, and compiling information, we've formed our opinions and awarded our winners. Hopefully, our hard work and pedaling make it easier for you to make an informed decision about the pedals that you'd like to hang on your whip. Using the results of our comprehensive evaluation and ratings, we hope this review will help you find your next set of mountain bike pedals with ease.

Joshua Hutchens


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