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Best Mountain Bike Pedals

Photo: Laura Casner
By Joshua Hutchens ⋅ Review Editor
Wednesday September 30, 2020
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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 a 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.

Related: Best Flat Pedals for Mountain Biking

Top 19 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 19
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Awards    Top Pick Award  
Price $180.00 at REI$179.95 at Backcountry
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$176.99 at Amazon
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$139.00 at Amazon
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$130.00 at Competitive Cyclist
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Overall Score
81
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71
Star Rating
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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 Updated doesn't necessarily mean better, they're larger and heavier than their predecessorsA good pedal if you value performance and adjustability and really don't care about the weightThe top dog race pedal from Shimano that can punch above its classSolid, stable and heavy, we found the control they offer top-notchGreat feeling pedal but its mud performance and heft will probably keep it off of our crank arms
Rating Categories Shimano XTR M9120 Trail DMR V-Twin Shimano XTR M9100 Race Shimano Saint SPD M820 X-Track En-Rage Plus
Ease Of Exit (25%)  
9
9
9
8
8
Ease Of Entry (20%)
9
9
8
8
7
Adjustability (20%)
8
9
8
8
8
Weight (15%)
7
1
9
3
5
Platform (10%)
6
6
5
10
7
Mud Shedding Ability (10%)
8
5
9
8
6
Specs Shimano XTR M9120... DMR V-Twin Shimano XTR M9100... Shimano Saint SPD... X-Track En-Rage Plus
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


HT Components T1
Editors' Choice Award

$127.99
(5% off)
at Amazon
See It

87
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Exit - 25% 8
  • Ease of Entry - 20% 9
  • Adjustability - 20% 10
  • Weight - 15% 8
  • Platform - 10% 8
  • Mud Shedding Ability - 10% 9
Weight: 372-grams | Profile Height: 16.8mm
Lightweight
Sheds mud well
Highly adjustable
Excellent shoe/pedal interface
Float can feel a little gritty

The HT T-1 is a quality, low-profile mid-cage clipless mountain bike pedal that checks all our boxes. 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. Boasting the lowest profile in our test, the HT's still have an ample surface area and provide a reliable connection. They feature a minimalist engagement mechanism that allows for efficient mud clearing. The small body maximizes contact with your shoe creating a stable pedal platform and excellent control. Release tension is adjustable, and the fore-mounted grub pins can also 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 HT-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 offered in a staggering fourteen colors, including stealth black that features an anodized black clipless mechanism and spindle.

Read review: HT T-1

Best Bang for the Buck


Shimano ME700


75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Exit - 25% 8
  • Ease of Entry - 20% 8
  • Adjustability - 20% 8
  • Weight - 15% 5
  • Platform - 10% 8
  • Mud Shedding Ability - 10% 7
Weight: 482-grams | Profile Height: 19mm
Reasonable price
Versatile
Easy exit and entry
Adjustable release tension
Heavier weight
Painted platform

The Shimano ME700 is a new, entry-level small platform pedal with a very reasonable price. It looks and performs similar 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. Engagement and exit are easy and consistent, with a wide range of release tension adjustment. The ME700 has a small 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 weight-conscious riders will likely want to look elsewhere. The finish of the painted pedal body is more prone to holding onto mud and is less durable 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 review: Shimano ME700

Another Great Trail Riding Pedal


Shimano PD-M8120 XT SPD


Shimano PD-M8120 XT SPD
Top Pick Award

$120.00
at REI
See It

79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Exit - 25% 8
  • Ease of Entry - 20% 9
  • Adjustability - 20% 8
  • Weight - 15% 6
  • Platform - 10% 8
  • Mud Shedding Ability - 10% 8
Weight: 430-grams | Profile Height: 18mm
Solid platform underfoot
Legendary durability
Good value
Oversized fixing bolt can interfere with float feel

Shimano recently updated their XT Trail pedals, 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 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 the 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 review: Shimano PD-M8120 XT SPD

Best for Versatility


Xpedo Ambix


Xpedo Ambix
Top Pick Award

$93.62
at Amazon
See It

71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Exit - 25% 8
  • Ease of Entry - 20% 6
  • Adjustability - 20% 7
  • Weight - 15% 8
  • Platform - 10% 6
  • Mud Shedding Ability - 10% 7
Weight: 384-grams | Profile Height: 19mm
Stable, grippy platform
Dual-function pedals work for flat and clipless
Adjustable release tension
Reasonable price
Not the best clipless platform
Engagement can be complicated

The Xpedo Ambix combines a full-featured, stable, and grippy flat pedal with a lightweight and efficient clipless pedal. 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 SPD, the clipless side features a wide-open engagement mechanism with a static front bar and spring-loaded rear. The flat side of the pedal features eight nicely spaced and adjustable grub pins. The release tension is adjustable, and the included XPC cleats offer 6-degrees of float.

The pedal's platform size and pin placement interface well with a clipless shoe and aren't overly obtrusive when riding the clipless side. We loved that while riding either side of the pedal you could forget that it had another function. They satisfy 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 more complicated to clip back in with the mechanism on only one side of the pedal.

Read review: Xpedo Ambix

Best for Enduro and Downhill Riding


Shimano Saint SPD M820


Shimano Saint SPD M820
Top Pick Award

$139.00
(13% off)
at Amazon
See It

75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Exit - 25% 8
  • Ease of Entry - 20% 8
  • Adjustability - 20% 8
  • Weight - 15% 3
  • Platform - 10% 10
  • Mud Shedding Ability - 10% 8
Weight: 550-grams | Profile Height: 19mm
Stable, low platform
Excellent power transfer
Reasonably priced
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 secure footing. 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, which may lead 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 review: Shimano Saint M820

Best for Weight Savings


Crank Brothers Egg Beater 3


Crank Brothers Egg Beater 3
Top Pick Award

$111.19
(18% off)
at Amazon
See It

60
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Ease of Exit - 25% 8
  • Ease of Entry - 20% 5
  • Adjustability - 20% 3
  • Weight - 15% 9
  • Platform - 10% 1
  • Mud Shedding Ability - 10% 9
Weight: 280-grams | Profile Height: 21mm
Lightweight
Sheds mud well
Simple design
Very small platform
Can be difficult to engage

Cross-country riders and racers or those seeking the lightest weight gear will most appreciate the Crank Brothers 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 highest scorer 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 may not feel quite as stable as other pedals that provide more to stand on. The lack of any substantial platform also makes these pedals best suited for use with stiff-soled shoes.

Read review: Crank Brothers Egg Beater 3

Best Overall Flat Pedal


OneUp Components Aluminum


OneUp Components Aluminum
Editors' Choice Award

$125.00
(3% off)
at REI
See It

Weight: 370-grams | Profile Height: 12.1mm
Large platform
Versatile
Excellent grip
Thin profile
Limited foot mobility
Could be too grippy for some

OneUp Components may not have the most creative names for their pedals, but the Aluminum impressed our testers. These lightweight alloy flat pedals have a large, 114 x 104mm platform with ten well-placed bottom loading traction pins per side. Testers were awed by their grip both on the descent and the climbs, and the platform size provided a balanced and supportive feel for a huge range of foot sizes. The pedal's profile is thin, with 8.8mm thick leading and trailing edges, and a 12.1mm thick body at the axle. These slim pedals help to avoid pedal strikes, and we found them to work well for disciplines ranging from trail riding to lift-served days at the bike park.

While we were enamored with the Aluminum pedals, we did have a couple of minor complaints. The grip of these pedals may be a little too much for some riders, and might not be ideal for dirt jumping or people who appreciate easy foot mobility. The slightly convex shape of the pedal also might turn some riders off, as could the bulge on the inboard side of the pedal body at the axle that houses a large bearing. Despite these issues, we feel these well-rounded, lightweight, and moderately priced flats are the best of the bunch.

Read review: OneUp Components Aluminum

Best Bang for Your Buck Flat Pedal


Race Face Chester


Race Face Chester
Best Buy Award

$49.99
at Amazon
See It

Weight: 358-grams | Profile Height: 17mm
Respectable grip
Solid construction
Reasonable price
Agreeable mid-range size
Only 8 traction pins
No pins along the axle

The reasonably priced Race Face Chester flat pedals impressed our testers. These composite bodied pedals boast decent levels of grip with eight well-spaced pins per side to bite into your soles. These lightweight pedals have a good mid-sized platform that measures 110 x 101mm and works well with a large range of foot sizes. 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 do allow for small adjustments of the feet, and the pedal itself has good controlled mobility and doesn't spin too freely on its axle. This pedal is easily serviceable and pins are readily available and easily replaced.

For the price, we think the Chesters are an excellent flat pedal option. That said, they don't provide the same levels of grip as our top-rated competitors. The lack of pins along the axle can leave some riders wanting, especially in wet conditions. Beyond that, we found little not to like about these affordable workhorse pedals.

Read review: Race Face Chester


Testing pedals involves significant amounts of time out riding. Our...
Testing pedals involves significant amounts of time out riding. Our testers aren't complaining.
Photo: 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.

Related: How We Tested MTB Clipless Pedals

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

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 have 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, that way 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.

Related: Buying Advice for MTB Clipless Pedals

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.


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.
Photo: 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 Crank Brothers 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.

Low profile, large width platform, and wide open clipless mechanism
Low profile, large width platform, and wide open clipless mechanism
Photo: 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 Crank Brothers 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 Crank Brothers 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.

Checking out the internals. Here is the partially disassembled...
Checking out the internals. Here is the partially disassembled Mallet E.
Photo: 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 Crank Brothers 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.

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.
Photo: 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. Crank Brothers 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 Crank Brothers 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). Crank Brothers 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.

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.
Photo: 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.

The Crank Brothers pedals all employ the same engagement mechanism...
The Crank Brothers 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.
Photo: joshua hutchens

The Crank Brothers 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 shoe and pedal.

You can also adjust the feeling of the Crank Brothers 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.

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.
Photo: 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 Crank Brothers Egg Beater 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. Price and weight often go hand in hand, an example is the Shimano ME700, which costs significantly less than the XT-M8120 and weighs 52-grams more.

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.
Photo: 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 ATAC 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 Crank Brothers Double Shot 3, with lots of surface area, were notably worse on wet trails. Both accumulated mud as we rode.

Measuring the platform length on the Candy 7.
Measuring the platform length on the Candy 7.
Photo: 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. If you're riding more demanding terrain that requires more body movement and frequent unclipping, a platform becomes increasingly important. Pedals like the Eggbeater 3, with small platforms, 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.

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.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Durability


To test durability, we rode these pedals hard. We bashed rocks and stumps and rode them in snow and rain, mud and sand, and 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.

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

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.
Photo: 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