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Mountain biking can be an excellent form of exercise as well as an adrenaline inducing past time. There’s no greater thrill than grinding those gears to reach the top of that seemingly endless climb only to come careening down the mountain with the wind whistling through the vents in your helmet. Once at the bottom, you do it all over again. Whether you’re a cross-country, enduro, all-mountain, or downhill rider, having the right setup under your feet is paramount to maximizing your ride. Since many bikes come without pedals, you must then decide what type of riding you will be doing so that you can select the best combination of pedals, shoes, and cleats (where applicable). On the surface, it can seem like an impossible task to choose the best mountain bike pedals.

Don’t give up! We here at The Adventure Junkies pride ourselves in helping you pick the best gear for your next human-powered adventure. In this guide, we’ll speed up the process and help you find the best mountain bike pedals so you can disconnect and hit the trails in the blink of an eye.

For more of our top mountain biking gear recommendations, check out the Best Mountain Bike Flat Pedals.

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Quick Answer - The Best Mountain Bike Pedals

  1. Time Speciale 8
  2. Shimano Deore XT PD-M8020
  3. HT Components T1
  4. Shimano XTR PD-M9120
  5. Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3
  6. Crankbrothers Stamp 3
  7. OneUp Components Composite Flat
  8. Crankbrothers Mallet E
  9. Shimano Saint PD M820

 

Comparison Table - Best Mountain Bike Pedals

PictureNameWeightStyleMaterialPriceRating
Time Speciale 8196gCliplessAluminum$$4.6
Shimano Deore XT PD-M8020408gCliplessStainless$$4.7
HT Components T1368gCliplessAluminum$$4.8
Shimano XTR PD-M9120398gCliplessAluminum$$$4.8
Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3288gCliplessStainless Steel$$4.6
Crankbrothers Stamp 3399gPlatformAluminum$$4.7
OneUp Components Composite Flat355gPlatformSteel$4.6
Xpedo Spry260gPlatformMagnesium$4.7
Crankbrothers Mallet E419gCliplessAluminum$$$4.7
Shimano Saint PD M820546gCliplessAluminum$$$4.8
PictureNameWeightStyleMaterialPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Pedals for Mountain Biking

Time Speciale 8

Specs
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Style: Clipless
  • Weight: 196g
Features
  • ATAC (Auto Tension Adjustment Concept) Provides Easy Clip-in And Unclipping
  • Four Adjustable Spikes For Grip Even When Unclipped
  • Adjustable Clamping System For Tuning Spring Tension

BEST FOR: ENDURO RIDING

For over 30 years, this French company has been creating high end pedals, shoes, and bikes. And while they currently only offer shoes and bikes for road riding, their mountain bike pedals and cleats cover a wide range of cycling types. 

The Speciale 8 are designed for enduro riding as they feature a stable platform with four adjustable spikes for gripping even when unclipped. The ATAC (Auto Tension Adjustment Concept) engagement system allows for easy clipping in and for flawless unclipping capabilities. A micro-adjustable clamping system allows you to dial-in the spring tension for a customized fit. The pedals are designed to be self cleaning so mud doesn’t collect on the pedals.

Shimano Deore XT PD-M8020

Specs
  • Material: Stainless
  • Style: Clipless
  • Weight: 408g
Features
  • Adjustable Entry And Release Tension Settings
  • Integrated Cage Increases Stability Even When Unclipped
  • Large Retention Claws Provide Seamless Clipping/Unclipping

BEST FOR: ENDURO RACING

Shimano is a household name in cycling circles. For nearly a hundred years, the Japanese company has been making quality products and now the brand is well known for its cycling components. They even created the SPD pedal/cleat system. 

And while these pedals are designed for enduro racing, they are also ideal across a broad spectrum of mountain biking discipline. The beauty of SPD is that it is so widely used that it’s easy to replace if something is damaged. The entry and release into the pedal is adjustable while an integrated cage improves stability even when unclipped. The large retention claws allow for smooth clipping and unclipping.

HT Components T1

Specs
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Style: Clipless
  • Weight: 368g
Features
  • Cleat Retention System Is Adjustable
  • Large Pedal Offers Solid Platform For Your Shoe
  • Four Removable (And Replaceable) Pins For Extra Grip

BEST FOR: ALL MOUNTAIN RIDING

Founded in 1954, this Taiwanese manufacturer has created its own line of bike pedals that provide a unique alternative to existing platforms. These pedals feature the HT exclusive cleat system. 

This all-mountain pedal is stacked with features for the serious rider. The T1 comes with four float cleats should you need a replacement or to place on two separate shoes. The pedals also include four removable (and replaceable) pins for superior grip. The exclusive cleat retention system is adjustable and the platform provides a solid and stable deck. The pedal  also features a low profile design to provide ample clearance when encountering obstacles on the trail.

Shimano XTR PD-M9120

Specs
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Style: Clipless
  • Weight: 398g
Features
  • Large Contact Area For Better Power Transfer
  • Integrated Cage For Better Stability
  • Cylindrical Contact Area Aids In Shedding Mud

BEST FOR: CROSS-COUNTRY AND ALL-MOUNTAIN

The Shimano SPD pedal was first released almost 30 years ago. Since that time, the proverbial mouse trap design has been continually improved upon. The single biggest benefit of the SPD pedal is that it’s readily available should the need arise. 

The XTR PD-M9120 is a continuation of that legacy. This all-mountain and cross-country pedal is ready to tackle the trails. The current iteration is lighter than its predecessors. It features a mud shedding cylindrical design to avoid the build up of mud on your feet and is designed to withstand frequent contact with trail obstacles. The wider platform will help ensure a better contact surface for stability.

Crankbrothers Eggbeater 3

Specs
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Style: Clipless
  • Weight: 288g
Features
  • Lightweight
  • Easy Entry And Mud Shedding Potential
  • Four-Sided Entry

BEST FOR: MUDDY CONDITIONS

What began more than two decades ago in a California garage has become a widely recognized name in bicycle components (including pedals), wheels, tools, and accessories. 

The minimalist looking Eggbeater line is a well planned and engineered pedal. This is the lightest clipless pedal in this guide and is comprised of mostly stainless steel. The minimal profile is ideal when riding in tight conditions where avoidance is key. The four sided design gives ample entry opportunities over others which only offer two (or fewer). The simple looking design is also perfect for shedding any mud that might accumulate on others pedals.

Crankbrothers Stamp 3

Specs
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Style: Platform
  • Weight: 399g
Features
  • Five Year Warranty
  • Optimal Surface Area And Minimal Profile
  • Ten Adjustable Pins For Maximum Grip

BEST FOR: DOWNHILL RIDING

Founded in 1997, Crank Brothers has become a familiar name around bike shops and cyclists. And while their take on clipless pedals have changed the look and appearance of pedals, we felt compelled to include a pair of the platform (flat) pedals in this guide as well. The main thing to keep in mind with the Stamp 3 is that they are size specific. If you wear a shoe size of 5-10, it’s recommended to get the small and go with the large for any sizes above 10. These flats are relatively thin to create a minimal profile and the ten adjustable pins on each side provide maximum grip for downhill bliss.

OneUp Components Composite Flat

Specs
  • Material: Steel
  • Style: Platform
  • Weight: 355g
Features
  • Wide Platform Design For Increased Stability
  • Contoured Shape For Connected Feel
  • Ten Removable Steel Pins

BEST FOR: ENDURO RIDING

Located in perhaps one of the best regions in the world to experience mountain biking, OneUp is based in Squamish, British Columbia. This small manufacturer is quickly making a big name for itself in the component market. 

These composite flat pedals are half the price of the brand’s aluminum model. With a subtle convex shape, it is designed to fit into the natural arch of the rider’s midfoot. The ten removable steel pins on either side provide exceptional grip while the low profile design assists in deflecting obstacles along the trail. They also come in a variety of colors to match your bike or your personal style.

Xpedo Spry

Specs
  • Material: Magnesium
  • Style: Platform
  • Weight: 260g
Features
  • Shallow Platform Reduces Pedal Strikes
  • Lightest Pedal In Guide
  • Large Platform Area Contains 14 Replaceable Pins For Extra Grip

BEST FOR: DOWNHILL RIDING

Based in California, XPEDO only creates pedals. But they do that one thing exceptionally well. They also create a line of pedals for road and mountain biking, but we loved what they were doing in the platform pedal arena.

The Spry’s magnesium cast body has a super thin design for a low profile and trail clearance. It’s also the lightest of all the pedals featured in this guide. The large platform is covered in replaceable pins for secure grip. Each pedal contains 14 pins (7 on each side). And while it comes in six colors, we’re quite drawn to the unique iridescent oil slick pattern.

Crankbrothers Mallet E

Specs
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Style: Clipless
  • Weight: 419g
Features
  • Concave Platform For Secure Foothold
  • Excellent Mud Shedding Capabilities
  • Six Adjustable Pins Per Side For Extra Grip

BEST FOR: ENDURO RIDING

It’s no surprise that we’ve included three models by Crank Brothers in this guide. They’ve created some awesome pedals and the Mallet E is no exception. It utilizes the sleek design of the Eggbeater 3 (mentioned above) but is surrounded by a larger platform for additional support and stability. 

This pedal is a great compromise between clipless pedals and flats. You have the clipless part for staying connected on the uphills but a larger flat platform with six adjustable pins (one each side) for gripping on the downhills. The concave platform creates a comfortable yet secure foothold while the clipless portion has four sides for easy clipping and unclipping on the fly.

Shimano Saint PD M820

Specs
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Style: Clipless
  • Weight: 546g
Features
  • Dual Sided And SPD (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) Compatible To Help You Pedal With Greater Stability, Efficiency, And Comfort
  • Four Adjustable Pins Per Side For Improved Grip
  • Mud Shedding Design To Facilitate Easy Clipping

BEST FOR: ALL MOUNTAIN RIDING

Shimano has a long heritage of creating pedals for recreational road and mountain biking as well as for the competitive side of riding. The Saint PD M820 is ideal for any all-mountain, enduro, or downhill bikes. 

The dual-sided pedal is SPD compatible, meaning you can pair these pedals with Shimano’s proprietary pedaling system to improve your ride tremendously. While the thinner design helps avoid contact with trail obstacles, the four adjustable pins on each side provide extra grip, especially on downhill sections when unclipped. 

The mud-shedding design is ideal for repelling that bothersome accumulation of mud and muck when riding during or after inclement weather. And while this model may be the heaviest in this guide, the extra grams are worth the weight for the stacked features in this pedal.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING MOUNTAIN BIKE PEDALS

RIDING PREFERENCE

When choosing bike pedals, it’s important to consider the type of riding you plan to do. While all of the above pedals can be used for mountain biking, some are preferred over others for a particular type of mountain biking. The three main types of mountain biking are cross-country (XC), all-mountain, and downhill. However, we’re going to throw in a fourth type into the equation: Enduro.

Cross-Country (XC)

Cross-country mountain biking (or just XC) involves covering a lot of ground with limited technical terrain. This can be a combination of uphill climbing and downhill riding. This is the most common type of riding.

All-Mountain

All-mountain riding involves anything that you could run into during a full day of riding including steep ascents and descents.

Downhill

This type of riding is popular at ski resorts during the summer where they swap out some of the chairs on the lifts to accommodate bike holders. Once at the top, it’s all downhill. This can include flow trails, berms, rocky, and technical terrain. Most trails are ranked like ski runs based on difficulty.

Enduro

Enduro mountain biking combines the physical demands of cross-country riding with the technical aspects of downhill racing. Enduro racing is typically done in stages.

 

TYPE

There are generally two types of pedals used by mountain bikers: Clipless and Platform. The term clipless can be a bit confusing to those new to the sport as the pedals do involve clipping into the pedal. The term “clipless” has been used for decades, but the actual name could be “clip-in”. Clipless pedals require a cleat that attaches to a shoe. Platform pedals (or flat pedals) are probably the most common and perhaps you remember having something similar on your first bike. They can be ridden with regular shoes.

 

SHOE/PEDAL COMPATIBILITY

Choosing the right shoes for your pedal of choice will involve a little research. Platform pedals (flats) can be relatively straight forward. You can ride them with regular sneakers. However, they do make shoes that are specifically designed for riding flats. Clipless pedals are a little more complex. Cleats typically come with new pedals, but it’s important to make sure you check compatibility before purchasing pedals and shoes.

 

COST

Since many new bikes come without pedals, you may be faced with the necessity to purchase pedals. Even if the bike you purchased did come with pedals, it might be worth the investment to find a new set as stock pedals are often not the best. The cost of pedals can range from relatively inexpensive for basic clipless or platform pedals to more expensive for technical pedals for racing.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

CLEATS

Used in conjunction with the clipless pedal system, cleats are attached to the bottom of cycling shoes and the cleat clips into the pedal. Different pedal brands often have different cleats for their pedals.

SPD

SPD is a proprietary system created by Shimano. It stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics.

CLIPLESS

While these pedals actual require you to clip-in, they allow for a better transfer of energy through the foot and prevent your shoes from slipping off the pedals when riding on uneven terrain.

FLATS

Flats is another term for platform pedals.

ATAC

ATAC is the engagement system used by TIME pedals. It stands for Auto Tension Adjustment Concept.

READ MORE

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About The Author

Clay Abney is an outdoor and adventure travel writer based in the 'wild and wonderful' state of West Virginia. He has sea kayaked remote fjords in Greenland and swam with penguins in Antarctica and enjoyed adventures just about everywhere in between. His works have appeared in outlets including TheManual.com, Matador Network, Dirt Rag, Elevation Outdoors, as well as numerous gear outlets over the last 15 years.

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