We love flat pedals
There’s no denying that clipped pedals win medals… but for flat out fun, destroying corners, roosting berms and just having a blast we’d go for flat pedals every time.
We’re a pretty even split on pedals over here. The race heads love their clips, the rest of us love our flat pedals. Rich, Pete, Vero and all the race team are on clips. Kye, Jamie, Joel, Big Dave are flat pedal thunderers and loving it.
We’ve brought together our favourite flat mountain bike pedals to help you guys decide on your next purchase.
Brendan Fairclough (above) has spent his career racing on flat pedals – only very recently making the switch onto clips. He’s a rider that has torn up the rule book to show people that you don’t need to be clipped in to go fast.
What are the essentials for a flat pedal?
You want a pedal that your foot sits comfortably on and sinks into the concave without hanging precariously off the edges. Not all pedals are the same size and – obviously – not all feet are the same so don’t assume all people fit all pedals.
Concave pedal body
A good pedal is designed so that the middle of the pedal is lower than the outside edges. This allows your foot to sink into the pedal and gives a secure, locked in, grippy feel. Despite being called ‘flat’ pedals… a decent design isn’t actually all that flat.
Some people like a really deep, grippy pedal and others prefer something they can throw their feet on and off more easily – try a few different designs on your mate’s bikes and decide what works best for you.
Your pedals are the first thing to hit the ground when your suspension compresses. A pedal with a thiner body will offer more clearance and less chance of striking the ground. It’ll also save weight, and (we think!) looks neater.
It’s inevitable your pedals will hit rocks at some point – when they do you’re likely to lose pins which reduces the grippyness of your pedals. A decent pedal will let you replace those pins and recover the grip your pedal once had.
The best designs allow you to screw the damaged pin out from the underside of your pedal – the end of the pin that hasn’t been messed up when it was smashed on a rock.
Pins in the right places
Too many pins can actually reduce the grip and you find many riders will play around with the layout of their pedal pins to try and create the optimum setup. We’ve found that pins on the front and rear of the pedal body and one or two on the outside edge are ideal. You don’t need pins in the middle of the pedal, along the axle or on the inside edge.
Length of pins and adjustability
A longer pedal pin offers greater grip and some pedals offer options for shorter or longer pins to suit your style. Some riders prefer a grippier feel, others like to throw their feet on and off.
Some pedals allow adjustable pins options so that you can fine tune your grip even further.
Serviceable with good bearings
Barring a big smash, your pedals should last you for several years with a bit of love and maintenance. The first thing to go is always the axle tightness – then the bearings go graunchy and they start to spin poorly and eventually squeak.
A really good pedal will have serviceable, sealed bearings that you can pull out and re-grease without it being a major operation. Some designs include grease ports to make life even easier.
There are lots and lots and lots (and lots) of perfectly good pedals on the market. Many of which do a perfectly good job and offer little to differentiate themselves from the crowd. Where that’s the case, price becomes the deciding factory. Sure, you can pay hundreds of pounds for a pair of pedals… but it’s rarely necessary. There are some really very good pedals available for way under £100.
All of the pedals in this test have been listed at their retail price. Shop around online or ask nicely in your local bike shop and you’re likely to be able to bring those prices down.
Shoes and pedals work together to create a strong, stable contact point with the bike. You probably don’t need me to say it but … don’t skimp on shoes. Get a proper, quality flat pedal shoe that is designed for mountain biking. Don’t waste time on trainers, skate shoes or walking shoes. FiveTen, Specialized, SixSixOne and Giro all do excellent options for flat pedal riders.
Our favourite flat mountain bike pedals right now
Sam Hill (above) is the flat pedal godfather. Throughout his career he’s broken the rules and won countless medals on flats, beating swathes of clipped-in riders in DH and enduro. We like that a lot.
Nukeproof Horizon Pro Flat
- T6 alloy body with CNC finishing
- Cro-Mo axle
- 10 pins per side, adjustable height
- 2 x high quality DU bushings & 4 x sealed cartridge bearings (Per Pair)
An excellent pedal that we’ve reviewed in its Sam Hill signature version here and in its standard form here. The Horizon is the second cheapest of the alloy pedals in this bunch and whilst it isn’t the lightest it does offers a big and tough hammer of a platform.
It’ll withstand heaps of abuse, keep spinning through grimy winter conditions and offers adjustable pin heights (you swap washers in and out to move the pins up or down) for customisable grip.
The best thing for us is the price. Where many pedals are soaring towards the £100 mark the Nukeproof Horizon flat pedal is a very earthly £74.99. There’s a more expensive Sam Hill signature version… but we’d recommend saving yourself the ten quid difference and running the standard design. A large, grippy and reasonably priced great pedal.
- Extruded aluminium body
- Steel axle
- 17mm pedal depth
- 105mm x 105mm platform
- 11 pins per side, flippable for custom grip
- Serviceable high load DU bush and cartridge bearing
- 400g per pair
A big, tough pedal with a cavernous concave that was designed with the input of Brendan Fairclough and Olly Wilkins. One of our favourite flat pedals of all time, one of the largest on test and probably the grippiest on test.
The Vault isn’t the cheapest here or the lightest. On the trail thought, the Vault is – in our eyes – near perfect. There are 11 pins per side and all can be reversed to customise grip and be easily removed when they get smashed up. That, mixed with a deep 17mm concave makes for a really sturdy, really grippy, really confidence inspiring ride.
They’re also a decent weight at 400g (pretty much in the middle of the weights in this bunch) and can be serviced without feeling like you’re performing heart surgery.
We really like the stealth black Brendog versions but more flamboyant riders might like to consider the Lacon versions as shown above. They’re not the cheapest of the bunch but definitely very good value and very grippy.
- Diecast body
- Cromo axle
- 10 replaceable pins per side
- Sealed bearings/DU bushings
- 430g per pair
- £50 (cheapest on test)
We tried to include one pedal per manufacturer in this feature … but the DMR V12 is such a great pedal for the price that we couldn’t ignore it.
Whilst many pedals these days reach triple figures the DMR V12 is a very bloody reasonable £50, over half the price of some others in this group and a day’s worth of uplifts at Bike Park Wales cheaper than the next most expensive.
For that price you’ll get a tough, simple diecast body, a sealed bearing in each pedal and 10 replaceable pins. They’re nowhere near as posh as the big dog Vaults and neither are the platforms as large but the weight is the basically same at 430g and the £50 price tag is absolutely killer.
Bigger footed pilots may prefer something with a larger platform… but aside from that we can can’t find any reason not to buy the DMR V12.
- T6 body
- Chromoly axle
- 11 – 13mm depth
- 10 replaceable pins per side
- Igus LL glide bearing
- 375g a pair (lightest alloy axle on test)
- £129.99 (most expensive on test)
The largest platform of the bunch and also the lightest (if you don’t count Ti axle options).
The Crankbros Stamp pedal is unique in that it comes in two different sizes to suit big or small feet. The large version is designed for size 43-49 size feet, the small for size 37-43. We like that – Crankbros have understood that not all feet fit all pedals and come up with a smart solution.
We tested the Stamp pedals over a week of riding in the Alps at the Megavalanche and they performed beautifully. Grips comes from 10 pins and some smartly placed grippy bits on the pedal body – all adding up to a good platform that works well in all conditions.
The Stamp isn’t one of those shit-to-a-blanket sticky pedals but teamed up with a decent shoe will allow a comfortable and fun chuck-a-foot-out feeling. We’ve seen some riders customise their Stamps with longer pedals to add a more locked in feel but, that’s up to you.
We’d like to see the ability to remove pins from the inside of the pedal body so they can be salvaged after getting mushed on rocks.
Otherwise, they’re a very, very good pedal that offers a great option for big and small footed riders. They’re big and they’re light.
- T6 body
- Chromoly axle
- 15mm pedal depth
- 10 replaceable pins per side
- Three cartridge bearings and a norglide bush per pedal
- 390g per pair
Our Hope F20 pedals have been bouncing between demo bikes for nigh on 4 years now and still perform as well now as they did on the day they arrived. In terms of reliability we really couldn’t ask for any more.
The Hope F20 pedal is low profile, tough, the pins can be replaced from the opposite side of the body and they’re one of the lightest on test at just 390g. They also pack in “one Norglide bush and 3 cartridge bearings in a fully sealed chamber to ensure a long lasting and maintenance free running”. No arguments here, they’ve lasted longer than any other pedal we’ve seen.
The Hope F20 does lack the deep concave of the Vault or Stamp and the pins are less sharp than other pedals. That’s not necessarily a big deal though – whilst they lack the deep ‘locked in’ feeling of others they are easy to move around on and mean it’s easy to throw a foot on and off. Teamed up with a proper sticky soled shoe they perform very well.
Burgtec Penthouse Flat mk4
- Steel or ti axle options
- 16mm pedal depth
- 1mm concave
- 8 removable pins
- Two bushes and one bearing per pedal
- 440g with steel axle (370g with ti axle)
- £99.99 steel axle (£149.99 ti axle)
Homegrown heroes Burgtec have been hammering out tough, top quality flat pedals for years – with each iteration of their Penthouse Flat getting a big slimmer and a bit slicker.
The Burgtec Penthouse mk4 is beautifully simple – it has 8 large pins, a 1mm deep concave and a roomy platform. The Mk4 version is lower profile then ever (although not the lowest profile in this test) at just 16mm which is a huge upgrade on the blocky mk3 pedal. Longevity is taken care of thanks to a double bush and bearing setup.
There’s a Titanium axle version available for £149.99 but the standard steel axle version is £99.99 at a cost of 70g. We’d stick with the heavy versions and spend the change on a day’s uplifts!
…and our favourite?
It’s a tough call and every pedal in this group has been chosen because we’d happily ride it.
The DMR V12 is easily the best value pedal of the bunch and what it lacks in platform size or techy bits it more than makes up for in price. The durability of Hope F20 has been absolutely outstanding and they’ve withstood years of abuse. We like that the Crank Brothers Stamp offers large and small options to suit your feet, with the large version being one of the roomiest pedals we’ve ridden. The Burgtec Penthouse Flat … well, it’s just beautifully simple and designed by a proper homegrown UK rider run business.
Our very favourite pedals of the bunch are the DMR Vaults and the Nukeproof Horizons – both have been outstanding in all conditions and withstood tonnes of abuse.
The Vault is the grippiest on test with a deep concave, long pins and a roomy platform. The Horizon offers impressive grip, a decently sized platform and does it all for 20 quid less than the nearest competition.
And for that reason, the Nukeproof Horizon Pro Flat is our top rated of the bunch. If we were able to find both for the same price … well, that would be a tough decision.