Mountain bike pedals are crucial components of your bicycle and there is a lot more to them than meets the eye. Mountain biking pedals perform two very important jobs. First, pedals are one of your most secure connection points to your bicycle and secondly, they translate the power from your legs into the gears, which is what makes you move forward. 

With such important functions, it makes sense that you would want the best mountain bike pedals to power you on your journey. The generic pedals that are often included with your bicycle aren’t going to have a high-performance value, so you’ll likely want to switch them out with a new pair. But finding top rated mtb bike pedals is a lot easier said than done because there are a lot of different designs on the market. 

Our list of ten quality products won’t waste any time in helping you find a quality pair of pedals. Plus, our comprehensive buying guide will answer any questions that you may have to guarantee that you have no doubt in your mountain biking setup and performance on the trails.

How To Choose Mountain Bike Pedals – Buying Guide

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Type

Mountain bike pedals are not all the same. There are two main types of pedals – flat and clipless. Mountain bike flat pedals have a larger surface area so that your foot has plenty of place to rest without sliding off. But the pedal should still be small enough that the sole of your shoe covers the pedal completely. The best mountain bike platform pedals will have a concave shape and pins to give you more traction. But longer pins can be dangerous should you crash, so to accommodate riders, some mtb flat pedals allow you to adjust the height of each pin. 

Mountain bike clipless pedals are the second type of pedal design, which are used by some riders. Contrary to the name, these are not actually clipless, and riders will use a special pair of shoes to clip into the pedal. The clipless pedals should be easy to get into or out without a big struggle. But each set of mtb clipless pedals will have a certain amount of float, which refers to the amount of room you have to rotate your foot before it unclips from the pedal. 

However, some pedals have a hybrid design. Clipless platform pedals have a larger base, like flat pedals, but they still have a feature that allows you to clip or lock into place. These types of pedals are better as downhill mountain bike pedals because they keep your foot in place but give you the support you need while navigating steep terrain. 

Ultimately, the type of pedal you choose will be up to personal preference and your level of experience with riding. Some riders find that being clipped in is better because it gives you more leverage while pedaling. But beginner riders may find it easier to use budget mtb flat pedals because they can more easily find their balance. But, either way, the best mountain bike pedals will be suitable for various types of riding.

Size

The vast majority of mountain biking pedals are made as one size, regardless of whether they’re made for men’s or women’s mountain bikes. The type of riding also doesn’t matter, and you can use the same size pedal for casual cross-country adventures or adrenaline pumping downhill races. 

The size of your pedals should be given by the dimensions provided in the product specifications. While you won’t have a choice on the size of the pedal, one aspect of size that you can choose is the height of the platform.

Most clipless platform pedals are fairly uniform in size, but you might notice that some budget mtb flat pedals have a thinner or lower height. A thinner pedal will have the same platform size so that your foot is comfortable, but it helps guarantee that the pedal won’t hit any rocks, branches, or debris on the trail. This means that you can aggressively pedal without worrying about suddenly stopping or falling. 

Functionality

The best mtb pedals should always have a high level of functionality at all times. This means that the pedal won’t fail while it is being used, nor will it breakdown while it is being stored. Functionality is an accumulation of a few different parts of the pedals design including the materials and construction. 

Top rated mtb pedals will be made out of quality materials and have a heavy-duty construction to ensure that they can withstand taking a beating. Sealed bearings are also an important consideration because they keep your pedals secure on your bike and it stops the interior portion of the pedal from being damage by dirt or debris. 

Long term functionality is also important, and you don’t want to have to invest in clipless or flat mountain bike pedals every season. A quality construction will ensure that your pedals not only function but will continue to do so for multiple seasons. 

The best mtb pedals will also have replaceable parts like the bearings, which means that you can keep the pedal for longer. With only some parts of your pedal wearing out, you can purchase more bearings or pins for less and simply replace them on your existing pedal. 

Adjustability

Mtb speed pedals, which are the same as mountain bike clipless pedals, are not adjustable. However, flat mountain bike pedals are adjustable because they have a series of pins that can be screwed into the platform base to give you traction. The pins will often have 2-3 different height adjustments so that you can choose between low, moderate, or serious traction. 

Release Tension

Release tension refers to mtb clipless pedals and the amount of pressure you need to put onto the clip to release your cleat. Most riders have a higher tension because it ensures that your foot won’t accidentally slip out while riding. Ideally, the best mtb pedals that are clipless will have a well-balanced tension that allows you to quickly release when needed to maintain your balance. However, some of the lightest spd pedals have an adjustable tension. 

This means that you can change the position of the spring to increase or decrease the amount of tension you need to release from the clip. A higher tension means that the clip will hold your cleat more securely, while a looser tension will make it easier to disconnect your foot. Mountain bike pedal reviews can be a great resource to determine the release tension of a pedal. Many reviews will comment on how easy it is to adjust the pedals tension and whether it is easy or difficult to attach your cleat to its base. 

Float

Float is measured in degrees and it refers to the amount of room you have to move your foot without disconnecting from your clipless platform pedals. Most pedals will have a float that varies from 13 to 20 degrees. However, some designs have a float as low as 6 degrees. 

It is important that you find the right float setting. If you have a setting that is too sensitive for your style of riding, you will likely be frustrated with such little effort is required to disconnect your cleat. But a float that is too high, may not give you enough reaction time or make it difficult to disconnect quickly.

For beginners who want to learn how to use clipless pedals, they may want to look at Shimano mtb spd pedals because they have a few designs that allow you to release from the cleat in all directions without changing the float setting. This makes it easier for beginners to learn how to use the clipless system and adjust to having your feet locked into the pedals. 

Platform

The best mountain bike pedals should always have a strong platform that supports your foot and allows you to put your weight into pedaling. For clipless platform pedals, the size of the platform isn’t that important because many will have only one size. This gives the platform sufficient room to support your foot and incorporate its clipless system.

For riders who use mountain bike flat pedals, the platform has a few more features that you should consider. The size of the platform needs to be large because not only does your food need to rest on top, but it also needs to support a multitude of strong pins. The pins are placed throughout the platform and help increase the traction on the platform surface, so your foot has a secure grip. 

Shape

The shape of the pedal is important in relation to the amount of grip your foot will have. For clipless pedals, the shape is not as important because you use a cleat to clip into the pedal’s platform. But for mountain bike platform pedals, the shape can really affect how well your foot stays in position while you ride. 

The best flat pedals will have a slightly concave shape, which gives your foot more support and stabilization while you ride. While the concave shape shouldn’t be so drastic that you can see a major difference, it should be subtle enough that you notice that there is a slight indentation where your foot naturally rests in the pedal. Concave shapes are also great for beginner riders who are learning how to use flat pedals because it helps them correctly position their feet while riding.

Pins

Whether it is a budget mtb flat pedal or a more expensive design, it should have a series of pins that give your foot a better grip on the pedal. The pins will dig into the sole of your shoe so that you are less likely to disconnect or slip from the pedal while riding. A high-quality design will even have adjustable pins so that you can choose the level of traction on the platform. 

Short pins are best for casual or cross-country riding or times when your foot is less likely going to disconnect from your pedal. Medium pins are better for trail riding pedals because it gives you more traction while you navigate bumps. While the tallest pin setting is best used with downhill pedals or aggressive riders. 

FAQs

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Q: Are Plastic MTB Pedals Any Good?

A: 

Yes, but they are often used by beginner riders who do not want to make a large investment. Plastic pedals can be good for people who are just getting started with mountain biking, but you should expect them to last for very long or be very durable. Most top rated mtb pedals will be made out of metal or carbon. But plastic pedals can be good for light riding or terrain that does not require high levels of navigation over uneven surfaces. For experienced, advanced, or professional riders, plastic pedals will often not give them the strength or stability they need to ride over rough terrain. 

Q: Do Mountain Bikers Use Clipless Pedals?

A: 

Yes, mountain bikers can use clipless pedals, but you should understand the pros and cons of the design. The pros of a clipless pedal are that they keep your foot locked into a good position for efficient pedaling and can help you hone your techniques while making tight corners. It is also easier to lift your bike over obstacles using the extra leverage of the cleat. 

However, the downside to clipless pedals is that riders may find it difficult to disconnect in time to avoid accidents or injuries. This means that if you’re trying to find your balance and have not yet disconnected from the cleat, you will likely fall over with your bike.

Q: Why Do I Need Special Mountain Bike Pedals?

A: 

Mountain bike pedals are better because of their increased durability. For riders who are almost always riding over rough terrain, a robust pedal design is essential. With a stronger build, the pedals will ensure that you have the support you need, while also maintaining a high level of functionality.

Globo Surf Overview

Every biker needs pedals, but the best mountain bike pedals won’t perform simply as a necessity, they will also enhance your performance on the trail. With more structure and support, mountain bike riders can confidently and efficiently glide through the mountains or race downhill. Our article gives you the information you need to find a quality pair of mountain bike pedals and with plenty to choose from, you’ll be able to find something that suits all your needs. 

Do you own a pair of the mountain bike pedals that made it onto our list? Let us know which mountain bike pedals your favorite are in the comments section below.

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!