Here's your guide to what to look for — and which are our favourites here at MBR.
Looking for some quality flats? Here’s our pick of the best mountain bike flat pedals, complete with comprehensive buyer’s guide advice.
Long-term refinement of this basic design has seen flat pedals improve incrementally over the years, and today’s models are better than ever. Platforms have become slimmer to lower rider centre of gravity, eliminate pedalling flat spots at either end of the stroke and improve ground clearance, and also stretched out for more surface area and support. Bearings and traction pins designs have evolved too to offer better grip, and also more durability and ease of servicing.
As mentioned, the evolution of flats has been a continual quest for thinner platforms, and with riders and engineers agreed on the benefits, multiple ways to achieve this goal have developed. Broadly speaking, there are two dominant styles: standard offset parallelograms that fully envelop axles and bearings and are marginally taller, and super-slim platforms that use tapered axles or special bearing setups and raised inboard bearing housings to achieve slimmer platforms. The pedals here span a broad range of widths, prices and shapes, so we’ve done the footwork for you, put the miles and picked out the star performers.
The best mountain bike flat pedals
Let’s kick this off then, here are all our favourite flat pedals currently. Below this listing you’ll get to the comprehensive buyer’s guide section.
Race Face Atlas mountain bike flat pedal
The Race Face Atlas flat pedal is the Canadian brand’s no-holds-barred premium flat pedal. Lightweight and thin. It’s also superbly grippy thanks to the fore and aft pin orientation that offers superb bite into soles. These will stick to your foot whether your smashing rock gardens or sliding through mud. This pedal ticks plenty of boxes, it’s light, unobtrusive and offers plenty of grip.
Spank Oozy Trail mountain bike flat pedal
Lightweight and tough, the Spank Oozy Trail is arguably the lowest profile pedal we’ve tested with the least potential for harmful rock strikes.
It looks great, with a machined body. By doing away with the pedal spanner, it also sits closer to the crank, making it less obtrusive on the trail. It’s finished with a full complement of industrial bearings and tight seals.
UK buy now: Spank Oozy Trail pedal at Bikester for £83.99
One Up Aluminium mountain bike flat pedals
Slim, secure and with a surface area that’s generous enough for most feet, the One Up is a great choice. Very nearly our favourite flattie – but we can’t help but feel it doesn’t quite match up to the Nukeproof Horizon.
Race Face Chester mountain bike flat pedals
The Race Face Chester doesn’t offer the last word in grip. But if you are a rider that favours a soft and flexible shoe then the durability and styling of the Chester could make them a very appealing option. Its composite composition is durable, which is nice if you’re prone to snagging rocks. It’s also probably the best looking flat pedal out there at the moment.
UK buy now: Race Face Chester mountain bike pedals
US buy now: Race Face Chester mountain bike pedals
HT PA03A mountain bike flat pedals
Most cheap plastic pedals normally feel like something you’d just use in an emergency but the HT PA034 is solid, has good support and in dry conditions, all the grip you’ll ever need. The pins bite into the sole deep enough to offer assured grip, although there’s not as many as you’d get on a more premium model, and the parallelogram offers a wide platform. The single cartridge bearing is easy to maintain, and if it does need swapping there’s a very affordable replacement set available.
Specialized Boomslang mountain bike flat pedals
With its unique design, the ultra-thin Boomslang is one of the more unusual flat pedals out there. The alloy platform puts the larger inner bearing tight up against the crank arm, and uses a small ‘trapdoor’ to access the hidden outboard bearing. This allows the pedal to be as low profile as possible, yet it’s still concave enough to ensure your foot stays well planted.
Burgtec Penthouse MK4 mountain bike flat pedals
Burgtec Penthouse MK4 flat mountain bike pedals
For the money, the Burgtec Penthouse MK4 is lightweight, offers a ton of grip and, with the new double bush and single bearing, should go a couple of seasons before it needs servicing. The new bearing requires a few rides to loosen up, but is still tighter than most, but at least it stops the pedal spinning when you take a foot off mid-corner.
USA Buy Now: Burgtec Penthouse MK4 at Cycle Store from $112.51
Superstar Nano-x flat mountain bike pedals
The Superstar Nano Tech pedal was one of our favourites, but you can’t buy it anymore. Fortunately, the replacement Nano-x actually feels better and costs even less. In fact, it’s so good we scored it a perfect 10.
Superstar has increased the platform size of the pedals while keep them the same shall depth. They’re super grippy, potentially almost too grippy, but it’s easy to fine tune them by adding or removing pins.
Azonic World Force mountain bike flat pedals
Azonic World Force flat mountain bike pedals
On the trail, the pedal feels good — grip is sorted, the bearings are smooth, without spinning too fast (and causing the pedal to flip over), and the slightly dished-out shape feels spot on. Our shoes overlapped the edges more than some pedals, though, and, given the choice, we’d still always prefer a bigger, more stable platform.
USA buy now: Azonic World Force pedals at Jenson USA for $89.99
Nukeproof Horizon Sam Hill mountain bike flat pedals
Nukeproof Horizon Sam Hill flat mountain bike pedals
After riding and rating flat pedals for years, we’re confident this Nukeproof Horizon Sam Hill design is right up there with the very best — it’s also a tad cheaper than similar top performers, making it great value.
DMR Vault mountain bike flat pedals
There are cheaper pedals, but the Vault’s platform profile is impeccable and very durable. Our only criticism is their weight and the way that the outer edges stick out more than some rivals, which could lead to more ground strikes when leant over.
UK buy now: DMR Vault flat pedals at Tredz for £68.44
USA Buy Now: DMR Vault flat pedals at Tweeks from $99
HT Components ME03 mountain bike flat pedals
HT Components ME03 flat mountain bike pedals
If you have deep enough pockets and a desire for something special, then these are definitely worth a look. A super slim body makes rock strikes very unlikely and also creates a featherlight pedal. Out on the trail, there’s a true sense of stability and a reassuring connection to the pedal.
Chromag Contact mountain bike flat pedals
Chromag Contact flat mountain bike pedals
The Contact doesn’t have the deep scalloped platform of the mbr test-winning DMR Vault, but the finish and bearings are way better quality. It may not be the thinnest either, but it’s stiff, solid underfoot and the multiple pin placement allows you to really tune the grip level to match your riding style and preference.
Loaded Flat AMX Signature V2 mountain bike flat pedals
Compared to the DMR Vault, the Loaded Flat AMX Signature V2 is a tad smaller but has a lower profile. It’s also slightly cheaper and has better quality bearings, which felt smooth out of the box, and have stayed that way since.
Race Face Aeffect mountain bike flat pedals
This Aeffect isn’t cheap, but looks classy, is reasonably low-profile with its 17mm thick platform, and recommended if you’re after a smaller design.
USA Buy Now: Race Face Aeffect flat pedals at Wiggle from $98.99
Nukeproof Neutron EVO mountain bike flat pedals
Plastics used to be seen as the cheap option for flat pedals. But as the Nukeproof Neutron EVO shows, a ‘budget’ pedal can cut it with the big guns when it comes to performance.
Syntace Number Nine Titan mountain bike flat pedals
Feet come in a wide range of sizes, so why are flat pedals one size fits all? That’s a question Syntace has answered with its new NumberNine Titan pedal, which is available in three platform sizes: small, medium and large. These correspond to 35-42, 38-45 and 43-50 shoe sizes (EU) respectively. Although it’s a remarkable pedal, we’ve found it difficult to award it top marks simply because of the price.
- Read the full review of the Syntace Number Nine flat pedals
- Buy Now: Syntace Number Nine flat pedals at Bike Discount at £246.88
Test winner: Nukeproof Horizon Sam Hill
The biggest: Race Face Atlas 114mm x 112mm
The thinnest: Specialized Boomslang 10mm
DMR Vault is the most well-known and proven of the top rated pedals here. It uses a more dished out design than the Nukeproof Horizon, which really cups the sole of the foot and feels huge under the shoe; something some riders might prefer. Both pedals are excellent options, but the Nukeproof is cheaper, has a tad more clearance leant over and with those thick aggressive studs plays nicely with less grippy soles on shoes lacking Five Ten’s sticky rubber sole compound.
The dark horse on test was the less well-known Brandon Semenuk-designed Chromag Contact with its similar shape and concavity to the Horizon. It’s smoothly finished and slightly lighter than either the DMR or Nukeproof and feels just about perfect in any shoe. There’s excellent feel and comfort and good scope to shuffle the pins around for perfect placement and grip tune too.
We demoed and discounted various cheaper pedals for this test, but one that couldn’t be ignored was the HT PA03A. If you’re a fan of the deeper concave feel, and looking for a massive saving, this plastic HT pedal is super grippy with near identical performance to the best pedals available for less than half the price.
Thinner platforms almost universally impact on service intervals and durability, by being forced to using more intricate or smaller bushing or bearing solutions that tend to be less UK-friendly.
That said, the Race Face Atlas has a clever grease port to prolong its durability and like Specialized Boomslang is properly grippy and comfortable. Both these contenders have a higher asking price than average though and Spesh’s pedal also proved fiddly to service once it became seized due to impacted crud. UK brands Burgtec and Hope appear to well understand the sealing and bearing quality required here, but we’re not quite as keen on the pedal shape or grip delivered by their products.
Slimmer, lighter platforms have become a priority in modern flat pedal design. Taller pedals offer less ground clearance and aren’t as stable, and don’t benefit from reduced rider centre of gravity, resistance to flipping, and improved efficiency by spinning closer to the centre of the pedalling axis. Thinner pedal bodies can also be made even wider, which increases shoe contact for more stability and control.
Using axles without pedal flats means platforms can sit tighter into the crank arms and the closer the pedal body sits to the bike, the greater the ground clearance and the more efficient your pedalling stroke. Stubby axles allow brands to position pedals further in-board, but one compromise can be some rubbing where feet catch the crank arms. Pedal bodies that incorporate oversized bearing housings might push feet outwards and eat into effective shoe area in bigger foot sizes too.
Stud size, layout and shape affect traction and grip. It’s inevitable pins suffer abuse as they’re in the firing line for any ground strikes, so bottom mounting pins are harder to strip out in an impact, and also easier to move or replace because the Allen key heads don’t get damaged or rammed with crud. Some pedal brands also offer a choice of traction studs, and the height, width and thickness of these pins are critical to grip and performance.
Bearings and seals
Most mid to high-end pedals have sufficient sealing, usually in the form of one or two rubber-lipped seals or O-rings to resist moisture or grit getting into the axle/bearing interface. The best pedals use multiple seals. Look for some bearing resistance that helps deter pedals from spinning too freely as this helps resist them flipping over too.
As a direct connection between rider and machine, a flat pedal needs to be as stiff and solid. With a rigid body, minimal energy is wasted and it also allows you to feel exactly what’s going on underneath you, which helps with control, balance and grip. Most of the pedals here are plenty stiff enough, but the leverage of the widest pedals also generates more twist and flex in cranks, so this is a performance consideration too.
It’s worth checking beforehand the price of new bearings or an axle on really expensive set of pedals, as, chances are, in the UK the platforms themselves will far outlast the internals. A bearing or axle rebuild is a job most home mechanics can tackle and will make tired, baggy pedals feel fresh again for under £20 on some models.