Here's your guide to what to look for — and which are our favourites here at MBR

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Your pedals are one of your major contact points and whether you’re sitting down or standing up you’ll want a secure connection to your drivetrain. If you’re constantly slipping off your bike or you’ll end up on rides that are neither fast nor fun, so getting your pedals sorted is essential.

There are two main types of pedals:

  • Flats – Your shoe is free to move from the pedal and is gripped by pins on the pedal
  • Clips – Your shoe is attached to the bike using a cleat.

>>> Looking for clipless pedals? click here

Over the last few years, we’ve seen trends change in everything from wheel size to fork construction and flat pedals are no different — they’ve shifted towards lower platform heights with bigger surface areas.

The theory is that a bigger platform offers greater stability, while a thinner profile increases ground clearance while eliminating the top and bottom pedalling dead-spots you get on thicker, BMX-style designs.

Slim, wider pedal bodies are now commonplace, and over the past few months we’ve put some of the best modern flats through their paces.

>>> Click here to find the best mountain bike shoes

It’s been widely documented that platform pedals can offer the best way to learn correct technique in mountain biking. Thanks to the direct (rather than ‘floating’ clipless) connection between shoe and pedal, you can use the pressure to lean and control the bike, and to generate grip and momentum.

There are a few downsides to this design too — you’re not joined to the bike, so it can still bounce around all over the place, and flats are also less efficient when climbing, but whether you’re a total beginner or on old hand, it’s never too late to see if the humble flat pedal can change your ride.

>>> Click here for our guide on how to fit pedals

Scroll down for a selection of the best mountain bike flat pedals, but first, here’s a quick guide to what to look for.

Best mountain bike pedals: Platforms are getting thinner and wider

Platforms are getting thinner and wider

Platform shape

A slimmer platform has become a priority in modern flat pedal design. Riders and engineers have noted a huge range of benefits, including improved ground clearance, reduced rider centre of gravity, resistance to flipping, and improved efficiency by spinning closer to the centre of the pedalling axis.A thinner platform can also be made wider, which increases shoe contact for more stability and control.

Best mountain bike pedals: A short axle is generally a good thing

A short axle is generally a good thing

Foot Stance

The closer the pedal body sits to the crank arm, the greater the ground clearance when you’re leant over and the more efficient your pedalling stroke. Using a stubby axle allows companies to position the platform further in-board, but you may occasionally experience some rubbing where your heels catch the crank arms.

Best mountain bike pedals: Pins may be small but they're all-important

Pins may be small but they’re all-important

Pin height, placement and removal

It’s inevitable that flat pedal pins will get damaged as they’re in the firing line for ground strikes. Bottom-loading pins are easier to replace as the Allen heads don’t get crushed or full of mud, and some designs also offer hex-bolt heads as a back-up for removal. 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.

Best mountain bike pedals: Internal sealing means longer life

Internal sealing means longer life

Bearings and seals

Most mid to high-end pedals have good internal sealing, which is usually in the form of one or two rubber-lipped seals or O-rings to prevent water or grit getting into the axle/bearing interface. Replacement sealed bearings and bushes should be readily available for most modern pedals these days, and servicing is generally straightforward enough for competent home mechanics.

Best mountain bike pedals: A thin yet stiff platform is the holy grail of pedal design

A thin yet stiff platform is the holy grail of pedal design

Stiffness

As a direct link between you and the bike, a flat pedal needs to be as stiff as possible. With a rigid platform, 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 in this test are plenty stiff enough but, like most things, it’s all about compromise as making a pedal wafer-thin can cause it to flex more.

xburgtech-pedals-new03

Burgtec Penthouse MK4

Price: £99.99

Score: 8/10

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.

Read the full review of the Burgtec Penthouse MK4 flat pedal

Buy Now: Burgtec Penthouse MK4 flat pedal at Cycle Store from £94.99

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Superstar Nano-x

Price: £39.99

Score: 10/10

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.

Read the full review of the Superstar Nano-x flat pedals

Buy Now: Superstar nano-x flat pedals at Superstar Components from £39.99

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Azonic World Force

Price: £84.99

Score: 8/10

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.

Read the full review of the Azonic World Force flat pedals

Nukeproof Horizon Sam Hill pedal

Nukeproof Horizon Sam Hill

Price: £79.99

Score: 10/10

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.

Read the full review of the Nukeproof Horison Sam Hill pedals

Buy Now: Nukeproof Horizon Sam Hill pedals at Chain Reaction Cycles from £71.99

DMR Vault

DMR Vault

Price: £99.99

Score: 10/10

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.

Read the full review of the DMR Vault pedals

Buy Now: DMR Vault flat pedals at Ubyk from £69.26

Superstar Delta

Superstar Delta

Price: £55.00

Score: 9/10

Grip and security are plentiful, although there’s the slight sense that feet aren’t quite as planted and comfy as on those benchmark Nano Techs. The reduced height, clearance and stability are noticeable though, and the newer pedal is less likely to flip over than the old one.

Read the full review of the Superstar Delta flat pedals

Buy Now: Superstar Delta flat pedals at Superstar Components from £59.99

HT ME03 pedals copy

HT Components ME03

Price: £119.99

Score: 9/10

If you have deep enough pockets and a desire for something special, then these are definitely worth a look.

Read the full review of the HT Components ME03 flat pedals

Buy Now: HT Components ME03 flat pedals at Tredz from £107.99

Chromag Contact pedal

Chromag Contact

Price: £149.99

Score: 9/10

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.

Read the full review of the Chromag Contact flat pedals

Buy Now: Chromag Contact flat pedals at Chain Reaction Cycles from £78.99

Loaded Flat AMX Signature V2 featured

Loaded Flat AMX Signature V2

Price: £89.99

Score: 9/10

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.

Read the full review of the Loaded Flat AMX Signature V2 flat pedals

Buy Now: Loaded Flat AMX Signature V2 flat pedals at Freeborn from £73.99

Race Face Aeffect

Race Face Aeffect

Price: £99.95

Score: 8/10

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.

Read the full review of the Race Face Aeffect flat pedals

Buy Now: Race Face Aeffect flat pedals at Chain Reaction Cycles from £71.99

burgtec

Burgtec Penthouse MK IV

Price: £99.99

Score: 8/10

Burgtec’s proven reliability is now cheaper than ever, and if you’re after the ultimate in grip, then look no further. We’d actually prefer a less locked-on feel, and if shorter studs were a stock option we’d rate this as one of the best trail-riding flat pedals around.

Read the full review of the Burgtec Penthouse MK IV

Buy Now: Burgtec Penthouse MK IV flat pedals at Burgtec from £99.99

Nukeproof Electron flat pedal

Nukeproof Electron

Price: £34.99

Score: 7/10

The Electron is fantastic value, and tough enough to handle the abuse of aggressive riding, but it could be better if the body shape was a bit flatter or even slightly concave.

Read full review of the Nukeproof Electron flat pedals

Buy Now: Nukeproof Electron flat pedals at Tredz from £26.99

Cube All mountain pedal

Cube All Mountain

Price: £64.99

Score: 5/10

There’s nothing wrong with these pedals, but you don’t have to look very hard to pick up the near identical Superstar Nano tech for less money. Better still, for something as crucial as this contact point, I’d recommend you spend a bit more for a bigger platform and bite from something like the excellent DMR Vault.

Read the full review of the Cube All Mountain flat pedals

Buy Now: Cube All Mountain flat pedals at Tredz from £64.99

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Syntace Number Nine Titan

Price: £278.00

Score: 9/10

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

Conclusion

There are two clear winners in this test – the DMR Vault and the Nukeproof Horizon Sam Hill – both of them have great platforms and top notch reliability. The Sam Hill pedal just edges it by being that little bit cheaper. If you’re after a more budget option, you can’t go too far wrong with the Superstar Delta however.

Don’t forget that a flat pedal will be almost useless without a decent shoe to compliment it. Have a look at our buyer’s guide to mountain bike shoes here.

  • Harry Cunningham

    Who wrote this article? “Whether YOUR sat down or stood up”? What appalling English!
    It should be “Whether YOU’RE sitting down or standing up”. Jesus Christ, learn the language!

  • Darren Creese

    Got a set of hope flats on mine and the wife’s love them

  • IamDefiler

    Nukeproof Electron, FTW for this cheap-ass. 😉