When choosing the best mountain bike pedals, the first decision you need to make is whether to go for clip-in or flats. Clip-in pedals lock specially designed shoes to the pedals via a cleat and binding mechanism. They offer security on rough terrain and excellent pedalling efficiency. Flat pedals use a broad platform with steel studs or pins to mesh with sticky rubber soles to deliver excellent grip, but also the ability to dab a foot or drag a leg for balance and stability in technical terrain. Whichever style you favour, we’ve got a recommendation for you.

Race Face Chester

Best for soft shoes

Price: $49.99

Race Face's nylon-bodied Chester uses a bearing and bushing that are properly sealed against the elements. As such, they keep spinning smoothly. The composite body helps shrug off rock strikes and because the pins thread in from below, they are easily replaced if damaged. 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 its durability and styling make them a solid choice.

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One Up Components Composite Pedal

Large surface area

Price: $49.99

OneUp's Composite pedal provides a generous platform size and ten aggressive M3 bolts per side to dig into your shoe. At 12mm, these really lock into the rubber on the sole of your shoe as a result. Internally, there’s an outboard sealed cartridge bearing and an inboard bushing with a seal at one end. They're full serviceable and come in a range of bold colours.

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Crankbrothers Mallet E

Best for enduro racers

Price: $169.99

The new Crank Brothers Mallet E features most of what we love about the burly Crankbrothers Mallet DH but in a slimmed-down package. It shares the characteristic Mallet profile, pared down to create a lighter pedal with better clearance on tight trails with lots of rocks and ruts. There are six adjustable pins per side and Traction Pads to let you tune the contact with the shoe. Engagement is super-easy and accompanied by a nice crisp click, while the LS axle gives you more clearance to release with chunky enduro shoes.

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Shimano PD-M530

Easy trail-riding pedal

Price: $54.99

Shimano's original SPD revolutionized mountain bike pedals, and this dual-sided PD-M530 builds on that classic design. The alloy cage surrounds the binding mechanism to provide protection and additional surface area for resting your foot against in situations where you can't clip-in. There's plenty of space around the binding to allow mud to escape and the axle is well sealed, so these things just keep on trucking no matter how hard you ride.

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Shimano XT PD-M8020

Best for racing snakes

Price: $130

Shimano's XT Trail pedal has protrusions at each end that protect the mechanism as well as support the foot. The cleat binding utilises a fixed front, sprung rear jaw approach that helps improve ease of engagment. Release tension is adjustable and easily accessible using a 3mm hex key. Shimano’s steel cleat wears exceptionally well and provides a comfortable amount of float without feeling too vague, and engagement is accompanied with a crisp, precise snap.

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OneUp Components Alumininium pedal

Best for getting rad

Price: $125

OneUp's Aluminium pedal shares the same platform shape as it's Composite version but with a larger bearing and all-metal construction. On the roughest, fastest trails, the OneUp pedal is impressively planted, and inspires confidence to push harder and ride faster. We really like the harder wearing finish on this pedal – it has quality bearings and feels solid under foot.

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There's a multitude of pedals on the market and most look very similar, but on the trail they can be hit and miss. To make sure you spend wisely, we've highlighted a few products that have impressed us over the years. If you want a pair of no-nonsense clip-in pedals that will last for years, then the Shimano PD-M530 are highly recommended. They're simple but effective and the cleat mechanism has been refined over many years. For a great pair of flat pedals that won't break the bank, but will provide welded-on grip when paired with a decent sticky rubber shoe, look no further than the OneUp Components Composite.