If you're foot-out flat out, there's a pedal for you in this lot
Looking for the best mountain bike flat pedals, no matter what your budget? Here’s our comprehensive buyer’s guide to all things flat pedal.
Best mountain bike flat pedals
Here our are current favourite best mountain bike flat pedals. See the links to full reviews down the page.
- Nukeproof Horizon Sam Hill Enduro, £85.00 – ALLOY WINNER
- HT PA03A, £34.99 – PLASTIC WINNER
- DMR Vault, £100
- Deity T-Mac, £129.99
- Crank Brothers Stamp 7 Large LE, £129.99
- Exotic Thermoplastic, £23.44
- HT ANS10 Supreme, £79.99
- OneUp Aluminium, £106
- Burgtec Penthouse Mk4 Composite, £39.99
The best mountain bike flat pedals
There’s a huge range of flat pedals on the market. Partly this is because few new bikes come with a decent pair of pedals. Also, they are a favoured way of personalising your ride without spending a fortune, and finally because there are many theories about what makes the perfect flat pedal. Rival designs often look very similar, and share the basics of a studded platform spinning around an axle, but small details can cause grip levels and performance to differ wildly.
Although the original klunkers had evil-looking ‘bear-trap’ pedals, Shimano’s offset parallelogram DX design – introduced for BMX in the 1980s – was the original flat pedal. It inspired countless products since, but today’s much-improved pedals have all evolved a slimmer profile. This lowers your centre of gravity on the bike, eliminates pedalling flat spots at either end of the stroke and improves ground clearance. It also enables platforms to be stretched widthways for more surface area and support.
Traction pin design and placement has evolved too, for better grip, extra durability and more logical maintenance. Different axle materials, superior bearings, seals and bushings mean modern pedals have moved on internally as much as externally, and should deliver more durability and ease of servicing.
A major sell for flats is the extra confidence and security of being able to dab or take a foot off when needed, but the best ones also deliver total stability and locked-on traction that enables you to better feel exactly what the bike is doing through your feet. Wider platform pedals also offer more capacity to exert leverage when cornering and pumping, and the ability to tweak foot placement for greater bike control.
Extra feedback and enhanced connection with the bike and terrain are the main reasons that most of us here at MBR choose flat pedals for most of our riding. So we’re sold on the principle then, but which pedal should you buy with so many options on the market and only minimal differences in terms of appearance? Thankfully, we’ve done the footwork for you, and put the miles in to pick out the star performers amongst eight sets here that span a broad range of price, dimensions and shape.
Deity T-Mac, £129.99
Grip levels here match any of the best flat pedals, and there’s arguably more foot support and solid connection with the bike than other pedals here, so rider weight and impact forces are distributed over a broad area to keep feet from fatiguing. The Deity T-Mac has a very spacious feeling platform so is especially suited to bigger shoe sizes without any overlap, but testers agreed it also simply feels right immediately for all sizes. At just over 400g a pair, weight is competitive too.
E*Thirteen Base, £45.00
The best thing about the E*Thirteen Base is its shape and foothold feels absolutely spot on. They’re long front-to-back too, so there’s a ton of support and a really comfortable, stable feel. There’s a tiny bit less bite than the grippiest pedals here, like Nukeproof’s Horizon or Deity’s T-Mac, but this may also be preferable to some riders.
Burgtec MK4 Composite, £39.99
Burgtec thread standard set screws (eight per side) with a hollow top into the platform, and these also seem harder-wearing than most; we’ve clouted this pedal a number of times in rock gardens and have yet to bend or lose one. At 16mm, the platform is a similar thickness to the Nukeproof Horizon Pro, but it’s less concave and doesn’t cup the ball of your foot as well. It also sits very close into the crank arm, which can cause a bit of rub. It’s solid, stiff, and should appeal to a wider audience. We’d just like see slightly larger platform.
Crank Brothers Stamp 7 Large LE, £129.99
The Stamp 7 LE is available with a small and large size. This sizing corresponds to 5-10 (37-43) and 10-15 (43-49) on the international footwear chart. LE means it’s a limited edition, available in purple, orange and green, as well as the regular red and black. Crank Bros also offers a Danny MacAskill signature option with custom artwork for the same money.
DMR Vault, £100
With cutaway corners, the Vault’s leading platform edges glance off trail obstacles better for more ground clearance and the aluminium used is very durable and resistant to breaking if the metal body does strike the ground. In terms of feel and surefootedness, the Vault is totally sorted, but the price and weight is slightly higher than some rivals and the way the extreme outer edges stick out more than some could lead to more ground strikes when leant over.
HT ANS10 Supreme, £79.99
We’ve tested HT pedals several times in the past and the typical UK weather isn’t often kind to the bearings but we’ve had no issues this time round – the quality IGUS bushing and mini cartridge bearings are still play free and running smooth. The surface scuffed up really quickly but HT is not the only company with this problem.
Nukeproof Horizon Sam Hill Enduro, £85.00
This Horizon Pro is a perfectly rounded package that isn’t the lightest or the thinnest on test, but any pedals that rate higher on these fronts also have greater compromises elsewhere. It’s proven tough and simply feels so solid and secure underfoot for all shapes and sizes of rider, the Horizon is hard to beat.
OneUp Components Aluminium, £106
Like the Spank, OneUp uses a large inboard bearing – along with three smaller bearings on the end of the axle – but it doesn’t impact on foot placement. We could also attach the pedal to the crank without having to fit pedal washer and still retain good shoe clearance to reduce crank wear. On the roughest, fastest trails, the OneUp pedal is not as planted as the test-winning Nukeproof Horizon Pro and it’s 30 per cent more expensive, but we really like the harder wearing finish on this pedal – it has quality bearings and feels solid under foot.
Exotic Thermoplastic, £23.44
There are steel set screws with small Nylock nuts holding them in place, which mean they can be replaced easily if damaged. Unfortunately, they’re a bit short and they don’t bite as deep into the shoe, so in damp conditions your foot can come unstuck. To combat this, you can work your feet harder into the pedals or you can just buy some longer pins from Carbon Cycles.
There are no spanner flats on the steel axle, just a 6mm Allen key fitting, but it does spin on sealed cartridge bearing. POnly gets the runner up spot because the grip isn’t as good as the HT, it’s a bit smaller and to make it work you need to spend another £6.79 on the longer pins.
HT PA03A, £34.99
The company has also perfected the shape on the PA03A – it’s the largest platform here with plenty of concavity, allowing your foot to fall naturally over the axle. There are no ridges or bulges to upset your balance – it feels stable and secure. And despite the large size the PA03A is also the lightest pedal on test. We have two small niggles – HT uses a bearing/bush combo and these were a little rough out of the box and after several months of hammering haven’t loosened up. The threads on the axle were also a little stiff when winding them into our test cranks. We’re not enamoured with the name, but you’ll need to remember it because the HT PA03A is the best shape, best grip and most sure-footed and comfortable plastic pedal we’ve used to date.
Best mountain bike flat pedals: conclusion
The flat pedal market has exploded over recent years. Only a couple of acceptable options existed a decade or so ago, but there are literally dozens of models on sale today that are worthy of your hard-earned cash. We didn’t have space to cover all our previous favourites either, so brilliant options such as the Chromag Contacts, Race Face Atlas and the new Burgtec MK5 Penthouse Flats aren’t included – rest assured, you’ll not go far wrong with any of them.
In fact, top-end Burgtecs deserve a special mention for packing the most durable internals of any flats we’ve tested, plus the new shape is narrower width ways than the winning Nukeproof Sam Hill, with just as planted a ride feel. With these attributes, it might have even had a serious shot at winning this test, although it does cost a chunk more money.
Burgtec’s composite pedal doesn’t have the same quality bushings and bearings, but it nails the shape, grip and ride feel, so it’s easy to recommend as nearly the best plastic platform here. Being a bargain at 40 quid is the icing on the cake too.
E* Thirteen’s brand new Base pedal also has an excellent shape and excellent traction – especially if you have feet that are size ten or over, as there’s plenty of platform real estate and grip on offer.
HT uses a reinforced nylon for the PA03A, but the difference is it’s not charging the earth for it. It’s also made some sensible choices — the PA03A has a large platform and a slight concave, so offers great support and it’s peppered with sharp pins that really up the grip levels. It can take the knocks and is easily one of the best plastic pedals we’ve tested. Most aluminium pedals are double the price of plastic, but if you pull them apart you’ll see most have the same bearings and, in some cases, even the same axle.
Of the more expensive pedals, we’ve always rated Nukeproof’s Horizon and the new Enduro version is just as sorted, but manages to shave off almost 50g a pair, something that’s easily noticeable turning pedals over cranking. These things are incredibly tenacious and also at least £15 cheaper than the closest rivals here, which helps Sam Hill’s signature pedal edge the competition on test.
Deity’s T-MAC also feels superb and is more supportive than the Horizon, with extra fore and aft support, plus the bearings last longer in our experience. It’s a chunk more money though, and unless you have massive feet, there’s the penalty (shared with our perennial favourites, the DMR Vaults) of significantly less clearance from the bigger platform.
On the top two steps of our pedal podium are the DMR Vault and Nukeproof Horizon. Both are fabulous flats and previous mbr test winners, but rather than boring you with a summary of the individual test, we’ll just say this. Who are two most famous flat pedal riders on the planet? Yep that’s right, Sam Hill and Brendan Fairclough. And what flat pedals do they use? The two best pedals in this test — enough said really.
Best mountain bike flat pedals at a glance
|Pedal||Price||Weight||Platform size||Pins per side||Rating|
|Burgtec MK Composite||£39.99||390g||95 x 100mm||8||9|
|Crank Brothers Stamp 7 Large LE||£129.99||364g||110 x 110m||9||8|
|Crank Brothers Stamp 1 Large LE||£44.99||3343g||110 x 110m||9||6|
|DMR Vault||£100||438g||105 x 105mm||11||9|
|Exotic Thermoplastic||£23.44||364g||95 x 100mm||10||8|
|HT ANS10 Supreme||£79.99||374g||100 x 100mm||10||8|
|HT PA03A||£34.99||348g||105 x 105mm||10||9|
|Nukeproof Horizon Pro||£74.99||436g||100 x 100mm||10||10|
|OneUp Aluminium||£106||364g||110 x 100mm||10||8|
|ProTaper Flat||£109.99||332g||100 x 100mm||10||7|
|Race face Chester||£49.99||370g||100 x 100mm||8||6|
|Spank Oozy Trail||£100||370g||100 x 85mm||9||7|
Slimmer, lighter platforms tend to rule modern flat pedal design, since taller pedals afford less ground clearance and aren’t as stable. Further benefits are reduced rider centre of gravity, resistance to flipping, and improved efficiency by spinning closer to the pedalling axis centre. Thinner pedals can also be made wider with equivalent clearance, which increases shoe contact for more stability and control.
The best mountain bike flat pedals have a concave platform. This means the centre is dished to keep the ball of your foot centred and also allow you to reset it easily if removed for a dab or to stabilise in a corner. Being concave also means shoes are more resistant to inching back and forth or bouncing off on really rough terrain.
The rule of thumb is if you have big feet you want a big pedal but a bigger platform also means there’s more to aim at and it also offers more support. The downside is you have less cornering and ground clearance.
Using axles without pedal spanner flats can get platforms closer to the crank arms. Platforms closer to the bike improve ground clearance and pedal stroke efficiency. One compromise can be rubbing if feet are too close to crank arms, and platforms with oversized bearing housings might also push feet outwards and dig into effective shoe area for bigger feet too. Really wide pedals generate more twist and flex in cranks, so this is a performance consideration too.
Stud size, layout and shape affect traction and grip. In the firing line for ground strikes, pins inevitably suffer; bottom-mounting ones are harder to strip out in an impact, and easier to move or replace becuase Allen key heads are less prone to damage or getting crammed with crud. Some pedal brands also offer a choice of traction studs, and height, width and thickness 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 entering the bearings or bushes. The best pedals use multiple seals, with price also usually dictating bearing quality. Look for some resistance to spinning too freely too, as this can help stop pedals flipping over too readily.
It’s worth checking beforehand the price of new bearings or an axle on really expensive set of pedals, as, chances are, the platforms will far outlast the internals in UK conditions. A bearing or axle rebuild is a job most home mechanics can tackle and will make tired or baggy pedals feel fresh again (for under £20 on some models.