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.
There’s a huge range of the best mountain bike 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.
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?
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 – ALLOY WINNER
- HT PA03A – PLASTIC WINNER
- E13 Base
- DMR Vault
- Burgtec Penthouse Flats MK5
- Kona Wah Wah 2
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Nukeproof Horizon Pro Sam Hill flat pedals
Our flat pedal of choice
Price: £89.99 | Weight: 416g | Size: 102 x 100mm
Pro: The best just got better
Pro: Is this where we say “flat pedals win medals”?
Con: Not the thinnest
Con: Nor the lightest
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. This new shape Enduro pedal is a very well-rounded package. Even with material shaved away to save meaningful grams, grip is still unquestionable and the platform is solid and secure underfoot for all shapes and sizes of rider, making it easy to recommend.
HT Components PA03A pedals
Absolutely planted plastic
Price: £34.99 | Weight: 351g | Size: 105 x 107 x 12mm
Pro: Ingenious platofrm shape is thin yet cradles
Pro: Lighter than alloy
Con: The two inner plastic pins are its minimal Achilles heel in the wet
Con: Not currently recycleable
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.
E*Thirteen Base pedals
Price: £45.00 | Weight: 385g | Size: 100 x 110mm
Pro: An excellent all-rounder
Pro: Not ridiculously grippy
Con: Lack of concavity will put off some
Con: Not ridiculously grippy
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, but this may also be preferable to some riders. This plastic version use the exact same traction pin layout as the brand’s LG1 downhill pedal that’s built a good reputation for high grip-with-feel levels in recent years.
Totally sorted in terms of feel and surefootedness
Price: £100.00 | Weight: 418g | Size: 115 x 105 x 17mm
Pro: Some people won’t use anything else
Pro: They are very wide
Con: Arguably need Moto pins upgrade ot get the best out of them
Con: They are very wide
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.
Burgtec Penthouse MK 5 pedals
Chunky Penthouse pedal gets an excellent revamp
Price: £109.99 | Weight: 386g | Size: 100 x 102mm
Pro: The Penthouse Flats we’ve all been waiting for
Pro: Durability is second to none
Con: They ain’t cheap
Con: Not the biggest platform
Burgtec’s MK5 is now 65g lighter a pair and a match for anything on the market in terms of traction and comfort, plus it packs a low maintenance design that trumps most other brand’s durability. Add to this good ground clearance (to reduce the chance of catching a pedal and accidentally damaging yourself) and resistance to flipping too easily, and just about the only fly in the ointment is the £110 cost.
Kona Wah Wah 2 Composite flat pedal
Carries on the mighty Wah Wah name
Price: £59.99 | Weight: 361g | Size: 110 x 108 x 17mm
Pro: A worthy update on the flat pedal that started it all
Pro: Large platform that does its best with clearnace where it counts
Con: Inside bearing bulge can annoy
Con: On the pricey side for plastic
The Kona Wah Wah 2 takes the original Wah Wah’s a large platform, thin profile and grippy pins and brings them bang up to date for today’s trail riding. What’s even better about the new Wah Wah is it’s available in a composite body, bringing the price way down compared to the aluminium version. This body is made of a glass fibre reinforced nylon that seems to shrug off the abuse. It also features a pretty large, concaved platform, allowing plenty of real estate for big footed riders to feel comfortable on. This space really supports the foot and makes it easy to keep it centred on the pedal, improving confidence both climbing, cornering and descending.
What to look for in the best mountain bike flat pedals
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.