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.

Combined with a pair of the best mountain bike shoes for flat pedals, the extra feedback and enhanced connection with the bike and terrain you get by riding flat pedals are the main reasons that most of us here at MBR choose them. There’s also nowhere to hide with flat pedals when it comes to your technique. If you can only bunny-hop the bike, or keep from getting bounced around on rough terrain, by using clip-in pedals then you’re doing it wrong.

Flat pedals force you to improve your skills. 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?

Nukeproof Horizon Pro Downhill

The Nukeproof Horizon Pro Downhill is gripped and sorted.

1. Nukeproof Horizon Pro Downhill pedal

The ultimate alloy flat pedals

Weight: 416g | Size: 102 x 100mm | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • The best just got better
  • Is this where we say “flat pedals win medals”?

Reasons to avoid:

  • Not the thinnest
  • Nor the lightest

This Horizon Pro is a perfectly rounded package, that isn’t the lightest or the thinnest flat pedal on the market, but it just feels so secure underfoot. It’s proven tough over many miles, on many different bikes, ridden by many different test riders.

There are two shapes to choose from – the full-size DH model with loads of real estate for total security in the rough, or the trimmed down Nukeproof Sam Hill Enduro pedal with clipped corners to give more clearance in janky rock gardens and when sprinting on enduro stages. Both are highly rated – just make a decision based on your priorities.

Read our full test review of the Nukeproof Horizon Pro DH flat pedals

Burgtec MK4 Composite

The Burgtec MK4 Composite pedal is cheap and robust.

2. Burgtec MK4 Composite pedal

Best budget nylon pedal

Weight: 390g | Platform size: 101 x 97mm | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Great all-rounders
  • Durable
  • Cheap
  • Excellent grip

Reasons to avoid:

  • Not as thin as alloy Burgtec Penthouse Flats

Burgtec has recreated its acclaimed Penthouse pedal in budget nylon, almost halving the price but without really compromising the performance. The beauty of plastic for flat pedals is that they tend to bounce, rather than crack, so they take a load of abuse. And should the worst happen, replacing them is significantly cheaper.

The Burgtec shape is superb, with a nice concavity that cups the sole of your foot. Traction via the pins is excellent and security is top notch, even on the roughest terrain. A high performance pedal at a bargain price.

Read our full test review of the Burgtec MK4 Composite flat pedals

Hope F22 pedals

Hope’s F22 pedals are UK made and brilliantly engineered.

3. Hope F22 pedals

Best for durability and serviceability

Weight: 360g | Size: 105 x 102mm | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Decent grip and foot stability
  • Durable and serviceable
  • Well made
  • Multiple colour options

Reasons to avoid:

  • Could be more concave
  • Not the biggest platform if you have large feet

Massively improved over the original version, Hope’s F22 is now worthy of your hard earned cash on a performance basis as well as in terms of looks and build quality. As you’d expect, it’s CNC-machined at Hope’s Lancashire factory, to the highest aircraft standards, and backed up by comprehensive spares and full serviceability.

Grip is now on par with all the top alloy pedals, with an improved platform shape and sharper, taller pins. Available in a rainbow of anodised colours, these pedals will be the finishing touch to any custom build.

Read our full test review of the Hope F22 pedals

Carder TenFour pedals

Carder TenFour pedals are exquisitely made

4. Carder TenFour pedal

Coolest looking flat pedal

Weight: 422g | Size: 104 x 100mm | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • UK-made
  • Quality construction
  • Good size and shape
  • Loads of bite and grip

Reasons to avoid:

  • More expensive than mass-produced rivals such as Nukeproof

Carder’s TenFour pedal is a sight to behold, with a stunning CNC-machined body bristling with ridges and crisp detailing. It’s made right here in the UK, and the first class construction is backed up by excellent foot security thanks to the concave platform and nine stainless steel pins.

Read our full test review of the Carder TenFour pedal

DMR Vault Mag mountain bike pedals 2023

The DMR Vaults hold your feet as securely as a Swiss bank.

5. DMR Vault pedal

Best for a classic shape

Weight: 418g | Size: 115 x 105mm | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Highly concave
  • Loads of colours and finishes
  • They are very wide

Reasons to avoid:

  • Arguably need Moto pins upgrade to get the best out of them
  • They are very wide

DMR was there at the very start of the flat pedal boom, and has been at the top of the game ever since with the classic Vault. Styled after the original Shimano flat pedal, the Vault has loads of concavity to lock the ball of your foot. It’s comfortable too, but upgrading to one of the brand’s more aggressive pins will help keep your feet secure on rough alpine downhill tracks. A huge array of colours and finishes means there’s a set of pedals to suit every taste.

Read our full test review of the DMR Vault flat pedal

Pembree D2A flat pedal

Pembree is another UK brand making a great flat pedal – the D2A

6. Pembree D2A flat pedal

Burly and British!

Weight: 442g | Size: 110 x 100mm | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • High quality
  • Great price

Reasons to avoid:

  • We’d prefer a different pin that was bottom-loading
  • Not that concave

Another UK brand making CNC-machined pedals, Pembree’s offering gets a large platform with 10 stainless steep pins per side. There’s a stainless steep axle, Igus bushing and two SKF outer bearings, so they’re built to last.

For such a high quality pedal, the price is quite reasonable, and the five year warranty gives additional peace of mind.

Read our full test review of the Pembree D2A flat pedals

How we tested these flat pedals

We swapped between three of the best mountain bike shoes for flatties (Five Ten, Ride Concepts and Specialized 2FO) when testing the flat pedals here. The softness of the rubber is directly proportional to the amount of grip, but the tread pattern also influences how well a shoe grips, hence trying several designs.

Are flat pedals good for mountain biking?

‘Flat pedals win medals’, or so the saying goes. While mountain bike flat pedals aren’t for everyone, they are incredibly popular with a lot of mountain bikers and for good reason; you can put your foot down when you need to, reposition your foot on the pedal, and not being attached to the bike is a definite plus when things start getting sketchy. They also force you to learn correct technique when it comes to bunny-hopping, pumping, and even pedalling, as you can’t be lazy and rely on an attachment between your foot and the pedal.

What to look for in the best mountain bike flat pedals:

A good flat pedal paired with a grippy shoe gives the best combination of feel, security, and comfort.

What is the best platform shape for a mountain bike flat pedal?

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.

best mountain bike flat pedals

A good flat pedal usually has a concave profile that lets your foot settle into.

How important is pedal concavity with a flat?

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.

Pins engage with the sole of your shoe, helping keep your feet locked in position.

How important is platform size?

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.

best mountain bike flat pedals

Close to the crank arm, or far away?

When it comes to pedal stance, is narrower better?

Using axles without pedal spanner flats means designers 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.

best mountain bike flat pedals

Back-loading pins are the best

What do I need to look for when it comes to pedal pins?

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 because 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.

How important are 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.

SPD or flat pedals: they both need a little TLC to keep rolling smoothly

Can the best flat pedals be serviced at home?

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). 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.

Burgtec MK4 Composite pedals

Burgtec MK4 Composite pedals are cheap, sturdy, and grippy.

What’s better; a composite or alloy pedal body?

Until recently, the answer to this question was always alloy if you were looking for a serious MTB flat pedal. But recently a crop of excellent composite/plastic/nylon pedals have emerged that are as good, and in some ways better, than their alloy competitors. Why? Well you can now get them with proper traction pins, rather than studs moulded into the body. The pins are usually secured with recessed nuts, so they’re replaceable, and in many cases the shape of the body exactly mirrors their alloy cousins. Weights are usually similar (aside from the ultra-expensive alloy pedals with titanium axles), axles and bearings are the same, and they can often be better at resisting pedal strikes – composite pedals can bounce or slide on impact rather than stick or crack. And obviously the price is very appealing – often half the price of alloy options.