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 Pro, £74.99 – WINNER
- HT PA03A, £34.99
- DMR Vault, £100
- Crank Brothers Stamp 7 Large LE, £129.99
- Crank Brothers Stamp 1 Large LE, £44.99
- Exotic Thermoplastic, £23.44
- HT ANS10 Supreme, £79.99
- OneUp Aluminium, £106
- ProTaper Flat, £109.99
- Race Face Chester, £49.99
- Spank Oozy Trail, £100
- Burgtec Penthouse Mk4 Composite, £39.99
The best mountain bike flat pedals
A flat pedal is a simple component – it’s nothing more than an axle, a couple of bearings and usually an aluminium platform with some pins threaded into the surface. The thing is there are hundreds of flat pedals on the market, with different shapes, sizes and thicknesses. There are this many because every pedal manufacturer believes that their design offers the best grip. And it is grip that is the defining principle behind all flat pedal because if you can’t keep your feet on the pedals you won’t be able to stay control the bike.
Grip is created primarily by the pins, which dig into the bottom of your shoe, but also the shape and thickness of the platform. Some of the very best pedals have a slight amount of concavity, which helps keep your foot centred when descending rough gorund or grinding up steep inclines. Size and shape are important but there are also several other factors involved in pedal design.
Having tested dozens of the over the years we’ve come to the conclusion that although a flat pedal looks deceptively simple; delve deeper and it can be subtly sophisticated in shape, design and profile.
To cover as many price points as possible this time round we split our test into two – there are eight top-end aluminium pedals and four budget plastic pedals, and the latter are not just there to make up the numbers, there are some cracking pedals in this category.
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 Pro, £74.99
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.
ProTaper Flat, £109.99
The good thing about the pins is that they’re double sided, so by using the taller side on the perimeter and the short side in the centre, you can build in a bit of concavity. Even though the ProTaper Flat has a decent sized platform, it feels small and we struggled to stay centred. Also, compared to set screws, the thicker stainless-steel pins didn’t bite as well, so we really had to curl our feet on the platform when climbing. Overall this a nicely made flat but it’s pricey.
Spank Oozy Trail, £100
To save weight, the 12mm platform is now machined inside and outside, making this one of the lightest pedals on test, as well as giving it some of the most clearance. The Oozy runs nine pins per size, and these are a slightly sharper than we tested previously. Spank also arranges them so that the tall pins on the edge and short pins in the centre, to create a sort of virtual concavity. This just means the platform is relatively flat but the pins stick up to provide a recess for your foot. It’s quite a common way of doing things but it doesn’t always work with soles with a deep tread because the pins can sink in.
Crank Brothers Stamp 1 Large LE, £44.99
Although the platform has a similar footprint to the 7, the pins are way shorter so it doesn’t feel as recessed. In fact, the centre ridge was more pronounced in this pedal and meant we couldn’t curve our feet into the platform in the same way. There’s also a bit of gap on the back edge where there’s no pin, and we had a few moments in the wet where our feet literally flew off the pedals as a result. You could increase the grip levels with longer pins, but unfortunately Crank Brothers doesn’t offer them for the Stamp 1. We like the big size of the Stamp 1, as there’s a lot to aim at. It is also durable and hardwearing, but to improve the traction it really does need longer pins.
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.
Race Face Chester, £49.99
Measured along the centre axis, the Chester has a large 100x100mm platform, but it does taper quite a lot, so doesn’t feel as big when riding compared to the HT. It has eight pins per side, and like most plastic designs these are reverse threaded through a Nylock nut to hold them in place. We bounced our feet off this pedal more often than any other on test, and wet conditions were particularly tricky. The shallow pins also sit quite far inboard on the platform, and this makes the pedal feel smaller than it actually is. Add in the high price tag and the Chester has very little going for it.
Best mountain bike flat pedals: conclusion
The reason we’ve included plastic pedals this time round is because they’re an affordable way to get onto the flat-pedal ladder — if you’ve been riding clipped in and want to try flats, a plastic pedal is an inexpensive way to do it. Typically a nylon platform is around 50-60 per cent cheaper than aluminium. There are, however, some variations. For example, the Race Face Chester is twice the price of the Exotic. Unfortunately, it’s not twice the performance; in fact the Exotic is the better pedal. It’s still not perfect, because the pins are too short, but in simple monetary terms you can get two for the price of one, and that’s going to really help if you’re on a tight budget.
Like the Crank Brother’s Stamp 1, we really struggled to find grip on the Race Face Chester flat and it didn’t help that it felt so small due to the pin placement. If you’re pedalling an easy trail, both of these nylon pedals feel OK, but as soon as you start to use a bit more body English to control the bike — like when railing corners, picking your way down steep, technical descents or popping over jumps — they come unstuck. The higher cost is odd too, because the construction used in all three pedals is basically the same. HT also 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. The finish isn’t quite as polished as the Stamp 1, and the bearings are a little rough, but 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.
For example, Crank Brothers’ top-end Stamp 7 is £70 more than the budget Stamp 1, but uses the exact same Igus LL-glide bearings and forged SCM 435 cro-mo spindle. Crank Brothers has to be applauded for keeping the quality of the parts consistent across its range, but we find it hard to justify the cost of the Stamp 7. £100 seems more reasonable for an aluminium pedal and there are several at this threshold. If you want a bombproof flat we’d recommend the Burgtec Penthouse Mk4. If you’re after a low-profile platform, try the Spank Oozy or OneUp, or if you want a compact option, or just have smaller feet, then it’s the ProTaper and HT ANS10.
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|
The best mountain bike flat pedals have a concave platform and to understand how this works just imagine putting a tennis ball on a plate and tilt it to one side, then put the same ball in a bowl and do the same thing. A concave pedal is like the bowl and keeps the ‘ball of your foot’ centred and also lets you reset it easily when you take it off to dab.
A thin platform offers better ground clearance, keeps your foot close to the axle for efficiency and it’s also less likely to roll over, increasing the grip and stability. However, manufacturers can’t go too thin because they then can’t build in concavity, so they often compromise slightly on thickness.
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 flats (this is the square interface for a pedal spanner) means platforms can sit tighter into the crank arms, which increases ground clearance and creates a more efficient your pedalling stroke. The big downside with you shoe closer to the crank arms means it can wear the crank arms.
Pin size, layout and shape affect traction and grip. Grub screws with a hollow centre offer the most grip because they are small and sharp. The downside is they are easier to bend and break. If they do take damage being able to remove them easily is a huge benefit – look for bottom mounted designs, where the pin threads in from underneath.